Issue #5 late September 1991 (A.S. XXVI)

Index to Classic ThinkWell
and envelope art

Other Issues:

#1 | #2 | #3 | #4

#6 | #7 | #8 | #9
#10 | #11 | #12
#13 | #14 | #15
#16 | #17 | #18
#19 | #20 | #21

Notes on this issue

Can't wait to see issue #5! Is this ThinkWell stuff just a blind to get a lot of mail?  [1] Here take my money please just don't let me lapse. I don't want to miss any. I'm glad you are sending out TW two at a time because the extra copy is often out on loan and also it makes discussing something in an issue easier when each party has their own copy. I'm enclosing a check for $50; that should cover ThinkWell for a while. We fully expect it will last that long, and probably far beyond. Keep up the good work! As each issue of THINKWELL has been so far, #4 was a delight. What a treat! I love this format! These discussions are where some truly great and noble ideas in the SCA have come from. I encourage philosophical conversations every chance I get… I received shortly after our conversation issues #1, 3 and 4 (to supplement #2 which was given to me), and have devoured same.…ThinkWell: Good stuff!


Maybe too much of the previous issues has been me. I'm going to try to cut down this issue. Opinions on having more or less of my opinion are solicited

More ThinkWell stuff appears below and on the last two pages of this issue. Thanks for reading!

Now or Later?

We have now [informed candidates of their impending elevation] for several years. I feel it has added to the pageantry: a procession under a canopy for one candidate, a procession with incense and chants for another, a by-now-tradition of vigils before court for the candidate and members of the order, some truly spectacular costumes on the candidates, presentation of the tools of one's art or science on a pillow to the monarchs during the ceremony, and their return at the end, and so on. On the other hand, anyone well-plugged-in to the gossip circuit can usually be counted on to know who is getting what peerage at Coronation, so it is less of a general surprise.

 —Eowyn Amberdrake, Caid

The Outlands has the most lovely tradition of vigils for their new knights.  [2] I have continued to go to many of them, even though I don't live there anymore. I like the idea of knowing in advance that a friend is being knighted so that I can make the special effort to be there for the occasion. The discussions at the vigils have been incredibly enlightening, although often what is said is all stuff the candidate should, in theory, already know. I really think the people who come to the vigil get more out of it than the future knight. By talking to the candidate another peer who might not know him well, if at all, gets a chance to make sure how well the requirements are met, where the candidate's head is at (so to speak) and it is a chance for peers from other peerages to make known their opinions and knowledge.

Atenveldt, by comparison, does not have a vigil. In fact most people don't know they are receiving a peerage until the actual moment they do. This too can be very nice and the looks on the recipients' faces are memories to treasure. I have tried to introduce the idea of a vigil, but it has been scorned as not traditional to this kingdom. Sometimes, rarely, a squire will let his knight know that should the occasion ever arise he would prefer to have a vigil. However this is not common and they lack the intensity I have seen in the Outlands. Also, generally speaking, other peerages are not made to feel welcome.

I have to admit though that lately I have felt that maybe the Outlands has gone overboard on the traditions. I attended a vigil and knighting about a year ago. It was really too formal for the rowdy group I left as a a principality. There were set times for when each peerage was to visit the candidate, many little rituals (some of which I know for a fact started out as a joke) and a higher sense of gravity than I remembered. I have noticed the same thing in the courts they hold now too, compared to the ones of the principality. Upon reflection though I must add that Atenveldt's courts have also become more formal and rigid (read boring here).

 —Duchess Malinda Elkhaven, Atenveldt

As a matter of policy (established after some unfortunate experiences), the West only surprises people who we know, not just suspect, but know for sure, want to be surprised. Otherwise, we talk to them ahead of time, and may even wait until the next event to actually do the deed. This allows them to a) dress up, rather than being called in to court with dish suds to their elbows, b) make sure their spouse is at the event, c) arrange for cameras with film in them, etc. Also to adjust to the idea. It also avoids having the Crown standing in court trying to ad lib when someone is asked "Will you accept from Us this honor?" and responds, "Your Majesty, I cannot, in honor and good conscience, accept." (One particularly unfortunate monarch had three different people in a row turn down a peerage in the same court. Not all for the same reason, but after the third one, he was definitely feeling put-upon!)

 —William the Lucky, West


I beg to differ with your "Aggies" theory. My experience here (in the West) leads me to believe that a) the other peers tend to have a higher opinion of the chivalry and their proper place in the scheme of things than the chivalry does (with individual exceptions on both sides, of course) and b) the chivalry tend to believe that the other orders of the peerage are harder to get and therefore inherently more prestigious. In short, it might be more accurate to say that both sides feel that they are the faculty of an "Aggie" college except that both mostly lack the resentment implied.

 —William the Lucky, West

and Pelicans' Apprentices
and belt colors and stuff like that

[In response to Tatiana's comments on wearing of one's sponsor's badge:] Your tone applies a 20th Century mind to a period concept. I don't care if you can't tell all those squires apart, you're not necessarily supposed to. It's interesting to note when and where concepts of American individualism, freedom, and rights rear their heads in the SCA. The wearing of livery (whether a tabard, or arms on a belt) signifies a manner of contract to an individual, and unity of a group. This is a feudal basic. Safety in numbers.

I understand not liking the colored belts I don't like fashion limitations either. On the other hand, if you have trouble holding your pants up, try pointing them into your doublet.

 —Angela of Rosebury, Caid

The East uses red belts for Squires, and as far as I know has made no provisions beyond that officially or un. I've had one Pelican apprentice ("Egg" is too cute to live and "protege" to my ears has too much of a modern connotation of a somewhat jaded and decadent relationship Diagelev and Nijinsky, for example) and two Laurel ones. We never used any belts, favors, symbols; I never conducted any ceremony, public or private, or took any fealty (eeyuuk). It is a casual relationship wherein I try to tell them how I see their art or service, suggest references, spank them when they are naughty, praise them when they are good, and generally act more as a Big Brother than anything else. But I've seen others have full swearing of fealty before the Crown and exchange of tokens and symbols and all that. East custom, I think, is to let the individuals decide what they want to do and how.

 —Bish, East

I like the idea of having a peer's device (or badge) on the end of an associated student's belt, but my reasons may not be the same as yours. I like the thought that if I want to talk to a peer, either positively or negatively, about one of his/her students, I can easily identify the peer I need to find! (I am constantly amused by the way many people, myself included, seem to find it completely impossible to keep straight which Oldcastle squire belongs to which Oldcastle knight.)

 —Melisande de Belvoir, Atlantia

First, let me say I personally was never a squire, and have only ever had half of a squire myself. What helps an individual get knighted here is learning to fight well, plus learning how to behave properly and showing some sign of involvement in the overall culture. (If you are a pure stick-jock, your prowess may be respected, but you are unlikely to get knighted until positive answers can be given in the Chivalry meeting to such questions as "Does he do anything besides fight? "Does he dance? " "Does he play chess?" "Does he do embroidery?" etc. And someone will come round and tell him these truths his knight if he is a squire and his knight is around and active, someone else otherwise.) Most fighter practices are open to anyone who shows up, and typically everybody teaches everybody. (Yes, Wee Squires, this includes squires and other unbelted fighters teaching knights on occasion.) Being a squire, per se, seems to be a complete irrelevance certainly while someone occasionally prefaces a remark in the Chivalry meeting with the mention that the candidate is his squire, the only times anyone actually asks if an individual under discussion is a squire are a) someone is being chosen to tell the candidate that he is to be knighted, or b) someone is being sought to counsel the individual about some problem which he is evincing.

Some knights are picky about who they take as squires (although I am an extreme case). Others seem to have literally a squire in every post. (I mind me of one knight who has had squires in at least three of our four principalities simultaneously and not because they were his squires and moved away, but because he had been traveling and signed them up during the couple of days he was in their area. Nobody can convince me he was giving all of them significant help and instruction.) Some knights provide armor, instruction, advice, guidance, etc. usually in return for assistance in setting up camp, clean up, and such. Others provide psychological assistance (i.e. a sense of belonging) in return for the squire providing slave labor. Presumably those involved are happy with whatever arrangement they have no matter how bizarre it looks from the outside. Otherwise they would either resign or, if deprived of that option, drop out; the fact that we lose good people because they found dropping out the only way to get out of an unhappy relationship is both certain and regrettable. To tell someone that they can never resign is like insisting that divorce is not allowable it leaves only the options of suicide (dropping out) or adultery (getting training elsewhere) should the relationship break down. And, like it or not, sometimes squires, like spouses, will find that a relationship is no longer viable.

While there have been squires in the West since the first tourney, the use of red belts is relatively recent (perhaps 5-10 years) and still far from universal. Special colors for belts for proteges and apprentices are at most a vague awareness of practices in other kingdoms; I have perhaps seen one or two here. (For that matter, proteges and apprentices as a formal insti¬tution barely exist. And the Laurels and Pelicans, on the evidence of their meetings, care even less than the Chivalry do about someone's being a squire.)

 —William the Lucky, West

My squires have blue belts. I don't care if anyone else wears a blue belt. I don't care if anyone wears a red belt (or a white one either really). My squires have blue belts because back in AS XIII when I was king of the East I made a law to encourage the taking of squires that said squires may wear belts of their knight's colors.

By the way, about badges on belts: I never encouraged the wearing of any identifying marks by my squires, but one year eight years or so ago my squire Klaus showed up at Pennsic with tabards of blue and white with my badge on them for all my folks that he and his lady had made. I was blown away. At this last Pennsic several of my lads (three knights, I think) in the Allied Champions Battle wore them. I was very proud and flattered (don't tell them), but it was their idea not mine.

 —Gyrth Oldcastle of Ravenspur, Atlantia

I would really like to know where the idea of squires wearing chains and spurs came from. I heard a knight contradict himself once when he said to a new man being made a knight, "Let these spurs be a symbol of your prowess on the field," yet he allows his squires to wear them, and even his new squires (humph!!). I have seen many beautiful chains of silver, and these were on knights, and that's where they should stay! Most times one can tell what is a chain for decoration and which is a "Chain!" This type of "Chain!" should be reserved for knights and knights alone (I am still having trouble with the chain and fealty reasons for other peers, sorry).

When I was a squire my master gave me my red belt with his device at the tip and my device above that. He said when I passed the belt to my squire, I could place my squire's device above mine and then an ongoing tradition of that belt would be there for all to see! Tradition like that is one good reason; another is pride! As the wee squires leaned to in their piece, squiredom is based on a matter of pride and respect. I believe most of all squires out here are proud of who they serve and the device on the belt is more of a sign of respect to the person they serve. When you honor your household by wearing their device on a tabard or wearing your household's colors to a feast, I feel this is the same reason one wears their sponsor's arms on a belt. R.E.S.P.E.C.T, that is what it means to ME!!!

 —Sir Lavan Longwalker, Outlands

It should be what the peer and his or her "student" would like. I have a friend who is squire to a knight in mainland West. They meet about twice a year (they both travel occasionally), and their relationship is a serious teacher/learner situation when they are together. The squire received a surcoat that matches his brother squires'. He is very proud of it, and considers it an honor to acknowledge the relationship. He feels the same way about his belt, which I think also has his knight's arms on it. He is not advertising his knight; he is acknowledging in public a relationship he has put time and effort into, and is proud of.

On the other hand, he is also my protege (a talented young man). In Oertha there is a court ceremony for acknowledgment of the pelican-protege relationship, but he decided that it was not necessary. He wears a favor of mine, and we do not hide the relationship, but he does not wear the Oerthan protege baldric as some do. Both relationships and the way they are displayed or not are valid.

 —Morgana yr Oerfa (West/Oertha)


The idea of a peerage divorced from an order strikes me as odd. As someone else pointed out the SCA is about doing. You have to dosomething to earn a peerage, you just can't be a great person. Every once in a while I'll meet a new member and I'll think to myself that this person's a peer and I wonder what flavor they'll end up. They almost always do end up a peer, but I'm almost never right about the flavor. By the way, there is precedent of sorts for a vanilla patent.

When Fernando Salazar y Perez stepped down from the throne of the East, he was not a knight. King Frederick made it a point to award a patent to him as a peer, not as a count which I think was a separate scroll.

Granted Fernando was a royal peer (or peer de chance as certain stuffy laurels of my acquaintance would have it), but Flieg wrote the scroll purposefully to have a precedent for awarding a patent unaccompanied by another title.

 —Gyrth Oldcastle of Ravenspur, Atlantia

There is no possible way I can see a peerage being made just for courtesy/chivalry/and honorable behavior! Is this not what we all strive to obtain and three of the grandest reasons we entered this game? We as Peers are supposed to embody these ideals of courtesy, chivalry and honor. One cannot separate the "good" and "bad" peers through rewards; I believe one MUST NOT! Who is to decide what person deserves to be more honored than another? If the king is a poor example of these traits, is it his decision alone that merits this reward? NO!!!

I also disagree with the statement "other peerages are mostly for what you DO rather than what you ARE." I tell candidates I visit in vigils (most all peer candidates stand vigils in our kingdom) that they are being chosen for who they are and need not change who they are. A peer is not chosen to fit a new pair of shoes, a peer is made already wearing a fine pair!

I am a Knight. Sure, I fight. This is not One of Three distinct tracks I have been led into. I do not believe that I was made a knight based solely on my fighting ability. If this "track" was for pure fighting ability then there would be hundreds more "knights" on the field than now (many of you just thought "stick jocks" to yourselves). Sure there's plenty of them too, but hey, that's OK, there are enough knights that embody what we strive for and enough that try awfully hard that those few who don't can be set aside in your mind and you can still enjoy many a fine event. We can always hope they won't show up anymore. (Sure I'm dreaming, but boy was it a good one!)

If we're going to make archers peers, then let's add in combat-archers, axe-throwers, fencers, hunker-hausen champions, chess masters, and the ever-prevalent mead drinking masters. These are all very period activities that did (and do) take place on a regular basis, yet there is no recognition for any one of these diverse areas.

 —Lavan Longwalker, Outlands

OOOOOH! While I don't think it would happen frequently that people would be Peers without a Specialty, I do like the idea.

Over the years there have been numerous suggestions for reforming, rearranging or otherwise re-doing the peerage. I've heard (among others) granting the title of Marquis to triple peers; ditto, but to double peers; ditto to people who've reigned over more than one kingdom; divorcing the patent of arms from the Peerage Orders so that someone could be a knight, but not a peer (the implication being that then their behavior wouldn't be a factor); ditto with the idea in mind that the order is polled to see if the person should be a _____, then (assuming the person gets a Yea recommendation) polling the holders of patents to see if the person deserves that.

[I can see the winces and hear the groans already and think of the order of precedence with Patented Pelican and UnPatented Laurels and Ladies of the Rose and…Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize you'd just eaten!]

From the standpoint of simplicity and logic the idea of adding an Un-Ordered Peerage {Dis-Ordered? sorry} by Letters Patent seems one of the best I've heard to cover the occasional person who doesn't quite fit anywhere (or who has done or given an awful lot for a long time and NOBODY can stand!).

There are two problems I see:
a) The mechanics of the awarding would have to be carefully thought out. Who, if anyone, does the Crown ask for an opinion on the matter? ALL of the Peers? Those in the area closest to what the candidate does? For always or until there are at least five Disorderly Peers? Or should the Crown have the power to create a Peer without any consultation? (ouch!)?
b) The disgruntlement that some would feel over having or receiving a "Peerage Second Class" "The Crowns didn't have the guts to Knight a Fencer/ Archer, so they invented this," or "They know we'd never stand for knighting a fencer/archer so they invented this; it's not a ‘real' peerage." I'm willing to bet that somewhere, sometime both of those statements would be used by someone. It would take a certain amount of P.R. work to convince the populace that this is a good idea.

In general I do think this is a good idea; certainly I'd write the BoD in support of such a change.

 Bish, East

I'm in favor of this, but my question is what would we call them (the recipients) to differentiate them from AoA's (Lord/Lady), GoA's (Your Lordship/Ladyship), Peerages (Master/Mistress Sir), etc.?

I am really in favor of this as I've seen some peerages given to people who maybe didn't meet all the qualifications of that peerage, but had a certain bearing that was a cut above. The term I use to describe this situation is "Attitude Knights" certain knights whose fighting skills are not exactly superior, but these people seem to embody the chivalric ideal we wish (and attempt) to emulate. But this only works for those who put on armor.

 —Lord Cathyn Bluesword, Calontir

Lest some other kingdom jump at the chance to make the same mistake, the Order of the Silver Mullet (which Nerissa mentions) had several problems, which led to its eventual demise. Not least was the fact that, whereas it was supposed to be for "exemplars of chivalry," the range of chivalry of the members was, from the very first, much the same as that for the chivalry as a whole. That is, it included not only a couple of the most chivalrous individuals in the realm, but also some of the nastiest and slimiest individuals ever to wear a white belt in this kingdom. This may not have been apparent from a distance, but was all too obvious up close. And what kind of example does that present?

Actually, what Justin is suggesting is rather like the original situation for peerages: We had an Order of Chivalry, for fighting, and an Order of the Laurel, for everything else from dancing to heraldry to typing and filing. Only when the Order of the Pelican was re-defined from "the Board appreciates your help" to "service" was the Order of the Laurel narrowed to "arts and sciences."

I also suggest that, for example, "service" need not be defined as "sat a difficult kingdom office" we have several times given the Order of the Pelican to individuals who have "contributed continuing service over many years in their local group." These people may never had held a kingdom or principality office, but they are the ones who are always turning out to help with school demos, or to help clean up after a feast, or stand gate duty for the constables in the small hours of the morning. In short, the sort of staff without which nothing gets done. Similarly, we have been known to give Laurels to individuals who are not awesome dancers or cooks or costumers or artisans, but who do virtually everything, and do it well (albeit not spectacularly).

 —William the Lucky, West


I'm a fairly hardcore philosopher by nature, and have been esquired to Master Steffan ap Cennydd of Silverwing, aptly-titled "Firebrand Herald Extraordinary," for a couple of years now, so I tend to debate on any and all subjects. If my rambles get too long, feel free to edit them down. I'm best known as a longtime loudmouth on the Rialto, and as the Editor of the Letter of Dance, an SCA-wide dance newsletter. Also, I'm the deputy East Kingdom Historian, which means that I have easy access to vast files of important information that never get read. And I do lots of other activities whenever they seem convenient, like running events and demos and what-have-you.

I am an armiger, for some years now, but I generally don't bother with the title it doesn't suit my persona, and I'm simply not in the habit of using it.

Oh, and I'm from the Barony of Carolingia in the East, and any odd or warped views are strictly because of that…


I've lived in one group all my SCA life of 18 years. I'm a Laurel who works largely in costume and fibre arts, though I've tried my hand at most things the SCA has to offer. I even tried fighting, just to see what it was like, when I was young, thin, and silly. I've held offices as a seneschal, arts and sciences, herald, mistress of lists, though not for many years. I do a bit of cooking for feasts and make my ridiculously large library available as a resource for others. I teach various crafts classes on request.

Much of my energy in the past has gone into food-clothing-shelter for a middle-sized household w

hich is now apparently breaking up into its family units. I did have a persona once, where did it go. I know it's around here somewhere. Ah. I'm a Swedish lady holding household for a husband on the First Crusade. If he ever comes back the two children are going to be difficult to explain.

[As Mirhaxa began her letter with "I think you know most of my vital statistics," I should add that she received a Stag's Tynes & Princess's Cypher (principality service awards), & baronial service award. Her AoA was received from Atenveldt 3/23/74.  aelflaED]


Katlin's answer to enhancing the arts was quite enlightening and laid to rest forever any feelings of inferiority about the place of the arts I might ever have had.

However, as the glow wore off there remained exposed some irritation, and "second class citizens" was the triggering phrase. I don't care if fighters ignore artists, although the reverse is not possible (it's not nice to ignore the king!). I believe specialization, no matter in what, adds to the marvelous diversity of the SCA. I don't believe the Chivalry gets more respect than the Laurels or Pelicans. What seems to be the rub is that Laurels and Pelicans don't get no respect from the Chivalry.

If fighters ignored artists it would be a big improvement on having them treat everyone else like dirt just because they don't fight. Women who fight are considered second class citizens and women who don't fight are third class; men who don't fight are treated as subhuman. This perception on the part of non-fighters may be what colors our attitude toward royalty.

Yes, this is exaggerated. Yes, there are courtly and chivalrous fighters. A few. Maybe this is a local thing? Maybe it's just me?

 —Mirhaxa av Morktorn, Outlands


Eowyn, I rarely wear most of the knick-knacks I've accumulated (I've given away almost all of 'em). I have heard from several friends who have Court Baronies and the attendant coronet that when they have worn these at TYC, TFYC, Pennsic and other "mixed culture" events they have gotten all sorts of nods, salutations, bows, hand kisses and general acknowledgement that they exist that they never get at the same event if they take off the "stuff."

My personal opinion is that many people who have grown up in an SCA culture where respect is shown to royalty, ex-royalty, peers, barons, etc., when being unable to TELL just what kind of hat is being worn, give a slightly upgrade politeness to anyone who looks even remotely like they deserve it so as not to offend or miss anyone. It's not "scraping" quite so much as it is confusion.

Wonder if any heraldic types want to try and assemble a photographic "Field Guide to the Royal and Noble Regalia of _______ (fill in name of Kingdom)"? Heck, I don't recognize the baronial coronets of half the groups in the East and have lost track of the counts, countesses, etc. and what their hats look like!

On AEdward's comments on "this throne thing" Hmm. It appears that every kingdom has a different degree of respect toward the king and queen, crowns, thrones, etc. Some of us are pretty casual, some are very formalized. I think because we (the SCA) are now so heterogeneous and have had so many people move from one kingdom to another taking their cus¬toms with them, that the question has become one of personal taste and should be left to the individual. Someone can make a full Court Obeisance, bowing gracefully from the ankles to a vacant chair, and I guess I will think they are a trifle eccentric but not a candidate for the Happy Hutch. So long as they don't get apoplectic because I breeze right past said empty chair without a glance!

On fealty and oathswearing: I don't. It is occasionally a nuisance that I don't, but I just….don't. My reasons are partly that since I don't HAVE to, I see no point in doing it; partially objections to the swearing of oaths on religious grounds, and partially the feeling that it would compromise my eternal position of (mostly) loyal opposition. In the East, nobody gets bent out of shape about it, I guess in part because most people are used to me being more seriously eccentric than average. I've had to explain to some royals who didn't know me that it was nothing personal, I just don't DO that. I've never had any royals go spare over it either. Obviously, in some other Kingdoms I'd be looking at a choice between a quick escape or a hemp necktie! Oh well.

ON DISTANCE factors: "Too far" and "too much trouble" are measurements defined entirely by the degree of one's desire to attend the event!

 —Bish, East

Although we are speaking the same language, I have discovered from my travels that there really is a subtle difference in how each kingdom is managed and nuances on what is acceptable and what isn't. My first reign (a million years ago) I was Queen of Atenveldt, which consisted of the Principalities of Ansteorra, the Outlands and the Sun. I was one of the first Atenveldt Queens to travel extensively throughout the Kingdom and in many cases the first Queen the populace had ever seen or talked to. I was amazed at the customs in the outlying regions of the kingdom. They didn't have the answers, so they made them up as they went along, and many of them worked real well.

Someone once pointed out to me that by the nature of the game, we worship tradition. So something done twice becomes tradition, thrice and it is sacred tradition, then it is written in stone and beyond that it becomes lost in the mists of time, never to be changed. I know this for a fact to be true. I have made up "traditions" that are still in use. It is a little like seeing my fingerprints all over this game. Each area I visited had their own little idiosyncrasies, habits and traditions. The further the distances from the next SCA group the more radical the differences could get. This still holds true today. My own kingdom stretches from Canada to Mexico and for all intents and purposes the two principalities (Artemisia and the Sun) are culturally worlds apart, both mundanely and in the SCA. This causes no end to the friction and lack of communication between the North and South parts of the kingdom. The Principality of the Sun considers itself steeped in tradition since it was here first and the Principality of Artemisia sees itself as the youthful leader and promise of the future. They have difficulty finding common ground. Since the Kingdom is so huge, travel is expensive, at best, and that limits an exchange of knowledge, ideas and traditions.

[Malinda writes of having spent most of her time in Atenveldt, but ten years of that in the Outlands, when it was a principality. She notes that the differences have become more pronounced over the years. She has lately married an Outlander, who moved to the Barony of Atenveldt and is having a hard time adjusting to the differences.] Al-Barran (Albuquerque) practices the art of warfare all year long. Atenveldt (Phoenix) has a war season that begins in the fall, goes on until Estrella war in February and then ends until the following fall. The fighter practices in Atenveldt are on Wednesday nights because of the caustic summer heat. Al-Barran's are on Sunday afternoons. Almost everyone knows everyone else in al-Barran but Atenveldt has a larger population to draw from and there are sometimes three hundred or more people at fighter practice. It's almost impossible to know everyone….

 —Malinda Elkhaven, Atenveldt

Having lived in the Outlands since 1980 and now living in Calontir, I must say it seems that Calontir has a different attitude about rules. In the Outlands, we tried to avoid writing down every custom and calling it a rule or law. Here the more prevalent attitude is that all things should be codified and written down, and then strictly enforced, from things as small as a baronial armoring guild to the kingdom marshallate standards. There are no sumptuary laws in the Outlands, so if I were inclined to do so, I could wear a circlet on my head. It wouldn't be against the law, but it would violate local custom and would be greeted with obvious displeasure and probable rebukes. In Calontir however, every type of metal headgear is codified, regulated and described in minute detail as to its size, adornment, and metal used for manufacture. To wear an improper (illegal) circlet would be met with SCA-legal action. Being from the Outlands, I am used to the "looser" system and like it, but I hesitate to say "Well, in my old kingdom we…" because what works for Outlanders may not work for Calontirans, and vice versa.

 —Cathyn Bluesword, Calontir


I am Lord Cathyn Bluesword, an early 17th Century Irishman with a fascination for things "medieval," which is why I may be seen wearing 12th Century Japanese one day, 14th Century Italian the next. I am a member of the Crimson Company and earn my keep leasing my sword to those in need. When not employed in this field, I sew my own garb, build armor, autocrat events, brew beer, cook, sing, dance (poorly), do calligraphy, and tinker on wooden models designed to catch the wind and soar like birds. I also practice swordsmanship and other weapons forms. In recognition of my martial talents, I have been given the Hawk's Lure of Atenveldt, made a Defender of the Stag's Blood of the Outlands, Defender of the Gate of the Barony of Lonely Tower (Calontir), and have held various champion and defender titles. I have also been given the Prince's Gauntlet for service to the Prince of the Outlands.

Mundanely, Robert W. Lesnick is a former nuclear engineering student who couldn't pass calculus, so he spends his time learning to fix computers and being engaged to Jenny Grubtill (Lady Jemira Araksasa) the most beautiful woman in his world.

"Why are you still in the SCA?" and the story of

The question "Why did you join the SCA?" has been asked by various people and the answers are interesting but to me the more meaningful question is this one: "Why are you still in the SCA?"

People are members of all kinds of distinct groups; some they have no choice about (like genotype), others they drift into without conscious thought (like their culture) and still others are entered into by conscious, deliberate action. The SCA (like square dance, bowling, and fly-tying clubs) is of the third category. There is a difference though between membership in a bowling league and the SCA in that the SCA does tend to become your LIFE and therefore is more similar to joining the priesthood, the military, or a major law firm. Like the process of fossilization, the SCA gradually (or rapidly in some cases) replaces most of the elements of your "real" life with the corresponding elements of itself. Yet, unlike fossilization, membership is not fixed and irrevocable; to the contrary, every day the option is there (though the break may be painful) to quit and do something entirely different. So why do people keep working so hard to keep playing?

The questions has intrigued me in a vague way much of my time in the SCA but recently has become much more interesting to me. (This may be a consequence of having my "long" existence in the SCA formally recognized by being made a Venerable Guardsman.  [3] )

I look at my own motives for continuing membership and find some interesting things. It comes down to basic Campbellian-Jungian concepts of the need for myth, ritual, community and tribe, and ideals independent of oneself.

I spent the first 23 years of my life as a will-I nill-I member of an extremely small and distinct community, the Missionary. A minority among a minority (missionaries among foreigners), for every one of us there were several hundred thousand Indians. I went to a 175 year old missionary boarding school with a student body (from Lower Kindergarten  essentially day care to 12th Grade) that was never larger than 450. That 450 was 60% of the missionary children in India at any given time. One of my classmates was the fourth generation of his family to go to Woodstock School, and the fifth generation of his family to be missionaries in India. He was not unusual. The school was strongly English in tradition (Tom Brown's School Days and Stalky & Co strike sometimes painful chords). I grew up assuming that I would be a missionary too, and would have except for a few minor things such as not being a Christian, the Missions running out of money, and the socio-political climate of the world changing drastically during the 60's. I miss the tribe and all the pomp and circumstance, myth and specific-unto-us tradition that went along with membership.

I was far more fortunate in my adjustment to being a member of "the last generation" of Mish-kids than most of my classmates. I went to my class's 20-year reunion a year ago August and know this to be true. While I haven't made a distinct success of my life I am not (unlike so many of them) a "marginal-man" because, in large part, of the SCA.

My membership (in spirit at least) in the SCA began in January of 1968, three years before my membership in the Mission expired. So I had an overlap that made it all much easier for me. I had been sent to Berkeley CA from India by my parents to get me away from a bad situation at my school. The daughter of the family I stayed with was going to the University and was, along with her brother, in the SCA. She took me to a Twelfthnight revel. Being at the time more than a little alienated from life in general and angst-ridden, the concept and practice of the SCA was absolutely wonderful to me. I was in Berkeley five more months and although I did not get to any other events, I made friends with another SCA member (now Sir Houri the Savage) at Berkeley High and started on my first suit of chain-mail. I went back to India in June of 1968 and it wasn't until I returned to the USA and started college in 1973 that I found the SCA again. Very few people know that from '68 to '73 the SCA had one lone member in north India. It was one lone because I was making fairly lethal swords (and cardboard armor) in shop class out of 2x4 and nobody would fight with me.

It could be said that I have merely replaced one strictly defined social system for another as a way of reducing the need for self-definition. But I disagree. The key element to my continuing participation in the SCA is the one thing that my previous (Christian-Missionary) culture opposed. That is evolution and change. Maintaining the status-quo and cleaving to an idealized image of a golden-age of church and converts was and still is the one of the fundamentals of my previous world. "The Rock Unchanging amidst a Sea of Storms" and all that. The SCA on the other hand not only evolved and changes in an organic way as a consequence of the averaging of all the desires and vision of all its members but also as a consequence of the actions (conscious or unconscious) of individuals. The actions or beliefs of one person can affect the mythos and effect a change in the whole of the SCA. This "rolling pebble" effect is not a consequence of a "light" or trivial nature of the SCA but rather the result of the SCA being a group composed of "members-by-choice" who are more generally aware that their particular culture (the SCA) is the result of a mutually agreed upon and arbitrary definition of "the way things are." [I have purposely avoided using the word "fantasy" because it is somewhat loaded. In truth "reality" or the "mundane world" has no more absolute basis than does the SCA. It is just (1) far bigger, (2) far more complicated, and (3) far more un-questioned.]

So why am I still a member of the SCA? I love it! To expand upon that, the SCA provides me with ritual (coronations), rites of passage (green cards and autocrating), mythology ("no shit, there I was and this Duke…"), numinous experiences (like that strange and wonderful shiver I feel when someone is called before the thrones and as they're kneeling there you, in the audience, suddenly realize the knights and masters are creeping up from behind, and you look at the kneeler just waiting to see their face when they realize what is about to happen to them), family (households and encampments within encampments), and ideal-greater-than-oneself ("it was light, but it was perfect!").

Add to all the above the fact that I can bail out any time, I don't have to pay if I don't want to and nobody is going to show up on my doorstep with a warrant for my arrest for non-attendance.

If there was only one single thing that was the reason that I played (like fighting for instance) and at 39 and 11 months I found that I was (and am) getting whupped-regular-like by a bunch of young whippersnappers, then I might well become disillusioned and either drop out and join a different group where I could be a hot-shot again, or become a reactionary and start pontificating and whining about "the golden age" and "how far we have fallen" and "how the novices have no respect." But for me there isn't one thing or one reason, every day I find new ones that I had never imagined, like being able to mentor a novice who made the mistake of pausing for 10 seconds at a demo and is now getting the benefit of all my years experience in one fell swoop (…OK you got your helm, your sword, your tunic, your goblet, your tourney clothes, your hat, your dagger, your KWH, and your calligraphy pen…but wait, there's more!).

Like my marriage I have found that, rather than being a way of reducing choices and options, playing in the SCA has added all kinds of wonderful things to my already pretty happy life. I could be happy without the SCA and without Theresa, but with them life is so much more better. Neither my marriage nor the SCA then is in any way an "escape" for me since it is the "ideals" of Chivalry, Honor, and Courtesy that the SCA allows me to manifest and practice that truly hold me. And those ideals of behavior are for me "virtual absolutes" that apply equally to Tule, and Keith, and Husband, and Friend, and Co-worker, and Stranger-holding-the-door-for-a-stranger, and all the other personas that I am.

( Tule of Tehri, Outlands)

[The following was received the same week Tule's was written, but written right after the author read Issue #1.]

I am a philosopher at heart and have given some thought to why, after all these years, I have not burned out, become utterly disillusioned and just given up. I have never taken a vacation from the SCA. I know that part of the reason has been that I've moved around a lot. The longest I have ever lived in any single area is around five years. I have lived (in this order) in Phoenix, San Francisco, Phoenix Denver, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Tucson, and finally I am now back in Phoenix, but I am homesick for Albuquerque. Forgive me for not listing all the correct SCA names but it is confusing enough as it is. I have lived under even more Barons and Baronesses than the number of cities I have lived in. This has, I have reasoned, kept me from getting stale. Besides having lived in all those places, I love to travel and have done as much of that as I can afford.

Although I have no way of proving my next theory I must surmise that another reason I still am active in the SCA is that I am a peer and that it is human nature to enjoy the attention that goes with being one. His Grace, Duke Trelon once referred to that enjoyment as "going to SCA events to get our ego strokes." I was offended by that statement at first, but the more I thought on it, I realized that he might have something there. Would I enjoy the SCA as much if I received less attention? I think on it and wonder; it keeps me humble and reminds me what a real pleasure and honor it is to get all that attention.

My third and most substantial reason for why I am still involved in all this madness is the newcomers. Their new ideas and inspirations have kept the game fresh and interesting for me. I seek out the enthusiastic newcomer whenever I get close to being burned out. I can recapture that magic feeling I once had, by watching it all happen again for the first time for someone else. My strong mothering instincts come out to protect them and keep them from being singed by flying too close to the flame. I try to guide them away from the obvious pitfalls and problems inherent in the game. Suddenly before I realize it, there I am, involved and having worlds of fun with some of the most special people in the world, my friends.

 —Duchess Malinda Elkhaven, Atenveldt

"The Dream"

I concede that everyone's understanding of "The Dream" if it exists at all is a little different, and I recognize that everyone's reasons for choosing this organization to belong to are different. But it seems to me that there is probably a common thread that keeps us here, or at least those of us who stay after the bloom is off the rose, and that common thread is what I understand as "The Dream." Before I discovered the SCA in 1974, I spent all my spare time and money on a community theater group in suburban Philadelphia. These were my closest friends, and I really believed I enjoyed their company. Just as children often don't know how to express affection without hitting, the theater people I spent my time with didn't know how to communicate without cutting. The sophisticated, witty insult was the primary, maybe the only form of communication we used, and in retrospect, I'm not positive I understood how much it hurt. When I found the SCA and met people who treated each other courteously, I understood what "The Dream" was. I have told the story often of the single moment I believe caught me in the SCA's web forever: It was at Pennsic III, which was the first event I attended as a real member. (I'd been to a couple of demos before that, but that's a whole other story.) I knew virtually no-one except the person I went with, and, believe it or not, I was almost painfully shy. Someone introduced me to Duke Cariadoc of the Bow, and he kissed my hand. A real Duke, and he kissed my hand! I wasn't sure I'd ever want to wash it again. Some 17 years later, I'm a Duchess, and I've been sleeping with a Duke for years; some of the cachet has worn off. But the magic of that moment, the feeling that something special had happened to me, has never gone away. When I think of "The Dream," that's what I mean.

 —Melisande de Belvoir, Atlantia

This poor little phrase really got beat up in the last issue. Let's just admit that everyone's "Dream" is different. When I started in the SCA I mostly wanted to drink beer and burp (very ladylike). Then the attraction was an artistic outlet. Next it was for friendship. Now I do it to challenge myself to push my own boundaries especially philosophically. "The Dream" usually implies some romantic ideal which is not commonly defined. Hopefully we can be tolerant of other people's goals (yes, I know that THIS is not a period concept). The beauty of the SCA is its ability to fulfill different "dreams" for a variety of people. I like the diversity because it allows change and growth while still participating in the same organization. Who knows, next year I may be drinking beer and burping again God's teeth!

 —Angela of Rosebury, Caid

[see also Mirhaxa's letter under "Language"]

Melisande de Belvoir Atlantia

My name is Melisande de Belvoir, and I have been at this for some 17 years now. Melisande is the daughter of a Norman Crusader and Jewish physician's daughter; this carefully designed persona story allows me to get away with a great deal, and the "Belvoir" I took my name from is a Crusader castle in the north of Israel. I lived in the "real" East Kingdom until 1978, when I moved to the Principality of Atlantia; when Atlantia went kingdom, I didn't move but my fealty did. I have been Queen of the East once and of Atlantia once, thanks to my beloved Lord, Gyrth Oldcastle of Ravenspur, whom I met at Pennsic VI. I was Seneschal of the East for one term and of Atlantia for two, for which I was inducted into the Order of the Pelican. My Laurel is for cooking and brewing, both of which I used to do on a much larger scale than I do now. I have also been gratified to receive several kingdom honors (the East's Silver Crescent and Burdened Tyger, Atlantia's Pearl and Gold Dolphin) and Bhakail's baronial award. I dabble in counted thread embroidery, love to dance, and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the inkle loom I ordered at Pennsic.

In my other life (Don't think of those people as Mundanes; think of them as medievally challenged), I am Carol O'Leary, and I negotiate and administer research contracts for the U.S. Department of Education. I have a husband and a six-year-old son, a serious addiction to historical romance novels, and about two dozen projects going at any given moment, none of which is housework.


In the East, by law, the crown must conduct the Corpora mandated polling of the Orders by mail. This is obnoxious, annoying, expensive, and the fairest and best way we could come up with.

We do have some kingdom orders where the crown does NOT have to poll the members, but for the most part they operate the same way. For various reasons I recently calculated my responses based on copies of my responses in the computer. They covered five pollings over a one-year period, 9/90 to 8/91. I belong to two peerage and two kingdom-level polling orders; therefore I responded to Their Majesties or Highnesses with anything from a grunt of Yes or No to a six-paragraph rave review or two-page diatribe on no fewer than 111 Pelican or Laurel candidates, and a total of 436 candidates for all four orders I belong to.

As a matter of pride, I guess, I can say that I've responded to all but 2 or 3 pollings I've ever received and I've been getting such things for YEARS. (Yes, I am neurotic!)

Inactive peers in polling orders aren't much missed here, either; if they aren't heard from in a while, they are dropped from the mailing list and aren't asked any more. They have to specially petition to be put back ON the list. Those who care and who can take the time to respond or who will spend the postage get to voice an opinion; those who don't don't. It does seem a bit like only the squeaky wheels and seriously weird would get heard, but my impression from Royalty I've talked to is that it generally works. But yes, it rarely does happen that only three people wind up responding on a candidate and one says yes, one says no and one abstains! It's Crown's Choice, folks!

One reason we do this is because it gives the Crown statistics that they can show when some member or faction in the Order is getting truly rabid in opposition to a candidate: "But 67% of the Order think s/he deserves it!" It IS a powerful argument.

Now, AElflaed is right, there are occasionally things you want to say and can't put in writing. The Orders DO have periodic meetings. (I expect to spend half of Twelfth Night in order meetings grumbling and half in the kitchen peeling, dicing and basting…or is that the other way around?)

I recall vividly one peerage polling where, as is my wont, I wrote to the Crown exactly what I thought about a candidate; as a joke at the end of my raving I said, "…and if her husband wins Crown, BURN THIS LETTER." Would you believe he did? And the Crown did! Hell, I was so grateful I almost swore fealty!

This hasn't stopped me from expressing my opinion freely, just from expressing it quite so bluntly!

After awhile (I think?!) the polling responses are sealed and turned over to the Archivist who hopefully puts them in a leaky storage facility; I don't want to know what anybody said about ME either!

I have strong objections to the peers circle system as it is and previously was practiced elsewhere, mostly regarding the ease with which it could be abused. The mailed polling system has been in existence here for a LOOOONG time, and is an old, familiar, and tedious method of doing things.

 —Bish, East

All three Orders in the West run in essentially the same fashion. At each of the six major kingdom events (three each Crown Tournaments and Coronations) the Crown meets with each of the Orders in turn. Traditionally these meetings are on Sunday morning, although there is lately a tendency to have one or another (usually the Chivalry) on Saturday evening, especially if there is a candidate who is likely to be elevated on Sunday and who there is some reason to believe would like to do a vigil.  [4]

Meetings are also held whenever the Crown is inclined especially including any time they travel to Oertha or Lochac. In addition, the members in Lochac hold meetings on their own, and send notes to the Crown on who was discussed and what consensus, if any was reached.

The Order keeps a list of those who are talked about. Originally the Crown kept these lists. Later, a king and queen decided that they couldn't be bothered and instituted Principals (properly pronounced "clerk") for each order to keep the lists. Actually, there are two or three lists: a "Short Term" or "Discussion" list, a "Long Term" or "Watch" list, and (sometimes) a "Problem" list. The discussion lists consist of those who are under consideration for elevation within the next year or so. We go over each of them, discussing what progress they are making and whether they are ready yet; we may decide to recommend that the Crown elevate them, to leave them where they are, or to drop them back to the "watch" list." The Watch List consists of those who we are keeping an eye on for possible elevation in the next couple of years. (And, in the case of the Chivalry, those who we are reminding each other not to be surprised by should we encounter them on the field.) We run through the names, mentioning why they are on the list, but only discussing whether they should be moved to the Discussion List, left where they are, or dropped. The Problem List is used to help us work together on those occasional individuals (usually, but not always individuals who are doing well enough to attract some positive notice) who are displaying behavioral problems. These can range from fighters with blow counting problems to those who need instruction in courtesy to those with drinking problems.

We try to have someone on the Discussion List for at least three meetings before they are elevated, to ensure that most of the active members of the orders get a chance to comment. We do not do mailings, to poll or for any other reason we do not even have an address list. Our basic feeling is, if you don't get to three events in a row, how active are you really and how much current information are you likely to have on the candidates? (With obvious exceptions for those, both members and candidates, in Lochac, Oertha, and the Far West.) Discussions are reasonably frank; the only constraints come when a member's spouse (and now occasionally child) is under discussion. (I am always fascinated that those who would cause no problem by their presence during a discussion of their spouse invariably leave for that part of the discussion, while those who are a problem stay put and lobby hard for their nearest and dearest usually with negative effect which they are oblivious to.)

The existence of the meetings is obvious. Opinions differ as to how much confidentiality is proper. My own feeling is that anything said is "not for attribution," and negative comments ought to be circulated no further than the candidate whose skills (or behavior) need improving. [I got into a lot of trouble once with someone whose kingdom has chivalry meetings so secret that non-members do not even know that they have occurred. He could not even imagine any other approach, and took my mention of a policy (not related to any individual candidate) decision of a meeting (not in his kingdom either) as clear evidence of a total lack of chivalry, courtesy, and honor on my part.]

Since we are discussing what we have heard about how things are done elsewhere…the stories which reach here suggest that in some kingdoms, the Order decides who will or will not be admitted, and the Crown just follows their instructions and officiates. Here, the Crown gets advised and then acts as it sees fit. Mostly, they follow our advice, but nobody is under the illusion that this is certain we have had individuals who were admitted when a clear majority of the order concerned felt that they were not ready (in one case, that they were not even at the level which would get them on the Watch List), and others where the Crown declined to admit someone who was favored by the entire order because the Crown was not convinced that the candidate was ready. More of the latter, actually, than the former, and not very many of either, but it has happened in all three orders.

 —William the Lucky, West

In Atlantia, each Peerage Order has a Principal whose primary jobs are to maintain a current address list of the order and to send out polling letters when directed to by the Crown. Some Principals encourage the members of the order to send copies of their responses to the Principal so the order has independent records of how the order advises the Crown; as a matter of principle, I do not do that. By custom, if not by law, Atlantian pollings are conducted in writing to all active members; members are defined as "inactive" if they fail to respond to two consecutive pollings or if they ask to be dropped from the list. [My own feeling, by the way, is that the Crown should do its own mailings; I think some money can be saved that way (by combining letters in one envelope where appropriate) and that there is better control over when mailings are done. In a kingdom Atlantia's size, I think that is still reasonable, although it may no longer be feasible in the East.] I think personal discussions are valuable, and I participate actively in them when we have order meetings, but I like the permanence of a written record too. It gives me the opportunity to prove to people that I do so sometimes change my mind!

 —Melisande de Belvoir, Atlantia

[See also Gyrth's article under "Peer Fear"]


Duchess Malinda is a Pelican, Viscountess (Sun), Lady of the Rose, the Silver Leaf, Walker of the Way (Outlands), has the Atenveldt service and arts awards, Principality service, and has been, in various times and places, a hospitaller [a.k.a. "gold key" in other lands], chronicler, seneschal, healer, arts & sciences officer, chatelaine, royal coach, and has auto¬cratted many things. She was queen of Atenveldt when her name was Malinda von Hohen-Staffen, and she coerced the nearly-newbie seneschal of the Outlands, named AElflaed of Duckford, to become seneschal of Atenveldt. More information appears in her article on kingdom differences.


As King and Queen we made a point of not giving any awards unless we had scrolls prepared to go with them (with a very few possible exceptions). In that way we avoided contributing to the backlog, although we also probably made it difficult for the scribes to catch up with any old backlog. In truth, that was some time ago; the population was smaller, and so was the absolute number of awards being given. I do think, though, that for peerages and kingdom-level orders, there ought to be enough lead-time to allow for the preparation of an appropriate scroll to be ready; I do not hold with the "Quick give Lord Thus-and-Such a peerage he's leaving the kingdom next Tuesday" school of awards. I'd also like to note that I agree that some scrolls (and the scribes who create them) are mistreated or underappreciated, but I also don't know anyone who does scrolls who doesn't love to do it. Let's face it artists practice their arts because they want to. They would buy the papers, pens, and inks for their own enjoyment (probably), even if they weren't producing scrolls for the kingdom's benefit, and how much wall space does any one home have? If they offer to contribute their talents to the kingdom, good for them! Let's appreciate their contributions; let's not reject their offers.

 —Melisande de Belvoir, Atlantia

ThinkWell would make a great birthday gift
for some friend of yours. You wouldn't have
to wrap it or go to the post office.


I believe in campaigning for peerages in one's actions, not one's words. To be a non-peer attempting to act in a peerly fashion is proper and healthy, to be a non-peer and tell people how peerly one is and how much one deserves to be a peer is not.

To campaign for others is another story. I've had discussions with peers on why I think "Lord X" should be elevated to their order, expressing my feelings with candor. Invariably, I have either been asked questions about the candidate's strengths (as I perceive them) or have been apprised of some of their perceived (by the circle) drawbacks. The later form is usually followed by suggestions to me on how I might help "Lord X" attain the peerage I'd been recommending him for. I think this is a healthy process, as it give the peers a "view from outside", i.e. not just what the peers think is a peer, but what the populace thinks is a peer.

On "Hope Chests": I have no complaints about these, and am rather proud of mine. I hope one day I may be able to learn the restraint and demeanor to bear myself as a peer and also hope to be recognized for this "growing up" and be elevated to the peerage. On that day I will be proud to wear the belt that [Sir X] gave me, the chain that [Sir Y] gave me, and the KSCA pin that [Sir Z] gave me. Until then, they're the 30"-waist Levis taped to the refrigerator door encouraging me not to deviate from the path.

 —Lord Cathyn Bluesword, Calontir


But…but…I always get called the feast-ocrat?! At least in this part of the world the autocrat runs the event and feast-ocrat runs the kitchen on a more or less co-equal basis and everybody else works for one or the other. "Spaghetti-O's" (he spluttered in incoherent rage!) AARGH! Hey, I make a period garlic sauce so good it brings tears to your eyes! I once got Duke Gyrth to eat fish! I…digress, frequently. Some of the SCA's "creative anachronisms" grate and some have become so common nobody notices how weird they are. "Black mead" is Coke or other dark fizzy non-alcoholic beverages; "wain" is auto; "smalls/littles" for kids raises my hackles; "dream," well, you know; "Feast-ocrat" is pretty common usage around here. Anybody got any others they heard and liked or hated? Let's Make a Glossary!

 —Bish, East

A word that gets me is "citizens" particularly in court. There are some places in the SCA where there are citizens (the Dominion of Myrkefaellin, for instance), but these are rare and exceptions. We are subjects, not citizens.

It also gets me when monarchs grant awards of arms.

 —Gyrth Oldcastle of Ravenspur, Atlantia

"Scadian" horrible. Not a bad idea but the resulting word just sounds so ugly. Like "sci-fi" it seems something only uneducated media would use. I do like "the Laurel Kingdoms" which I first ran into on the Rialto. "The Dream" is even worse. I associate it with singing "The Burden of the Crown" to a weeping circle of Crown Tourney entrants, whose display of saccharine sentimentality was seldom borne out by their actions the rest of the year.

I was never again able to hear it without a giggle after driving home from an event in Atenveldt and seeing on a billboard in the middle of nowhere, "Albuquerque Share the Dream!" I almost ran off the road laughing.

 —Mirhaxa av Morktorn

Notes to AE of D:
1) Of course one should talk to other Laurels or Knights or whatever regarding their behavior if they get out of line. And people who have kids and see other parents letting theirs run wild should remonstrate. This is called peer (small "p") pressure.
2) Please don't tell me that Yankees are rude by nature; ever have to deal with a Killer Belle in full tantrum? Puleeze!

 —Bish, East

Hi Eowyn/Melinda! I see they got you and Siegfried/Dave again. Have fun BoDing well for the Society.  —Bish

Bish: al-Baran had a religious component from its first year and it was quite ingrained before we found out we weren't supposed to do that, so most of us aren't bothered by religious titles or ceremony. The whole thing about not allowing religious artifacts of any nature has always seemed quite peculiar to me. It simply is not possible to study the stated SCA field and ignore all religion.

The short form "Bish," however, always makes me think of the character by that name in an old SF novel. The character was the town drunk, a remittance man of such cultured presence that his drinking cronies called him the Bishop. He turned out to be an undercover cop tracking a mass murderer. The sense of more there than meets the eye as a connotation to the name "Bish" was only enhanced by my one brief meeting with Master Geoffrey.

 —Mirhaxa av Morktorn, Outlands

[Editor's note: Mirhaxa asked me not to correct her spelling of "al-Barran." She spells it with one "r" on purpose. She's been in since before it was named, so fine.]


When the principality which was to become Caid was formed, the four baronies there each had a name to which they were very strongly committed, and nobody showed the slightest interest in compromise. (Someone with more prescience than anyone involved at the time might have taken this as a sign of Middle Eastern thinking and thus predicted an Arab name.) Since the Principality of An Tir had just been formed, the seneschal of the West finally suggested in exasperation that unless the four baronies could come to an agreement within a fortnight, he would arbitrarily direct that, the principality at the other end of the kingdom being "An Tir," the one in the south would be called "Pos Tir." The name Caid, agreed to by all four parties, arrived by return mail.

 —William the Lucky

Once the name "Outlands" was rejected. We used "Utanwayard" for a while. Except for the invention of "Utanwayardenmoot" for the prince's curia (which never met), it was worthless and irritating; we appealed and "Outlands" was approved, but with the reminder that it wouldn't be a good kingdom name. Yeah, yeah, we thought Laurel Sovereign changes. When it became kingdom time, someone at a board meeting said, "But the name doesn't make sense now, what is it ‘out' of?" For once I thought of my good answer on the spot rather than the next day, and I said, "The same thing the East is East of, the West is West of and the Middle's in the Middle of." No one's given us any trouble since then.

 —AElflaed of Duckford, Outlands


AElflaed, I rarely respect someone for their titles. People tend to gain my respect by their behavior and their treatment of others. I have seen some obnoxious [nether body-parts] in belts and chains (not to exclude Laurels or Pelicans), but I've also seen some knightly (peerly?) individuals without the trappings of peerage. Who do you think I respect more?

 —Cathyn Bluesword, Calontir

The one thing in ThinkWell #4 which got to me was Lady Jocelyn's comments about peers on page 15. I've never been to an event outside of Atlantia or the East (although I did go to the far west mundanely once and, I'll tell you, Cleveland is different!) so I have no idea how the peerages operate in other kingdoms.

In Atlantia, the chivalry has for some time made a practice of informing candidates where they stand and why. Chivalry meetings (we don't have councils or circles) are closed to the public, but the discussions are not. The Atlantian chivalry has agreed that anything said in a meeting may be repeated to the people concerned. This has effectively put an end to rumor and allowed candidates to address the Order through his (or her) knight (if a squire) or through the good offices of some friendly knight. (Atlantia doesn't have any Masters, yet.)

It also allows the Order to inform the candidate in what ways they would like to see improvement specifically. Sometimes it's "Stop being an asshole" and sometimes it's "You need to do something besides fight" and sometimes it's something completely different. I think, by the way, that peers do a pretty good job of discerning actual change from temporary goal-oriented change.

Those "honestly deserving of recognition" almost always receive it. When they don't, it's usually because they've pissed off irritated some significant portion of an Order. And there is always an avenue of appeal or recourse. It's extraordinarily difficult to avoid communicating with a persistent person. Letters, phone calls, and even buttonholing people at events can cause communication with the deaf and dumb.

Yes, I'm sure the peerage in An Tir has standards. But the fact that it cannot be readily discerned surprises me. This situation is what causes the frequently heard call for a peerage checklist. I think that would be a disaster. And I also think it's not really what people want.

I believe that the fact that every peer has a slightly different set of criteria is a strength. (Just as I believe a plethora of monarchs over time with different ideas about courtesy and monarchy is a strength.) Again I bet that some peer in An Tir is willing to talk about this. Peers as a general rule are fairly voluble.

But most of all peers are not above the law. In Atlantia I have taken part of a handful of private sessions where the chivalry beat one of its members about the head and shoulders for being a jerk. Also I've participated in a handful of Courts of Chivalry, one of which recommended that a knighthood be revoked. (The king chose not to invoke the sentence, but that's a different story.) The problem really is that the law is inadequate.

People in the SCA tend to grant transgressors second through ninety-ninth chances. We want to believe that everyone is good, pure, and noble. So we have practically zero mechanisms for dealing with problems. Our judicial systems typically can deal with felonies. Misdemeanors, civil suits, and other lesser problems routinely go unpunished and often unremarked. Courts of Chivalry happen when an individual has gotten way out of hand, or the appre¬hension of an individual's conduct has gotten way out of whack. And the very fact that a Court is called, the attendant bickering about its composition, date, location, rules of evidence, etc. cause most kingdoms to have a traumatic anxiety attack. If you've never had to be at a Court of Chivalry, thank your lucky stars.

This problem, oddly enough, is a peripheral reason why I'm an heraldic heretic. I think each kingdom should be its own heraldic sovereignty. Each kingdom should pass its own heraldry, just like the kingdoms of France, England, etc. But, the Heralds scream (most immediately and most entertainingly) what about the person who moves to another kingdom!!! That's one thing Courts of Chivalry are for. And if we had a functioning court system which met regularly to handle issues that don't cause people to swoon, than when a truly important case (swoon!) came to it, the facts of the case would matter not the logistics or bureaucracy of the thing. And all the debilitating build-up to the Court of Chivalry would wither away.

 —Gyrth Oldcastle of Ravenspur, Atlantia

On Jocelyn's references to Peer Fear:

1) "They" is the wrong word for starters (I like "Some"). When statements are made that could have two sides, most all times these situations will be discussed with that person and then his/her reaction and reason will be relayed back to the circle. I have never been to a circle where someone said something horrible about someone and there wasn't one person in the circle to defend them.

2) There is always a reason why. It may not be known to all around because of its privacy and nature between a few persons. "Time heals all wounds" and their time may be sooner than one may think.

3) How many courts of chivalry are there in one year in the whole known world? I've never seen anyone stripped of their peerage here in my eight years in the Outlands. (A court of chivalry is not just for peers, either.)

4) I don't know what all the peers in An Tir are like, but I'm quite sure you can find one who will give some explanation as to their standards for aspiring peers.

 —Lavan Longwalker, Outlands


I am Sir Lavan Longwalker (remember LAVA soap and you'll remember my name). I have been playing since the summer of 1983. Grand Outlandish was my first event. I was a squire for a bit over two and a half years and was knighted at Estrella War in 1986. In 1988 I became indentured to "good" King George (called the Bush-whacker). I spent a few wonderful years in the West (on a far-away island without SCA, oh how sad the days were) and a grand eight months in Atlantia where I made many fine friendships I hope will last long into my lifetime. I have since finished my service and returned to the Outlands and here will I stay in my beloved homeland!

I love tourneys and melees and believe in grand times above grand victories. I pride myself on my ability to die well (probably since it happens quite often). I make my own clothes these days, and I believe I make a fine shoe. I am not set in any one style or century when it comes to clothing (though I claim 14th Century England for my persona). Some call me a "clothes-horse" for the amount of clothes I bring to events, but I believe the ladies would rather see different clothes on a person than the same smoky, sweaty ones worn all weekend!


My reverend father-in-law (I call. I call. He's never home. I sit in Storvik and worry.) is right. The SCA is for adults. Adult parents realize that and try very hard to keep their offspring from ruining the other adults' time. Mel and I try to keep our (albeit nearly perfect and oh-so angelic) child out of other people's way. We don't always succeed. We apologize. (I can, however, recommend having an enormous Clan with sainted people who make believe they like to play with your child.) But if Mel and I want to go to an event, then Michael comes too. We did sort of semi-drop out from ages 1 to 3 or so because travelling with a kid in diapers or just out of diapers was harder than I cared for personally. But Michael gets pretty excited these days if we're going to a 'vent where daddy's going to fight other knights. And he has a set of SCA friends about his own age up and down the East coast, just like mommy and daddy.

 —Gyrth Oldcastle of Ravenspur, Atlantia

I am flattered and touched to hear that the Bishop (Hi, Geoff! Am I still the only person in the Knowne Worlde to call you that?) thinks Gyrth and I are good parents. We try. Your story of Kirby and Marty and the puzzle reminded me of an episode with Michael. We were at a Clan practice/gathering at the home of one of our grandsquires. The fighters were outside fighting, and the needleworkers and gossips were inside needleworking and gossiping. The children (Michael and Katie, both age 5) were playing with a Fisher-Price castle set, or so we thought. Then one of the fighters came in for a break and came upstairs laughing hysterically. It seems that Michael and Katie had claimed the bottom of the stairs, wrapped towels around themselves as cloaks, and appropriated a small cooler as a table; they were the king and queen, holding court, with occasional quiet "Vivat"s to punctuate the action. You're absolutely right given a place to play, children will invent games, just as medieval children must have done. The fact is that Michael seems to enjoy events most often when there is a place set aside for the children to get together and play in, whether a room at an indoor event or a play area at an outdoor one. If there's a safe place set aside for them, the same way there's theoretically a place set aside for smokers in the East, I think both the children and the rest of the population benefit (as long as the kids aren't banned from the rest of the event, or isolated so far from it as to be de facto excluded).

This almost begs the question, though, that I raised in my original letter asking for people's opinions about children and the SCA, and in a way, I think I'm glad. It's given me a chance to refine the issue I really wanted to discuss. (Or maybe, it's actually a different, albeit related, issue.) Frankly, I don't know if it's a problem so much elsewhere as it is here, but I'm becoming concerned about the escalating costs of events (especially for families, but for individuals as well). I know that we have all but lost several families in recent years who have more than one or two kids because they simply can't afford event fees for all of them. I have always used a measure that may be unusual as a benchmark for the success of an event in my mind the perfect success is the event whose books balance to zero. When I autocrat an event, I would rather lose $10 (in which case I'll make up the loss out of my own pocket) than make $100 (unless the event is intended as a fundraiser, in which case I announce it clearly well in advance). I think it is critical to give people the best possible value for the money they spend on the SCA. That means that I want to give them the most of the best quality that I can afford, in food, prizes, site, and everything else. With the mounting costs of living in general, people may find the SCA is an expendable luxury in their lives, and I think that would be very sad the more people we have to play with, the more fun we have. Does anybody have any creative ideas about how to keep events affordable, even as the cost of renting sites large enough to accommodate the active SCA population increases? And what about other accommodations, if any? For example, my original letter mentioned time schedules as a problem. For the last several years, I have tried to schedule feasts earlier in the evening, or even in the afternoon, both to recreate the first Middle Ages more accurately and to accommodate small children and those with long distances to travel, but that obviously won't work if there's a tournament going on.

 —Melisande de Belvoir, Atlantia

I like children, yes I do,
Boiled or baked or in a stew.
As the mother of two children (4 and 6) who were born into the SCA after I had been in about twelve years, I feel I must come down firmly in agreement with Bish.

While there has always been the occasional child around here, only in the last five years has there come to be a distinct population. The bad behavior of most parents is the most noticeable aspect of the whole trend.

Feast or event fees for children are free money for an autocrat and it's fair, I think, for them to be reduced.

Special areas for children have worked well for us, with some qualifications. They were able to come and go as they pleased and were able to enjoy as much of the feast as they wished before returning to more mundane pursuits. A formal sitter or three should be hired. Anyone who has tried to run a parent's co-op has found what a dream world they were living in. The autocrat should be approached with a request for space he is not obligated to provide it (or anything) on no notice!

Should feasts start earlier? Probably, but not because of children. Any mother who takes a child anywhere, projected time over an hour, should have snacks and distractions along as well. A parent should be realistic about what their child can take and be prepared to provide a corner to sleep in at Midwinter, or even let them spend the night at Grandma's.

A simple T-tunic and an extra feast ticket for your sitter is a relatively inexpensive way to make sure your children are safe and not causing trouble, and you may be lucky enough to recruit an intelligent enthusiastic newcomer who will still need babysitting money to make more elaborate costumes.

If you need to go to peer circles, you should make arrangements ahead of time. There may be 50 adults around who know your kids but even those of us with children don't necessarily want to deal with someone else's (although threatening to tear Kirby's head off seems to have worked for my husband.)  [5]

Some of us were particularly incensed at being told Midwinter was "not suitable for children"; they weren't complaining about noise or distraction, but feeling cramped in their romantic style. First we mentioned to them that anything they couldn't do in front of a three year old, they probably shouldn't do in public anyway. Second, it was pointed out, the children did not start food fights, which is more than can be said for the chivalry.

While no one can or should try to ban children from SCA events, neither should parents depend on others to watch their children. As one who has semi-retired in the SCA for the last five years, not to care for my children per se, but to make sure they didn't cause annoyance, I rather resent it even more than the childless when someone does not suppress their child's disturbance. I do remember what it was like to be a child and I'm usually willing to cut them some slack. It's their parents whose kneecaps need work. [But since that (a broken leg) is how AElflaed got pregnant in the first place maybe we better not!]

 —Mirhaxa av Morktorn, Outlands

from Mistress Angela of Rosebury


All posts and offices in the SCA have limitations in the time of service except for one the Baron. [6]   Even the manner of changeover in the office is not set. The instability in changing the seat of baron often causes bloody politics to occur to the detriment of the territory. Even when adroitly handled, rarely is there a clean transition.

In-fighting has become so venomous that the BOD has made a ruling that a baron cannot be unseated without due cause. Perhaps there is a different approach. Instead, warranting the baron's post will stop some of the disasters over the office. A limited term of office with a pre-set cutoff date and a procedure for changeover would serve many purposes. People would know when someone would step down, or at least when a warrant would go up for renewal. The factor of uncertainty would disappear giving a sense of security. A baron's "mortality" would also encourage him to groom potential successors as is done with deputy officers at many levels. A periodic change in office would keep the leaders fresh and energetic. The fact is that the SCA is a club, not a place to build a personal empire. A variety of people should have the opportunity to lead their groups. This is the same justification for regularly having crown tournaments.

Warranting gives a time of clean break for both the leader and the people. When a baron is no longer a positive force or is not wise enough to recognize his own burn-out, this limited time of service would give the baron and the people a clean opportunity out of a bad situation. Currently, unless a baron does something so terrible that a court can be called on him, the people will be stuck in a desperate situation. Fighting amongst factions can become unbearable, thus we lose many good people. Yet desperation drives a variety of actions from all fronts. Some baronies never recover from the pressure of removing or forcing out a baron.

Of course, requiring due cause to remove a baron helps protect him from "crazy" reactionaries. Yet limiting the time of service of the baron will also curb some of this "crazy" behavior. If the people wanting to be rid of a baron, whether their reasons are soundly or unsoundly based, know that at a designated time the baron will be leaving, they will not feel as compelled to build a case to begin a removal process. Stable, respected people who believe a baron to be a detriment to a barony's growth are forced into a mudslinging fight to amend the situation. If the criticisms of a baron are unfounded, then among wise men Reason will prevail and show that the minority voices are unjustified.

In all the SCA every office has legal checks and balances except for the baron. Extremism, justified or not, is the only rein on the post. The baron, with his potential lifetime appointment, sits more firmly like a king than he who wins the crown.

Do any of you SCA historians know why the unlimited term for barons came about?

 —Angela of Rosebury, Caid


I think this discussion is getting muddled. The corporation provides various services. Which ones it provides gets decided by the corporation; if you pay for a membership, you help pay for all of the things it does no picking and choosing. If you think the choices of what it pays for are misguided, you can either not pay (and accept the consequences that go with the decision), try to convince the board to make different choices, or push to have the board elected by the dues-paying members rather than by the existing board members (and then hope that a popularly elected board would make decisions which you like better but don't bet the farm on it).

As for the merits of requiring membership for officers or to fight in the Crown Lists, first see above: them's the rules until and unless they get changed. Second, while a membership with a subscription has some obvious merits in making communication easier, it does not guarantee that anyone will actually read the newsletter, etc. (Sorry, AElflaed, but I personally doubt that even 10% of those who enter the Crown Lists in the course of a year have ever bothered to read carefully through their Kingdom Law, let alone read the Corpora etc. Maybe they should know all that stuff, but even with a membership requirement it is pretty clear that they do not.)

I have found the merits of membership sufficient in my own case to have had one for over twenty years. However I see nothing to be gained by arguing it out here. Now if we wanted to discuss the merits and implications of having the members choose the board members, so our opinions on the subject of membership had some relevance….

 —William the Lucky, West

Nerissa Meraud de la Fontaine, [Laurel and Pelican], West Kingdom (Oertha)
Flavia Beatrice Carmigniani [Laurel and Pelican], West
Ambrose Celidonis [Laurel and Pelican], Caid
Elriin of Hrassvelg [KSCA and Laurel], West
[Freana Geardsson, Pelican and MSCA (change from KSCA)] Ansteorra


Thanks for the kind words about "Fundamentals." I'll count that as my one free ad. I'm glad to get non-fighters' opinions because the thing's actually written for non-fighters (who want to be fighters though). A lot of Ladies (well, 4 or 5) have either told me directly or I've heard through Mel or whatever that by reading my little book they understand for the first time why their fellows like to fight and they'd been putting up with their fighters for 5/10/15 years. I find this spectacularly gratifying.

 Gyrth Oldcastle of Ravenspur, Atlantia


As far as guns in the SCA are concerned two things seem relevant. First, mundane law takes precedence; fortunately, I think, as I live in a place where people can carry guns, though few do. Second, appropriate attire does not include visible guns. Hagar's "armed and clumsy" should have been invited to leave, not because you don't like guns but because he was a dangerous idiot.
In the case of knives, the world is not, cannot be responsible for every hormone-poisoned adolescent. It is not normal to try to kill someone who irritates you. If you think the kid is really that psychotic, I would recommend you don't get him angry as he could kill you with a dinner fork or candlestick or whatever else is at hand. Out here male adolescents are generally the most chivalrous folk about.
Small children should not have sharp items of any nature. They are far more likely to fall on them themselves than stab someone deliberately, but if you see a child waving a blade around, take it away from him. Don't give it back to him, make his parents retrieve it. Don't let your child play with him. (You don't know who your kid is with? Tsk, tsk.)
If you see an adult behaving badly, if polite requests don't help, get the hulkiest knight you can find to calm him down or take him away from you. (And you thought I didn't think knights were good for anything, didn't you?)  Mirhaxa av Morktorn, Outlands


How do you handle people not accepting blows you thought were good? What's the best thing to tell people who are judging from the sidelines? How do you make your point without getting mad, without making yourself look bad? William the Lucky has answers that work for him. What have you seen others do, and what was good and bad about it? What works for you, or what's your best fantasy plan?

THINKWELL TRIVIA 53 Subscribers as of September 26 1991

West 7
East 5
Middle 4
Atenveldt 3
Meridies 4
Caid 5
Ansteorra 1
Atlantia 2
An Tir 2
Calontir 1
Trimaris 1
Outlands 18

I won't publish things unless I have the author's SCA name, real name, and address, but I might publish it "name withheld" or "anonymous" if requested.

There are several non-peers who are reading but who haven't written. Please don't be shy; jump on in.

FEEL FREE TO BRING UP NEW TOPICS as well as comment on what's gone before, even back to the first issue.

length  no such thing as too short. One-liner smart-aleck responses are welcome. If something needs to be long, try to make it fun. Long and humorless are the worst combo.
content make it productive, positive, don't name names in a negative context
deadline   Send what you have when you're finished. If you miss one issue and it makes the one after, no big deal. When I get to twenty pages, I'll print.
format  legibly on paper (or something my Macintosh can read. I have a SuperDrive.)
cartoons  same as above. Don't use recognizable people in a negative way.
Anything I think might get you or me into trouble will not be published (but I might send it back to be toned down, or print excerpts or a paraphrase).


Please include some information about yourself, such as peerages or other titles, kingdoms in which you've lived whatever you think the readers would find useful and interesting. Mundane job and education are optional, and if you think they're pertinent you're very welcome to include them, either within your writing or in a note to me so I can put it in. If for some reason you'd prefer not to be identified as to rank, let me know (in case I know your position and would inflict it upon you in print against your preferences). If I've slipped on this one, I'm sorry.


There may be a live philosophy discussion at the Estrella War in Atenveldt in February. More information will appear in issue #6 or #7.

Opinions on printing things from non-subscribers?

If this is your first issue, and you subscribed because of the notice in T.I. or otherwise from the Corporate Arts mailings, you're probably happy that this is more than eight pages long! The first issue was only eight pages because I wrote it myself and sent nearly 150 sets. As the discussions are not too timely, subscriptions can go forward and backward. You may want to get back issues to get the full scope of the exchange.

I'm considering selling back issues in sets of five (single copies of #1-5; #6-10, etc.) I'm making negative money on the regular subscriptions; maybe I could make a little profit on single sets of back issues. If I never get ahead I can't advertise (nor appease my family about the time spent). Does anyone have suggestions?

2006 note:
Remember this was all 1991, and is provided for historical purposes.

In This
Now or Later?


and Pelicans' Apprentices
and belt colors and stuff like that







"Why are you still in the SCA?"
and the story of

"The Dream"

Melisande de Belvoir














Fundamentals of Oldcastle Sword and Shield


Copyright © Sandra Dodd 1991, 2006

and missives: