Switching from the overly volatile current SCA zeitgeist, I received from questions from folks interested in my porter idea. Here goes.
A few weeks ago on FB, I posted this:
“Accessibility porters need to be a more common thing at SCA events.
While there are always good gentles that will help folks carry things, having it as a regular fixture for those that need assistance setting up/tearing down would really help make in-person events more appealing to members of the populace that have mobility constraints, age-related or otherwise. A lot of folks, me included, like to pretend like we’re still young and spry and not full of some form of degenerative joint disease and fibromyalgia, so we won’t ask for help. Instead of asking, it should just be offered at gate. Create a corps of porters that volunteer for shifts much like any other gate position.
I think the way Trimaris has the drive-up sign-in gate at some events is super beneficial here, because then that eliminates the need for the individual needing assistance to have to get out of their vehicle to request aid.
When you talk about inclusion, including the disabled shouldn’t be last on the list.”
I do know that some kingdoms have an actual “accessibility porter” office wherein their job is to help make events more accessible, so this is not to be confused by that. Names can always be changed, and “porter” sounds better than “event bell boy”.
The gist of this would to have a corps of volunteers that sign up to do this like any other shift job at an event. You show up and put in your hour or two. The general idea would be to assist folks that need an extra hand lugging their SCA lives with them into events. Be it camping, A&S display, armor, etc. I can be for mothers will small children, elderly with mobility needs, etc. It does not have to be just “the disabled”, of course. Sometimes having that one extra hand to carry a chair makes a world of difference for somebody like me when I go solo. It would be request-based, with gate offering porter assistance at check-in. This would make sure the volunteers don’t get overworked and spread too thin, especially since not everybody likes strangers touching their belongings. Set up and breakdown help can also be requested in advance based on availability of porters, but to avoid a queue or shorthanded staff, it cannot be accommodated day-of.
I figure for smaller events, having 2-4 per shift would be good. Larger would command 4 or 6 or even 8. (Even numbers allows for better tagteaming.) Wagons and dollies can be made available if there’s the budget for it. I have a folding wagon I purchased at Walmart a few years ago that has helped immensely, and porters can also bring their own supplies. Breakdown would have a similar request system. “Roving” porters can also be a thing during peak setup/breakdown times as well.
Benefits: 1. Folks who are currently on the fence about coming to events because of a shortage of hands or mobility issues will have one less thing to worry about.
2: This is an excellent way for newcomers and teens who don’t mind doing some work to meet some established members and build connections.
3: It’s an easy way to give back and help others.
1: Impatient members being rude to porters, or abusing and bogarting the service from people who actually need it. Which supervisors need to make sure doesn’t happen. Honor system still stands: If you REALLY don’t need the help, you don’t ask for it. Likewise, they aren’t caregivers, just schleppers. Individuals who need more specific care will have to bring their own caregivers. It’s just too much of a liability otherwise.
2: Porters potentially missing key event moments like court and feast.
3: Weather hazards need to be taken into account. Porter safety is as important as everybody else’s. If the weather is too inclement, the service will be suspended until the weather passes.
Nothing is without issues, of course, but I think that I want to give this a shot organizing it at an upcoming SCA event I can actually go to, maybe. Or see if I can coordinate it here in Trimaris even if I cannot go. I definitely think this is a good kingdom to start in, as a lot of our population is aging (Save your Florida jokes for another time.)
This is obviously too much for a HUGE event like a war. I also need to figure out a way to keep tabs on folks that need aid without labeling them in a way that creates stigma, such as having those that requested aid to bring in their gear send a text message to the supervisor porter when they are broken down and ready to go back to their vehicles, or more likely, send somebody to the gate.
The important thing is to keep this simple. This is not abled bodies for hire to do any bidding, this is “I am physically incapable of bringing in all that I require and I need a hand.”
Edit: I keep adding more stuff to the bottom as discussion points cross my feed as well as made some clarifications in my original post (it was late last night when I was getting ranted to by a dear Lochacian friend so things got muddy on my end as well.)
I am nearly permabanned from Facebook at this point thanks to the ridiculous reporting attack that went down right after my elevation that followed me onto my new account, but you can’t ban me from speaking my mind on my blog. So sit the hell down and listen:
It is not period to choose sovereigns by right of arms.
I know, I know, “But that’s not what the game was founded on!”
We’ve changed a lot since the 60s. The women aren’t wearing Gunne Sax and calling it “garb” for one, and two, the SCA has developed into a much larger more inclusive society EXCEPT FOR THIS.
I have no issue with heavy combat crown tournaments, but I do think that we’re way overdue to look at mixing it up. This post is about the labels we attach to our tradition, and why they are problematic, though.
No, you are not permitted to get in my face about this. I see you (nondescript you) and the way you’re treating people on Social Media right now and it is not a good look. “You’re not a fighter!” No, I do not fight in the SCA anymore because I do not have the time or physical capacity to do so. I have been authorized in both heavy combat and rapier combat, in addition to being a black belt in TaeKwonDo and having been practicing martial arts in some respect for nearly 30 years at this point. Do not cast aside my “Well you aren’t wearing spurs so your opinion doesn’t matter, you snarky little Laurel”. I see you. If you’re so big and bad, drop the sword and board and join me in the TKD ring. It’s been a hot minute since I fought in a national championship but I can still hold my own. I’ve kicked heads in camp at Pennsic.
Oh, you won’t. Why? “It’s not my element and it’s not fair.” You’re right, it isn’t. Much like heavy combat in the SCA is not the element for most participants, and it’s, indeed, not fair. But it’s also not fair to say that folks should not have thoughts on something when they aren’t combatants.
The Chivalry has the privilege of being the “most equal” of the peerages. I have no qualms saying that out loud because it’s true and I’ve had multiple knights and MoAs tell me the same. When you threaten their elevated pillar over the other bestowed peerages, they back into a corner and lash out like terrified house cats, and this is the reason why. We cannot in good faith offer an egalitarian experience if we do not have ways to make participation equal. Period. That’s it, that’s the tea.
No wait, no, that’s not -actually- the tea. I’m still boiling that water, so buckle up.
“The SCA is really a Victorian King Game and we should continue that tradition!”
Sure, let me, with my 2.5 history degrees, unpack this nonsense.
The Victorians -ruined- the Middle Ages and subsequent modern perception thus. The Victorians gave us the myths of damsels in distress, knights in shining armor, Pre-Raphaelite over romanticism and faux history designed for the purpose of the subjection of women, children, LGBTQ+, and POC. There. There it fucking is, isn’t it? The Anglo-American Victorian Period was rooted in white supremacy, and these “king games” were part of them. We modern classical and medieval historians are still working to unravel myths of medieval individuals not bathing thanks to the absolute abhorrent mess the Victorian “historians” created.
“Tradition” is a nice word that means you’re letting dead people tell you what to do. In this case, the “dead people” in question were using colonialism, white supremacy based on horrifically bad early anthropology theory, and sweeping dead children riddled with tuberculosis out of the gutter after they worked 18 hour shifts for quarter wage to justify the Smithian and Malthusian virtues of classical liberalism’s “invisible hand of the free market.” So maybe, just fucking maybe, we shouldn’t be putting this asinine period, during which the United States still permitted slavery for most of, on its own pedestal. The Middle Ages had their own issues, but we cannot recreate “the Middle Ages as they should have been” while touting that our organization is literally an echo of one of the most oppressive centuries in world history. If any of you supporting this theory have spent more than breathing on a Wikipedia page’s worth of reading on the Victorian period and its treatment of medievalism, you wouldn’t want to be waving this flag. Period. For a group of people who purport themselves to be belonging to an educational group, you’re really bad at educating yourselves.
This brings me to the boiling point before I pour that tea.
What did we do to disabled individuals during the Victorian period? The same thing the SCA is doing now: ignoring them. While care was not exactly great in the Middle Ages, disabled individuals usually found support in the family unit or community. The Victorians would throw them away and lock them up if they could afford it. Otherwise, they were unalived in a variety of ways such as drowning, falling, or just…”He went for a walk and didn’t come home. Pass the tea, old horse.”
The entire premise of the Lochac proposal was to create an avenue to be more inclusive of those that cannot physically fight for whatever reason (update: It was even less rigid, they just asked to be able to choose their own crown formats). Two sovereign nations, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, came to an agreement for the betterment of their own kingdom literally on the other side of the planet from North America, that this was what they wanted to do. They proposed it using disability as the example, and suggested that Lochac, being distant and away from the “core” kingdoms of the US and Canada, be a great testing grounds for this new idea, and the North American BoD couldn’t be arsed to give them a better answer than “Not right now.”
Okay but why? Where is the rest of the answer? Is the rest of the answer, “We are going to start developing this so standby”, or is it actually what I think it is, a shrieking harmony of toxic masculinity and ableism disguised as “tradition”? This is not a good look for the United States, but it’s also expected. We’ve managed to really show our asses in the last few years.
If you want the Victorian Interpretation of the Middle Ages As they Should Have Been, then I definitely recommend cooling down the ableism, racism, sexism, and all the other -isms that make it all 100% still Very Victorian Middle Ages As They Were, only with Less Consumption and More Covid. They also wouldn’t stand for any personae from Ireland, Italy, or Eastern Europe. In fact, Jewish personae need not apply either. Orthodox, Catholics and Jews go home, totally. The problematic term “Anglo-Saxon” is also 100% Victorian, and was used then, as it is now, as an avenue to promote white supremacy to support colonialism.
Or, you know, stop using the Victorian excuse. I’m sick of it, just tell us you don’t want to be inclusive of disabled individuals and would rather have the whispers of racist dead white men in your ears telling you what to do than make a fresh attempt at being inclusive.
There’s a good chance most people pining for the romanticized Victorian Middle Ages have no idea what they’re espousing, but they need to knock it off.
That, my friends, is the hot tea.
The SCA is in trouble as it is on the recruitment and retention front, a great deal of this has to do with the le Ancien Scadien Regime touting their sad devotion to their ancient traditions, but also because of inaccessibility, racism, and just you know, wow, there’s a lot of Nazis. White supremacists are not as dumb as we want them to be. They see and hear this “Victorian King Game” and connect the dots of all the points I made above, and we all know how they feel about the disabled, queer, and POC folks that already struggle to be seen in our game. We should stop inviting them to play. I had hoped they would have all left to go to the SMA, but alas, we have so many missing stairs newcomers are falling to their demise before reaching their AoA.
Either we’re an inclusive society that wants to recreate the Global Middle Ages, or, we’re a pseudo-Victorian society upholding dangerous ideals disguised as a historical education society.
Choose wisely, SCA.
Addendums based on what I’m seeing on Social Media, since I can’t post. I’m updating as I see more talking points.
I think that Milpitas should let Lochac give it a shot. If it doesn’t work, then we go back to heavy combat crowns. No harm, no foul. But the Palatine Barony of the Far West and Western Seas has a rotation scheme for choosing their baronage. I fail to see why this can’t be implemented as a crown format either. Nobody says it will never be fighting again ever, all folks want to do is make the experience more inclusive, which I see a lot of push back on in the form of “The SCA doesn’t have to be everything to everyone.” Um, that’s literally what inclusivity is. That’s a fancy sentence for, “I don’t want somebody disabled in charge for 4-6 months.”
I should note that the Palatine Barony is starting to fall apart with lots of inactive pockets due to a lack of support for the military community from the SCA as a whole but *sips tea* I know jack about that, I suppose.
I also see a lot of very odd mental gymnastics in regard to, “This is what we were founded as, therefore…” by the same people who will argue tooth and nail about interpreting the US Constitution and what the Founding Fathers would have wanted. This is only coming from the Americans, not the Australians, Kiwis, Canadians, or Europeans. In my opinion, it’s the same thing. If you can argue that the interpretation of the US Constitution should change with time, then SCA Corpora should be given the same respect. Don’t say, “This is how we did it in the 1960s” for the SCA, turn around, and argue about making the amendment for term limits for Congress in the same breath. You look dumb. Also, so are term limits, but this is an SCA blog, not a political one. Anybody who follows me on FB has gotten that well-documented screed enough.
The whole thing is a power grab, period. Not by the Chivalry, but by older members who refuse to let go. It’s like watching a professor who should have retired 20 years ago continue to hold onto a chaired seat just to refuse it to a younger generation who challenged their scholarship.
DEI is not just about BIPOC and LGBTQ+ members, I can’t believe I have to keep repeating this because it makes me sound whataboutist, but that’s just the Diversity portion. The I means Inclusion, and Inclusion means EVERYBODY. The E means Equity, and that means allowing everybody the chance to be given accommodations to sample all that the SCA has to offer. When the DEI office got slammed for having a roundtable talking about the military experience in the SCA because the panel was not visibly queer or POC, I got angry for obvious reasons, even as a member of the queer community, coming off of the massive struggle we had moving between 3 kingdoms in 2 years. But why is disability always on the back burner? Why is it always skirted when it comes to site accessibility and event options? When I mentioned having accessibility porters at events, folks who need assistance loved the idea, and then I got able-bodied folks telling me they didn’t want to “waste” their time at the event carrying other people’s things for them. Oh, okay. I am not disabled, but I do have chronic illnesses that can make my event experience less-than-fun, so usually I just don’t bother going. With Jeff being as sick as he is right now, we aren’t going to events anytime soon anyway, because I can’t trust people to help him if he needs it if I’m busy, or mask up near him while his immune system recovers from chemotherapy. This argument just cements further that the SCA is not a club for those that need an extra hand once in a while, and that is upsetting.
“You’re attacking the chivalry!” No, no I’m not. I’m attacking inequity and exclusion based on bad “traditions”. I didn’t badmouth the Chiv at all other than repeating words they have already told me: They are the most equal of the peerages and that they carry the most clout. This was by design in the game. Toxic masculinity does not define the Chivalry, it defines the systemic issue. If you hear the phrase “toxic masculinity” and assume “Chivalry”, then that’s indicative of a whole other problem entirely, isn’t it? Toxic FIGHTERS that bad mouth the other paths are another issue entirely, and they rarely wear chains.
“We need martial leadership for wars!” Okay, I agree. Then make non-war reigns non-martial crowns? Why can’t the Sovereigns be on the field at Pennsic for the champions battles while the Heirs visit the A&S Display to support their populace? Hell, I’ve had sovereigns express dismay at missing so much other stuff at wars because of, well, war. That tells me that we need to stagger things better.
“I don’t want my non-rattan community to become toxic like rattan has become, and the toxic people from rattan will just go into rapier, etc.” – Actually, this one makes a lot more sense to me and I’m glad someone brought it up. Again, I need to reiterate that not all fighters and especially not all chiv are toxic. The system is what breeds toxicity, but all competitions do this. Training on the national level in TKD wasn’t exactly free of drama, toxicity, or the like, I think it’s just human nature. Which is grossly unfortunate. I’ve been in and apart of enough A&S competitions that have gotten so cutthroat I could only imagine what adding crown to it could do. Still, I think that non-martial crowns should still be experimented with.
No, this has nothing to do with me planning to expatriate to Aotearoa New Zealand. I’m doing that because I want distance from the US and the inevitable trauma of losing my husband sooner than later.
“If you don’t like it, leave.” What, and miss _THIS_?
I just heard from a Lochacian that one of the reasons why they pitched this is that they have less fighters than they used to, but an active and large populace as a whole who are doing amazing things. So it’s issues of burnout with the current fighter pool as well as the desire to try something new to be more inclusive. Likewise, I’ve had ‘Strayans offering me beer all day and I’ve already lost that drinking game before.
“We should just abolish crown tourneys.” – Now we’re talking. Or, we can do something crazy, and medieval: A REPUBLIC.
On CTE and TBI: We are not talking about this enough. I’ve seen what happens to athletes in multiple sports with CTE. Please, PLEASE take this into account. It’s one of the reasons why Jeff decided he didn’t want to fight as much anymore. But we also need to approach this in a way that we don’t make the fighting community think it’s an insult or that they’re all just going out there and getting their bell rung. I’ve gotten popped in melee as well as singles, it happens and normally we just shake it off without thinking of the consequences. The same in TKD. “Well I just saw Tweety birds, better shake it off and get back out there.” AYEEEEEEEEEEE what are we doing to ourselves? Can this be solved with calibration? Maybe. Can it be solved by eliminating head contact and more active marshalling? Yes, but that requires having everybody on board, and head shots are sort of part of the game since it’s a fast kill. There may also be padding solutions, but as we’ve learned with the NFL, no amount of padding will make this perfect. Reduced contact is the only answer.
Members of Lochac have clarified that they did not ask for a specific crown format or with disability in mind (which is what another Aussie told me, which might still be a catalyst of course), they simply asked for the variance that says they can choose the crown format they wish, and the US BOD just struck them down without any clarifying questions or the like. I think the insta-denial is the issue here more than anything. The BOD could have gone, “What do you have in mind?” or “Can you provide us with more info?” And instead chose not to.
I just want to point out that the bulk of this post is about white supremacy echoed in terminology and practice and so far, not a single message or comment I have received about this has been about that. If you are one of the offended that read that and get upset, you may be telling on yourself.
I really really hate insults like, “Stick jock”, “wire weenie”, “garb nazi”, and “service junkie”. Stop that.
I’m pretty sure the entire SCA knows at this point, but THL Gieffrei was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer this summer known as Neuroendocrine tumor (NET). It is metastatic.
We are doing our best to get it under control, and he has been transferred to a major cancer center here in Trimaris for his best odds, and so far, so good.
As a result, we will probably not be showing up at any major events anytime soon, not that folks have been asking or anything. With the new lack of COVID Protocols thanks to a BOD who is more eager to get back to “normal” than protect their club members, we’d prefer to not be around germ vectors. We are considering culling a lot of our supplies, including more garb (after I parted with quite a bit last year before I moved), and maybe some camping equipment. We just don’t see the point anymore if we aren’t active enough to use it all. It takes up space.
I’ve also started to reduce my engagement in social media. After getting banned from Facebook became my Stupid Peer Trick, getting banned from Twitter followed after anti-intellectuals enjoying hating historians on that platform went after my account, I realized that it’s best that my attention stay elsewhere, anyway.
I never really settled into living in Atlantia. In fact, I generally hated the region of Hampton Roads. Nothing against the people of the Barony of Marinus, who were awesome for the short time I was there, but after getting turned out for a ton of jobs, I decided that it was time to do something for myself.
I am back in Trimaris.
I am in the Barony of Wyvernwoode, my ancient and venerable stomping grounds, and have embarked on my PhD at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
THLord Gieffrei is remaining in Norfolk to finish his naval career, and I will remain supporting him from 800mi south. He wasn’t really around at all for my MA in the East, or even when I lived in Caid, so this is nothing new for us. In fact, we do better when apart. My immediate family is still in the Tampa Bay area, and out of the schools I applied to, USF offered the most funding and the best track for what I want to go into in order to further my work with museums and public history. If anything, the Pandemic has taught me that it’s important to be near those you care about, and I did not have that in Virginia. Jeff was out a lot, I barely knew anybody, and frankly, I’m very burned out of this whole “Navy wife life” BS. It was time for the Byzantine Girl Summer, so to speak. (You know, my almost-40 year old “girl” self.)
Needless to say, I am BUSY. I am in 3 classes in addition to working as a grad assistant. I do still plan on making it to a few events here and there, but with COVID being so badly managed here in Florida, and the SCA’s adoption of an “honor system” versus mandating vaccines, I don’t see myself out much until things change. I am fully vaccinated (House Moderna!), and I am masked and exposed to germs daily on campus. Not to mention, the SCA’s continued bad acting in the face of issues including white supremacy, sexual assault, and even D&I issues (though I applaud the D&I staff and office), I just can’t grok with the game right now. Things need to turn around.
I know there’s a lot to be said about a new peer sort of backing off after elevation, but it’s more common than people think. The system is designed to wear us down, and I am not tolerating it, nor am I allowing my associates to tolerate it. I haven’t even posted about my elevation ceremony itself yet, because I was so damn burned out from it all I ran completely out of steam and didn’t want to blog about anything at all.
So this is what I have done instead:
-Lost 30lbs by watching my food intake and working out. Kettlebells, yoga, and Body Groove have changed my life. I’m working on my next 20lbs. -Returned to Taekwondo after a 15 year hiatus, and will be pursuing my next black belt degree. -Applied to, and was accepted to, 3 PhD programs. USF being funded enough for me to live on my own. -Bought a new car! Nothing that special, but hey, new cars are always nice, right? -Took a total break from sewing aside from masks, and SCA related art, and sold half of my fabric stash. -Enjoyed reading fiction again. -Reconnected with my best friend of 30+ years (no he’s not SCA, and never will be.)
This doesn’t suck.
Do I miss my SCA friends and family? Of course I do. Every day. I miss camping. I miss events. I miss the old normal as much as everybody else, but the New Normal is what we have, and we need to accept it and adapt to changes, be it Pandemic-related, or cultural. The SCA is stuck in the 1970s when other similar organizations are moving into the 2020s. When those who dislike change to the point they become a viable threat to the game bounces, they start a new SCA clone with blackjack and hookers, and none of this looks okay for somebody like me who is entering the dreaded enemy of the SCA: Academia. They don’t care what game I play. They just see the press releases, social media posts, and take the next step.
I will be back. I want to come back, but I want to see changes first:
I want a vaccine mandate. If the Boy Scouts can do it, so can we. If you’re going to be an ass and bring up “freedoms”, allow me to remind you of the preamble of the US Constitution: “Promote the general welfare.” Full stop. Get over it.
I want white supremacists GONE. Not coddled, not “well they just have a difference of opinion”, no, Get them. The fuck. Out of. My Game. And no, not “Conservatives”. Most of my household is _conservative_. They also are pro-vax and anti-Nazi. Get with it, “conservatives”.
I want sexual assault investigated swiftly, safely, and any assailant removed from the Society IMMEDIATELY. No beating around the goddamn bush. “Oh but the BOD…”, the BOD can also change procedure.
I want a better environment for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ members. I want to see more inclusive events and development opportunities for non-Western European personae. This is already going well, but we can do better. I also want people to understand that “inclusion” does not mean just BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals. Seeing the social media reaction to the D&I office sponsoring a session on active duty military made my blood boil, and almost made Jeff quit entirely.
Likewise, I want SCAdians to realize that my husband’s job takes precedence over events and commissions. Asking for a commission from Jeff a month or so before we PCS or he deploys and then pitching a fit when he says no is not a good look and bluntly, we’re sick of it.
I want our bullying policy to be revisited and less able to be weaponized. Yes, I’ve been bullied, but I didn’t say anything because the person at the helm held more power than me, and we all know how that works in the end. All it takes is for me to snap back at somebody on social media, and then, snap! I’m the bully. If I defend myself against sexual assault, I can be kicked out as a bully. Think about that. Since the day I was elevated, I’ve had frequent attacks on Facebook wherein my posts are repeatedly reported for bullying and hate speech if I speak out against certain individuals and their behavior. (Getting banned from Facebook is now my Stupid Peer Trick.)
The SCA needs to not lean on Facebook so much. It is a flawed platform that allows for abuse of reporting and algorithms to control speech from all angles. It makes it harder to determine who are actually missing stairs, and who is just getting piled on for dropping an F-bomb. Unfortunately, it’s also the best platform as far as discussion groups go that isn’t Discord. That is a problem in itself.
When the SCA does better, a lot of us will come back. Until then, don’t be surprised if you don’t see me much until Jeff retires, or I’m done with school. I certainly don’t plan on attending Pennsic for a while.
Does that mean you shouldn’t contact me? Absolutely not. Please email me. Please message me. I know I owe a couple of folks silk banners (military movers did not play nice this last go around and things…yeah things. I need to replace lots of things.) I still want to share my wealth of knowledge with everybody, but my brain is elsewhere right now. I still care, maybe I still care too much, and that’s the point of this rant.
I just think we can do better, and I’ll be around.
Sorry about the delay in getting this last piece up. I relocated from Trimaris to Atlantia for yet another military PCS, and we’re still trying to decompress having done this just before the Holidays.
The morning of my elevation, still weary from my vigil, I got up relatively early with a plan. As my area of SCA focus isn’t just Byzantium, I felt the need to go back a thousand years and change to pay homage to the old gods in a way that would best suit them, and myself.
I chose October 17th for a reason, it is the Festival of the Khalkeia in the Hellenic faith. It honored both Athena and Hephastus as gods of art and crafts, so it seemed fitting to pour a libation to both of them. But, because of the nature of my husband’s very mobile career choice and our upcoming move from Trimaris to Atlantia, I new better than to make Poseidon jealous.
So I got dressed in one of my archaic chitons I wasn’t afraid to get a little salty, put on the Roman glass necklace I had made a few days before, a reproduction Hellenistic bracelet with dolphins, and a Greek perfume made by Lady Dugu in Northshield. I poured off the last of my hibiscus mead, a fan favorite, into a terracotta amphora, and made Jeff drive me to the beach on base at Mayport where I knew it would be less crowded than a public beach a few blocks south.
It was cool, and windy, and the people there didn’t seem to care that a crazy lady wearing a Greek dress showed up on the sand. Children were playing with their dogs in the surf as the parents watched them cautiously from the shoreline with their morning coffee. We picked a spot close enough to the mouth of the St. Johns River and the major waterway in/off base and Jacksonville as a whole, so that the surfers weren’t nearby. It was quiet for the most part, save the giggles of children and the roar of the waves.
So I dropped my shawl, took my hair down, grabbed the amphora, and walked right into the Atlantic Ocean up to my calves. It was there that I poured my offering to the ancient gods of art, crafts, war, and the sea.
I did get a bit photobombed by a large shipper coming out of the channel, but Jeff did what he could to avoid it for the most part. Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better setting to pull this off.
This entire year has been rough on all of us, and the lack of in-person SCA events has definitely taken a toll on the organization in many ways. No, virtual events are not the same, and likewise, a virtual elevation to a bestowed peerage won’t be either. I’d like to think I did the best I could considering the circumstances, but I also admit that I was considerably comprehensive in having a solid ‘In Case of Peerage’ plan. (I will be making a post about that concept separately.)
This series of posts talks the method behind my madness of my 3 weeks from announcement, to vigil, to virtual elevation, and how my small bubble here in Castlemere pulled everything off in record speed.
And also, how everything that could explode, DID explode, and did so colorfully in only a way that I could manage.
After the shock wore off, I realized I had a lot of work to do. The original plan was that it would be me in my wedge tent with the computer, sitting outside of our townhouse for vigil, and figuring something out for elevation. Thankfully, the Castlemere Bubble came to the aid, and decided this would not do. It was coordinated to be in a member’s backyard where there was space for everybody to social distance, but allowed for an actual proper looking site with a tent, hors d’oeuvres table, and likewise space for an outdoor elevation the following day as long as weather cooperated. It was short notice, but it was going to be now, or at a time when I could fly back to Florida from Virginia safely. Master Herman had already coordinated ethereal courts, so it seemed like a good crew to work through the elevation protocol. Their Majesties Trimaris were super flexible with whatever we needed, which was also super helpful.
Fortunately, I had a solid plan of what ceremony I wanted from De Cerimoniis (The investiture of a girded lady patrician/zoste patrikia) and the approach I wanted to take as far as regalia and appearance went, so that saved me a lot of grief. An additional post on the ceremony will follow this one.
This post is about the Garb!
I started my elevation planning shortly after I received my Eastern Maunche in 2014. When I started to see fabrics and trim I wanted to incorporate into an eventual ceremony, I bought it and squirreled it away. This saved my butt, because we decided to turn around a fast elevation from announcement since our next military permanent change of station is imminent. While it would have been nicer to have had the time to devote to rich embellishments and friends pitching in for the full shebang, Etsy has a treasure trove of sellers from India who work exclusively in recycled sari borders and materials for crafters around the world. Leaf motifs are very common in Indian designs, and it’s relatively easy to find something extremely passable for Byzantine bling, which is why I support the use of recycled saris for simple beginner or camp-grade SCA Byzantine. This is one of those cases where working smarter and not harder pays off.
Plus! It is SUPER PERIOD to procure materials via import and varied guilds for a Byzantine, . Please do not murder yourself, your household, and your friends making insanely embellished clothing when buying materials is more authentic!
For my vigil, I actually just wore the chiton I made for my Vestal Virgin. It saved me time, and seemed oddly fitting.
Since I had the materials set aside regardless of geographic location, I decided to go forward with my plan for a full 3-layer ensemble that consisted of the body linen (esophorion), underdress (kamision), and dalmatic (delmatikion). Fortunately, I got lucky with highs in the 70s, so I didn’t feel totally melty.
I rarely wear the standing collar esophorion, but I figured that for what was such a high court event, I needed to suck it up, comfort be damned. My body linen was constructed out of linen gauze — This sounds more romantic and lovely than it sounds. The fabric is beautiful, but it is hell to work with. Even the parts where I would normally hand sew entirely on the collar construction, I resigned to use machine, because my stitches were just not working the way I needed them too. The fabric pulled, warped, and did whatever it could despite careful cutting, frequent ironing, cursing, and candle lightings. I have no pictures of me wearing JUST it, because of the sheerness and my own modesty. the collar ended up being too big, so I pulled the placket over more to get a better fit. I think next time: NO gauze, and eliminating the Manazan collar construction for a shoulder seam split, and see if I can achieve a closer fit. Length is to my calves, and the gores go into the arms in the Manazan exemplar.
This was a simple tunic dress construction based on my preferred pattern with side gores and a rounded underarm from the “Persian Style Tunic” at the Met. The fabric is an orange linen twill from Sartor, and the trim was cut from a brocade I have in my stash. Collar is self-faced and tacked down with a blind hem stitch, and the cuffs and hem were whipstitched into place. Main seams were all machine for time crunch reasons. I had to wear something orange, of course, even if you can’t see it at all under the delmatikion.
I decided to use a different construction on the delmatikion than I normally would, in an attempt to stretch the fabric a bit more for a wider garment. It really didn’t work, and caused more frustration in application of the faux-tiraz bands on the sleeves. This is what I get for trying something -new- for the sake of authenticity, rather than going with my preferred fit. There’s more than one way to cut a garment, I just wanted to drive myself batty, I guess. Rather than having triangle gores from the waist, I have trapezoidal ones that come down from the sleeves as I did with my pilgrimage garment. This actually creates a great vertical seam that would work for potamioi embellishment, but that is out of period for my impression. This style DOES allow for keeping the hems very even, if you’re like me and end up with random excess length in places as a result of bad math. Fortunately, the collar neckline with the shoulder seam keyhole is something I’ve done a few times at this point. It creates a nice clean line at the neck when embellishment is elsewhere.
I constructed the sleeves first, as they would be the most time consuming with the lining, followed by the neckline, and the hem facing. After that, it was basically putting puzzle pieces together and closing the side seams into a finished garment. The neckline, trim, and hem were all hand-finished.
The main fabric is a silk brocade from PureSilks.us that has ridiculously long weft floats on the backside. This made it uncomfortable to sew by either machine or hand. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you want to line an entire garment. I just lined the sleeves, and I still have floats that wanted to come out. The hem where the roundel silks are turned up? Oh boy. It looks like it’s FRAYING. I will have to apply some kind of fall or facing on the inside in order to control it for future wear, I just didn’t think this through, and you know, you’d THINK with LAUREL ELEVATION GARB, I would have paid more attention, but nooooooo. Murphy was well and truly sewing with me the whole time.
The roundel silk is a samite from Sartor. I only had two yards of it, so I knew that it had to be trim, plus, that many roundels on purple would be well and truly presumptuous to the throne, and while wearing purple when being invested into a high office was fine, there were still limits on the types of fabrics one could get away with.
Sleeves are bag lined in a lavender-white shot silk dupioni.
The trim was a lucky find on Etsy from a sari shredder in India. I was able to get 9 yards of it shipped via DHL quickly, so I had it on hand when I got to this part. They did have green leaves, but when I saw the orange, there was no turning back
Maphorion and Zonarion:
Nothing special to see here, but I needed a plain white maphorion, or hooded/semicircular veil, and a new belt, since, well, all of my belts are green! The maphorion should be stiff, so I used pure white silk taffeta versus linen or dupioni as my previous attempts. It ended up wrinkling too easily, so I wonder if adding the eventual fillet for the kharzanion will help it stay in place better.
I’ll go more into this with the following post on ceremony, but I chose to mimic the investiture of a Zoste Patrikia because of the extra bling involved, because WHY NOT? The Zoste was the only woman permitted to wear the loros aside from the empress. Plus, it just made sense to be invested as a “mistress of the robes” when elevated as a costume and material culture laurel.
I outsourced the construction of all of these pieces to very caring friends and the husband who were happy to take the burden off of me while I screamed at my silks.
The loros was constructed by Lady Margaret. We were able to come up with a simple pattern on graph paper to aid her in getting the measurements right. It’s a golden silk taffeta, with more amazing sari trim from the same dealer as the orange leaves. It is deliberately longer in the back than the front which allows me to hold it, or pin it to the front of my garments. This served as my “robe”.
The medallion is in the form of a thorakion, or body chain. This typically signifies the holder of an office. After checking out some extant chains full of fancy openwork, The Norman Husband cast the chain links in pewter using a 3D printed original that was used to form a silicone mold. The results were unreal. 60 links total were made that portrayed my heraldic dolphin, initials in Greek letters, and the laurel wreath. As a consolation prize, he also made me a cookie press from the same rendering.
The medallion itself was also 3D printed using our resin printer to emulate intaglio carnelian. Unfortunately, he ran out of time to make the silver setting for it, and the aluminum wire bezel failed. (Watch for this blooper during the ceremony in the next post.) C’est la vie when you only have three weeks to pull it off. While Gieffrei is learning the intricacies of openwork and lapidary, it will be after his retirement from the Navy before he can devote significant time in working in these techniques. Until then, I think the use of modern technology to pump out affordable, good looking jewelry is a great option, especially for newcomers who are daunted by more advanced hand techniques, or for people who can’t afford more authentic pieces from our amazing artisans (who are worth their prices!).
Propoloma and kharzanion:
Mistress Christine was kind enough to take on the burden of my propoloma, which was trimmed in fancy, but heavy, beaded leaf trim that was another killer Etsy find, and set amethyst cabochons for baronial coronet “pearls”. This is a more 12th Century than 11th Century style, but the single stripe of leaves from corner to corner didn’t have the same aesthetic.
The kharzanion, which is a specific type of praipendoulia worn between the veil and propoloma, were put together by Gieffrei, and are constructed of pearls, chrysoprase, and amethyst, with glass leaves. For the elevation, I attached them to the hat to eliminate a step, but they should be hung from a fillet that keeps the veil in place. If they didn’t have leaves on them, I probably could have worn them on a band, but hindsight et al.
The earrings in my first whole were made for my by Maestrina Chiaretta di Fiore as an elevation gift, based on Byzantine examples. She even used a thicker wire to make them more comfortable in my stretched holes. My second holes had museum replicas from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The fillet I did wear was in place to pin my veil. Since it already had leaves on it, I didn’t want it to be presumptuous of a wreath so it was hidden. The band itself was cut from the longer bands worn by Mistress Ellisif for her virtual elevation earlier in the year, another event that took place because of an impending military PCS, since she didn’t have the time to make me a new one after her OCONUS move to Drachenwald. We’ve decided that this could become a tradition, and the next poor soul who is dragged from post to post and elevated to the Laurel will also get a piece, and so forth, and so on.
I wore one necklace, a replica enkolpion, or reliquary cross. Rather than show the crucifix, it portrays the Virgin Mary, and possible an artifact of the Marian Cult, which was huge in Constantinople as it was the home to her relics. As my persona is very superstitious, and believes in the power of Mary versus Jesus (this is a heresy, btw, but a common one), this was a solid choice for low-key authenticity points.
Some pictures of me during the test wear, and from my elevation!
Next in the series: How we broke the internet during a virtual vigil!
On Saturday, September 26th during the Ethereal Court of their Majesties Trimaris at Village Plague, I was sent forward to contemplate my elevation to the esteemed Order of the Laurel.
My vigil will take place on the evening of the 16th of October, and my elevation the following day, on the 17th, which also marks the Hellenic Festival of the Khalkeia, which celebrates craftsmen under the patronage of Athena and Hephaestus. (The 18th is the anniversary of the Battle of Dyrrhachium, but we aren’t going to talk about that.)
This will be a virtual event, with only a small team present here in Castlemere to make this safe and socially distant. More information will be posted as I receive it.
A Byzanbeanie. Or rather, a kamelaukion, a small round hat that in period, could be coated with bling.
A modern hat of the same name is part of Orthodox Christian clergy attire, and looks like this:
But the look I was going for, was in part, based off of this, the Crown of Constance of Aragon. German (Not Holy. Not Roman.) Empress in the early 13th Century.
This hat is a proper Byzantine era kamelaukion from the period I prefer to represent (900-1204).
I figured it was doable in an afternoon, at least the sewing portion of it. After that, embellishment would take what it would.
The original crown is covered in filagree gold, which is well beyond my skill, and also, well, “Crown”. While I’m a baroness of the court and entitled to wear a coronet, a crown is still above my station. This means that the arches over the seams have to go, too. While they would have hid some sins, arches are symbols of imperial rulership. Constance was an empress, I am not.
I also wanted a hat that I could dress up and down, so the praipendoulia would need to be removable. Cloth was my best bet.
I decided to use some Sartor I used on a tunic of Gieffrei’s a few years back.
While I tried to preserve as much of the roundels as I could, the reality is that in period, they would have cut to conserve fabric as a whole, not necessarily the design, so I had to keep that in mind, as well. Sartor silks are EXPENSIVE, and I want to eliminate waste as much as possible. The patterns would not have matched in the 12th Century, and I needed to move beyond the modern aesthetic and remind myself of this.
The only machine stitching was on the curved structural seams. The rest is done completely by hand.
I lined it in bright yellow silk, and applied the same color as a bias strip around the edge to seal up the raw hem.
I found an embroidered sari trim that gave the right amount of pizazz, without looking obtrusively modern. This would be the decorative band around the brim.
But that’s not blingy enough. Time to add bezants. Yay for fitting coronet!
Clearly, the answer is more bezants, and pearls. And Amethyst for a little contrast, of course.
Time for the praipendoulia, which my husband helped me put together with amazing findings I was able to get from Etsy, brass bar we punched and filed ourselves, and chain.
Time for test fittings!
Veil over the top for a more modest look.
And the obligatory Anna make a new hat, so time for a screamo face:
And then Birka happened, as it always does. And we flew up from Trimaris for the occasion. Here’s me in my persomanikion, with the kamelaukion and diadema (coronet), with Gieffrei and our adopted kiddo, Aethelflied, who rocks that teal sari Byzantine. Jeff and I are technically more in Siculo-Norman, as my personmanikion is based on the collar and overall shape of the Palermo Tunicella of Roger II of Sicily. Add the beanie and I may as well be a Sicilian noble, rather than a true Constantinopolitan one. I guess you can say I Normaned. Again. It makes the Norman Husband happy, at least. Plus, Siculo-Norman is just Byzantine without class, right? #notevenonce
I learned there is such a thing as “too much bling”, which is unfortunate. It’s either the praipendoulia, my hair, or my cruciform necklace. I cannot wear all three at once. I removed the necklace relatively early in the day because it was THAT bad, and then it became more manageable for me to pull my hair away from the dangly bits. But since this was worn by a Norman queen, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was worn with a thin silk veil and wimple to protect the hair from tangles. I’ll be exploring this look at a later date.
Speaking of look, nothing says “epitome of grace and nobelese oblige” like me with a can of beer in the back of court.
As of this point, I am taking a step back from the SCA for a duration of time yet to be determined. I will still show up at some events, but current politics, coupled with exhaustion due to drama and other issues has driven me out.
I am happy to continue to field questions and will be actively monitoring my site until I feel fit to return to my research for the society’s purpose. Until then, I am going to be focusing on my mundane research for upcoming conferences, and consider moving forward with my PhD.
Sorry about not posting this sooner, I needed a brain decompression period post-Pennsic.
I was honored to serve as a champion of the East Kingdom’s Arts and Sciences War Point team this summer, and decided that it was the perfect time to complete an icon of Michael the Archangel that I had planned on for some time. Since I’ve posted previously about my process, this is mostly just a picture (and video) dump.
The best part? This belongs to me. It’s not a gift or a scroll for somebody else, he gets to stay in my personal collection, and I’m happy about this. I’m also insanely happy with how it came out.
The original icon is dated to the 15th Century at the Church of Panagia Angeloktisti, Kition, Cyprus.
And here is my finished piece, on a 11×14″ poplar panel from Pandora Icon Supplies:
Slew of progress shots:
And a comparison between this one, and my first Michael icon from September 2013:
While working on this, I decided I was going to video myself, and then roll it into a timelapse, here is the result! Yeah, the musical choices aren’t really, uh, Byzantine, but some of them could work. Maybe. 😉