I swear to serve the Kingdom, the Society, and the Arts to the best of my ability, now and always.
Let me back up a step. This weekend was Fiber, Fabric and Fighting (and other things that start with F), an SCA event I helped start ten years ago. This is an SCA story, and if you’re not interested in that particular medieval recreation group you can close the tab now. I’ve been the class coordinator every year, and often other things too, from autocrat to reservationist to cook, whatever was needed to make it happen.
This year we had some wonderful classes, and many of my favorite people were there, including my apprentice Rosalind. The SCA has three major awards, called peerages: Knights for martial arts, Laurels for Arts and Sciences, and Pelicans for service. I’ve been a member of the Order of the Laurel for nearly eight years, for research, teaching and practice of fiber arts, and that allows me to have apprentices. (One lives in Oregon, and one in eastern Pennsylvania, and I don’t see enough of either of them.) I’m happy as a Laurel: it gives me a greater opportunity to mentor other artisans, and to help shape the way the Arts and Sciences are practiced in my region, and more broadly. I will never be a Knight, and had no ambition to become a Pelican.
Apparently it’s not all about me.
Their Majesties opened court right after lunch. They wanted me. Then they wanted the Order of the Pelican.
It’s too late to run screaming, isn’t it?
They asked me whether I wanted to do it now, or to wait and have the ceremony at a later event. But where better than my own beloved FFF, among my beloved string people?
I had to sneak out of my vigil to teach, which I suppose only proves the point, doesn’t it. I managed to successfully teach another human being how to do double cloth sprang! Even in my somewhat distracted state…
Regalia was begged or borrowed. Mistress Bronwen loaned a cloak, and Master Fridrikr conveyed to me his own Laurel-Pelican; I believe he said it had previously been Mistress Tsveea’s. Thorvaldr made off with my Viking cap so that it could be given back to me in court. Some people dear to me were asked to participate: Duke Malcolm for the Chivalry, Viscountess Rosalind for the Royal Peers (my apprentice, and the only person to speak at both my peerage ceremonies), Master Herveus for the Pelicans, and Mistress Rhiannon for the Laurels. Recently someone from the Jewels of AEthelmearc has also been asked to participate: I asked both Master Gillie and Mistress Alicia to do so.
I swore fealty, using the words above. Nothing about those words is new to me, or to the way I live my life in the SCA or out (though other terms substitute for Kingdom and Society). I will continue as I’ve begun, with or without that oath. Nonetheless, the formality matters in a way that will take a while to parse.
Especially because it was such a complete surprise.