This may come as a surprise to some of our newer members, but, yes, House Corvus does, in fact, have a newsletter! While I've never made any pretense that it comes out monthly, it rarely takes quite this long a hiatus. Still, even for a newsletter that comes out "whenever I feel like it," time has been a fiercer opponent than my own ability to procrastinate. Half a dozen either completed or partial Roundtables crowd a folder on my computer. Yet, none ever seem to make it to Kinko's and in to your mail boxes. And, each time I turn my attention aside from the Roundtable, I find another month has rolled past. One. Two. Five. If the speed at which I find my life hurtling by weren't so horrific, I'd be somewhat awestruck. Sadly, that old adage is hardly true in my case. Time may fly when you're having fun, but it flies even faster when you're busy as crap.
Aside from the purely mundane matters of an ill-acting vehicle (curse you, water pump!), countless journeys to Florida, and a pretty busy flight schedule seeing all of you at various SCA events; I've had two recurring dilemmas when it comes to regularly putting my thoughts down on paper for the Roundtable. The first is, of course, I write for a living. Which means, I write a lot! And, while I truly enjoy writing to and about House Corvus, sometimes I just look at my keyboard and dread it. It's not that I don't want to write, it's that I just don't feel like it. It sucks to be an artist and so mood-driven, but there's not much I can do about it. Discipline gets me through my work, certainly. But when I write to you, it's motivated by emotion. Thus, the Roundtable becomes completely susceptible to any sort of creative ennui I may be experiencing. Thankfully, unlike my editors and producers, you guys are much more accommodating.
The second cause of Roundtable delays is far more complicated, though. Without being plugged in to the local SCA scene, House Corvus remains my sole SCA outlet. In some ways that's good, as I tend to only work on House Corvus-related projects anymore. In some ways, it's bad. I spend more time focusing on the Household and risk becoming overly sensitive to things. Indiscretions that I might normally overlook or not even notice become glaring acts of disrespect. Focusing so much of my attention on the Household constantly reminds me of the love I have for it and all of you. But it has the flipside of sometimes making me wonder if you love it as much as I do. Okay, that's not possible! Still, you get my drift.
Of course, those feelings can only happen in a vacuum. It's the curse of too much time spent alone and feeling so far away. It's why keeping in touch is so important for all of us. Surely, if I have those feelings, we must all, at one time or another, wonder just how much Corvus genuinely contributes to our lives. The truth however is self evident. House Corvus is exactly what it should be in each of our lives. No more, no less. Each to our needs and contributions. Still, even the simple matter of "keeping everything in perspective" requires a certain level of sustained communication. Thus, you see the irony. My lack of communicating regularly makes me lose the perspective I gain from communicating regularly and makes me not want to communicate regularly. It's as frustrating as it is circuitous.
So, what is it that breaks me out of those SCA doldrums? It's obvious. Time spent in your company! While I love the Roundtable and the e-list, nothing but nothing beats the time we spend together face-to-face at events. And Gulf Wars provided exactly the sort of face-time I needed. Spending the week with Peter, Anne-Marie, Sine, and Robert was the closest thing to an actual vacation I've had in years! It not only reminded me of everything I love about House Corvus, but the SCA, in general. While I hardly gained a new perspective, it gave me a refreshed one. My only regret was that I had so little time with Guillaume and Giuseppe while I was there. And, while I thought Rowen and Florida Medb were going to be there, I never saw them once! Fortunately, I saw them both, albeit briefly, in Trimaris recently and I'll be attending TRH Baldar and Asa's Coronation next month, so I'm hoping they'll be there!
With Spring finally sprung and me coming out of what I euphemistically refer to as my "busy time," I anticipate more travel opportunities to spend time at local events with many of you. Keep in mind that the best way to get me somewhere is to invite me. If my schedule allows, I'll certainly make every effort to be somewhere. Also, I've rolled my Orlando time over from the last weekend to the first week days of each month, making my weekends a tad more flexible.
What's most important for me to impart is the knowledge and reassurance that lack of communication on my part should never be construed as lack of interest. My love for each of you, as well as House Corvus en toto, is resolute. Just keep in mind: it does my heart good to hear from you occasionally as well. I guess I'm just as insecure as anyone when the reverse happens. It's hard for me to interpret not hearing from you as a lack of interest. It's not that I have to know every time you take a little SCA hiatus. But, I want to know. It's important to me to know what's going on in your lives because you're important to me.
The fact is, House Corvus is unlike any other household in the SCA. Sure, we're a political entity and we share many similarities with many households both past and present. But it's love, plain and simple, that binds us together. It's why I don't ask for fealty, don't make any attempts at cliquishness, and don't discourage relationships outside of our household. If love isn't what keeps you here, then you don't belong here. The SCA has other households for that. --BRAN
Corvus had a really good year in 2004, with four new Peers elevated. However, in some cases, that just creates more questions, both for the new peers and for those following that track. So, I thought it might be helpful if I took a moment to explain some things about the peerage path which aren’t usually explained in detail. I’m writing this from the Pelican point of view, but the same basic concepts apply to the other disciplines, just more so. With them, you have to show proficiency in an art, too.
First of all, I need to make this very clear. There is nothing, absolutely NOTHING fair about the peerage track. It follows no rhyme or reason or path of logic. There are some things you can do which will help you get further; there are definitely things you can do to derail yourself; but in the end, there is no guarantee of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Some of the best and hardest working people never achieve peerage, not because they were undeserving, but just because it simply didn’t happen. And as sucky as that seems, it does occur.
1. TIME SERVED.
A lot of people believe that if you haven’t achieved peerage by a certain number of years in the Society (or after having been an associate of a peer), you will never get one. Hmmm. To those people, I say, talk to Eldred or Peter. It took fourteen years for Eldred to become a Pelican; fifteen for Peter. Eldred was never protégéd; Peter, for four years. In both instances, these guys were well beyond peerage-level service, with extremely impressive resumes, but for whatever reason, it just didn’t click for the Order. That was through no fault of their own. I was elevated only three years after becoming Bran’s protégé, however, I was much further along in my service development when I protégéd, and during the entire tenure of my associate relationship, I was also serving as a kingdom officer, and involved in cleaning up a huge mess. Which leads us to…
2. TYPES OF SERVICE
Different types of service require different levels and depths. For instance, 4 years service as a kingdom officer outweighs 4 years service as a baronial officer. But 4 years service as a piss-poor kingdom officer won’t weigh as strongly as 4 years as a regional deputy, who resolved a significant number of problems in their region. 10 events successfully autocratted, outweighs 5 events successfully autocratted and one kingdom event successfully autocratted outweighs all of that…except, if that kingdom event is a University, well, then it’s not going to count as much as a Coronation.
Different types of service have values, and different areas of jobs have different values. An A&S office is not considered nearly as difficult as an exchequer or seneschal. The same amount of time in each office, with a competent level of success, is going to net the seneschal more points, unless the A&S officer comes up with some new spiffy way to handle competitions and encourage larger participation.
Much like me judging string competitions, Pelicans have to try to calibrate different types of service. And they don’t always succeed. When somebody in the heraldic world comes up, I find myself having to explain how the CoH works before being able to speak specifically to their service, so that other Pels who know nothing about the heraldic structure can better assess the commentary they hear. Oddly enough, no other discipline bothers to do that. Either I’m arrogant in my assumption they need the explanation, or else the others, just assume everybody works the same except the heralds?
This juggling often leads to people who primarily cook trying to understand why we are so excited over somebody who does math, and not getting it. They say, “Hey, I cooked 5 feasts for 500 people each! So, what if this guy balanced the checkbooks of 5 groups? His service didn’t benefit as many people as mine did, so I don’t consider him to be my peer.” What that cook fails to understand is that if those 5 accounts hadn’t been balanced, it not only would result in 5 groups’ suspension, but would affect the whole kingdom’s ability to submit a financial report to the Society, which in turn, would affect the Society’s ability to file a tax return for the year. So, whose service was of more benefit?
Well, actually, both. They both provided peerage-level service. But weighing one discipline against another, can be hard for a lot of peers. And there’s no standard to go by. My ruler is different from Bran’s, Oshi’s, Eldred’s, etc.
3. MEASURING SERVICE
Oh, but we’ve already done that, you say. Uh-uh. What we’ve done is establish types and levels of service. Measuring service is evaluating whether or not the type, level and duration is actually equal to the Society’s definition of a peer. Corpora states that the service must be “above and beyond that normally expected….”. So, how do you decide what is “normally expected”? Well, some peers go solely by the level of service they had attained at the time of their own elevation. Personally, I think this is a bad habit. Woe to those who Peter judges by THAT yardstick! His pollings wouldl always be full of “no’s”.
There are quite a few peers that judge solely on the basis of what they themselves had accomplished at the time they were elevated. In some cases, that makes them hyper-critical; in others, extremely lenient. Neither is a good place to be, but at least they are consistent and both the Crown and Order are able to view their commentary accordingly.
Personally, I try to judge each person’s service individually, based upon its difficulty to perform, length of time performing each aspect, difficulties encountered and how they were handled, and whether or not the way the person served created more problems than it solved. The phrase the Order likes to use is “service rendered vs. chaos engendered”. I also look at it this way. If that person were suddenly removed, for whatever reason, from their job, would it be a detriment or benefit to the job. Some people, if aliens suddenly sucked them up into a spacecraft, would leave a vast hole in the position they filled, one that would not easily be filled by another. THAT is a peer. Others, would only provide an opportunity to fix the problems they’d created during their term. That’s NOT a peer. Thinking in those terms helps me make my decisions come polling time, but it’s still rather arbitrary.
4. COMPARING YOUR SERVICE TO OTHERS.
We’ve all fallen into the trap of thinking, “I’ve done more than him/her”, but this is a dangerous line of thought. Unless you know specifically why the Crown chose to elevate someone, you should realize that there may be service you are unaware of, or perhaps, have forgotten. In my own case, when I took over as Triton Designate, there was a failure in the submissions system, which resulted in a heraldic black hole of over 100 lost submissions. My entire first year was spent cleaning that up, repairing the damage to the public relations of the herald’s office and getting the submissions system back on track. I also revamped the roster, instituted a newsletter, developed new heraldic education tracks, began a term as exchequer for Hawkwood and autocratted my 6th event.
During the next two years, leading up to my Pelican, I went on to do bigger things with the herald’s office, continued to serve as Hawkwood’s exchequer, served as Sacred Stone’s MoL and emergency deputy seneschal, started and chaired the Atlantian Legal Committee, autocratted/coordinated 3 more events, and visited every group in this kingdom as Triton, save one. But if you ask Pelicans why I got my Pelican, most Order members will recall it is because, when I wanted to step down as Triton and my designated successor was deemed not ready, I agreed to stay on with the job, despite the personal sacrifice that required. Taken alone, that might not seem like so much, but when added with all the other stuff, plus the stuff I’d done before becoming Triton Designate, it’s a pretty significant body of work, which is why I don’t use myself as a measurement to compare to new peers.
Yes, there are people who are elevated way ahead of their time, or for reasons outside of pure service, but that doesn’t devalue the Order. It may devalue THEIR peerage, but it certainly doesn’t devalue mine. I, and most of the members of my Order, put in the time, effort and personal sacrifice which earned us that recognition. Is it the end-all be-all of my SCA career? Nope. To be perfectly honest, it’s not even my favorite award. My most cherished award is my Queen’s Order of Courtesy. And coming straight behind that would by my OSS. Those have much more value to me than my peerage, because of who gave them to me and where I was developmentally when I received them. Both were unexpected and I was overwhelmingly touched.
5. PEERAGE QUALITIES
Of course, there are also those “peerage qualities” to judge. A peer must comport themselves as a peer, practice chivalry and courtesy, be helpful to others, and dress accordingly. Aha! Dress accordingly, huh? Yep. That’s a biggie. If you always run around in torn t-tunics, sweatpants and tennis shoes, you can pretty much expect the Order to overlook you. While Pelicans aren’t expected to dress quite to the level of Laurels (or Dukes), there is some expectation that a prospective peer will begin to “look the part” when they are serious about their service. This is kinda an unspoken rule. You rarely see anything about it on the list, or in discussions, but you can watch and see how those who are unconcerned about adopting a more period appearance and atmosphere in their personal SCA lives are not taken as seriously and even fall by the wayside. I can think of one such candidate who engendered whispers of “but he never wears any pants!." Drink out of those Coke cans wrapped in a felt cozy if you wish, but don’t come whining to me when your peerage never materializes, even after you donated a kidney to save the life of the prince!
Sounds crazy, but some things just are, children. They just are. The knights actually TELL squires that if they don’t start wearing better garb, they won’t see a belt.
In tandem with dress, it’s important to remember that when you are on the peerage track, you are under view at all times. It’s kinda like being the President’s daughter(s). Nothing you do, escapes notice. And if it’s particularly a poor choice, you better believe the Order will be informed. The network of spies who are anxious to expose your every foible is extensive. Why? Because you are seeking an accolade most people in this game will never achieve. Sometimes, it’s merely that you get caught by virtue of the office you may be holding. Let’s say you get in a disagreement regarding handling your office. The other person, is dissatisfied with the outcome and goes to your superior officer to complain. The superior officer is a peer. Uh-oh. When your name comes up for commentary, the superior officer feels compelled to report what they know of how you handle conflict resolution. Now, the original person in your disagreement probably didn’t mean to sideline your peerage hopes; and your superior officer is not necessarily being mean, but feels they need to provide all information possible to help the Order make an informed decision. Nevertheless, this disagreement, which would not have affected your peerage otherwise, has now created a “cloud” on your service record.
A GOOD peer will explain all the circumstances surrounding the incident they are reporting, and advise of how it was resolved, how long ago it was and if you’ve had any subsequent problems or if this seems like an isolated incident. The more isolated the incident, the more often it’s chalked up to “personality conflicts” and the Order gives you a little more time to prove yourself and everything’s hunky-dory.
But let’s say you get in a tiff with another peer, a BAD peer. One who holds grudges and doesn’t see their own complicity in situations. Those people will dog you to the end of your days to keep you from the peerage. They won’t discuss your “issue” openly, where others can refute their words, but rather, they’ll make sure to discuss it privately with every member of the Order they can, building support for their “side” and ensuring your polling vote will go poorly. If you are in one of those situations, heaven help you, because I can’t. It takes the light of day to defeat this kind of peer and as long as they can skulk around in the dark, they’ll keep you out.
Well, we all like to let our hair down occasionally, and this is going to be one of those “do as I say; not as I do” moments. But when you are under the watchful eye of the Order, it’s important to make sure your public behavior is pretty much above reproach. The days of sleeping your way into a peerage are gone, at least in this kingdom, unless we get a whole new slate of kings. So, any type of behavior which makes you the subject of gossip should be avoided. Getting so sloshing drunk that you take your clothes off at the bardic circle; making up rude filk songs about the king; sleeping your way through the newest hottie household; deliberately breaking site rules; getting caught smoking dope; etc. These are all things that can submarine a peerage hope pretty quickly.
But a couple that also can cause your plans harm are things that we are notoriously bad about, simply because we forget. When we get together talking, we often forget who might be nearby and that perhaps, our topics of conversation are not appropriate for public hearing. Kinda like not trashing your brother’s girlfriend in the bathroom without checking to see if anybody is in the stalls first. You can rest assured when you do that, that she’s in there and heard every word. Well, the same thing is true of us. We get on a rant, start raising our voices in our indignance and forget, that Sir JoeBob or one of his household, is standing right over there, and yep, our voices carry… far!
Now maybe we didn’t mean to insult Sir JoeBob, or maybe we don’t really care, but we should care about those in our house who have hopes to excel. Our outspokenness can sometimes hurt their chances. For that matter, they can hurt their own chances by the same offense! Another example, is taking a joke too far. Perhaps you have a personal joke with the Crown. You know, and he knows, that it’s just for fun. But when you go into court and start spouting off, it may be that the people in the audience think you are not only being rude, but disrespecting the Crown! And sure as my name is Beverly, that’ll count against you when the Order starts discussing your worthiness. So, it’s important to remember, that people are always watching and the only truly private place, is in your hotel room (if the door’s closed) car or home. Plus, the actions of any of us, reflects on the house as a whole. Have fun, but try not to damage our reputations.
6. WAITING YOUR TURN
Sometimes it seems unfair when you look at the time you’ve been playing and see other people elevated who you think have been playing the same amount of time. But your view may not be accurate, especially if they originally started in another group. Or maybe, while you were attending events and having fun or pursuing fighting, that person had already started their service track or taking A&S classes. Maybe you didn’t notice, they were washing dishes in the kitchen, because you were off at the bardic circle. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but when we look at the service of others, we often don’t know the whole picture.
And even so, the way the Orders work means that when the Crown is amiable, you take whatever they offer. You can’t say, “oh, I wanted this one to go first!”. Consider Eldred. Now, he’ll argue this, but we all thought he should have his Laurel first. Yet, neither Bran and I are stupid. We both know that expressing such a thing can result in a negative attitude on the part of the “rejected” Order. I’ve seen it happen before, where somebody advises the Order that JoeBob really wants to receive his Knighthood first, and the Order goes, “O.k., we’ll take him off the watchlist altogether!” Anyhoo, back to Eldred. The opportunity arose for him to receive his Pel and we jumped on it. With both feet. You take it when it’s offered and for whomever it’s offered, because that opportunity may not come around again for years, if at all.
It’s not that we promote any one member of House Corvus ahead of others who are at the same level; rather, it’s because we know that it’s a game of strategy, like chess. Also, while you may see yourself at equal levels with others, we (and the Orders) may not. We may see areas where one has really excelled above the other or where one needs just a shade more time or work. You have to trust that it isn’t intended to hurt you or to label you as a bad associate. And like I said at the first, some people don’t always make it all the way to their chosen peerage. Ask Peter how long he’s been a squire and if he’s any closer... It’s not really a failing.
7. ARE THE STARS IN ALIGNMENT?
Don’t laugh. Sometimes, that’s what it takes. You can have 8 years of dedicated, exceptional service in two separate kingdom offices; have autocratted Pennsic and raised thousands of dollars for the kingdom travel fund, and STILL hang on the watch list for years, until the right moment in time comes along. There are currently two candidates on the watchlist, who each have over 25 years of service in. Both received their Laurels years ago, and have continued producing massive service-level quantities of their art on behalf of at least 2 kingdoms and the Society as a whole, as well as doing other service work. Alisoun MacCoul, who is one of the strictest judges of service in the Order, fully supports the elevation of both of them, but there’s not a damn thing either of us has been able to do to make it happen. All we can figure is, as Dame Anne says, "they pissed in somebody’s Wheaties fifteen years ago and now fate won’t let them have it." Whoever it is that keeps sandbagging their pollings won’t come forward on the list, and since pollings are confidential, the Order has no idea why the numbers tally as insufficient every single time. These two candidates are the reason I tell you all, that the system is not fair and there is no rhyme or reason. You can do everything absolutely perfectly, I can consider you my peer, and still the Crown may not elevate you. It’s nothing you’ve done wrong; it’s nothing your peer has done wrong; it’s nothing Corvus has done wrong. That’s why I must tell you, that NONE of this matters. All that matters is…
8. THE PATH.
And here’s where Buddhist philosophy enters in. When you decide to walk the path to peerage, and you undertake to formalize a relationship with a guide, while they (and you) have every hope and will undertake everything they can, to bring you to that “prize”, it’s not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is growth and happiness. The ultimate goal is to find your perfect place within the Society, a place where you are happy, confident and content with who you are.
Think about it. If you become a knight, what have you really achieved? In the real world, not a damn thing. Your car mechanic won’t care that you are top of your game in a sport that’s not recognized by the Olympic commission. It won’t put cash in your bank account. It won’t fix your marital problems. Why? Because in the real world, there’s no such thing as an SCA knight. It’s a made-up rank, in a made-up game. But what IS real is the person you have become in seeking that rank. The maturity and behaviors you have learned and exhibit here in the dream, you will carry into your real life, and people will respect you, not because you’re a “knight in the SCA”, but because of the person you ARE.
The qualities of chivalry, courtesy, courage, honor, justice, loyalty, humility, excellence, charity and nobility are as valued today as they were in the time of the knights. And THIS, is for what you should be striving; to become a better person for yourself. This is the reason to walk the path…
It’s the reason I did. --RHIANNON
It is time to start thinking about Pennsic this year. After volunteering (Yes, I am crazy!), I will be organizing camp this year. House Corvus will have its own camp this year. Planning has already started, including the return of the Accidental Circus, the gate house, shower, and kitchen (with the rumor of an oven this year).
Pennsic will be running from August 5th through the 21st this year. My plan is to be there for both weeks. I am looking forward to as many of us as possible going this year as we will have our own camp back. Those of you that went last year can attest we had a ton of fun. The camp was laid back, with very little that anyone has to do after the first 2 days of setup. I will be registering the group with Cooper's Lake Campground soon under the name "House Corvus." This will need to be the name we use every year from now on. I will do this when we decide where to camp. I have been in contact with the land agent for Pennsic this year to try to find some available land. Master John is going to look and get me suggestions as to where he thinks we can claim some land. I will post his suggestions on this list to see what everyone likes.
Since I have not run an all-Corvus camp before I would like to know what everyone would like camp to be like. Some things I do know are:
1. Period Pavilions only
2. Camp walls are a good thing
3. Large gathering pavilion to hang out under
4. Fire pit
5. This is vacation; I don't want this to be all work.
Some of the questions I have for the camp are:
1. How much common, open land do we want?
2. Who besides Corvus will be invited to camp with us?
3. How structured do we want camp (i.e. chores, etc.)?
4. Do we want a meal plan, if so how much of one?
5. What do you want out of Pennsic?
6. Where do you want to camp (see note above)?
7. What do you want camp to look like?
8. Who is going?
When the Kingdom of Atlantia announced that they were having a competition seeking designs for a new pair of crowns for its King and Queen, we should have known that House Corvus's own resident metal artist would submit something astound-ing. It turns out that what Lord Raimondo Ricchie detto Limogiano ended up submitting was the WINNING DESIGN!
The competition was open to jewelry designers from all over the Knowne World (not just Atlantia) and even to artisans outside the SCA community. Despite this wide-open field, Raimondo's design was judged to be the most outstanding and the one worthy of actual fabrication. His work will become a permanent part of Kingdom regalia, and will be worn and cherished by Atlantia's Kings and Queens for many years to come. To say that we're all proud of his accomplishment is an understatement.
Unfortunately, in his rush to send out his design before the original deadline of 31 December 2004, Raimondo didn't have a chance to photocopy it. Lady Lucia of the Regalia Committee promised him a copy and he'll post it to the Corvus list as soon as he's able to scan it in.
Of course, we've all seen a sample of his design talent in his work on Sine's coronet. Based on Anglo-Saxon metalwork and stone crosses from the 7th-11th centuries, rather than having pearls, it will have domed enamel pieces also based on Anglo-Saxon metalwork. These will be in Sine's heraldic colors.
For those of you who haven't had the chance to do so yet, I highly recommend that you pay a visit to Raimondo's online presentation of his senior exhibition and portfolio. It shows his diverse talents and unique artistic vision through both pictures of relics he's fabricated and words he's written. Entitled "A Sense of Faith," the written companion is especially enjoyable (read it!). It gives you some wonderful insight into the creative process of a very gifted artist. Moreover, Raimondo shares a nice slice of his own personal philosophy. If you'd like a real treat, be sure and visit it at http://www.geocities.com/raimonrdl/indexss.html.
('char-&-tE; ME. charite, from OFr. charité, 13th c.)
When Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-604 AD) defined the Seven Deadly Sins in his Moralia in Job as vices that we should seek to avoid, he also included a counter-balancing set of values or Virtues that we should both espouse and adopt in our everyday lives. Continuing the numerological mysticism of Seven in the Christian Church, Gregory listed Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Justice, Prudence, and Temperance. The first three of these are known as the Spiritual Virtues and are a slight variation on St. Paul's trio of Love, Hope and Faith. The last four are called the Chief or Natural Virtues and had already been defined by Greek philosophers. Our whole romantic notion of Chivalry rests upon these virtues and noblemen and women in the Middle Ages strove to embody them in both thought and deed. As members of both the SCA, and indeed, modern society, we too try to incorporate variations on these themes in to our own beings. Well, decent people do.
The third virtue of Charity did not replace Love on that list, but was, instead, a natural growth from it. Charity as a word is derived from the Greek word 'caris' and the Latin caritas. While caritas may literally mean 'love', 'caris' contains the idea of kindness. Moreover, it is the kindness that one bestows that may not be deserved. It literally referred to the kind of love God gives to mankind, the notion being that we may not be worthy of that love, but it is given anyway. We know it also as Grace - that unmerited divine assistance given to us for our regeneration or sanctification. As Charity towards man was considered a virtue coming from God directly, it was only proper that they too show that same charity towards their fellow man.
Like so many church doctrines of the period, this may seem like another ludicrously lofty goal for us mere mortals. Keep in mind, however, that is was the striving towards these ideals that defined medieval charity, not its literal achievement. Certainly man, by his very nature, could never achieve the type of divine Grace of which only God was capable. Instead, the church helped to espouse a charity that could be understood effectively, for the betterment of society and all its members. This incorporated corporal works of mercy. Keeping their numerical theme intact, the medieval church assembled a list of seven good works that included: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, give shelter to strangers, clothe the naked, visit the sick, minister to prisoners, and bury the dead. We would hold these things to be self evident, but for our medieval counterparts these acts of Charity represented the acting out of a God-given and therefore supernaturally infused virtue. They provided charity to their neighbor, quite literally, for God's sake. For they did not believe that the virtue of Charity, like natural virtues, was acquired through frequent repetition of the same acts, but that each act was infused with God's sanctifying grace. Heady stuff, to be sure. And, while the belief that a singular divine being directly influences our personal lives may have lessened in today's society, the legacy of that infused virtue is part of the glue that not only holds our society together, but also makes it one worth living in. Even now, charity includes any good turn done to the needy, regardless of the original motive that may have prompted it.
For us, charity and generosity play important roles in bettering ourselves both inside and outside the SCA. People of good character and confidence can give and give with no fear of running out - not just in terms of financial charity, but in all charitable matters. Whether we chalk it up to God, good vibes, Karma, etc., there are clear benefits from even the simplest acts of charity. This pertains to matters of money, to be sure, but also in the more esoteric areas of power, reputation, or even that ubiquitous "success" for which we all seem to strive (but hopefully don't covet) in these Current Middle Ages.
We do not need to control every situation and/or person, only ourselves. The charitable man is ready to share power or relinquish it (although legitimate responsibility should never be discarded), allowing personal growth and initiative from subordinates and newcomers. We want to give others the opportunity to make good choices. By the same token, we can obey reasonable commands from superiors with joy, confident that, ultimately, we will lose nothing the Big Picture.
This Charity of our Ego comes in to play when we see someone else getting credit that we deserve. Whether or not we really deserve the credit isn't a matter of charity, but how we deal with it is. Proper credit often translates in to success. Sharing it or failing to claim it directly affects both or ego and our recognition. While "taking" credit would be unjust and wholly wrong on either side, giving credit to others who deserve it is a simple matter of truth, justice, and charity. Yet, in the supposedly merit-based environment of the SCA, surrendering the spotlight can be a difficult thing indeed. Keep in mind that humility, too, is a virtue.
Perhaps the greatest charity which we all offer up to each other in the SCA is the Charity of Time. For an organization that is entirely based on volunteerism, time can be our most precious gift. It is something of which we all have too little, yet we lavish it upon each other in the SCA. Whether it's the garb we sew, the scrolls we produce, the events we autocrat, the classes we teach, or even the fighting campaigns we wage - each is the direct product of our charity. And we all benefit from its reciprocity. I have sacrificed my time to do this or that, just as every single member of the Society has sacrificed to participate. We each contribute to our own level, means, and ability. Rather than judge the merits of that charity, be thankful for what is freely given. Perhaps, the equanimity to properly evaluate our disparate contributions may well be still another virtue of Courtly life, but it's certain that Charity and Grace are two virtues inextricably linked for all of us who in the SCA. Gifts and gratitude go hand in hand but it behooves all of us to recognize offerings of hours as surely as gifts of gold. --BRAN
I knew Duke Gyrth Oldcastle, but that is not to say that I knew him well. I had met him and talked to him many times throughout the years and found him to be both forthcoming and genuine in our conversations.
My first dealings with him and his wife were due to some Sacred Stone "incident" over fifteen years ago. To the best of my knowledge, he was not even involved. But, being part of "that Oldcastle household," I, like so many newcomers in our area, immediately demonized him, being a firm believer that we are judged by the company we keep. For years, I naively counted all Oldcastles, including Duke Gyrth as its founder, as the enemy of all that was good and decent in the SCA. How young we all were!
I never thought of myself as an "old-timer" in the SCA until today when I got the news about his death.
I remember learning "Oldcastle" fighting, as did we all. I remember making all the jokes about it being ineffective in modern SCA fighting. I also remember that every time I restart fighting that, if I want to be effective, I go right back to it as well. I guess, if you want to be grandiose, you can say that Gyrth taught Atlantia how to fight. I thank him for that.
I remember the first Corvus/Oldcastle party at Pennsic years ago. At it, I saw Gyrth and Mel again for the first time in a long time. It suddenly struck me just how much older we all were . It also reminded me of how all of that crap that we hang onto in the SCA really was just so much drivel when compared to the realities of life and our own, real lives. I talked to them and got to like them. They were just two people with ideas and ideals and dreams about the SCA and they tried to make them happen. How could I really fault them when I do the same thing on a daily basis?
And, to make things worse for me ethically, since I was elevated, I see the looks in some peoples' eyes when they see that medallion and how they think that I've been around forever. It hit me today: I am them. I have to wonder what people think of me and when the "youth" in the SCA will rebel against me? It's like Pogo says: "We have met the enemy, and they is us!" Once again it's full circle.
It's very strange how old friends can become today's adversaries and old adversaries can become our friends before we even realize it. How dare they! The SCA is the most change resistant organization with which I've ever become involved and I guess that made me comfortable. I picked a side of the fence all those years ago and I didn't want to change it.
I'm embarrassed to admit this but, it wasn't until I actually met Gyrth and Mel that I realized I was wrong and that we all change whether we like it, or realize it, or not.
For those that still have an axe to grind, you must admit that, while probably not "legendary" in all reality, Gyrth represents a very different and important time in the SCA.
The SCA was more open and receptive and had so much potential for any possibility. Oh my God! The possibilities to me back then! Both good and bad. It was at the end of that era during which I was fortunate enough find the SCA. The fact is, when anyone from those first days dies, it leaves a hole in all of us.
As I was watching "The Lord of the Rings" last night, an idea dawned upon me, makes sense to me, and is oddly appropriate. Duke Gyrth, and all of his generation in the SCA, are very like the Tolkien's Elvish peoples in that every death diminishes both them and us. They cannot be replaced.
Duke Gyrth is the only person that I have personally known to have lived out his life and died in the SCA. I actually shed some tears while writing this. So, I guess I'll probably miss him. --PETER
2nd - Atlantia: Coronation in Lochmere(Annapolis, MD).
2nd - Northshield: Maslenitsa - A Russian Spring Feast Moot in Nordskogen (St. Paul, MN).
9th - Atlantia: Novice Tournament in Sacred Stone (Booneville, NC).
9th - Northshield: Second Coronation in Midewinde (Minot, ND).
9th - Caid: Spring Crown Tournament in Al-Sahid (Victorville, CA).
9th - Ansteorra: Stargate Baronial in Stargate (Houston, TX).
13th - Colin's birthday.
16th - Atlantia: Tournament of Chivalry in Windmaster's Hill (Apex, NC).
16th - Caid: Spring Collegium Caidis in Calafia (Vista, CA).
19th - Ealdthryth's birthday.
21st - William's birthday.
23rd - Atlantia: Newcomer's Event in Crois Brigte (Winston-Salem, NC).
24th - Raimondo's birthday.
30th - Atlantia: Tourney of Lyons in Hidden Mountain (Cordesville, SC).
1st - Caid: Baron's Feast in Gyldenholt(Orange, CA).
7th - Atlantia: Spring Crown Tournament in Bright Hills (Street, MD).
7th - Trimaris: Spring Arts and Sciences Faire in Spring Hill, FL.
9th - Antonia's birthday.
10th - Thorgrimr's birthday.
10th - Anne-Marie's birthday.
12th - Alys's birthday.
14th - Atlantia: Below the Salt in Baelfire Dunn (Lenoir, NC).
15th - Helfdane's birthday.
18th - Cassan's birthday.
21st - Atlantia: Feast of St Catherine of Sienna in Falcon Cree (York, SC).
28th - Atlantia: Sapphire Joust VI in Caer Mear (Amelia, VA).
28th - Northshield: War Camp MMV in Nordskogen (Twin Cities, MN).
28th - Caid: Spring Potrero War in Calafia (Potrero, CA).
28th - Trimaris: Coronation in Marcaster(Altoona, FL).
Last modified on Wednesday, November 26, 2008|
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