Sunday, January 31, 2016

TBT: On Point #3

As I sit and watch my students work on their end of term projects, I am given enough time to think back to my local Barony, the Barony of Darkwater, and our recent event.

Every year, at Clans, we give out a local award called a Ring of Chivalry. I’ve seen other Baronies do this as well; however, if for some reason your Barony does not, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is an award that carries no rank, title, or position. It has no mention or note within the Order of Precedence and it does not even come with a scroll.

It is, however, an incredibly powerful award and something that is incredibly touching.
I am incredibly honored to have been given my Barony’s Ring of Chivalry this year. Admittedly, I am more overjoyed to have seen the inspirational Lady I voted her, Gravin Eva van Oudeachterkol, receive her Ring as well.

I truly think that the award is so touching because it is a vote of the populace as to who they find to be inspirational. Nothing can take away the feeling of joy of kneeling before a Crown or Coronet for their acclaim, praise, and respect – but to know that you have the respect of the populace as well… there is emotional power in it.

My truthful confession is that I am at once touched, and at the same time, confused. I am not special – nor do I try to be. I do not actively try to be “more courteous” or “more chivalrous” than anyone else, nor do I try to go out of my way to be nice. I have bad days, cranky moods, and you don’t even want to see me before I’ve had a cup of coffee in the morning. And yet…

I believe in the Dream. Not because I want respect, an award, or even the honor of this Ring, but because in believing in it – I am a better person than I have been.

I write the things I do – here, and within performances at the Bardic Circle to show people in the best light, because in them I see the Dream as well. To me… they are that inspiration, not the other way around.

But there’s a trick…

In believing in the Dream-in-Them, that thing which ennobles them and inspires them… I am made better.

A bard may be the Voice of the Dream… but you, the people and populace… you are the lens through which the Dream is seen.

I believe in the Dream because I need to see others believing it as well – because if they can live to the ideal, perhaps I can, too.

Yours in service and humility,
James

Lord James Highgate of Darkwater is protégé to Baroness Ilene Johnnestoune and Cadet to Don William of Aschem. He holds the awards for Poet Laureate (for about another week), Bard of Darkwater, and Bard of Oldenfeld for his written and performed poetic works.

He can be reached for comments, questions, or article suggestions at Jacob.a.tessler@gmail.com

Monday, December 21, 2015

Courtesies & Kindnesses - at Events

Witnessed at a recent event:

The Honorable Lord Owen Mac Pherson brought a newcomer to his first event at A Long Night at the Monastery, Marcaster's anniversary event.  The newcomer's name was Pat, and he spent the early part of the day assisting with the tourney set-up.  He was also found moving furniture and carrying things for the event staff and all those he saw that needed assistance.

Vivat, Pat and welcome home to the SCA!  Your assistance was remarked and will be well-remembered.

If you've witnessed courtesy or kindness in Trimaris, please send your story to Melangell and we'll highlight it in this series.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

TBT: On Point #2

Dear James,

I have been in the SCA since the dawn of time. I was on the committee that decided to call that brown stuff ‘dirt’. I have every award that the Society can give. My AoA is older than you are. My students have peerages. My student’s students have peerages. I have nothing left to do, and I am bored. HELP!

Sincerely,
Tired in Trimaris

---

Dear TIRED,

I’m actually really lucky in this regard. Because I am relatively new, though I’ve been accused of being a boomerang on more than one occasion, I have the blessed ability of finding everything to be brand new.

There’s something special in the human brain about how we treat things that are new, because… well, the grass usually IS greener on the other side, at least for a little while.

So – what to do when nothing is new anymore? When you’ve done everything, and you’ve been in for so long that you’re really just not feeling it any longer. It’s become a habit, or the way in which you see your friends, or any one of a selection of reasons why you’re still coming, even though you’re not feeling enthusiastic.

The simple solution is to think outside the box you’ve put yourself in – again, I’m lucky in that everything is new to me, so I can leapfrog from thing to thing like some kind of demented ferret going “oooo, shiney!”

Don’t believe me? Ask me sometimes about the 200+ dollars in leatherworking supplies I bought after a ‘how to make a belt’ class. I make me some mean belts, and that’s about it at the moment…

Ok, so to get back to the point. Some ideas for folks who have been in for so long that they feel like
they’ve lost what brought them in:

Idea One: Mentor a Newcomer
There is nothing quite like ‘new relationship’ energy; that thing that makes new boyfriends and
girlfriends obsess over each other and post sappy social media updates. That same ‘newness’ energy can come by proxy – by mentoring a newcomer, you’re able to sort of feed of their excitement as they learn all these new things; see the SCA through their eyes as a new person.

Idea Two: Go learn something new 
If you are a Laurel, Grand High Poobah of Underwater Basket Weaving, and know everything there is to know about it… go learn something about Leatherworking, or C&I. The SCA is the hobby that
spawns other hobbies. If you’re bored with what you’ve got and feel you mastered it… go be a student again. (Frankly, if I could afford to, I’d be a student at my University forever and have ten different degrees) If you’re one of those people that have run events since Time Began and or Fought with Gods and Demons, then likewise – go learn something new. Dabble in the arts, or explore a fighter practice.
Break out of your box that you’ve put yourself into and I think you’ll find that ‘new’ passion again.

Idea Three: Go Back to your Roots 
Finally, go back to what brought you into the Society to begin with – if you are a fighter who
hasn’t fought in years, go get back into armor. Go back to your art and craft – go do what you initially loved to do, even if you haven’t done so in a while.

All in all, it’s a matter of attitude. If you go into any of these suggestions thinking that it won’t work – you are absolutely correct.

Approach everything with the eyes of a newcomer. Let yourself feel wonder. At the risk of the pun, it’s wonderful.

Yours in Service to the Dream,

James

Lord James Highgate of Darkwater is protégé to Baroness Ilene Johnnestoune and Cadet to Don William of Aschem. He holds the awards for Poet Laureate and the Bard of Darkwater for his written and performed poetic works. He can be reached for comments, questions, or article suggestions at Jacob.a.tessler@gmail.com

Friday, December 4, 2015

Holiday Highlights & How to Celebrate: An Egyptian’s Guide


Ah, the most-wonderful time of the year…

One of the benefits of living in a Kingdom like Trimaris is you get to learn all about the holidays celebrated by different cultures and religions – fascinating stuff! For reasons beyond my understanding, the 12th month of the Gregorian calendar is positively stuffed with feasts, festivals, and high holy days! This colorful array of spiritual and civic events can be confusing to those not native to the original culture; fret not however! As your noble High Priest and Scribe, I, Amenhetep, have endeavored to catalogue some of the largest and most-important holidays for you!

I’ll be sharing my interpretations of these holidays based on personal research and interviews with the actual people who celebrate them! So polish up your feast platters and get your holiday lights burning – it’s time to party (and pray)!


Yule: Celebrated by the fierce Norsemen and certain other barbarian tribes of northwestern Europe, this holiday is a great feast meant to stave off the eternal winter. Magical logs are burnt and animals are slaughtered and consumed as part of the celebrations. So wild is the feasting that it continues until the sun rises – which I am told might not be for days at a time in the far and frozen north! Needless to say, mass consumption of alcohol is not only allowed, but encouraged, and features elaborate toasts dedicated to the gods and ancestors. During Yule, the Norse gods Thor, Freyr, and Odin are honored to ensure protection against the cold, and a return to warmth in the spring.


Christmas: A very prominent holy day observed throughout much of Europe and certain parts of the Near East, this celebration marks the birth date of Christ – the mighty divine son of the Hebrew god Yahweh and a mortal woman. In France, Christmas is a time of much prayer and joviality; a special midnight ceremony is held in the temples which involves candle-lighting, singing, and dramatic plays about Christ as recorded in the holy books of the faith. After this ritual, a special feast of cakes and game fowl is eaten. Of particular note is a strange custom wherein the children leave empty shoes by the fire, believing that Christ will magically fill them with small gifts! Fascinating!

Hannukah: A major holiday of the Hebrews, this celebration takes place in the Near East, but can be found throughout Europe as well. Hannukah is an eight-day festival commemorating a great Hebrew rebellion and the rededication of their temple; according to legend, the Hebrews only had enough holy oil to burn in their ritual lamp for one day, but the oil magically lasted for eight! As such, festivities center around lamp-lighting, recitation of prayers, and consumption of foods prepared with oil. Because the Hebrew calendar uses both the sun and moon, Hannukah may occur any time in the 11th or 12th Gregorian months.

Saturnalia: If anyone knows how to throw a festival, it is the Romans! A seven-day festival honoring the Roman god Saturn, this celebration begins with public sacrifices at the temples and a grand feast hosted by the Senate. As a rule, no work is allowed on this holiday, and roles and values are relaxed for a time, with such things as drunkenness and gambling being the norm. During the festival, Romans adorn their homes and gardens – and sometimes themselves – with wreaths, garlands, and golden ornaments. During Saturnalia, certain days correspond to certain lesser gods, and so may see unique rituals or celebrations. Naturally, this festival occurs in lands occupied by the Romans.

Dongzhi: Far to the east, in the mighty Chinese Empire, this festival celebrates the winter solstice. Its origins lie in the philosophy of Yin and Yang – because it is the shortest day of the year, each day after it will grow longer, resulting in a slow and subtle shift in the energy of the cosmos. On this day, all work ceases among commoners and officials, and the people go home to be with their families and make offerings to the ancestors. As part of the festivities, special ear-shaped dumplings are eaten to ward off the cold, said to be invented by the famous physician Zhang Zhongjing. Unfortunately further details are difficult to come by, as the way to the Far East is long and dangerous…

Of course, there are many, many more festivals and holidays I could mention, but it would be almost impossible to detail them all! If you are interested in learning more, consult your local monks, scholars, and traders.

Special thanks to Lords Rurik Ulfhamar & Artemidore St Jean, and Countess Dulcia MacPherson OL, OP for their time and knowledge.


Amenhetep is the High Priest of Amen-Re’s temple of Karnak. He administers the temple’s vast bureaucracy and holdings, as well as the functional day-to-day governance of Thebes, the capital city of Egypt. He also is responsible for maintaining Amen’s shrine and performing important rituals on behalf of the entire country.

Amenhetep has advanced education in all manner of magic, religion, and other esoteric knowledge. He studied at Karnak’s top scribal and priestly schools, and has extensive experience in purity rites, love spells, and death curses.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Humans of Trimaris

"Photo bomb!" 
- HL Genavieve le Faye




Humans of Trimaris 
This photo project is a way for the People of the Kingdom of Trimaris (the majority of the state of Florida), in the Society for Creative Anachronism, to meet and learn about each other through candid photos and brief exchanges of questions and answers with the photographer(s).


Photographer: Countess Grainne ingen Anloin meic Cerbaill, OP

Humans of Trimaris

"I have had the honor of fighting for my Kingdom at War, representing my Kingdom as Crown twice, and for making some of the best friends I could ever hope to have. I love Trimaris and I think the SCA is awesome!"
 - Duchess Bryndis Hrafnhausse





Humans of Trimaris
This photo project is a way for the People of the Kingdom of Trimaris (the majority of the state of Florida), in the Society for Creative Anachronism, to meet and learn about each other through candid photos and brief exchanges of questions and answers with the photographer(s).


Photographer: Countess Grainne ingen Anloin meic Cerbaill, OP

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

On Point #33

Hello good gentles,

I want to relate a story, of sorts. About five years ago when my wife, my friends, and I joined the SCA, we had one of those memorable experiences which helps newcomers to remain in our Society. It was our second event, or so, and a Kingdom Coronation; of course, I knew very little about anything related to that, had no idea how the entire process worked, and so forth. All I knew is that we’d come to the event, and had planned to, as a group, help serve feast.

At the end, when they called the feast staff out, the King, now Jarl Ari, held me and my friends back and told us how good it was to see new people come right in and find a place to begin serving. One of the things that he said which stuck out in my mind was that everyone, in some capacity, serves during their time at an event or in the club. He further said that it was a good sign that we’d found something to dive into with service right away and that, he himself, had begun by serving feast in a kitchen.

They were powerful words, and stay with me almost five years later. Because we’d found a place to pitch in, we had found a place to fit in. For the next few events, The Thing that my friends and I would go do was serving feast. It got so that I met people in the kitchen or as hall stewards, some of whom have become some of my closet friends.

So when you’re talking to a newcomer, or meet one at an event, consider offering to go serve with
them. Even something as simple as coming along with a couple people to help prepare a meal, serve the feast, or clean the hall can build many lasting memories and help that newcomer meet people during the course of their day. Because really, in the end? Many people come for the fighting, or the arts, and so on… but they stay because of the friends they make and the people they meet.

Yours in service,

James

Honorable Lord James Highgate is cadet to Don William of Aschem and protégé to Baroness Ilene
Johnnestoune. He is, further, the Kingdom Hospitaller and can be reached for comments at Jacob.a.tessler@gmail.com