Happy SCA new year!

The Society is 54 years old today. In honour of the occasion I’m taking a few questions from a post here, and I might come back and do more later, but I’ve got half an hour before I need to get ready for work, so.

“In addition to knowledge transfer, what are traits that you find important or valuable in other SCAdians? What are values that you think need to be part of the knowledge transfer that we hold so dear? Please be respectful – this is a philosophy question, so answers can and will vary.” As in any setting where someone’s passing on knowledge (church, school, writing textbooks, the lot), the ability to know what you’re talking about and not be arrogant about your knowledge is of great importance. Humility will go a long way to making people take your words seriously, and will allow people who know they’re not experts to feel comfortable asking questions which might be quite intelligent and make the expert think about things differently.

“What is something you’d like to see more of in the SCA? Why?” My sister talks about this sometimes, but it would be nice if people left their modern conveniences behind, where possible, more often — leaving phones in a separate room, for example, or at the very least not walking around with pop cans or bottles. When the obviously modern things are got out of the way (where they’re not essential — glasses are fine, but it’s so easy not to walk around with an obvious Diet Pepsi) it’s a lot easier to slip into the mood of another time. It also looks prettier.

“What medieval concept do you find the most compelling in your modern life? Why?” The concept of time is very interesting (perhaps to me especially because I lose track of it so easily) — the idea of time as natural seasons, and measuring it by the progress of daylight or crop maturity or something, or the church calendar from the Annunciation to Pentecost and back around again, the way it spirals, overlapping on itself but not being quite the same each time — and especially with the liturgical calendar, the sense of time itself being outside time, and Good Friday being really the day on which Christ died, the difference of a thousand years being of no more account than the difference of a thousand miles. It’s really neat. (Also, I do time travel. Hello.)

“What is your persona’s favourite holy, feast, or celebration day? How do you think they would have marked it?” Pentecost, and I’m still learning, but Liturgy, Architecture, and Sacred Places in Anglo-Saxon England is educational and interesting.

“What’s your favourite SCA or SCA adjacent song? Why?” Lots, of course, but at the moment it’s Aneleda Falconbridge’s “The Road Home”.

“Who is your favorite historical Mediaeval/Renaissance woman and why?” Must I pick just one? Hildegarde von Bingen is pretty awesome, and so is AEthelflaed of Mercia, and I have a soft spot for Julian of Norwich. (Actually I just started reading her Showings, so expect a post on that fairly soon.) But I suspect my favourite is one I don’t know about yet, maybe one nobody knows about, who went and lived her life quietly and well, the kind of person you can plunk down beside and talk to about life and death and the world and sheep and baking bread.

“Our hobby can be incredibly expensive. What’s something that someone can do that doesn’t cost a lot of money to do to either get started or to continue doing?” Naalbinding! If you have a big blunt-tipped needle and some string you can do it. You can also find lots of decent tutorials on the Internet, although some of them aren’t in English, but that’s not too big a problem if you can follow someone’s hands or their charts.

What grabbed you to join the SCA . . . and how did you make it stick as a hobby?” Jenny (who got me into it) described her first event as going to a reunion for a family she didn’t know she had. Mine was like coming home. Ever since discovering Tolkien I’d wanted to live in something other than the modern world, but I’d come to accept that there was nothing like it outside of books. Then Jenny introduced me to it. Because the SCA has higher standards of historical accuracy than a Ren Faire, but isn’t as strict as a re-enactment group, so as long as you make an honest attempt at pre-seventeenth-century clothing, you can dive in at the deep end of research, or take as much time as you want. You can talk about weird subjects of research but the people around you won’t think you’re weird — they’re doing the same things.

Getting it to stick as a hobby could have been difficult, since when I started we didn’t have a local group and the nearest events were two hours away, but for some reason I don’t remember having any regrets. . . I jumped in and stayed there. Being able to be involved even when not at events, by working on things, helped.

“Happy (SCA) New Year! Do you have any resolutions or plans of things to work on?” I’m close to finishing the Black Wasp garb, and then I want to make one or another prototype of a mantel (or both), and at some point before winter I need to get mittens figured out. The best would be rabbit fur, but I haven’t any yet.

“What do you tell people (who are not involved) when they ask about your SCA hobby? Do you describe it to them? Details, please!” It depends on how interested they actually are. If it’s a “What did you do on the weekend” question when I’ve just been to an event, and they seem to be asking out of duty, then I’ll say I went to a medieval living-history event and leave it there unless they ask further. But if it’s someone asking about my hobbies, and they seem like they might be one of us without knowing it yet, I give the usual spiel about the difference between us and Ren Faire on one hand and re-enactors on the other, and the breadth of our span, and how we teach history by bringing it alive.

“What is a physical item you’d like to see more people have in the SCA? Why?” HATS. Or, well, something on their heads appropriate to time, place, sex, social standing, etc. AEthelflied Brewbane said pretty much everything here.

“Sumptuary laws in your kingdom – from sumptuary anarchy to heavily regimented, all kingdoms handle things differently. Do you wish it were different? If so, what would you change it to?” Northshield seems to keep the sumptuary laws fairly simple, usually related to the kind of circular thing acceptable on heads of certain statuses. I admit to kind of liking this, because, unless people are being stealth peers, you can tell who’s what by seeing what they wear. The hierarchy is something you’d bump into in period, and it’s sort of fun seeing that manifested. And it’s good for us if people are being stealth peers, because then we think twice about being rude to someone with garb not as nice as ours, and that way can improve our courtesy.

“Do you have an overarching quotation or concept that keeps your avocation in the Society going? If so, what is it? Is it from a writer in SCA period?” This is an interesting idea and now I’m going to have to go find one.

“The Society becomes family for many of us. Tell me about the time where that happened for you.” At first there was the realization that in many ways these are my people, and some of them you get closer to faster than others, but I think the most striking example of this ‘SCA family’ idea was at SUN, when I charged off to a place I’d never been, to spend the night with people I’d never met and whose names (mundane or SCAdian) I didn’t know, in perfect confidence that they’d be safe. And our hostess, whom we met on Friday night, hugged us goodbye on Sunday morning.

Who was the first positive person you met in the SCA who either inspired you, made you want to be like them, or helped you out when you first started? And what did they do to help you out? Remember, if you tag them, they may not be able to see this post, so tell them how awesome they are, too.” Jenny! (Who reads this blog occasionally.) She was one of my first friends at SMSU and got me into the SCA. Without her I still might not know it existed.

About Nolie Alcarturiel

I enjoy practically anything to do with medieval history, including the domestic arts, with an especial emphasis on the Anglo-Saxon era. In my spare time I read endlessly, do medieval living-history, hold philosophical debates at the drop of a hat, and write books on even slighter provocation.
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