I was expecting not to be able to post anything until later this month, because the scroll I am currently working on will not be awarded until September 24, and the recipient very much wants to be surprised by it.
But then I was elevated to the Order of the Laurel on September 3, at Middle Kingdom Academy of Defense, in the Shire of Caer Gwyn (Champaign/Urbana, IL). So I guess I have something to write about, after all.
I ought to have been suspicious when my husband and child came with me, to their first SCA event in over two years. They hadn't been terribly active even before the pandemic, so it might have been more like three or even four. But sure, it's a fencing event, my husband was a fencer, it'll be fine. Nothing to see here.
Besides, I didn't completely think I was ready for the Laurel. I had been pondering that question for a while; you don't want ego to get in the way and try to convince you of what you do or don't deserve, but I'd been filling out something of a wish list called an ICE or ICOP (In Case of Elevation/In Case of Peerage), and doing that makes you think: are you ready? Do you want this? Why do you want this? The Laurel, or any of the Peerages, is more than just an award, it's also a job. Do you want that job? Would you be good at the job description? I'd come to the conclusion that the award would be nice to have, the job would take some adjustment but I'd be okay, and if it happened, great. If it never happened, I would still be content to create art, teach, and keep learning. Scribal art is an endless rabbit hole, and that delights me. I don't need the award to continue to follow the art and the learning opportunities wherever they lead me.
I had also decided that if it were to happen, now was too soon. Maybe next year. Maybe after that. Not now, though. So my husband coming to an event? All those Laurel friends of mine in the parking lot? Nah. Couldn't mean anything. Too soon. Not now.
Shows what I know.
Gwenhwyfar Nocturnal and Saraswati man.Ikkam begged the boon before Their Majesties; I was brought forward, and informed I would sit my vigil that day and be elevated in evening court that same day. The struck-by-lightning feeling is an interesting one, incidentally, I recommend experiencing it at least once in your life...
My ICE came in handy, it would seem, because the day was perfect. Everything from the foods I wanted for guests at my vigil to the vigil book itself (loose pages that guests could decorate to their hearts' content, to be bound into a book later), to the hangings and music inside the vigil tent, matched what I had wished for in ways I never would have thought possible. Francoise Katze had sewn a lovely gown for me, which I had planned not to wear because the day was predicted to be hot, but she managed to trick me into bringing it anyway "to show to someone so I can explain how to do this one sewing technique". So I was elevated in the nicest gown I own rather than the sweaty thing I was wearing all day prior to that. Nan Astrid of York and Pieter van Doorn supplied the food, tents, chairs, and I don't even know what all else. Baroness Enkara of Rivenstar made the heraldic banner to hang outside the tent and use in my procession into court. Aurora Lucia Marinella made heraldic tarts for guests to eat, that resembled my coat of arms! Katrin Grimsdottir and Kat Green took pictures to remember the day. ALL the speakers I had hoped for were able to be present except for AnneLyse van Gavere (because traveling to Ireland beats SCA any day, let's be honest), and she still sent a letter to be read in the ceremony.
There were so many amazing moments throughout the day. Everyone kept saying "you won't remember a thing by tomorrow, this is all so overwhelming", so to spite them I decided to remember everything (though I doubt I truly succeeded). Being told that "every Peer to be elevated checks the necessary boxes but also brings something unique, and what you bring is joy for your work". Hearing people who have known me for decades say kind things during my ceremony. Seeing the effort that people went to just to celebrate this moment with and for me. Talking with the handful of newcomers for whom this was their very first event, and who decided to be part of my procession anyway even though we'd never met before that morning.
Special mention has to go to Lucius Ursus, who helped to plan everything so that it would go off without a hitch, and coordinated everything for my vigil while also theoretically running the event itself, and Corienne Bruner, who doesn't play in the SCA much anymore at all, but who made the most amazing Laurel cloak I've ever seen, surpassing my imagined design ideas and doing it all with only three weeks notice. You have to see this:
Photo courtesy of Kat Cichocki.
In addition to the large Laurel wreath, there are Laurel leaves around the hood of the cloak so I have something of a "stealth wreath" for my head. Then the manuscript style vinework trim wraps all the way around the cloak and even travels partway up the front, and was cut and appliqued into place. And it has pockets! She worked incredibly hard on this, and I'm so grateful.
Final special mention to my child Leo, and my husband Gallien de l'Ile, who kept me company, checked on me throughout the day, participated in the ceremony (Leo carried my banner and Gallien spoke for me as a member of the populace), and successfully kept me in the dark for as long as they needed to, to make sure that I enjoyed the surprise when it was finally revealed. I love you both.
Photo courtesy of Kat Cichocki.
There are so many more people I could list. My speakers, AnneLyse (Royal), Moonwulf (Chivalry), Henry Best (Laurel), Sorcha who hates public speaking but did it for me anyway (Pelican), Adam Comyn (Defense), and Gallien (populace). Ursula Mortimer, who crafted not one but two poems, one as a scroll text for the ceremony and one as a vigil gift. Gunnarr, who heralded and kept everything on track during the ceremony itself. And of course Their Majesties, Runa and Arch, without whose support none of this would have happened in the first place.
People have said to me that elevation into a peerage is a gift that you will spend the rest of your SCA career paying forward, in order to balance the scales. I am honored and humbled, and I can say after this weekend that the sentiment is true: I will spend the rest of my career trying to repay what I was just given.