Or why my eyes are still red 🙂
Since it’s even more Rhodri-length than normal I’m putting it behind a cut.
The last three weeks have gone by in a bit of a fog. My life was already in a bit of upheaval when I went to Clothier’s on the 5th. I was staying in Wichita to help my parents because of some health issues with my father (who’s significantly better now). I was planning on when I would ask Kate to marry me (she said yes). We were looking at buying a house in Olathe (a process that is ongoing). And one of the primary reasons I went to Clothier’s was to help stage-manage the Laureling of Ishmala (a ceremony that was, not surprisingly, over-engineered by me).
So when Fernando went before Their Majesties to beg the boon I really wasn’t sure what I was seeing. My first reaction was that he couldn’t be begging a boon, it was too late in the reign. Shows what I know, especially since Francis Bean had his boon begged at Chieftains. My second reaction was that he was begging a boon and I thought of Rebecca. Then I realized that the Laurels were still there. Then he said squire. Then, well…, I don’t know. My biggest memory of that moment was focusing on one primary thought: “Don’t trip, don’t trip.” My other memory is of Her Highness handing me a handkerchief that I proceeded to soak in the next few minutes.
The rest of the weekend was aimed at house-shopping, and we saw the house that we want if we can swing it but the jury’s still out. In any case, as I was driving back to Wichita on Sunday night I was befuddled and overwhelmed. This, by the way, was not simply a reaction to the weekend, but also because I was apparently sick. All I know is that on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I literally could not hold a conversation. I was asked on Thursday what my email address was and I could not answer it.
But for the rest of the last three weeks I have been thinking about the impending change in my life. I’m not sure yet what it will mean, but I have been chock full of emotions. Excitement. Pride. Anticipation. And sheer terror. For the rest of my life I will have the responsibility to be a Peer of the Realm. I think this is cool and wonderful, but I am not sure I’m responsible enough for myself, much less the Order of the Laurels, Their Majesties, and the Kingdom.
The other aspect leading up to the ceremony was the outpouring of support from my friends. I knew I only knew part of that support, but I also knew that there were a bunch of people coming out of the woodwork to help. That is a daunting experience, especially when you get hints of what’s coming, like seeing the clothes partially made or the people offering to help at the vigil table.
So, anyway, I arrived on Thursday night to go to the Three Rivers meeting. I didn’t fight because I idiotically left my contacts in Wichita when I came back to Columbia for the past week. However, I really enjoyed hanging out and chatting. I don’t do enough of that in the SCA in general because I always seem to be doing something.
Friday afternoon, I ran a few errands. I had never had a traditional straight-razor shave, and I needed a haircut, my beard trimmed, so I decided what the heck. It was a neat experience. Friday night was setup and my first glance at the church. I had thought that if I could ever have a vigil and a peerage that I could not do better than Pennsic and the Runestone. I was wrong. The cathedral was amazing. The vigil room was even better. I’ll talk more about the vigil room in a bit, but I want to show one piece of magic.
In this picture, left of the door, is something on the wall. You can’t see what it is in this image, but it’s an 11th-century stone from St. Alban’s. So before I started my peerage ceremony I was actually able to touch a piece of Anglo-Saxon England. Chilling, let me tell you.
Anyway, after setting up we went to McGurk’s where Fernando *forced* me to drink and hang out until closing. Forced me I tell you. When we got back to Fernando’s, he, Brockman, and I got a chance to hang out and talk. Again, we’ve all been so busy that we’ve not spent enough time doing that so I was really happy for that opportunity. And not that I would have actually slept more, but I had only three hours of sleep.
I was told to be at site ready to go by 9:30. I made it, though not by much. I was told by Fernando to hang out on the first floor until I was told where to go. Humorously, this meant that I was essentially standing along the line of people signing in to troll. We jokingly said that it was my receiving line, and there was some truth to that. I can’t tell you how many people I hugged along that line 🙂
And sometimes I’m clueless. At the end of the line, I happened to be by a door and notice someone come in. My first reaction was: “Why is that person wearing a hood with Ealdormere Trilliums?” My second reaction was: “Is that Teah? Why is she here without…” My third reaction as I saw the person behind her was: “Awesome, it’s Mahault!!!” Hugs ensued, but I didn’t realize they were harbingers of impending doom. I never once thought about what their presence might imply.
I should take a moment to talk about one of the choices that I made. When Maerwynn and Ashir called me up at Clothier’s they said I could pick either Chieftains or Gulf War for the ceremony. I was extremely torn by this. At Gulf Wars, Adrielle, Nigel, Jocelyn, and other representatives of Ealdormere would be there. I have always known that my time in Ealdormere has helped propel me upwards, giving me experience, confidence, and inspiration. So having a peerage ceremony without them didn’t seem right or proper. However, at Chieftains, Erich, Elasait, and a bunch of others who also helped me get here could participate, and it didn’t seem right or proper to be elevated without them. In the end, It boiled down to the fact that at Gulf I’d have 200 friends, including a few Ealdormerati, to be a part of my ceremony or at Chieftains I’d have 300 friends, but no Ealdomerati. I based my decision on the numbers, but mourned that I would lack an Ealdormerian presence. So seeing Mahault and Teah there was incredible because I would now have some connection to both of my kingdoms.
Soon I was called up to the my vigil ceremony. What a powerful thing that is. I encourage everyone to try it sometime :). If you’re reading this, you know I’m sentimental and emotional and cry at the drop of a hat. Yeah. Maerwynn just had to look at me and I starting crying. I don’t want to talk too much about the vigil ceremony, merely to say I was overwhelmed. However, I do want to say that when Adrielle and Hector popped up to speak I was blown away. I really cannot express the awesomeness of having them involved. I would have included them in my original plans if I had had any idea that they would be there. Of course, they knew that and plotted. Adrielle told me she definitely wasn’t coming. Apparently, I managed to change her mind 🙂 Again, however, I was clueless and didn’t realize that more Ealdormerian awesomeness on the way.
Then came probably the single most powerful moment of the day. After Maerwynn and Ashir left me they went to do the same thing to my peer twin Gaebbi. I was told to kneel and contemplate. I have to set the stage a bit here. The room we both were in was beautiful with a variety of Gothic architectural themes. I could hear snippets of what was being said to Gaebbi, which was nice reinforcement to what had been said to me. My vigil was placed in front of an antique altar that was also beautiful. The vigil box and items of Calontir’s history was placed in front of this altar, and I knelt in front of it. For a while I contemplated that history, and the role of the peers, and my presence here. Part of that included simply weeping and thinking. However, as I calmed down a bit I began to examine the totality of the setting. At one point, I started examining the antique altar closely, and as my examination crept upward I finally actually noticed the cross above the altar.
I’m not particularly religious. I believe organized religions are corrupted by man. I do, however, believe in some aspects of various religions. The historical record definitely says that 2000 years ago there was a Jewish carpenter who encouraged us to be nice to each other. Not a bad message at all. Staring up at that cross, with all of the emotions, the history of Calontir and the Middle Ages, and the overwhelming things that were happening, was a deeply spiritual moment. It was a medieval moment. I understand, now, as I have never done before, the power of a knight sitting in a church all knight praying. I understand, now, in a way I could never have anticipated, the power of Christianity, religion in general, and symbols. And for a while I contemplated what that Jewish carpenter would think of all of this, of all of us, and of myself. Not exactly easy things to think about.
Before I get to the “ordeal by conversation,” I want to touch on a few things. I cannot express my gratitude to Fernando, Quiteria, Rebecca, Lucia, Gwendolyn, and all of the others who arranged my vigil and its provisions for me. It was really wonderful to look through the curtains of the vigil and see all of these friends enjoying themselves.
I also need to mention the most important person that helped, and that is Kate. She held my hand and hugged me over the last three weeks. She threw herself into the ceremony wherever she could. She researched and made a lovely new set of Anglo-Saxon garb. She dyed the linen a nice soft blue for her dress and a good yellow for her underdress. She looked awesome. She’s amazing, and she’s definitely the partner for me, not least because she’s willing to put with me. This weekend, for probably the first time, she was tasked with a bunch of things to do, and since she’s a worker bee at heart, she was happier this weekend than I think at any other event we’ve been to.
Then the vigil itself. I heard a great deal of good advice. I heard some good things about myself, which was easier to accept because of Maerwynn words. I took some useful notes. I really am humbled by all who came and talk to me. Thank you. I will also take this moment and apologize to those who did not have the opportunity. Shockingly, I talked too much, and we ran out of time, despite Rebecca’s hard work trying to move things along. She put me on a 5-minute shot clock. She’d escort people in saying: “You have 4 minutes, 39 seconds,” or something like that. Again, I apologize for not having more time. Please, if you want to talk to me, grab me whenever it is convenient.
I do want to mention a few visitors. In ascending impact, I’ll start with Fionnuala. She had me speak at her Laurel ceremony, and it was then that I started thinking about what a vigil and ceremony for me might be like. I definitely needed a hug from her. Morgana does not tend to play in Calontir very often, a fact that selfishly disappoints me. History is history, and I don’t know the reasons, but one of my favorite parts of going to Pennsic for years has been to bask in her awesomeness. There aren’t many people who can command a crowd like she can. I’m very honored that at Pennsic she said yes when I asked to have her help me hone my story-telling skills. I need to make that time soon.
The most amazing part of the vigil is when it was invaded by what seemed like all of Ealdormere. Obviously, by this point of the day I knew Mahault, Teah, Adrielle, and Hector had come down. What I didn’t know until they came into the vigil was that Thorolf and Jocelyn had also come down. I really really really cannot express how blown away I was. As I said, I wouldn’t be here without Ealdormere and especially Eoforwic. Because of their willingness to drive half a day each way for a one-day event, these six people, more than almost anyone else made the day magical and incredible. They gave me many tangible gifts, including an incredible medallion that I will always treasure, but their greatest gift was simply their presence. I can barely type this right now from crying in happiness. Thank you very much.
The day passed swiftly. The only real break was when we, as a household, had our pictures taken. I suspect these will be really fun. I enjoyed my vigil immensely. I got to wallow in sentimentality, which I do enjoy. Caera came in and, after head-butting me in her traditional greeting to me, mentioned time. I asked her what time it was, 2, 3? She said 4:10 and it was about time for Their Majesties to pull me off the vigil. Wow, who knew? I sure didn’t.
So then came a myriad of mental snapshots. Adrielle and Rhianwen laid themselves down before my vigil chamber and assumed the pose of medieval effigies. I don’t think I’ve ever seen those two so still for so long. Ashir sat on them before coming in to take me off of vigil. A chance to see the entire spread of stuff and work that had been done for me. The chance to sit down and just be.
I also got my first glimpse of the finished tunics. I knew that a lot of work had been done, but wow. The undertunic was perfect. It was mostly yellow with red and purple trim. Red and gold for Maerwynn, purple and gold for Calontir. There were also two crosses of Calatrava and some neat embroidery on the sleeves. I had said to Jorunn, who orchestrated the whole outfit, that the undertunic needed to be something I would just wear, since I don’t wear two tunics at once very often. I can’t wait to wear it at Gulf so that people can see it properly. I won’t even try to describe the overtunic, I’ll leave the pictures to do that. I will, however, mention that I’m not sure Jorunn was wise to put cat toys on the front of my tunic. You’ll see what I mean when I’m wearing it 🙂 You couldn’t see them, but Isobel also made me a nice pair of purple linen pants as well. I looked good, really good. Jorunn, Tamar, Elianor, Isobel, Catalina, and probably others deserve a ton of credit. Kate looked good too, I hope there are pictures of the two of us at the start of the ceremony.
Finally I was dressed and made it down to the chapel in preparation. I was lucky that I got to be first on the docket. Not only did I get to do it, but I also got to be aware of everything else that was going on. I’ll get back to my ceremony in a moment, but I want to mention that it was an awesome court. I’d say even if I hadn’t gotten anything. Gaebbi. Francis. The Eo-orders. Aldred reading his own scroll text. Etta. Ruthardis. Many others. It’s so cool to have been a part of such an amazing court.
Anyway, as I’m walking into the cathedral, Dongal yells at me that: “On this day, of all days, on this day, you ran out of beer to give out.” Had I been smart I would have retorted that he should buy his own damn beer, but I just laughed. As we get to the back of the cathedral and made final preparations, I got a chance to just appreciate the environment. I didn’t know T.S. Eliot was from St. Louis, and I believe that this was his childhood church. I know he grew up in the neighborhood and he had a plaque in the cathedral. Then I noticed the 11th-century stone and spent a few minutes pondering it and touching it. Magical indeed.
Then finally the ceremony. I have to laugh at how much I screwed up. I walked up too early. I didn’t go to the right places. I was on a cushion that my legs kept sliding on to the outside, so while I was shaking from emotion, my legs were also shaking from the stress of trying to stay on it. I butchered my oath, including messing up the grammatical case for Maerwynn, which was especially funny since she had already corrected me and it was changed on my oath. Oh, and I got a cramp right when Maerwynn and Ashir were trying to respond to my oath. So much for being a performer 🙂
I also don’t remember much of the ceremony itself, but I do remember some moments. Eilien’s baby kept crawling to Ashir. She’d pull him back by one leg and he slid on the surface. It was classic. I remember sitting and noticing that Thorolf was in front of me at one point, sitting on a stool, taking pictures. I look forward to seeing those. There were two especially powerful moments that I remember. Giving the belt back to Fernando was tough. I did not have to give it back, as I had been a squire, but it did not feel right that I kept it. And I about fell to pieces when Maerwynn gave me the cup. That cup is a symbol of so much between us. Best Coke I’ve ever drunk :). I’m sure lots of really cool words were used. I don’t remember them. I look forward to people telling me about the ceremony so I can find out about it 🙂
Choices. A peerage ceremony offers many choices. There weren’t a lot of choices in this process that only seemed to have one answer, but there were two. There was only one royal peer that was appropriate to speak at my ceremony, and that was Katrine. There was also only one name to make the cloak, and that was Aoibheann. I had not seen the cloak that Aoibheann made for me until it was put on me in the ceremony. The laurel leaves are done in red and yellow, Maerwynn’s colors again. It’s nice, warm, and awesome. And the scary thing is that Aoibheann is making another one that will be even spiffier, a lighter, hand-woven, piece of awesomeness that I can wear more often.
Other choices off the top of my head. Erich, since I wanted an Anglo-Saxon ceremony, nudged out Duncan Faramach, for the position of knight in the court ceremony, but both Faramach and Marcus got to speak in the vigil ceremony. Choosing a Pelican was really tough. In the end, I decided to have Elasait speak in court, but there was a spot for Catherine Anne, Rhianwen, and Drix in the vigil ceremony. Choosing Aoibheann to make the cloak made her the easy choice for the Laurel in court, but again Gillie and Jorunn were involved in the vigil ceremony. My first choice for the populace was Hereward, but he could not make it. I was torn between choosing Derdriu and Rebecca for that role, and I chose Derdriu, but Fernando’s Anglo-Saxon themed ceremony allowed Rebecca to speak as well. Snorri has also been very important and inspirational to me, and I could think of no better person to be my guard than him.
Thank goodness for the vigil ceremony. As it was, there were dozens of others, literally, who were on my list who I wanted to fit in somewhere. That I could not was one of the hardest parts of the ceremony. I didn’t even find a spot for Lyriel, how stupid is that?
After the ceremony we retreated to the back of the cathedral and there were many hugs. I also got to look at the scroll closely for the first time. It has a Trillium on it. It also has a panda. Katrine did the scroll and the illumination, Fernando did the text, and Duncan Eardstapa translated it. Eardstapa also, by the way, was the Anglo-Saxon herald for my ceremony.
As I mentioned the rest of court was great. We didn’t see or hear everything because we were in the back and just because I’m a peer doesn’t mean I can now keep quiet for an entire court. I nearly broke Hirsch with a comment about Magda, but he had the perfect response 🙂 We were all also beat. Rebecca and I had a chuckle at seeing Fernando sitting in a chair leaning against a wall after the ceremony was over.
What else do I say about Fernando. I squired to him after Pennsic XXXI and I chose him because I hoped he would make me a better person, not simply a better fighter. I was lucky that he accepted me and asking him was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I really cannot say what I need to say to him in words, so I won’t even try. Just please know that he is even more generous of spirit in private than in public.
We finally got to the post-revel at about 12:15 after getting more beer. Fortunately, the party was still going strong. Lots of fun conversation and some good singing. Indoor rules for Cruiscin Lan are especially important if you’re holding your beer over Eardstapa’s head 🙂 Thanks go to Dongal for increasing the difficulty factor when singing the fyrd song. He started giving me titty-twisters while I was singing, and of course everyone else joined in. Thanks, Your Grace, thanks *ever* so much. Drunk Elasait was drunk 🙂 And I got to chat with Morgana for a goodly amount of time. The vaguely square man story was hilarious. I think Kate and I got home around 5:30.
On Sunday were tiredly descended upon the buffet at the Ameristar. We were so tired we didn’t do its awesomeness justice. I made it home thinking about day, the ceremony, the people. I got home with the intent of writing this post, but fell asleep at around 4pm. I went to bed around 6pm. I woke up for a couple of hours around 1am, but fell back to sleep until 9am. Tired Rhodri was freakin’ tired. Physically, mentally, and especially emotionally.
So today I look forward to a bright new path. One of the best things from the vigil was the question from Jocelyn about where do I go from here? Where do I improve? So here are some of my thoughts. I’m not a bardic laurel. I’m simply not good enough. Simple modesty does not compel me to say that, but an objective examination that has been on my mind especially since Gulf Wars last year. I’ve got talent, and I can get the attention of a crowd. However, I have never focused on improving my skills. I need to look into voice lessons, and I need to get some more musical training, including with instruments.
Some day it is my hope to be a true bardic laurel and in fact, the bardic aspects are microcosm of me as a Laurel and a person. In general, I have a lot things I’m talented in, but I have not always put forth the effort to hone those talents into skills. Charny said that the best man is the one who does the most. There’s still so much left to do.
For now, though, I will wallow, at least a little bit, in this new station. I shall do my best to make the Order of the Laurels, Calontir, Maerwynn, Ashir, Fernando, and all of the friends who worked on my elevation in any way shape or form and who traveled hundreds of miles just to be there with me proud to be a part of it.
Really, however, what I look forward to is sitting under my shade fly at a war after a day of fighting, drinking beer, singing, and sharing those experiences with my sweetie and the friends I have and will have.
First tent on the left, straight on to the cooler.