WHY THE SCA?
Recently, AEthelmearc’s Prince Timothy posed the following request:
“For my SCA friends,
I’m including in comments a why I came to the SCA and why I stay, if it isn’t too much trouble, please post (as a PM if needed) in the reply what attracted you, why you stay, or, if it’s the case, why you find yourself drifting away.
I’m stepping up soon, and I really would like to do what I can to restore the magic that you felt in those early days when everything was shiny and new.”
Currently, I am a stay at home mom. I love this job more than anything, but it can be a bit isolating. I don’t have a lot of close friendships, and I have moved around a lot. Additionally, shortly after I moved back to this area five and a half years ago, a large number of my local circle of friends left town to seek their fortunes elsewhere. This has left me feeling quite desolate.
The SCA kind of exists everywhere and so it’s like a built in social group even when I am brand new to an area. I have now lived and played in four kingdoms, and despite huge gaps in participation I keep finding my way back.
I discovered the SCA not on my own but because I had a SCAdian mother. She was an archer, merchant, and dancer in the East Kingdom’s Shire of Nordenhalle. She doesn’t play anymore, but 26 years later I still do. When my sister and I were kids, Lady Nansie took us to events where we got to dress up, shoot archery, dance English Country dances, watch Courtly Love in action, and see the Renaissance up close. We used to attend the fair at the Cloisters in NYC, participate in demos at Mother’s Day festivals, and march in Independence Day Parades.
When I was 13, I moved in with an aunt and concentrated on my studies until I was 19 and took a year off between years of college. I decided at that point to expand my non work experience by attending an SCA practice in Delftwood, AEthelmearc within walking distance of where I was living and I ended up spending the last semester before returning to school fencing and dancing (and eating chocolate lava cake and admiring lamps at Chili’s) with my new friends.
After I graduated from college, I moved to the southeast and my mom and I attended a mini Renaissance Fair in the small South Carolina town of Union. Little did we guess we would encounter the SCA there. This chance meeting jump started the next six years of my SCA life. I started attending fighter practices in the Canton of Falcon Cree. I learned to fence (epee), shot some arrows, learned to sew garb, became an officer, served in a royal retinue, and discovered the intense frustration of being a girlfriend of a member of a prominent fighting household without being a member myself.
I took a long break after leaving Atlantia, in which time I was able to distance myself from my frustrations and start fresh in Caid. I didn’t attend more than a few meeting and events, but I saw in the local members a joy I hadn’t found in the Society for a long time.
Once I came back to AEthelmearc, I introduced my new boyfriend (we’re married now!) to my hobby and we began training in armoured combat with Duke (currently King) Marcus and several other skilled fighters in the area.
We attended a few events, went to Pennsic, made our own armour (with massive amounts of help from Sir Ian), and at some point the fighting got less fun, and the inclusion we’d felt in the local group got a little muddled.
This coincided with a shift in who we spent time with.
While we had felt included and well trained by skilled fighters such as Duke Marcus, Sir Ian, and Duke Cignus, we found that some certain less skilled fighters seemed to think they knew better what we should be working on. My husband and I are not usually the type to tell people to sod off, and, being new, we wanted to learn, so we kindly accepted help where it was offered.
Unfortunately that led to a shift away from our primary teachers toward other, shall we say, overly enthusiastic members who eventually sort of hijacked our training and SCA experience generally. One person went so far as to repeatedly suggest my husband should squire to him, despite the fact that said person was not anywhere close to being a knight himself. (*more below cut)
At a particular practice I recall, a few visiting douc- *ahem* fighters thought they’d better teach these two newbies a lesson by hitting us excessively then gloating about it, instead of offering fair fights and advice that might have actually improved our skills and enjoyment.
At around this point our own enthusiasm drained.
We wanted to have fun learning new skills and enjoying our time together, but the attitude of All In All The Time turned our delight in the game to discontentment and vexation.
Then we stopped playing.
We spent time planning our wedding, coming back for Harvest Raid (our local group’s yearly event), and a couple of Pennsics, before we began walking to practices last summer, driving to winter practice where a couple non-combatant folks started bringing arts projects, then we renewed our membership and I became an officer.
The SCA can be hard to do as a part time hobby. But, I needed an activity outside the home, and having an activity we are already familiar with is immensely helpful!
Recently, I have found some beautiful ways to immerse myself in the art of the period, learning the basics of illumination from Duchess Dorinda. I am the shire’s current Minister of Arts and Sciences which has made me feel important and purposeful, organizing meetings with our gracious host, Lady Keinven, and reporting to the kingdom MoAS about all the wonderful projects our group is working on. Being an officer makes me feel significant in a society where the lowly individual can disappear in the crowd. This is both a criticism and not a criticism: It is a fact of a large organization that many people go unnoticed. I think that’s why His Highness’ missive is so important. It’s also why I keep looking for ways to enjoy the Society when I have lost interest time and time again.
We continue to encounter all sorts of enthusiasm. As my husband put it, there are really two different types of over-enthusiasm. People who are:
- Over-enthusiastic to the point where it pushes -and in fact pushed- us away.
- Over-enthusiastic to the point that it gets us excited to be part of the magic.
Fortunately of late we have encountered some of the latter.
Anyone following the adventures of Their Current Majesties and Their household can probably understand exactly what I’m talking about. Watching this reign from the sidelines, just barely getting involved in the SCA once more, has reminded me how much fun we had when we were spending time training with the King, and honestly, a bit envious that I haven’t felt in a long time that kind of excitement which is shown on the regular by the retinue, King, and Queen.
It gives me hope that if we can just find the right way to get involved, we can have those kinds of adventures, too. We can find the magic. We can live The Dream.
If you don’t want to read my bad attitude about stuff, that’s the end of the post!
If you want to know how frustrating it can be as a lifer sometimes, read on!
(**more behind cut!)