Greetings, Midrealmers, both old and new!
As you’ve most likely heard, the Kingdom recently eliminated the “pay to play” requirement for combatants in the Middle. This got me thinking about membership and, more importantly, what it means to belong to something.
It used to be that your membership gave you a subscription to The Pale, which was critical for event planning, directions, and generally staying in the know about what’s happening within the Kingdom.
But now that every event has its own website, Google maps gives you directions without having to break out the atlas, and Kingdom news is shared first on the Facebook group—why would anyone remain a member?
I’ve heard from many long-time participants that membership used to be more important. That they felt more engaged as a member. And it’s easy to understand why: If you found the Society in the ‘70s or early ‘80s, you really were on the ground floor of actively inventing the traditions that we take for granted today. With 50 years of history behind us, I can understand why it might feel like things progress in a manner so rote and immutable that you’re less a contributing member and more just along for the ride.
However, I’d argue that there has never been a more exciting time to be a member of the SCA. Our grasp of the real history behind our actions is greater than ever before, and members are reenacting that history in new and exciting ways. From deeds of arms to persona-specific gatherings to households championing a particular time and place in the world, we are bringing history alive in ways that were previously unattainable. And I dismiss the naysayers who claim the SCA used to be more “fun.” I’ve seen tacky garb contests, Disney character parties, brawls using ridiculous weapons, and a rumored tiara party at Pennsic this year.
This is the benefit of belonging to the SCA today: a benefit that goes beyond saving a couple bucks at the gate or holding an office. When you’re a card-carrying member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, you have declared your intention and put your money where your mouth is, all to be part of what our organization stands for—the historical, the scholarly and the wacky.
Side note: of COURSE, you can be an active contributing member of the Society without being a member. It happens every day. I’m not saying that membership makes you a better SCA participant. Save your angry emails.
I encourage everyone to be a member of the Society. There’s a certain thrill of being able to produce that blue card that identifies you as belonging to this wonderful, unusual, unexpected and deeply nerdy organization we all love.
No adjustment to Kingdom law can ever change that.