The Editor of The Pale – May 2020 Letter

My dear people of the Middle Kingdom; family, friends and those I look forward to meeting someday, too.

What a time we are living in. I know that for most of us (all of us?), we are still processing and trying to figure out just how to function in this ‘new normal’ that the world has presented us. Across the Kingdom we are seeing so many people juggling life right now, and the effect of this pandemic runs the gamut for the populace. It is an uncertain time, as well as an ever-changing one.

What I see most, however, trickling through the stress and frustration, is a community that has risen to this challenge. People are creating virtual watch parties, classes, and other gatherings to help everyone connect. I have seen people reach out for help and have so much assistance offered that my heart fills with joy just knowing the incredible generosity of spirit that we have in this wonderful Kingdom. And, most wonderful of all, is the support and hope given when someone needs it most.

We in the Middle Kingdom are a tribe. We collectively represent five states and two countries.  We are thousands of people strong, with an amazing collective experience.

So, I ask you to look around.

Look at the amazing way this Kingdom has pulled together, weathering changes more strongly, more resolutely and with an uncommon grace and understanding.

Know that the virtual arms of the friends and family–
Of this great culture– are here for you.
Be brave and let yourself feel.
Be courageous and let yourself break.
Know strength, by allowing yourself to show weakness.
Show your weaknesses, and let others be strong for you,
And then, when you are settled, you can be so for them.

We are all here.
We are all scared.
And yet, we are also all so incredibly blessed.
In this strange time that mimics the long-ago history that we have studied for years,
See that they, too, recovered.
The world survived, then.
We will, too.

And, yes, while we have loss, and fear,
We will also find joy and friendship.
We will fight this and grow together.
Our bonds will strengthen.
Our love will persevere,
And we will be together again.

This is you.
This is us.
This is our shared sadness and
Our celebrated joy, even across barriers.
This is our support.
This is our friendship, and
This…. Is our love.

This is your Tribe.

JahanAra
Editor of The Pale

Update on April Events (Cancelled) from Kingdom Seneschal

Dear Members of the Midrealm,

As the Dragon protects its treasure so do We, the Crown and Great Officers of State wish to protect the great Populace of the Midrealm. Thus, with a heavy heart, do We here proclaim the following:

All events (weekend events, business meetings, practices, other official SCA activity, etc.) are hereby cancelled, effective immediately through the end of APRIL. We will evaluate the situation at the end of April to determine the next appropriate steps.

This determination was not made lightly. However, under recent guidance from the CDC that activities with over 50 attendees be postponed and recent closures and actions by state officials We feel this is the best course of action for the safety of the Populace. If you’d like to see the referenced guidance:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

As previously announced pre-registration of events through PayPal will be disable until further notice. It is recommended that local branches stop offering a pre-registration option to avoid potential issues with refunds due to cancelled events or requests due to illness. To help ease the potential impact of these decisions, the Middle Kingdom will be making the following financial policy changes:

For local branches hosting events, the Middle Kingdom will assist local groups who provide site refunds to individuals who request one due to them or a family member being ill. Such requests would have to occur on or before the event. Policy to be re-evaluated in 60 days.

Local groups forced to cancel the use of a venue by government, venue, the Board of Directors of SCA, Inc. or by the Middle Kingdom: If the venue does not offer a full refund of the deposit and the forfeiture of the deposit would result in the group having a balance of less than $500 in their account, the Kingdom will assist to ensure a minimum of $500 remains in the group’s accounts for ordinary operational costs. Policy to be re-evaluated in 30 days.

You may find the most current, official, word at the following sites:
U.S. Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/
Ohio: https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/home
Indiana: http://www.state.in.us/isdh/
Illinois: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/
Kentucky: https://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/dph/pages/covid19.aspx
Michigan: https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs
Iowa: https://idph.iowa.gov/
Ontario: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/

Remember, PROTECT YOUR FRIENDS, WASH THY HANDS! The plague was so 1347!

Yours in Service,
Master Cerridwen verch Ioreword
Middle Kingdom Seneschal

Pennsic War 49 – COVID-19 update

G’Day Everyone,

From the Mayor, Pennsic 49.

First of all, I want to reassure you all that the Pennsic 49 Senior Executive Group, the Pennsic Seneschal’s Group, Pennsic 49 Staff and the Management Group of Coopers Lake Camp Ground will continue to consider all precautions to protect Pennsic 49 attendees as much as possible from the current health Issue sweeping our countries, the COVID-19 Virus Pandemic outbreak. 

We are still about 4.3 months away from Pennsic and therefore have plenty of time to access and re-assess the risk to attendees and organisers alike as we get closer to Pennsic 49 start date. 

Pennsic War is a unique event for attendees who come face-to-face with one another every day. The Pennsic 49 executive is focused on delivering a safe, healthy event site by planning to adopt various precautions that are sustainable and safe for Pennsic 49 attendee’s long-term welfare in mind.  

I have already been in discussions with the James Brezel of the Coopers Lake Management group and we are progressing plans should a worst case situation develop. 

The Pennsic 49, Executive Management Group will remain alert to any increased risk and ensure that we take all precautions for the safety, health and wellbeing of all those who attend Pennsic. You will be advised of any future developments as they come to hand. However, it must be noted that at this stage there is no plan to cancel Pennsic 49. 

That being said, some decisions maybe be out of our hands. We have no control over the SCA, State or Federal Government bodies that may enforce closure of these types of events in the interest of public safety. However, we will plan and act accordingly as per that direction or advice from these bodies. 

At this time the SCA is approaching the issue of COVID-19 on a monthly basis and that is the plan for Pennsic 49. We are “NOT” pressing the panic button and Pennsic 49 is “NOT” being cancelled. 

We are now at Stage 1 only. 

Stage 1. Proceed with Planning for Pennsic49 as per usual.

Stage 2. In the event that Aethelmarc War Practice is cancelled, Pennsic 49 Executive Staff still plan to meet and continue the planning for Pennsic 49, however this will be with reduced numbers with essential staff members only, attending the meeting or appearing by Vidcom link to the meeting.

I promise I will keep everyone advised with the facts as they come to hand. If you don’t hear it from me, it has not been said. 

Kind regards
Greg Turkich
(Sir Gregory of Loch Swan)
Mayor
Pennsic 49 

From the Kingdom Seneshal on Covid-19

Dear Children of the Dragon,

In these troubled times we seek to do our best to protect and defend. Sometimes that means making difficult decisions for the health and safety of those that need it most. Thus on behalf of the Crown and the Great Officers of State, hear and know the following:
Gulf Wars has been officially cancelled.

All events (weekend events, business meetings, and practices, etc.) are hereby cancelled, effective immediately through the end of March. We will evaluate the situation at the end of March to determine the next appropriate steps.

Pre-registration of events through PayPal will be disable until further notice. It is recommended that local branches stop offering a pre-registration option to avoid potential issues with refunds due to cancelled events or requests due to illness. To help ease the potential impact of these decisions, the Middle Kingdom will be making the following financial policy changes:

For local branches hosting events, the Middle Kingdom will assist local groups who provide site refunds to individuals who request one due to them or a family member being ill. Such requests would have to occur on or before the event. Policy to be re-evaluated in 60 days.

Local groups forced to cancel the use of a venue by government, venue, the Board of Directors of SCA, Inc. or by the Middle Kingdom: If the venue does not offer a full refund of the deposit and the forfeiture of the deposit would result in the group having a balance of less than $500 in their account, the Kingdom will assist to ensure a minimum of $500 remains in the group’s accounts for ordinary operational costs. Policy to be re-evaluated in 30 days.

You may find the most current, official, word at the following sites:

U.S. Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/
Ohio: https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/home
Indiana: http://www.state.in.us/isdh/
Illinois: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/
Kentucky: https://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/dph/pages/covid19.aspx
Michigan: https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs
Iowa: https://idph.iowa.gov/
Ontario: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/

Remember, PROTECT YOUR FRIENDS, WASH THY HANDS! The plague was so 1347!

Yours in Service,
Master Cerridwen verch Ioreword
Middle Kingdom Seneschal

Kingdom Chatelain- March letter in The Pale

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.

In service,

Thuban Herald – March letter in The Pale

Greetings unto the Populace of the Middle Kingdom,

It is with great pleasure that I once again take up the mantle of Thuban Herald for the Kingdom. I’m responsible for providing or coordinating the provision of services for members of our populace who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. Sign Heralds, in general, are individuals who volunteer to use signed language or oral interpreting to communicate information to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing members of the populace during court, classes, and meetings.

Any member of the populace who has the desire can become a Sign Herald. As an individual builds their language skills and becomes more comfortable, they may decide to sign increasingly long or difficult material. Someone with fingerspelling knowledge may feel most comfortable at the gate while those with more extensive knowledge may choose to assist with court or classes.

Any individual who wishes to have a Sign Herald present for a specific event or activity at an event should contact me via email (thuban@midrealm.org) with the request including event name, date, and location. I will do my best to provide services based on the availability of a Sign Herald.

Please visit https://midrealm.org/herald/thuban/ for additional information on learning American Sign Language, deafness, or Sign Heraldry.

In service to the Kingdom,

Master Katalena

Job Posting – Kingdom Minister of Arts & Sciences

The Kingdom Minister of Arts and Sciences shall have the responsibility for the encouragement and organization of the study and practice of all Arts and Sciences within the Middle Kingdom.. They will oversee, with their deputies, the administration of the A&S Faires and the Royal University of the Midrealm.  

They will need to travel and attend Curia meetings at least 4 times a year, as well as the Kingdom A&S Events, and should have a good knowledge base of the Kingdom and Society rules pertaining to the Arts and Sciences.Those interested should send their modern and SCA resume to kmoas@midrealm.org and TRM@midrealm.org and should be received by January 10th. The person chosen would start training in February 2020 and assume duties in September 2020.

Letter in The Pale- Dec 2019 -Dragon Herald

Greetings! I hope the coming of winter has found you in good health, and warm in your keep. Winter is a time for working on those craft projects we don’t seem able to get to during the summer months. It is also a good time to work on registering your SCA name and armory. We have many heralds who are qualified to help you out.

If you are interested in becoming a voice herald, please contact me, your regional herald, or Master Dmitrii Zhirov Pale Herald for help with training.

If you are interested in the submissions process and becoming a submissions herald, please contact me or Dame Estelle de la Mer Rouge Scarpe and we can help get you started. As always, we are in need of heralds to do heraldic commentary in OSCAR (the Online System for Commentary on Names and Armory) on name and armory submissions. This can be anything from conflict checking to armory re-drawing to clicking links to make sure that the documentation says what the submitter says.

I would like to thank Baroness Una Uilebaine for her work as the Pentamere Signet. She is being replaced by Mistress Helena Sibylla and Baroness Hannah Schreiber.

Thank you to Chaya Simcha bat Yonah who is stepping down as Buckler Herald. Master Alan Fairfax is taking the reins of that office.

Congratulations to Dame Ursula Georges whose heraldic title finally passed, and she is now Dame Ursula Serpent Herault.

In Service to The Middle Kingdom

I remain,

Lord Jean Yves de Chierebourg
Dragon Herald.

Letter in The Pale- Dec 2019 – Kingdom Seneschal

Greetings!
This year is quickly drawing to a close and I hope it has been a wonderful year for you. While full of ups and downs, the year has certainly been exciting and allowed me the opportunity over the last 6 months to learn more about the Kingdom and the wonderful members of the Middle Kingdom.

One of the many things I have learned is that Middle Kingdom Law is in need of an update. To that end, the members of Curia and I have begun to take a closer look at our Kingdom Law in order to take care of some housekeeping items, see where change may be needed, and, hopefully, to find a way to better organize it so it is easier to reference. Keep an eye out for these changes and hopefully by next year a fully revised version of the Kingdom Law will be available. (Well, that’s my goal at any rate.) Maybe that would be a good New Year’s resolution!

I wish everyone safe travels as you celebrate the Holiday Season, especially in the lands of snow and ice. I love research, in case you haven’t noticed, and thought I’d share with you some of what I found regarding ancient holiday traditions this time of year so we can celebrate together and understand how interconnected we are.

For example, many ancient religions held great importance for the phenomenon of the winter solstice, the time when daylight was at its shortest and the night was at its longest during the year.  In the Julian calendar, this date originally fell on December 25th.  It was at this point in the year that the Romans held midwinter celebrations called Saturnalia, which was the god Saturn.  This included feasts and the custom of giving wax dolls to children as presents.  In the Celtic areas of the Roman empire, it was tradition for men and women to dress in clothes of the opposite sex and then go dancing with animal masks on. Around the year 300 a new religion, Christianity, created a holiday to celebrate Jesus’ birth and, since the actual date was not recorded, it was decided to celebrate it on December 25th as it coincides from a theological basis exactly nine months from March 25th, which was believed to be the day on which the world was created.

These are just a few religious holidays, on a single day, our medieval ancestors celebrated this time of year. I wish you a Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas, Merry Kwanzaa, Wonderful Diwali, Spectacular Ramadan, Festive Yuletide, Joyous Winter Solstice, and Happy Holidays, including any I might have missed.

Yours in Service,
Master Cerridwen verch Ioreword, OL
Middle Kingdom Seneschal

[1]Christmas in the Middle Ages. 2 December 2015.  <http://www.medievalists.net/2010/12/25/christmas-in-the-middle-ages/>

Letter in The Pale- Dec 2019 – Chatelain

Greetings, Midrealmers, both old and new!
 
To paraphrase a wise man who greatly influenced our Society before he was taken from us far too soon:

“The eSCA. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.”

If you’re not familiar with the term, the eSCA or “electronic SCA” refers to all the means in which we communicate to other SCA folks outside of real-world interactions. In theory that includes email, message boards, text messages… but in practice, the eSCA predominately lives in the world of social media, specifically Facebook.

It’s been said many times that the eSCA isn’t the real SCA. And I believe that, for good and bad. Let’s start with the good because, believe it or not, there is a lot of good.

The obvious good of the eSCA is how quick and easy it is for us to share information and research. Our cumulative knowledge of our period has expanded by leaps and bounds in the last couple decades and we do a better than average job of sharing that knowledge. Whatever your area of interest, there’s someone out there who is thrilled to share their class notes, research or life’s work with you. And if you’re interested in a popular aspect of the SCA period, let’s say fourteenth-century Europe or Norse culture, you need only raise your hand and you will be instantly inundated with knowledge.

The eSCA network allows you to connect with experts all across the globe, both within the SCA and without. The sharing of personal research has never been more accessible.

Beyond knowledge sharing, the eSCA also allows us to observe events we didn’t attend, see the happy faces of deserving people receiving recognition, watch our monarchs in their splendor even when we couldn’t get off work. We can maintain personal connections with far-flung friends. I regularly see updates from people I’ve met and befriended from all over the world. The eSCA (specifically Facebook) allows me to continue to be part of their lives in a small way.
 
For our members who are housebound, playing on the fringes or just broke, this may be the only way they get to experience and remain a part of the “mainstream” SCA.
 
That’s the good. Now the bad.
 
I hardly feel like I need to enumerate the bad—we’ve all seen it. Someone states a contrary opinion in a discussion thread—perhaps an honest difference of philosophy, perhaps trolling—and the virtual fist fight begins. People pile on, insults are traded, inevitably Nazis are referenced, and the entire thread is reduced to a stinking pile.
 
Of course, the eSCA isn’t different from the internet in general in this regard. If anything, it’s marginally better in that there’s at least a veneer of courtesy… to start. But that said, I am constantly amazed at what people in the SCA feel comfortable expressing from behind the safety of their keyboard. Things that they’d never say directly to someone’s face. And I’m not just talking about cowards who grow “internet muscles” and start to spew hateful rhetoric. I’m talking about those who seem to forget the basic tenets of courtesy, honor and respect… you know, the foundational principles of our organization.
 
To understand why things seem to go pear-shaped so often and so quickly in the eSCA you have to understand that social media in general, and Facebook in particular, does two things really well: connect and amplify.
 
It used to be that to experience the SCA, you had to actually attend a meeting or event. While you were there you’d be exposed to a bunch of different people, each having a different experience. Usually most were having fun, but often there were a few who were not, for whatever reason. Maybe they were burned out, bitter, overwhelmed, sad or just having a bad day. They would cast a bit of a shadow over the event but, by and large, other people would just continue to do the things that they enjoy.
 
The eSCA enables all those people who aren’t having a good time to connect online and share their (bad) experiences. This creates an echo chamber (again, no different from social media at large) and before you know it, everyone inside that echo chamber is convinced that the SCA as a whole is a horrible place that is quickly sinking into a morass of political correctness and exclusion.
 
Then, when all those people start singing “the SCA sucks” song in unison, their voices are disproportionally loud. That’s the amplification part.
 
To use a mundane example, I’ve heard that for every diner who has a bad experience at a restaurant and leaves a scathing review, there are 20 diners who had fine experiences but didn’t bother to leave a comment.
 
So, it goes with the eSCA. For every person who attends an event and feels ignored, excluded or just doesn’t have a good time, there are dozens who have a great time. But it’s the former who loudly proclaim the imminent downfall of the SCA, and the latter who focus instead on the fun they had and begin planning their next event.
 
Now, before you start lighting torches and sharpening pitchforks, understand that I am in no way trying to dismiss anyone’s experience or claim that the SCA is all rainbows and unicorns. I have not been shy about talking about the darker parts of our organization. There are problematic people, groups and events for sure. There are people who have legitimate cause to complain about how they are treated. But I’m talking about the aggregate experience in the SCA. I believe that on the whole—at least in this kingdom—there are far, far, FAR more people who work incredibly hard to make sure everyone has fun than who contribute to the opposite.
 
So, how do we maximize the good side of the eSCA and minimize the bad? I think the most important thing we can do is recognize that the eSCA is not an accurate representation of the SCA in general. It is a dim reflection of what really happens when SCA people get together to fight, teach, talk, laugh, break bread and share stories. It overlooks the inspiring to highlight the annoying.
 
My advice is that when you encounter a comment that is counter to your opinion and/or experience, ask yourself if you really need to respond. And if you do feel so compelled, can you do so in the spirit of the SCA? And if the original poster is just a troll, maybe step away from the keyboard and first count to 10. Bonus points if you can do so in Latin.
 
Instead of contributing to the dark echo chamber, share youf positive stories! Tell your tale on #MySCAMonday! Talk about someone else who’s doing great stuff on Wordfame Wednesday! Proclaim it in all caps on SHOUTY THURSDAY!
 
Social media isn’t going away, so we need to learn how to transform the eSCA so we are always connecting with the positive and amplifying the good. Because, to paraphrase that wise man again, “The eSCA will be with you. Always.”
 
In service,