Norse texts are a constant flow through the scribal community because of the influence of those cultures on early medieval Europe and the number of players who adapt Norse personas. Over the last six weeks of Ozurr and Fortune’s first reign, I worked on three separate Norse texts, and I thought I would take some time to discuss their similarities and differences.

The texts in question (in this order in the images to follow) :

The writings of the Norse people in the the Early and Pre-Medieval Period (up until the 10th Century) that have been uncovered are largely narrative stories in a variety of forms. These scroll texts were written in two of those. One was in the the prose form, which is basically free form text, and the other two a simple variant of the fornyrðislag, which features broken lines of four syllables each. Of the poetic forms, one is Skaldic form and the other in Eddic form, which differ mostly on their use of true, or alliterative, and opaque Kennings.

Even within these broad categories, however, there are lots of similarities which mostly revolve around the heavy reliance on illusion. For example, all three texts are set to be delivered within a two month period, stretching from Harper’s Retreat to Coronation. In the Norse calendar, this was an important time of the year. It was the end of the calendar, the time of the year when summer was coming to an end, and just before the time that animals would be slaughtered and the last of the crops harvested in preparation for winter.

All three of these texts make reference to this part of the year in similar ways, by invoking their relation to the coming winter:

They are all saying roughly the same thing, but are referencing the time of the year as a function of the work that is set to be done, or the way that the weather is changing.

The texts also begin in a standard fashion to Norse story narratives, describing in fairly simple, straight forward terms when the story being told starts or happened.

Lastly, any time you are dealing with an armigerous award, or even just an awarding of arms, to a Norse Persona, it’s appropriate to note that the Early Norse did not use Heraldry. Heraldry as a formalized system doesn’t come until well after the Battle of Hastings, most likely the 12th Century. That being said, the awards do convey arms to the recipient, so we have to make it work somehow, and since these were all AOA level scrolls, there has be a space for the blazen.

Here is how I try to square that circle; any or all apply to any given scroll:

  • Arms receiving recognition by the Crown
  • The recipient as having the characteristics of the charges
  • Pronouncement that the arms should be recognized
  • Permission to use the arms

In closing, what’s most important for a Norse inspired scroll is to retain the narrative quality of the recipient’s story, and to capitalize on the poetic elements that Norse poetry and prose afford you. Kennings, for example, are a notable character that you can decide to use or not. But if you are going to use them they should be omnipresent. In the scroll which featured them, there were 33 examples in a scroll text that wasn’t more than 100 words total, and they were a mix of true and opaque types. Particularly for recipients who have minimal details, Norse inspired text gives you lots of freedom to elaborate poetically on the scenery of the story, so you can build them a detailed world for their deeds to live in.

This year, at Birka, some of the members of the Order of the Silver Brooch participated in a post-holiday, secret gift exchange. The object was to spend about 4-8 hours making a project for another member, and then we would get together Saturday night of Birka to exchange. It was a great homage to the East Kingdom Artisan Exchanges from a couple of years ago, and a tradition that I hope continues next year! It was a great “excuse” to meet some of really creative members of the order, and talk a little craft after most of the craziness of the event has died down.

For my project, I started with my artistic roots – writing and words. My recipient was looking for something that was both Greek inspired, but also touched on their love for fourteenth century work. They do a lot of Eastern European activities, so I started looking into Byzantine literature styles. I found reference to a style of poetry that was found in various time periods and cultures, The Begging Poem. Begging poems were pieces written from an artisan to patron for a variety of reasons, but for Byzantine artisans were typically a request to the patrons who had commissioned works to be paid. They peaked in the 12th century, and the works of
Theodore Prodromos addressing the emperor about the state of the life of a street artist are known for being particularly biting satire.

After digging into several examples of this style, I settled on a Blank Verse-like, unrhymed, 15-syllable stanza. There is a lot of information to go into on the references here, but the short version is that the last name of the recipient translates to them being a descendant of Ajax, from Greek history.

Begging poem for Kassandra Aiantide

Once I had that written, I had to decide how to present it. Well, everyone knows that if you need to know anything Byzantine, talk to the East’s favorite Byzantine-Informed, Technical Consultant and Historian (The acronym is a compliment, I swear) , Baroness Anna. She points me to a dyed vellum and geometric inspired document, the marriage contract of Empress Theophano, and away I go. Seriously, this document is gorgeous, click the link and check it out.

Brooches being Brooches, I was starting way too late to actually acquire dyed vellum, however, which ultimately would have made this piece much easier to put together (more on that later). So I started playing with my options to replicate the geometrics on the dyed surface, and the pop of the gold calligraphy. First, I tried a washed out ink background. While I am sure that the way we see the scroll today is an effect of time on the piece causing it to fade, I reasoned that the faded background would help the gold be more apparent. After doing some initial color tests though, this assumption was wrong. Changing to a more antique shade of gold, and using a bold red and black background with watercolor paints provided the best aesthetic.

The next step was to lay out the grid and geometric work. I knew I wanted to include the bold circles that sit behind the text, and really wanted to include some of the delicate, fleur-de-lis type patterns in between the circles, but could just never get them to a place where I liked the way that they looked. Right up until it was time to add them, they were still going to be in the piece. Ultimately, I decided to not add them because I was worried about messing up the background and time was short enough that I didn’t want to risk having to start over again.

So I started with a grid in pencil, and laid out the calligraphy and the large circles. I was aware of the size concerns from the first line, which is why the finished project (for shame) does not have all the text in it. But I was able to get the text that I absolutely wanted in there included, and the way that the geometrics and the calligraphy worked made me very happy.

Once that was done, the first order of business was to get the red circles down. Given the choice between the interior details and the exterior frame of black, I opted to start with the red, thinking that if the red went over the lines, it would be easier to fix. I wasn’t wrong, necessarily, but the thickness of the paint definitely made that very risky; too many layers would really create more of an issue that just the paint itself was going to. Thankfully, this went very easily; I am not a fabulous painter, so this was encouraging.

Phew. They came out almost entirely, mostly circular! Next was the black work, after allowing the red to dry for a few hours. The thickness of the paint was already becoming a concern. I had two issues, and neither were good: The paint either entirely covered the pencil calligraphy, which fortunately I had pictures to reconstruct. Conversely, in sections where it didn’t cover the calligraphy, the paint was down and I wouldn’t be able to erase it. Well, shit. The calligraphy is now going to need to be very close to the original. But, on we solider to the black work. I want it to be completely dry before I lay down the black, so I am going to let it sit for 2-3 days.

The calligraphy to match the original is going to be gold, which I am doing with paint and brush, and in Greek script. Rather than be totally crazy and try to translate the text to Greek, I used a common SCAdian, Pseudo-Greek script. I found this one which contains lots of information on the source of the script, and carried on. After letting the paint on the background dry overnight for the first night, I let it dry pressed between two books to make sure that the parchment didn’t curl. I am about to start the calligraphy, and and getting nervous that the thick base paint is going to make for a very tough surface to work with.

Thankfully, it wasn’t… really. Or at least I didn’t know any better since I don’t do a lot of full scrolls, and certainly have never done ANYTHING like this. While the calligraphy was time consuming, it set pretty well onto the surface. There were some sections that I had to touch up after the whole piece was done, but was able to fix some of the imperfections from the text version. Without the grid being visible, the straight edge was very important to making sure that the characters were in line. Once complete, I let it dry overnight, and framed the final work.

Things that worked well
The calligraphy is the star here, I think, and I am fine with that.
The grid layout was a really good idea, and saved my bacon at the end.
I think I made good decisions about how to do and what not to do in terms of elements. The effect is bold and looks well-executed because I kept it simple.

Things that didn’t work as well
Using a paint base for the calligraphy is not optimal. Or at bare minimum, it needed to be thinner without losing boldness.
Leaving the pencil framework and painting over it created some issues.
While the calligraphy came out well, the scale of the calligraphy isn’t optimal. Most likely, it needed to be two pages long, because I am not sure I could get the calligraphy smaller if I am applying it with a brush

Things I learned
Framing covers sins.
I would like to try and find better ways to produce a dyed vellum look, or even just use dyed vellum. Starting a week before it had to be delivered limited my options.
The testing of the color interaction REALLY was a good idea, because if I had just dove in with my original idea of using the ink wash, I would not have been happy with the final project.

Things I need to learn still before doing this again
How to lay down the calligraphy in pencil, but not have it affect the final piece? I suspect that I just needed a second manuscript.
Is there a better way to create or replicate the dyed vellum look?
How do I get my ornaments more consistent (other than, you know, practice them)?

The last post I made talked a lot about the struggles that I faced with some French language scroll assignments I was given for Twelfth Night. I thought that it would be useful to also talk about some of the resources I was able to find that ultimately helped me accomplish those tasks.

For the texts that were authored, they were both based on excerpts from the same extant piece. It is a tournament guide written by
René of Anjou
, King of Jerusalem and Sicily in 1460. While not an obvious source for sample wording, there are several sections where he details pronouncements that should be made to certain audiences, or staging details during some of the pomp-heavy events featured in a month long tournament. What was most useful was that this page provides a side-by-side translation of the entire work into English!

There were a ton of other resources that I found and saved to my personal bookmarks, and most of them were found here. The Medieval Digital Resource guide has pretty much everything and anything you could imagine having to do with medieval language studies. Learning Welsh? They have resources. Need ancient Greek texts (like I do right now)? They have resources. Very very comprehensive!

While these weren’t particularly useful for this batch of assignments, one of the most interesting sources I found was a collection of letters from the archives in the Arxiu Capitular Cathedral in Barcelona. Very intriguing for look-and-feel wording choices. Sadly the originating documents at the University of Kansas seem to be no longer online, but at least there are some here.

The page that lead me to that resource was the same sort of document collection, this one from the American Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain. The University of California at Santa Cruz at least used to house their digital archive, and you can still find some remnants of it on the open internet, like this one.

The Internet History Sourcebooks Project housed by Fordham University has so much potential, and honestly I haven’t even scratched the surface of material here. These are mostly history texts, but there are some secondary sources / secondary+translation sources here. By its own admission, it is both a very large trove and a very old resource in internet terms, which means that a lot of links are frustratingly no longer active. But this is a great place to get lost for weekend…. or a week…. or a month….

One of the most fun pieces of work that I am doing concerns fealty oaths, and this wonderful, short, but broad resource was a lot of fun to find.

The Corpus of Electronic Texts. Bless you. I found this site twice in my research, once through Notarial Records for Bordeaux and then again when started trying to find Norman texts. Lots here, lots that used to be here that can probably be uncovered again.

BYU didn’t want all those fancy, European universities to have all the fun, so they put out EuroDocs, which has a specifically searching Medieval and Renaissance section.

These last two resources are less about using period texts and more about finding wonderful phrases to throw into a foreign language text. I think my favorite was “à couteaux tirés” which translates to “with daggers drawn” or “at knifepoint”. I found that at the French Idiom dictionary.

Finally, Linguee is a site where you enter an English phrase in, and it returns translations which use that phrase and the original French. Very helpful when doing translations, but beware that understand of the language is really useful here. Oh, and they don’t just do it for French. And they have an app that will do the same thing. Pretty awesome!

I love what I do right now; I am writing scroll texts and teaching classes about writing scroll texts, and it is amazingly fulfilling. I was joking with some friends the other day that around July of 2018, I was feeling like my pace was a little slower than the previous year, or at least that I had written fewer scrolls than the year previous. In 2017, I wrote something like 35 scrolls. This year I did 41. So much for that theory.

For that first year, I had focused on poetry-inspired scrolls that were fairly similar in format. In 2018, I took a turn to really try to make the works historically inspired. I have put together an A&S portfolio, finally, and started really diving into the bardic arts as a vehicle to support my scroll texts, and started (barely) to draw up the framework for a Wordsmithing Guild. It’s been a really fun journey, and I have had the opportunity to do some tremendously fun research!

In the fall, Quintavia hosted an event called Iron Scribe, which was basically a group churn event. There is so much potential there, I really hope that they do it again. In somewhat casual conversation, Signet Mom came over wondering if I knew anyone that spoke French because there was a slew of French-language awards coming up, with Twelfth Night being held in the Barony of L’ile du Dragon Dormant. I replied that I did, and asked how I could help. Her eyes lit up as she galloped off and I mused on what I assumed would be a nice neat assignment that let me stretch a little bit.

Now, let’s be totally honest here about what I mean when I said that I speak French. From seventh to twelfth grade (some mumble mumble years ago…) I took French in school in New Hampshire, about four hours south of Quebec. When I was in college, I studied linguistics, art, and poetry at different times that all had French-language understanding suggestions. When I did my Masters degree, we read D’Indy and Boulez, translated, but often went to the originals to try and determine how good the translation was and pick up on nuance. When I was in Barcelona last year, I remember sitting on the train hearing what I could have sworn was French, sometimes, and Dutch other times; come to find out that it was Catalan, and the languages are similar enough that with a little effort you can read Catalan and understand it with a French mindset. All that to say that I feel like I understand French pretty well, but I am not fluent nor even really practiced. This was going to be a really interesting assignment!

Or five. And two of them were translations, which, I will be the first to tell you, is an ENTIRELY different skillset. And the turnaround time needs to be about a month. Hooboy, onset of Scribal Anxiety in Three, Two…. OK! Relax, you’ve got this.

In all seriousness though, there were several lessons that I learned, all almost immediately and certainly the hard way. First, when the batch of assignments came in, I let Nataliia know that I was going to be at capacity for Twelfth Night because of the turn around. It’s important to know how much time something like this is going to take, and translations/adaptions of your non-native language, by my estimate, took me three to four times as long. Second, I know enough French speakers that I could get my translations reviewed for accuracy and general French-ness. That was going to be really important because, as one said to me, “Grammatically you are correct, we just would never say that because it sounds weird”. QED, that bit about UNDERSTANDING French but not necessarily speaking it properly. Thirdly, and this was really important, don’t duck the job; I was surprisingly nervous about these assignments, far more than any others, and it was somewhat paralyzing. I had to move through that, and the only way to do that was to actually sit down and do the job.

It really came down to understanding my limitations, and that was something that Nataliia and I talked about afterwards. Translations are not my forte, but the actual interpretation of period works into scroll texts was a lot more natural, and I feel like I got better quality output (I have a second post coming about that part of it, including some neat resources that I found). And she was perfectly happy to send me work until I said “Stop!”, which is a word I have a hard time saying especially when it comes to the friends that I have made and the work that I really enjoy doing.

There were a lot of lessons to be learned in this batch of work, and I am really glad that I took the last couple weeks of the year off to really reflect on it all, polish up my A&S portfolio, and spend time with dear friends and family. Batteries are fully recharged, and The Scribmatorium is back open for business! Don’t mind the dust.

When Mistress Anna Mickel von Salm was inducted into the Order of the Sagittarius, the scroll that was produced was a black work, dance manuscript. Here is the music that goes with the dance.

As well, the score for full recorder consort can be downloaded from here

One year ago, almost to the day, TH Lady Christiana and I were talking about how much fun it would be to get into wordsmithing.  She connected me with Mistress Camille, and the rest, as they say, is history.  It’s been a busy year!  On top of all the other projects that I have done, I was churning out one scroll text every two weeks on average.  This, apparently, is a lot in everyone’s eyes* but really it comes so easily, it doesn’t feel like it.  I mean I did seven sets of text for GNEW, and another four for Twelfth Night this past weekend.  That’s just what you do, right?  Words are easy!

Lady Embla and I have collaborated on several scrolls now, which is just a joy to do.  Back in December, she had a scroll go out based on the Cantiga de Santa Maria, a collection of Late Period, monophonic songs on various (mostly religious) topics.  Since my background is in music, and she needed words, I figured why not do both, right?  We can do something that is true to the original source, and give something really special to the recipient (webminister of Smoking Rocks, now Lord Diego Porcelos).

Without really knowing which scroll she was looking to emulate, I settled on #27 (“Non devemos por maravilla tẽer”).  The structure of the song was easy to emulate, and well documented, and to my ear lent itself to a monophonic melody very easily.  The rhyme scheme for the original was a refrain on AA rhymes, and verses with BBBA; the last line would always rhyme with the two lines of the refrain, and the three lines of each verse all rhyme too.  Oof.  The challenge is to pick easily rhymable end sounds, something really common:

Diego Porcelos named Lord, be it known
So speak Their Majesties from Imperial Throne

From there, the refrains came pretty easily, and you can tell just by the sing-singy nature of the way the words are laid out that they are meant for  singing.   Each line has the same number of syllables (roughly) and with the rhymes, the piece picks up a very gentle song quality.

The Barons of Smoking Rocks needed supplied
News of the barony distributed wide
So toiled Diego Porcelos with Pride
Their Excellencies, impressed, wrote to depone

Gathered in Bergenthal to feast the Yuletide
Czar Ivan decreed, Mathilde at his side
In A.S. LII, Brigantia signed
Blessings, their noble ranks have grown

With proper emblazon, Heralds, ye cry
Raised as a Lord with this writ thereby
Let his name be known though the land far and wide
And By these arms borne to him alone

Once I was done with that, I only had to notate the music and hand it off:

Monophonic melody for scroll for Diego Porcelos

Monophonic melody for scroll for Diego Porcelos

And here’s the final product:

Scroll for Diego Porcelos

Scroll for Diego Porcelos

So what did I learn here?  Well, this scroll certainly solidified my overall principle about doing scroll texts.  There are a lot of elements that can, and often are, included.  Is it funny, poignant, snarky, elaborate, simple, long, short?  These are all choices that come through the writing.  Above all else, though, they have to be RIGHT.  They have to be right for the work of art that they are going to live in for the rest of their lives.  It’s something that I have found the scribes take a lot of value in because the words on some level have to fit within their vision of the art, and if they aren’t right then the whole thing isn’t going to jive.  So when Embla said she was using the Cantigas as her exemplar, for my mileage it dictated exactly what the words needed to be.  Once you have the parameters laid down, it’s just a matter of finding words to fit into the pattern.  This was easily one of the most fun scrolls that I have worked on, and it’s because that mantra really became so clear to me with this work.  It was very much a cornerstone piece for me!

Embla did a great work up on her process for the scroll itself, and you can check that out here:


* To Quote Mistress Anastasia, “YOU’RE A MACHINE!”

People who have known me for a long time know that I fancy myself an educated but amateur writer.  I have written poetry since I was a kid, and wrote lots and lots while in school.  I love writing, I love researching, I love the craft of writing.  Well, finally after sitting on an idea I had for a while, I offered to do some scroll texts.  This excited the calligraphers and illuminators here in Malagentia to say the least.

So here are some blurbs about the first three scrolls that were read in court.  They were all presented at Panteria this past weekend – A Tyger’s Cub for one of the youth of the Province, Gracin of House Fulton; A Silver Brooch for Embla Knútrdottir; and a Burdened Tyger for the Mistress of my Haus, Fia Kareman.

On the texts that I have worked on so far, I try to model them on the persona of the person that I am writing for.  For Gracin, this proved a challenge because I didn’t get many details.  What struck me most about the petition for the award was the mention of service to his family encampment and that he had completed the Kids Service Challenge twice!

The structure of the text became a 12 line poem extolling the virtues of service, and specifically youth service to the society.  Here’s the finished product, by Lady Aaradyn Ghyoot.

Tygers Cub,  for Gracin

The text for Mistress Fia shared a lot of common elements with the one above.  It was in verse, built largely on the content of the recommendation, and talked about how service really is the backbone of our society.  Shocking, I know, for a Burdened Tyger for Mistress Fia, Order of the Pelican.  I think, personally, that the poem is “better”, or at least has more money lines such as “They [those who serve] never sit, so we might stand.”  Embla designed the scroll, and it’s the first scroll she’s had presented!

So it is that those who serve     Are the leaders of our band To wear that mantle steels the nerve     They never sit so we might stand And yet there are those whose skill     Transcends the bounds of the routine In Mistress Fia this is instilled     As Birka’s burdens crossed the mesne Undaunted though, she took to steed      As challenges continued to appear Throughout the halls, all thought indeed     “Thank the gods that Fia was here” Honig and Ioannes, not seeking to cadger,     Recognize your negotiating aplomb We name you, Fia, Burdened Tyger     As thanks from a grateful Kingdom.

So it is that those who serve
Are the leaders of our band
To wear that mantle steels the nerve
They never sit so we might standAnd yet there are those whose skill
Transcends the bounds of the routine
In Mistress Fia this is instilled
As Birka’s burdens crossed the mesne

Undaunted though, she took to steed
As challenges continued to appear
Throughout the halls, all thought indeed
“Thank the gods that Fia was here”

Honig and Ioannes, not seeking to cadger,
Recognize your negotiating aplomb
We name you, Fia, Burdened Tyger
As thanks from a grateful Kingdom.

Last, but certainly not least, the Sliver Brooch for the same Embla that did the scroll above.  I will say that provided the perfect cover because I could ask her questions from a place of curiosity about that scroll while gathering intel for this one.  I’m sneaky like that.  I was very excited to do this scroll!

This one was originally going to be verse (Edda form) but I found the prose fit better.  And I love that Christiana worked the elements of the text into the scroll!  Instead of talking specifically about the candidate in literal terms, I went to Viking mythology, and the origins of her name/persona. Embla is the Norse equivalent of Eve in Christian lore.  There ares a ton of mentions in the Prose Edda, so that’s where I started.

Early versions of the text looked a lot like page 21 of the Gylfaginning *, and there are certainly some elements which remained even after polishing it up.  I really loved the feel of the illusory text, and the way that the natural was expressed as a function of the supernatural.  This piece in particular took shape when I saw that these three sons of Borr (Odin, Vili and Vé) gave the mythical Embla three gifts to support her humanity.  Honestly, this was one of the texts that once I got the idea, the writing was very easy.

I was really excited about it, and Embla LOVED it, which really made me feel like the decisions I made were the right ones.  I felt like there was a nice combination of personal touches (including a reference to goats, for example; they are Embla’s favorite animal) and “eddic feel”.  One of my favorite here was “the many-colored tears of Svolnir” as a fancy way of saying “ink and paint”.  Here’s is Christiana’s beautiful scroll.

The Sons of Borr were walking along the sea-strand.  Coming upon The Valley where Panthers Roar like water, they found the one named Embla and called to her.  “What have you made of the gifts that we gave you, She of Elm, She of Water?”  Soft was the Earth, freed from winter’s hail as she stepped to them.  In her right hand was a raven’s feather, sharper than a spear that would split mail like wind and black as the cloak of night.  It sung as the air moved through it’s eye, and many-colored tears of Svolnir poured from it.  The Hawks and Goats and Mountains heard her pen-song and leant their voices to its chorus With this the Sons of Borr saw that she had taken her gift of form and made new forms, her gift of feeling and given feeling to the witless, her gift of life and breathed life into beautiful art.  Thor’s great clap and Vingnir’s Clay streaked across the Valkries Path, and at her feet lay a silver broach. This is a gift to you, from your exalted lords Honig and Ioannes in the Fifty-Second year of our Society.  Let cry the wolves in sacred song that you shall be known by the arms , and let the others of this order call you Sister

The Sons of Borr were walking along the sea-strand. Coming upon The Valley Where Panthers Roar Like Water, they found the one named Embla Knútrdottir and called to her. “What have you made of the gifts that we gave you, She of Elm, She of Water?” Soft was the Earth, freed from winter’s hail as she stepped to them. In her right hand was a raven’s feather, sharper than a spear that would split mail like wind and black as the cloak of night. It sung as the air moved through it’s eye, and many-colored tears of Svolnir poured from it. The Hawks and Goats and Mountains heard her pen-song and leant their voices to its chorus.With this the Sons of Borr saw that she had taken her gift of form and made new forms, her gift of feeling and given feeling to the witless, her gift of life and breathed life into beautiful art. Thor’s great clap and Vingnir’s Clay streaked across the Valkyries’ Path, and at her feet lay a silver broach.

This is a gift to you, from your exalted lords Honig and Ioannes in the Fifty-Second year of our Society. Let cry the wolves in sacred song that you shall be known by the arms, and let the others of this order call you Sister.

The success of this text – and there were many kind words said to me about it, which were so wonderful to hear – has me thinking about this approach to texts.  The reason that I started writing texts in poetic verse was to offer an alternative.  I love the richly detailed texts of wordsmiths like Alice Mackintosh or Mistress Anastasia Guta, but I wanted to do something different.  Not just to distinguish myself from such great artists, but to offer a variety for the scribes.  Anyway, one thing that struck me was that they may not fit a heraldic announcement.  There were a lot of factors to consider on that level, and the structure of the text is one of them.  That might be the topic for another post, probably after the next batch of texts go out at GNEW.

But at the end of the day, the point was that this whole process was a RIDICULOUS amount of fun.  I loved working with the scribes, I loved the faces of the people getting scrolls, I loved sort of working through the “Best way” to recognize them.  The scroll process is something that is so integral to our game, and it was such a delight to be part of it, even in this little way!


* “IX. Then said Gangleri: “Much indeed they had accomplished then, methinks, when earth and heaven were made, and the sun and the constellations of heaven were fixed, and division was made of days; now whence come the men that people the world?” And Hárr answered: ‘When the sons of Borr were walking along the sea-strand, they found two trees, and took up the trees and shaped men of them: the first gave them spirit and life; the second, wit and feeling; the third, form, speech, hearing, and sight. They gave them clothing and names: the male was called Askr, and the female Embla, and of them was mankind begotten, which received a dwelling-place under Midgard. Next they made for themselves in the middle of the world a city which is called Ásgard;'”

So, sure, I have a background in art.  I get it, and it was only natural that eventually I would feel the call to contribute artistically.  I have done some songs, which have been fun, but my first artistic love has always been poetry.  So I thought maybe I could contribute to scroll work.  I mean maybe there is some call for wordsmiths?  It turns out there is A LOT because scribes and illuminators don’t always like coming up with the words, too.   I guess just like how I don’t want to MAKE the scrolls, eh?

With that thought in my head, I reach out to my dear friend Christiana (who might be a long lost twin, the jury is still out).  Her immediate response is to put me in touch with Mistress Camille, who thankfully recognized that while doing the super fancy Laurel Scroll that Christiana thought would be JUST AWESOME, maybe giving the newbie wordsmith something smaller would be more appropriate and not cause him to freeze.

Assignment #1:

Saige O’Rose, an AOA granted by Edward III and Thyra II, at the Barony of Ruantallan at Tir Mara`s Rattan and A&S Championships.  11/29/2014
Text as submitted:
The best food comes from Garden grows
So pick Ye Sage ye herbs ye thyme
But watch ye out for the sting of rose
For you pluck once but she stabs nine
But fear ye not good gentles lo
The bloom outshines the bitter thorn
Come ye with cloth to mend or sew
And watch the brilliant Garment born

Kneal ye now for king and queen
For words of you reach those who know
That service keeps alive the dream
And Rise as Lady Saige O’Rose

Given this day, blah blah blah.   November 29th is the feast day of the Irish Saint Brendan of Birr, so that’s a a thing

I have to admit, this one just came to me.  I had just submitted the text for a QoC for Lady Rose Copper Steel, and there is quite a bit of similarity between the two works.
For whence the battle rages, and the fighters tally hard
Tis relief to know that cooler springs await them on the sides
For shields raised high and swords at guard
We toil long in bitter heat no mortal man abides
The blacksmith hammers steel throughout the morning into day
But when it’s time for supper, the insistent voice inside
Calls out “Have you eaten, fool” and all around obey
She’s made enough, you see, to feast the countryside
With goblets of copper, and plates high stacked
No man nor God leaves without snacks
Lemon cookies, and meat so tender
There are no crumbs in her provender
What more could be said in verse or prose,
Than to say that Courtesy, thy name is Rose.
So similar names, similar people…. similar poems, it’s what happens.

So over the past couple of weeks, I had been working on a project for the East Kingdom Artisanal Exchange. The victim, err, recipient was Mme Perronnelle de Croy from Quintavia. The theme of the exchange was Heraldry. For shame to my house, but I forgot until the mailing deadline that I had even signed up, and y’all know that the last couple of months have been a spoonful of fun for me. But I finally finished it and mailed it off, so I figured I would post a little thingerydo about it here

So I started, like you do, by coming up with a poem inspired by her heraldry. It has three crosses Or in chief, and two ravens facing each other in the main, so I took those elements and wove a story about a fair maiden off to meet and marry her lord, and given three golden crosses as presents – a shiny new one from her best friend, a family heirloom from her mother, and a cross from her grandmother that was given to her on her wedding day. The ravens became Huginn and Munnin, the mythical Norse ravens who carried with them memories and visions of the future.

“Three crosses of gold were gifted to me
To sail to my lord, I took to the sea
Ravens flew round me, one to each side
Visions and memories, left and right”

I had this poem, and then the question became what to do with it? I decided to write a little troubador-esque song using the words, and the opening stanza as a refrain. I recorded it (after singing it badly into my cell phone and doctoring the hell out of the audio file to make it sound halfway decent). And then for the final project, I took pen to vellum and scrolled it all out. Here are some of the shots that I took of the scroll in progress.

Now in absolute disclosure – this is a very “periodesque” piece. This type of music would almost never have been written down, so it was done imprecisely on purpose. You can follow the tune by looking at it, but you have to know it (and unless you have the audio file you don’t). The manuscript is ALSO very informal, on purpose, so while it was gussied up a lot with the dedication on the right and the heraldric image on the left, this is the sort of thing that would have been folded, spindled, mutilated and thrown in the bottom of a lutenists rucksack on his way to Florence from Languedoc. But it came out looking pretty, and is totally plausible for a late 13th C. piece of music – all the elements existed, but they were probably never combined in this way.

But it was fun! The first time I have done a scroll to give to someone. First time I have recorded one of my pieces of music and given it to someone here in the SCA, too. I learned A LOT by doing it, which was probably the most important aspect of it all.

Ah, Armored Combat Melee, you fickle beast you.

I love tournament fighting.  I love the one on one, the chess match, the staring into the eyes of your competitor.  It’s really special, I have always felt pull towards that.  From the Summer’s Day tournament, to Crown, to Jehan’s, to Harvest Moon, I have loved every time I have stepped into the squared circle.  Melee… oh Melee.  We just don’t see eye to eye, and I am sure it’s not you, it’s me.

Hundred Minutes War, the grandiose event to close out the fighting season proper.  Large scale melee, lots of competitors, almost two hours long.  I figure if I am not going to get it here, I may not get it at all.  So I trundled off.  I am not being facetious when I say that the fighting was pretty miserable for me.  It was cold, it was wet, and given the nature of the challenge this year, just not a lot of fun for us shield wall wumps who were standing there holding our ground while systematically getting shot at, and poked at by spears.  I mean don’t get me wrong, it was probably RIDICULOUSLY period.  I couldn’t go anywhere until I was dead.  But come on now, this?  This is not fun.

And it’s not the event itself, I can see other people having fun, enjoying themselves, just gleefully running to the resurrection point and then back into the fray.  Me?  I just got chafed thighs and a head cold.

I guess I am just coming to the realization that melee may not be my cup of tea, and at the end of the day I am alright with that.  Maybe I will find that moment elsewhere, I will hit the pitch in an event when I get it.  But until then, I am going to keep on my tourney circuit.  Well, after I get some rest.  Seems like the doctor thinks I should take another 4-6 weeks off so that my arm can heal.  Whoops.