My Life in the Current Middle Ages
The Society for Creative Anachronism is one of many groups in the US dedicated to studying history (in our case, Medieval history) with a hands-on approach. Interested as much in how people lived during the Middle Ages as what they did and who they did it to, our members explore arts and crafts like cooking, metal working, leatherworking, brewing, and armoring, calligraphy and illumination, costuming, embroidery and jewelry making as well as many other creative pursuits. In addition, we also foster more active pastimes like heavy weapons fighting, fencing, and archery. Some of our events even have equestrian activities. Whatever the subject, if they did it in the Middle Ages and you want to know how, you'll either find someone in the SCA to guide you or aid and encouragement as you research your interests and share your findings with other medievalists.
Founded in 1966 at the University of California-Berkley, the SCA divides the US and certain other parts of the world where we have member groups into kingdoms, 17 in all. The kingdoms are broken down into principalities, baronies and local groups called shires or cantons. For instance, I live in the Kingdom of Calontir; my barony is the Barony of Three Rivers; my local group is the Shire of Calanais Nuadh. In the real world, the Shire of Calanais Nuadh translates to Rolla, St. Robert, and Fort Leonard Wood and surrounding areas in Missouri, USA.
I have been a more or less active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) since 1978. In the SCA, each member is encouraged to choose a persona; that is, an everyday person who might have lived during the Middle Ages. The character must be wholly your own creation and not a person who really existed. You choose your name, researching it to be sure it's period, and you plan a life for yourself, i.e., where and when you live, your social status, your occupation, etc. For instance, in the society I am Dulcibella de Chateaurien, merchant-adventuress living in 14th century France (although I stray a lot into 10th century Germany where my husband lives!). Your persona can be as complex or as simple as you like. Some people choose a name and time period and nothing more. Others can tell you where their personnas were at 10:42 p.m. on March 11, 1523.
In the Society as well as in the real world, I run a small business, The Vault of Valhalla, offering jewelry based on 10th century Viking designs created by my husband. In addition, I am Chronicler, which means I maintain the newsletter and other publications, for our local shire, Calanais Nuadh, which is based in Rolla/St. Robert, MO.
Every weekend somewhere in the US, you can find an SCA tourney (called an 'event') to attend. It all depends on how far you want to drive. The only stipulations for a newbie are that you must wear garb (some attempt at a Medieval costume), you must obey the rules of the event site, and you must, at all times, be courteous. You will also probably need a little money to pay site fees and such. If you like shopping, you will find merchants offering period materials and finished merchandise at most events.
If you like camping, archery, arts and crafts, fighting in armor, spirited history discussions, more camping, more fighting, more archery and all 'round good times in a Medieval living history setting, check out the SCA. You can find out more about it at The Official SCA page, the Kingdom of Calontir page or you may visit my local shire, Calanais Nuadh, online.
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