For one magic moment

11 Feb 2014 by gebhard, 13 Comments »

Court is my favorite part of an event, but it wasn’t always that way. I used to rarely attend.

I think many us of start out in a setting like I did some years ago.  After a long day of fighting, I was standing in a large pavilion with cold rain pouring down from a dark sky. It was Court and Baron Wars.


As I stood in my fleur-de-lis viking tunic, sweat pants and tennis shoes, similar to all newcomers,  I was wondering about a number of topics like: What are all these awards being given out? Who are these people? Why is it so damn cold?

I missed a lot of courts in my early years, mostly because I didn’t understand them.  I had no idea what anything meant or what was happening. Someone would shout a name I couldn’t have repeated.  Someone would go from the back of the room up to the front, bow then kneel.  The same speaker would shout out the name of an award, and I had no idea what it might be for.  Someone in a crown, I assume the King,  would hold up a pretty scroll.  The person kneeling and the King and Queen would talk, then everyone would return to their seats and it would start over.   This would be repeated 10 or 20 times, then court was over. I hope you can understand, that sitting through this for over an hour wasn’t my idea of a good time.

After awhile, I learned what a few awards were. Mainly an AoA, because everyone kept asking if I had one, and a Purple Fret which “they” would often tell me they had, and maybe other award names which I never could remember.

I attended few courts in my first year.  Then my local event came around: Red Dragon. I saw people I knew get awards, and even though I only knew two awards, I understood what the recipients were getting. I started to understand the draw, these were people I had fought next to, cleaned up unspeakable things with, and gotten advice from.  They help me with armor and garb and answered my endless questions like “so…. what does that award mean?”.

I enjoyed seeing my friends get awards.

In the years to come, I learned local people might get awards at other groups’ events. I started to attend more courts. Sometimes they would call out an award, like Evergreen or Dragon’s Heart and the crown would gasp. I didn’t understand why. But, I liked seeing people I knew get awards, and I was starting to meet more people so it seems like the odds of that were going up.

I’ll be honest, it was still a little boring at times. I might duck out if there was a long drive home.

That was then.

Now I will attend court in other kingdoms where it’s not possible for people I know to get awards. It brings a smile to my face to watch complete strangers receive awards.

And why is that? I’ll tell you.


It’s a hard, cruel place where the people work themselves to death while creating amazing things and never receive so much as a “thank you”. People live being unappreciated by their employers and families.

In the SCA, it doesn’t have to be that way.  People who work hard can be recognized for the work they have done. 

For one magic moment when they are called up to receive an award from the King and Queen, you can see the all the months (and more) of planning, hard work, pain, frustration and tears melt away into a bright eyed smile as the King and Queen lean in and say the words “We appreciate what you have done. We can not thank you enough” and place in their hands a piece of art that could be hung in any art gallery.

It’s that moment I love to see. It’s so rare in life. How often in the mundane areas of life do you see this? Yet, you can see it a dozen times in any given weekend.

Now it’s me who gasps when a rarely received award is given.

My lovely Baroness has this to add “How often does someone get called into court in their SCA career? 3? 4 times? How many times will someone get an Evergreen or a Dragon’s Heart, a Gold Mace or a Bronze Ring? Shouldn’t we all be there to applaud that?”

The once you start attending court regularly, it won’t take long to become addicted to it.  Should I be found worthy of an award, I hope to look out and see your smiling face among the crowd. Until then, I’ll do my best to be there for you.

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  1. Hrefna says:

    What a lovely article. You summed up all the reasons why I go to court. I hope others will read this and follow your example. Court is our time to collectively say thank you to the volunteers who make our Society work.

  2. This is wonderful, and inspiring.

  3. Steve Muhlberger says:

    A good friend of mine is getting high recognition for service this upcoming weekend– close to 40 years worth of service. I can’t be there but I’ll be cheering.

  4. Cadan Buri says:

    I understand this completely, as at this past Pensic I have that moment. I wasn’t even going to go until I escorted a friend to court. I was sitting there not expecting anything and my name was called. I had no idea this was coming at all. And I received my golden alce. Then not only that but I was privileged and honored to have Sir Count Jahoun (forgive the spelling) read the scroll in my persona of Mongolian, it was amazing.!!!

  5. Greetings from the East!

    Thank you for this wonderful write-up, you’ve really managed to capture what I feel is the best thing about “boring ol’ court”: Being there to enjoy others being recognized for being awesome. Everyone in the SCA, be us Eastern or Mid or Caidan…no matter, we’re here to INSPIRE each other and cheer others on, even from a distance. I mean think about it, how cool is it that we re-create the Middle Ages the way we do?

  6. Alex the Scribe says:

    very nicely said! Agreeing wholeheartedly with this. Add to it this , having lived in climate zones that make outdoor events nigh impossible for about 6 months each year, the draw to events and courts was even bigger, then I became a scribe. Nuff said to that.

  7. Magnus Ulfsson says:

    Thank you for this and your other inspiring posts. You are an example of why I joined the SCA.

  8. Brigit Olesdottir says:

    Your words are so powerful and appropriate, thank you.
    I have been a Court Herald for decades and it is amazing to see the faces “up close” as they receive those Thank Yous. Now however, through the generosity of Their Majesties Gleann Abhann, I have been the one to say the words that generates the tears and smiles together. It is truly amazing to be able to SAY Thank You to those people who give their time and talents tirelessly to this organization we all love.
    It makes me realize even more how important it is to sincerely say thank you, whether through acknowledgement in Court or through a smile and word of appreciation.
    HRH Brigit of Gleann Abhann

  9. Dolan Madoc says:

    Well said indeed, my own experience within the SCA echoes yours somewhat. If I may be so bold, allow me to offer this song written in much the same vein (you might need to turn up the volume a little).

  10. Steve Kubien says:

    What an interesting perspective.

    I’m a relative newcomer (a little less than 2 years) and my 1st court or 2 were kind of interesting but I quickly grew tired of it. Too darn long, names I couldn’t hear or understand the pronunciation of and when I did, I didn’t know them. It seemed that it was a big popularity contest where friends nominated friends for things & everyone celebrated their own awesomeness (kinda like the Oscar’s or Grammy’s). This left a really bad taste in my mouth.

    Then, a new Reign and new things happened. I saw some friends acknowledged who I believed were truly deserving and there were magical moments of shock, humility, joy and acceptance. I began to understand why people looked forward to court (Baronial or Royal) and while I am not quite there, I think I’ll attend Ealdormere’s Court at Pennsic this year. It will be a first for me.

  11. Sóma Hjalmarsdotter says:

    Thank you for this beautifully written piece! I have been a member for just over a year now.

    I attended my first 3 events in under 3 months last year, and I can honestly tell you that the court at each one of them blew me away.

    My first was at Val Day, one of the largest events in my home kingdom (Middle Kingdom). I felt like a little kid just crossing the threshold of my very first amusement park. I had spent my first 4 months listening to stories and hearing the laughter and joy of events, but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw that day. I realized that I had just entered a new world and there was no way I could see it all from the gates without venturing further in. The then king and queen and their heirs were all present, beautiful and larger than life. That court included an elevation with all the pageantry and showiness it could muster.

    The I later found out that the gentleman who became a Pelican that day was Baron of our neighboring barony, and i have since spent many days playing with them.

    My second event, a month later, was a smaller dancing event, again our king and queen showed kindness and generosity that stunned me. I had a question I wanted to ask Her Majesty, but was too afraid, she was the Queen! A friend of mine had to (almost literally) drag me to beg queen’s audience and speak to her. She was so gentle, and so attentive I will never forget.

    The court that evening also included three elevations, one of whom the knight my lord later became squired to. My third event was our shire’s local event. Being a small shire, and on the farthest corner of our kingdom, I often feel we are disconnected from the rest of the realm, but again, Their Majesties found the time to come see what our small but passionate group can do.

    The court there was small and intimate, and impressed me more than the previous two combined. Again, the grace and compassion shown by the royals, the interest in a small distant group, and the well deserved awards many of my dear friends received that day will always remain the most precious of all. I have spent the last year attending at least one event a month, never missed a court by choice, and two weeks ago I attended the coronation (my first coronation event!) of my fourth king and queen, and hope to attend many many more.

    No matter large or small; no matter baronial or royal, I truly feel that no event is complete without court.

    Thank you again for writing this so beautifully and I strongly encourage all to share it and promote the gratitude and generosity shown at court every event.

    • Sóma Hjalmarsdotter says:

      I apologize for the lengthiness of my previous post, I just realized I did not put any breaks. Is there a way for me to edit so that it will be easier for others to read?

      • gebhard says:

        Thank you for the very kind comments.

        No problems on the lengthiness. I was looking to see if I can turn on editing for users…. I don’t see it. I’ll look into it more.

        In the meantime I tossed in carriage returns to help with readability.

        Thank you for taking time to leave a comment and for being part of the magic that makes the SCA the amazing thing it is.

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