The Biggest Mistake a Knight Can Make

1 Sep 2016 by gebhard, 8 Comments »

14102543_1759294851019536_2682045929074021704_nDuring my vigil, I asked all my visitors this question, “What do you think is the worst mistake a Knight can make?”

The answers were always interesting. When I asked Duke Cariadoc, the first King of the Midrealm, he said, the greatest mistake a Laurel can make is not to say “I don’t know”, a Knight to not accept a blow, and a Pelican to not say “I can’t do that”, as all come from pride.

It would be cowardly of me not answer this question myself. To me, the worst mistake a Knight can make is to “squash the magic”.  Or stated positively, I will strive to always perpetuate the magic.

Allow me to explain. At my first Pennsic, many people I met would say little things like “Oh, this a Pennsic-made bread” or “This figure is made from Pennsic clay” and “This isn’t ordinary beer, it’s Pennsic beer” as if the very ground here was somehow imbued with magical properties that seeped into everything present.  Everything done at an event was somehow better and more magical than if it were done anywhere else.

While this might seem a little silly, even the most mundane things are better,  You might eat a piece of toast at home, but at an event, you’re eating a piece of Epic toast!

If you smiled, giggled or laughed, you’ve shared a small part of the magic. It’s in the little adventures we have and the joy that comes by sharing them with each other.

Even this simple ideal can be difficult to maintain. At my vigil before being Knighted, I had already failed.

A young man came to see me towards the end of the night. This was his first Pennsic. Towards the end of our talk, the fact the woods battle was canceled came up. We would instead see each other on the field.  I blurted out, “I’m so glad, I hate the woods battle”.  Then, I plodded through a couple items from my list of things I hate about the woods battle… when I realized what I was doing and stopped. I tried to take back my words, but I fear the damage was done.

My friend has never been in the woods battle.  He doesn’t have an opinion of how good or bad it might be. What if it will be his favorite battle? For a moment, the pride of my “woods battle hating” rightness trumped the magic we should all be creating.

Next year, will my friend step on a loose branch in the woods battle and say, “Sir Gebhard was right, this sucks”? And if so, then I’ve stolen something away and lessened someone’s experience.

The fight Knights fight is rarely in the list. Instead it’s everyday, in every moment. We must not only live up to our own ideals, but those of people we meet, and haven’t yet met.  It’s a pretty high bar to live up to. I have failed and will fail again, but the measure of a person isn’t counted in the successes but in the struggles. It’s how you face the fight that is important. It’s a fight that must be fought, if what we do is to continue into the future.

By being true to the ideals of chivalry, and by using their influence to inspire others toward the Dream, Knights are in their way fighting for all the idealists and romanticists who have not found us yet, so that when and if they do, they will know they have found their people, (and will) come play (and) grow our Society, (so) the Dream will go on.” – Sir Jocelyn

Picture taken by: Isabel Taylor

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  1. Getulio says:

    The woods battle is my favorite battle. My first experience with it was in pennsic 40 where we were outnumbered 2-1 and the King of the Midrealm forfeited the war point midway through, causing a rout among the East and allowed the remaining Midrealm fighters to swing the lines back until the horn was sounded.

    I would associate the sort of behavior you are speaking to humility and an objective perspective over the positive and negative attributes of things.

  2. Sieur Raymond says:

    You have the right idea Gebhard. An SCA Peer -especially the Chivalry because of our visibility- can make someone’s day or crush it inadvertently with just a look of admiration or disdain or with some comment that seems minor to us but matters deeply to the recipient for good or ill because of the source. Trying to behave accordingly is one of the more difficult tasks.

  3. Carina Lawson-Williams says:

    As a chatelaine- thank you for this – hopefully you will give us permission to share it…

  4. Joy Newsome says:

    My husband and I tried to find a way to fit in the SCA. Because he didn’t want to fight, we were used at best and ignored at worst by the peer in our Shire. The man will never return. I hope that some day, down the road, I can convince him to try with a different group. I hope this article is spread far and wide. The Dream depends on the peers’ ability to adhere as closely as possible to your words here stated.

    Grainne Newenhusen

  5. Do you offer therapy sessions for the long-gaffiated, still smoldering about old stuff, would rather be enjoying the positives of the Dream types? Please??

  6. Julia Windsor says:

    isnt this something of which we all should be cognizant?

  7. Leurona says:

    Thank you for this. Something for every veteran Scadian to remember.

    Lady Leurona Winterborne, East Kingdom

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