Posts Tagged ‘SCA’

Kalev_BonecruncherNone of the virtues of chivalry come easily to me, but none comes with greater difficulty than humility.

I can fake humility pretty well.

I have no need to praise myself, no reluctance to praise others. There is no task so low that I cannot stoop to set my hand to it. But I will be oh so very concious that I am stooping. In my mental ledger I will make a mark that reflects that today I took a step toward that virtue. Then I will erase that mark as I take pride in the accomplishment.

I have that most obnoxious sort of pride available only to old men.  You know the type: “I went to Basic Training when it was hard. My Drill Sergeants were crusty Vietnam vets who were allowed to swear and strike us for our failings. You young people couldn’t handle what we went through. That being said: get off my lawn, you delinquents!”

That sort of thing.

And now that I have again picked up a wooden sword and resumed armored combat in the SCA after a thirty year break, I absolutely HATE having so much to learn from these twenty-somethings that beat me so easily.

Before I step on the field to practice, I think about what exactly I seek to accomplish. I have to recover my sword properly. I have to close distance with greater efficiency. Those two things are all that matter. I am not bothered if I lose, I am bothered if my Lady and my Knight have reason to say, “You’re still not doing it.”  That is what I am working on.

And my humility.

Men half my age are going to beat me then tell me how they did it.

As much as I am practicing the arts of war, I am also “practicing” the Virtues of Chivalry.

And I am so very proud of that.


And there it goes again.


There is one sword, one shield, and seven basic blows.

Then, there is the pell.

Every day I carry out the sixty pound base and set it up outside my apartment. Sometimes, the kids come by to watch. They ask if they can hit it. I usually drag out my six-year-old’s boffer gear and let them attack it while I’m resting. Sometimes the six-year-old, Kalev Bonecruncher the Berserk, will announce to the kids he has to train, too.

Earl Syr Knarlic Wulfersson, whose squire I am, has me throwing the blows again and again and again. I have power, some small speed, but he wants the recovery to become muscle memory. Throw the blow, let gravity bring the blade down, pull it back up into the ready position. Again and again and again. Again and again and again. Again and again and again.

Duke Conrad has instructed me some on my shield use. It’s a strapped round shield, and very unpopular. I am told again and again that I should get rid of it, but, for now, Earl Knarlic allows me to use it. Its used much differently from other shields and its only advantages are found in a certain offensive manner. My round shield is useless at mid range. I have to close distance quickly and then use the edge of the shield to push my opponent’s shield or sword away for an instant just long enough to strike.

Start out of range but close the distance quickly and scrape the edge of the pell with the rim of the shield, throw the blow, recover. Again and again and again. Again and again and again. .

Sir Osric is a reactionary fighter. He likes to stay back and launch his attack when an opponent makes a mistake. The round shield’s disadvantages all work in his favor. I step in to close the distance and my helmet rings. I can’t find an angle of approach that defeats this tactic.

He explains that I have to keep his sword busy as I close distance. It takes me a few tries to understand. he explains it again. I don’t have to hit him, I don’t have to move his weapon, I simply have to make it unwise to use the weapon as I move in. I start using an offside blow to the head (number four of the seven basic blows) hopefully requiring my opponent to block with his sword as I close that distance.

And then I stand before the pell again.

Start out of range and throw a distracting blow as I step in to close range, scrape the pell with my shield as I recover my sword and launch another blow without pause and recover. Again and again and again. Again and again and again.

It isn’t the sword I need to master. It isn’t this impossible round shield. I’m not exactly sure what I am trying to Master.

Hopefully, I recognize it when I get there, though.

This was written in response to the Daily Word prompt found here.


This is the Code of Chivalry as observed in House Hammered Raven.

Honor: Honor First.

You won’t really find it in a dictionary anymore. Its gets discussed by college sophomores reading THE ILIAD for the first time, then it gets dropped as being an impossible philosophical construct. “Is it honorable to steal bread to feed a starving child?” There are a hundred catchy, pretty phrases and no explanation.

Honor is the idea that some ideas and values are so important that we would choose extinction rather than betray those values. Perhaps the value itself is unimportant and what is vital is that we hold it passionately. For one man, honor might demand that he steal before he lets an innocent suffer. For another, honor might demand that he let innocents die before he steals.

Rather than simply bearing witness, Honor is that impulse that demands we act when we see what is Right.  And Honor is the impulse to stand silent as a witness when that is what Right requires.

Prowess: Train constantly. Your strength and your prowess are all that stands between the Right and the Adversary.

Without the virtue of prowess, all other virtues are irrelevant. If a man is unable to strike down an enemy, then it is not mercy that stays his hand but simple weakness. Prowess is the virtue that provides a knight with the means to change the world to suit his own desires.

Without prowess, a man’s desires are meaningless as he cannot act on those desires. Your desire to feed the poor, clothe the naked, establish schools and courts will count for nothing if it is not matched by an ability to stay the hand of those who intend to remove those things.

Honesty: Always speak the truth.

I’ve been told this tenet can be a cruel one that defies mercy. I see that point, but I disagree. There are often truths that are unpleasant to speak, but when you hold your silence, it is not for their sake but for your own. There are truths that cause suffering, when you speak that truth, you must be prepared to stand and share that suffering.

To lie doesn’t avoid an unpleasant truth, it merely delays its uncovering. Perhaps, when it is uncovered, the hearer will be in company less comforting than your own.

Courage: We cannot let fear make decisions for us.

This is not the same as embracing foolhardiness and risk for its own sake. We do not court danger but we cannot let fear move us to act in ways that do not further the cause of Right and Good. We hold our values and our honor so closely that, when the time comes to give our lives in defense of our values and in pursuit of the Good, it will seem as though our lives meant nothing to us.

Mercy: Defend the weak. Protect the innocent.

Just as we prevent the suffering of others through our pursuit of the right, we seek to inflict no more suffering on the wrong-doer than necessary. This is one reason why prowess is the foundation of chivalry and why chivalry can only be pursued by warriors.

Mercy takes many forms, but it is never the simple over looking of errors and mis-deeds.  We confront and defeat the weakness and ignorance of men, but we do not always need to defeat the man himself.

Humility: Praise the worthy deeds of others as you seek to emulate their virtues, but do not boast of your own.

If you are spending your time in the proper company, there will always be others to speak of more highly than yourself, and there will always be others speaking highly of you as they learn the code through watching your actions.

When we boast during sumbel, remember that those supporting you will be affected by your aspirations. Always push the limits of what you can do, but remember that if you push too hard and fail, your burdens fall to another.

Generosity: Gluttony and greed are marks of cowardice.

By taking up arms and taking our place on the wall, we assume responsibility for the lives and well-being of others. What greater generosity is there than that we share our strengths and spend our lives in pursuit of the well-being of all? Give your time, your wealth, your energy to those people whose need hampers their development or the advancement of us all.

The coward fears that he will not have the strength to feed himself again if he shares his meal with the hungry. When we exercise largess and keep an open table, we remind the world through our example that we have the strength and confidence to make our way into the future.

Justice: Seek justice for others without thought of your own gain.

What is good and right is always under assault by weak and ignorant men. Through our words and deeds, we seek to temper the harm done by those who act against the Right. We seek to set two examples. Of course we hope through our actions to inspire others to seek the Right, but we must also conduct ourselves in such a fashion that such men know that acting against the Right in our presence will be met with opposition.

If there are those who imagine that they can act in defiance of what is Good and Right in your presence, then you should reflect on how you have failed.

But justice is a terrifying thing when we truly examine our own lives so we must temper that pursuit of justice with mercy.

Honor: Honor first.

This is the Code of Chivalry as observed in House Hammered Raven.

Heil ok Sael!

Proper greeting has apparently become an issue among heathens and viking-wannabes (like myself) recently (or at least I just heard about it) and here’s my input.

In Old Norse, there are two main words that mean “greeting.” Those words are the commonly known “heilsa” and the less common “kvethja” (which was probably used more often to mean farewell.) These words are verbs, and not actually greetings. Its important to note that the verb “hailsa” would require a dative noun form and not an accusative form.

One might write a sentence: Heilsa Igor, Sven upp Hondina. (There are umlauts and stuff in there and I am an amateur with a keyboard.) This would translate to: “Greeting Igor, Sven raised his hand.”

To say “Heilsa, Igor!” would sound rather like someone unfamiliar with English saying, “Thanking you” rather than “Thank you” or “Greeting you” rather than simply “Greetings” (which works in English but not ON.)

The word “heilsa” also translates to “health” and the relationship between health and greeting should be obvious. Still, in Old Norse and Icelandic, simply saying “health” is not the same as wishing one health.

What Sven might say would be a simple “heill” or a variant recognizing his audience, male or female, singular or plural. “Heilir” for a group of men. “Heilar” for a group of women.

For greeting a group of mixed gender, one would simply say “Heil” just as one would for greeting a single woman. Less formally, one might say “Sit Heill” which would be an invitation to sit and get comfortable.

The difference between “L” and “LL” in Old Norse really is simply the length of the sound. “Heill” sounds like “hail” and “Heil” almost sounds like “hey.”

But my personal favorite Old Norse greeting is “Heil ok Sael” which is to wish someone “health and happiness.” But no variant of this greeting is EVER used in Scandanavia today as it has connections to the Nazi Occupation.

I will continue to use it, even though I have no racist sympathies.

FROM: An Icelandic-English Dictionary by Cleasby/Vigfusson (1874)

heilsa, u, f. [Dan. helsen; Swed. helsa], health, Fms. vii. 241, x. 215, Sks. 620. Al. 24, Hom. 10, Bs. i. 337; sterk, góð h., strong, good health; veyk, lin, tæp h., poor, weak health, passim. COMPDS: heilsu-bót, f. health-bettering, healing, Hkr. ii. 386; til heilsubótar, Magn. 414, Bs. heilsu-bragð, n. a cure, ek skal sýna þér öruggt h., Fb. i. 439. heilsu-drykkr, m. a potion, draught, Al. 24, 656 B. 12. heilsu-far, n. state of health, Grett. 153. heilsu-gjafari, a, m. a healer, eccl. heilsu-gjöf, f. a ‘gift of health,’ cure, Fas. iii. 277, Magn. 532: eccl. salvation, Stj. 141. heilsu-góðr, adj. in good health. heilsu-gæði, n. strong health. heilsu-lauss, adj. ‘health-less,’ in bad health. heilsu-leysi, n. bad health. Mar. heilsu-linr, adj. = heilsulítill. heilsu-lítill, adj. in weak health, Sturl. iii. 34. heilsu-orð, n. a word of salvation, (MS.) 656 and 555 heilsu-ráð, n. counsel whereby to recover health, Fms. ii. 229. heilsu-samligr, adj. (-liga, adv.), wholesome, salutary, Bs. heilsu-samr, adj. wholesome, Sks. 96. heilsu-sterkr, adj. strong in health. heilsu-tapan, f. perdition, eccl., K. Á. 76. heilsu-tæpr, adj. in poor health. heilsu-veiki, f. weak health. heilsu-veykr, adj. having weak health.

heilsa, að, [Dan. hilse], to say hail to one, greet one, with dat.; it was an ancient custom for the host to welcome (heilsa) the stranger, as may be seen from the following references :– Osvífr (the guest) kvaddi út Höskuld ok Rút (the master of the house), þeir gengu út báðir ok heilsuðu Osvífi, Nj. 21; hann (the master) gengr út ok heilsar Gísla (dat. the stranger), Gísl. 83; kona ein gékk til hurðar ok heilsar þeim ok spyrr þá at nafni, Fbr. 44 new Ed.; Þorsteinn gékk þegar til búðar Þorkels, en hann (Thorkel) heilsar honum vel ok spyrr hvat hann árnar, Lv. 33; Ólafr gengr inn á gólfit … en enginn heilsar honum ok þögðu allir, Háv. 39; in case the host was a great personage (a king, earl, or the like), the stranger used in token of honour or homage to walk up to him and greet him, ‘sit hail!’ ok er hann kom inn, heilsaði hann konungi, konungr tók kveðju hans, Eg. 63; jarlinn (the guest) gékk fyrir hann (the host in his high-seat) ok heilsaði honum, Ó. H. 66; Haukr heilsaði konungi, Fb. i. 47: h. á en, id.; Ásgrímr (the guest) gékk at honum ok heilsaði á hann, Nj. 182, Fms. i. 16; ok er hann kemr á fund Knúts konungs, gékk hann fyrir hann ok heilsar upp á konunginn, konungr tók ekki kveðju hans, xi. 264. In mod. usage a coming guest is said ‘heilsa,’ a parting guest ‘kveðja,’ q.v.

FROM: A CONCISE DICTIONARY OF OLD ICELANDIC (OI and Old Norwegian being WEST ON and Old Danish being EAST ON)
heilsa (að), v. to say hail to one, greet one (= biðja e-n heilan vera), with dat. h. á. e-n = h. e-m.
heilsa, f. (1) health; (2) restoration to health (hann var feginn heilsu sinni); (3) salvation.
heilsan, f. salutation, greeting.


heill, a. (1) hale, sound; illa h., in ill health; hann sagði at þar var vel heilt, he said they were all well there; kona eigi heil, enceinte; grœða e-n at heilu, to heal one fully; (2) whole, healed, in respect of wounds or illness, with gen. (verða h. sára sinna); er um heilt bezt at binda, it is better to bind a hale than a hurt limb; (3) blessed, happy; njótið heilir handa, ‘bless your hands’, well done; kom heill! welcome, hail! far h., farewell! (4) whole, entire; h. hleifr, a whole loaf; sjau hundruð heil, full seven hundred; (5) true, upright; ráða e-m heilt, to give one a wholesome (good) advice; af heilum hug, af heilu, sincerely; heilt ráð, wholesome advice; heil kenning, a useful, profitable lesson.