IN SERVICE TO THE DREAM
By Toi Poisson de Mortagne
I am a newbie and yet I've seen and heard this phrase quite a bit in my short time in SCA. What a wonderful concept!! To think that there are others out there who share this dream with me is incredibly liberating. To tell you the absolute truth, the dream is just a little embarrassing to speak of in the mundane world. But I must say, the first time I put my hand out to shake hands and got it kissed instead, I was hooked. I once read that a good way to judge an event is, if for even a second or two you feel as though you are back in that period of time. You can feel a certain je ne sais quoi. That's when you can say, "That's the smell, that's the music, that's the flavor, Ahh yes, that's it!!" Maybe what draws us comes from our collective memory of times past, or perhaps we really did have a former life we need to relive. Whatever it is, we do all seem to have the same dream.
It isn't often that as an adult, I get to "play", but through SCA I can learn something new in a hands on playful environment. Dutch historian Johan Huizinga (1872-1945), whose most famous works include The Autumn of the Middle Ages, which deals with the life of the upper classes of Burgundy in the 14th and 15th centuries, and Erasmus, a biography of the famous Dutch Renaissance scholar, also wrote Homo Ludens, focusing on the element of play in human culture. According to Huizinga, the rules of play are very different from ordinary rules. Huizinga defines the formal characteristics of play as follows: 1) It is voluntary, 2) It leaves normality and reality and enters its own sphere, and 3) It operates within its own time and place. Okay, so SCA qualifies as play!!! Vivat to Huizinga!!!! I can figure out ways to make the dream happen on a regular basis and have a great time doing it. Even the thought of the dream is playing for me. I can play dress up and I can play fighting. I can play alone or with other people. I can play in the kitchen and I can play on the computer. I can sing and dance and I can even get books on how to play better. The list is endless. As I stroll through mundane life, new ways to play can float around in the back of my head, to the point, in fact, that I may appear to others to be in a sort of haze. Having waxed poetic on the perfection of SCA and its place in my life, I do realize that I'm probably in the "honeymoon period" of my membership in the group. I'm hoping that by constantly having contact with new members, that the dream will continually be somewhat renewed for me. As for now, every time I put on the garb, I become someone else. I am Toi Poisson de Mortagne living in another time, eating distinctive exotic foods, and listening to melodies unique to an era long past. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I reasoned as a child; but now as an adult I can say, "Can Dearbhorgaill inghean Fhearchair mhic Dhomhnaill come out and play?"
Reprinted from the Fall, 2005, issue of Arts and Sciences, a special issue of the Pikestaff,
the official newsletter of the Kingdom of the East. Used by permission.