Rejoice, citizens! Good tidings!
The Formally and Officially Spelled But Still Incipient Shire of Ayresgarde is now official and fully recognized, as the Finally and Officially Shire of Ayresgarde. The East Kootenay is now enclosed in the warm embrace of the Kingdom of Avacal.
The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) — a worldwide historical education and medieval re-enactment organization — officially created a local chapter in the region recently. The Shire of Ayresgarde held its first official event Saturday, July 23, at Camp Stone up at St. Mary’s Lake.
The SCA is focuses on the re-creation and experience of medieval culture. Globally, it is divided into kingdoms. There are about 20 in the world, and the East Kootenay is now part of the Kingdom of Avacal — the newest Kingdom — which encompasses Saskatchewan, Alberta and part of B.C.
“The Society for Creative Anachronism is an education not-for-profit re-creation group,” explains Amanda Gueguen, known as Medb (pronounced Maeve), the Seneschal of “The Formally and Officially Spelled But Still Incipient Shire of Ayresgarde.
“A lot of the focus is on learning, and teaching, and classes. If there is something you’re interested in, there is somebody who is specialized in the SCA somewhere.”
SCA activities can include everything from combat technologyto equestrian, hawking, creation of the period costumery, the cuisine and feasting — all aspects of that medieval culture that may seem so distant in time, but for which we may feel a nostalgia for and interest in.
“The one nice thing to come out of the pandemic is that connection farther places, to different kingdoms all over the world grew,” Medb said. “Because a lot of things became online instead of in person. So I don’t have to travel to Scotland to find the expert on this things. They’re teaching a class online, and I can hop on a zoom call.”
For example, there is a huge fibre arts community encompassed by the SCA — everything from getting the fibre from the plant or the animal, to turning into thread, then into fabric, into embroidery, into clothing — there are people who specialize in all aspects of that, or in the whole process.
Or take, for example, the study of the ancient science of heraldry.
“One of my friend’s favourite lines [His Excellency of Montengarde (Calgary), Baron Bjar the Blue] is ‘Heraldry saves lives,’” Medb said. “And it is very true. Because when you’re on a giant battlefield, you need to know who’s on your side. And it’s as true now as it was back in the day. It’s also true at the bigger SCA events when you’re trying to find somebody.”
There has been an SCA presence in the region before, largely centred out of Crawford Bay.
“Crawford Bay used to be one of the small but mighty branches,” Medb said. “They were the supporting branch for the group around here. Unfortunately, due to membership and those kinds of things they had to fold. But group here kept doing things for that entire time — whether it was a small medieval dinner or getting together, dressing up, having parties or going away to events.”
And SCA members are connected as part of a worldwide network.
“The nice thing about the SCA is that you had the money you could go to an event literally every weekend, somewhere in the world.”
There are about 30 members in the nearby area who take part in SCA activities. There are many more who take part on more of a part-time basis, some who travel far and wide to do so. The shire’s boundaries range as far as Golden and south to Cranbrook and Kimberley, and then west to Kootenay Lake.
“When we had our very first official event, just before the pandemic, we had just short of 100 people show up,” Medb said.
People are drawn to the Society for Creative Anachronism from every direction of interest.
“One of my favourites sayings is that ‘the Geekdoms intersect,’” Medb said. “On top of finding people in the SCA who love this medieval re-creation thing, you’re going to find people who also like Star Trek, who also like Star Wars, who also like Doctor Who, Dungeons and Dragons, all these things. You’ll find somebody else who shares these interests.
“But people get pulled into it in a bunch of different ways. Some people got into because it was an easier way to get into archery. Some people got into because they want to hit people with big sticks. Some people got into it because they truly love the history, and it was a place to share that with others. Some people just like dressing up in fun clothes.”
In any case, taking part in the medieval re-creation of the SCA enhances our day-to-day realities with this other world.
“A lot of people refer to it as the ‘Dream,’ because when it works correctly and you walk on the site, you leave all your problems behind, you get to be someone else for a few days,” Medb said. “And you make long-term friends and family, long-term bonds.”
The society — that is, the The Formally and Officially Spelled But Still Incipient Shire of Ayresgarde — is always looking for people who are interested.And one does not have to be a member to participate.
Most of the group’s communication is done via their Facebook page, “The Formally and Officially Spelled But STILL Incipient Shire of Ayresgarde.” (Just search out Ayresgarde).