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How to host a spice-tasting party!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-12-08 22:32

On Sunday, December 3, the gentles of the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn convened to sample the results of our second redaction challenge. I challenged our cooks to mix a blend of spices to create a Powder Forte and a Powder Fine — two frequently occurring additions to many a medieval recipe.

The base recipes can be viewed here

After an initial flurry of “where can I get galingale?” and “can I swap some grains of paradise for long pepper?”, we made a group spice order and set to blending. Some folks used modern grinders, while others employed mortar and pestle, sifted the results through a sieve, then ground the remainder — over and over until the spice reached a consistent texture.

It turns out that online suggestions for “how to host a spice tasting party” aren’t very helpful, and I found myself in the position of creating a template for doing so. To sample and compare the dozen spice mixtures, we used sandwich picks dipped in canola oil, then dipped in the spice mixture. I made gluten-free and oyster crackers available to cleanse the palate between tastings, though at least one individual dipped the cracker and then tasted the spice on the crackers.

Sandwich picks

The strong powders and fine powders were arranged together; some folks tried the fines then the fortes, others in reverse. It didn’t seem to make a difference to the tasting which spice combination we tasted first, but it was very nice to be able to sample fortes and fines side-by-side.

Once again we had an array of flavors from the same recipe. There were no clear favorites among the group, and more than once I heard “this is good, but I like mine better.” (Given the nature of the recipe, this was not a surprising comment; we were making blends to suit or own tastes.)

As a group, we decided that this methodology did work well to sample the various spices. After more thought, I would recommend the following additions, should you hold your own spice-tasting event:

  • Provide water for palate cleansing.
  • Offer a mild bread, chicken cubes, and warm elbow pasta to carry spice on — some folks though it odd to be eating spices plain, and this would overcome that feeling (plus add some different flavor to think about how the mixture would “work” with different base ingredients).
  • Find sampling dishes that are flat, without sharp corners and crevices, so the spice doesn’t get lodged into unreachable corners.

Once again, we had many folks participate, and we all look forward to using their mixtures in future challenges!

Lady Meadbh ni Clerigh
Dominion of Myrkfaelinn

Photos by Elska á Fjárfelli

Categories: SCA news sites

Brewers Guild Promotes Participation

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-12-06 20:04

by Viscountess Lucilla Theresa de Courtenay

Recently, the Æthelmearc Guild of Brewers, Vintners, and Meadhers (affectionately known simply as the Brewers Guild) implemented a program designed to promote greater participation among its members as well as to entice new people to join the ranks: Points for Participation.

“We have been struggling for a couple of years to increase participation in guild activities,” said THL Madoc Arundel, the current head of the guild. “There are a lot of really decent brewers in this kingdom, and guild activities provide an opportunity for them to showcase their product.”

The goal of the new program is not just to get more brewers involved in A&S competitions, but to promote participation in many of the other opportunities available, such as roundtable discussions, teaching and attending classes, and largess.

“We looked at the archery and thrown weapon communities for inspiration. The ranking programs they have encourage people to shoot or throw as often as possible while rewarding improvement in their skills,” said Madoc. “The programs did not translate directly to the brewing community, but we were able to adapt the basic concept to a construct that works for us.”

Harvest Raid roundtable, 2017.

The new program works on an individual rolling 12-month cycle, meaning that brewers can jump in at any time without missing out on opportunities. Points are awarded for attending or hosting roundtables; organizing, judging, entering, and winning competitions; publishing research or informative articles; contributing to social activities or largess; and teaching or attending classes with a brewing theme. The scale rewards both the breadth and depth of participation. As points are tallied, and thresholds are met, guild members receive a token of recognition of their advancement from Novice to Grandmaster.

Leading into the implementation of this new program, the guild has been promoting greater visibility of its members throughout the Kingdom. Beginning with the regional representatives reaching out within their regions to provide more organized opportunities. Currently, the goal is a minimum of one roundtable and one regional competition within each region every year. Regional representatives are also reaching out to event stewards and local A&S officers to ensure brewing considerations are taken into account whenever an A&S activity is planned for an event. Regional representatives and their contact information can be found at

Since the implementation of the program in late September, roundtables appeared in Regions 2 and 4 with a focus on the historical ingredients in the various beverages brought by the participants. “I think a big part of AE brewers … is that they also don’t focus on the historic part of the drink. Isn’t that what we’re trying to change?” quipped THL Elska á Fjárfellí, the Region 5 guild representative. Elska is the point person on revamping and restructuring the guild’s competition program to make it easier for local groups to conduct a brewing competition either as a standalone activity or as part of a larger A&S activity. Additionally, the Fall Æcademy included three classes focused on alcoholic beverages: “What the Irish Drank” by Baron Charles O’Connor; “Judging an SCA Brewing Competition” by THL Madoc; and “Brewing a Basic Beer” by Lord Ulf the Barelegged. Classes are being developed or encouraged in future Æcademy and schola events, as well as War Practice.

Since the inception of the new program, sixteen people have qualified for the initial activity level of reward and two people have qualified for advanced levels. Any brewer, judge, teacher, student, activity coordinator, or A&S officer can report brewing activity for themselves or their constituency by sending an email to with the type of activity, the date/event, and the names of the people participating. “We are planning to announce the first group of achievers at BMDL Twelfth Night,” stated Madoc.

Learn more about the Points for Participation program at the unofficial AE brewers Facebook page ( or the official Brewers Guild website (



Categories: SCA news sites

In Quest of Volunteers – Perfect Period Feast Heian-kyō 2020

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2017-12-04 12:17

Unto the people of Æthelmearc, greetings!

There is a small team of individuals currently working on an all-day immersive event set in 16th Century Japan planned for September 2020.

Right now, the team is looking for additional volunteers who are interested in committing 3 years to helping bring this event to fruition.

Right now we are looking for:

+ Someone who would be interested in heading up our fund raising activity.

+ Someone with a background in the technical side of theater who can help us design and plan the “set” to turn the event space into an appropriately dressed Japanese house.

+ Craftspeople in pottery, wood, and fabric to assist with creating the items needed for the set and for use during the day.

If you have any questions or are interested in signing up to be on the staff, feel free to write the event stewards below. We plan to have a general question and answer session, as well as a staff meeting, at Æthelmearc Kingdom Twelfth Night, plus additional sessions at upcoming events this spring.

Baroness Orianna Fridrikskona, Event Steward • email
Baroness Othindissa Bykona, Deputy Event Steward • email

Categories: SCA news sites

The Fencers’ Cult of the Queen in Æthelmearc

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2017-12-03 22:06

by Don Corwyn Montgomery

Each reign, a celebration is held, the celebration of the Queen’s Rapier Championship. Through our efforts on the field, by bringing our best training and fighting wholly with our hearts, we praise the Queen through our actions, knowing full well at the end of they day one of us will be given the important duties of being the Queen’s rapier champion until another is chosen with the following reign. While we admire the excellence of the skills of those on the field, the praise of the tournament is rightly only for the Queen. Some may ask why the fencers have such a cult of worship built around the Queen and from whence did it originate.

The inspiration of documented history demonstrates the cult of the Queen being foremost in Elizabethan England during the reign of that illustrious and world-shaping woman. Notable heroes of the day such as Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh credited their renown to efforts on behalf of Queen Elizabeth, and their examples were not isolated but were instead forefront of those common of many men contemporary to them. A culture grew with this as instinct for soldiers of the realm with echoes continuing through England’s history with successive queens, most notably with Queen Victoria and again in the modern day with Elizabeth II.

Historical fiction enhances the importance of fighting for the Queen in the works of Dumas both in the original literary forms and further pursued in representations in film. Echoes of the same devoted fascination are brought forth in Rostrand’s writings as well. In the wake of D’Artagnan and his companions and Cyrano de Bergerac, the hopeful ambition of everyone who lifts a rapier is to serve the Queen.

In the culture of the Society, these inspirations took root throughout the Known World, but in Ansteorra, they were formative in the foundations of a Kingdom remarkable in its history as a leader of progress for Society fencing. The enthusiastic vigor for the cult of the Queen sparked imitation and competition in other kingdoms new and old with each developing a unique approach for their own pursuit of devotion to their respective Crowns.

In Æthelmearc, the Queen is first and foremost for fencers in our own unique fashion.  With the first reign, the King and Queen established the Order of the White Scarf to grant a firmament for their fencers, but discussion of who would claim the fencers of the kingdom was silenced by Queen Caryl when she firmly stated, “They are mine.” Having been so lovingly adopted by our Queen, we have returned that love tenfold perpetually. The Order of the White Scarf invited the Queen to be an honorary member of the Order and upon stepping down as a Lady of the Rose has been welcomed to advise and guide the Order with noble wisdom beyond our ken, and this tradition has and will continue.

The love of the Queen for the fencers and the fencers for the Queens has been circular and brought forth great things. Impressed with the friendship, service, and honor given her by the fencers of her guard, Queen Dorinda joined her friends on the field and led them when she returned as Princess on a following reign. This inspiration brought forth great works by many, the volley of which was returned by Her Grace Dorinda who showed the power of a Rose with steel thorns by winning the day repeatedly as Warlord, White Scarf, and Principal of the Æthelmearc Order of Defence. The garden of Roses with steel thorns continues to bloom in Æthelmearc as we are joined, inspired, challenged, and humbled again and again on the field by Elena, Rosalinda, Kallista, Branwyn, Ariella, and more.

As much as we respect the skill and tenacity of Roses as compatriots on the field, we are ever in awe of the constant gentle guidance and protection they have all given us, exerting their influence to shape the world to allow us to prosper, speaking kind words of encouragement when we need it or stern words of reprimand when we need it more, and setting an example of nobility, grace, and honor we ever strive to mirror within ourselves.

In this cultural phenomenon, we have our Cult of the Queen. We take joy in it and seek to preserve it. For all of those who have had the good fortune to serve a Queen closely, whether as a retainer, a guard, or a Champion, we are left with an indelible imprint and continuing devotion to them, a devotion that brings us to the feet of each new Queen hoping to serve again. The Crown of our Kingdom grant us the gift of the illusion of us recreating history serving them, and in our devotion to them, we are given the chance to allow them to experience the greatness and reality of Their Reign. It is a circular gift made more enduring and mighty the more we give.

Set forth for Queen’s Rapier Championship, and carry in your thoughts something greater to fight for than winning. You will be with the Queen, and you will have the opportunity to sing for Her in an opera of steel in harmony with your friends, glorifying She who makes our fight meaningful. Fight well. Fight with honor. Fight with courtesy.  Fight to praise the Queen.

Long live the Queen.
Ad gloriam Æthelmearc!

The event announcement for the Queen’s Rapier Tourney can be found here.

Categories: SCA news sites

Eastern Results from the September 2017 LoAR

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2017-12-02 13:53

The Society College of Arms runs on monthly cycles and letters. Each month, the College processes name and armory submissions from all of the Kingdoms. Final decisions on submissions are made at the monthly meetings of the Pelican Queen of Arms (names) and the Wreath Queen of Arms (armory). Pelican and Wreath then write up their decisions in a Letter of Acceptances and Return (LoAR). After review and proofreading, LoARs generally are released two months after the meeting where the decisions are made.

An “acceptance” indicates that the item(s) listed are now registered with the Society. A “return” indicates that the item is returned to the submitter for additional work. Most items are registered without comments. Sometimes, the LoAR will address specific issues about the name or armory or will praise the submitter/herald on putting together a very nice historically accurate item.

The following results are from the September 2017 Wreath and Pelican meetings.

EAST acceptances

Chiara Foscari. Name.

The submitter requested authenticity for 15th Century Venice. This name appears to meet that request.

Cristina Volpina. Household name House of the Golden Schelle and badge. (Fieldless) An escallop bendwise Or.

Nice late 14th century inn-sign household name!

Damian Ísólfsson. Name and device. Vert, a wolf rampant and in chief two crosses of Saint Brigid argent.

This name combines a Russian given name from 1148 with a Scandinavian byname from 1254, an acceptable lingual mix under Appendix C.

There is a step from period practice for the use of crosses of Saint Brigid.

Artist’s note: Please draw the crosses larger to fill the available space.

Damian Ísólfsson. Badge. (Fieldless) On a wolf’s paw print vert the rune Dagaz argent.

Commenters questioned whether a tertiary charge on a disjointed primary or secondary charge would need to overlie all parts of the charge. This is not the case. Unless specifically blazoned, such a tertiary charge would appear on the largest part of the charge (in this case, the central pad).

There is a step from period practice for use of a paw print.

Artist’s note: Please draw the rune larger, to fill the available space.

Dash Altan. Name.

This name was pended on the April 2017 Letter of Acceptances and Returns to allow commentary on the submitter’s request for authenticity for mid-13th century Mongol, which had not been summarized on the Letter of Intent. After the name was pended, the submitter dropped the authenticity request.

The submitter may be interested to know that this name is probably authentic for mid-13th century Mongol, although it would be more usually transliterated as Ta{sv} Altan. The {sv} code represents an s marked with a small v at the top, a character not found in English.

Dionise O Towie. Device. Azure, on a pale purpure fimbriated argent a domestic cat sejant guardant Or.

Eudes de Creully. Blazon correction (see RETURNS for other blazon correction). Purpure, a bend sinister ermine, overall a falcon Or.

Originally registered in December 2016 as Purpure, a bend sinister ermine, overall a falcon hooded Or, an artist’s note read: “Please let the submitter know that if a falcon is hooded, you cannot see its eyes, but without the hood there would be no tuft on the top of its head.” This note is appropriate for either blazon.

Guillermo Solario. Name and device. Per saltire sable and gules, a sun in his splendour argent.

This name combines a Spanish or Catalan given name with an Italian byname, an acceptable lingual mix under Appendix C.

The submitter has permission to conflict with Cosmo Solario, Per saltire sable and azure, a sun in his splendor argent, and with Giuseppe Ferraro, Per saltire sable and gules, on a mullet of eight points argent a rose gules.

Marcus Marius Felix. Name and device. Vert, two lynxes sejant addorsed argent.

Nice classical Roman name!

Mari Clock van Hoorne. Badge. (Fieldless) A domestic cat rampant contourny sable.

Nice badge!

Ravensdale, Stronghold of. Device. Per chevron inverted embattled argent and vert, in pale a raven displayed sable maintaining an apple branch fesswise vert fructed gules and a laurel wreath argent.

There is a step from period practice for the use of a bird displayed other than an eagle.

Roland le Taillefer. Name and device. Argent, an axe-head azure.

Nice device!

Síle Dhubh inghean Mhic an Mhadaidh. Device. Sable, an eagle rising wings displayed maintaining three annulets interlaced one and two argent.

Artist’s note: Please draw all charges larger, to fill the available space.

Sofya Gianetta di Trieste. Device. Or, a fleur-de-lys and on a chief gules two mullets of eight points Or.

Sofya Gianetta di Trieste. Badge. Or, a fleur-de-lys within an orle gules.

Nice badge!


EAST returns

Eudes de Creully and Eyda von Rothenburg. Blazon correction. (Fieldless) On a cup Or a falcon’s head erased gules.

Originally registered in December 2016 as On a cup Or a hooded falcon’s head erased gules, an artist’s note read: “Please let the submitter know that if a falcon is hooded, you cannot see its eyes, but without the hood there would be no tuft on the top of its head.” While we have reblazoned the full falcon in the device on this same letter, we are less inclined to change the blazon when it’s just the head. The tufts at the top of the head make up a good 15-20% of the height of the charge, and the hood (or lack thereof) is almost the entirety of the charge. Therefore, the tuft cannot be dismissed with an artist’s note as easily on this badge as it could on the device. Because the tuft affects the silhouette of the charge, it gives the unmistakable appearance of being part of a hawk’s hood.

If the submitters wish to have a hood-less falcon, they are encouraged to submit a badge change with a smooth-headed falcon


Filed under: Heraldry Tagged: LoAR

100 Minutes War Unofficial Court Report

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2017-12-02 13:47

On Saturday, November 18 th , AS LII, Their Majesties Tsar Ivan and Tsaritsa Matilde, did visit their Shire of Rusted Woodlands, and attended the 100 Minutes War.
In the morning, they went out to the Rapier field, and held a brief court. The following gentles were awarded thusly:

Name Award Scribe(s)
Ciaran Ua Meic Thire Silver Wheel Magdalena Lantfarerin

Alastor Tucker Silver Rapier Shoshana Gryffyth


From there, Their Majesties went to the Heavy list field. The following gentle was awarded thus:

Name Award Scribe(s)
Seamus Mac Neachtain Order of the Tygers Combatant Saerlaith ingen Chennetig


The Hundred Minutes War did take place, as well as rapier, thrown weapons, and archery tournaments.
In the afternoon, Tsar Ivan and Tsaritsa Matilde resumed court.
Ivan Shishov, leading the Rainbow Warriors, received a scroll by Nyfain merch Coel for captaining the winning team.
Hashiji Morikatsu, leading the Murder Ponies, received a scroll by Nyfain merch Coel for captaining the
second team.
The Children’s toybox was run, and the many newcomers attending their first, second or third event received tokens.

Additionally, these gentles were awarded as follows:
Name Award Scribe(s)

Fahad Rouf Award of Arms I:Marieta Charay C: Æsa feilinn Jossursdottir

Aislin of Surtr’s Brood Award of Arms I: Melina Al-Andalusiyya W: Dankwert Bathory C: Robin dit Dessaint

Jadidja the Jewess, called Jade Award of Arms I: Triona MacCasky C: Jonathan Blaecstan W: Galefridus Peregrinus

Arne Ulrichsson Silver Brooch Thyra (Þóra) Eiríksdóttir

Muirenn ingen Ciric Award of Arms Mýrún Leifsdóttir and
Ciaran Ua Meic Thire

Whistler o’ the Pit Artemis Eadaoin Chruitire
(The Artemis is a closed order. As
such, Whistler would be included
in the Order of the Golden Mantle,
and further receive a Grant of Arms)

Pádraig Ó Brádaig Award of Arms Mari Clock van Hoorne

Bjorvig Huldarson Silver Wheel I: Ellesbeth Donofrey
C: Jonathan Blaecstan

Yasemin bint al-hajjar Silver Wheel C&I: Brangwyne of Wentworth W: Alys Mackytoich

Hassan Ibn Abd Al-Malik Silver Wheel Aaradyn Ghyoot

Ulricch van Kathen’ Award of Arms Aelisif Hoarr Kona

Eyvindr Bjarnylr Award of Arms Perronnelle de Croy

Kári Gáranhirsson Golden Lyre

Kári Gáranhirsson performed for the assembled populace. His Majesty of the Mid also addressed the crowd, thanking everyone for an excellent event.
Thus concluded this year’s Hundred Minutes War.

Malcolm Bowman, Brigantia Principal Herald
PS – Thank you to Marian Kirkpatrick and Mabel Fortune for helping to herald court.

Filed under: Court Tagged: 100 Minutes War, court report

2017 Battle of the Nations – Barcelona ~ Así es la vida

PainBank - Thu, 2017-05-11 21:51
La Monumental

As I sit here on the plane and reflect on my 6th year of campaigning in Europe at medieval tournaments, I ponder where to next and how shall I commit.  I am over traveling alone.  I have not the drive to do it myself any more.  Having someone with you to just talk with, assist you when confused on how things should work in an unknown place or even to decide on where to eat is an immeasurable bonus and happiness.  Then there is the question of what happens should you get hurt, who can assist you with the heavy stuff and getting to the airport or perhaps even home from the hospital?  These are the things to consider, which you might not even think of, until it is too late.

Trying to travel with armor sucks.  How do you pack? Where does it all go?  This makes things very difficult. What if you have a pole ax or halberd?  What is the length of the poles?  Can you buy a pole to put it on at the site?  Or do you get (my current usage) a snowboard bag and attach then axe head on site?  Then can you get it off, should you need to, for getting it home?  Is it now long enough to compete properly, 6.5 foot or 7 foot?  Of course, there is always the questions that occur from the airlines when you check it in!  What is this?  Sports equipment… then there is some waving of hands and attempts to explain it to them.  Of course, there is always questions, but usually they let you go.  I also pack in about 1/3 of my armor in the snowboard bag as well.  Of course, that is now two bags, so there is a cost to take it over, then one to bring it back.  So now you are looking at about a $200 extra cost for flying and returning. 

Then there are the emotions.  What is the greatest about fighting is also the worse.  The highs are followed by lows to the same degree.  Expectations, anticipations and preparations, which having lead one to the tournament, build you up to a climax that is an amazing experience.  This is something that is slightly different for every person and every tournament.  It is part of the sport and I am yet unsure how to suggest one cope with it.  Ride the emotional wave and enjoy life.

Then there is the fighting.  Every tournament except Battle of the Nations (BotN) seems to be pretty lax on armor and weapons requirements.  (I’m not sure about Dynamo Cup) And weapons for that matter, although they still check those out pretty well.  The actually marshaling to address safety concerns seems to be at a fairly high level all around.  There always seems to be some kind of issue that gets raised or set of issues at and I suppose there always will be until the sport matures to a professional degree.  Something like where you check in/out your arms and/or armor or some such.  But the logistics of that is pretty significant.  They were up to the old ways of running things some.  late rule changes, odd enforcements both in the list and out of the list for registration.  There are definitely some improvements to be made, but overall it is getting better a little by a little.  My #1 suggestion to improve this is for them to schedule things more sooner and to let teams supply volunteers to join in in making some of the stuff happen.

I would say one the biggest disappointment I have seen from BotN is the lake of catering to the fans or new fans of the sport.  They price the event out of the range of average folks that want to enjoy the show.  They could have probably filled 10k+ fans into the arena in Barcelona, however, by charging 30 euro per session or half day, per person, that made it 60 euros for someone to watch just one day of action.  Yup, not many families or other coming out.  What is the right price, maybe 20 euro for the day.  In Belmonte, the price being 30 euros kept the crowd pretty low, compared to the IMCF championship where the price was like 10-20 euro for the day, which had a huge crowd.  Until this sport is completely filling arenas, we should be keeping those ticket prices good for all.   

Barcelona was a wonderful city to visit, which I wish I had more time to explore.  Maybe one day I’ll return just to enjoy the city.  Walking through the gothic quarter it was easy to image what walking through Diagon Alley in Harry Potter might have felt like or perhaps walking through Waterdeep.  I’ll be back, but not sure how much I want to go to Battle of Nations again verse attending other potential tournaments, as there could be a lot of fun at smaller ones as well.  It all depends upon where my travel companions wish to go and have fun at.  Look for me in the list though as I will be there again.  I’m also leaning toward doing more singles fights too.  Hell, I’ll fight in as much as I can.

Categories: SCA news sites