In a recent message posted on the Merry Rose eList of the Kingdom of Atlantia, Thomas Brant of Salem shares a memory from last year's War of the Wings.
My wife and I have been in the SCA for only two years and have participated in many activities. By far, the most touching SCA experience that we have participated is the Memorial Boat Burning at War of the Wings last year. This ceremony is based on the old Norse traditional funeral in which the Vikings cremated their dead in ship burials. At WoW, a personalized symbol representing a loved one is painted on a small wooden disc (size of a large coin) and placed on a miniature Viking ship to imitate a Viking shield. We had a naval symbol painted on a disc to represent our retired sailor neighbor who had just passed. Also, my daughter's 13 year old friend had recently died. My daughter wrote her friend's name on a piece of paper and placed it on the ship.
Just after dusk, the ship with the "shields" and slips of paper with names were placed on the lake, lit on fire, and pushed away from shore. Those present at the ceremony recited the names of their loved ones while watching the ship burn brightly in the dark evening. It was a very moving experience. Tears were shed as a sense closure came over us.
Last month, my uncle passed so we have another shield for this year's ceremony. The purpose of this posting is to bring awareness to this activity in case somebody would like to share closure on a chapter in their lives.
The boat burning will be Saturday evening at dusk after Royal Court at the lake shore in front of the house. The Viking boat will be on display at WoW's troll/gate. Since it is too late to have wooden discs painted, slips of paper will be available for you to write your loved one's name plus a personal message if you desire. The paper can even include the name of a lost pet. If you miss this opportunity at the gate, you can submit your slip of paper to Christophe of Grey anytime prior to the burning.
Thomas Brant of Salem