[Ansteorra-rapier] White Scarf Anniversary

Andrew Heinrich andrew.heinrich at gmail.com
Sat Mar 10 07:42:04 PST 2012


Approximately 15 (give or take) years ago, sitting on the curb of
Elijah Cameron's parking lot near his apartment in Madison, WI,
sipping my first taste of single malt scotch alongside Sir Guillaume
Athos Isaac le Fort, I heard my first legend of what a White Scarf
was. Cameron had grown up here in Ansteorra, beginning his career in
the SCA in Bjornsborg. We got to talking about rapier combat in the
wider world, and Cameron spoke of the Order of the White Scarf of
Ansteorra. He spoke of their love for the Queen, of their prowess and
their chivalry. Don Tivar's name came up in the conversation, as did
"Mouse" and Don Kazamir. All of them were mentioned in glowing terms.
All of them could do amazing things with a sword, and possessed the
deepest virtue. Also - snappy dressers. Very important.

Cameron spoke in glowing terms of the Order, with the reverence one
might reserve for a Knight. And, for the next several years, those
stories were repeated and those legends were shared. Several
Ansteorran transplants lived in the Middle Kingdom (and our
Principality of Northshield). Their influence helped to shape our
community. For a long time, the rapier community dared to dream that
one day the Middle might sign that treaty and we could join in that
legend, and work to be a part of it.

It was not to be, at least in the Middle. The Powers that Be chose to
go a different path. The fighters I knew and looked up to all went
about the business of not only qualifying to be a member of the Order
of the Bronze Ring, but to hold themselves to the same standards that
we had always dreamed of - the Order of the White Scarf. I was honored
to join that Order shortly before Northshield became a kingdom.

When Northshield was about to be come a kingdom, the Crown asked for
letters from the populace in regards to their feelings about signing
the White Scarf Treaty. The survey had shown overwhelming support for
it among the Rapier community, who had largely shared that dream.  I
wrote such a letter, as I was always a passionate advocate for
Northshield signing on. Why wouldn't I be? It was my dream from my
first weeks as a rapier fighter, ever since I sat on that curb with
Cam and Guillaume. So, I wrote a letter to the crown, roughly with the
following argument -

"When I was a "boy" in the SCA, I dreamed of being a cowboy. Everyone
knew what a cowboy was. He was a quiet, humble hero, fast on the draw,
honest, and noble. He rode into town, did what was needed, and the
left without taking the reward. He wore a white hat, and everyone knew
he was a good guy from that.

For whatever reason, that dream had to be set aside. I couldn't be a
Cowboy. I could be a Fireman, though. They were pretty cool - red
hats, kittens out of trees, etc. But it wasn't quite the same. And,
when we got the opportunity to try and make that first dream happen
again, I wanted to make sure we took it."

I don't know the exact impact that argument had on the people who made
the decision, but I do know that when they named me one of the
premieres of that Order, Queen Bredei gave me a cowboy hat. I wear her
favor as a boot tie, and on it are sewn three tiny white roses - a
small symbol that many of us wore on our bronze and cadet scarves to
show our quiet support for the White Scarf Treaty in Northshield.

I first met Don Tivar when I was a young cadet. He had traveled to the
Middle Kingdom Academy of Defense to teach. I doubt he remembers our
first meeting - I don't think we got a chance to fight. I did very
much enjoy the Machine and it's demonstration, though. More so, just
being in the presence of someone I had heard so much about was cool.
He was not just "a" Don, he was *the* don - the first! Still alive! It
was terribly exciting. Tivar has always had my deepest admiration and
respect for what he launched and all he has done over the years. On
the subject that he mentions, he and I emphatically disagree. We have,
in fact, emphatically disagreed for many years.

Having now lived here for 1/3 of my overall career in the SCA (give or
take), I have come to understand just how much the OWS means to
Ansteorra. I know that it is difficult and painful to see things
change, or alter in a way that might change that portion of the game.
Living outside of Ansteorra, I also know how much that portion of the
game means to the world at large. I genuinely understand and respect
those who think this will somehow negatively impact that history and
tradition. I simply don't believe it has to play out that way (at
least, not in the long term).

I see an opportunity for Ansteorra to allow the world to enjoy the
dream I was lucky enough to be able to make real, in some form or
another. I do not see closed doors and tragic endings, but open doors
and new beginnings.  I see a group of people that have led the world
to this inevitable place with their leadership, skill, passion, and
virtue. I see Kingdoms all over the known world who have emulated
these values, and have even expanded on them in their own way. I look
at Rapier in the known world, and I see that this moment is the
inevitable place where the happenings on that rainy day so long ago
would lead, given the people involved and their quality.

I also recognize some fundamental truths. First and foremost, that the
only reason I was able to see my dream made real was because of where
I happened to live.  Had I grown up 90 miles south of Madison instead,
I would never have been able to see my dream realized. Had I played in
the SCA in Calontir, or Meridies, or in any other non-White Scarf
kingdom, I would never have been able to have that magical moment when
my Queen pinned a scarf to my shoulder and named me her Don.

Tivar poses some very important, essential questions. However, I don't
feel things are so bleak, or that those questions cannot be answered.
I would ask people not just to ask "what's going to happen" but "what
*could* happen?" or "what might be done?". What might Ansteorra be
able to do to see this tradition truly go on into the future in some
recognizable form? I don't believe much in the word "can't". I don't
let my students use it, and I prefer not to apply it here. For me,
this is not about what can't be done, but what can be done.

For my part, I think about the next kid sitting on a curb outside a
mentor's apartment, drinking their first taste of single malt scotch,
and I hope that they don't just hear a legend of a time long past when
there were White Scarves the world over. I hope that the person
talking to them can explain how the Order of the White Scarf was, and
what the Order and Ansteorra gave to the world in order to make
something new. I was lucky to be able to apply myself and earn this
dream. I hope that they will be, too, no matter where they live. At
least, in some recognizable form.



it is good to know, it is better to do, it is best to be.

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