NK - What makes a peer?

Jennifer Carlson JCarlson at firstchurchtulsa.org
Thu Aug 5 14:18:22 PDT 1999

What makes someone want to become a peer?

Eighteen years ago this month, I went to Austin for my first semester of 
college.  I had been in the SCA since the previous January, and had 
attended, to date, a grand total of 1 revel, 3 populace meetings, several 
fighter practices, and a Crown Tourney.  I had one piece of garb to my 
name, no feast gear, and a pair of wide eyes that drank everything in.

Nord aus der Strom (as Northkeep was known then) had no peers at the time. 
 Knights and Laurels and Pelicans were legendary creatures that I had seen 
only from a distance at Crown Tourney in June, when I watched Sir Finn 
Kelly O'Donnell become Crown Prince.  Today I'm an old-timer, but back then 
I was a raving newbie.

And being a raving newbie, as soon as I got to Austin, I of course learned 
where fighter practice was before I learned where I was supposed to report 
for enrollment.  One Sunday afternoon, I bounced off, walking the two miles 
from the dorm to the city park where Bryn Gwlad gathered each week.

And for the next eighteen months, I sat at the knee of the Laurel (Mistress 
Schun ha Levy) who not only took me under her wing and carted me about to 
fabric stores, but who also, when she left kingdom, gave me her entire 
collection of Tournaments Illuminated.  She helped me focus my crafts away 
from the fantasy interpretations and towards medieval ones.

I listened to the Pelican (Don Tivar Moondragon) recount the history of 
Ansteorra (there wasn't as much of it then, I grant you) and how we were 
developing a culture different from that of our mother kingdom, Atenveldt. 
 He explained the awards structure to me, and how living in a barony was 
different from living in a Shire, what the various officers did, and the 
joys and headaches of autocratting.

My hands were guided by the Knight (Sir Ricardo di Pisa, requeiscat in 
pacem) as he tried to explain yet again what a rising snap shot was, and 
praising my very clumsy efforts to execute one.  I never got on a tourney 
field, and never stepped on a war plain, but it didn't matter; he was 
willing to give me the same attention and patience that he gave to his own 

All three orders provide service, in their different ways.  All three 
orders teach their art, in different ways.  But all three of those peers 
were the same, in that they each took time to pay attention to a new kid, 
on her own for the first time and five hundred miles from home, who shared 
a little of the same dream that they did.

I will tell you true, even the peers do not have a pat definition of what 
makes a peer.  I guess it's kind of like love - you can't really describe 
it, but you know it when you experience it.

Then again, there is that "chess" thing.

Who starting to get maudlin over her salad days in Bryn Gwlad.

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