Cold and wet winter still holds sway over Selohaar Manor, but late February's trend is toward wet, a harbinger of warm and wet spring days to come, and the passage of days chides me for my tardiness in summarizing the past year's comings and goings. And so, without further ado, here is my report to the Order and its friends.
Early in the year, Lord Matthew, already serving in the Guard Corps, became Sir John Coates' first squire. Later, the Beltaine gather was filled with membership activity. Lord Kyle McCurdy took the Grail, becoming our newest member. Lady Sarah Zordan successfully underwent the trial of initiation into the 2nd degree of Adept, a development long presaged by her diverse services to the Order, most especially to the Circle of the Grail. Sir Robert Kelly became Champion of the Order also at this gather, receiving the collar of office from the hand of the outgoing champion, Dr Sir John Coates, as he prepares to take on the role of Seneschal of the Order. Beltaine also found the Order rejoicing in the renewed attendance at court of Lady Bonnie, who had been much missed.
We are hopeful of seeing Lord and Lady Goodspeed this coming year. Home construction and some family health travails have by and large kept them away this past year, and their absence has been keenly felt.
The progress of the Circle of the Grail has been constant and rapid. Our evening ceremonies are now planned by the CoG and many innovations in both style and substance have been seen throughout the year, particularly in the design of altar decor apropos for each part of the year. Lady Sarah has served as Lady Maureen's right hand, taking up the office of Prima Acolyte, while Sir Carl, known for his boundless store of Order lore, has acted as a senior advisor to the Cricle.
The Guard Corps, under the captaincy of Sir Robert, has flourished, showing its mettle in assuring the Manor is secure during gathers and in being ever available for honour guard duties.
The Selohaar Fechtschule's chapter in Kansas, Great Plains Fechtschule, has shown renewed signs of life, driven by the determination of Lady Sara Matthias, sister to Jessica Finley, the chapter's former head instructor. Jessica has herself relocated to the Washington, DC area and he started a new chapter there: Old Dominion Fechtschule, which has quickly attracted a circle of devoted students. Jessica has further busied herself both with an impending book on the wrestling of the medieval master Ott the Jew and in revising our Scholar and Free Scholar tests. Finally, Jessica brought honour to us with her teaching and fighting at the annual SwordFish event in Sweden.
The Order continued in its charitable activities, raising money for Heifer International and the Epilepsy Foundation. We have also continued in our relationship with the Children's Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut, though our attempts at second visit late in the year were thwarted by vaccination complications for our members. We hope to visit at least twice in 2013.
I presented two seminars this year, one on single-handed swords, the other on St. Isidor of Seville. Isidore's works are important touchstones for both elemental/humoral theory and understanding the symbolic manner in which the medieval mind approached the natural world. I have little doubt that our exploration of his teachings will continue to have long-reaching effects on our own tradition.
Nearly the entire Order, and many other friends, turned out for Lady Maureen's 50th Birthday celebration in May - the social event of the year! The Lady of the Manor was very touched by having so many of her dear friends near to celebrate this milestone.
Bad weather limited us to two tournaments this year, with the Lugnasadh and Autumn tourneys rained out, and therefore the elemental Pas d'Armes also put off, yet again. The Pas is now scheduled for the 2013 Beltaine gather. Both tournaments that did occur were marked however by very spirited encounters, with the Lady Jessica fighting in the Summer Solstice combats, fighting every other combatant and with just about every weapon available on the field.
The archery contests were much improved through the efforts of Lord Matthew, who provided his own handcrafted bows for use by the competitors and worked to procure several dozen new arrows for the Order at the Pennsic War.
In addition to arrow purchases, our visit to Pennsic this year included the yearly Freelance Academy Press author soiree, hosted by the lovely and talented Nicole Allen, proprietrix of Revival Clothing. Sir Robert and the Lord John Whittemore attended again and were joined by Lord and Lady Zordan and their young son Parker.
My historical fencing travels took me to the British Federation for Historical Fencing's annual SWASH event, held at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, England, which included a tour of a part of the reserve collection. The trip also included some spectacular sightseeing at Hadrian's Wall, the castle town of Carlisle, and the truly lovely Lake District. My hosts, Messrs. Mark Hilyard and Mark Lancaster, were delights, as was the company of my fellow swordsmen Nicole Allen and Maestro Sean Hayes. It was also a treat to spend time with Christian Eckert, who gave a truly inspired presentation on gladiatorial nutrition, and Mr. Bob Brooks, from the Hotspur School of Defence.
The fall took me to Armizare Academy, an off-year event held at the DeKoven Center in Racine, Wisconsin, home of the Western Martial Arts Workshop. The event was crowned by a Deed of Arms, which included some of the finest armoured combat that I have been privileged to witness, let alone take part in.
November saw us attending the "Changing Times, Changing Worlds" event, with Lady Maureen presenting on Selohaar ritual and I teaching a short class on medieval dagger combat. We were supported in both endeavors by Sir Robert and Lord Michael Depaola.
In addition to the aforementioned archery supplies, the Order acquired some other tools of our chivalric craft in 2012. These included additional fauldstools, altar supplies, and a cache of inexpensive hourglass gauntlets slated for various fighters.
I believe one of the most important things to happen in 2012 has been a general reminder of our bonds to each other and that such relationships need nurturing to continue and grow. For my own part, this was driven home in particular by the passing of Renaissance Faire bard Owain Phyfe, who passed away in September from pancreatic cancer. In honour of him, and in commemoration of "that which binds us", I sang "A Health to the Company" at our annual Yule Feast, which was marked by great warmth and mirth. This was Owain's song to close out a day at a faire and it seemed to fit at both the close of his life and of another year of the Order of Selohaar's calendar.
The road ahead for 2013 is clear. We must continue to hone our 'chivarlic craft'. Already, new projects are moving forward, ranging from Lady Elizabeth's study of the medieval bestiaries (treatises on beasts) to Sir Christian and Lord Christopher Valli's research into sword and shield combat.
But there is much else to do. We have a Pas d'Armes to fight, and elemental pilgrimage to complete, seasons to celebrate, and others with which to share the joys and profound experience of the modern chivalric path.
I hope to see you all beside me on that path, helping to ensure another year of the company's health...
Updated on February 24, 2013