Wednesday, 7 August 2013

On the Award of Arms

The first award in the SCA that most people get is the Award of Arms, and it's usually phrased as being for people who are now considered properly "one of us", but I'm not sure that this description entirely fits.

What does the Award of Arms mean? That varies from person to person, and sometimes, even with more complications than that. To illustrate what I mean, let us consider my own case.

I've been given an Award of Arms twice. (This is unusual, but not unheard of. It can happen for a number of reasons, including problems accessing the list of awards already given, or name changes, or simple human error. I'm not even the most-awarded of those among my social circle, since I know someone who is Three Times A Lady.)

The first of these, by Bran and Lilya, came some two or three months after I joined the SCA. I was given tales of the glowing and numerous award recommendations they had received about me, and how I had jumped in with both feet. It is important, said Her Majesty, to get the heralds on side. I joined the SCA head first, and getting my Award of Arms so soon told me that I was welcomed and appreciated (which, to that point, had been somewhat lacking in my life). I was told that this was surprisingly quick, but didn't particularly understand the extent to which they meant that until some time later.

My second Award of Arms, by Cornelius and Elizabeth, came after nearly two years in the SCA. The exact details of how and why are not perfectly known to me, but Their Majesties decided I should be Awarded, and Awarded I was. I again felt very much appreciated, and there was the great pleasure of being given an Award of Arms alongside my best friend, who was given hers at the same time. But the greater meaning of my second Award was that people were seeing my actions approving of me, and people who hadn't known me when I first joined and was given my Award of Arms so fast.

As to timings, the usual time is somewhere between six months and two years, for those who are visibly active in the SCA. This can vary greatly, depending on activity, the recommendations sent, and just plain luck. On the short side, we have my own example, and for the long side, I have spoken to people who waited ten years before their Award of Arms, because they had been so active, for so long, that it was simply assumed that they had them (It was apparently discovered at a tournament at Rowany Festival, when she politely corrected the tourney herald that she was not titled as a Lady. Some kind attendant ran from the tourney-side to the Queen's side, and the oversight was corrected with haste).

I shall write more on award recommendations later, but suffice to say this: If you believe someone should have an award, recommend them for it. Your Kingdom will have procedures for doing so, and a database of the awards already received (in Lochac, the Canon Lore database).

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