the Order of the Laurel in Caid
You have just been invited to join the Order of the Laurel in Caid. You
are probably confused, delighted, scared, elated, stunned, and
uncertain how to proceed. This booklet is an introduction to the
decisions you need to make before your elevation, and a taste of what
will happen afterwards. This will not answer all questions, but it
should give you a starting place. It specifically addresses the customs
and traditions of the Kingdom of Caid. Customs vary throughout the
Known World, so things are slightly different elsewhere.
If you have any questions, call, write, or e-mail either a Companion of
the Order that you feel comfortable talking to, or the Secretary of the
A companion booklet provides some of the rationale and historical
reasons behind the way the Order in Caid does things. You may not need
that information right now, but it does provide some answers to "why?"
and "how?" that may help later.
I. Before the Ceremony
Over the years, the ceremony has evolved from "ambush the candidate in
the kitchen, bring her forth before the populace in her kitchen-prep
clothing, and swear her in, " to "inform the candidate well ahead of
time, and provide great flexibility in matters of announcement, vigil,
and ceremony." This can translate to a sometimes bewildering set of
options. The following topics seem to cause the most concern and
o Announcement -- this is your news to tell or share. The Order and its
members are expected to keep the news of your impending elevation
private unless or until you indicate otherwise. We expect you to extend
the same courtesy to other candidates who have not yet been elevated.
o Planning the Ceremony -- Your elevation ceremony is important to you.
It is also important to the Order; it is our opportunity to publicly
recognize and celebrate your joining our Order. In this way, your
elevation is also our ceremony, in which all candidates are welcomed
and which represents who and what we are. The next section of the
booklet addresses this.
o The Vigil -- In the past few years, Laurel candidates have often
chosen to hold a vigil before the ceremony. A section of the booklet
also addresses this.
A. Planning the Ceremony
When and Where: The time and place of your elevation is at the pleasure
of the Crown, but They often leave the decision to you. If a particular
event or type of event has special meaning to you, you may request that
of the Crown. However, please remember that any choice must be made by
the Crown since They alone can elevate you. If the suggested event is
not within the tenure of the Crown that has decided to admit you to the
Order, They can only pass on Their recommendation, to be acted upon at
the pleasure of Their successors. This is generally not a problem, but
you should be aware of it.
Who: The ceremony will occur during Court. The Master of Ceremonies for
Court is the Crescent Herald, who works out how the Court events will
be scheduled. He (or she) also has the words to all the ceremonies. You
should request a copy of the ceremony from Crescent. Depending on the
event, Crescent may or may not actually officiate.
Once a decision has been made as to the time and place of your
elevation, please notify the Laurel Secretary. This might be done by
the Crown, however it is always good to double check. The Secretary
will notify the other Companions of the Order so that they can be
present at your elevation.
What: Here is a sample of choices you can make:
- Many candidates have had members of their household process in with
the candidate, carrying a banner with the candidate's arms.
- It is common to have one or two Companions of the Laurel (called
escorts) come back from their place at the foot of Their Majesties'
thrones to accompany the candidate. If you want to do this, who would
- One candidate used a canopy, and it is still available
- Many candidates have arranged with friends to provide music or song
as they walk forward.
- Would you like to memorize the oath of fealty beforehand? In English
or in another language appropriate to your persona? If the latter, then
you need to arrange for the translation.
- Do you wish to be dubbed by the Queen's scepter? The King's scepter?
A sword? No dubbing at all?
- Do you wish to present symbols of your industry? (e.g., needlework
tools and perhaps a bit of embroidery; a song or musical instrument; a
piece of jewelry you've made, etc. ) Traditionally, these are small
enough to fit on a pillow.
- Are there other bits of regalia or pageantry you want?
Your medallion: Traditionally, your medallion will be provided for you
by a member of the Order. The Secretary and the Crown will arrange for
Your Scroll: As you probably know, your elevation entitles you to a
scroll. Normally, you will be given a promissory scroll at your
elevation. If you tell the Scribe Armarius afterwards that you in fact
want a scroll, then it will be assigned. However, if you wish it to be
presented at your elevation, you may make arrangements with an artisan
to have it ready in time for your ceremony. Once an artisan has
accepted the commission, either you or the artist should notify the
Scribe Armarius. That officer will arrange for the scroll to be
checked, sealed, signed, and delivered for your ceremony.
B. The Vigil
What is a vigil? The vigil is an optional event held prior to a
candidate's elevation in which the candidate is given time to reflect
and to be surrounded by close friends and Members of the Order. It is
not intended as a celebration, but as quiet time. While the candidate
is not required to have a vigil, many find it useful as a respite from
the chaos that can often surround an elevation.
Why do we have vigils? The vigil provides a quiet place for the
candidate to contemplate what it means to join the peerage. It also
allows Members of the Order a private forum to offer words of wisdom
and advice to the candidate before his/her elevation. It also provides
an echo of a medieval elevation to knighthood.
Is it required? No, but it has become customary.
What happens in a vigil? Members of the Order will drift in and out
during the vigil, offering moral support and words of wisdom. This may
be the first time you meet some of the Companions of the Order. At some
point, the Crescent Principal Herald will read the Invocation. Their
Majesties and/or Highnesses often also attend briefly. The candidate
may stand vigil over the tools of his/her trade. The candidate may also
choose to have a book and pen available for visitors to write best
wishes and words of wisdom.
Who can come to a vigil? The Members of the Order and the candidate, of
course. Some people choose to restrict their vigils to only Members of
the Order, while others choose to include those people who are close to
the candidate. It is the candidate's choice as to who they wish to
attend the vigil, though it is often recommended that some time be set
aside only for Companions of the Order. The Secretary will inform all
other Companions about the candidate's vigil, though the candidate may
also send invitations if he or she wishes.
Where is the vigil held? The vigil is held in a private place, away
from the rest of the event. It is often shared with other candidates
that will be elevated that day to the same Order, particularly if it is
in a room provided by the event autocrat. At other times, it could be
in a closed pavilion, in which case the candidate can provide his/her
own. If the candidate wishes a vigil, he/she should inform the
Secretary of the Order, who will arrange with the autocrat of the event
for a place for the vigil.
When is the vigil held? The vigil is usually held early in the day at
the event. It has also been done the night before, or even the weekend
before the event. A "virtual vigil" (done on-line via e-mail) has been
done for one candidate who lives thousands of ocean miles away from the
rest of the Order. It is the candidate's choice as to when the vigil
will be held.
II. The Ceremony for the
Elevation to the Order of the Laurel
The elevation ceremony itself contains elements of:
o Theater (there is an audience watching),
o Recognition (your work has been noticed and appreciated)
o Law (your rights and responsibilities within the Society are changed)
o Tradition (Society, Caid, and historical precedents are all
o Heraldry (you are being granted a Patent of Arms, and the ceremony is
performed at court with heralds organizing it), and probably other
things as well.
Don't miss your entrance cue. The event herald prepares a list of what
will happen when during court. You or a designated friend should find
out what court business precedes your elevation (by one or two). When
that piece of business starts, you and any procession members should
start gathering in the back of the hall or immediately outside. If you
plan to wait in the vigil room, have your friend fetch you in time to
be near court when you are called forth.
Let the audience see what is going on. If you have a group of people
accompany you, arrange with them to either move to the edges of the
hall to stand, or to kneel once they have gone as far as they will or
Cameras and videotaping should be unobtrusive.
Vocal Projection. During the ceremony, you are speaking to the King and
Queen. It is wonderful if you speak forcefully enough for the audience
to hear you, but not required. The Herald will make sure they know what
is going on.
A Typical Elevation. A common ceremony choice is for the Order to be
called forward by the Herald. When they are all assembled, one person
stands up and asks Their Majesties if it is Their will to increase the
numbers of the Order. The Monarchs say yes. Once given leave, that
Companion, and possibly others, will go to the back of the room and
then escort the candidate forward, as his or her name is announced to
the audience by the herald. The candidate may carry examples of his or
her industry upon a pillow, or other household members may carry them
in front of the candidate. When they reach the Throne, all the escorts
fall the sides (allowing the audience to see), and the candidate goes
to kneel on the pillow before the Thrones. Examples of the candidate's
work, if present, are then handed to Her Majesty (usually) .
The ceremony itself begins. It includes receiving a medallion and a
scroll or promissory. You should pass the latter to a Companion
kneeling behind you, who will see that it gets to a member of your
procession, or to you later. Among the last acts is swearing an oath of
fealty, either between the Crown's hands, or on a sword. Swearing
fealty is optional, but usual in Caid. You may choose to be dubbed.
This is done with a scepter or sword.
The Queen returns your symbols of industry, and you will be charged to
greet your companions. If you are the only elevation at that time, then
you lead the group to the back of the hall for hugs and
congratulations. If there are other candidates, then you join the group
kneeling, and your procession, if any, should leave.
III. After All the
Celebration Dies Down - Miscellaneous Stuff to Know
Read the Laurel Charter. This tells how the Order governs itself. As of
1998, Caid was the only Kingdom with Order Charters (the Pelicans have
one, too). But in 1999, It is a public document that explains how the
Order functions -- the criteria for becoming a Laurel, the mechanisms
for voting on candidates, the mechanics of calling meetings and getting
the word out, the function of the Secretary of the Order, definitions
of active and inactive members, and other things. A copy of the Charter
is given to Their Highnesses so that They may read it and find out how
we function. But in particular, it helps the members of the Order
remember from year to year "how things get done." It is our
Their Majesties, of course, are free to call whatever meetings They
wish, including meetings of the Peerage, collectively or by Order,
whenever They choose. The Laurel Charter is not intended in any way to
hinder Them, dictate methods, nor limit Their Majesties' powers.
However, given that the SCA is structured to have a total change of
rulers every few months, the Laurel Charter provides a continuity of
tradition and action for the Order that is independent of Their
Majesties' experience or inexperience in the role.
Paying Dues. The members of the Order in Caid are expected to provide
the postage and photocopying money to fund the mailings of the Order
(meeting notices, ballots, minutes, and notification of candidate
elevations). This is a few dollars per person per reign, and is handled
by the Secretary.
Meetings. The Order calls two meetings a year to discuss candidates,
approximately mid-way through each reign. This is generally held at a
Companion's home, usually on a Sunday. Their Majesties are invited.
Other than Their Majesties, only members of the Order may attend the
candidate discussion portion. Dress is modern. Generally there is a
potluck at noon and then the meeting starts around one. You do not need
to bring your feastware. The custom of late has been for the newest
companions of the Order to bring a bottle of bubbly (alcoholic or non,
at their discretion) to toast them with.
Be prepared for a full day's meeting. You will be sent an agenda ahead
of time. Names and topics may be added at the time of the meeting,
though names added at a meeting will not be discussed until the
following meeting. If you are unable to make a candidate meeting,
please write the Secretary concerning anything you would like mentioned
at the meeting. All compan-ions will be sent a copy of the minutes, and
those not present will get an absentee ballot. The latter must be
returned promptly to complete the tallying.
Other meetings may be scheduled to address specific topics or projects,
and committees might also be formed (such as one to revise the "Welcome
to the Order" booklet). Membership on these committees and attendance
at special meetings might or might not be restricted to Laurels, as
Other people may treat you differently. You know you haven't changed,
but others sometimes feel you have. You tend to get the respect you
earn -- the medallion can sometimes predispose people to respect you
(or not, it works both ways), but it does not of itself keep that
Up until now, you've generally been treated as an individual. You will
find that now you are often referred to as part of a group, with
motives, attitudes, and opinions attributed to you because of that.
Sometimes another Companion may do something ill-advised, and you may
be judged "guilty by association." Try not to let it bother you. You
are not obliged to defend someone simply because he or she is a Laurel.
We are all individuals with our own foibles and frailties.
Apprentices. Caid has not traditionally been filled with Laurel
apprentices or Pelican protégés, though there are more and more these
days. One certainly does not need to be an apprentice before becoming a
Laurel. We suggest that you take some time to get used to your new
position, determine what being a Laurel means to you, before rushing
into taking an apprentice or several. If you wish to take an
apprentice, fine. The individuals involved, not the Order, determines
the apprentice-Laurel relationship and its terms.
Green colored belts are commonly given to apprentices by their Laurel,
but that belt color is not restricted. Only white belts are restricted,
The address list. The Secretary maintains an address list of the
members of the Order, with e-mail addresses, if desired. Please let her
know if your entry needs updating. This list is also distributed to the
The SCA-Laurels Mailing List. For those Companions with e-mail, there
is an SCA-wide mailing list for members of the Order of the Laurel. It
began Sept. 1998. Once you have been elevated, you may subscribe.
Currently the list is moderated by Mistress Gunnora Hallakarva
(firstname.lastname@example.org) of Ansteorra, who monitors subscription and content.
The SCA Laurels' List is meant to serve as a forum for the discussion
of any topic by the Laurellate *except* discussion of candidates to the
Circle. There are several ways to subscribe to either SCA-LAURELS or
The easiest way to subscribe is to go to
http://lists.ansteorra.org/lists.html and sign up using the automated
process. The SCA-LAURELS selection is found under "Lists maintained
within Ansteorra." Of course, if you wish, you may subscribe directly,
by sending a message to Majordomo@Ansteorra.ORG with the following body
subscribe SCA-LAURELS email@example.com
subscribe SCA-LAURELS-DIGEST firstname.lastname@example.org
The caid_laurels Mailing List. For those Companions with e-mail, there
is a Caid-wide mailing list also. This is email@example.com.
This is a low-traffic list used for distributing information in a
timely manner. If the secretary does not automatically add you to the
mailing list after your elevation, then go to www.egroups.com and
follow the prompts to sign yourself up.
The Caid Laurel Web-site. In 1999, this is an area that we are just
moving into. We are currently exploring how we can best use the
Internet to help provide easy access to public information about our
group, and how we can keep touch with companions not on the North
Laurel Prize Tourneys. This is an idea that we picked up from the SCA
Twenty-Five-Year celebration. It is a chance for anyone to display his
or her work, completed or in progress, and have it seen by everyone.
Companions of the Laurel are expected to give prizes, either something
small to everyone, or special prizes to those that individual Laurel
wishes to recognize. One is also expected to provide comments to
participants in the prize tourney.
Pentathlon. Yes, of course you can still enter. You are also likely to
be asked to judge in some categories. If you have advised any entrants
on their entries, do not then judge in that category, for that is a
conflict of interest.
How can you continue to serve the Kingdom? There are occasional "Order
Projects," such as the needleworked kneeling pillows, and some on-going
research. There is teaching at Collegium, judging at Pentathlon,
participating in Laurel Prize Tourneys, and encouraging people to use
their talents and develop their skills. Occasionally the Order is asked
specifically to participate in particular activities, such as
competitions for War Points.
But in general, how you choose to serve the Kingdom is something you
should consider as an individual. It is your decision.
What Are the Standards for Admission (How Good is Good Enough)? This is
probably among the first questions a new Companion to the Order asks,
and it is among the hardest to answer. The criteria that the Order
measure against are listed in the Laurel Charter. But while undoubted
skill is necessary to get the Order to recommend for admission, it is
not sufficient. Some people enter the SCA with well-developed skills
and expertise. Others develop their skills within the context of the
Society. Some people are very active and high-profile. Others work more
in the background, and are steady contributors over a long period of
time. Some people have good social skills, others may need to work on
those skills. Some are good teachers, others need more practice.
Some candidates may have all the peripheral skills, but the primary
expertise still falls somewhat short. Other candidates may have the
expertise, but not enough members of the council are familiar with
their work. Or perhaps the perception of some members is that a
particular candidate needs some maturity, or time for previous bad
behavior to be forgotten. Perhaps a candidate is not particularly
active at the moment, or perhaps no one has recommended him recently.
Perhaps the candidate does not have a strong advocate on the Council,
or perhaps there is someone with vocal objections.
Conversely, perhaps an area is isolated, and there are no Laurels
nearby at all. This means we have little knowledge of what arts and
sciences are being practiced in the area, and how well they are doing.
A candidate from such an area may shine in relation to his/her
compatriots, but through lack of access to sources, be less
knowledgeable than other candidates in the "mainstream." A candidate
might be pursuing an endeavor totally unfamiliar to any Laurels on the
council, and doing it very well. But our lack of knowledge may delay
that person recognition.
All of these factors are weighed by each individual on the council. And
sometimes the vote that looked so favorable at the meeting ends up with
not quite enough votes to trigger a recommendation. Other times, a
brilliant recommendation letter might carry a candidate that either
lives in an isolated place (and thus no one is familiar with the work
first-hand), or who is doing something totally unfamiliar to any
Laurels currently active on the council.
Thus, the standards for recommendation are measured on many scales in
addition to expertise in a craft, and each companion votes, after
consulting with his or her peers, according to his or her own judgment.
And the Crown, after consultation with the Order, acts in accordance
with Their own conscience and best judgment.
The Bigger Questions. How can you be a Good Example (for
you have surely been singled out as one)? What does fealty mean? What
does it mean to be a Companion of the Laurel in the SCA? What is honor?
What is the appropriate place of historical authenticity within our
Society? We cannot answer these questions for you. You must find your
own answers, and that often involves discussions with people from all
over the Society. The questions are worth asking, and worth finding
your own answers.
Again, congratulations. We are proud to welcome you to our Order.
Remember that receiving a Laurel is not an end in itself, but rather a
chance to join with others to bring more information, skill, and
artistry to the Society. This booklet, together with the other
documents mentioned, should give you a good basis to plan your
elevation and to know what you are getting into. However, if you have
any questions (we're sure you will), please feel free to seek the
advice of other members of the Order, the Laurel Secretary, and the
Crescent Principal Herald.
The booklet was originally prepared by Mistress Mela du
Prion and updated by Mistress Gwendolyn of Amberwood with the advice
and under the direction of the members of the Order of the Laurel, Jan
This has been updated again in October, 1999 by Baroness Éowyn
Amberdrake, with the help of Mistress Catherine de Steele and Mistress
Maria Theresa Ipeñarrieta, again with the advice and under the
direction of the Companions of the Order.