In August of 2005, I completed my Trials to become a Courtier of Blatha an Oir.
I almost didn’t go through with it – three weeks before the event, I was in an accident that shattered my left wrist, necessitating surgery to place a plate fastened with seven screws, and due to my drug intolerances, was on morphine. Anne wouldn’t let me drop the trials, informed me that the tests requiring physical actions would be completed using a proxy doing exactly what I told them to do, and additional people came to support me with preparing the food for one of my specialty skills beforehand and helping serve it/get me dressed or hair dressed.
It is a *tad* difficult to braid your hair with a cast on one hand and getting into many of my clothing pieces was also improbable due to fit.
Sergeantry is something specific to An Tir, and a part of the history of our Kingdom that I hope to see continue in the future. It allows one to be tested on their knowledge on many levels within the SCA – from details about your persona, practical skills, knowledge on how the SCA functions, etiquette, gaming, dance, heraldry, service, and 3 ‘martial’ skills which are dependent upon what type of Sergeant you are testing for. Sergeant is both a general term, and specific to a heavy fighter, Gallant for rapier, Yeoman for archery, Courtier for arts, sciences and service, and Lancer for equestrian. Originally it helped when we were a Principality of the West, and it allowed Knights to know that someone under discussion had been tested and found worthy of knowing the Peer-Like Qualities and had martial skills worthy to become a Knight, even though they had never met the person because of the sheer distances involved. Because of An Tir’s size, it can be useful like that today still – with Laurels, Pelicans, White Scarves and OGGS members also being able to use it to talk about someone’s skills, behavior and knowledge.
The breadth of knowledge that is tested didn’t scare me so much, other than recalling the more dry pieces about Corpora, or remembering the differences between our “uber-Duke’s” heraldry and names, especially the day of testing, when I was going without the pain meds for as long as possible so that I was awake. I’m a geek, I enjoy reading and when I keep in practice, remember things in good order. Knowing that if I passed, it would be harder to stay in the background, because the buckle and cloak would mark me as someone to ask questions or to help with something, that was a bit more though-provoking.
I like doing things and being useful, or chatting one-on-one, larger groups has only gotten easier through Toastmasters and being a herald. The two baronies that I am tied to the most are Dragon’s Laire and Blatha an Oir. My family lived in Dragon’s Laire before it was even a shire, and I participated in many meetings and events, still attending several now. Yet, the first two baronesses of Blatha an Oir made such an impression on me as I was growing up, inspiring and assisting me and many others, that I wanted to give back to what had become my second home. When I agreed to consider the Trials in 2004, after nudging and encouragement from Mistress TessElla, Master Leith and Mistress Alisaundre, who had been judging persona at the in-force Trials, Isabeau favored me with a fleur-de-lis from her coronet. That token is with me at every event, attached to my pouch still, reminding me of her belief in me.
Being a sergeant means that you agree to continue to teach, to volunteer, to learn.The Baroness can count on you to be there for her whenever possible (Real Life still comes first), to help with setting up or tearing down at an event, doing town cries or filling in for a herald, lists or marshal when needed; to help answer questions or introduce the questioner to someone who can answer them. We help with retinue duties, or in Court as guards, and are to be a foundation that the Baroness and populace can count on. There are inner personal reasons for each Sergeant and why they want to be a Sergeant, or continue to be an active Sergeant.
I may not recall a lot of the specifics from the day of my trials, thanks to the morphine, but I can say that I am still inspired to learn, to be and to do…as much as I can and that each of the Baronesses I have known for Blatha an Oir have continued to inspire me to this day.