Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

August 27, 2012

Preserving medieval skills, traditions

TAHLEQUAH — Augie Farks understood. His Sturdy Wings big brother, Danny, not so much.

“Why do you bow for that guy?” asks Danny. “Because he’s the king, and he rules the entire realm,” Augie explains.

The pair is hashing out the details of something called “anachronism” in a movie called “Role Models.” But the casual viewer may not realize that a Society for Creative Anachronism actually exists – and a branch practices in Tahlequah.

SCA is an international, nonprofit organization that dedicates itself to re-creating arts, skills and traditions of pre-17th century Europe. Members and participants take part in a variety of activities, including combat, archery, costuming, calligraphy, and more.

“We do historical re-enactments from the fall of the Roman Empire to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I,” said Barony of Northkeep Treasurer Shirley Hackworth. “We also give classes on historic arts and crafts, as well as letter work; it just depends on who is there and what they’re interested in.”

The Barony of Northkeep is the Tulsa-based branch of SCA. Hackworth – or “Lady Sicily Bridges,” as she is known in the SCA community – organizes the Tahlequah satellite group, which meets in the Northeastern State University library.

“The group meets every other week, on the second and fourth Saturday of the month,” said Hackworth. “At the library, we do arts and sciences – things like sewing, embroidery, painting, illumination, and calligraphy. We’ve got about 12 paid members in the local area. A lot of college kids are interested in this sort of thing.”

Among the most popular activities of SCA is armored combat. Opponents face each other in single combat, or may engage in large melee battles. Participants wear real armor and use rattan swords. In Tahlequah, these battles are held at Sequoyah Park.

“Rattan is similar to bamboo, but it does not splinter,” said Hackworth. “A marshal must also be present for safety reasons.”

According to Hackworth, visitors may also participate after signing a waiver. The group has loaner armor on hand. Novice fighters are trained by more experienced fighters.

“They are taught how to use their weapons, how to defend themselves, and how to judge blows received in combat,” explains the SCA website. “Every fighter on the field is on his/her honor to accept a blow sufficient to ‘wound’ or ‘kill.’ At the end of training, if the marshal decides that the fighter is safe – not necessarily good, but unlikely to hurt him or herself or an opponent – then the fighter is considered authorized to fight. The process of becoming authorized can take from a few weeks to several months.”

Like “Lady Bridges,” each member of SCA chooses a name for use in the society. The College of Arms is available to assist members in selecting and registering an SCA name and heraldic device. Some members try to create an entire persona of sorts, even behaving as if they actually were their personas.

“The major activity in the SCA is our events,” said Hackworth.

“The opportunity for us to put on our medieval clothing, cook and serve the recipes we’ve been researching, dance the dances we’ve been practicing, socialize, and generally have a good time. SCA events take place almost every weekend of the year.”

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