For the TLDR focused among you: I was elevated to the Order of the Laurel on Saturday at Rapier Champs. Thank you to the people who worked behind the scenes to schedule, organize, plot against me, and provide some truly beautiful regalia.
During Royal court on Saturday after the Rapier Champs tournament had ended, I was startled to hear my Mughal persona name called back into court. The Order of the Rose had given courtesy tokens at the start of court, so I had already been up once, and I had settled in to wait until the end of court when I was supposed to speak at both of the Pelican elevations.
I was so startled that I said "Oh shit" out loud. So I scurried up to the dais, totally forgetting to let my husband Robert Earlson escort me, as is right and proper.
I bowed to the crowns, full kneeling obeisance, cause I'm Mughal and that's what you do before your emperor.
The King spoke about the wonderful fights he'd had with me at Birka, and that they were the best fights he'd had all day. And that I put a lot of effort into my look, my kit and my fighting style, and while my brain was working on figuring out what was happening, he called in his Order of the Laurel.
There were some blurring of my vision. I have no idea what happened or in what order. I remember the Order of the Laurel gathering around me. I remember looking out at my husband to glare at him for plotting against me and seeing a veritable sea of waving hands who were pleased as hell that they had pulled one over on me. The Queen said something very nice about how I have opened new areas of textural research in Sangam and Mughal history, and that I used my eloquence and skill to write beautiful scroll texts and poetry, without appropriation.
Which of course is when the King asked me if I was willing to accept the accolade.
I responded with the very eloquent and poetic, "OK".
When one is expectation managing, and brain managing, "OK" is as good a response as one can muster.
Since I am already a Peer, as per my In Case of Peerage letter, I had asked for just a speaker from my new order, so as not to take up too much of the Court's time.
And my friend Master Grimm spoke on my behalf to the populace about why I would be a good Laurel.
As I am looking up at him my brain did that thing where it was thinking 3 or 4 thoughts all at the same time.
Thought 1: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Thought 2: Grimm was my bardic champion when I was on the throne, and here he is speaking for me on my behalf for my Laurel for poetry. Full circle! How wonderful!
Thought 3: They can't elevate me! I haven't finished my paper on battle elephants yet!
Thought 4: When I do that dinosaur poem for Miaka in 20 minutes they are gonna take this Laurel away from me. Ah well, shortest Laurel ever.
Then I was bestowed 2 Laurel medallions. One which is the Sharc household medallion, and another one which was commissioned for me by Ibrahim, it is a one of a kind, Persian in design, with a Laurel wreath, a Pelican and tucked into the laurel leaves, roses. And Larissa made a pearled necklace for me to hang it from.
Then I was given a coat which Lacey made, gold and black for my Handsome Boy household, with laurels all down the front and gold zari roses on the bottom. It is based on a Turkoman coat, which is very Mughal, and is patterned after a coat in my house... or rather, a coat that was in my house before my husband stole it and some fabric left over from my reign and smuggled them to her.
The Underwear Guild had Robert steal the dupatta they had made for my Pelican, and stamped it between the pelicans with laurel leaves. Basically updating the dupatta I already had. They were so pleased with themselves that I was on vacation the week before the event and could not miss it.
Really the delight of my friends that they had pulled a good one over on me made up for any sputtering indignity I was feeling.
My scroll was still in the mail, on it's way to the Queen's house, cause USPS hates us, I guess. But I was tagged into a post by the gloriously talented Sarasvati, so I have seen it as it left her table and I can't WAIT to get it in front of me.
And then it looked like they were gonna dismiss me, but I had one last trick up my sleeve. I had been doing research into what a Hindi oath of fealty (a European concept, but an aspect of courtly life in the SCA) might look like. And I had the notes to that in my notebook with my peerage speeches in my hand when I walked up to the dais. I had forgotten to put it down because I was startled when my name was called. So I asked if I could give an oath of fealty. And I was smug that I was able to give my oath of fealty in French and in English. I didn't risk the Tamil translation, because my pronunciation is sketchy at best and I didn't want to waste the court's time stumbling through it. (Link for Oath of Fealty write up goes here).
Afterwards I realized that Susan McGregor, former EK Herald & Legend, was my herald, and that kind of EK History nerdery makes me so very happy.
As I was whisked away to the back of the hall and hugged, and hugged, I was also given a laurel medallion from Mistress Camille, painted by the talented Mistress Alex the Scribe, with many kind words and warm welcome. Then the Laurels were almost knocked down by children chasing a toy box.
When I finally got back to my seat, Baroness Mylisant sneaked up to me and handed me a small box. A hand knitted Mylisant shawl. She only makes these glorious creations for people she truly loves. She told me the pattern was called Simurg. The Simurgh is a mythological bird from Persian literature, specifically a 12th century sufi poem called the Conference of Birds by Farid Ud-Din Attar. I a very familiar with this poem. I have 3 translations. I wrote a whole plot line based on it for Shadows of Amun. The Simurgh the birds are searching for in the poem is a metaphor for seeking the divine.
The shawl is in pride colors.
And that's when I started to shake and weep.
I am tearing up thinking about it now.
I have never felt so seen.
Thank you to my Beloved, Don Robert Earlson, and Master Nataliia for conspiring against me. Thank you to the people who put hours of art and care and love into my elevation regalia and gifts, and my speaker and my herald. I appreciate especially any form of heist of current regalia bits to make new regalia bits.
Thank you to my 3 households, Lochleven, Sharc and The Handsome Boys who gleefully lied to me for months and were all casual as to why they were coming to the event.
Thank you to everyone who "randomly" and "accidentally" and "just happened to remember" to give me small presents throughout the day. I see you, you sneaky people.
And finally, Thank you to Their Majesties Mohammed and Corotica, who took my word nerdery seriously enough to induct me at the Laurel's insistence. Poetry and words are the core of my being, but in the SCA they have felt like a bit of a personal side quest, so, I don't know what kind of Laurel I will be. While I figure out how to be a Words-Not-Crafts Laurel, I will not be taking students or judging A&S. I have no idea how to do that, and I don't want to hurt people while I learn how.
I do intend to finish the paper I have been working on.
I do intend to keep learning and hope to pick up in person performance again.
I do intend to keep researching an updating this blog with my stuff. I have seen many a blog get abandoned when someone is elevated to the Laurel, and there is still so much research I want to offer to the SCA.