29 December 1985, A.S. XX (10/85 Cover letter)
Unto the members of the College of Arms, from Baldwin of Erebor,
Laurel King of Arms. My lords and ladies,
No, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth (although I've
wondered a couple of times myself). I've taken work home from
the office every night since the week preceding Thanksgiving,
with predictable results.
Enclosed herewith is the letter of acceptances and returns for
the Laurel meeting of 20 October. Submissions were processed
for the Middle (7/4) [heraldic titles], Atenveldt (7/5) [two letters],
West (7/10) [appeal], Caid (7/11), Atlantia (7/26), East (7/27),
East (7/28), West (7/28), and East (7/29). There were 218 approvals,
31 returns, and 4 pending items, for an 86% approval rate.
The submissions for Sternwulf von Drakenwijk and Crux Australis
Herald have been carried forward to the November letter. Both
raise questions on controversial issues, and I didn't' feel I
could afford to delay this letter any longer while I worked on
The November meeting was held on the 10th. Letters were processed
at this meeting from Laurel (9/26), Ansteorra (8/1), Ansteorra
(8/5), Caid (8/7), West (8/18), and Ansteorra (8/31).
The December meeting was held on the 15th. The letters processed
at this meeting were for the Middle (7/15), Caid (9/11), West
(9/16), Atenveldt (9/17), Atenveldt (9/18), and Trimaris (9/18).
The Middle letter of 9/30 has been rescheduled to the January
The January meeting has been scheduled for the 19th. Submissions
will be processed for the Middle (9/30), Ansteorra (10/10), East
(10/17), West (10/24), Atlantia (10/25), East (10/26), East (10/27),
and Atenveldt (10/31).
The February meeting has been scheduled for the 16th. Letters
of intent will be processed for Calontir (10/30) [arrived 11/22],
Atenveldt (11/7), Caid (11/11), West (11/12), East (11/27), and
East (11/28). Letters of comment should arrive no later than
Tentative meeting dates for the following months are March 9,
April 6, and May 18. These are subject to change depending on
local event and work schedules.
Lord Anebairn MacPharlaine has retired as Star Herald. His successor
is Lord Janos a soviny Barcsi, formerly Asterisk Herald. Lord
Janos has asked that Lord Anebairn be added to the list of commenting
heralds as Barding Extraordinary.
Oaken Herald has a new address: Lord Vasili iz Naitemneshoi Dollina
(James Kubajak), 2008 Valentine Street, Toledo, OH 43605; (419)
6915656. Lord Edward of Effingham (Lymphad) has also moved:
Anthony J. Bryant, 5610 NW 29th Street, Gainesville, FL 32606.
The phone number listed for Mistress Graidhne ni Ruaidh (Pale)
is incorrect; it should be (301) 9840142. In my 9 November
cover letter, I gave Bruce Draconarius of Mistholme's title as
Silver Trumpet Herald. It should have been Pursuivant. Mea culpa.
In the return for ANTARA AL ABBASID (25 Aug 85, p 14), I noted
that the old device was released. This was to take effect, of
course, only if the new device was approved (which it was not).
The old device is not released. My apologies for the error.
If you submit a "proper" charge, and its colors are
not well known, be sure to mention the tinctures in your
letter of intent. This is especially true of natural charges.
It makes it possible for the other heralds to check the submission
for conflict and contrast. You can probably assume that everyone
knows a raven is sable, and a sword argent, hilted Or, but what
is the "proper" tincture of a rampion stalk? A morgenstern?
Please note that this also applies to charges with an heraldicallydefined
"proper" tincture. In this case, it is a good idea
to mention your source as well as the tinctures. The sentence
The parrot is vert, beaked and membered gules, which Parker (pp.
442443) says is the default tells the College the tinctures
of the charge in the current submission, the heraldic default,
and the source for your claim that this is the default; and you
have been helpful, informative, educational, scholarly, and fair.
Not bad for one sentence.
The Rules for Submissions (VII.3) allow a member to use parts
of her mundane name as part of her Society name "without
regard for whether they are in period." I'd like to clear
up a couple of misapprehensions concerning this rule.
First of all, the provision is not (as many people seem to think)
absolute. The rule further states that "Such names may not
be used in such a way as to violate any other rule concerning
names," and the discussion goes on to bar titles that were
not used in period as given names, and to make some additional
restrictions concerning conflict. In practice, this tends to
allow occasional use of surnames, place names, common nouns, and
outofperiod coinages, as given names. This is what
is meant by "regardless for whether they are in period."
I do not feel this extends to blatantly inappropriate names such
as that of "Moon Unit" Zappa.
The rule is also not, as some seem to think, a loophole. My dictionary defines a loophole as:
A way of escaping a difficulty, especially an omission or an ambiguity,
as in the wording of a contract or law, that provides a means
The rule is not an omission or an ambiguity, it is a specific
provision, and it serves an important purpose. Peoples' identities
their feelings of 'self' are often tied up
in their names, and it is not uncommon for someone to want to
carry over some degree of self into her Society name. By being
more lenient toward people who make this choice, we are recognizing
a situation that, due to the nature of the SCA and its membership,
is inevitable, This is both reasonable and sensible: failure to
compromise on the issue would cost us good will and cooperation
from the populace.
By way of illustration, let me offer the following: I think it
is unimaginative to use your mundane name (any part of it) as
part of your Society name. You are, after all, supposed to be
creating a fictional identity for yourself. How can you sustain
the separation between your mundane self and your persona when
you answer to the same label both within and without the organization?
(This follows obviously from the ban on using your mundane name,
undifferenced, as your SCA name.) I therefore choose to call my
persona Baldwin, not Derek (or Dirk, or Theodoric).
How well do you think this idea would go over with Wilhelm von
Schlüssel (William Keyes)? Steffan of Silverwing (Steven
Mesnick)? Allyn O'Dubhda (Alan Dowd)? Dawyd z Gury? Alison von
Markheim? The obvious response from one of these people is, "But
my name is period!" Yes, but did you pick it because it's
period, or because it's your name? How would you feel if your
mundane name were, say, Daisy or Bruce? Would you be any
less attached to it?
This is where the problem lies. If the SCA were strict and academic,
we would be justified in setting stricter standards. Such is
not the case, hence the compromise.
The Rules allow for three types of permission to be given (or
withheld) when it comes to changing names. Two of these are provided
for on the submission forms used by most of the kingdoms:
1) Permission to make minor changes to spelling and grammar.
2) Permission to alter the name to agree with the intended translation.
Both types of permission are discussed in RFS VI.2. The second
is actually half a question of permission and half a statement
of preference: "[The applicant] should state whether the
spelling of the name, the sound of the name, or the translation
of the name is the primary desire. That way, if there is a problem,
the College will know what is desired and therefore what to correct."
The third type of permission is not actually provided for on any
of the submission forms currently in use:
3) Permission to use a holding name if there is a problem in the
name submitted. Holding names are discussed in RFS VII.8.
The forms used by the West Kingdom provide a fourth kind of permission;
or rather, a way of withholding it. The last line in the "SCA
name" section says:
( ) Make no changes in my name without consulting me.
This is a perfectly legitimate provision to make, and it is one
I have been respecting.
I consider the assignment of a holding name to be a change. It
is true that the purpose served by a holding name is administrative,
and that there is no fee for changing a holding name; nonetheless,
what is registered is not what was submitted, and some people
regard holding names as a form of tampering. (Witness the rather
acrid comments from the Midrealm over the holding name with which
Sir Timothy Garraghan o Leitrim was "saddled." If the
practice draws this kind of reaction from the heralds, who presumably
understand how the system works, imagine how a nonherald
might feel.) If the above box is checked, and the name proves
unacceptable, I will return the submission.
While I'm on the topic of holding names, there are a couple of
other points worth mentioning:
Please remember that a holding name is intended as a temporary
measure. It allows us to register a piece of armory now, rather
having to wait for the person to choose a new name and resubmit.
There is no fee for changing a holding name.
Holding names are for use at the Laurel level only. Problems
found at the kingdom level should be dealt with before the submission
is sent out on a letter of intent.
Changing the Rules: some philosophy
One of the appeals in this month's batch of submissions used a quotation from my ruling on Tengge McPhee. (28 Sep 84, p. 4) Unfortunately, the quotation was taken out of context, and the most important part of it was omitted. What I said was:
It is my opinion that the ... rule, on the basis of which the
applicant's name was originally returned, represented a change
in direction in the policies of the College of Arms. Under
the circumstances, I feel the applicant is entitled to the benefit
of the doubt, and so am excepting him from the ruling his own
submission precipitated. [emphasis added]
The point here was not that a submission that precipitates a change
in the rules is necessarily exempt from it. I feel we have an
obligation to try to be fair to people whose submissions were
en route at the time a change took place; but I also feel that
this obligation is bidirectional. A certain amount of compromise
is necessary on both sides.
The Rules represent our operating principles, our compact with our customers, and the summation of what we have learned about running a system of heraldry. As our operating principles, they tell us how we should resolve certain kinds of questions. As the compact with our customers, they should give the onlooker a fairly good idea of what to expect from us. As a source of education, they serve as a constant reminder (to herald and to non-herald alike) that this is an exercise in selfeducation, not a contest.
By exempting the submitter from the changes he precipitates, we
deny ourselves the right to correct mistakes until they have become
irrevocable. By subjecting the submitter to the changes, we deny
our role as a service organization. Neither extreme is acceptable
as a universal solution.
Over the years, we have developed a number of objective criteria
to aid in making what is basically a subjective decision. ("Whose
turn is it to be fair?") The Grandfather Clause, the Grace
Period, and the Hardship Case all mitigate in favor of the submitter.
The Spirit of the Law and our authority to make the rules in
the first place mitigate in favor of the heralds. But even with
these to help, some questions are still going to call for a seatof-thepants
Tingnye'dzingyisengge McPhee was
just such a case. He was being outrageous, the heralds were being
obstreperous, and the College was divided. It was a difficult
decision to have to make during my first full month in office.
I finally chose to base my ruling on the degree of change in
policy this represented, evidenced in part by the disagreement
in the College, and in part by past practice. (Corwin Morgenstern
was the example that sprang to mind.) I was attempting to acknowledge
that the submitter had a legitimate point while at the same time
respecting the College's wish not to allow such in the future:
the polite equivalent of a truculent "Well, okay, but that's
the last time!"
In invoking this principle, please bear in mind that it was being
used as a tiebreaker, not the sole basis for the decision;
and do not overlook the qualification "change in direction
of the policies of the College of Arms." That's like saying
Hamlet is the story of how Fortinbras takes over the throne of
Denmark: there's more to the play than what happens at the end
of Act V.
Prior usage: more philosophy
When considering whether to admit prior usage as an argument for
approving a questionable name, I tend to look at four things:
the number of times it has been approved, the period over which
the approvals took place, the nature of the rule it violates,
and whether or not anything has been said about the name in the
Corwin and Fiona, for example, have been registered a dozen
or more times over a stand of five or more years, many of them
recent. Corwin is a surname being used as a given
name. Fiona is an outofperiod feminization
of a period masculine given name. Both names occur in modern
fantasy stories, and so tend to be accepted without question by
the membership of the SCA; and neither has been explicitly barred
by Laurel (although some restrictions have been placed on Corwin).
The case for ' Amber isn't as good for one thing,
there are fewer registered instances but Master Wilhelm
specifically allowed it (on appeal, as I recall), and I dislike
reversing rulings based on successful appeals. The problem with
Amber is that it is a common noun; Dunkling & Gosling
say it was "occasionally used with other jewel names when
the latter became fashionable in the 19th c." (p. 19)
Rhiannon (the Welsh horse goddess) has a rather checkered
history. The name was specifically disallowed during the tenure
of Harold Breakstone. "She must prove that the name was
used by humans, not gods only, and before the nineteenth century
when anything went." (KFW, 16 Jan 72, p. 1; in Prec I:43)
Ioseph of Locksley approved RHIANNON AP LLYR in 1973, and another
Rhiannon in 1974. Wilhelm von Schlüssel registered one instance
of the name in 1980, barred it "under the new rules"
in 1981, and then in 1982 decided to accept it as a 'common Welsh
name'. "Even though it is the name of a goddess, it may
be used so long as the name and the device sufficiently differentiate
the person from the goddess." (WvS, 26 Feb 82, p. 6; in Prec
III:66) This policy is still in effect. There are now about a
dozen Rhiannons registered.
Ceridwen (goddess of the muse) seems to have slipped in
the back door. The earliest instance in the Armorial is dated
1980. The only specific ruling I found was for KERIDWEN OF CAERMYRDDIN:
"The name conflicts with mythology and the work of Mary Stewart."
(KFW, 24 Aug 79, p. 77) There are now about a dozen approvals
in the files.
Gwydion has been registered four times. Master Wilhelm
specifically disallowed the name in August 1983, and again the
following year. "Gwydion appears to be a unique,
nonmortal name never borne in period other than by the god
Gwydion. Its use as a given name appears to be out of period.
No Gwydion has been accepted by the College since the 1979 Conclave.
The name would not have been accepted in 1982 ... because even
then we had the ban against using names of deities." (21
Feb 84, p. 12)
I regard Rhiannon and Ceridwen as exceptions to the general
ban on names of deities that have not been shown to have been
used, in period, by humans. They should probably never have been
allowed in the first place; but having been allowed, and frequently,
they have gained some degree of acceptability. We had the opportunity
to disallow them as the result of the October 1981 edition of
the Rules for Submissions, and Master Wilhelm even attempted to
do so (RHIANNON DE L'ETOILE, 26 Oct 81, p. 10), but this effort
obviously did not succeed. I do not see anything to be gained
by attempting to do so now. The effort did succeed in the case
of Gwydion, so the latter is no longer an exception.
The fact that a name "has been registered previously" is thus no guarantee that it would pass today. Mistakes do sometimes get corrected, and policies and attitudes may change. (A case in point: under the current rules, my own name and arms, which were approved in March 1980, would both be rejected.) It is sometimes useful to know that a name has previously been approved, but it is more useful to know how often, and when; and this is no substitute for actual documentation. A letter of intent that says
Poobah has been registered before.
is a lot less useful than one that goes into further detail:
Poobah, we couldn't find anything to show its actual meaning,but
it has been registered twice since 1983. (The submitter says it
is a Japanese occupational name meaning groom of the second floor
In a comment on one of this month's submissions, Obelisk pointed
out that "heraldic maces are the same as scepters."
(Elvin Pl. 35; Parker 387) This is one of the places where SCA
armory differs from the mundane. There's even a bit of history
to go with this one; witness the following blast from the past:
[Flanged mace.] On this one there had been much discussion of
what shape the mace should be; Seraphim having proposed a gaudy
ornate thing that looked like a birthday cake on a stick, topped
with an elaborate crown. Others argued for a simple mace of war.
Seraphim: "But the heraldic mace has always been
drawn ... It is a ceremonial mace ..." To him was answered:
"We are creative heralds. The Lord Constable's mace in this
kingdom is not going to be a ceremonial mace. He is really going
to carry it on the field and use it to beat people over the head
if they don't obey." It was finally decided that a flanged
mace with a couple of extra knobs etc. on it would be fancy enough
to sooth Seraphim's heraldic feelings, yet functional enough to
suit the Lord Constable; and it was so approved." (KFW, 13
Jun 71, p. 3; in Prec I:37)
Actually, SCA practice may not be that far off the mundane. BrookeLittle
says, "The spiked war mace is either termed a 'mace I or
less equivocally a spiked mace' and was sometimes nicknamed 'holy
water sprinkler'. It is also sometimes blazoned 'a mace of war',
but as other miscellaneous varieties of war mace are also blazoned
in this way the description is ambiguous." (An Heraldic
Alphabet, p. 137)
The Ordinary lists entries for mace, flanged mace, spiked
mace, and war mace. I pulled the files for most of these
(particularly the undifferentiated maces), and found lots of spikes,
a few flanges, and a couple that look like those nearly cylindrical
wooden kitchen mallets you use for pounding meat. The only thing
that comes close to the classic heraldic mace is in the Vesper
seal, and it's called a "crowned scepter."
I would blazon the conventional heraldic mace as a civic
mace, and assume that other maces (spiked, flanged, war, and plain)
were of the uncivil variety.
Holy water sprinkler is fine, too. (Virgule noted that "this
is what we have been told by Tj writer: is the real morgenstern."
I think I'll let that question slide for now.)
Leslie Dunkling and William Gosling. The New American Dictionary
of First Names. Signet/New American Library, 1985 The Facts
on File Dictionary and Everyman's Dictionary of First Names.
[donated by BoE]
J.P. BrookeLittle. An Heraldic Alphabet. Robson
Books, new and revised edition 1985.
Notes and queries
Does anyone know of a source for the socalled "period
lightning flash" the thing we are currently
calling a lightning bolt? I am familiar with the shape as a component
of the heraldic thunderbolt; what I'm looking for is evidence
that it occurred independently of the thunderbolt, and preferably
that it did so in period.
The review draft of the revised edition of the Rules for Submissions
was sent to the commenting members of the College of Arms at the
beginning of this month. Comments are due by the end of January.
The next draft is scheduled to be issued in March, and the completed
rules ready by TYC.
Please take note of the discussions on Lourana Moonwind (p. 2),
Igraine Torr de Valere (p. 8), Knut the Inflammable (p. 14), Edwin
von Elsass (pp. 1820), Richard Blackbury (pp. 2122),
Stuart of Lindley (p. 23), and Wladislaw Poleski (pp. 2324).
I pray you believe me to be, my lords and ladies,
5 January 1986, A.S. XX
Unto the corresponding members of the College of Arms, from Baldwin of Erebor, Laurel King of Arms.
My lords and ladies,
Please note the following corrections to the 29 December cover letter:
"I did feel" (in the third paragraph) should be "I
did not feel."
Lord Anebairn MacPharlaine's new title is Barding Herald
Extraordinary, not Pursuivant. He also has a new address:
Ben McFarling, 3805 Avenue B #103, Austin, TX 78751.
The foregoing may be attributed to mental brownout.
The following pending submissions will be considered at the February
Giovanni d'Avila. Device. Azure, a chevron Or, in base a tree
eradicated; a chief embattled argent.
The chevron was blazoned as azure in the letter of intent.
Wladislaw Poleski. Name only.
This submission is discussed on pages 2324 of the LOAR from the 20 October 1985 meeting. Under present standards, the name conflicts with that of several kings of Poland, and should therefore be returned. The questions that need to be answered are:
1) Is this a reasonable conflict; and
2) If not, what reasonable criteria may be used to distinguish
cases that conflict from cases that do not conflict?
Thank you for your consideration of these submissions.
I pray you believe me to be,