Society for Creative Anachronism
College of Arms

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For the August 2019 meetings, printed October 31, 2019

To all the College of Arms and all others who may read this missive, from Juliana Laurel, Alys Pelican, and Cormac Wreath, greetings.

* Commendations to Commenters

From Pelican: Commendations and lauds are due to Kolosvari Arpadne Julia, the College's resident expert on Hungarian names. Her research and commentary in this specialty have improved the College's level of knowledge immensely.

From Wreath: I offer my thanks and appreciation to Gunnvor Orle, who offered up several wonderful photographs of period heraldry from her carefully curated catalog in order to demonstrate the proper use of tierces in period, as well as examples of non-tergiant lizards and tortoises.

* From Wreath: So, About Those Tabards...

Last month, I discussed when it was appropriate for heralds to wear the badge of the College of Arms, stating that the crossed trumpets should not appear on a herald's tabard when they are speaking on behalf of a Royal or Noble; in such instances, the arms of that Noble should appear on the tabard on front, back, and sides.

This generated a substantial amount of lively discussion, wherein several members of the Society both within and without the College voiced several concerns about intent, the status of existing regalia, and whether the College of Arms was phasing out the use of the crossed trumpets entirely.

So, without further ado, some clarifications:

The purpose of the initial post was to draw a line between when a herald is acting as an officer of the Society and as a member of the College of Arms, when wearing the College's badge is appropriate, and when a herald is acting as the voice of an individual or estate, in which case the arms of that individual is appropriate. This came about because there were issues with individuals wearing the badge of office despite not being an officer of the SCA, and behaving in a manner that portrayed the College and the SCA in a less-than-positive light.

Many expressed concerns about whether existing tabards with royal arms on front and back and trumpets on the sleeves were no longer allowed to be used and had to be immediately decomissioned. This is false; existing garments and other equipment currently in use can and should remain in use until they are no longer serviceable and need to be retired. Replacements should be made in keeping with the guidelines provided. This is in keeping with precedents involving regalia that go back to the July 1984 Cover Letter.

In the initial ruling, I discussed heralds wearing the crossed trumpets on duty shifts, such as field heraldry, town cry, or consultation tables. Several kingdoms have tabards which exclusively bear the crossed trumpets for this purpose. Continued use of such tabards by heralds acting in their capacity as officers of the SCA is acceptable, and needn't be discontinued.

The use of the crossed trumpets as an officer's badge is a tradition nearly as old as the SCA itself, and the badge will not be phased out in the foreseeable future. It's a part of the shared cultural identity of the College of Arms, and is instantly recognizable by anyone in the SCA.

That said, we are an organization of history enthusiasts, and a subgroup that focuses on pageantry and regalia. There is so much information about the garmentry and accessories of heralds in period, and those heralds who research and emulate their forebearers enrich the overall appearance and pageantry of the Society. I encourage duty heralds who wish to wear the badge of their office to find ways which are appropriate to their time period and culture.

If you have further questions about use of the crossed trumpets badge, please contact your Principal Herald, or reach out to me directly.

* From Wreath: Charges In Annulo

On the January 2019 LoAR, I asked for commentary on what form of charges in annulo not in their default orientation, if any, should be allowed in SCA armory. This discussion was a culmination of two years struggling to give clear and unambiguous guidance to submitters who wanted animate charges chasing one another in a circle. This is a very popular motif with submitters, despite it being ruled a step from period practice. I recognize the difficulty in finding the balance between authenticity and aesthetic, and am sensitive to the need to appease submitters.

However, successive attempts to minimize the number of animate charges one can recognizably put in annulo has led to charges whose postures are warped out of a recognizable heraldic posture; artists frequently focus so much on making a given charge appear to be an arc of an annular shape that they've lost sight of the identity of the charge as a stand-alone creature with a recognizable posture. This is in no doubt due to the rulings that I and my predecessors have made in attempts to clarify the rules and make them easier for submitters to understand. Unfortunately, the opposite has occurred.

Current precedent (most recently upheld in December 2018) states that charge groups of five or fewer charges must form an annular shape through their orientations and postures, or risk being returned. The example from December 2017 states that "Three wolves rampant, heads to center, cannot be in annulo, because their arrangement and orientation do not suggest an annulet. However, three wolves courant can be in annulo, provided their bodies curve and conform to the shape of an annulet." The December 2018 return, which featured three bears in a triangular shape, noted that "the bears are passant, with straight backs that flex inwards, and with lowered paws that rest on a straight plane. No circle is formed or even implied by their placement, so they cannot be considered "in annulo" per the above ruling."

So what do we mean by "in annulo?"

For a single charge, "in annulo" can be a posture or orientation, such as the attested postures of dragons in annulo, or the attested orientation of a stag's attire in annulo. Use of "in annulo" as a posture is limited to those charges who are attested to have used it in period, while the orientation is more flexible.

For multiple charges, "in annulo" is an attested (though rare) arrangement similar to and almost indistinguishable from "in orle," where the placement of the charges on the field forms a roughly circular shape. This arrangement is separate from their orientation, and so the shape must be formed with enough charges to establish the existence of a circle. This distinction between arrangement and orientation has been the major source of confusion, so it's important to distinguish how many charges may be arranged "in annulo."

Two charges cannot be arranged "in annulo" as their relative placement is more accurately described as "in pale," "in bend," "in fess," etc. Likewise, three charges cannot be arranged "in annulo" as their placement can be more accurately described as "one and two" or the default for three charges, "two and one." And four charges cannot be arranged "in annulo" when "in cross" or "in saltire" are more accurate descriptions.

Therefore, a charge group must have a minimum of five charges, with a preference for six or more, in order to be arranged "in annulo." Four or fewer charges will no longer be blazoned "in annulo" for submissions appearing on external letters of intent after February 1, 2020.

Separate from the arrangement of charges "in annulo" is the common but largely unattested orientation with the charge's primary axis either parallel or perpendicular to the circle the charges form. This rotational symmetry is almost entirely absent from period armorial design; when it does appear, it's seen almost exclusively with inanimate charges, e.g. a lunel (an Iberian motif formed of four or five crescents conjoined, horns to center).

Arrangements are usually orientation-neutral (in fess, in pale, in bend), but there are examples of arrangements of two long charges that include orientation by default. The classic example is "in saltire." For five charges in the charge group, the items in saltire are arranged two, one, and two, with no orientation implied. However, with two long charges in the charge group, the orientation is supplied; one is in bend sinister, with the other surmounting it in bend. "In chevron" or "in pall" likewise can be orientation-neutral for several charges, but become orientation-specific for two or three long charges, respectively.

For inanimate charges, charges "in annulo" are orientation-neutral; the five crescents above are blazoned first by arrangement (in annulo) and then by orientation (horns to center).

The problem with this model arises when submitters attempt to use the "in annulo" motif to circumvent the prohibition of animate charges inverted; that is, using "in annulo" as an orientation. Animate charges have postures, which have inherent orientations. In the October 2018 return of the joint badge for Mir Netronin and Mikael MacLeod, it was ruled, "The posture of a quadruped relies heavily on the context of the orientation of its spine. Known period examples of quadrupeds who have nonstandard orientations are almost always on bends, and always with their head oriented towards chief. Absent documentation, quadrupeds in nonstandard orientations relative to their postures will be returned."

There being no evidence of animate charges oriented in annulo, the continued allowance of this step from period practice relies on whether it causes identifiability issues. As noted in the May 2018 Cover Letter, steps from period practice that fall under SENA A2B4d "are tolerated because they're remarkably popular and function effectively as armorial elements without causing undue confusion. However, inclusion or exclusion of these charges in past rulings was far more subjective, and such elements could cease being registerable if they became problematic."

That said, moving forward we will allow animate charges oriented in annulo as a step from period practice only if the following criteria are met:

  1. There are a minimum of five charges in the charge group

  2. The charges form the appearance of an annulet, either solid or broken

  3. Each charge is independently recognizable in both type and posture

Points 2 and 3 above are important to consider together. As noted at the start of this article, charges in past submissions have been warped to form an annular shape at the expense of individual identification. This has been and will continue to be grounds for return.

Animate charges which are attested in period to be in annulo singly, such as serpents and dragons, will continue to be registerable without a step from period practice.

Other attempts to circumvent the prohibition on inverted animate charges, such as in cross four wolves statant, bellies to center, will require evidence of those charges appearing in that posture and orientation in period armory. The classic example is three rabbits courant conjoined at the ears found in the arms of Harewelle, Hasloch, and other families in period.

The new ruling will apply to all submissions appearing on external letters of intent published after February 1, 2020. Existing precedent will be applied to submissions appearing in letters published before that date.

* From Wreath: Non-Tergiant Reptilian and Amphibian Quadrupeds

Last month, I issued the long-anticipated comprehensive discussion on Unity of Posture, wherein I differentiated between standard quadrupeds and those quadrupeds which are primarily found in tergiant postures, such as tortoises, frogs, and lizards. This month, we discussed two separate submissions with tortoises in non-tergiant postures, including statant and rampant.

While lizards and frogs have long enough legs that standard quadrupedal postures are recognizable, the presence of the full-body shell and short legs on a tortoise provides a more difficult problem of identifiability. There is one example of a tortoise in a non-tergiant posture in period, and it is statant, the "natural" posture one sees a tortoise in profile. As it is attested in period, we will continue to allow tortoises in statant postures.

For other standard quadrupedal postures, such as rampant, tortoises will be allowed only as long as the charge and the posture may be unambiguously identified, with the limbs extending from the shell in sufficient length to be clearly seen. However, for submissions appearing on external letters of intent published after February 1, 2020, such depictions will carry a step from period practice.

* From Wreath: Tierces, Gores, and Gussets

In the March 2019 Cover Letter, we asked commenters do discuss whether there was a reason consistent with the principles of SENA to continue the long-standing ban on charged tierces, gores, and gussets. As noted in that letter, the ban dates from the February 1991 Cover Letter, when Laurel introduced the ban due to "what is becoming overwhelming support for the idea" of banning them. With no discussion on either period practice or potential presumption, there was little guidance for considering either the intent for the initial ban, or the necessary documentation to overturn the ban.

Gunnvor Orle provided several examples of uncharged tierces with complex lines of division, both on their own and with other charges directly on the field. She also provided some examples of armory which may have either been charged tierces or marshalled armory. Due to concerns about the appearance of marshalling, charged plain-line tierces will continue to be banned. However, as a complex line of division erases the appearance of marshalling for a field divided per pale, it stands to reason that a complex line of division on a tierce would also clear the appearance of marshalling for a charged tierce.

As for gores and gussets, they are similar in nature to other peripheral ordinaries that are allowed to be charged under current rules. There are no examples of charged gores and gussets, but until further documentation can be provided that supports it, we will allow charged gores and gussets as a step from period practice, along with charged complex-line tierces.

To sum up:

* From Wreath: On the Use of Memes Like "Hail Hydrate"

Recently we have had a series of submissions from waterbearing enthusiasts who are also fans of Marvel Comics. These submitters have taken it upon themselves to register badges which feature references to the logo of Hydra, a villainous organization within the Marvel comic and cinematic universes about which Pelican has already had an opportunity to discuss (cf. Anthony de la Mare, House of the Silver Hydra, February 2019 LoAR). The badges frequently feature bottles, gouttes, or other water-based emblems as a visual representation of the phrase "Hail Hydrate!" currently making its way through the SCA.

The phrase itself is a reference to the Hydra cry, "Hail Hydra," itself a reference to the Nazi cheer "Heil Hitler." Since its earliest days in comics, Hydra has been a stand-in for Nazis, with a backstory involving the Nazi Party and WWII, an expressed neo-fascist philosophy, and goal of global domination. These are the unequivocal bad guys, and their chant intentionally evokes Nazi rallying cries.

As a phrase in the SCA, the phrase "Hail Hydrate!" functions less as a show of allegiance to neo-fascism and more of a pop-culture shibboleth used to remind people to drink water. Its users mean well, and are just looking to have a bit of fun.

However, several in the SCA, especially Jews, persons of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, have expressed concerns about large groups of people chanting ersatz Hitlerian salutes at SCA events. Apart from the issue of being obtrusively modern, the normalization of fascist symbols as "jokes" feels both tone-deaf and a flag to white supremacists that their views are welcome.

Pop-culture jokes in the SCA have a long and storied history, and no one wants to be the fun police. However, I remind the reader that every joke has a price, and one should be cognizant of whether the person is willing and able to pay it.

As for the armory submissions? Well, most of them are far enough removed from the logo avoid a return for obtrusive modernity, and any line that can be drawn around the symbols for offense will only be skirted by those who either have malicious intent or are insistent upon making their joke.

However, every joke has a shelf-life, and the "hail hydrate!" joke has about run its course. By the time your submission ends up on an LoAR, people might well be tired of it. At which point, you have a badge that you paid for, expressing a joke that is no longer funny, and which makes people uncomfortable.

If you wish to use a badge that shows you are a waterbearer, consider the use of the badge registered to the Society specifically for waterbearers, Argent, a goutte de larme within another voided within a bordure azure. It's ubiquitous, instantly recognizable, and doesn't evoke comic books and Nazis.

* Society Pages

Please send information about happenings to major heralds and major happenings to all heralds to Laurel, so that it can be published here.

* Send What to Whom

Letters of Intent, Comment, Response, Correction, et cetera are to be posted to the OSCAR online system. No paper copies need be sent. All submission forms plus documentation, including petitions, must be posted to the OSCAR online system. While black-and-white emblazons must be included in the Letter of Intent, only colored armory forms need to be posted in the forms area.

Cheques or money orders for submissions, payable to "SCA Inc.-College of Arms" are to be sent to Trent Le Clair, 928 Frazier Dr, Walla Walla WA 99362

Send roster changes and corrections to Laurel. College of Arms members may also request a copy of the current roster from Laurel.

For a paper copy of a LoAR, please contact Laurel, at the address above. The cost for one LoAR is $3. Please make all checks or money orders payable to "SCA Inc.-College of Arms". The electronic copy of the LoAR is available free of charge. To subscribe to the mailings of the electronic copy, please see the bottom of for more instructions.

For all administrative matters, please contact Laurel.

* Scheduling

Items listed below in square brackets have not been scheduled yet. For information about future scheduling, please review the status table located on the Web at

The August Laurel decisions were made at the Pelican meeting held on Sunday, August 18, 2019 and the Wreath meeting held on Sunday, August 11, 2019. These meetings considered the following letters of intent: Trimaris (02 May, 2019), Calontir (04 May, 2019), Laurel LoPaD (04 May, 2019), Lochac (04 May, 2019), Middle (10 May, 2019), An Tir (17 May, 2019), Ealdormere (24 May, 2019), Avacal (29 May, 2019), Artemisia (30 May, 2019), Atenveldt (30 May, 2019), Ansteorra (31 May, 2019), Artemisia (31 May, 2019), Atlantia (31 May, 2019), Caid (31 May, 2019), Drachenwald (31 May, 2019), East (31 May, 2019), Gleann Abhann (31 May, 2019), Laurel LoPaD (31 May, 2019), Meridies (31 May, 2019), Northshield (31 May, 2019), Outlands (31 May, 2019), and West (31 May, 2019). All commentary, responses, and rebuttals should have been entered into OSCAR by Wednesday, July 31, 2019.

The September Laurel decisions were made at the Pelican meeting held on Sunday, September 22, 2019 and the Wreath meeting held on Sunday, September 15, 2019. These meetings considered the following letters of intent: Trimaris (03 Jun, 2019), Calontir (06 Jun, 2019), Caid (20 Jun, 2019), Ealdormere (24 Jun, 2019), Atenveldt (25 Jun, 2019), Middle (26 Jun, 2019), Atlantia (27 Jun, 2019), Laurel LoPaD (27 Jun, 2019), An Tir (30 Jun, 2019), Ansteorra (30 Jun, 2019), Artemisia (30 Jun, 2019), Avacal (30 Jun, 2019), Drachenwald (30 Jun, 2019), East (30 Jun, 2019), Gleann Abhann (30 Jun, 2019), Meridies (30 Jun, 2019), Northshield (30 Jun, 2019), and Outlands (30 Jun, 2019). All commentary, responses, and rebuttals should have been entered into OSCAR by Saturday, August 31, 2019.

The October Laurel decisions were made at the Pelican meeting held on Sunday, October 13, 2019 and the Wreath meeting held on Sunday, October 6, 2019. These meetings considered the following letters of intent: Lochac (13 Jun, 2019) (pushed due to Packet Incomplete), Palimpsest Other Letter (02 Jul, 2019), Calontir (05 Jul, 2019), Trimaris (10 Jul, 2019), Atlantia (20 Jul, 2019), An Tir (24 Jul, 2019), Middle (24 Jul, 2019), Ealdormere (25 Jul, 2019), Laurel LoPaD (25 Jul, 2019), East (26 Jul, 2019), Artemisia (27 Jul, 2019), Northshield (29 Jul, 2019), Ansteorra (30 Jul, 2019), Atenveldt (30 Jul, 2019), Avacal (30 Jul, 2019), Drachenwald (30 Jul, 2019), Caid (31 Jul, 2019), Meridies (31 Jul, 2019), Outlands (31 Jul, 2019), West (31 Jul, 2019), and Laurel LoPaD (30 Aug, 2019) (redraws). All commentary, responses, and rebuttals should have been entered into OSCAR by Monday, September 30, 2019.

Not all letters of intent may be considered when they are originally scheduled on this cover letter. The date of posting of the LoI, date of receipt of the Laurel packet, or other factors may delay consideration of certain letters of intent. Additionally, some letters of intent received may not have been scheduled because the administrative requirements (receipt of the forms packet, receipt of the necessary fees, et cetera) have not yet been met.

REMINDER: Until all administrative requirements are met, the letter may not be scheduled.

Pray know that I remain,

In service,

Juliana de Luna
Laurel Queen of Arms

Created at 2019-10-31T19:43:30