Pot Luck Feast at GeCoSo you heard about the SCA from a friend, or you saw us at a demo or during one of our activities, and you’d like to dip your toe in and see if it suits you?

Excellent! That’s exactly how we all started (except for any of us who were born into it) so it’s a very fine way to start indeed.

Here’s what you need to know.

Membership is not required, by very long-standing tradition, but (a) it’s cheap, and (b) insurance fees are a pain. We have to charge every non-member $10 for every event or activity they attend ($5 for minors), which we then remit to the SCA’s insurer, and that’s annoying and kind of arbitrary and no more fun for you than for us. Whereas membership costs only $45 a year per adult, with minors in the same household coming in for free, so a membership looks very sensible indeed. If you know you want to be part of all this, the Australian SCA’s membership application will do the trick. Fill in your postcode, and if it’s in the range 7109 to 7117, you will be listed as a member of Lightwood and our seneschal will receive notification in due course. If you’re signing up a whole family, do the adults first as “Standard Membership with e-Pegasus” (that’s our monthly kingdom newsletter) and then when you have your membership number you can sign the kids up as free “Family Minor” members.

But all of that can wait. You probably want to start by attending an event, right? We have feasts and tourneys, pot lucks and picnics pretty regularly, and you can come along. What you need to bring is:

An attempt at pre-seventeenth-century clothing. “Garb”, we call it.  You have a range of options, but to start out the easiest way is to contact the Hospitaller, and arrange to borrow something.  While we don’t have a Hospitaller, you can contact our Seneschal, Baron Karl (Paul), on 0407 468 244.  We have long gowns or tunics for women; and for men, the easiest trick to wear dark brown or black pants and boots, and bring along a long belt to wear with a borrowed tunic. We can also point you in the direction of a range of resources for basic garb if you want to try your hand at making your own.

Things to eat with and on.  Known as “feasting gear”, you’ll need plates, bowls and cutlery, and probably a goblet or tankard. Again, we have some for loan, so if you show up without it we’ve got you covered. But there’s no need to go all out and spend the month’s mortgage money on authentic pottery and hand-carved utensils. A quick trip to an op shop can find you wooden or pottery bowls and plates and plain, unadorned cutlery. If you want to trade up, we have a few artisans in the barony who will set you up with something a lot more impressive, for a reasonable fee.

A dish to share (for a non-catered/pot luck feast or picnic).  Medieval food is not all that different from modern food, once you weed out the modern ingredients like tomatoes, spuds and chillis.  Baron Hrolf Herjolfssen has written a pair of articles to help you.  The bad news is in his article (PDF) about all the ingredients you can’t use because they didn’t exist in our period, and his good news is in his recipe book of tried and tested medieval recipes.  From River Haven (another Barony), there is also this handy article of SCA-compatible foods (archived version) available from any supermarket or easily concocted at home. Again, if you’re having trouble, call Baron Karl and he’ll put you in touch with our experienced and talented feast experts, who will calm your fears.  And if all else fails, there’s always stew.  Everyone loves stew!

As for what not to bring, that’s easy:

Mundane matters: video games, TV shows, computer problems, work hassles, and all that modern stuff, which we know by the slightly disparaging name of mundania.  The SCA gives you the opportunity to forget about it for an evening. We talk about the interesting stuff: a couple of thousand years of history covering Greece, Rome, Europe and other regions as well, and taking in several renaissances and more wars, crusades and peaceful coexistences than you can shake a sword at.  Why fuss about the Boss From Hell or the latest bit of party political posturing when you have all that to think about?  Leave that at home and the only downside is that you’ll have to come home to it at the end of the night.  Sorry we can’t save you from that, but at least you get time off.

And that’s it!  Come along to a Lightwood event, and we’ll welcome you and make you feel right at home.