Recently while speaking about what it means to be a peer in The West in the SCA someone mentioned that they were especially confused by “To speak and to be silent”. If you’re not in The West (or not in the SCA), “To speak and to be silent” is one of the lines in the western fealty ceremony. That is, as you are invested as a Peer in The West you recite this fealty ceremony. After that, every time a new King and Queen take the throne (well okay, technically every time a King departs the throne) you and all of your peers appear before the royalty and you all, as one, recite the following promise.

Here do I swear by mouth and by hand
fealty and service
to the Crown and Kingdom of the West
to speak and to be silent
to come and to go
to strike and to spare
to do and to let be,
in such matters as concern the Kingdom
on my honor
and the lawful command of the Crown
in need or in plenty / in peace or in war
in living or in dying / from this hour henceforth
until the King depart from His Throne
or death take me
or the world end
so say I ______

To glibly paraphrase this:
– I promise to {do the things} {from now on, all the time} until we get a new King, or I die, or the world ends**.

I’m really unclear on why people are especially confused by the first line.. as all the other lines have the same.. lack of clarity.

An aside
I’ve always hated the saying YOLO. You only live once. It’s confusing statement because it has two diametrically opposed meanings and either can be true at any time.

You only live once and this may be the only chance you ever get to do {the thing} so you should sieze the opportunity with both hands and JUST DO IT!
You only live once and life is not a game and there are no extra lives so for the love of Pete, don’t do {the thing} that is way too foolish DID YOU WANT TO DIE?

Still.. it’s something you can toss out there.. and the person you say it to can use their own judgement and choose the interpretation they like and go with that. It’s all about using your judgement.

Back on topic
The western fealty is our version of Yolo. It is a verbal re-affirmation that you, the peer, have attained the knowledge and experience to choose which of the options you’ll use in each individual situation using your best judgement as the needs arise TO BEST SERVE THE KINGDOM.

If the Kingdom is best served by having you gird your loins and speak to the (King/Kingdom/Group/Individual) about {something} then despite your misgivings, you gird your loins and have that talk.
If the Kingdom is best served by you holding your tongue and NOT speaking to the (King/Kingdom/Group/Individual) about {something} then despite your misgivings, you hold your tongue.

It’s about understanding which actions is best for the circumstances based on which action will BEST SERVE THE KINGDOM and not simply serve you.

speak/be silent
do/let be

It’s the same quandary. It’s about acknowledging that either action is possible and charges you, the peer, to use your best judgement to choose the best action which will BEST SERVE THE KINGDOM. YOLO.

** Once upon a time, years before I became a Laurel I almost moved to Artemisia. I was getting laid off and my future was uncertain so we thought about it. I was given 11 months notice of the layoff and promised an substantial payout if I stayed all 11 months. Anyway, during those 11 months I attended an Artemisian Crown tournament which happened to be held on my parent’s farm in Montana. At that Crown someone had their Pelican ceremony. I will never forget sitting in Court listening to people I don’t know get awards I don’t recognize (and am not sure why they’re being given the honor) with schtick with royalty I don’t know. Finally they came to the Pelican ceremony. Finally an award I recognized. They went through the whole ceremony and then asked the new peer to recite her fealty. I sat up and paid sharp attention. Fealty is important and I was happy because I knew this part. Then she started talking and she was doing it all wrong. It turns out that Artemisia has several different fealty ceremonies.. and in fact the Crown and the new peer can just make up whatever words they want to exchange as their fealty. In fact, I distinctly remember that the fealty that was used promised to {do the things} “until the mountains slide into the ocean” (ie until California/The West ceased to exist). I was.. well I won’t call it devastated but I was definitely shook. This was the first time that it became clear to me that if I moved to Artemisia and I were to be honored to become a Laurel, I would not be a Laurel of The West. I would not say the “right” fealty ceremony and this made me immeasurably sad. Happily I ended up being able to stay in The West.. and when I was offered I did swear the “right” fealty. So yes, this is actually something I feel strongly about.

Feature image shamelessly lifted from Cyanide and Happiness (who you should totally go read)

1 thought on “YOLO

  1. Your way is more succinct. I’m not good at succinct. I talk about this with candidates on vigil. This is my “more words” version.

    To speak and to be silent – my fealty charges me with the duty of speaking up, and the Crown has promised to hear me out. But that newcomer does not need to hear my critique on (her garb) (her artisan ship skills) (the way she is managing the task which is not my way but that doesn’t mean she’s doing it wrong)

    To do and to let be – is this the time for my labors, or is this the time to let another shine?

    To come and to go – am I burned out? Do I need to recharge my SCA batteries and friendships by attending?

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