If any of these problems occur, you may feel lost, frustrated, resentful and "dumped in the deep end" by the Order. The truth is that many Companions of the Laurel went through something similar, and they know exactly what you are going through. It seems that most problems do sort themselves out by the end of your first year as a Laurel.
Never feel that you have to cope with a problem on your own. If you are having a problem, please talk to someone about it, be it other Laurels in your local group, the Principal of the Order or someone from another group that you do feel you can talk to. Most Laurels will be willing to share their experiences and how they overcame their problems.
Being a Laurel can be a difficult and frustrating job, but it can be a rewarding one too. Like most people, you are better than you think and nobler than you know. Give yourself the time and gentleness to discover you own best self, and you will do yourself, you Order and your Kingdom proud.
A vigil is by no means obligatory but is often rewarding. If you do have one, make the most of it! In period, a vigil was a night of prayer and contemplation when a squire would reflect and prepare himself for the burdens of the station of knighthood. The SCA version is a gathering of Peers of an Order, to support and advise a candidate (or candidates) the evening before they are to be elevated. Also in attendance might be the reigning Royalty, some apprentices and a few others of your choice who would benefit from the experience.
These can be all-night marathons or a simple get-together over dinner. If there is a very short time (say, one day) between being asked and being elevated, it would be best for a member of the Order to arrange a location, food, drinks, chocolate or whatever for your Vigil. If there is more time, you have the opportunity to research and prepare, so you may consider having a vigil at the location of your choice.
Make the most of this, because it will only happen once.
To a large extent, you can customise the ceremony to fit your persona, skills and tastes. Basically, the sky's the limit! This can include subtly changing the wording of the Ceremony and even translating it into the persona's native tongue. For example, it could be appropriate for a Viking persona to swear fealty by handing their unsheathed dagger to the King hilt first (giving the King power of life and death) and the King returning fealty by handing it back hilt first. If you are interested in using your persona's native tongue, ask around the council as we may have a spare copy of the oath in your language.
As part of your elevation ceremony, you will have to promise to carry out certain obligations. This is commonly called your "laurel oath" or "Peerage oath". So what exactly are you swearing to?
Will you now give Us your word that you will henceforth comport yourself as befits a Peer of the Realm, as you have most surely done until now, and that you will continue to be of service to the Kingdom and Their Majesties' people?
I so swear.
Will you further swear to treat all with Courtesy and uphold the Laws and traditions of the Kingdom of Lochac?
I so swear.
To summarise, you are agreeing to
Most Peers in the Kingdom of Lochac also swear fealty, but you are by no means obliged to do so. Swearing fealty means that you are making a commitment to the Crowns of Lochac, and they are making a return commitment to you. Fealty should be considered carefully, and never undertaken lightly. For more information, please read the article "Fealty, Loyalty and Obedience as We Know and Use Them in the Kingdom of Lochac", attached as an appendix to this package. If you have any questions, please discuss it with the members of the Order.
The fealty oath (as used in Lochac) reads as follows:
Here do I swear, by mouth and hand,
Fealty and service to the Crown and Kingdom of Lochac;
To come and to go,
To do and to let be,
To strike and to spare,
To speak and to be silent,
In all matters that concern the Kingdom,
On my honour 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 departs from his throne,
Death takes me,
Or the world ends.
So say I, (name).
King: And We for our part do swear fealty to you, (name), to protect and defend you and your household with all our power, until We depart from the Throne, death take Us, or the world ends. So say We, (name), King of Lochac.
Queen: So also say we, (name) Queen of Lochac.
The purpose of a meeting or Council, is twofold: to discuss issues of relevance to the Order and the Kingdom, and to discuss candidates for the Order. Meetings are usually scheduled for the Coronet events (and other large events such as Rowany Festival), although an extraordinary meeting can be assembled if there are sufficient Laurels at an event to discuss pressing or delicate issues, and thus expedite the "official" meeting.
Typically, the meeting is attended by the Companions of the Laurel present, and the current Royalty. The Principal of the Order takes notes of the discussions and later distributes a summary of the meeting to all members of the Order.
In the case of issue discussions, the meeting may talk about various issues affecting the Kingdom, the Peerage in general or the Order of the Laurel in particular. Unless the issue should be kept quiet for some reason, there is nothing confidential about these discussions. This is not to say you should come barrelling out of an issue meeting and whinge to your friends always use your discretion or consult another laurel if you are not sure.
In the case of candidate discussions, however, the deliberations MUST be kept absolutely confidential.
This is done because, although some candidates do not mind knowing they are being discussed, others become extremely disturbed by the idea. As there is no way of knowing how a candidate will react, the names of those on the Order's list of candidature are not made general knowledge outside the Order. This is probably the cardinal rule of a Laurel meeting.
Even if you don't say anything, resist the temptation to drop hints or even smile knowingly.
Security leaks can cause an enormous amount of damage to a candidate and to the Order's reputation. Of course, this does not give anyone the right to engage in sniping or character assassination of candidates. Don't do it yourself, and if anyone else does it pull them up on it immediately.
Occasionally the Order will find it necessary to "counsel" a candidate (in the Knights' meetings, this is known as the "help list", to actively help a candidate toward elevation). In this case, the Order will decide what is to be said, how it is to be said, and will delegate a Companion to do it. Never, ever take this task upon yourself: you probably don't know the full story and you are likely to do far more harm than good.
Because the Companions of the Laurel are a diverse group of strong-willed, artistic people with strong opinions, there are times when either an issue or a candidate will result in discussions of some heat. Some newcomers to the Council may find this intimidating or distressing. In most instances, this is simply a case of strong-willed people expressing passionate opinions and rarely (if ever) contains real personal enmity. In the past, the chairperson of a Laurels' Meeting has described it as "trying to herd fifteen cats going in nineteen different directions".
For the most part, the members of the Order are people who respect each other's skills and opinions. They are dedicated to doing their job: seeing that the Order and the Kingdom grow in the right way, uphold the ideals of the Society and bring the greatest possible benefit to all the people of the Kingdom.
Oh yeah, and the newest Laurel brings the chocolate.
Laurel/Apprentice and Laurel/Journeyman relationships will vary from person to person. Some have this relationship based on trust and friendship, some base it on a pre-existing student-teacher relationship.
Some Laurels choose to take on apprentices. This is not necessary. If you do have an ongoing teaching relationship going, you don't have to formalise it. You may choose to continue encouraging their development as it is. If you are interested in taking on an apprentice, it is a good idea to wait until you feel comfortable with your new role. It's also good to have a chat with another Laurel or Peer in this sort of relationship to find what is expected in this role.