Monday, July 15, 2013


An update, for those who are interested in such things. Evidence that humor runs deep in Mooneschadowe.

From: A company of Heroes: An early History of the Liondragon Guard.

"Midway through [ Gulf Wars XIII (2004)], the Ansteorrian army awoke to find several plastic, blue and pink flamingo yard ornaments displayed around the kingdom’s Gate.  Revelations years later would implicate a group if intoxicated Trimaran squires who had liberated the plastic decorates from a “flock” that one trimaran knight in particular carried with him to events. The sight of the odd display the next morning left most of Ansteorra both scratching their heads as to the point of the display, and with little doubt as to what kingdom the flock needed to be returned to.

Liondragon, however, did not miss the opportunity  to one-up their adversary. After some creative conspiring between several guard members, including HE Gunhilda and Lord Charles, the guard stood ready to “return” the wayward trespassers to their rightful owners. When the guard marched to the Ravine battle that day, no less then four Flamingo’s were affixed to the unit’s armor; one as a makeshift Blue helmet crest (complete with duct tape blindfold and a cigarette in it’s beak), and another three duct-taped across scutums as “pink” decorations/ablative armor. No small number of odd looks were received between blows as Liondragon and Trimaris  vied for control of the Ravine that day."

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God save the King!"

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"Foot Notes"

After having it suggested to me by a friend, I have decided to make a second version of my upcoming road heraldry manual. This one will be in the style of the modern "Cliff's notes" books, with only the essential highlights of how to site herald. More or less, the idea is to give a rookie something he can reasonably use in a "you have 20 minutes to learn this job" type scenario. And honestly, this is not unreasonable, as a lot of site heralds are short-timers, asked to help, but not really interested in making it a long term skill. This is okay, Site heraldry is a labor of love, and I love it for that fact. But still, short term or not, there are ways of making this easier on people without obligating them to hours of training.

So, in honor of the "Cliff's notes" reference that I have decided to title my booklet "Foot Notes: a guide to road heraldry"

This, and my larger project are at my website if you want to follow.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God save the King!"

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The origins of the Liondragon

A bit of SCA history from my local group. This particular segment talks about the origins of the liondragon heraldry, the identifying element of our group's fighting unit. While I won't quite compare it to the "eagle, globe and anchor", the there are some parallels to be had between them. Please, enjoy, share and if you know more on this subject, by all means, let me know. The point of the actual document is to collect information and include it in the narrative. 

(Citations for what I have are available upon request, if anyoneis that interested)

The mythical “Liondragon” badge was actually born of an in-group joke. Several members of the shire had quipped that the group should register a “Draggin’ tail” because of how bad Mooneschadowe tended to procrastinate. The early efforts to move forward with the pun ran into some local resistance because of possible associations with Middle Kingdom, or Drachenwald. While the pun was eventually discarded for more serious imagery, the concept of a creature with a dragon’s tail persisted. Lord George Michael Edmundson, the herald at the time, discovered two previously registered badges called “winged lion-dragons”. George presented a wingless variant of the illustration to the group, dubbing it simply the “Liondragon”. The invocation (weather deliberate or coincidental is lost to history) of an kingdom icon (the lion) and a unique feature, (the dragon’s tail) went over well with the group and won popular support quickly. Ultimately Talen and his wife Treshen became the strongest advocates of a newly fashioned design. While not a historical design in itself, the combination of animals (even fictional ones) into mythical figures is a documentable practice in English heraldry. The Badge was submitted (fieldless, meaning it needed no background) to the college of arms, and registered in June of 1991. The actual purpose of the Liondragon figure was not decided upon for some time, though the general idea had been to use it as an overall Mooneschadowe badge. Gulf Wars V would mark its first use as a military uniform, and the subsequent years to follow would cement it in this roll. In over a decade of history since, this display has changed little, and has since proven to be one of the guard’s most identifiable features. 

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God save the King!"

Monday, July 8, 2013

Of history and of war, within the SCA

This is one of my largest, and frankly most controversial projects. One of Mooneschadowe's most well known organisations is it's fighting unit, the Liondragon guard, or "the guard" as it is known locally. In early 2013, I became aware that I was one of a very few people who were fully aware of some stories of the guard's history and background. Furthermore, some of the commonly held believes being passed down to our newer members did not correspond with my own recounting of certain events. With this in mind I set out to collect and condense as much of the guard's history as I could into a single document. Needless to say, this was not universally popular, though I consider my commitment to history more important than my popularity.  While there will probably never be a history that is completely verifiable or accepted, I present this work in progress as an honest effort to preserve what still remains of the guard's origins and history.

A Company of Heroes: an Early History of the Liondragon Guard

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God save the King!"

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Formatting and shrinking... a lot of shrinking

Okay, I have been busy with my girdle-book idea. There are more details at my website, but I wanted to summarize the process here as well.

I'm transferred and formatted the complete text of the Ansteorran award scrolls to a 4.25" x 5.5" page format for as small a book as I can manage. The spacing as been tightened down, and the font printed in 12 point Cambri. All told, I now have 5798 words, 58 pages (including a huge table of contents). Take a look and see the updates and the background information for yourself.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God save the King!"

Saturday, July 6, 2013

And introducing....

The Hawk's Nest: a Herald's Workshop

While I feel that the page is relatively self explanitory, I'll go ahead and give the penny tour.

Road Heraldry 101 - this part chronicles my efforts to fully develop a written curriculum for road (site) heraldry.

Also, the first draft (emphasis on "draft") is up there of the manual, please, feel free to take a look.

Girdle Book - This talks about my girdle book project. not a lot there right now, but more to follow.

"The Quill and parchment" - this is my library of my works. Some are there, others to follow. Please feel free to look around.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God save the King!"

Some new tools and some news

As I rite this it is late and I am tired so I will keep this brief.

I have decided that my latest efforts are best documented on a more versatile web address than my blog. I have't published it yet, but I am within a day or two of launching my SCA heraldry website.

Included on this site will be several documents, including a large collection of my original SCA-centric works.

And on that note, my latest word is one step closer to fruition.

I have completed the first draft of my road heraldry paper, now currently called "Medium to large event Road Heraldry, and Instructional Manuel by Lord Ivo Blackhawk".

The present statistics are 27 pages without the appendix (which contains the notes the material is based on), 17263 words.  

One step closer!

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God save the King!"

Monday, July 1, 2013

Quiet and idle... for long enough

There is more to me than just good health and a happy family. Heraldry may well run as thick in my veins as blood, but heraldry is a purpose driven skill. to be a herald in truth is to have a court to call, or a site to cry. It is to have a badge to construct or a name to consult on. In truth, one can only fractionally call themselves a herald in a vacuum.

That, in all honestly, has been my existence for the past six months. Even since receiving my second clean bill of health, the time off that I have taken during my recovery had pulled me far enough away from my trade and craft that others stepped in to fill the resulting void, or even in some cases, it was decided that such services as my own were not needed. I don't really begrudge most for their decisions in that time, none should be asked to simply put things on hold while another is ill; as any situation changes, the population at large should adapt and move on, it is the way of things, and it is best for them.

Still, that left me in very much of a vacuum, with little in the way of things to go in my old stock and trade as a herald.

That was until now. And as fortune would have it... the answers to several of my quiet prayers were answered at once, but not in one answer.

My time of idleness is over. Once again, I have purpose, and I have goals to attend to.

First... "the book".

A few weeks ago, I attending King's College, here in Mooneschadowe. A Good event to be sure, but something I have never seen before was handed to me there. All of the teachers were gifted with Girdle Books. These simple constructed little items were the first I had ever seen of such an item, but I learned quickly that they were usually elaborately constructed books worn in the later third of the middle ages, and were absolutely accurate for my persona.

Now, I've constructed several mock-ups and prototypes since then, mostly out of my own personal curiosity and creative interest. The whole point of the book is to have a readily available text on you that you can carry with you wherever you go. In many respects it is a precursor to the PDA and smartphone technology of modern times. Ultimately, I had wanted to make something I could take and keep notes on for court heraldry. I don't do it enough to truly memorize the steps and processes, and the closing salutes usually escape me without some sort of script.

Then, this weekend past, I was more or less submerged in a churning cauldron of heralds from across the SCA. Conversation flowed, ideas were bounced left and right, and then, I had an epiphany.

What if the complete text for the awards of the kingdom, as well as the fundamental steps for opening and closing baronial, royal and grand courts were condensed down into a single text, bound, and made into a girdle book? This would afford a herald a ready refernce for court.

Lunacy you say?

I'm just getting started.

Historically, the vast majority of Girdle books that still exist are prayer books, or Books of Hours. After mulling the title over, and reflecting on the long standing joke that since the SCA doesn't have a church, they rely on the college of heralds for its necessary administrative frustrations, I decided to encapsulate my plan into a cant:

"The Ansteorrian Heraldic Book of our's."

Within it's pages will be a complete list of the current award tests, as well as the framework procedures for the opening, closing and ordering of courts (and meetings) at the local, Baronial, Royal and Grand (inter-kingdom) level. To add to this, the book will includes illuminated capitol letters and pages in a fashion reminiscent of actual historical examples, but will also retain it's functionality as a working text meant to guide heralds when they are caught without their normal "bag o' magic and mystery".

Some people loved it, some people liked it, and some were skeptical, but not against it 

But the best endorsement I ran into was when Mistress Dorcas Whitecap, who upon hearing it said "good idea, in fact so good I think I might steal it!"

It's grown since then, but people have already stepped up to help. There is a lot to do if I am to make this happen, but I think it is infinitely doable, absolutely cool, and most importantly; a contribution that will help elevate heraldry within Ansteorra. 

Second: a class, and a class of heralds, and a job that should never be quiet.

I have long held that road heraldry (crying the site) is an important job within the SCA. Surprisingly, that has met with some resistance, including a few autocrats who outright said "we don't need site heralds" and made it clear that heraldry would not be included in their agenda. To be fair, these are few and far between, but I point them out here because everyone should know that Road heralds are not automatically seen in the same light as their court, list, or book herald counterparts.

As Road heraldry is one of my fortes within the society, I made up a class or it some seven years ago. Two hours long, and with a handout that is fifteen pages, I have given it ten times, and never had more than two people attend, (and worse yet, two of those classes were complete no-shows). Still, I have faith in the importance of my cause, and with that I submitted my class for Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium.

To my pleasant surprise, the attendance here was a marked improvement, and none in there had seen my word before, meaning I was seeing fresh faces, getting fresh takes on old ideas, and likewise sharing the benefit of my decade of service waling sites for autocrats and Scenechals.

I had no way of even guessing the good fortune that would befall me after that class. First of all, I had four people afterwords who were not there, walk up it me, identify themselves and then say "I was talking about site heralding and your name came up as one of the top authorities here at the event." So, aside from the people in my class, four more got handouts and instructions on how to reach me and teach the class for themselves. Additionally, only one person out of that combined group was Ansteorrian, meaning that my class just jumped a half dozen kingdom borders.

Also: one of my students spoke with me right after class. As it happens, he's a peer and the War Herald for next year's Gulf Wars. He spoke candidly about the state of site heraldry at the war, explaining that the last two years didn't even have organized site heraldry, and he felt that the war suffered for it. He urged me to contact the War Voice herald (who is ansteorrian) and speak with her about my class and my materials. He said he wanted road heraldry back at the war, and felt strongly that I could help him towards that cause.

I had just gone from trying to find places to help teach heraldry, to being names an inter-kingdom level authority on a subject, and assisting with planning stages of site heraldry for the second largest war in the society.

Third: From notes to a class to a paper... from herald to a scholar.

Building on that last part, the same individual spoke with me some time the next day. He asked me if I would write an academic paper on the subject of road heraldry, a paper that could (and would) be both usable at an inter-kingdom level for educational purposes, as well as submitable to A&S competitions for peer review and critique. I had never considered this possibility before, but if a peer of the society would advocate for such a thing unsolicited, then it is a very realistic venue for me to help raise heraldic education levels in the SCA as a whole. I have always considered myself a writer, and a amateur scholar, but never have I considered advancing road heraldry through scholarly writing before. This will be a new concept for me, but one that I am looking forward to.

Fourth (and last): to rejoin the ranks... to march with an army.

I have not been able to go to Gulf wars in a great many years. With a family, and financial obligations, Uprooting three lives for a week and traveling a quarter of the continent away was simply not practical in recent years.

But this Sunday my wife and I spoke on the subject, and we agreed that now there is more to this issue than just going and having fun, or even working. People are seeking me out for my skills, and I know I have more to give than just what can be put on a page. While it will pain me to depart without the wife I love, or the son I adore, we have all agreed that the best thing I can do is to go forward, and travel with the army of Ansteorra for the next Gulf wars.

To war I go.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God save the King!"