Period in the SCA

The SCA time period is set by the governing documents of the SCA as pre-17th Century.  That is 1600 to the dawn of time.  Common practice is most people stick with 600-1600 but that IS NOT the actual time period for the SCA.

There is often much discussion about “being period,” and “not being period.”  The SCA is very lax about period requirements.  You are to make an attempt.  Nothing more.  Some people choose to try to do and have most of their stuff as period.  Some people choose to have a t-tunic and pajama pants and call that good.  The SCA allows both and everything in between.

The SCA is a not-for-profit educational organization that has been around for more than 50 years now.  The SCA is one of the largest if not the largest recreation organization on the planet.  The SCA is welcoming and asks that people act chivalrously and get along with one another.  And to that end I want to speak about how in my opinion the participants should be dealing with period-ness.

So please allow me my soap box moment about being or not being period in the SCA.  Short version?  Live and let live.  For more, read below.


It is not a 0 1 kind of thing. It just isn’t.  It is not you are period or you are not period. That isn’t how it works.

Why am I typing this? I find that this type of thinking is damaging and hurtful to the SCA.

“If you’re not here to be period what are you here for then?”

Is one of the worst most damaging fallacies one can utter in the SCA. Doesn’t matter if it is for Fencing, Heavy, Scribal, Fiber Arts or anything else.

Of course equally destructive are those who try to chase people away from being period.  They might call people who are being period, “snobs” or “stuck-up”.  Usually nothing is further from the truth.  To be honest of course you get such people in all groups so I can’t say they don’t exist.  They do.  Then again what do you call the people speaking badly about those who have chosen to be more period?

Making rules to FORCE period-ness (or the lack of it,) on people is just a way to strangle the SCA. Yes, there are other groups out there than may or may not make fun of the SCA and its lack of strict adherence to period. And that is grandly unchivalrous of them to do so. It is terrible comportment.  It is wrong to do.  No exceptions.

That these groups have benefited from the SCA being a feeder organization for them, (and they have and do,) just makes that kind of thing even worse. We are the SCA. We get people interested in history because we’re no pressure fun learning. And oh my gosh people LEARN here in the SCA. That is our purpose.

Trying to formally or even informally require people to become more period kills organizations and/or keeps them small. There is a reason we are the largest recreation organization on the planet. We’re let people be where they are and inspire them to learn more and do better.

If seeing something not-period (or very period,) is a problem for you, then YOU have the problem. Not them. When I started in the SCA almost 30 years ago, the ONLY proper response was to ignore the non-period items existence. Anything else and YOU NOT THEY were the gauche one. This is how the saying “Oh you’re naked m’lord/m’lady” came to be. The mundane clothes were not able to be seen (because they were mundane and thus ignored) and thus the person was “naked”.

Anybody who knows me knows that I am all about being as period as possible about my scribal work. Period is great and wonderful stuff and I hope to encourage and inspire others to become more period in anything that they wish to do in the SCA. To that end I have given away thousands of dollars in value of period or period-esque inks and other scribal supplies.

But I am also one of the first to stand up against demeaning others for not being period either informally or formally.  It is incredibly unchivalrous behavior in my opinion.  Just as bad of course are those who chase people away from researching and learning and doing period stuff.

Forcing people to leave their chosen activity because somehow they don’t meet arbitrary period-ness requirements is also not okay.  That isn’t the same as saying this is a period (art/science/activity) contest. Those are fine and can be wonderful things to inspire people and to display things and to be tested/judged on how period something is. I find them great ways to learn even when I wasn’t all about being period.

We need to push back against the insistence of people being period. What the SCA has done so well in the past 50 years is improve on what we know periodness to be. We have corrected ourselves and inspired thousands, literally thousands of people to learn and do more period things. And without being mean or rude or demanding about it. That is the formula that has grown the SCA. That is the formula we need to keep using.

Inspiration is far better than demeaning.

Inspiration is far better than requirements.

Inspire and encourage. And be happy with where people are at. And yes, be proud that the SCA is so darned good at this that we act as a feeder organization to dozens of far more restrictive, and far smaller, groups that are more strict about period-ness. That is truly something to be proud of.

But let’s just do what we do best. Inspire people to learn and to do. They’ll get more period or not. And that is okay. Work on inspiration. Be the change you wish to see. Be enthusiastic and inviting about it. That works so much better and it grows the SCA.

2 responses to “Period in the SCA

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