2008-02-22 / Community

Living in a world of yesterday

Society for Creative Anachronism celebrates the Middle Ages
By Sylvie Belmond belmond@theacorn.com

FOR KING AND HONOR- A member of the Society for Creative Anachronism prepares for a jousting meet held recently at a private  ranch  in  northern  Camarillo.  The  group  invites  those interested in recreating the look, costumes, games, music and lifestyle of the Middle Ages to join them. JANN HENDRY/Acorn Newspapers FOR KING AND HONOR- A member of the Society for Creative Anachronism prepares for a jousting meet held recently at a private ranch in northern Camarillo. The group invites those interested in recreating the look, costumes, games, music and lifestyle of the Middle Ages to join them. JANN HENDRY/Acorn Newspapers A small group of local women in medieval attire gathered with their horses in a corral north of Camarillo on a recent Sunday to perfect their jousting skills in preparation for the Estrella War.

The weeklong annual historical event is hosted by the Kingdom of Atenveldt, one of 19 regional chapters of the Society for Creative Anachronism. The nonprofit educational organization is comprised of about 30,000 members worldwide whose study of Western European history includes recreating the "best" pastimes and crafts of the Middle Ages.

"People in the society are educated and athletic," said Tedi Tate, a horseback riding instructor from Moorpark who recently joined the equestrian branch of the Barony of Altavia, part of the Kingdom of Caid that encompasses Southern California, Nevada and Hawaii.

While preparing for her first practice, Tate said she looks forward to learning and reliving history with a group of friends.

Each branch of the society may practice different activities, such as archery, jousting and rapier or sword fighting, but everyone has a special fondness for the traditions of the medieval lifestyle, said Virginia Hankins, a 25yearold Simi Valley resident known in SCA as Lady Virginia Read.

Hankins joined the society because she's attracted to its chivalric ideal, she said. In addition to using their particular set of skills, society members aim to treat others kindly and act honorably in their daily lives, the computer analyst said.

Members dress in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance when they attend tournaments, art exhibits, classes, workshops, dancing, feasts and more, said Hankins as she donned metallic armor before the entering the corral. She was recently awarded Arms in the Society for her work with horses.

The equestrian branch is made up mostly of women who work at high-tech jobs during the week. Spending the weekend outdoors with horses offers them something quite different, they said.

"Doing something different and spending time outside is a gorgeous way to spend a Sunday," said Hankins, a computer analyst who works from home. "The contrast helps to keep you grounded, she said.

SCA also includes craftspeople, merchants, historians, warriors and singers who emulate activities of ancient Roman and Viking eras, said Melissa Midzor. The Camarillo resident and Kingdom Equestrian officer oversees the local activities of about 120 riders, about 25 of whom are active.

Midzor, who is known as Dame Arabella da Siena by fellow members, began her adventure with the society in the sword-fighting branch 20 years ago. The aerospace worker switched to the equestrian branch to take part in the activities with her horses, she said.

Jousting started in the 12th century to teach men to fight on horseback.

"One group of guys on one side of the field faced another group, but it became too dangerous, so in the 13th century it became a one-on-one sport with two individuals going at each other with long lances," Midzor said.

About a century later, jousting became a gentleman's sport. Horses as well as riders must be trained for the sport because it's counterintuitive for horses to run toward one another.

SCA members use Styrofoam at the end of their lances to prevent injuries, Midzor said.

In addition to jousting, the local history enthusiasts were also finetuning their spearthrowing skills and tossing rings from their mounts.

Many families participate in the activities together, Hankins said.

"Once you're in the SCA, it's like a big alumni association."

Anyone interested in learning more about the society are invited to visit one of the several branches in Ventura County. Rapiers and sword fighters meet at a public park in Oxnard.

"This is not a closed society as many perceive. It's an educational group," Midzor said.

For more information about local Society for Creative Anachronism events or to join, visit www.sca.org.

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