The Little White Scarf
The Little White Scarf or, The Award That Isn't,
by Master Robin of Gilwell. Written November 19, 2018
It was an accident, really. Or at least, something unintended.
Back in the early 1980s, fencing and the kingdom of Ansteorra were both very new to the SCA. To a lot of people, the fencers were “those people over there”. Many people didn't want fencing in the SCA at all. We were tolerated by some, ignored by others, while some wanted us banned.
We'd been swearing the Legion oath to the Queen for years (starting with our parent kingdom, Atenveldt). The queen might ignore it, or might even be impressed by it. But it wasn't a big deal to them. The fourth Queen, Sieglnde Syr, was the first one to actively embrace the rapier community. She called the White Scarves "my guys".
So at the end of that reign, a new, small household named Gilwell gave her a little gift – a rose pin, in gratitude. Adelicia Tagliaferro even sewed a little white scarf to hang from it, just to show what it was for. Just a small, meaningless, gift to the queen when she stepped down.
Sieglinde loved it. She was *never* seen without it again. To her, it felt like a favor from the White Scarves. (And with some justification. Two of the three heads of that household were two of the five White Scarves – and the only two of those five still active and fighting.)
So that's what it became. It was real to Sieglinde, and so, like the Velveteen Rabbit, it became real to everyone. One was given to Adelicia Tagliaferro in 1982, in full court, with the White Scarves assembled. Then one was given to Tessa of the Gardens in 1983, and to Arrowyn of Emerald Moor in 1984. Julia de Montoya was given one in the early 1990s. Then Thomas of Castellan in the mid-to-late 1990s. AEthelyan Moondragon was given one in 2001, at Queen Larissa's Champion tourney. Lorelei von Orlamunde (Osprey) was given one in 2014.(1) The next two were given at War of the Rams, on November 17, 2018. The recipients were Myfanwy ferch Eifion and Serena Lascelles (2).
What does it mean? Well, since it isn't officially an award, it doesn't "mean" anything. It's a thank you and a recognition. The White Scarves give it very rarely, to people who have loved us, supported us, taught us, guided us, understood us (no easy task), and occasionally slapped us down (a never-ending task). The White Scarf is better for their support, and for their guidance.
Four were given in the first few years, and then only five to seven more over the next third of a century. It was easier to have a major effect on an Order of 5-10 people than on an Order of over 100.
It is not an award. It is a token, a "thank you," a warm hug from the White Scarves. It is a recognition than people who don't wear actual White Scarves have been a major part of our growth and our development. That what we think of as "our accomplishments" is actually accomplished by Ansteorra as a whole. That we are supported by a large, enthusiastic group of people, and that some people's contribution to what the White Scarf has become may be greater than our own.
(1) As a note, Osprey's Little White Scarf was cut from a scarf HRM Conall Ó Ríoghbhardáin gave to me at my elevation which was from the fabric Her dress was made with for AAA (Ansteorra's Argent Anniversary). - Brian MacCael
(2) The little white scarf I presented for Serena is a piece of the white scarf I was elevated with. Serena took off my red scarf on that day because she was one of the people who helped me become a white scarf. I felt it fitting she should receive a part of the same white scarf. - Thorland O'Shea