It is the perfect morning to write about elves and festival days, about mirth and merriment and magic. My loyal hound, as he does like clockwork each morning, bade me wake at about 5:30 a.m., expressing his need to venture outdoors. And venture we did, into a thunderstorm. We braved the dark hale and vanquished the elements, and I found myself wide awake with no need to climb back into bed. Thus, I watched the sun rise and now it is misty and grey, watery droplets hanging like ornaments on the boughs of the very-green willow outside my porch, and it is still early for a Sunday morn and all is quiet and still.
J and I have spent the past two Saturdays at the Renaissance Festival out in Hammond, and my wee-hour ponderings today set me to thinking about my own history with this phenomenon, and about just why I feel so happy and peaceful today, and in general about what it all means in my universe.
I’ve been immersing myself in the “Ren Fest” world since I was…17? Or so? Somewhere in there. It all started when I was introduced, in New Mexico, to an organizaton called the Society for Creative Anachronism (the SCA). My high-school boyfriend (may the goddess keep him, as he is no longer in our realm) took me to one of their events, his friends dressed me in their costumes, and I spent the evening dining on feast food out of wooden bowls whilst seated upon a pillow on the floor, watching the entertainment which came in the form of my first-ever exposure to bellydancing. I was delighted, and in awe.
It wasn’t long after that, that I began dancing myself. I became immersed in this new/old world and the morning I woke up in my tent in an encampment, on a chilly misty morn, to the sound of a lone bagpipe player upon a distant wooded hill, I knew this was where I belonged.
As anyone who has been around this blog long enough can see, I’m an avid costumer. I’m picky, very picky, and if I decide to represent an era or a character or a world, I strive to do it as correctly as resources will allow. I owe this mentality, I realized this morning, to the SCA. They are stringent about historical accuracy. Nowadays, although I do not particularly lean toward the pure historical, it’s the ACCURACY that I still strive for. No matter what I’m costuming, I want to do it right, or not do it at all. I thank them for that!
As time wound its way forward, though, I ventured into new friendships and discovered another group that brought fantasy, as well as history, into its universe. I spent some happy times with the SCA’s red-headed stepchild, a group called Amtgard. Since they combined history with fantasy, I was able to bring my historically-accurate Middle Eastern persona into a world where I could become Gypsy, and explore my budding witchiness to boot. I ran barefoot through the forests at night and learned how to be sneaky, even with jingly belts on. I danced by campfires while fire sparks flew into the night sky, and drummed while battles raged.
Nothing changes your life like sitting on a hillside, watching the mists creep out of the forest, through the pines, and down into a dell where 100 re-enactors are waging an epic battle on a muddy field in the rain. There was steam rising from their bodies as they fought to the “death.” It’s an image so engraved into the interior of my head, I shall never forget it.
The Renaissance Festivals came into play during both my time with the SCA and the subsequent Amtgard era. We had a little tiny tent fair in Las Cruces, NM, that set up in the park for one weekend, only. There, we would perform and dance and run around in costumes, having a generally merry time while stepping out of ourselves to immerse in another way of being.
As college got busier, I got into other things and time passed and I moved to Colorado. My CO path set me at a remove from this world of mine for a number of years, until one day, years hence from my days of running barefoot through forests, I went to the Colorado Renaissance Festival for the very first time. It was fun and glorious and a completely new thing to me, these Faires that had permanant sites and buildings! Where there was a street cast and people Got It! Oh, happy day! And then life went back to what it was. But I was still a costumer and there were a couple of years where M and I did all kinds of Elf Stuff.
This was my first true dive into the Fantastical. This was when I started reading everything Tolkien ever wrote. And then the films came out and what Jackson did with the elves had me completely enthralled. My hair was long back then, and I started putting little braids in it. For Halloween and such things, I was one year an elf after the fashion of the Legends of Zelda, another year a Sea Elf (I will never do blue body paint again!), and for other occasions after that I did an Autumn elf with red and yellow leaves sewn on a ragged skirt and other times sported purple suede lined with white fur.
Elves were where it was AT, for me, then. I loved it. A set of well-done ears can change completely how you carry yourself and how you view the world and how the earth breathes underneath your feet.
It wasn’t just Tolkien elves, either, but Forgotten Realms elves and the Drow (which I will do someday when I can handle the idea of body paint again) and all kinds of creatures. There’s something about them that resonates with my witchiness, and my love of nature, and my affection for plants – all things that cross over into other things that I do. (Like becoming the Herbology Professor for a Harry Potter universe!)
Overlapping the time of the Elf for me, was the time of the Pirate. That was when I came into the Colorado Renaissance Festival for good. In 2005, I joined the tribe of pirates known as the Rogues of Colorado, and I spent at least 4 weekends a summer for 6 years out there. The summer I performed with Whirly Jig, I was there the whole 8 weekends! I learned how to play music, there. I learned how to sing! That was my planet, after a week of mind-numbing day-job activity. I would say it was an escape, but I don’t view it as such. Particularly after getting in on the inside, and dealing with the politics, it was simply another world, with its own individual set of problems. But I still loved it, and when J and I bade our farewell to the Shire of Larkspur, it was very difficult, indeed.
Thank the heavens that we have a Faire down here in Lousiana! Getting to know our new Home Faire will be Part 2 of this thing, as I realize now how long this entry is. If I’d gone into detail on every moment mentioned above, I could likely write a novel. Thus, I shall once again break my rule, and share two entries in one day. Sometimes, it cannot be helped!
And so, goodfellows: Merry Meet, Merry Part! And Merry Meet Again, upon the next entry.