minstrel: Fyrewalking and hospitality

TrueRhymer at aol.com TrueRhymer at aol.com
Fri Apr 25 09:35:47 PDT 1997

I have on occasion, described to people the role of a traditional bard,
his ranking in celtic society, and the perqs. that a Bard received. I
sometimes mention, celtic gifting practices, and how it raises the honor of
the giver and not the receiver.  Brian Boru (of the cattle tribute) once
raised his honor to an unimaginable height, by offhandedly offering to give
all his cattle (the wealth of Ireland) to his Bard Mac Liag. Whenever a Lord
or Lady gifts a bard, I make certain that the gifter is praised roundly in
front of his/her friends.  Most of my ensemble, is made up of gifts- to my
way of thinking, it is an honor to me, and an implicit reciprocal
obligation....I must needs continue to sharpen my skills and share them with
whoever wants to listen.  I believe there is nothing wrong with a performer
expecting a certain level of hospitality.  Let's face it, Fyrewalking (with a
Y, as in Y am I doing this insane act.)
Is a hard, ego pounding business.  Anybody who walks up to a crowd of
complete strangers, and tries to entertain them armed only with hutzpah, and
hopefully some talent, is doing one of the hardest acts.  During my time in
the SCA, I've hit hundreds of fires, and have opened up a lot of encampments
to the Bardic arts.  In Caid, I can honestly say, things have gotten a lot
better, since the Fyrewalkers of Caid have developed a certain E'spirit Du
Corps.  It is THEIR hard work and professionalism, that has encouraged many
baby bards to take wing.  If you expect a certain level of treatment
(hey..ain't nobody paying us for this) and walk if you don't get it...then
pretty soon, people who want and appreciate the bards, get them.  I've seen a
lot of schmucks (including "peers"),badly abuse people who were honestly just
trying to entertain them.  If you don't want to be entertained, just say
so...politely.  Anybody who thinks that the reason Fyrewalkers do what they
do, is for some cheap costume jewelry, and ego stroking,  is sadly
delusional.  Ask any fyrewalker....which do you prefer...some big, loud
party, where people partially ignore you, and afterwards hand you some
bauble, in a showy way, or 3 people who offer you a cup, and truly listen to
what you are doing...I don't think there will be any contest. SCA performers
who deliver the goods, deserve to be treated with respect.  Only by expecting
the best from people, will you get it.  SCA Fighters are the bone and muscle
of the SCA, the Pelicans, Laurels,and peers are the heart and brain, 
but the "Bards/Minstrels/Skalds etc." of the SCA---
we are the soul. _/;{]}
"True" Thomas White Hart

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