It has very much snuck up, but my vigil is this weekend. I’m looking forward to the advice and really, just seeing people’s faces again. There may even be a bardic circle that breaks out!

What am I doing to prepare?

The vigil is obviously a bit different from typical SCA vigil, simply because it’s all taking place on Zoom instead of at an event. For me, that means I have to dress up and prepare my space all on my own. And we can’t provide people with food.

The best advice I got from my mom in all this, was to make sure I bring meaning to it. Yes, little about this is typical. But by striving to find meaning, I am making my vigil and the elevation ceremony special. My team also gave great advice on items to add for myself to help my mindset during the vigil, and to help remind me that I am not isolated, but connected to all my kith and kin. And to help compensate for that glaringly modern screen I’ll be staring at. 😉

And of course, I will have the essentials of water, snacks, notebook, and tissues!

To help make the space special, I’ve chosen a part of the house with wood paneling. I’m bringing in a comfy chair, which unfortunately means a modern chair with a high back. I’m going to cover it with a sheep skin. On the floor, which only I can see (alas!), I am putting the cow hide that was used as a prop at the Njáls saga event of Tóki skaldagörvir, which I had the pleasure and honor of attending out in Æthelmearc. (The road trip with Master Dahrien Cordell was so fun!!) I will also have a cup that my Laurel gave me on the table, and a pitcher I bought through the Northshield Online Auction. I have a loaned wooden plate with a beautiful laurel wreath on it. And I am placing my bone comb that I bought last Pennsic from Boots by Bohemond on it, with some other trinkets. It reminds me of sitting and getting to know Mistress Þóra Sigurðsdóttir.

I wish I could do more to emulate the Norse sacred spaces. (That being said, perhaps this is less necessary for the vigil, but more so for the ceremony. And I have some time to think it through for that.) Being near water — like rivers or a lake (see Julie Lund’s article, of the University of Oslo and Anne Irene Rissøy’s article, of Buskerud University College) — that actually feels similar to a tradition Master Owen told me about, that is more common in other kingdoms: ceremoniously washing before the vigil. (The carpet is blue, so I’ll have to pretend that’s my brunnʀ! 🙂) Another Norse sacred space tradition, is hazeling the area (see VAL article), and marking out the area with ropes or poles or even just being on an island. (The cow skin will be marking out the area. It kinda makes it a little island in the middle of the blue carpet. 🤔)

To mentally prepare, I am going to reread the Admonishments and the oath I will say at the ceremony.

A friend also gave me a link to The Dialogue of Chivalry and to Ælflæd of Duckford’s thoughts on Humility and Formality, and he posed a few questions to help me think through these texts. These are on the to-do list still, and probably won’t get checked off before my vigil.

※ I found a blog post about the Njáls saga event by Lilie Dubh inghean ui Mordha of the East Kingdom. I might need to do a write-up of my adventures of that trip at some point, of what I can remember. (I cannot believe it’s been so long since the event!)

Old Norse Alternative Titles I

The SCA has a tradition of alternative titles that are approved by the College of Heralds, so that someone may have a title that is of the proper rank but also of the proper language and period as their persona. They have recently been reexamining and expanding their list, and to also include gender neutral terms.

As a vigilant and as someone who loves historical linguistics and language, this is very interesting to me, and very pertinent, since I will be choosing some sort of period title for myself.

I can envision a whole, in-depth paper on this topic. But, I have other things to balance in my life, so I’m going to be a little brief on the topic. Mainly just using the suggestions as a theme and then grabbing sources.


From the Cleasby-Vigfusson dictionary:

a master, lord; […] a master, teacher, scholar, […] Þóroddr Rúna-meistari, Thorodd ‘Rune-master,’ the Grammarian, id.: Master, of the Lord, N. T., as a rendering of Rabbi, passim: as a degree, meistari Jón, the popular name of bishop Jón Vídalin. COMPDS: meistara-domr, m. mastership, great skill, Mar., Fms. xi. 431, Fas. iii. 426. meistara-ligr, adj. (-liga, adv.), masterly. meistara-samligr, adj. masterly, Mar.

From Matteo Tarsi’s (alumnus of Háskóli Íslands/University of Iceland) short essay, “On the origin of the oldest borrowed Christian terminology in Icelandic”, found on Academia.edu.

As regards the Christian terminology introduced into Old West Norse, i.e. the variety of Old Norse from which Icelandic developed (see Kjartan G. Ottósson 2002), in the period 9th century–1153, two phases can be distinguished: Firstly, 9th c.–1000, when the Christian religion was introduced in Scandinavia and thence in Iceland, and secondly, the period in which the Church strengthened its institutional power both in Scandinavia and in Iceland.


~ The first wave of foreign terms is available in my period, and the second wave is not. ~

magister, meistari: Even though these two loanwords ultimately derive from the same Latin word, namely Lat. magister , they are differentiated both as regards their age in Icelandic, their lending language and their use in the modern language.

[…] The oldest occurrences of OIc. meistari date back to the 13th cen-tury16, where the word has the same basic meaning as OIc. magister , while in compounds, such as skólameistari (the first occurrences of which also date from the 13th century) the word acquires the meaning of ‘head of x’, with ‘x’ being an institution or such.

[…] The etymology of this word would then be: Icel./OIc. meistari < MLG. meister < OHG. meistar / MHG. meister < OFr. maistre < Lat. magister. […]


~ As meistari comes from Middle Low German, which is dated as early as 1200, this term entered into the language two hundred years after my time period. ~


pledge, noun

Mid-14c., plegge, “surety, bail,” from Old French plege (Modern French pleige) “hostage, security, bail,” also Anglo-Latin plegium, both probably from Frankish *plegan “to guarantee,” from *pleg-, a West Germanic root meaning “have responsibility for” (source also of Old Saxon plegan “vouch for,” Middle Dutch plien “to answer for, guarantee,” Old High German pflegan “to care for, be accustomed to,” Old English pleon “to risk the loss of, expose to danger”), from PIE root *dlegh- “to engage oneself, be or become fixed” [Watkins].

From late 14c. as “person who goes surety or gives bail for another;” late 15c. (Caxton) as “personal property given as surety for a debt or engagement. By 1520s as “a token or sign of favor, agreement, etc.

Meaning “allegiance vow attested by drinking with another” is from 1630s. Sense of “solemn promise, one’s word given or considered as security for the performance (or refraining from) an act” is recorded by 1814, though this notion is from 16c. in the verb. Weekley notes the “curious contradiction” in pledge (v.) “to toast with a drink” (1540s) and pledge (n.) “the vow to abstain from drinking” (1833). Meaning “student who has agreed to join a fraternity or sorority” dates from 1901.


I have used this following term in the two Norse peerage ceremonies I have written for friends in the past:

veð, n. noun

a pledge, surety […] leggja veð fyrir grip […] selja e-m veð,

Cleasby-Vigfusson Icelandic-English Dictionary

And here’s some related terms. The first one assures me that it can be used as an alternative to eið, for those who would rather say a pledge over swear an oath:

veð-bróðir, m. = eiðbróðir, a plighted brother, confederate, Karl. 435, 453.

veð-festa, u, f. a pledge, D.N. ii. 206.

The verb used with it is leggja “to lay, place” and selja “to deliver”.

Unlike the English, which has its origins in bail for jail, it looks like veð is related to:

veðja, að, verb

to lay a wager, bet; with dat., veðja um e-t, or absol., […] II. a Norse law term, [Swed. vädja], to appeal; þá skolu þingmenn skjóta dómi þeirra veðjuðum á fylkis-þing, N.G.L. i. 88; verða þar aðrir veðjaðir (= for-veðjaðir ?) ok af sínu máli, id.

For a similar instance of “promise” or “vow”, there is also:

heit, n. noun

a solemn promise, vow; munu yðr heit hans öll föst, Eg. 28, Þorst. St. 55; efnt þykkisk þú hafa heit þín, en nú eru eptir mín heit, Nj. 59; en í engum heitum (engagement) vil ek bindask, Ó. H. 32: in sing, a vow, holy vow, kvað engan hlut batna munu við þat heit, Rd. 248; er honum þótti sem þegit mundi heitið, Glúm. 348; efla heit, to make a vow, Gísl. 90; stofna heit, id., Fms. ii. 16, Sturl. i. 222; festa heit, id., Bs. i. 184: but esp., strengja heit, to make a solemn vow (in the heathen time, whence heit-strenging), Fs. 122, Ísl. ii. 166, Fms. i. 3, xi. 26, Fb. ii. 353, Hrafn. 5; enda heit sitt, Fb. ii. 371: eccl. a vow, offra Drottni heit sín, Stj. 429; heit öll ok testamenta, K. Á. 216: a promise (in marriage), hann bað konunnar ok fékk heitið hennar, Edda 23; bregða föstu heiti, to break a promise, Alm. 5.

Cleasby-Vigfusson’s Icelandic-English Dictionary

Which is related to:

heita, verb

[…] I. trans. with acc. to call, give name to […]

B. […] to promise, with dat. both of the person and thing, or the thing in infin., or absol.;

[…] II. to make a vow, the vow in dat., the god or person invoked with prep. and acc. […]

Cleasby-Vigfusson’s Icelandic-English Dictionary

This verb is the same that is used for introductions in its first sense: Ek heit Eyja “I am called Eyja.”

Other related terms:

heit-fastr, adj. true to one’s word […]

heit-orð, n. a promise, […]


eiðr, m. noun

an oath; vinna eið, but also sverja eið, to take an oath, to swear,Glúm. 387, Nj. 36, Grág., Sdm. 23; ganga til eiða, to proceed to the taking an oath, Nj., Grág.; eiðar, orð ok særi, Vsp. 30; fullr e., a full, just oath, Grett. 161; rjúfa eið, to break an oath (eið-rofi); […] trúnaðar-e., hollustu-e., an oath of fealty, allegiance: cp. the curious passages in Sturl. i. 66 and iii. 2, 3; dýr eiðr, a solemn oath; […] In the Norse law a man was discharged upon the joint oath of himself and a certain number of men (oath-helpers, compurgators, or oath-volunteers); oaths therefore are distinguished by the number of compurgators,–in grave cases of felony (treason etc.), tylptar-e., an oath of twelve; in slighter cases of felony, séttar-e., an oath of six […] In the Icel. law of the Commonwealth, oaths of compurgators are hardly mentioned, the kviðr or verdict of neighbours taking their place; […] As to the Icel. Commonwealth, it is chiefly to be noticed that any one who had to perform a public duty (lög-skil) in court or parliament, as judge, pleader, neighbour, witness, etc., had to take an oath that he would perform his duty according to right and law (baug-eiðr ring-oath, bók-eiðr gospel-oath, lög-eiðr lawful-oath), the wording of which oath is preserved in Landn. (Mantissa) 335, cp. Þórð. S. (Ed. 1860) p. 94, Band. (MS.) COMPDS: eiða-brigði, n. breach of oath, Band. 6. eiða-fullting, n. an oath help, Fas. ii. 204. eiða-konur, f. pl. women as compurgators, Grett. 161. eiða-lið, n. men ready to take an oath, Eg. 503, referring to Norway, the men elected to an oath of twelve. […]

Cleasby-Vigfusson’s Icelandic-English Dictionary

Some other related words:

eið-bróðir, m. an oath-brother, confederate […]

eið-bundinn, part. bound by oath […]

eið-fall, n. a law term, failing in one’s oath […]

eið-falli, a, m. one who fails in an oath […]

The verbs for taking an oath are listed as vinna and sverja, “to work” and “to swear”.