|What's a Vigil?
[07/30/2002] [Snicker Furfoot]
At Clan 2002, I was blessed by my Kingdom and Circle of Knights with one of the highest honours in Amtgard - Knighthood. I thought I would share my experiences with something few Kingdoms know about, and even fewer do: The Knighting Vigil.
Started (as far as I know) in Amtgard at least, by the Kingdom of Dragonspine [1.], the vigil is a change from the traditional method of "surprise Knightings," in that the candidate is told at least a day in advance, to allow them time to prepare. If there is still a "surprise" element involved, it is generally when the candidate is "kidnapped" at dusk the day before the Knighting ceremony, and taken to the vigil site: somewhere isolated from the rest of the gathering, where the candidate can be at peace while listening to visitors as they impart words of wisdom. There may be a cleansing ceremony, or the candidate may just be gotten rip-roaring drunk (fortunately, I escaped both with just a slight dampness from the rain, and a nice buzz from Sir Ironpaw's mead). They may also be given a lantern with a candle to represent the light of the dream they carry with them. It is the candidate's responsibility to keep that light alive throughout the night. Water, Earth, Air and Fire are all represented in a way, which may be important to the more religious-style ceremonies. Keep in mind that the tone of the vigil is generally set appropriately for each candidate - so those who are not as interested in a religious tone aren't forced into something they won't enjoy.
The vigil itself is a solemn affair (unless it's mine). As the candidate sits and reflects upon the duties and responsibilities of Knighthood, other Knights (or important people) approach and sit with the candidate while imparting their experiences or words of wisdom. Many Knights may ask questions of the candidate - "What does Knighthood mean to you?", "Are you ready?", "What do you plan to do with the belt?" Others may answer questions the candidate has. At the end of the vigil, at dawn, the candidate is released to prepare for his ceremony later that day (SLEEP!).
The purpose of the vigil is not only to let the candidate contemplate the change about to occur in their Amtgard life, but to also allow those around them to participate and perhaps guide them one last time before they become the guides themselves. It can be a moving and spiritual experience, but can also just be something simple and memorable. Regardless, the vigil is an excellent way to celebrate the beginning of a new Knight's life.
I've been in Amtgard a long time. 9 years. My first big event was the Tenth Year Clan Gathering, in 1993, and since I started out in Shadowvale (under Dragonspine), I've always been considered a "Dragonspine native," even though I've lived the last few years in the Kingdom of the Wetlands. When Sir Feral Lynn found out that I was to join the ranks of the Peerage, he felt it would be appropriate to hold a vigil, and worked long and hard to prepare for it. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans and rained out his carefully planned vigil site - so we relocated to an emergency site, the Wandering Unicorns pavilion. I was honoured to be allowed to hold something so special under the roof of a group of people I am proud to call my friends. My own ceremony was a tad less solemn and dignified than most, but it was exactly what I wanted, and I am incredibly thankful to Sir Feral and my own Circle of Knights for arranging this. Long Live the Dream.
Sir Snicker Furfoot
[ The first vigils in Amtgard were in the Celestial Kingdom, but they were popularized as an alternative to buffeting by Dragonspine. -- ed. ]
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