The most important part of Pennsic that makes it the magical place we love is the people around us. It is people who build their homes-away-from-home, allowing the event to rise like Brigadoon. It is people who bring their skills, their music, their crafts, and share them with us. And it is the people who we mourn when they leave this world behind.
This year has been harder than most, and being unable to come together to celebrate our love for each other hits us harder than usual. Particularly affected is the ritual that takes place every Thursday of War Week to mourn those we lost: the burning of the Viking ship.
The ship-building and burning is a collective funeral for our loved ones, and a way to remember those who have gone before us and changed our lives forever. Not being able to have that collective mourning ritual hurts in ways that are difficult to define. We are forced to put our collective mourning aside, and handle our pain alone. And, while we can cry over Zoom together, we cannot yet hold each other the way we would wish.
In this unusual and difficult time, La Familia Gladiatoria has stepped up to help us mourn together. First, they gathered the names of our beloved dead for them to recite. Then, right on time on Thursday of War Week, La Familia released a “Lyke Wake Dirge,” so that we could together listen to the ritual we would have attended in person.
The result is deeply moving, and extremely generous. Speaking personally, I was moved to tears, and I am not one usually given to such displays. Earlier in this year, I lost a friend to cancer and a stroke. His name was among the ones recited in the dirge and is now in this way immortalized. I can only hope that this offers you all the same release and support it offered me.
In addition, a memorial ship will be burnt on August 13th, one week later. This venture is not done by the Familia but by VM Roberts and Michael Houghton (known in the Society as Herveus d’Ormond) and all the other good folks who are behind the Pennsic Memorial Ship that we normally see at the marketplace at War every year.
Our beloved dead are always with us, and as long as we remember them, they live with us still.
I hope to see you all next year, where we can remember and support each other in love and memory together.