The only thing that is constant in this life is change.
11 years ago, I attended my first Pennsic as a member of an armored combat unit. Pennsic is an event of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a medieval reenactment group. This particular event has been running for 45 years now.
The difference between this event and others is that Pennsic runs for a full two weeks, and is a war between two kingdoms. So for one of these weeks, roughly 2,000 fighters go out in full armor almost every day and ‘fight’ this war – by beating the hell out of each other with rattan sticks.
Oh there are rules to this form of combat – specific armor requirements, specific places on the body you can and cannot hit, specific rules on how large the rattan weapons can be, and plenty of marshals out on the field watching to ensure that no one gets hurt. But it is combat nonetheless. And there is a lot of energy being expended in combat, especially when it is on the same field 45 years in a row with 2,000 or more people fighting almost every year.
So being in that first fight was a HUGE catalyst of change for me.
First, there was physical change. I faced my fear by being out there. I recognized I had more control over my body than I ever realized. I didn’t throw up, even though I wanted to. I didn’t allow my fear to show on my face, and I actually was able to function in the battle, even though I was scared as hell. There too were also physical changes. I met my husband on that battlefield, and fought alongside him in that first battle. Once we started dating, I moved to another state, took another job and ended up purchasing a home in order to be close to him.
Mentally, I found that I had wells of strength within me that I never knew I had. And those wells of strength have never gone dry, even in the years since that first battle. I’ve relied on that strength to push me through lots of life changes as well as to learn to heal from issues in my past. And what surprised me even more was after I got off that battlefield, I recognized that doors opened in my mind that allowed me to recognize what it was I needed to heal from.
Finally, there was a spiritual aspect to those battles. By claiming my strength and pushing myself I found I had learned new skills I to protect and take care of myself. Those skills have also served me well. They have given me confidence that I can handle things that have been thrown at me. I think the Gods saw this that day. And their response was basically, “So, you have faced your fears, good for you. Here are some gifts and more work for you to do.”
Pennsic will be starting again this weekend, and again, I will be attending along with over 10,000 people. I won’t be on the armored combat unit this year; I had to give that up due to the fibromyalgia. This year however, I’m trying my hand at fencing. The battles will not be as rigorous, but they will still be just as intense.
And as I make my final preparations to go out there, I’m recognizing that I’m having the same feelings as I did 11 years ago, when the winds of change first started to push me into a new direction for my life. The feeling of being unsettled started this morning, along with my thoughts moving towards reflection of my life and how it could change. I decided to set up a meeting with a friend to do some divination on the subject, and by doing so all of the feelings that I had started to intensify. Change is again on the wind.
Perhaps the changes will be battlefield related, like they were 11 years ago. Perhaps they will be more related to the classes that I intend to take, as Pennsic is a place to explore many interests – not just those related to combat.
It sounds weird that something that started as a game could have such power to be a significant catalyst for change, but I say from experience is absolutely does. You just have to do your best to be ready.