The Annotated Lineage of Ragnvaldr

This page is dedicated to annotating the various historical references and kennings that Aneleda and I used in the Lineage of Ragnvaldr.  Because I’m using free, online wordpress, the easiest way for me to do this is to annotate each “verse” below it, in blue.  (trad) after a kenning means that it’s a traditional one that I discovered, (AB) means that I made it up, and (AF) means that Aneleda made it up.  (Sir G) means that the information came from my interviews with Sir Timothy Garagchan o’Leitrim, and (Her H) means that the information came from my interviews with Her (then) Highness Arabella.

 The Lineage of Ragnvaldr

by Andrew Blackwood and Aneleda Falconbridge

Battle-born / Gold Ring-Breakers
Mighty MidRealm / Dragon-daring
standing tall / Through fierce Thor-strikes
Know not bed-shame / nor straw death,
in sword-sleep / aimed at Asgard.

Gold Ring-Breakers are Kings (traditionally Breakers of Rings, but it needed to fit, so we changed it).  Thor-strikes are lightning (trad).  The MidRealm battles through all kinds of weather.  Bed-shame and straw-death both refer to dying of disease or old age — dying in the straw implies that you were a farmer and not a warrior (trad). Sword-sleep is death in battle, which was infinitely preferable (trad).

bravery / bears a nation
story spark / builds this bonfire
heats the hearth / of a kingdom
built on bones / of Dragon-legends.

Story-spark, but it’s actually a meta-kenning (AF) — it refers to the process that we went through to write the Lineage itself.

One such was Dagan, Dragon Father
Strong shield-bearer, bone-beak carrier
Many the raven-harvest he gathered
Once war finder, now he dreams the sleep of the sword
In his day, he was King of men and dragons, twice reigned he from wind-swept castle,
Across the frozen road In Dragon Kingdom’s heart.

A bone-beak carrier is a warrior carrying his sword (trad).  A raven-harvest is a corpse (trad) — gathering many such means killing a lot of warriors.  War Finder (AB) refers to Dagan finding Cooper’s Lake to hold Pennsic War at.  Sleep of the sword (trad) is dying in battle — the battle Dagan finally lost was with illness, but it was a battle nonetheless.  Wind-swept castle (AB) refers to Dagan living in Chicago, and frozen road (AB) is actually referring to I-80, which crosses much of the Midrealm and delineates the North part of the Kingdom from the South.

Deeds Day dawns / sky jewel seeing
Ring-rich Dagan / Life-web cutter
Took from Drake-King / signs of honor
binding sun belt / prodding steed-spurs
gilt-chain weighty / people’s praises.
Wends life river / offers blood belt…

Deeds Day (AB) is a momentous day.  It’s a repeated Kenning that refers to the Knighting day of each Knight in Ragnvaldr’s lineage.  Sky-jewel (trad) means the Sun.  Ring-Rich (trad) is a generous person.  Life-Web cutter is a rework of the traditional kenning “Feller of the life-webs” which means “slayer”.  Drake-King (AB) means King of the MidRealm.  Binding sun-belt (AF) is a rework of Sun-belt Binding (AB) which is a knight’s belt.  Steed-spurs are (AB) are, of course, a knight’s spurs.  Gilt-chain weighty (AB) is the Knight’s chain.  Life river (AB) is the passage of time.  Blood belt (AB) is a red squire’s belt, which has been a long tradition in the MidRealm.

Battle born, sword-son Elestron, Northwoods Norn, Golden voiced tooth-loosener
Slaughtered by squires, songs singer, Devourer of beef and bread,
Long-haired, long-sleeping, Beloved of Dragon’s Delight.

Sword-son (AF) means squire.  Northwoods Norn, well, I made that up, because it refers to the Female Fates, and Elestron, while not female, was a senior member of Northwoods, where much of all of this happened.  (All other information about Elestron is per Sir G.)  Golden voiced refers to Elestron’s singing, which he was well known for, and tooth-loosener refers to the fact that while he was a student, Elestron and his buddies Aldric and Kennaqrae actually gave themselves scurvey, by eating only the Beef and Bread referred to in the next line:

Elestron, Aldric, Kenneqrae, and Hyronomous der Noma once ate themselves into scurvy because they refused to eat anything but meat for an entire school term. They named pizza an “honorary vegetable […] Scurvy – yes, they actually ended up with bleeding gums and loose teeth. They tended to cook what they called “gloomburbgers,” which were one-pound hamburgers. If you finished seconds, you got dessert – another gloomburger.” (Sir G)

Slaughtered by squires refers to an incident that happened at the first Northwoods Squires’ Revolt event:

We were mutually *infamous* for one thing: at the first Northwoods Squires Revolt event, he was the only knight to be killed in the melee, and I was the only squire to survive (an injury sidelined me). So I was banished by the baron for an unspecified time, and Elestron was “executed” in court. (Sir G)

Elestron was also well known for his singing (mimed ballads), his long hair, and the fact that he slept in and thus was late to almost everything. (Sir G)

Deeds Day dawns / sky jewel seeing
Ring-rich Elestron / Life-web cutter
Took from Drake-King / signs of honor
binding sun belt / prodding steed-spurs
gilt-chain weighty / people’s praises.
Wends life river / offers blood belt…

Battle born, sword-son Garraghan, bringer of flame-farewell,
took to the whale road with gold-friend Elestron
Rode before the breaker of trees, Sword-child, soft-shielded
Board Wrangler, court speaker, Hoary pole wielder, Darkyard line leader
Ermine Lion Bearer, Hedge Knight, Bridge Binder.

Flame-farewell (trad) means death.  Wale road (trad) is the Sea.  Breaker of Trees (trad) is the wind.  Sword-child (AB) is another way of referring to Squires.  Soft-shielded has to do with some of the training that Garraghan and his brother squires went through: 

My involvement led me to their meetings, fight practices, and eventually events. I began doing fight practice at the “turf arena” on Sundays – we were still wearing freon cans and hockey gloves at that time, with basketball pads for knee armor. Equipment was in such short supply that teaching fighters loaned learning fighters their shields. Aldric and Elestron were the young turks who did a lot of the training – Aldric had a round dished steel shield that you would borrow and block with until the steel had wrapped down over your finger knuckles; then you’d put your arm down on the floor and one or two fighters would jump on the shield edge to straighten it out so that you could get out of it, and the next fighter could use it. Training at that time separated shield work from sword work, and most of us didn’t even get to swing a sword until we were well into the blocking phase.  I recall coming home from t hose practices and feeling (and hearing) my knuckle tendons creak in the shower. (Sir G)

Board Wrangler (AB) — Garraghan was Chairman of the BoD for a short period of time.  Court speaker (AB) means herald.  Hoary pole wielder (AB) refers to a deed of heroism Sir Garraghan did at a Pennsic over ten years ago:

we were the last bridge, it was a last-man scenario, and I had been pretty far out of practice. I borrowed a poleweapon from Baron Angus and trudged up to the final Easterling, and Angus and all the locals were thinking “how much does he weigh now? Because if we have to carry him home, this could suck.” But it was a two-shot fight; the stick just flowed. And I turned around and was trudging back, and realized it was completely silent. Nobody around me had seen me do that kind of fighting in *their* SCA lifetimes, though I’d done a lot of it in my career. It was a few moments until, finally, somebody sort of went “Yay?” and then there was a lot of mirth and applause. Angus was saying “Wow! Grandpa!” (Sir G)

Darkyard line-leader (AB) refers to Garraghan leading Darkyard into battle for the very first time on the field at Pennsic.  Ermine Lion Bearer (AB) simply refers to his heraldry.  Bridge Binder (AB) is another reference to his fight on the bridge above.

Deeds Day dawns / sky jewel seeing
Ring-rich Garraghan, / Life-web cutter
Took from Drake-King / signs of honor
binding sun belt / prodding steed-spurs
gilt-chain weighty / people’s praises.
Wends life river / offers armsman

Battle born, sword-son Forgan
un-belted, fighter-farmer, oak teacher, wood-wielder,
Ice-field warrior, DarkYard defender.
Learned he from Garraghan and Foscadh and Ethelbert
Brother to Merowald and Caellyn, Thorvald and Iriel, Thaid and Signy
Took teaching from teachers and taught it himself
To bold Brannos, Valharic victorious, Ragnar the rascal…
Hearth builder, House holder,
Mace giver, life laugher, Gate builder, duck see-er,
Creator of battle-cries, Shield of the linden, root and branch,
in his day, he was Man among Men, Now he sleeps the sleep of the sword,
Force of nature no longer.
But back when the Gods appeared as Men…

Un-belted (AB) — Forgan was never a squire.  While he may have considered Garraghan his primary instructor, Garraghan was very clear about how Forgan was also taught by many other people. Ice-field warrior (AB) — Back before Forgan and his friends truly joined the SCA, they would fight in the dark back-yard (hence the name Darkyard) of his house, literally using tree-limbs.  When it was cold enough, they’d fight on the ice of Lake St. Clair (Sir G).  Fighter-Farmer (AB) Forgan grew a crop of fighters that turned into Darkyard, which also is referred to by oak teacher and wood-wielder.  Hearth-builder, House holder (AB) both refer to Darkyard as well, as a social construct as well as a fighting unit. Mace giver (AB) can only be told in Sir Garraghand’s own words:

he showed up on our doorstep a few weeks after our first child was born with a gift in a paper bag. We pulled out a massive rattle. He was terribly shy about giving it, but: “I don’t know much about babies, but I kind of thought it looked a little like a mace,” he said. (Sir G)

 Gate-builder (AB) — When Forgan decided that Darkyard needed a gate, he came over to Ragvnaldr & Arabella’s house (they lived right next to each other) and wanted to go build a gate, immediately.  The plan he drew took thirty seconds on a piece of paper with a crayon (Her H) .  Duck see-er (AB) — To Forgan, every animal was a duck.  A horse was a duck.  A cat was a duck.  A cow was a duck (Her H).  Creator of Battle-cries (AB) — Forgan would teach kids to yell “Darkyard!”, the traditional battle cry of the household.  Shield of the Linden (trad) is a reference to Shield of the Weak, part of the Knight’s Oath.

Deeds Day dawns / sky jewel seeing
Ring-rich Forgan, / Life-web cutter
Took from Drake-King / signs of honor
binding sun belt / prodding steed-spurs
gilt-chain weighty / people’s praises.
Wends life river / offers blood belt…

Battle born, sword-son Ragnvaldr,
Favored of the linden goddess
Mighty oak of Arabella, Sea-steed armored, ice-blood wielder
Thrice-Throned, Legionnaire Extraordinary
Ice Cold cannon fired at foemen
Rings given gladly, With Silver birch Queen, Sweet Arabella
Reluctant Ruler no longer, Pelican in her Piety,
Far journey from Rebecca’s retainer To healing helper
Blessed by bards, song subject, Hearth of his Heart

Linden goddess (AF) — refers to Arabella.  Sea-steed armored (AF) — refers to Ragnvaldr’s heraldry, which features a viking longship, which is the sea-steed.  Ice-blood wielder (AB) — refers to Ragnvaldr’s, ability to simply turn it up another notch and end the fight effortlessly, as if He was holding back.  Thrice-throned refers to this being Their third reign.  Ragnvaldr is in the Extraordinary Legion, a cannon fired at the foe.  Silver birch Queen (AF) — refers to Arabella.  Reluctant Ruler refers to the fact that Arabella didn’t want to be queen originally.  Rebecca’s Retainer to Healing Helper (AB) refers to how HRM started off as a retainer to Her then Majesty Rebecca in their first reign, and came to be pelicaned in part due to Her work with Disability Services at Pennsic over many years.  

Long the whale road was to bring her this crown
Oft was the battle path blocked by jaunty jaguar and squire-son
by bold brother warriors all, but with bone-beak and sun-shield
and ash-point, to the raven-harvest he gave them, no bed-shame nor straw death
instead sword sleep and sent them, laughing, to Valhol…
And now…
Deeds Day dawns / sky jewel seeing
Ring-rich Ragnvald, / Life-web cutter
takes on Drake-King’s / signs of honor
binding oath sword / consort goddess
gilt-crown weighty / people’s praises
Wends life river / offers service.
Royal born Ragnvald / Arabella gold-bright
honor bones / of past throne-knowers.

Jaunty jaguar (AB) – refers to Sir Ix, who Ragnvaldr defeated in the finals of third Crown He won.  Squire-son in this case refers directly to Sir A’Kos, who dealt Ragnvaldr His only defeat the entire tournament (A’Kos did not advance because he needed to win twice, and Ragnvaldr only once).  Sun-shield (trad) the round/oval shield of the Viking.  Honor bones / of past throne-knowers refers to honoring past royalty of the MidRealm.  

So COME, MidRealm Ring-Breakers!
Battle-children, Dragon-friends, Shield-gnawers, lithe linden, mighty oak.
Stand tall in elf-glory, and feather’s fall, through Thor’s laughter, and Northern kiss.
You will not know not bed-shame, or straw death
but we will fiercely find Asgard by spear-din and sword-sleep.

Lithe Linden, mighty oak (trad) both refer to the women (linden) and men (oak) of the MidRealm.  Elf-glory (trad) is the sun.  Feather’s fall (trad) is falling snow.  Thor’s Laughter (trad) is thunder.  Northern Kiss (trad) is cold wind.  Spear-din (trad) is is battle.

For Ragnvaldr comes to take what is his, And raise up royal Arabella at his side
Dragon Dynast, Kingdom commander, welcoming warriors of Mighty MidRealm;
Gold-friends all, the whale road leads East! to AEthelmark!

Dragon dynast (AB) refers to TRM Ragvnaldr and Arabella having a dynasty of reigns.  

Where, laughing, assemble at the place of Pennsic, Vale of Valhol, and we will call out:

DRACO (invictus)
DRACO (invictus)
DRACO (invictus)

Battle-born / Gold Ring-Breakers
Mighty MidRealm / Dragon-daring
standing tall / Through fierce Thor-strikes
Know not bed-shame / nor straw death,
in sword-sleep / aimed at Asgard.

bravery / bears a nation
story spark / builds this bonfire
heats the hearth / of a kingdom
built on bones / of Dragon-legends.

This Ragnvaldr’s / lengthy lineage…
Here claims he / MidRealm Throne.

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