The phrase “chain mail” conjures many different images in people’s minds, from noble knights in Medieval times to divers facing sharks in the tropics. The uses for this seemingly simple mesh of metal rings are almost endless. The past and the present are slowly changing how views and uses of this ingenious mesh will be used in the future.
To know how chain mail will affect our community we must first define some terms that any quick Google search will produce. How do you spell chainmail? Chain mail? Chainmaille? Chainmail is the traditionally correct way to spell the ancient art of linking metal rings together to form a protective barrier from your enemies. In this day and age, however, “chainmaille” is becoming more popular. The French influenced spelling helps internet users find this exquisite jewelry art form more readily. And really it just looks so much cooler! As for chainmail? Well, that type of letter should just end up in your spam folder!
In ancient times, (we are talking Neolithic here), conflicts between two groups were settled mainly at close range man to man. Fertile river valleys and the rise of agriculture lead to a population explosion, which in turn, lead to conflicts and the eventual need for armor. Slowly advancements of metal working in the Age of Iron allowed for a” carburized, or steel like iron,” that enabled cultures like the Assyrians to refine scale like armor into mail shirts. Interlocking rings that make up chainmail quickly found their way in many forms from Japan to Europe. There were two possible methods of producing the rings for the mail. Closed rings were made by punching them from a sheet of metal with a double punch, or by simply punching a hole in a piece of metal and trimming the outside edge. Open rings were usually made from iron wire. There has been (and still is) much controversy as to whether the ancient armorer knew the art of wire-drawing. What historians do know is that as early as the time of Charlemagne chainmail was in demand. Charlemagne built his armies under strict guidelines. In 805 he demanded that any mounted soldier who owned 300 acres of land or more bring a full tunic of chainmail. This
Interlocking rings that make up chainmail quickly found their way in many forms from Japan to Europe. There were two possible methods of producing the rings for the mail. Closed rings were made by punching them from a sheet of metal with a double punch, or by simply punching a hole in a piece of metal and trimming the outside edge. Open rings were usually made from iron wire. There has been (and still is) much controversy as to whether the ancient armorer knew the art of wire-drawing. What historians do know is that as early as the time of Charlemagne chainmail was in demand. Charlemagne built his armies under strict guidelines. In 805 he demanded that any mounted soldier who owned 300 acres of land or more bring a full tunic of chainmail. This mail tunic often covered a soldier’s knees and was split at the side for easier movement. Mil was even mentioned in Anglo-Saxon laws by the 7th century. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the mail tunic would slowly see its replacement by plate mail by the 14th century in response to the rise of the cross bow. The defense that mail gave to the medieval knight was largely based on large slashes from a sword. Mail armor could not stand up to piercing weapons like those inflicted by an arrow. Today medieval knights only run around in historical reenactments, but chainmail is far from dead. Butchers and wood workers often wear steel mesh to protect their hands and arms from accidental knife wounds. “Filmmaker Valerie Taylor was among the first to develop and test shark suits in 1979 while diving with sharks.” Artist now
Today medieval knights only run around in historical reenactments, but chainmail is far from dead. Butchers and wood workers often wear steel mesh to protect their hands and arms from accidental knife wounds. “Filmmaker Valerie Taylor was among the first to develop and test shark suits in 1979 while diving with sharks.” Artists now use lightweight aluminum rings dyed in bright colors, or even rubber rings to create beautiful jewelry. Technology that once was developed to protect a warrior from death in war can now celebrate life in vivid colors. In whatever patterns, you put your rings into, whether it is in an armor 4 in 1 pattern or an elegant byzantine, remember chainmail has had a long history and will evolve into new forms to suit human kind.
Amy Reed found her passion for chainmaille jewelry recently after a day of cleaning out her ever-overflowing craft room. There, in a small box nested inside a larger one, situated under a table, was a small packet of aluminum rings. She was reborn in the glow of her computer while researching chainmaille jewelry. Small rings joined in new exciting ways formed almost magical bonds, and she was hooked. This form of creation was relaxing and kept her interest, and she found herself telling anyone that would listen about this medium. That was when Captive Link Creations was born!
For sources for Amy’s description of the history of chainmail, please see below.
I started my volunteering way back when my mom retired and I quit working at the same time. She invited me on a day trip with the Sharing and Caring Senior group to Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. I went with them and had a great time with these ladies. They asked me to join their group, even though I wasn’t a senior, and they made me a part of the group anyway. These ladies taught me a lot about life. We met on the last Thursday of every month at the Adult Recreation Center of Gastonia. I ended up becoming President and Treasurer, then I started volunteering up at the adult center. They had the annual Webb Street school dance, which was held in May. I volunteered by helping with tickets or serving food. They also had yard sales which I would volunteer for as well. If they needed anything I would be there, working with the community. It would always put a smile on my face and in my heart to serve the community. Then one by one the ladies passed away. Before my mom passed, there were only a few left. When she passed, The Sharing and Caring Club died with her.
My health began going downhill and so began hard times with us. It was then, in 2014, that Heather Darnell asked if I would officiate for ritual at Piedmont Pagan Pride Day. I started attending the volunteer meetings, then I started running the information booth at PPD. Getting to know the Pagan community was great, and volunteering for this project gave me such a great feeling again and it made, and still makes, my heart smile. My health is turning around now, and I can volunteer more and more. If you think that Pagan Pride Day is great, join us and be on the inside. You will meet great people and some you may get very close to, like family. Going to the volunteer meetings helps me to be a part of the community all year long. It gives me such great satisfaction to be a part of such a great thing and to be able to watch it grow. So if you love the day, volunteer and watch it come together. We come together each month as we make this a great time to visit with everyone and support the community. It will make your heart smile being a part of the Pagan community and will remind you of why we stand strong because we stand together.
Queen of the Information Booth
Stonie Messer is an integral part of our volunteer community, and we are thankful to have her. She and her husband, Wayne Messer, have been involved in PPD since 2014, both in ritual and in planning. If you, or someone you know, would like to be a part of the PPD planning committee, or simply would like to volunteer at the event, please send us an email at email@example.com or a message on Facebook.
The Neopagan “Wheel of the Year” is a modern creation. No historical culture included all eight of our Sabbats in their festival calendar, though each is built around a likely historical Pagan holiday. Principally, our holidays are drawn from either Celtic or Germanic sources. The four “cross-quarter” days are Celtic and usually come with somewhat more historical attestation than the other four. Though Samhain was arguably the most important festival to the Celts, Beltane (also written Beltian, Beltine, Beal-tine, or Bel-tien) was perhaps even more widespread in observance.
Neopagan Beltane celebrations are somewhat different from how the occasion would have been honored by its Celtic originators, though. In modern Paganism, Beltane’s most recognizable festive element is probably the dance around the maypole, but to the Celts, it would have been the ceremonial extinguishing and
relighting of the fires of the tribe. This was kind of like hitting a metaphysical reset switch in order to ensure that the incoming summer season had a potent start. Cattle were often driven between a pair of the newly kindled bonfires as a rite of purification and to encourage fertility. The maypole itself is actually believed to be of Germanic origin.
In fact, our Beltane customs are really a mix of influences from multiple cultures and time periods. Like the Wheel of the Year itself, Neopaganism’s Beltane is a modern construct. But it’s not just a random assortment of bits and pieces. There is a unifying core theme, or characteristic, to Beltane, and that theme is fertility. Nearly everything that we associate with the holiday is linked to fertility in some way.
For Wiccans (and Wicca-derived Neopagan traditions) Beltane is seen as the marriage of the God and Goddess, often personified as the King and Queen of the May. English Mayday customs, like the traditional enactment of “The Marriage of Robin and Marian,” are a likely source for this association. The symbol of the Hieros Gamos (“sacred marriage”) is an old and powerful one, with examples appearing in both early Sumer and Ancient Greece. The union of Masculine and Feminine Divine principles is a central component of the religion of Wicca, where it is symbolized in the performance of the Great Rite. The Great Rite can be seen as an expression of Wicca’s core Mystery, and Beltane’s Sacred Marriage can be seen as that Mystery cast into a grand mythopoetic context.
Of course, Beltane’s ubiquitous maypole carries obvious phallic symbolism, and the associated dance (in which tightening ribbons allow a floral wreath to gradually lower itself down the length of the pole) provides an unmistakable visual suggestion. This is an overt, though abstracted, enactment of sexual coupling. Because of its abstract nature, though, it lends itself to a more expansive symbolic meaning. The pole is not just a phallic representation; it can also be seen as the axis mundi, the center of all creation. The wreath passing along its length can be said to represent the creative principle achieving physical manifestation. In a Mythic sense, a maypole dance is not only recreational but “re-creational”, a symbolic re-making of the world itself. Just like those early Celts, snuffing and re-lighting their fires, modern Pagans still use Beltane as a time to hit a metaphysical reset switch to jump-start our creative juices (and promote fertility).
Visit our Website at http://www.churchofwicca.org/beltane
Tony Brown is a High Priest Emeritus of the North Carolina Piedmont Church of Wicca. He is proud to have been a founding member of NCPCOW. He has been an Eclectic Wiccan for about twenty years and has served as clergy for the last dozen or so of those.
Tony is a devotee of Dionysos, the Greek God of rebirth, transformation, tragedy, comedy, unresolved paradox and wine.
While you’re at the big Beltane Brouhaha, feel free to stop by the Piedmont Pagan Pride Day booth and purchase one of our new T-Shirts, find ways to get involved, or talk to volunteers. We will also have more information regarding our fundraisers, such as the upcoming Desserts and Divinations on June 3rd at Aries Moon and GenBenCon, our gender-bending contest coming up on July 1st!
My name is Cameryn Rhosyn, and I’m heading up the Piedmont Pagan Pride Day 2017 Social Media Team (wow, that’s a mouthful). This year, the team and I are beginning a new initiative called Community Spotlights. This initiative will be primarily hosted on our PPPD Blog and reposted to our Facebook Page, and it will include posts that highlight and show appreciation for community groups, creators, vendors, volunteers, and others who make Piedmont Pagan Pride Day the magical event that it is.
Throughout 2017, we will be uploading guest-authored posts, created by leaders in our community and our volunteers, that discuss events, places, businesses, groups, and other pagan-friendly features of our surrounding area. Each author will be highlighted, not just on our website and on our main Facebook Page, but also at the event itself.
Each author’s post will be kept in its original form as best we can to preserve the artistic integrity of each author with changes only occurring in cases of spelling errors and minor technical changes to make the posts more accessible for our visually impaired readers. With that in mind, we hope you enjoy the posts that are soon to come from our contributors, such as Misfit Sanctuary and International Pagan Radio.
Coming up, we’ve planned to have one group and one vendor per month, with additional content between, including a community book list, reviews of non-pagan (but still eclectic) stores, events, poems, and more! There is so much going on in our community, and we’re so excited to see everyone getting so involved and finding new places to go and things to see. If you or someone you know would like to write for our Community Spotlights, please let us know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our volunteers are hard at work making this the best Piedmont Pagan Pride Day ever, and we’re always looking for more help. If you’re interested in volunteering in any capacity, please send us an email at the address below, and we will be more than happy to help you get involved.
Thank you and Blessed Be,
Cameryn Rhosyn (They/Them/Theirs)
This year, we are starting a new community-building initiative called Piedmont Pagan Pride Day Community Features! We will be posting “Community Features” on the Piedmont Pagan Pride Blog (here) that will serve as a highlight of various groups, vendors, readers, entertainers, and other contributors to the piedmont pagan community and will earn your booth a designation at the Piedmont Pagan Pride Day event. Please consider this a chance to show off your group to the Piedmont Pagan community prior to the event on September 23, 2017. If you’re interested in taking part in our new initiative by creating a blog post, please email us at email@example.com.
Have a wonderful year!
Cameryn Rhosyn (They/Them/Theirs)
Piedmont PPD Social Media Team