NOTE: THIS PAGE IS STILL A DRAFT.
The Order of the Hallows of Avalon actually consists of two parts: the Order of the Hallows of Avalon, which is the, which is the parent group, and the Fellowship, which as we mentioned earlier is a sort of auxiliary. It’s important to remember that the original creation was the Order; the Fellowship was introduced as a way to include those who are interested in participating in our rituals and activities without the expectation that they are following the Warrior path. The people in the Fellowship are a vital part of our group- but we are first and foremost an Order of Knighthood, so much of our emphasis is placed on those activities and training.
The Order, like our Sister Order, the Order of Paladins, draws some of the inspiration for its organization from the Knights Templar. Although the Knights Templar was a Christian order, their structure lends itself well to our needs, and myth and legend at least suggest that the Templars may have been more Pagan than might immediately be expected. Although it has been suggested that their Pagan leanings may have been exaggerated for political reasons, we romantics like to believe that at heart the Templars recognized in such things as the importance of the feminine aspect of divinity and the divine that is present in each one of us.
The Order of the Chalice is organized into Chapters called Preceptories, loosely modeled after the Commanderies of the Knights Templar. Participants are grouped into three broad areas: the Order, the Fellowship, and a children’s group, known as Pages. (which is sort of part of both). For the most part, Initiates are members of the Order; non-Initiates and Pages are members of the Fellowship. Please note that we don’t really make much distinction between “Initiate” and “Non-Initiates”; also be aware that “Non-Initiate” only applies to our order, and some Non-Initiates in the Order may be initiated at a high level in another tradition.
For rituals, we organize into a group called a Commandery. These are temporary groupings, where people take on a role for a ritual. There is no rank requirement for any position in the ritual, but we do give priority to Initiates for the core roles, and we strongly prefer that the Grand Master and Seneschal be on the Initiatory path. However, we also understand that in a small group this may not be possible, and we are flexible.
At first, this may seem overwhelming- there seem to be a lot of titles! Are they really necessary? Probably not, honestly, but they do contribute to the feel of Romantic Medievalism. Being told to talk to Peter over there doesn’t really convey a sense of Medievalism, but going to find Sir Roland… that feels different, somehow. The reason we have a lot of titles is because there are a lot of different things that need to get done, both in and out of ritual, in order for the Order to function properly.
Members of the Order
Initiates are those who have chosen to study to become Knights and, once Knights, to undertake to train the next generation of Knights. They consist of four grades, or what are called “degrees” in other tradition: Novice, Squire, Knight-Errant, and Knight-Companion. There is a fifth grade, but it is honorary, really- sort of a “Professor Emeritus” grade- the Knight-Paladin. Kerr Cuhulain, the founder of the Order of Scathach and the Order of Paladins (our sister order), was initiated as a Knight-Paladin on (date) for the many years of work that he did that made this Order possible. They wear a surcoat (some prefer a tabard)- black for Novices and Squires, and white for all the ranks of Knights. The Chalice and Blade symbol is on the front of the surcoat or tabard.These belts correspond roughly to the belt colors of MArtial Arts schools- white, green, brown, and black.
Initiates receive training in the Code of Chivalry, energy work, meditation, our martial “flow drills”, and the Arthurian Cycle that is used to teach about the Code of Chivalry. They are also expected to learn to write and conduct rituals, and specifically the Initiation rituals of the Order. A Knight-Companion should be able to teach the curriculum across all grades, though not all are called to be teachers. They are the “Priests” and “Priestesses” of the Order.
The first step on the path is the Novice. We’ve chosen to use “Novice” instead of “Page” because historically pages were children, and typically speaking Novices are expected to be adults (with some very rare exceptions). The initial training is in concepts and simple tasks: basic energy work, introduction to the Code of Chivalry, simple ritual roles, and starting flow drills. We follow the advice of Gichin Funakoshi here: “Spirit First, Technique Second.” Novices are trained under the direction of the Chancellor of the Preceptory. Near the end of their Novitiate, they will be given the task of finding a suitable Knight-Probationer or Knight-Companion to train them in the next phase. The Novice can be recognized by a white leather belt around the waist.
Squires are the next level of initiation, and are trained by a particular Knight. While a Knight may choose to have multiple Squires, it is expected that each of them will have some individual time training with their Knight. This doesn’t mean that the Squire can’t train with others, but rather that he or she is being trained one-on-one. The lessons of the Code of Chivalry, the underlying philosophy behind our rituals, how to write basic ritual elements, advanced energy work and meditation, and the flow drills are emphasized. The Squire wears a green belt.
The Knight-Errant is the first level of Knighthood. Depending on the Knight who supervised their time as a Squire, the Knight-Errant may have a new Knight under whom they study, as they must know train under a Knight-Companion or Knight-Marshal. Knights-Errant are expected to learn to write rituals from scratch, and to act in any capacity in any of our standard rituals. The Knight-Errant also learns to teach the Novice and Squire curriculae, acting as an assistant to the Chancellor, and undertakes the Quest of the Hallows, a personal journey of discovery using the imagery of the Arthurian legend and the mythical Hallows. The Knight-Errant wears a brown belt, and may wear a mantle in the color representing the Hallow in which they are studying at that particular phase of their training.
When training is completed, the Knight-Errant may be admitted as a Companion of the Order, or Knight-Companion. While there is no formal training at this level of Knighthood, it is the hope and expectation of the Order that the Knight-Companion will continue to learn and grow spiritually. Knights-Companion will often serve as Officers, and are expected to assist with Novice classes and supervise Squires and Knight-Probationers in their training. Knights-Companion may also choose to serve other pagan groups, as they are our equivalent of a High Priest/ess or High Druid/ess. Perhaps most importantly in terms of personal development, the Knight-Companion may choose to select a Quest. The Quest is a long-term task which is typically completed before the Knight-Companion becomes a Knight-Marshal of the Order. In a sense, the Quest is like a Master’s thesis. It’s expected to take time, and may have several parts to complete it. The Knight-Companion is recognized by a black belt. The Knight-Companion also may wear a white mantle with the badge of the Order embroidered on it.
As previously mentioned, the Knight-Paladin is mostly an honorary degree. It doesn’t really represent further training, but represents some significant service to the Order over a period of time, which typically involves a formal Quest. We mentioned earlier that Kerr Cuhulain was the first Knight-Marshal of the Order, because he literally spent years developing the idea of the code of chivalry and much of the ritual structure that we use. While a Master Knight of the Order of Paladins could join our Order as a Knight-Companion- Sir Seosaidh did exactly that- nobody may join as a Knight-Paladin. Kerr Cuhulain is the only person ever to have been inducted as a Knight-Paladin, and is the only person that will be. If anyone is inducted as an Honorary Knight, he or she will be inducted as a Knight-Companion. The Knight-Marshal may wear a white surcoat on formal occasions.
There is only one group of non-initiates who are members of the Order, and that is the Sergeants. All other non-initiates are considered members of the Fellowship.
Sergeants have chosen to be formal members of the Order, and have undergone training in certain aspects of ritual, the Code of Chivalry, and the flow drills. They are welcome to study anything else in our lessons- remember, there is no secret teaching in our order- but we only expect them to have a fairly basic instruction. Sergeants do have a specific role in our rituals, however- it is they that help guard the entrance to the Commandery, which is what we call the ritual space as well as the participants of the ritual. Think of them as the “Deacons” of the Order. They wear a yellow sash over their black tabard.
The Fellowship of Avalon consists of non-Initiates who choose to be a part of the Fellowship and conduct Rituals with us, but don’t wish to undergo the training for initiation in our Knightly Order or take a formal role as Sergeants of the Order. They may be very knowledgeable and experienced, and some are called to the Warrior’s Path- just not as Knights. Some are initiated in other traditions, but don’t wish to be initiated in the Order though they do participate with us. Unlike in a Medieval Order, our non-initiates are not secondary or subordinate. We respect their path equally, and welcome them as brothers and sisters. Non-Initiate members of the Order oare consist of Yeomen, Chaplains, the Court, and Pages.
Yeomen consist of people who are new, or who haven’t completed the training to become Sergeants or Initiates. A Yeoman may participate in rituals or simply observe as they’re comfortable, and undergo whatever training they choose. Some people may choose to remain Yeomen during their entire time in the Order, because while they want to study they don’t wish to do so in a formal way. When you come to your first event, we will consider you a Yeoman. A Yeoman wears a white rope belt over the black tabard; learning to tie the sash takes some time, and we want people to be able to get “in uniform” their first time without difficulty.
Chaplains are most often those who are initiated in other traditions or religions, and are known as “Brother” or “Sister.” Often, a Chaplain is connected with another member and as such, wishes to participate in our rituals and activities, but isn’t necessarily interested in the Warrior’s Path. Remember that these may be people with profound experience and wisdom, and can be a great spiritual resource. The most obvious difference is that Chaplains wear robes in rituals instead of Tabards or Surcoats, with a purple minister’s style stole, and may wear cords from their other tradition. Be aware that some people have differently colored cords, because their initiation cords are sacred to them, so you can’t always tell just by looking. In some traditions, the color changes, and in others, new cords are added as the person progresses, so a person with multiple cords has completed more study in their order. If you’re not sure, ask!
There is a final, informal group that we refer to as “the Court.” These are people who choose to be with us but have no interest in being Warriors, nor are they initiated in another tradition (or just don’t wish to be seen as Chaplains). Whatever their reasons, we welcome them. In order to maintain that Romantic Medievalism, we encourage them to dress in something Medieval-ish and preferably fancy. We ask that they not dress in black or white to make sure they’re distinct from members of the Order, but that’s mostly so that new people know that they’re not initiates. Our reason for this is that… well, we’ve sort of taken all the belt colors for everyone else, and it’s silly to ask everyone to wear a rope belt. So, we ask that they don’t wear black on their top half or any of the colored sashes, but we do allow the wearing of brown and black leather belts as a matter of necessity. Typically, they’re referred to as “Lord Robert” or “Lady Ellen,” for example, but if you really want to be a “Baron” or “Countess”, it doesn’t really matter. Remember, this is for the sake of theater rather than recognizing any real rank or authority. Sir Seosaidh’s wife, Lady Joanne, is one such person; she comes and participates, but mostly she likes playing dress-up.
The Order’s Page program is our program for youth. Pages are divided into three groups: Sentinels, Wardens, and Guardians. What level one is at depends on how many challenges (activities) the person has completed with regards to each of the precepts of the Code of Chivalry. A Sentinel wears a red sash, a Warden a purple one, and a Guardian a blue sash.
There is no real medieval equivalent of these levels in terms of actual pages in the Middle Ages. Certainly pages in the middle ages weren’t given the responsibility that such grand titles would suggest. Well, neither are our Pages- but we wanted to have cool medieval sounding names that would appeal to the kind of child who’d want to participate in our Order. So the titles were chosen primarily with attention to how cool they were perceived to be by Sir Seosaidh’s daughters. There are worse systems for choosing.
The Preceptory needs to have an administration, and as such there are several officers that manage the day-to-day operations. Each officer has certain responsibilities to the Preceptory and to the Order. These aren’t intended to be positions where an officer gives commands which he or she expects to be carried out, but where those who wish to serve the Order by ensuring that it runs smoothly can do so. Each of these has an equivalent in the Grand Preceptory, usually noted by the word “General” after the Office. Preceptory Officers may choose to wear a purple mantle with the badge of the Order on the left side with their formal uniforms.
The Operations Officer of the Preceptory is the Preceptor. Mostly their job is to run meetings, and make sure that any actions that the Preceptory decides on are carried out. Typically, he or she is one of the signatories on any bank accounts if there are any. The Preceptor is in no way senior to any other member. In a sense, they can be considered simply to be the Chairperson, whose authority only extends to the meeting and anything directly related to it. If the membership votes to take an action, the Preceptor is charged with ensuring that it’s carried out.
The Chancellor is primarily responsible as the Training Officer, and also acts as the Vice President in the absence of the Preceptor. The Chancellor needs to know the curriculum of the Order very well, and needs to have a good working relationship with the Knights who have taken Squires to train. While the curriculum development and implementation is the responsibility of the Chancellor, it ultimately has to be approved by the membership.
The Inspector is the Public Information Officer for the Preceptory. If there is a reason to communicate with the media in any way, it is the responsibility of the Inspector to do so. The Inspector is responsible for ensuring that the website is maintained and all information is up-to-date. This doesn’t mean that the Inspector has to be a web-designer! Making sure that someone has done it correctly is the job of the Inspector. The Inspector also has the responsibility to review any decisions made by the membership for compliance with the ByLaws and Policies, if a question comes up. Having a good understanding of policy development and implementation is thus also important for the Inspector.
The Secretary is the Records Officer, the keeper of all official activities of the Preceptory. Minutes of meetings, records of membership, and copies of all official documents (for example, this document) are the responsibility of the Secretary. When there is any question about a conflict amongst the various copies out there, it is the version held by the Secretary that is considered “official.”
The Treasurer is the Financial Officer of the Preceptory. It is the Treasurer’s duty to maintain accurate records of the Preceptory’s finances and to ensure that any debts incurred legally by the Preceptory are paid. Typically, this is done in conjunction with the Preceptor, and is ordered by the Preceptor when the membership has voted to do something that requires payment.
The Sergeants, Yeomen, and Chaplains each have a representative on the Preceptory board, known as the “First”. Their job is to represent their contingent to the board and make sure any decisions from the Preceptory are communicated and carried out. They are elected from within their own group. There is a Senior Page, as well, but typically the Senior Page is the most experienced Page in the group and works with the Chancellor.
Obviously, there are a lot of things that need doing, and typically Officers have others helping them. If you want to be an Officer, stand up at the next Grand Conclave and tell us you want a shot at it! We’d like you to try a couple of other positions before running for Preceptor, just so that you’re familiar with the procedures, but you don’t have to do all of them- Sir Seosaidh wasn’t even allowed to take a turn at being Treasurer!
When we conduct rituals, we call the participants who are actively conducting the ritual the Commandery. This is just a fancy title to evoke the ancient ideal of an order of Knighthood. In the Commandery, there are various roles that people take on temporarily, and each has a title. These titles are mostly drawn from actual titles used in the Knightly orders, or at least from the middle ages. Anyone may participate in these roles, from the newest Yeoman up. We like people to take roles so that they learn to participate in ritual, especially given that we do some things a little differently! Initiates will be expected to take each of these roles over time, so that they learn the different parts. In other words, these are not permanent positions, and we don’t want them to be.
Commandery Participants do wear some extra regalia, as you will note below. Specifically, they wear colored baldrics corresponding to the Element on which they are calling. When you consider that participants may be wearing surcoats in various colors, baldrics for the elements, mantles for respective positions (Officers or Knights-Marshal), and colored sashes for rank or position, it can be a little riotous with regards to color. That’s just part of the pageantry- a ritual is at least partly theatre to help get you in the right mindset. In the Middle Ages, loud colors were seen as a sign of affluence, so all that color may seem a little strange to the modern eye. You’ll get used to it.
The Grand Master is the High Priest/ess (or Druid/ess, as you prefer) of the Ritual. Truthfully, he or she doesn’t really “run” the ritual. Technically, however, the Grand Master and the Seneschal do set the pace of things, and if (when) something goes sideways, the Grand Master can get it back on track. The Grand Master does need to know all the other roles very well, so that she or he knows when something’s gone wrong. There is no gender requirement for the Grand Master, but the gender does have an effect on that of the Seneschal, as you’ll see momentarily. He or she wears a red baldric with the symbol of the Order in white.
The Seneschal is the other High Priest/ess. He or she assists the Grand Master in making sure the ritual goes smoothly. The only gender requirement for the Seneschal is that the Seneschal be of the opposite gender from the Grand Master, whenever possible. We understand that this may not always be possible- initially, the initiates in the Order were Sir Seosaidh and Sir Roland, and Sir Roland wasn’t knighted yet! Sister Muirghein was participating in the Order as our first Chaplain, so there was initially the question- do we preserve the gender balance or do we prioritize having initiates in the positions? We decided to preserve the gender balance. You might decide otherwise, depending on your situation. He or she also wears a red baldric with the symbol of the Order in white.
The Marshal is responsible for connecting us to the Direction of East, from whence comes the Sword of Nuada in myth, and stands as representative of the House of Pendragon. The dagger or Athame is also included in this direction. This is also representative of the Element of Air in Wiccan terms, though the Elements are somewhat less emphasized in Druidry. In the Motherhouse, we sometimes consider the Sword of Nuada to have been incarnated as Excalibur. The Marshal wears a yellow baldric with crossed swords in black on it.
The Standard-Bearer represents the House of Lothian, the house of the Spear (as well as the Wand). This weapon is associated with the South, and the Element of Fire. The Spear doesn’t have a direct tradition in the Celtic Arthurian myth, but in the Christian myth is named as the Lance of Longinus. This was supposedly the spear that pierced the side of Jesus; we don’t normally invoke it. In Celtic myth this is represented by the Spear of Lugh Lamfadhah. The Standard-Bearer wears a yellow baldric with gold crossed spears on it.
The House of Pellinor, associated with the Grail and the Cauldron, is represented in the West by the Quartermaster. The Grail and Cauldron are associated with the Element of Water. Obviously, there isn’t another symbol more iconic in the Arthurian myth than the Grail. The Quartermaster wears a blue baldric with the image of the Grail in white on it.
In the North, the Stone and Shield, and the House of Benwick, are represented by the Under Marshal. The Stone is associated with the Element of Earth. There are many examples of the Stone in Arthurian and Celtic Myth; perhaps the best example is the Stone from which Arthur drew the sword of Uther Pendragon, thus establishing his right to be king. Stone and the right to rule are long associated in Celtic myth. Additionally, Arthur carried a shield called Prydwen (although there is some confusion, as in some accounts “Prydwen” was the name of his ship). The Under Marshal wears a green baldric with a gold shield on it.
The Center has no House it represents, for it represents the Isle of Avalon, the mystical island that is at the center of the mystical aspects of the Arthurian legend. The Constable invokes the center, and connects the ritual to all of time and space. The Element of Spirit is associated with the Center. The Constable wears a white baldric with a white Celtic Cross on it.
The Sergeant-at-Arms isn’t connected to the calling of the ritual, but stands at the entrance to the ritual space (in our initiation rituals, with the Constable; in other rituals, with another Sergeant or a Yeoman). While he or she has no speaking part, the guarding of the entrance is an important part of the initiation. Sir Seosaidh remarks “When I came to the entrance, there were (the Sergeant and Constable). And it was very clear, if my answers weren’t acceptable, they weren’t letting me in!” The determination of the Sergeant to guard the sacred space can make a difference in perceiving the initiation as real and meaningful. The Sergeant-at-Arms wears no Baldric, but carries a halberd, which he or she crosses with that of whoever else is guarding the entrance.