Monday, August 9, 2010

Green Men, King Arthur, People Singing to My Camera!

Somewhere, long lost to the mists of time, I promised to regale you all with my adventures at RenCon 2010. So let's go back, back to April 2010, when you could buy pop for a nickel and children always listened to their parents, and I shall tell you a tale of myth and legend and retail therapy.

This was the first ever RenCon, and as such, I didn't really know what to expect. I was thinking 'Indoor RenFaire,' and it was definitely some of that, but along the way, the convention got some Steampunk in their Renaissance and some Renaissance in their Steampunk. Not that that was necessarily bad. I can't hide it anymore, this Steampunk thing is growing on me. Which means by the time I've fully embraced it, it'll be out of style.

But besides the Steampunk and inordinate quantity of fairies, there was this scholarly vibe to the con which I really liked. There were panels on Renaissance food and dress, on the Green Man, and yes, on King Arthur. Because how can you have something called RenCon and not mention King Arthur?

I think as most of my readers know, my YA Urban Fantasy, Knights of Avalon, is about the Knights of the Round Table being reincarnated as New Jersey teens, so I especially wanted to attend those King Arthur panels.

Unfortunately, I missed the one on the Holy Grail, due to my bothersome need to have a job, and to keep a roof over my head and to eat, but I was able to attend the Arthurian Love Triangle panel led by Caitlin Matthews. Yes, THAT Caitlin Matthews, legendary author, artist, and scholar. OK, she's a legend to me, and she's insanely cool, and she sang to my camera, but more on that later.

I've heard her speak before and not only does she know her stuff, but she's a riot to listen to. She actually spent a lot of time discussing Welsh love triangles (for example, the story of Lleu Llaw Gyffes, Blodeuwedd, and Gronw Pebr), before tying them into the Arthurian ones and discussing the concept of the Flower Bride as it pertained to Queen Guinevere. What's a Flower Bride? It's basically an archetype, a woman who represents the strength and life of the land, who is intimately tied to the kingdom itself, and who men constantly fight over, because to have her as a wife is a symbol of right of rulership.

Which is why poor Guinevere is always getting kidnapped, because she's a symbol of legitimate authority.

Towards the end, Caitlin Matthews somehow got onto the subject of how Lancelot became known as Lancelot du Lac (Lancelot of the Lake). As the story goes, his father was a powerful king caught in the midst of a bloody war. As his castle was being stormed, Lancelot's mother took her infant son and fled. During all the confusion, she set her son down for a moment and Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, stole him away. Only Caitlin Matthews acted it all out to hilarious effect. She ran around in a panic, pretending to be Lancelot's mother, then did her best impression of Viviane, sneaking up to the baby and grabbing him when Mom wasn't looking. I guess you had to be there, but it was pretty awesome.

After the panel was over, I went up to Caitlin to ask her a couple of questions and to take her picture...and my camera died. Caitlin was unfazed. She told me she had a trick to getting electronic devices to power up: She sang to them. In her lovely, rich voice, she bade my camera to turn on, and you know what, it did.

Before I left the convention, I did some shopping. Not much, due to the aforementioned need to eat and have someplace to sleep, but I did get myself two pendants: One of Brigid, Celtic Goddess of Fire and Inspiration, and one of the Lady of the Lake.

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