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The Three Estates of Membership

The Order is divided into Three Estates of Membership:
Companionship, Administration, and Ecclesiastic. There is some
overlapping between the Estates, and membership in one Estate does not
exclude one from the other two. To give you an idea of how this works,
let's take a closer look at each Estate.


The First Estate: Companionship

Everyone in the Order, no matter what their other ranks or
titles, is a Companion. A Companion is simply someone who has been
invited to attend the rituals, ceremonies, functions, and events of the
Order. Guests invited to specific events (such as the non-member family
at a wedding) are sometimes also called Companions.

There is a formal ceremony to Confirm a Companion as a member of
not only the Order, but of a specific Chapel, City, or Shire. This
ceremony isn't really necessary, but is performed at the request of a
Companion who wishes to formalize his or her commitment to the Order.
Confirmed Companions may register their chosen names with the Local and
Royal College of Heralds. More on this in the Names Section.

Companions have certain rights. For example, you are permitted
(but not required) to attend any ritual at your Chapel. There are
restrictions, however, in that you may not wear any of the distinctive
belts or badges of the Order, nor may you carry or bare a blade of any
type (sword, dagger, etc.) within the Chapel.

Usually after a Companion has been active for a year or so, he or
she will be granted an Award of Arms (AOA) by the local Duke. The AOA
grants a Companion the right to design, wear, and register with the
Local and Royal College of Arms a personal armorial devise, or Coat of
Arms. More on this in the Heraldry Section. The AOA also grants the
Companion the right to be known by the title Lord or Lady.

Before going any further, I should mention that no title is
hereditary. The son of a Duke does not automatically gain any titles,
just because his father is a Duke. He would have to earn any titles he
wishes to have. This is very much in keeping with not only Medieval
Europe, but also the Arthurian Romances themselves. Sir Gawain is the
eldest son of King Lot of Lothian and Orkney, and yet Sir Gawain is not
called Prince Gawain. And after Lot dies, Gawain does not become King
of Lothian and Orkney (though that would certainly have been his right
in Dark Ages Britain, it is not so in the Order).

There is one possible exception to the above rule, and that
concerns Households. A Household is a free collection of members who
wish to be formally associated with one another and recognized by the
Order. The function of and membership criteria for a Household are
determined by the Household members, and members may have titles within
the Household. These titles may not be the same as any title granted by
the Order, of course. In other words, you can't form a household and
declare yourself its Baron. But other titles do exist, which aren't
formally recognized by the Order (Master, Baronet, even Grand Pubah --
check with your Chaplain or local Herald before taking any Household
titles). And these titles may or may not be hereditary. It's
completely up to the members of the Household.

As a Lord or Lady, you have new rights. While you still can't
bare steel in the Chapel, you can serve as a local officer (except
Seneschal).

Knighthood

We are a chivalric Order. That means that we are made up of
Knights. And let's face it, the appeal of knighthood is pretty strong.
The very word knight brings to mind all sorts of romantic notions of

chivalrous men in shining armor, riding off in search of adventure. As
Americans, we have little opportunity to become knights (although you
may be surprised at the number of esoteric groups that award
knighthoods).

Our Order not only offers the opportunity to study the Arthurian
mysteries and worship in a Pagan, Arthurian manner, but also the chance
to become a knight. True, we don't dress up in silvery armor to joust
or quest. In fact, we discourage violence, be it physical, emotional,
or psychic. But we do go on quests, and we do observe the best ideals
of traditional knighthood.

Knighthood isn't for everyone. It's more than just having someone
tap your shoulders with a sword. Knights take vows of fealty to the
Order, promising to observe and uphold the laws and ideals of the Order,
and to faithfully serve as a representative of our faith to the outside
world. It is a serious commitment that should not be entered into
lightly.

To become a knight, a Companion must first become a Squire. Find
a Knight who is willing to train you for a year. The methods of
training vary from knight to knight and region to region. Some knights
concentrate on the more physical aspects of knighthood, such as martial
self-defense. Others emphasize this less, since we are not a military
Order and don't normally engage in violence. Shop around, find out what
different knights expect you to learn, and then choose a mentor who you
feel most comfortable studying under.

Once you've found someone to train you, you and your mentor go to
your Chaplain and request the Rite of Squiring, in which you will
formally be made a Squire. This gives you certain new rights, including
the right to wear the white belt of a Squire.

As a Squire, you'll study our doctrines, read different versions
of the Arthurian legends, and discover some of the more hidden aspects
of our faith. This will take about a year, and then an Inquiry will be
held among the Knights of your Shire, to determine whether or not you
are ready to advance to knighthood. If you are judged ready, a ceremony
will be held in which you receive Accolades, which formally make you a
Knight. At this time also you will take the Vows of Fealty to the
Order.

As a Knight, you have even more rights and responsibilities.
First and foremost, you'll be allowed to carry and bare bladed weapons
in the Chapel, such as swords and daggers. You'll also have the right
to wear the green belt and badge of a Knight, and the right to train up
to three Squires at a time, plus serve in the office of Seneschal and
rise in the priesthood, if you so desire.

It should be noted that this type of knight is more formally known
as a Knight-Questor, to distinguish the Knight from another sort,
the Knight-Errant. A Knight-Errant has been awarded a sort of
honorary knighthood. He has some of the rights of a Knight-Questor, but
doesn't take Vows of Fealty to the Order, nor can he rise in the
priesthood.


The Second Estate: Administrative


There are several administrative levels within the Order, most of
which are based upon our geographic divisions: city, shire, and realm.
Let's look at these one at a time.

The smallest division is the City, which may be anything from a
small town to a portion of a large city. Larger metropolises are called
Great Cities, containing several smaller Cities. For example, New York
City is called the Great City of New Londinium, and each of New York's
boroughs is a smaller City. There are similar divisions within Chicago,
Los Angeles, and other large metropolises. Des Moines is the Great City
of Crosshaven, containing the Cities of Shearing Hill Fort, the Keep of
the Valley, and Monksbury. My own home town of Ames, home of Iowa State
University, is the City of Axeford.

Each City has a Mayor, and Great Cities have Lord High Mayors.
Mayors are Companions who have been appointed by the Shire's Seneschal,
and who handle the administration of the City and coordinate the local
Chaplains. There are also other City officers, which vary from City to
City. Each of these is appointed by the City's Mayor.
Shire. The next division is the Shire, which contains a number of
Cities, as determined by the Realm's Duke. The Duke also appoints a
Knight to act as the Seneschal, who coordinates the activities of each
City's Mayor. Again, there are other officers in a Shire, determined by
the Seneschal.

Two other Shire officers are the Herald and the Minstrel. There
are two Colleges within the Order, that of Heraldry and that of
Minstrels, and each of these Colleges appoints one or more of their
members to each Shire. Since both Colleges are poorly represented in
New Avalon, I won't go into much detail in this book.
Realm. The third geographic division is the Realm, led by a Knight-
Chaplain who has been appointed as Duke. His duties are many, but
mostly he is in charge of coordinating not only the Seneschals of his
Shires, but also the Chaplains within his realm. Some Dukes also
appoint an Earl Seneschal, who helps coordinate the Realm's Seneschals.
The Duke also acts as a sort of bishop, but I'll go into more of that in
the next section. New Avalon is the Realm which contains much of the
United States' Midwest, including all of Iowa, Minnesota, North and
South Dakota, eastern Nebraska, and northern Illinois.

Finally there is the Order itself, led by the Pendragon, who
coordinates all the Dukes of all the Realms. Just under the Pendragon
is the appointed King Seneschal, who handles much of the administrative
duties of coordinating the Earl Seneschals of various Realms. The
Pendragon also acts as the Grand Master and archbishop of the Order.
Again, more of that in the next section.


The Third Estate: Ecclesiastic

Finally there is the Ecclesiastic Estate, which is made up of the
Priesthood of the Order. Like the Second Estate, this Estate has a
hierarchy.

The first level is that of the Knight-Chaplain (also known simply
as Chaplain). The Chaplain is a consecrated Priest of the Grail and
chief celebrant of a Chapel (more on Chapels later). A candidate for
priesthood is trained by a Chaplain for a approximately a year, when he
will learn to conduct the various Masses, rituals, and ceremonies of the
Order.

Once consecrated, a Chaplain is then allowed to conduct the Grail
Mass, and may even train knights to also become Chaplains. He may
create a new Chapel within his Shire (or elsewhere, for that matter), or
may opt to remain at the Chapel he had been attending as a Knight,
serving side by side with that Chapel's Chaplain. Chaplains where the
distinctive green stole and badge of their office.

One Chaplain is appointed by the Pendragon and Council of Dukes to
serve as the Realm's Duke, who is the consecrated High Priest of the
Grail, a sort of bishop for the Realm. He may continue to serve as the
Chaplain of his home Chapel, or he may appoint a new Chaplain there,
conducting Mass only occasionally. Dukes where coronets, which are like
small crowns, and sit upon thrones. They serve for life, or until they
abdicate, retire, or are otherwise removed from office.

Finally there is the Pendragon, who is selected by the Council of
Dukes from within their members. The Pendragon abdicates his throne as
Duke, and he and the Council of Dukes then appoint someone to take over
the Dukeship which the Pendragon has just vacated.

The Pendragon is the consecrated King Priest of the Grail, a sort
of Archbishop of the entire Order. He is also called by the titles
Chief Dragon and Draco Rex. He wears the Crown of the Pendragon and
sits upon a throne known as the Siege Perilous. He serves for life, or
until he abdicates or is otherwise removed from office.


Honours

The Order awards many Honours to its Companions, for various
reasons. Here is a list of the most important Honours, in ascending
order of kudos.

  1. AOA : Award of Arms. Awarded to any Companion, at the
    discretion of the Duke. Grants for life the right to bear a unique and
    personal armorial device. Addressed as Lord/Lady.

  2. MDH : Member of the Duke's Household. Awarded to any Companion
    at the discretion of the Duke. Granted for the duration of the Duke's
    reign.

  3. ODH : Officer of the Duke's Household. Awarded to any Knight
    holding the office of Seneschal, or any other office, at the discretion
    of the Duke. Granted for a duration agreed upon by the Duke and holder.

  4. CRT : Champion of the Round Table. Awarded to any Knight, at
    the discretion of the Pendragon or Council of Dukes. Granted for the
    lifetime of the holder.

  5. BRT : Baron/ess of the Round Table. Awarded to any Knight at
    the discretion of the Pendragon. Granted for the duration of the reign
    of the Pendragon.

  6. CPS : Copper Pentangle for Service. Awarded to any Knight for
    service to a Shire. Granted by the Duke, for the lifetime of the
    holder.

  7. SPH : Silver Pentangle for Honour. Awarded to any Knight for
    service to a Realm. Granted by the Pendragon or a Duke, for the
    lifetime of the holder.

  8. GPV : Gold Pentangle for Valour. Awarded to any Knight for
    service to the Order. Granted by the Pendragon or Council of Dukes, for
    the lifetime of the holder.

  9. CHG : Champion of the Holy Grail. Awarded to any Knight for
    excellent service to the Order. Granted by the Pendragon, for the
    lifetime of the holder. This is the highest honour awarded by the
    Order.


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