Guilds are basically special-interest groups that get together for their common interest in a particular art or science. They are open for anyone to join and all their events are open to everyone.
According to the The Middle Kingdom Arts and Sciences Handbook,
It is not surprising that SCA folk, with their common interest in medieval arts and sciences, frequently organize into special interest groups. If the special interest group has the desire for a more structured organization, then they may form themselves into a guild. Guilds are considered to be “households” and are not recognized as official organizations within the SCA or the Middle Kingdom. Guild members should report activities to their local MOAS. No official reporting or tracking of Guild activities are required.
The Shire of Rivenvale has formed some Guilds to organize our special interest groups.
Here are some of the guilds we have started or are considering starting:
- Archers & Throwers Company
- Brewers Guild
- Combatants Company
- Cooking Crew
- Dancing Guild
- Drinking Guild
- Equestrian Company
- Fiber Arts Guild
- Gaming Guild
- Leatherworkers Guild
- Needleworkers Guild
Each group can be called a guild or whatever else they like. Possible alternatives for the name “guild” are: association, company, league, organization, club, union, school, group, confederation, alliance, coalition, party, cluster, coalition, bunch, gang, cluster, pack, team, crew. Each group will decide what they would like their Special Interest Group to be called. They will also decide how they will determine their leader and will coordinate the design of their own badge.
The medieval guild was a fraternal organization, with aspects of a social club, trade association, labor union, private school, and quality control inspector. It was a structured group of people with a common bond in their craft. Together the members taught apprentices, maintained high standards of work, fostered communication among practitioners, and moved within a sociable society of people with like interests. At their best, SCA guilds can vigorously advance their craft and be friendly social groupings as well. An active and productive guild may alternate business meetings, workshops, classes, field trips, parties, and publications with a good deal of artisans’ work throughout.
Guilds also allow opportunities for earning recognition as you develop your skills and knowledge within the guild. A possible structure was outlined in the old A&S handbook:
Guild Structure: Guilds may want, but are not required, to follow a medieval structure. Minimally, a guild needs to have a guild principal. The traditional guild ranks are as follows:
Apprentice: The entry rank in the guild. An apprentice has expressed a desire to learn
and practice this art or craft, but has little or no experience. They need supervision and instruction to complete a successful project.
Journeyfolk: The intermediate rank. A journeyfolk has appreciable knowledge of a craft and is capable of doing a project solo. They may need advice or help on some aspects and are not an expert in all aspects of the art or science.
Master/Mistress: The highest rank. A master/mistress should be able to do a large project from planning to finish and be capable of teaching every aspect of the craft.
Masters/mistresses are enough at home in their craft to be able to create new works as well as recreate previous ones.