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Laurel/Apprentice Relationships

By Maitresse Yvianne d Castel d’Avignon

What is an apprentice?

 While most Laurels will teach anyone who comes to them with a question, an apprentice is someone who has a more formalized relationship with a Laurel. What that relationship is varies but it usually involves an agreement for the Laurel to support and guide you in things related to becoming a Peer- skill, knowledge, research skills, comportment, etc. Being an apprentice doesn’t give you more “status” than someone who is not an apprentice. Though law does not require it, some Laurels request that their apprentices wear green belts or favors so that others may recognize them as someone on a quest to Master their art.

 What an apprentice is not is a rank.  It is a job description.  Apprentices are expected by their mentors to work, and to learn, and to progress in their arts.  If you seek to become an apprentice solely to gain prestige, you should rethink your plans.  Any glory earned doesn't come from the association with a Peer but from your own accomplishments.

 Do I need to be an apprentice to become a Laurel?

 In Æthelmearc, more so than many other Kingdoms, it is not necessary to be an apprentice to become a Laurel. The arts community in Æthelmearc is very active. If your name were to come up in a Peerage discussion, chances are someone would recognize the name and possibly know a little about what you do. Being an apprentice assures that should your name come up at a Laurel meeting that someone who knows a lot about you and what you do would be there to offer counsel to the Order. Having a Laurel to guide you also assures that there will be someone there to answer any questions you may have about your art or the Peerage.

 How do I find a Laurel to apprentice to?

 If possible, get out there and meet some Laurels. We’re not all alike in temperament or approach to the arts. Some will happily take an apprentice who is not working in the same field as they received their Laurel for…. Others require their apprentices to focus on the same art.

 An exercise that may help you find a Laurel that will complement you is to write down your answer to the question … What is a Laurel? What would the perfect Laurel do, how much do they need to know (period and modern), how often should they teach, how would they treat others, how might they approach a problem, character traits… anything you can think of. Then look at the list and see if it is reasonable to expect any one person to meet the ideal you have in mind? Laurels are still human after all. If your desired role model exists, the Laurel you are looking for may be at the next event…. ask others if they know the person you are seeking. If your expectations are realistic and nobody knows a Laurel that fits your definition of a Peer perhaps they haven’t been recognized yet. You will need to determine if it’s better for you to keep looking for the perfect Laurel to guide you, find someone who is close to that ideal or develop a relationship with several Laurels to direct you, with or without being apprenticed to one of them.

  A Laurel may approach you with an offer of apprenticeship, you can ask a Laurel directly or what is most commonly done is a third party acts as an intermediary between the Laurel and the prospective apprentice. Once you determine that there is an interest it’s not uncommon for there to be a period of discovery and enlightenment. Much like an extended job interview, this is the time for you to get to know each other better. Some Laurels will request that you be a formal Student of theirs for a period of time before they will offer you an apprenticeship. Others will decide that there is a strong connection between you and make the offer almost immediately.

 How can I be sure it’s the right Laurel for me?

 Just like any relationship, there are no guarantees. It’s usually best to ask lots of questions and not rush into anything. Talk openly and honestly about what you expect out of the relationship and what the Laurel expects of you. Talk with other apprentices. They will have different perspectives, even if they are apprenticed to the same Laurel.

 Do you have to become an apprentice in a “court” ceremony?

 The actual ceremony of becoming an apprentice is as varied as the relationships. You do not have to receive a belt in court or sign any papers for an apprenticeship to be valid. You and your Laurel may choose to do this as part of the ceremony. You will need to work together and speak honestly with each other to make sure you are in agreement with whatever ceremony you choose.

  What happens if I become an apprentice and then discover it isn’t working?

 Talk with your Laurel. It could be something the two of you can work out and become closer friends through the trial. If you decide between you that it is necessary to end the relationship, then it’s best to part on the best terms possible. You may both feel a bit depressed, but who doesn’t when a relationship doesn’t work out?

 This is a great time to assess where you want to go with your art. Wait a while before you revisit if being an apprentice is something that will work for you. You may find other ways to achieve your goals. There is no shame in letting go of being an apprentice but continuing on towards Mastery alone with only occasional guidance from Peers.

 Can my Laurel dissolve the relationship?

 Either party can discontinue the relationship at any time. Occasionally when a Laurel moves to another Kingdom or feels they are not meeting your needs, expectations or conditions of apprenticeship they will offer to break the contract. If they feel you would be best served by being apprenticed to another Laurel, they may make arrangements for you to meet them or discuss transfer of your apprenticeship. You are not being “sold”. You do not have to accept another apprenticeship if you do not want to. There is no need to rush into another relationship if you are unsure or uncomfortable with it.

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 Being an apprentice, or not being an apprentice, isn’t a reflection of who you are. A green belt is just a public way to acknowledge that you are devoted to an art and confirmation that you have someone to help guide you. The lack of a green belt does not mean that you do not have the knowledge, skill or support that someone wearing one does.

 


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