Laurel Ceremony – Ma’az

Da’ud ibn al-Kabash al-Mai’ez al-Garnatah (Called Ma’az)

Researched and Written by Saito Takauji

Turban Giver Section by Andrixos Seljukroctonis

Ma’az’s introduction and Fealty Oaths written by Himself

Introduction and Notes:

This ceremony is different than the others that I have written, in that it is set up not to be a ceremony in the traditional sense at all. Rather, it is a story being told after the fact detailing what happened years ago when Ma’az was made a Laurel. This was to reflect Ma’az as a storyteller, invoking some of the forms of traditional Arabic storytelling. As such, one of the central characters is a Narrator—the person who is informing the audience of what happened all those years before.

The ceremony within the framing device is based on traditional Islamic and Turkish sources. A Medres is the Turkish form of a Madrassa, and Ma’az is being elevated to its ranks to restore stories and songs lost since the days of Mikal the Ram. These references are to honor Mikal’s memory and highlight his connection to Ma’az.

Some of the sources were ones that were originally researched for Roise’s Laurel ceremony, and some of the forms will be familiar to that. Nonetheless, I have endeavored to make them feel unique to Ma’az and his arts and experiences.


Agha: An Ottoman royal/aristocratic title.  Modernly it has become a Turkish title equivalent to ‘Mister,’ but in period it was a fairly high civilian or officer title. The form used in this ceremony is Agha of the Janissaries, the court official who was appointed to oversee the Janissary regiments, which seemed appropriate for a high ranking knight of the Society. While there was a regular Ottoman army that could have been used, the Janissaries are the iconic Ottoman military force.

al-Saqr: Falcon.

atfal al-Saqr: Children of the Falcon

Danishmend: The title of the founder of a pre-Ottoman dynasty, who were rivals of the Seljuks. The title means ‘one who searches for knowledge’, and became a title for philosophers and modern scientists. As such it fits both generally for a Laurel and specifically for one who has come up the Silver Hammer/Science path.

Emir: A Royal and Noble title common across Islamic countries. Frequently a title for a descendant of the Prophet, and can also be a commander or governor.

Medres: The Turkish form of Madrassa, an Islamic educational institution.

Mu’allim: (Arabic) Teacher.

Sekban-Bashi: Bashi here is a frequent title used for commanders or overseers of things. The Sekban were originally a peasant mercenary force, but grew to be a term for any army outside of the regular one. As an irregular military force, this seemed appropriate to represent the Cut and Thrust community—and their representative here.

Vizier: A high ranking minister or political advisor in multiple near and middle eastern countries. In the early Ottoman Empire the Grand Vizier was essentially the Prime Minister. This title seems appropriate for the Pelican representative in a Peerage ceremony.


Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary, Hakawati: The Ancient Arabic Art of Storytelling, (April 5, 2014).

M.A.S. Abdel Haleem (trans.), The Qur’an, Oxford World’s Classics (2016).

DĀNEŠMAND, Encyclopaedia Iranica.

Recent Perspectives of Ceremonies, Rituals, and Festivals in the Ottoman World, Yale MacMillan Center.

The History and Registry of the Nobility of the Ottoman Empire, Almanach de Saxe Gotha vol. 8.

Dramatis Personae:

KING:Elias de Jaye
QUEEN:Adalyde Heloyz la Cantora
PEER:Mellitus of Rouncivale
BOON BEGGER:Mellitus of Rouncivale
NARRATOR:Nemesis Erycina
ROYAL PEER SPEAKERCatalina de Arazuri
ROBE GIVER:Joan Myssenden
TURBAN GIVER:Andrixos Seljukroctonis
WREATH GIVER:Nesscia and Roise
MEDALLION GIVER:Vashti al-Ash’ariyah


Stage directions: This is framed as the telling of a story about a ceremony, rather than the ceremony itself. As such, when the Narrator is speaking, the ‘players’ should pause/freeze as if the story itself has paused; they resume moving and speaking when the Narrator is done speaking.

Narrator: “The answer is simple,” the Mullah replied. “The prophet said it was allowed, he never said it was a good idea!”[1]

The Narrator pauses for effect. The effect is ‘The crowd has no idea what is happening’, which the Narrator takes as ‘They want to hear a different story.’

But that is not the story that you have come to hear, is it? No, you want the tale of how stories returned to the royal medres, of how the wandering stone of the Standing Stones grew leaves upon his brow.

It is said that when the Laurel-tongued Mu’allim of Calontir was given his name, he received it to the trumpeting of angels and the rejoicing of the populace. But I tell you now, you who were not there, that only half of this is true. For I heard no trumpets, saw not Jibra’il or the angelic host; but I heard a roar from the people which was surely louder still. Gather round oh ‘atfal al-Saqr, children of the Falcon, and I will tell you the story of how it happened.

The tale begins in the court of their most Royal and Exalted Majesties, the Sultan and Sultana of the Sublime House of al-Saqr, a court gone quiet, bereft for a time of story and song.

Queen: The halls of the Medres have gone silent; a stillness stands in the hallways like the pause before a prayer. Where have the stories fled; what has stolen the songs of the people?

King: There is one who will know, and we will call him. For his wealth is his wisdom, as it is said that whoever is granted wisdom has indeed been granted abundant wealth.[2] Herald, summon the wise teacher of whom we speak.

Herald: Sultan Elias Khan, Sovereign of the Sublime House of al-Saqr, Sultan of Sultans, Khan of Khans, Commander of the Loyal and Successor of the Great Line of the Falcon[3]; and Sultana Adalyde Hanim, Protector of the Inner Provinces, the Outer Provinces, and the Three Rivers, Custodian of the Sacred Instruments[4]; command the presence of Master Mellitus of Rouncivale.

Mellitus enters, unescorted.

Queen: Master Mellitus, long has the throne of the Falcon sought your wisdom. Why are the halls of our medres silent? Where are the teachers, where are the students, the teaching of wisdom and wit?

Mellitus: Silence can be the first stage of the true worship, your Majesty[5]; but now it is the silence of waiting. Once, long ago, there was one who walked the hallways and brought the joy you seek—a friend to children, a teller of stories. Now there is need for one like him again.

Narrator: In the ancient days of Calontir, there was a man named Mikail, called al-Kabash – the Ram. He had a voice of thunder, the stature of a giant, and the tender heart of a lamb. A friend to all children, he called them from the fields of war to teach them the ways of story and song. His passing was like losing the sun, for the world seemed suddenly cold. Surely, we belong to the dream, and to the dream shall we return.[6]

King: Long has our Kingdom mourned the passing of al-Kabash and wished for another like him. Is there one in our halls who can take up his mantle?

Queen: Is there one in our Court who can return story and song to the halls of the medres, to ensure our days are filled with joy as well as learning?

Mellitus: There is one, oh my Sultan, oh my Sultana. Long was he the Wandering Stone of Standing Stones, but these years he has been back among your people. It is he of whom we spoke, and you consented to my boon. May I call him now, and see if he is mete to serve as you have seen fit?

King: Call him. Let him be proclaimed, that all may know his lineage and judge his worth.

Queen: But first, let the representatives of the Imperial Council and the Divan of my Order of the Danishmend be summoned.

King: And remember all who come before this Court to speak truth and act with honor. For as it is said, you are commanded to justice and right doing, and forbidden to break the oaths and pledges you have made.[7]

Herald: The chosen of the Dream, rulers of the House of al-Saqr, beloved of the people and the strength of all creation call before them those given the title of Danishmend, known as the Order of the Laurel.

The Order of the Laurel enters, arranging themselves around the court space while leaving a path forward for the processional.

Narrator: There was, oh that there was, in the oldest of days and ages and times[8], an Order created by the most wise Khan William the Silent, and Sultana Sheryl of Thespis; called the Laurel, and given to those who create beauty and find the true ways of history. In some places and times they were called the Danishmend, a title for philosophers and scientists of all kinds.

Herald: The true custodians of the Dream call before them the one called Ma’az, of whom the boon was begged and the question stands unanswered.

Ma’az is processed in with much fanfare.

Processional Herald or Narrator: Oh beloved of the Dream, hear the sound of drums! Oh beloved of the Dream, hear the joy of voices! Oh beloved of the Dream, see before you now one who calls the words of thunder and the wisdom of ancient prophets. Rejoice, Calontir, for one who journeyed has returned; Rejoice, al-Saqr, for a beloved kestrel now a leader in the flock. Rejoice, one and all, for the Son of the Ram has come! Behold Da’ud ibn al-Kabsh al-Mai’ez al-Garnatah, storyteller of the al-Zanbaq[9] under Khan Hirsch and Sultana Magdalena; chalice bearer to their forebears Gilligan and Adelith, the wandering stone, the story telling goat[10] of Grenada.

Two guards bar the way with weapons and serious looks.

Guard: Halt, and stand to our words. None may approach the throne, nay even the foot of the throne, but the worthy of our Kingdom. Who comes here arrayed in such a manner, to such praise and in such glory?

Ma’az: I am Da’ud ibn al-Kabsh al-Mai’ez al-Garnatah, called Ma’az. I am the son of the Fire-Tender, the Bard Mother, and the Fly-fisher. I am called father, hakawati, Oidor, and librarian, and have been a student to masters of both song and fire. It is known that the words I speak are true. I come before you as a servant of the Dream, and all of its people.

King: Let him—and his beloved—be admitted and stand before Our eyes. For We have been given the wisdom to discern and We will judge if he is of whom we seek.

The guards pull back their weapons, reserving their serious looks if they so desire, and Ma’az advances escorted by his fiance between them. He comes up to about ten feet before the throne and makes his obeisance as appropriate.

Queen: Ma’az, you have been summoned here for Our judgment. The halls of our medres are silent; they lack the laughter and stories of the ancient days. Your Master tells us you are he of whom We seek; We will judge. Are you prepared to be so judged?

Ma’az indicates that he is.

King: None may be found worthy if their service belongs to another. Master Mellitus, perform any further rituals which must be accomplished according to the traditions and ways of your House.

Mellitus and Ma’az step away from the Throne, moving to one side to create the look of space and privacy.

Mellitus: Ma’az, my time as your Laurel must end. But this is fit, for it is said that nothing occurs but what has been ordained to us[11]; go straight down this path and you will feel no fear and know no sorrow.[12] My final gift to you is a story I have written, about a young man for whom I have always felt the greatest affection and in whom I have taken the greatest delight.

Mellitus tells the Story of the Magic Bracelet.

Ma’az: My Master, long have I known this day would come. For every child must some day walk beside their parents; and every student besides their teacher.

Ma’az says other words as appropriate to Mellitus.

Mellitus: I now take these symbols of your apprenticeship from you; if you are worthy, from here you will stand beside me as my peer. But no matter what changes between us, the stations our destinies take us to, or even when one of us has returned to the Dream from whence we came, what will never change is our friendship. I take these now to symbolize that change.

Mellitus removes the beads.

Mellitus: But I return them to you, symbolically, to pass on to a worthy student, that the chain of our House may continue into the future. They will be waiting for you after your judgment. Go now, for the Kingdom awaits, and none may deny their destiny.

Ma’az returns to the throne. As he walks:

Narrator: In every story there is a point in which our hero must go alone to the ordeal before him. Where a journey may seem short and easy when in the presence of true companions, alone it is a long and perilous trek. None would begrudge Ma’az a shake to his knees on this walk to the throne; but see also the resolve in his noble carriage.

King: You have been released from the service of your Master. Will you now hear the words of those who would be your peers, and receive their judgment?

Ma’az assents.

Queen: Then hear these words, and seek the treasure of wisdom.

Narrator: It has long been a tradition, among the ‘atfal al-Saqr, that one should not be admitted into the royal medres without first hearing the wisdom of those they would be equal to; for as iron sharpens iron, so one mind sharpens another.[13] And as important is the last—to hear the words of those the new leader would lead, to remind them from whence they came. And so Ma’az stood to hear the words of the wise, and imprint them on his heart.

Queen: To represent the Janissaries, we call first their Agha, Sir <NAME>.

Chivalry Speaker: I stand for those who appear in stories of courage and valor upon the field, seeking justice with the blade, and shielding the weak. You know well of these stories, and the morals of how a blade can bite two ways. We have heard your stories of us, and judge them worthy.

Chivalry speaker says other words as appropriate.

King: To represent the Viziers, we call Master/Mistress <NAME>.

Pelican Speaker: I stand for those who appear in stories of toil and endurance under any circumstance, supporting the people, and giving of ourselves. You know well these stories, and how they inspire perseverance of the body and soul. We have heard your stories of us, and judge them worthy.

Pelican speaker says other words as appropriate.

Queen: To represent the civil regiments of the Sekban, we call Master <NAME>.

Defense Speaker: I stand for those who appear in stories of defense of the city, the people, and the homes; fighting when it is most dear, and the stakes most high. You know well these stories and the moral of that final devotion when the battle is pressed. We have heard your stories of us and judge them worthy.

Defense speaker says other words as appropriate.

King: For those who have been Emir and Emira and served the Crown most closely, we call TITLE <NAME>.

Royal Speaker: I stand for those who appear in stories of leadership, guidance, and just rule. You know well these stories, and the importance they have in inspiring those who will lead us in the future. We have heard your stories of us and judge them worthy.

Royal speaker says other words as appropriate.

Queen: And finally, for the order you wish to join, for the final instruction we call Master/Mistress <NAME>.

Laurel Speaker: I stand for those whose ranks you are called to. We appear in stories of clever words and cleverer works, when it is the craftsmanship of a thing or the wit of a sentence that saves the day. You know well these stories, for you have lived one as long as we have known you. We have heard your stories of us, and told our stories of you in return; we judge both worthy.

Laurel speaker says other words as appropriate.

Mellitus: And now the last, for none should ever lead without hearing the words of those they would lead. I call TITLE <NAME>.

Populace Speaker: I stand for the people. We do not always appear in stories, for our stories are those of daily life; but it is those stories which make up the fabric of the Kingdom, and without those stories the Kingdom cannot exist. We have heard your stories of us, and we judge them worthy.

Populace speaker says other words as appropriate.

Mellitus: Oh my Sultan, oh my Sultana, you have heard these words; of the stories told by and of Ma’az. He is worthy to walk the halls of the medres, to fill them with story and laughter, to teach the students, and to stand as my peer. Again I beg, in the name of the righteous and the Dream, to elevate him to the Order of the Laurel.

Queen: If you accept this step, the stories told of you will never be the same. You will not be called again simply to share our histories; but to write them. Not to share as the whim strikes you, but to teach as the Kingdom requires. Never again to stand among a crowd, but to stand apart.

King: Answer not lightly our next question, oh our teller of stories, for it is a badge of honor and a chain of service to approach near the throne and sit upon the steps.

Queen: Ma’az, son of the Ram, the Goat, of Grenada, is it still your desire to join this Order, to see your duties increased in step with the honors you are given?

Ma’az says yes.

King: Then kneel, and take upon yourself the weight and honor of bearing these stories forth.

Ma’az kneels.

Narrator: Behold, how Ma’az kneels. The long journey to this place has worn upon him; and none would begrudge him a quiver of fear. For this is no sinecure or hollow office; this is a true calling, sanctified and true. To swear this oath is the threshold from which there is no honorable turning back. And yet behold his demeanor—the truth of this moment is set in his bones, and his soul rings with the Dream.

King: Reject all evil, and you will have grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that never breaks.[14]


King: May your skills be ever increased in service to Crown and Kingdom.

Queen:  Encourage good, forbid evil, and believe in the people.[15]


Queen: May your gentle demeanor serve always as an example of courtesy to all who would observe you.


Crown (TOGETHER): And may your spirit ever follow the goals your heart sets before you.

King: All that remains is your oath, sworn before these here and the Kingdom.

Queen: It is this oath that makes you a Peer, for none can be equal to the Crown without the obligations of their rank.

Ma’az: How perfect is this Dream? On this and every day, I give praise unto it.

I swear now, to give of myself to bring this Dream to all.

I swear to walk this path not only for myself, but for those whose footsteps I see tread, and those whose paths are still being trod.

A third time I swear, to learn, to see, to guide, to listen, and to know.

I will, with all my heart, proclaim as part of this oath, my love of Kingdom, not only within the Dream, but represented by all those who share it, now and until death take me.

On the name of my father and mother, I Da’ud ibn al-Kabash al-Mai’ez al-Garnatah, called Ma’az, once called Goat, set my intention and oath this day.

The King and Queen respond with their standard fealty response.

Queen: It is fitting in stories that a wise man may go unseen, but in our courts it is proper to receive the hi’lat, or a ceremonial kaftan of your Order. Is there a robe?

Robe Giver: There is, Sultanim. It is by these robes we were known, for we bore no stars or ribbons to do so. This is your sign of honor, and a beacon to those who need guidance. But it is also a reminder to warm yourself as you have warmed our Kingdom.

The robe giver speaks other words as appropriate.

The robe giver hands the robe to the Crown, who assist Joan in putting it on Ma’az.

King: Is there a medallion, by which he may be known to those who seek him, and whose weight will remind him of the oaths he has sworn?

Medallion Giver: There is, padishah effendim. The ancient symbol of our order, creatively fertile and verdant green. Beautiful in the light, and salvation to those who need guidance. Wear it so all may know of the esteem which you are held in.

The medallion giver speaks other words as appropriate.

The medallion giver hands the medallion to the Crown, who place it on Ma’az.

Queen: Is there a laurel wreath, the sign of poets in ancient times, to rest upon his brow?

Wreath Giver: There is, oh my Sultana. Here is a distinguished symbol of rank indeed, a sign of your lands and bearing the wreath of your order. So it has rested upon the most distinguished brows in history, and now rests upon yours.

Turban Giver (Andrixos): It is decreed that while all should wear the Ammama, recognized scholars such yourself are commanded to wear ones larger than those of common subjects of the Sultan, that you might standout for your knowledge, your teaching, and your honor. It is reported the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, “Adopt the wearing of the turban for indeed it is the mantle of Angels, and hang the tail of it on your backs.”

There is a final gift for you.

There was once in these lands a Vizier of the Medrese, who bore a staff as a symbol of his authority. It was a Staff of Wisdom, a Speaking Staff. When he left us, his staff passed from hand to hand to hand. Now it passes to your hands. Behold the Staff of Mikal the Ram. May it aid you in your journey.

King: In the name of the righteous we approve this deed.

Queen: In the eyes of the Kingdom, we name it done; and name him the Laurel tongued Mu’allim of Calontir.

Narrator: And now our tale comes almost to a close, for there are but few words that remain to say. You have seen as I have promised—how the Laurel tongued mu’allim of Calontir. The tale has gone valley to valley, and remains good with the people.[16] But those final words cannot be mine, and I would not begin to steal them from the Crown.

Narrator bows to the Crown, who nod in return.

Narrator: Let me only say this, before your humble tale teller takes his leave. Remember the wandering stone who returned, and the lessons of honor and perseverance. Remember the day of glory, weighed by sacred duty. And remember the Dream, for it is this that Ma’az served all his days, and wished us always to remember.

The Narrator bows to the Crowd, and departs.

Crown (Together): Calontir, your newest Laurel!

King: Herald, read the scroll.

The Herald reads the scroll.

[1] The end of a story from Master Mikal the Ram. It is designed to pay honor to him subtly, although he is also referenced elsewhere in the ceremony.

[2] Quran 2:269.

[3] Based on the traditional titles of the Ottoman Emperor: Sovereign of the Sublime House of Osman, Khan of Khans, Commander of the Faithful and Successor of the Prophet.

[4] Also based on the traditional titles of the Ottoman Emperor, to give equal weight to the Queen: Custodian of the Holy Cities, and a listing of all the places of which the Emperor was ruler. Sacred Instruments is a reference to Her Majesty being a musician and singer.

[5] Tasmiha Khan, What Islam Teaches About Making Daily Space for Silence, Medium (February 17, 2020).

[6] Adapted from the Arabic inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un, lit. ‘Surely we belong to Allah, and to Him we shall return.’

[7] Quran 16:90.

[8] Translation of a traditional phrase in classical Arabic which is the equivalent of ‘Once upon a time.’

[9] Arabic word for ‘Lily’.

[10] One of Ma’az’s names means ‘the Goat.’

[11] Adapted from Quran 9:51.

[12] Quran 46:31.

[13] Adapted from Proverbs 27:17.

[14] Quran 2:256 (adapted).

[15] Quran 3:110 (adapted).

[16] Adaptation of a Moroccan Arabic equivalent to ‘And they lived happily ever after.

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