by Alia Marie de Blois, Rampart Herald, Outlands
(edited for An Tir by Wenyeva atte grene)
Heraldic submissions start out as just a twinkle in the eye. A vague idea of a persona, a culture, a charge, or a color... something that makes you say, "that sounds like who I want to be". From there, it gets fleshed out and grown up a little. The given name acquires a byname. The charge gets put on a field. The culture that sounds like fun gets some clothing and a name.
Often, it grows up and decides to get registered. Sometimes, however, the person guiding it along doesn't know where to take it, or how to get it registered. Sometimes, after it gets started on the process, it seems to vanish into a black hole. Usually, though, it's still ticking along in the process and will eventually come out on the other side.
This article covers the life of a heraldic submission — the steps it takes in its travels, the possible forks in the road, and how you can make its path smoother.
The submission grows from a twinkle of the eye to a whole name or device. There are lots of good books and good online articles on period names. However, there are lots of bad ones, too. Before you set your heart on a name or device, it's often a good idea to run it past a book herald, who can help you find good documentation and do conflict checking. (See the FAQ for information on how to contact a herald if you need help.)
Now that you've got a name/device, you'll want to fill out the appropriate forms. (Get them here.) Filling out the forms is generally pretty straightforward. Please try to write clearly, so that the heralds can read what you write. Please write a summary of the documentation, and not just "see attached docs".
See How to Fill Out An Tir Heraldic Submissions Forms to figure out how many copies you need to make, and how large of a check to write. Then, you must mail in the forms directly to Lions Blood Clerk (address here). Hopefully, this is the last step you do — heralds do the rest.
Lions Blood Herald's deputy, Boar Pursuivant, takes the submission and puts it together with the other recent submissions in an Internal Letter of Intent. The submissions on the Internal Letter (IL) are added to the An Tir OSCAR system, an online database where heralds can comment on the current submissions. You can see your submission when it appears there, though the comments are hidden. The new IL usually appears on An Tir OSCAR during the first week of each month.
There is also a separate part of the IL that contains information about heraldic meetings, returns from Laurel, and which items have been passed forward to Laurel or have been returned from the Kingdom for future work.
Heralds around the kingdom (and sometimes outside it) take a look at the Internal Letter and send Lions Blood Herald their advice and comments and suggestions by posting them on the An Tir OSCAR system. Sometimes this is positive — "looks good" or "here's more documentation". Sometimes this is negative — "this is a conflict with [someone]" or "this documentation is insufficient". Submitters can also give commentary — for example, if they found some new documentation for their submission, etc. In fact, anyone is welcome to try their hand at giving commentary, and it may be submitted by e-mail to Lions Blood or by snail mail. There is a (roughly) one month window to send in this commentary.
Lions Blood gathers up all the commentary and has a meeting to make decisions. Usually, this is an open meeting, with some heralds and some new heralds or others who are interested in learning about the process. Lions Blood and the heralds present look at each submission on the Internal Letter, read the commentary on it, and read the documentation. Then, Lions Blood decides if it gets passed on to Laurel and the College of Arms, or gets returned to the submitter for further work.
The date and location of the Lions Blood meeting is posted on each Internal Letter, and often on the front page of An Tir OSCAR.
Lions Blood writes up the meeting results and they are published in the next IL. At the same time, Lions Blood takes the submissions that are going up to Laurel and puts them all together on the External Letter of Intent, which is sent out to Laurel and the College of Arms.
If your submission was returned at the Lions Blood meeting: you will get a letter from Lions Blood notifying you and explaining why the submission could not go forward. Look carefully at the reason why and go back to step one.
If your submission is passed on to Laurel: keep waiting. You don't receive formal notification if this happens, but you will see an announcement in the next Internal Letter that your submission was forwarded to Laurel.
Now, the heralds in the society-wide College of Arms have two to three months to make direct commentary on the submissions in the External Letter of Intent. These are similar to the ones the local heralds make, but often come from heralds with more experience. The College of Arms uses an OSCAR system similar to the one in An Tir. You can see the letters that are being commented on, or track the status of your submission.If you're curious about this, there may be a commenting group near you. Check with your local herald. You can get started by commenting internally, as well.
Laurel gathers up all the commentary and has a meeting to make decisions. Laurel looks at each submission on the Letter of Intent, reads the commentary on it, and reads the documentation. Then, Laurel decides if it gets registered or gets returned to the submitter for further work. This happens during the month after Step Eight. (Laurel is helped in this by Wreath and Pelican, who specialize in armory and names respectively.)
Laurel writes up the meeting results in the Letter of Acceptances and Returns (aka LoAR). Sometimes this step can take a long time — usually it's a month or two, but sometimes is up to three months. This is because the Letter of Acceptance and Response includes information on both accepted items and returned items, can include very important decisions that will affect future submission, requires very careful proofreading, and must be printed and mailed.
Lions Blood gets the LoAR and publishes the results on the An Tir Heralds web site, and notifies you by mail.
If your submission was returned from Laurel: you will get a letter from Lions Blood notifying you and explaining why the submission was returned. Look carefully at the reason why and go back to step one.
If your submission is registered: conga rats!
Say you completed your paperwork in early January. How long would it take from there? Here is a typical timeline. (Sometimes it doesn't work like this, but this is pretty typical.)
As you can see, for a long while, it only looks like nothing is happening, but the heralds are simply giving your submission the consideration it deserves.