Real Vampyres: The Truth Doesn’t Sparkle
My first article in Penton described the growing real Vampire community in South Africa. This article will continue, by discussing the self-image of those who self-identify as real Vampyres, and on how outside perception affects us.
First off, let me talk about the term “Vampire”. In the USA for example, it is used by real vamps to describe themselves. The alternate spelling “Vampyre” is used by them to describe vamp wannabe’s or “roleplayers” or “lifestylers”, or if you will – “fashion Vampires”. Now for the culture shock – in South Africa, we have been doing the opposite – using the “Vampyre” spelling to describe ourselves. “Vampyre” of course, is the older version, not commonly used in today’s world, and so for us, it made sense. It does sometimes lead to misunderstandings and even arguments where our communities collide, but oh well, you can’t make an omelet without first inventing the universe.
One major variable in how real Vampyres see themselves – and how this affects their awakening and self-acceptance – is the Mundane concept of what Vampyres are and do – which is something we Vampyres also seem to get caught up in. After all, if we look at Vampyres in folklore and fiction now and just fifty years ago – my, how have we changed?
Since we do not know what we are when we awaken, there are few cases where we awaken into a family where there are other awakened Vampyres ready to help us reach our potential or mentor us – although this is known to happen in very rare cases. We do not have an established real-life stereotype of what real Vampyres are, look like or are supposed to be – except of course, the readily available fictional stereotype – at least, to start off with as a reference point before we uncover the real definitive truth of what we are – which is pretty much always presented as a contrast to the fictional Vampyre. And the truth about us doesn’t sparkle.
Fiction is largely portrayed by Mundanes – and this is largely controlled by existing folklore and earlier fiction based upon the Mundane perception of what we are. It is not really general knowledge among Mundanes that we are in fact real. As we can testify, Mundanes seem to think that if there were “real” Vampyres, they would resemble their fictional creations. As can be seen over the past century or so, this fictional stereotype has been changed gradually to reflect changing times and attitudes.
When we first awaken of course, it is far more likely that we will be introduced to the fictional stereotype than the real Vampyre community. This of course results in us comparing ourselves to the stereotype and may result in us thinking we are crazy – or “not Vampyres”.
Of course, the fictional stereotype also helps to protect our secrecy because if ever trapped or cornered about being Vampyres, we can claim that this is not true – as we do have reflections in mirrors, do not turn into bats and do not burst into flames in sunlight or when faced with those kitsch crucifixes. So I suppose the stereotype has its uses.
The fictional Vampyre has changed considerably, while the truth and reality has not. The fiction is readily accessible, while real Vampyres are certainly less so. Vampyre fiction – and its influence on the popular culture – both Mundane and Vampyre has resulted in the phenomenon of the “lifestyler” and “role-player”. While it has its negative affects on our community, it has also helped many Vampyres to awaken to the truth. Many of us would never have awakened or accepted ourselves if it were not for this influence.
The fiction may change, but the reality of being a Vampyre seems constant – and one of the few variables I see is the extent of the knowledge, research and facts we have about what we are.
For the most part, real Vampyres appear to differentiate into two distinct groups, the psychic and sanguine Vampyres. The explanations for what PSI and Sang Vampyres are, and why we differentiate between them are quite long, but here is a short version:
PSI describes Vampyres who drain energy from their surroundings or from living beings, while Sang (or Sanguinarian) Vampyres take energy from ingesting living blood.
Not all of us are fortunate enough to live in places where we can openly frequent haevens and Vampyre bars, surrounded by groupies and wannabe freshies, flocking to donate their prana to a good cause. LOL, in fact I think most of us have to rely on close friends or lovers for our sang feedings, unless of course we go the anonymous route, implying the use of subterfuge such as claiming you have “a blood fetish” in order to get your fill. There are places and situations where brute honesty could get you into serious difficulty, and even mortal danger.
Of course, there is the honest route, just coming clean and telling your prospects you are a vamp and need their blood – and whether they believe you or not, they may well humor you and even let you drink from them. But it goes without saying that there is usually some kind of price to be paid for this service – some way in which we have to sing for our supper. Be that as it may, these people become our donors, or “Swans” as we call them.
Donors – we all love them, they’re the nice folks who make a sacrifice to help us, keep us healthy and support us as a community. We treat them with respect and even honor them – sometimes we fall in love with them and our relationship moves past that vamp-donor relationship.
Mundane/donor and Vampyre romantic relationships can and do work. They can be very satisfying for both parties. Sometimes though, things go wrong, as they do – and then things begin to fall apart – and regardless of where the fault lies, whether it is due to cheating, jealousy, whatever the reason – sometimes they can do so spectacularly. By that time you’ve already spilled your guts about all things vampyric and you have a blood-bond with someone who essentially hates you, not for being Vampyre, but simply for being you.
And then things start to get nasty. You start getting emails from puzzled friends and colleagues asking about the nasty emails that are being sent to them – outing you for your sanguine habits, among other things. All those private photos of various naughty things you and your ex got up to – things involving feeding – suddenly appear on various websites. Your church pastor (whom you haven’t seen in a few years) suddenly phones you to appeal to you to “turn from your sinful ways” – or turns up at your home, accompanied by your parents. Soon, your other donors seem to miss your appointments or can’t be reached.
You start hearing rumors that they are afraid to meet you because they have been told you are abusive and might hurt them, or that you have a blood-borne disease you’re hiding from them and might infect them. In extreme cases, you could find some handsome looking boys in blue uniforms at your front door, inquiring about charges of domestic abuse and violence that have just been laid at the police station. Allegations of assault using sharp instruments having been mentioned, along with documented scarring – you are on the spot. What now?
All’s fair in love and war, honey – guess which this is.
This little scenario should show just how ugly it can get for a vamp if things go wrong, and how trusting we need to be of our donors and partners – particularly so in the case of sang vamps. Unfortunately, we need to feed, and we need donors – so it would seem the solution is to use caution when choosing donors – and extreme caution when considering getting romantically involved with a donor – or when feeding from a romantic partner.
They might not make use of it, they may not seem the type at the time – but they could have you over a barrel any time they want. The ball is in their court, and no mistake. The rather obvious solution is to not get emotionally or romantically involved with donors. Keep it platonic, focused on the need to feed, supply and demand. Keep it at friendship, receive their gift, and leave it at that.
Obviously remaining aloof and detached is not always possible, viable, or desirable – but if you keep these points in mind, they should make dealing with any potential fallout a lot easier. Easier? Don’t be fooled. Being Vampyre is not a walk in the park.
Someone asked me some questions the other day about being a Vampyre, someone younger, who has been solitary up till that point, in the knowledge that they are different They said they were tired of Mundane society, and so disappointed in how they perceive it to be cold and cruel and devoid of caring.
“Humans don’t care about each other,” he said, indicating how much he longed to be part of a community that does. I smiled, because I saw the duplicity in the world we live in, and the flaw in his view. Not all Vampyres care about – well, even other Vampyres. Or the community. Or that there is even a community.
We all get disappointed sometimes, and the world is often a cold and lonely place, but people are not all the same – not even when they cluster together in different little groups. Just changing groups or wanting to join the “Vampyre scene” won’t magickally transform your world from frost and ice to warm summerlands with birdies chirping in the trees. I’m not saying that change won’t be good for you, but change doesn’t necessarily have to come from outside, it should come from within. So many people think that being a Vampyre will magically change their lives, and somehow make them meaningful. That’s why we get so many requests for “turning” – and have the sad job of dashing their hopes yet again. But they will get over it. Lucky them, I think – then realizing once again that given the choice I wouldn’t change. I’m quite happy as I am, despite everything.
We all have our problems, after all, and Vampyres have problems all our own. I looked at him, early twenties, and I remember how I saw the world then, so big, so bewildering. How disappointed I was too, when I realized that nothing was as it seemed. I remember how I hoped something would come along to change all that. When it did, it was something I wasn’t prepared for. And it wasn’t something that happened from the outside, it was something that came from inside.
Being Vampyre doesn’t mean you suddenly become part of another community where people care about each other, and everything magically transforms into the Care Bears (albeit with fangs). Most vamps I’ve met are a lot like other people, they just tend to be more open-minded about a lot of things. And then again, more closed-minded about others. Everyone is different and unique.
“What makes a Vampyre?” He asked, “How can I tell? Can people tell if you are?”
Well, it’s not about how you dress, so a person in a club, dressed like Dracula, Marilyn Manson or even Edward Cullen won’t necessarily be a Vampyre. Vampyres can be bankers, CEO’s, or school moms. One could be sitting right next to you right now, sipping coffee. Being of the blood or essence, is no respecter of persons. Anyone can be a Vampyre. And while anyone can be, not everyone who is, flaunts it.
So what makes a Vampyre, a Vampyre? The major defining characteristic of a Vampyre is having a shortage of pranic energy, and having to take it from an outside source, such as PSI or from blood. There is currently no real way to “prove” that you’re a Vampyre. Folks are working on that, people in neat little white coats in a lab somewhere, but then, they have been since the Dark Ages.
“Oh, right…” I can hear some say, giving a patronizing nod and amused little smile. “Of course not.”
Alright then, imagine for a moment that there was – and given the brutal intolerance some folks have for anything they “disagree” with, or view as being in violation of their religion or personal value systems – you would have witch (or Vampyre) hunters roaming the streets, testing everyone they saw in gothic or emo dress, and especially the lurky teenagers who skip Sunday-school.
Of course, you think I’m exaggerating, but am I? It’s happened before after all. Ever heard of the Inquisition? Think it can’t happen again? Hmm. Next time you listen to a conservative politician or religious figure talking about, I dunno – gay rights for example – listen up and insert “witch” and “Vampyre” into the appropriate spaces. There, see what I mean? Some of those folks would happily lynch us if they could – and in some parts of the world, they do.
Yes it would be nice to be a valid, recognized identity group and shown tolerance. But remember, that while there are other minority groups today that are recognized by Mundane society – they certainly are having a time of it. I for one am pretty glad that, for now at least, there isn’t a definite “test” to identify us. For one thing, it perpetuates the status quo – that while some do take us seriously, most don’t even believe we really exist. No, that’s right folks – they’re all lifestylers, there’s no such thing as Vampyres… *wink*.
So what are Vampyres then, if it is some kind of life style choice? Well, you need to consider that if people appear to choose to embrace their nature in the face of likely or even certain death, that it may not be a lifestyle choice. After all, if you could choose to avoid persecution or death by a simple change of clothes and washing off the goth make-up, wouldn’t you do it? But as I said before, it isn’t that simple. Dress and aesthetic is one thing, but needing to feed, well – that’s quite another.
Many Vampyres have detailed how sick they get when they try to convince themselves that they are imagining it all, and try to stop feeding to be “normal“. And not just Sang vamps, but PSI vamps also. I can already write a book about the need, and about not satisfying it. And before you accuse me of exaggerating, when last have you found yourself barricaded in a cubicle in the ladies room at the mall, just so you can devour bits of raw bloody meat from a Shoprite packet just to get that little bit of half-alive blood because you missed an appointment with a donor the previous day? How much dignity and pride would you have after that? How would you look at yourself in the mirror as the same person afterward? Lifestyle choice? Really?
Truth is, anyone can drink blood – but we do it because we need to. Truth is, anyone can be taught to feed PSI or do energy-work, but only vamps need it. Truth is, anyone can call themselves a Vampyre – but only Vampyres are. Truth is – the truth doesn’t sparkle.