Often Vampyres face questions from the curious outsiders who look at our community and wonder “what went wrong”, without considering the possibility that that answer just might be “nothing”. The awakened Vampyre is a being who has come to terms with their condition, and accepted it, and who knows this is the way they are supposed to be. For better or worse, everything in life has a purpose, even us. What that purpose is, of course, is open to debate by philosophers and theologians alike, and what the answer to that question is, will likely remain a mystery.Not so, the more ordinary basic questions, which often show up on message boards, or in a Vampyre’s inbox – or sometimes in a list of questions from a journalist curious to learn more about us. I have included some of the more common ones in this article, and taken the liberty of answering them myself.
1. The first thing many people will ask, is whether vampirism is genuine or whether it is just role playing. “Do you guys genuinely drink blood or do you just adopt online personas and roleplay?”
I am sure there are people for whom being a Vampyre is just role-playing and life-styling, but the community I am part of does not consider themselves role players, but real self-identified Vampyres. For some that comes as a result of a genuine need they experience, which can only be filled by the taking in of pranic energy either directly from a source, or by means of ingesting blood. Anonymity is very important to us, and that is why we adopt online personas in order to maintain our privacy while socializing and networking with each other on the internet and also in real life.
2. “How large is the local community and where is it centered? ”
The local community is still developing. Up until recently most Vampyres were solitary practitioners, many of them unaware that there were others out there like themselves. Many have been genuinely surprised to find that there is a community of people with needs just like them. The most active center of the community in SA is currently Johannesburg, with a second largest portion in Cape Town. Currently we know of 5 groups, which we call Houses, across South Africa – all are members of the SAVA (South African Vampyre Alliance), which is an umbrella body working to formalize our local community and to facilitate our growth and networking.
3. “How many of you guys actually consume human blood? I see that many of you consume animal blood? Do both count as vampirism?”
Most sanguine Vampyres (or sangs) will consume human blood if they have the choice, that is, if they are lucky enough to find a donor willing to help them. Many who do, keep it within the structure of a relationship such as a long time romantic relationship, but it isn’t unusual for Vampyres and donors to maintain friendships or relations purely centered on communion.
Individuals who donate to Vampyres do so entirely of their own free will, and are protected within the relationship by the Donor Bill of Rights, which ensures fair play and decent treatment of the donor by the Vampyre. It also defines boundaries of what can or cannot be done within the context of communion, and also what medical tests should be completed by both parties to ensure the medical safety of both parties.
Animal blood is considered a last resort by some, but a few prefer it because it lessens the risks of discovery, and also it spares them the drama that accompanies procuring a donor. Finding a donor is not easy. Beef blood will serve quite well if it is fresh enough, and it tastes better than some other kinds of blood, such as lamb for example. One vamp in particular with whom I am acquainted, is very squeamish about blood, and is actually a vegetarian – but needs the blood.
4. “Why the secrecy? Have you got any idea of how people would react if they found out you were vampires?”
As a community we have found that most people do not react well to relatives and friends coming out about their vampirism. It can affect social status, jobs, child custody, and other issues pertaining to discrimination against Vampyres. There are numerous example in the USA, and we do not wish to endure the same problems here. Our biggest obstacle in this regard is prejudice.
Most people appear to be willing to listen, and often are quite accepting when we do discuss these issues from a community viewpoint anonymously, but when we give up that anonymity, we take a serious personal risk. Frequently we will encounter hostility, most typically from a religious side. We are often labeled “satanists” or “devil worshipers”, but what these people don’t understand is that what we do is not religious. We do it out of a need we experience, whatever the reason, whatever the cause. I personally know Vampyres who belong to different faiths, including Christians, Catholics, Hindus, pagans, Jews and the odd atheist as well. We’re also spread across various income groups, from lower income to higher, and among us we have lawyers, auto-mechanics, nurses and waitresses. For us it’s not about what god we believe in, but what stills the hunger inside us and helps us to feel normal again.
Since earlier this year we have been making ourselves more known to general society in SA, and so far the results have been encouraging. Some social groups have been more accepting than others.
5. “What makes a person a vampire? Is there a physical reason for the bloodlust or is it an acquired taste? Could you turn someone into a vampire?”
Currently there are many theories in the international Vampyre Community, but at this point very little medical or scientific study has been done into the subject. An American research foundation called Suscitatio has commissioned several studies on the topic since 2006, which are frequently cited by researchers and journalists alike. Most Vampyres will tell you that they became aware of their needs around puberty, a process we call Awakening. Some of us will gravitate towards feeding directly off energy from various sources (animal, plant, elemental etc) – we call them “Psychic Vampires” or ‘psi vamps’, while others will only be satisfied with blood (sangs). Then there is a third grouping which we call “hybrids”, who employ both methods.
Quite honestly, there are so many diverse beliefs about our origins and the reasons we are this way, that I couldn’t even begin to go into them here. Many have tried to not feed, and have suffered serious consequences to their physical and/or mental stability or health, and so for most of us feeding is considered necessary to maintain our health and well-being.
Some people ask us if we could “turn” them into one of us – but honestly, I don’t think they realize what they are asking for. It’s not the stuff they see on Vampire Diaries. It’s not pleasant, and you don’t get any superpowers – but you do have a thirst that nothing else can satisfy. In any case, it’s just not possible to “turn” anyone. We’re born with this need. If you don’t have it, you’re not a vamp – and you should be glad.
We believe we are born vampiric, and awaken to our nature later in life. Puberty is generally believed to be the trigger of Awakening, but it is believed by some that it could also be some form of trauma or near death experience etc which may be responsible for triggering Awakening in later life.
I have never encountered a Vampyre who claimed to have been “turned”. It is generally frowned upon in the VC to suggest or to contend that “turning” is possible, mostly because it is an inconvenient stereotype, but also because of the deluge of Twilight aficionados that would descend upon us begging for it, as well as the feeling that it “cheapens” or degrades what we feel is a natural state of being, and for many, a plight and an inconvenience.
There are some groups – cults mostly, which prey on the gullible for money and power, that claim to be able to “turn” people into vampires – for a fee, naturally. In some cases, this “treatment” involves dangerous practices which may even be life-threatening, and ultimately, void. My advice is to steer clear of those groups – they are counting on people’s desperation in order to enrich themselves, while not being able to deliver anything concrete to support their claims.
6. “How long have you been a vampire and how often do you consume blood?”
I have been awakened since age 15, I am currently late 30’s. I consume about a table-spoon full every 2 weeks, depending on how much energy I use, in which case I would need more frequent feedings. I have had several voluntary donors over time, but frequently have to rely on beef blood during the “dry spells”.
And so there you have it, the most frequently asked questions we seem to get in what has whimsically become known as “interviews with the vampire”… I hope they answer YOUR questions as well.