Many times I have wondered about our nature as Vampyres. What is it? Where does it come from? Why me? And why blood? Of all things, surely something else would be easier to obtain, and to explain? But blood? As a sanguine, it should come as no surprise that I should question this need of ours – this need which drives us to consume the essence of others, to take it into ourselves and to make it a part of us – and which sets us apart from those around us.
I ponder the reasons for it, and I question this thing that sets us apart from other people, and drives some to so eagerly place themselves above them on the food chain. It is in these moments that I truly grow towards understanding the term “predatory spirituality”, for it is still up to us to seek and find willing Donors and to convince them of our need – and to consent to satisfy it with their essence.
I speak of the process by which Vampyres first come to experience changes in their being, changes and realizations – and needs, all of which mark them as
Vampyres. This is the dawning of unwelcome cravings, the onset of a need we didn’t – well, need – and the start of a life-long search for answers and the
first step of a journey of self-discovery and acceptance, which we call Awakening.
It is a difficult and confusing time for us, and usually starts around the 14th or 15th year of life, and could probably be considered a part of the ‘normal’ human cycle of puberty – only it appears to be unique to self-identified Vampyres. The term “self-identified” is applied because at this point in time, there are still no definitive medical or scientific tests which can provide a conclusive cause or precise medical explanation for what it means to us. Therefore no external method has thus far been devised or offered which can identify a Vampyre, and so it is left to us to figure this out for ourselves – and to identify ourselves.
Teens may suffer angst or depression when they realize they have these seemingly unnatural urges over and above the normal ‘mundane stuff’ associated with physical changes and adolescence. Aside from the whole ‘girls’ or ‘boys’ thing teens have to deal with anyway, they find themselves thinking about other things – things they are even less likely to ask others for advice or counseling on.
They may choose to remain silent and to try and form their own opinions on these matters – and may well despise themselves for being “evil” or dangerous around others, and while most accept that teenage years are characterised by change and angst and emotional upheaval and confusion – this certainly adds an extra dimension to the whole package that we certainly didn’t ask for.
In places where there are more developed and long-standing communities, Awakening is a lot easier. In family groups, where the young Awaken in
Vampyre families, or families which include some vampyric members, the path to acceptance and learning is a broad and comfortable highway. Parents who
are Vampyres know what to look for in their offspring, and how to advise and to guide them when the time comes. Where we are, it is not so easy. In a
largely isolated society still laden with Victorian guilt and religious conservatism and even fundamentalism, the path is a rocky one, full of potholes and pitfalls.
Where the unawakened and latent Vampyre lives a life laden with conservative thought and religion, an Awakening young Vampyre is likely to receive a
hostile reception – and a rather rude, er – awakening, from the parent.
In South Africa, where there has been no formal VC until 2011, there has been no information available to those who are awakening, and to those who
already should have Awakened. This can be ascribed largely to the absence of the internet, which first arrived in this country in 1996 – but far more due to
the theological monopoly held by Christian religion in this South Africa, which only ended with the passage of the new Constitution in 1994.
Although this new Constitution should in spirit guarantee us the same protections as others in this country, this principle is still largely untried. However, an important part of the Constitution and its integral Bill of Rights, is the protection of individual dignity.
In a recent article by Damon Leff, a well known figure in the SA Pagan community, he wrote on the issue of the right to witches to self-identify as witches: ”The right to human dignity is based on the common assumption that all men and women have the right to have their “substantive essence” respected simply by virtue of their belonging to the human family. When the right to self-identity is with-held from either individual or group, the right to dignity is denied.”
Social conservatism and religious oppression worked hand in hand for decades here, with Pagan religions being outlawed as “satanism” and even indigenous
beliefs being oppressed, altered and wiped out by Christian missionaries since the 18th century. The reality is that free thought as understood by those living
in the USA or Europe all their lives, is a relatively new concept here. The simple truth is, that in general, very few here ever accepted that there was such a thing as real Vampyres – even those who were experiencing the pangs of what should have been their Awakening.
Many others like us in this country must have experienced the onset of the need for energy, thoughts of feeding and cravings for blood – and rejected
or suppressed these notions because of religious influence, fear of legal of social consequences, peer pressure – or because they feared the worst – that
they were imagining things, and losing their minds. The sad and striking thing is, that those of use who know, realize that if we deny it, and deny ourselves –
things become worse for us than these fears.
A multitude of statements has been made by Vampyres who speak about their experiences in this regard, and about what happens to them when they
don’t feed, or don’t feed often enough – and what can be viewed as a general trend includes emotional and psychological trauma, gradually increasing
depression, mood swings, aggression, emotional neediness, fatigue, physical aches and pains, flu-like symptoms, a decline in resistance to disease and a
gradual decline in health. Psychic or energy feeders may be feeding wildly and uncontrolled off any source they can reach – even initiating fights and
arguments in order to feed off the energy, without even being aware of what they are actually doing.
These trends can be seen in those we call the Unawakened – those of our kind who went through the process – but without realizing it, or without accepting it
– and who suffer the consequences of this choice or omission.
It is an accepted principle within our community that one has to come to realization that one is a Vampyre by ones self. Nobody can force you to acknowledge it, or to force it onto you. Nobody can “turn” you into a Vampyre – and so many people are coming to terms with their nature later in life – whether this is due to newly available information reaching them only now, or because they can no longer deny it, or are finally ready to accept themselves and their nature.
Sadly, even this self-acceptance doesn’t bring with it automatic knowledge of all we need to know. Those who accept themselves, and who have Awakened
late, still need to learn how to control their feeding, how to cope with the knowledge and emotional isolation, and with the various aspects to what we describe as modern Vampyre culture and community – and in the case of sanguine feeders, safety precautions and protocols designed to protect the community, as well as donors and themselves.
As I entered Awakening as a teen, part of my fascination with the name “vampire” or “Vampyre” came about because of my own needs, which first
manifested around my fifteenth year – in the form of vivid, lucid dreams to do with blood and feeding – and also the start of the cravings I have experienced
ever since. This at least should answer the question “why do we call ourselves ‘Vampyres'”? Surely this invites ridicule and hostility from those who do not
understand, and don’t want to. Surely we don’t realy think of ourselves as undead supernatural creatures of the night? We don’t – so why not call ourselves “something else”? If so, what?
“Vampiric people’? This too conjures up the image of the vampire. ‘Parasites’? “Leeches”? Yes, I’m sure you can see where this is going. “Sanguinarian”? Hmm – even that brings images of leather, studs, whips and chains. Face it, compared to the alternatives, “Vampyre” is the most appealing. Besides, these days people are crazy about the vampire genre. We’re hot property – indirectly, of course. And while there are the bright lights *adjusts shades* for the likes of fictional vamps like Lestat and the Cullen brood, there is also the flip-side of the coin.
The killings in Iraq over recent weeks provide a frightening example of this. It seems that the eminent vampire hunter from fiction, Abraham van Hellsing has been transformed into Abdulah-Ebin-El- Singh, and the vampire hunter stereotype has evolved into a very real spectre of state-sanctioned religious fanatics stalking Iraqi streets, hunting for “Emo” kids who “absorb blood from one another’s wrists” – and brutally kill them. Used to be that when I was a kid, thinking about being a Vampyre was supposed to be a harmless fun fantasy, not a life-threatening pre-occupation.
Regardless of our feelings toward the origin of the archetype, I think we identify so with the image created in fiction over the years, because we too experience the same need expressed in the icon of the vampire – a real need for the life in others, a need which can only be satisfied by this and this alone. Because we have similar needs, though we are not “undead”, not physically “immortal” or “eternal”, and although we don’t need to kill or “drain” others – but also because others see our needs as threatening to them – and this separates our kind from those around us, and make us feel like outcasts and outsiders looking in. Nothing can make a Vampyre feel more isolated than knowing the one thing they really need from somebody else is the one thing that could – and most likely would, drive them away from us.
To me, it is the fear that separates us – fear of the unknown. The way I see it, the best way to conquer your fear of the unknown is to get educated about it. Once you know and understand us, you will stop seeing “satanists” everywhere – and and you will start to recognize us as the girl behind the counter, the guy pumping gas, the nurse comforting you when you are sick, your tennis partner – and you won’t fear us anymore, or see us as a “threat”. We’re people just like you, just as diverse as you, just as capable of good and evil as you – but most important of all – just people.