No doubt most local participants in the SA VC will have noticed the drama on various VC news sites, blogs, Facebook groups, and profile walls involving SAVA, myself and others. At the crux of this matter is the disturbing phenomenon of Vampyres who act abusively towards other participants in the Vampyre Community, in either deed or by their words, by promoting abusive behavior by enforcing a mindset in which the abuse or degrading attitude towards donors, whether verbally or otherwise, is made out to be acceptable behavior. Of particular note is the detail that in this case, it is one or more experienced, long-term participants and even those who can be viewed, by some, as leaders in the VC – who indulge in this reckless practice.
The rational debate around this issue has devolved into public mud-slinging and a back-stabbing frenzy in the shadows. We, and especially our community leaders are being berated by our opponents as noobs who “know nothing”, as “children”, and who knows as what else – all because we disagree with the promotion of the abuse and bullying of non-vampyric participants of the VC – because we have openly proclaimed that our groups in South Africa will not be places where such practices will be tolerated – and because we have dared to suggest that those leaders and participants of the VC who abuse and facilitate abusive behavior be held accountable for their words and deeds by the community – and if need be, by the process of Shinai law. It is those who promote and facilitate such abuses who are moving against us and who seek to perpetuate this failing in the structure of the international VC.
Our community and the SAVA is being targeted by people who are making claims that they are defacto “elders” with apparent years of experience, insinuating their notions that the VC should be a place where they can act like fictional predators abusing other participants with impunity and that everyone should just keep quiet about it – and further, that they are above being asked to apologize for it. Well, I’m happy to disappoint them. It doesn’t work that way – not here.
Additionally I would like to address a few points that just seem to keep coming up:
1) The length of time I have been active in the international VC seems to be important to some people. I first entered the OVC at the end of 2009, and began interacting under my nightside name in early 2010. That’s just over two years. I can understand why some may be a little envious.
2) I do not have a “sire” and never had. I did (and still) have, close associations with several people more senior (in terms of involvement) than myself in the OVC. One of these was a man called Wraiths who taught me a few things and showed me some of the ropes. While for a time I considered him something of a mentor, in no way was this relationship of the “sire” nature as referred to in certain VC cultures abroad, with formal apprenticing etc, etc. Some people think that to do things in the VC or to be able to think, you need to be taught everything by someone else. I have a brain and a will to use it, and if people aren’t forthcoming to show me stuff or to teach me something, I get off my behind and I work it out for myself. Unlike some, I share what I have learned, and I don’t spend the rest of my time with them reminding them how indebted they are to me for sharing my knowledge or experience with them. I do however joke with my young friend when I want him to bring me some coffee: “As your Maker, I command you…” Funny enough, it doesn’t always work.
3) I have never called myself an Elder, either formally or informally, nor ever in the context alluded to in the same VC groups which use words like “sire” as if they have been polishing their armor all day. Chronologically I have 39 years, even if I do get mistaken for being late 20’s a lot, and so it amazes me that I get called a “child” by people either the same age or younger than me in the VC as if it is some kind of insult. I like being young, and looking younger than my years, and if others get off on acting like they are 100 years old, then more power to them. Those who have been criticising me, my leadership style, the SAVA and SA VC, appear to be just as much ‘self-styled” so-called “Elders” as they accuse us of being. A true “Elder” by definition would not set a poor example on how to be a leader and would know better than to alienate portions of the community – and would rationalize the consequences before running his or her mouth off. A leader who can’t control their own temper doesn’t have control over themselves – and shouldn’t expect others to blindly follow them, or to look up to them as a teacher or a responsible Vampyre.
4) “Regent” is not used in the sense of the same arcane VC groups, but is a word you will find in any dictionary, and has nothing to do with age, sex or length of service in any corporate environment. We might have called this post “Chairperson” or some other mundane term, but it hardly has the ambience one would like in a group reflecting Vampyres, is it? It is also not a ticket for me to get free drinks at parties, doesn’t come with a corner office with a view, or a VIP parking space. It’s a real pity about the absence of salary though. I am not an “Elder”, but I am a leader in this part of the VC. I can’t recall anyone ever kissing either of my rings – not even the one on my finger, and all I ever expect from people I interact with either IRL or online, is politeness and good manners. I don’t go to them and throw my weight around and demand their unconditional respect or to “Madame” or “Lady” or “Regent” me. Everyone knows I am Val, and that’s good enough for me. “Regent” is a pretty little name for the job I do, keeping this fragile community together and to keep growing and thriving. Some say we are “self-titled” – but what do you do in a community when it starts off with no others to hand you a job?
5) Some have repeatedly suggested that we have blatantly copied the terms used within their own groups, as if they had created the terms themselves, or hold some kind of copyright to them. The use of the title “Magister” for example, as used by the SAVA, was not copied from any other VC group or culture, but was in fact in use in several occult societies and some of the founders of the SAVA thought it was fetching, and it flowed nicely off the tongue. This was before we even knew there was a group in the VC that actually used the same title to describe some of their members. This too however, is a dictionary term. Another word referred to is “Halo” – and yet some of the same people who make such accusations forget that there are several “Halos” in their own country, and many of them no longer directly associate with the organization that conceptualized them in the first place.
6) Many will attest to the fact that I treat people I encounter with respect and dignity and with friendliness. I have no problem respecting people who are worthy of respect, regardless of their experience, social status or age. I spent more than a decade in the military – and there, age means nothing. Rank calls the shots no matter how old you are in relation to someone with stripes, stars or birds – even if they are a “noob” compared to you. And even there, if you show promise, have good input and prove yourself, you get opportunities to advance regardless of how old or experienced you are. I guess some of that just rubbed off on me over the years.
7) In my personal view, the whole “sire”, “childe”, “elder” thing does have its place in our cultural history for those who like to refer to it and cherish it, or to dust it off come ritual or spiritual time – but there comes a point where it stops being cute ir useful and becomes a hindrance and a license to commit abuses and to excuse them with “it’s tradition”. This is one reason why we are no longer living in the Middle Ages – because society evolves – and so do subcultures, which is probably one reason why finding goths in South Africa is so difficult nowadays. Go figure.
8) There is also a perception that this community needs to be run by experienced and educated kin with degrees in some sort of occult discipline or path to guide and teach correctly. This opinion feeds on the assumption that the SA VC is an OCCULT body, when at its root it is not. What this community needs as a new and developing community is LEADERS, and ORGANIZERS and CONVENORS, people who can do the job of building and recruiting and organizing – not “Elders” or people who feel the best way to build a community is look good or to ram their own path, religion or brand of spirituality down participants throats. SAVA is a secular body, and therefore we welcome members regardless of their path, religion or spirituality.
9) Most of the material on the SA Vampyre Culture site, was written by myself originally as articles for the House Valur blog site in 2010, and modified to form part of this information resource. These articles were based upon my own experiences, and not copied from other sources. Where articles have been quoted or cross-posted from other groups or writers, credit is given.
10) The international Vampyre Community is a conglomerate of independent groups who stand together on some issues, mostly pertaining to identity, and that is all. There is no solid entity behind it, no population register, no Vampyre government, no VC membership or “Elder” card, and no “one ring to rule them all”. We are a diverse community of diverse groups, belief systems, convictions, theories and opinions, each following our own path – it is unreasonable for one group participating in a global community of this nature to expect another group from another place entirely and with no ties to them whatsoever to prostrate themselves before their group. Further, it is not the right of one individual to try and dictate the behavior of everyone else. This is not the mafia or True Blood, this is reality.
Our local community leaders may lack the years of experience in the international VC which seems to be so highly prized by those in the field who apparently do – yet still somehow have no clue that abusive behavior is both illegal and immoral – and will also result in negative consequences not only for themselves – but also for the community as a whole. Whatever we lack in years, we make up for in the skills which we have amassed in other arenas, and our dedication and commitment to the safety of our members and participants and to building this community.
The truth is, some people are intimidated by us. We’re a young community. In almost 3 years, since before the SAVA, we have grown from nothing and risen to having a glowing and growing living community that not only produces quality members, but also quality material for the international growth of our culture. We have swollen in our ranks of individual members and Houses, have held successful if not small events, have opened and successfully maintained friendly relations with other alternative sub-cultures and religious groups in the country and abroad, and we are a vibrant presence on the international VC stage. Whatever we lack in years of staid experience, we make up for in interest, dedication, enthusiasm, skill – and success in whatever we do. Some people have been doing the same old thing for decades, and their groups are no better or bigger than they were ten years ago. Some of them have taken decades to get no further than when they started. They haven’t progressed, grown or developed, despite being in the middle of older and bigger VC’s, and suddenly they see other people who came from nothing, overtaking them and outperforming them. And when they can’t argue a point, they resort to name-calling, harassment and bellyaching to try and break them down. As my mother used to say – “jealousy makes you nasty!” – and some people right now are being very nasty about us.
What I have to say about it all here to you, is this: SAVA is here to stay. I am here to stay. This WILL be a safe community for ALL participants, no matter what anyone thinks or says about me, or us. They don’t have to like us, they don’t have to kiss our rings, or even acknowledge us. We never said they had to. But they will respect us for being part of the international community and for our achievements, whether they like us or our methods, or our cultural differences – or not. If they think that bragging on Facebook about how strong or nasty they are, or how well “connected” they are, maligning us on the internet, or sending a few harassing emails is going to intimidate us into cowering before them and pissing ourselves in their presence, they have underestimated us indeed. We WILL weather the storm, smile in the face of whatever comes our way – and we will be the brightest star in the VC on the continent of Africa, irrespective of who does or doesn’t like it.