I’ve often wondered about the way fiction represents the vampire and the way these vampires feed. In modern times, in more recent books, TV series and movies, vampires are shown in ways very similar to the reality – that they do not HAVE to kill those they feed from, but can be satisfied with a few sips and be done with it. Much like real Vampyres, who have standing agreements with their Donors.
However, the more traditional and face it, popular, representation shows vampires killing left and right – with feeding being synonymous with draining their victims – NOT donors, to the point of death. This made me wonder at the root of this “tradition” at the root of vampire fiction, which only now in the last 3 decades appears to be moving away from this.
The symbolic importance of blood:
The symbolic importance of blood stems from the fact that blood literally is the fuel that keeps the body alive. In simpler times, people did not know that blood carried oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients, urea and other waste products through the body. They did know that if you lost more than a certain portion of blood, you were done for – and so they placed a great symbolic value on blood visible in their religious dogmata, taboos and traditions.
The Christian tradition, and also the Jewish and Islamic religions, hold to taboos about blood consumption – and for at least two of these Abrahamic religions, these form the basis of dietary restrictions dating back to Old Testament times. The Maya went completely opposite for example, and while they shared the notion that blood (particularly human blood) was “the food of the gods”, they spilled it frequently at the sacrificial altar.
When one looks at occult and magical practice, blood is also viewed as a powerful tool. It is used by many practitioners who use small quantities of their own blood, to add extra energy to their workings. But there is more to blood than just “power”. It is a connector, and this is evident in practices of blood magic, where blood is essential in what is called sympathetic magic. Elements of this appear in various different practices and beliefs, including Voodoo.
A large part of the practice of magic involves symbols. Sympathetic magic for example, in simple terms, is where one views an object as a whole, and obtains a part of that whole – and anything done in magic to the part, will also affect the whole, no matter where the whole is physically in relation to the part of it being used in the working. This is why many occultists take care to not leave any of their hair or nail clippings lying around just in case someone gathers them up in order to use them in spells and such which may come back to bite them. And it is precisely for this reason that blood – considered far more potent than nail clippings or strands of hair from a brush, is not something to be taken lightly.
Living blood is the carrier of life essence or energy, and since real Vampyres have a deficiency in this, they feed (whether sanguinely or energetically) in order to replenish their own energy. This results in the energy of the source being absorbed by the energy of the Vampyre. In theory at least, this demonstrates the basic similarity on this point between fictional vampires and real living Vampyres.
Vampire feeding, blood exchange, and turning:
In fiction, a vampire chooses its prey, and feeds from it, often killing it. Thus, the vampire takes both the blood and the life of its victim. In the original vampire fiction of the early modern period, such as “Dracula”, once the vampire has fed from a victim, the victim becomes tied to the will of the vampire, a slave in its power.
In the fiction also, in order to “turn” the victim into a vampire, the vampire must share its own blood with the candidate, which the receiver must accept willingly. In modern fiction, all it takes is to become “infected” by a vampire’s “venom” or to somehow have managed to consume or absorb some vampire blood before death. This principle in itself, even in fiction, exemplifies a joining, a union, and a bond – because it means that each takes into himself a part of the other, joining the two together – perhaps not on a physical level, but on a different more magical level.
The joining of life essence of both vampire and candidate then goes something like: “Your life to my life, my life to yours, our blood runs together as one”. The transfer of life to the vampire, the transfer of vampire “curse” in the blood to the receiver joining with the candidate.
Of course, we in the real Vampyre Community generally do not believe that any non-Vampyre can be “turned”, but if we look harder at the way vampires in fiction feed, they take of the essence of another – even a voluntary donor, and they form a subtle bond with that person. This in itself is not as far-fetched as you may think.
This link is something which any real living Vampyre can tell you, is not simply a plot device from teenage romance novel – but something very real felt by both Donor and Vampyre, often for as long as the donor-Vampyre relationship lasts. For both psychic and sanguine feeders, this link is called “the Blood Bond”.
The Blood Bond – a back-door:
These links in themselves present a vulnerability to both parties, because they can be exploited by a third party – or even by one party against the other on a magical level.
For example, person A becomes a donor for Vampyre B. Person A is has been hounded by paranormal events her whole life, and occasionally and unintentionally allows herself to be controlled or inhabited by other entities. Vampyre B feeds from her, unaware that the link formed between them is a back-door to allow that unknown quantity to gain access to him. While it may not be able to control him, it will be far more likely to hurt him, in effect bypassing his shielding techniques altogether. How does it do this? Well, no matter how many shields Vampyre B throws up, some of Person A’s blood is already inside him – part of his being… and A + B = sympathetic magic. Snap.
So that’s why I think vampires in fiction *really* kill victims they feed from – not just because they drink all the blood which their victims can’t live without, but because the blood bond ties them together and the source they feed from becomes a back door into their being, meaning they are at risk as long as they live while the bond exists, and this can be used to hurt or kill them. Killing the source would break the link.
While the parallels between fiction and reality are quite profound, at least in this case, I certainly am glad that we don’t have to “live” like the fictional variety – at least in so far as having to kill others in order to survive. Donors are an important part of our lives, and what they do for us is vital – but it’s also important for both Vampyre and Donors to know each other well enough to know that you will be safe.