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Vampyre Spirtuality







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Vampyre Spirituality

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Psychic vampires were first mentioned in the Flying Rolls (instructional texts) of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Dion Fortune elaborated on this concept in her book Psychic Self Defence, which came out early in the twentieth century. In this book Fortune speaks of defence against astral vampirism: Astral entities that prey on the vital energy of their victims. Later in this book Fortune speaks of unintentional psychic vampires: People who unintentionally draw energy from people around them. Katherine Ramsland discussed this phenomenon in Piercing the Darkness (Harper Prism, 1998). A few books, such as Konstantinos’s Vampires: The Occult Truth, speak of intentional psychic vampires. Such people consciously take energy from those around them. These books were written about psychic vampires, not by them. It was only a matter of time before such psychic vampires came forward to do so. The most recent example of this is Michelle Belanger’s Psychic Vampire Codex. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to use the Elorathian spelling, Vampyre, in reference to this spiritual path in order to differentiate it from the vampires of myth and literature. In reality, about half of this community retains the traditional spelling.



Some individuals were recognized as vampiric as early as the nineteenth century. However, their vampirism was generally looked upon as an affliction. In the 1960s, the television series Dark Shadows portrayed the vampire Barnabas Collins in a sympathetic light. Such sympathetic portrayals of vampires in fiction and film opened the door for individuals to conceptualize the vampire as something other than hated and evil. The novels of Anne Rice furthered the idea of the vampire as a potentially sympathetic being.



These influences caused individuals with vampiric qualities to begin exploring their natures and their spiritual implications. There was no Vampyre community at this early stage, but there were several movements that allowed for at least a minimal expression of one's vampiric traits. One was the underground fetish scene, particularly in New York City: In this venue many individuals recognized the energetic exchange between dom and sub. Blood play was also accepted within this culture. This permitted both psychic and sanguine vampires an outlet for some of their needs. Another movement that allowed for expression of vampirism was the Gothic subculture. Goths viewed the vampire as a romantic figure. Many Vampyres were subsequently drawn to the Goth community, which allowed them to further explore the aesthetics and philosophies of Vampyre spirituality. Another venue, already mentioned, was the fantasy role playing game Vampire: the Masquerade, which itself was inspired by the novels of Anne Rice. This game provided a social venue where Vampyres could experiment with their identities without fear of ridicule. Although Vampyres understood the games to be make-believe, they nevertheless attracted individuals with an interest in vampires and the occult. This, in turn, allowed people with shared interests to connect and explore those common interests outside of the game.



Many Vampyres were also drawn to the Neo-Pagan movement because it allowed them to acknowledge the spiritual side of their natures. Pagans and Vampyres share beliefs in magick, reincarnation, and the existence of energy. Belanger states that “In the eighties and nineties (and even the 70s), when vamps were participating in Pagan circles for some place to express their spirituality, they did so ‘in the coffin’ so to speak -- they didn't typically reveal their natures to the other members of the group, largely because the rift of misunderstanding often got us barred from circles. But over time, vampires participating in strictly Pagan systems felt that their dark side wasn't being acknowledged.” When Vampyres started creating their own spiritual groups they adapted many concepts from the Pagan groups they used to associate with. For example, Vampyres have borrowed the festival dates of the Wheel of the Year used by Wiccans. Vampyres interpret this cycle differently from Wiccans, however. Vampyres see things in terms of a cycle of two polar opposites which are nevertheless part of the same whole. For some Vampyres this is expressed as the concepts of Dayside and Nigthside (more on this below). For others, Darkside and Lightside have more to do with spirit and flesh, death and life.



These four different communities each contributed to the Vampyre community which subsequently developed. Much of the interaction between Vampyre and donor holds lingering traces of the dom/sub relationship from BDSM. This is especially evident in the Elorathian treatment of Kitra (more on this below). Vampyres borrowed many of their aesthetics from the Gothic movement. Much of their fundamental understanding of magick and ritual is derived from their Neo-Pagan roots. The initial social structure as well as certain terms can be traced to the game Vampire: the Masquerade: This is likely because it was through such games that many Vampyres first got together and began socializing with one another openly.



A Vampyre (also known as a Sanguinarian) is a person who lives a Vampyre lifestyle and has a what they describe as a vampyric condition. A vampyric condition requires them to replenish themselves by consuming the energy and/or blood of others in an ethical and/or consensual manner. Vampyres of the Elorathian traditions refer to this process as Communion. A person from who a Vampyre gets blood or life energy is referred to as a “Source.” This is true whether the donation of energy is voluntary or not. Someone who shares their blood or life energy with a Vampyre without obligation is known as a “Donor.” Most Donors are monogamous, offering themselves to only one Vampyre.



Coming to a realization of one’s Vampyre nature is referred to as “Awakening.” Vampyres believe that Awakening typically occurs during or shortly after puberty, though it can occur later. Symptoms of Awakening include: Sensitivity to light (especially sunlight), affinity for darkness/night, switching sleeping patterns from nocturnal to diurnal, and thirst. Once awakened, Vampyres describe the following symptoms of their condition:



-A real need to consume the blood or life energy of others



-Heightened psychic abilities such as astral projection and powers of divination



-Sensitivity to light. This sensitivity does not prevent them from being in sunlight, though many report susceptibility to sunburn/sunstroke.



-Tendency to a nocturnal sleep cycle



-Increased healing abilities



-Possibly lengthened lifespan.







The process of embracing one’s Vampyrism is referred to as “Becoming.” Becoming is marked by a rite of passage: This can involve the exchange of blood or energy with a mentor or a ritual of death and rebirth.



There are a number of key concepts relevant to all Vampyres. These include:



-Spiritual immortality and rebirth: Vampyres believe in reincarnation and some of their rituals, such as the blood bond (see below) are intended to create links between incarnations.



-Life-force: This is manifested as either prana or blood.



-Energetic connection and exchange between individuals.



-Affinity with night, darkness, and shadows.



-Rapport with spirits: Influenced by their concept of spiritual immortality and individual divinity, this principally refers to the spirits of the dead.



-Death as change.



-Exceeding human limitations: The idea of becoming more than human





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The Ankh, also known as the Crux Ansata, or AnX, is the ancient Egyptian symbol of sexual union and immortality. Ankh means “life” or “hand mirror”. Vampyres have adopted the Ankh as their symbol, due to its symbolism of life and eternity. Egyptian mythology and symbolism makes its way into many Vampyre practices. Inspiration is drawn from this ancient source due to its antiquity, its reverence of the dead and personal immortality, and its mythic connection with forgotten wisdom. Other symbols used by Vampyres include skulls, skeletons, or coffins: To Vampyres these symbolize the power or triumph over death.



Vampyres have organized themselves into Covens, Households and Traditions and have developed complex languages, mythologies, philosophies and spiritual systems. The mythologies chosen by a particular group affect their philosophies and practice. Examples include the Strigoi Vii, Cainites, Khlysty, Lilitu, Nephilists, Order of the Dragon, Setians, Starseed Vampyres and Xanastasians. Vampyre covens or houses can be as large as several hundred people: The term “house” is more frequently used to describe Vampyre groups than the term “coven.” Smaller groups may be referred to as Covens, Circles or Clutches, larger groups may be referred to as Legacies, Households and Clans. There are no requirements for forming a Vampyre coven other than a group of people with common interest getting together and choosing a Sigil, a name and a theme. Becoming recognized by the greater community is more of a challenge, since it takes time to earn their respect. Some of the better known Vampyre houses are: House Sabertooth, House Omallie, Mavenlore, Della Noir, Blackdove, House Kheperu and Trylesta. A person initiated into one or more Houses is referred to as a Kithal. The founder or leader of a large family or House of Vampyres is referred to as a Primus.



A Household is a large group or collection of groups who use one Sigil to identify themselves. Households have their own established rules of order, rituals, and beliefs. Examples include House Sabretooth, House Agasti and House Kheperu. In House Sahajza, a population of Vampyres in a geographic area is referred to as a Grotto. The underground culture is referred to as the Cabal. A Vampyre council of Elders is referred to as a Jhatyet.



The code of conduct and etiquette of the Sanguinarium is the Black Veil, which was originally created by Michelle Belanger in 1997. It was derived from the earlier Thirteen Rules of Community created by Father Sebastian Todd, founder of the Elorathian traditions. The Black Veil is recognized by all of the various traditions of the Vampyre community. It encourages respect between differing Vampyre traditions and encourages sensibility and discretion in their lifestyles. The latest version, updated by Belanger in 2002, has seven tenets:



1. “DISCRETION: Respect yourself and present yourself so that others also respect you. Take care in revealing yourself. Explain what you are, not to shock, but to teach and to inform. Do not flaunt what you are, and know that whether you want them to or not, your actions will reflect upon the rest of the community. Share your nature only with those with the wisdom to understand and accept it, and learn to recognize these people.



2. “DIVERSITY: Among us, there are many different practices and many points of view. No single one of us has all the answers to who and what we are. Respect each person's individual choices and beliefs. Learn about them and share what you know. Our diversity is our strength, and we should not allow misunderstanding to weaken our community. Find the path that is right for you and uphold this freedom for others.



3. “CONTROL: Do not allow your darkness to consume you. You are more than just your hunger, and you can exercise conscious control. Do not be reckless. Always act with a mind toward safety. Never feed because you think this makes you powerful; feed because this is what you must do. Be true to your nature, but never use it as an excuse to endanger those around you.



4. “ELDERS: Give respect to those who have earned it. Anyone can claim a title, but a true leader will prove him or herself through dedication, hard work, and great deeds. Even so, leaders should be guides and not dictators. Look to them as examples, but always decide for yourself what you must do. Respect the person, not the position, and understand that your choices are always your own.



5. “BEHAVIOR: Know that there are repercussions to every action, and that you alone are responsible for your decisions. Educate yourself about risky behaviors, then always act with wisdom and common sense. Do not allow others to abuse you, but also, do not selfishly abuse. Respect the rights of others and treat them as you would be treated.



6. “DONORS: Feeding should occur between consenting adults. Allow donors to make an informed decision before they give of themselves to you. Do not take rapaciously from others, but seek to have an exchange that is pleasant and beneficial for all. Respect the life that you feed upon and do not abuse those who provide for you.



“COMMUNITY: Reach out to others in your community. Exchange ideas, information, and support. Be hospitable to others, and appreciate hospitality when it is extended to you. Do not engage in illegal activity, for this can endanger us all. Seek to nurture our community and support all those who do the same.”



Michelle Belanger founded the Khephrian Order. The Egyptian word Kheper means “transformation” or “becoming”, and gives us a hint as to the essence of what Khephrians believe. Khephrians believe that Vampirism is a condition of the spirit which manifests through successive incarnations. Their philosophy involves taking a potentially harmful and destructive tendency and transforming it into a mutually healing experience. The Black Veil refers to this concept as the Twilight Pillar, and originated with the Temple of the Vampire group. It refers to mastery over or balance between the two aspects of one’s nature: One’s primal or magickal/spiritual nature, referred to by Vampyres as “Nightside”, and one’s civilized or mundane nature, called “Dayside.” Some Vampyres refer to their true nature as “the Dragon” within them. Others refer to it as “the Beast” or “the Shadow”.

Kheprian beliefs can be summarized as follows:



-Emanations of Divinity: Khephrians hold that the Universe is a result of Divinity seeking to explore itself. It emanates downward into manifestation and then re-ascends to reunite with the greater union. For Divinity to be known, each being must connect with their own Divine aspect in their own terms.



-Realized Godhood: Khephrians believe that we are all aspects of Divinity. The Divine is our higher self. Uniting with our higher selves harnesses the sum of all we have been, bringing about realization of Godhood.



-Reincarnation and Awakening: Khephrians believe that we reincarnate, our Higher Self enriching itself with each incarnation. An Awakened individual can tap into the shared knowledge and memories of previous incarnations.



-Subtle Reality: Khephrians believe that through a process they call Awakening (see below) one can refine the subtle senses to perceive and interact with that beyond material reality, manipulating energy, communicating with spirits, and experiencing extra sensory perception.



-Spiritual Hunger: Khephrians believe that all beings must nourish their subtle aspects.







The Khephrian Order has established a list of virtues that they expect their followers to adhere to. These include: honesty, sincerity, balance, respect, discretion, patience, and courage. Khephrians do not tolerate illegal or criminal behaviour, underage sex, or the use of illegal drugs.



Vampyres have borrowed elements from Neo-Pagans, examples being their adaptation of the Circle casting ritual used by Wiccans. Vampyre rituals vary in a number of key ways from other Neo-Pagans:



-Vampyres tend to move energy counter-clockwise rather than clockwise as Wiccans do in Circle.



-Vampyres do nocturnal rituals. Of course Wiccans do nocturnal Esbats, but celebrate many Sabbats in daylight hours. Vampyres perform their major seasonal celebrations at night or at dusk.



-Vampyres seem to place less emphasis on the natural world than most Neo-Pagans and have more of a connection to what Belanger calls the “urban jungle.”



-Most Vampyre rituals are performed not in the open air but in nightclubs, private homes, or “salon noirs.”





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The initial calendar of Vampyre festival dates was compiled by Michelle Belanger, drawn from her Khephrian tradition and from informal celebrations already in use in the community. The Strigoi Vii later modified this calendar, re-naming festivals such as like Akhemu Sekhu (Night of the Immortal Stars, see below) and inventing new celebrations such as the Crimson Festival and the Bast Festival. For the most part, Vampyres follow the Pagan Wheel of the Year recognized by Wiccans, altering it to make it more relevant to their perspectives. As I mentioned earlier, this may be due to the fact that many Vampyres have practiced other Neo-Pagan systems. “Most Pagan festivals are about light and life, nature and growth,” Belanger explains, “Vampires resonate with death, change, decay that renews fertility. These specifically seem to be two diametrically opposed forces, but [Vampyres] recognize them as two parts of a whole, two integral aspects of a complete cycle.”



There are differences in the rituals celebrated by various Vampyre groups, but all of them celebrate some form of Beltaine. Though not all Vampyres celebrate the Endless Night festival, all celebrate some form of Samhain. Only a few Vampyre groups actively celebrate the other two cross-quarter dates: Imbolc and Lammas. The other two festivals that are common to all Vampyre traditions is the winter and summer solstices. The longest night and the longest day of the year are extremely significant to Vampyres. The winter solstice is seen as the peak of the Darkside of the year, the time when Vampyres feel more comfortable, more powerful, more “in their element.” The summer solstice is the exact opposite: Vampyres feel out of their element and long for shorter days to come.



Very few traditions within the Vampyre community observe the equinoxes. House Kheperu acknowledges them as the true turning points from one side of the year to the next. Khephrian rituals for these two days involve passing the High Priest position between the Priest of the Lightside and the Priest of the Darkside. The Priest of the Lightside is one who resonates best with light, life, and the world of flesh, and accordingly, runs the rituals for the Lightside of the year. The Priest of the Darkside resonates with darkness, death, and the realm of spirit, and runs the rites for the Darkside of the year.



The following dates make up the Vampyre calendar:







Endless Night Festival (October 31): Khephrians refer to this night as Im Kheperu (the night of transformation). It represents the power and balance of the Twilight Pillar. Many Vampyres consider this day to be their New Years Day. Grand masquerade Quabals are often held to celebrate this day. This is a day that all Vampyres publically wear the faces that they normally reserve for private. It is a time for Vampyres to revel in their Nightside selves, acting and dressing according to their nature. Endless Night is also the name of the largest gathering of Vampyres in North America. It is held in either New York or New Orleans on the weekend closest to Halloween. This gathering was founded by the Sabretooth Coven of Sahjaza and Father Sebastian Todd. It is comprised of the Vampyre’s Ball, preceded by the Dark Bazaar.







Long Night/Night of the Immortal Stars (December 21): This is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. On the Long Night, Vampyres gather with their “family,” honoring and celebrating those bonds. The Strigoi Vii call this the Night of the Immortal Stars and celebrate the Nightside on this date. It is considered to be the peak of the Dark Side of the year. Traditionally this is the night that new Vampyres are recognized or rites of passage are performed, such as raising someone from Calmae to Elder.







Imbolc (2 February): For the Kheprians, Imbolc is a transition ritual, the last gate of the Darkside of the Year when the disembodied make their final contact before some of them begin the transition to be born once more in the flesh. On one hand, it's a rebirth ritual, on the other, Vampyres mourn the loss of the spirit they have grown accustomed to knowing. They honor them by speaking their names and offering gifts of energy.



Crimson Festival (February 14): This is the night of St. Valentine’s Day. For the Ordo Stigoi Vii, Imbolc is replaced with the Crimson Festival. On this day Vampyres celebrate and remember their deepest passions, romance, and loves past and present. Partnerships and marriages are celebrated on this day. This is also considered a day to celebrate the seductive and glamorous aspects of “the Hunt.”







Dragon Festival (April 30): This festival, the Vampyre equivalent of the Wiccan Beltaine, is celebrated by all Vampyre groups. This evening celebrates the transition from Nightside to Dayside. It is about inner-self, responsibilities and life. It is also known as Im Sekhemu: Vampyres believe that their awareness and power reaches a peak in the days preceding Im Sekhemu, after which their power wanes until Im Kheperu. Im Sekhemu focuses more on lust and passion than fertility. The Sekhrian tradition, for example, lifts a rose above the ritual chamber, lowers the lights, and encourages members to express themselves through energetic and more physical exchanges to whatever extent each person is comfortable.











Summer Solstice/Maiiah Festival (June 21): This is the summer solstice. Vampyres gather with their blood relations and dayside friends, honouring those connections. Some groups use the Summer Solstice to honour donors as well, because it is through their help that Vampyres can endure the times when they feel weakened by our natures. The Summer Solstice is a time of reflection concerning the Dayside natures of the Strigoi Vii. Maiiah is the Strigoi Vii version of the Hindu concept of Maya (“illusion”), referring to the illusory nature of the world we perceive. It is a time to reflect on overcoming weaknesses.







Lammas/Bast Festival (August 1): Michelle Belanger wrote to tell me that “Lammas, standing at the opposite point in the year from Imbolc, is the last gate of the Lightside of the Year. As Imbolc is one final acknowledgement of the realm of spirit, this is one final acknowledgement of the realm of flesh. We Kheprians acknowledge those they knew in this life who have passed on. Like Imbolc, this is a double-edged ritual -- physical death allows one to take up a new existence as unburdened spirit, but the particular combination of spirit and flesh that was the living person we knew will never occur exactly the same way again. So both of these rites, at least in the Kheprian system, acknowledge the dance of life and death, body and spirit, and hold both joyous and mournful sentiments.”







The Strigoi Vii replaced Lammas with the Bast Festival. Bast was a feline Goddess from Egyptian mythology. This festival celebrates the predatory aspects of Vampyres, and is considered the twin to the Strigoi Vii’s Crimson Festival. It is typically celebrated away from civilization: Deep within a forest or in a desert area around two bonfires. The celebrants separate themselves into two groups: One represents predators (hawks, cats, bears, eagles, lions, etc.) and the other prey (rabbits, birds, deer) and a simulated hunt is enacted.



Two other days are significant to the Strigoi Vii: Both are birthdays. One is the person’s birthday, called their Dayside birth. The other is the anniversary of their re-birth or awakening as Strigoi Vii, called their Nightside birth.





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