The Spirit of Vampirism
We have all struggled with understanding our nature and what meaning, if any, can be derived from it. Countless members of the community have contributed their voices to this search for understanding, courageously challenging the oppressive and disheartening depictions of us by those who have not shared our struggle. Often, upon discovering or developing a theory that explains our nature, we cling to it and proudly exclaim what we have found only to learn that others in the community define themselves and their experiences quite differently. This is frustrating and invalidating for many of us. How are we to know which theory is correct, if any are? How can so many know with such certainty that their explanation is correct when disparate and mutually exclusive theories abound? Is there some litmus test by which to distinguish “legitimate” vampires from those who merely mimic us or our classical representations? As a community, we need answers to these questions that clearly distinguish us without divisively splintering those within the community with different personal experiences or traditions. Essentially, we need a clear definition of vampirism.
A Single Vampire Is Mad, Thousands Are a Minority
Few members of our community go untouched by anti-vampire prejudice. For those of us brave enough to publicly acknowledge our natures, the vulgar assumptions by others about our habits or mental health are insulting and can even threaten our safety and our freedom. Those among us who understandably choose a higher level of discretion to avoid the threats posed by an ill-informed and potentially dangerous society often live in an exhausting state of perpetual hypervigilance, feeling compelled to conceal an integral part of their identities. These conditions are familiar to me, personally, not only as a vampire but as a gay man. Thankfully, the prevailing attitudes regarding sexual minorities, as illuminated in large part by changes in representation in media, are shifting toward greater acceptance and threats of violence and forcible institutionalization are much abated. The vampire community, on the other hand, continues to find itself consistently depicted as insidious, predatory creatures fixated on victimizing innocent, unsuspecting people. The representation of minorities in this way more or less summarizes the propaganda used to marginalize every oppressed community throughout history. Learning from the hard-won successes and continuing battles of those who have had to fight to combat irrational and vilifying depictions of their community could offer invaluable encouragement and insight into our own.
Vampiric exchange bestows countless meaningful gifts on donors from the active cultivation of positive emotion to the priceless assurance that such emotional growth is itself possible. Utilizing that exchange to improve the world through the fostering of prosperity in our donors is both completely natural and highly ethical. It is not always possible or ideal, however, to feed on non-vampires. For those of us in environments in which it is unsafe to reveal our vampiric nature, for example, seeking out a donor can be extremely dangerous. Yet it is these hostile environments that drain us more than any other and demand that we feed regularly. In such cases, it may prove preferable to engage in vampiric exchange with other vampires.
The Vampiric Cure
When I began openly identifying as a vampire, one of the most frequent responses I faced was an accusation that I must be insane. What other explanation could there be, after all, to my obvious delusion? These extremely thoughtful acquaintances proceeded to recommend that I seek out professional mental help so that I could be “cured” of my “illness.” Cultures have often struggled to understand behavior that differs from those cultures’ norms and one of the most popular contemporary methods of addressing unusual traits seems to be identifying unusual behavior as symptomatic of psychopathology. This is particularly problematic for minorities, of course, who necessarily maintain ideas and behaviors that are not those of the majority. Not understanding the cause of something is an excellent reason to explore it scientifically and even skeptically, but immediately labeling any pattern of behavior that is statistically infrequent as a psychological disorder is not skepticism, it is prejudice. In order to rightly qualify as a disorder, a pattern of thoughts or behaviors must disrupt one’s ability to function or otherwise cause personal distress. (It should be noted that facing hostility and discrimination as a result of one’s behavior is quite likely to cause distress but, so long as this is in response not to one’s own behavior but a perfectly reasonable reaction to personal attack, that stress does not indicate one’s behavior to be pathological.) Vampirism, though widely assumed by many non-vampires to require pyschotherapeutic treatment, is not, in fact, a disorder in need of a cure.
Majesty and Malady: The Wonders and Risks of Tantric Energy Exchange
One of the most defining moments of my Awakening was reading Michelle Belanger’s seminal work, The Psychic Vampire Codex. I had identified as a psychic vampire for some time when I finally purchased and began eagerly devouring this brilliant text, but I still had so much to learn. I, like many young vampires, lacked much of the core vocabulary that is so validating, as it establishes a sense of shared experience and, by extension, community. One of the phrases in particular that struck me was “Tantric Exchange.” I’ll never forget the moment I read that passage, largely because my initial reaction was a flood of relief, having finally found an explanation for some disturbing experiences in my own life. As an Awakening psychic vampire who was simultaneously developing his identity as a gay man, I employed a rudimentary form of this exchange… extensively. In doing so without the deeper understanding that further study later afforded me, I incurred some unfortunate consequences. Luckily no irreparable harm was done, but I could have benefited much from a few caveats before I jumped in head first.
Prying Loose the Nails
All too often those we love most and to whom we offer our deepest trust disappoint us. Our closest friends, Family members and allies fail to live up to the potential we see in them and betray us to one degree or another. How many opportunities do we give them, then, before their infidelities finally drive the last nail into the coffin? How much forgiveness can those who let us down rightly expect?
As vampires, we have the capacity to peer far more deeply into those around us than our mundane human counterparts.
The Inherent Ethics of Vampirism
"So…you’re evil, then?" "You thrive on hurting others!" and, my personal favorite, "I love Jesus so I can’t talk to you anymore." These are all actual reactions I received upon embracing my identity as a vampire and, after much internal debate, deciding that the best course of action for me was to openly discuss this identity with others. To chronicle all the accusations and assumptions made about my mental health would be less efficient than merely referring you to the entirety of the DSM-IV-TR but uninformed opinions on the psychological well-being of vampires aside, the next most frequent argument I faced was that vampirism, by its very nature, is evil.
As an inescapable consequence of my nature—both as a vampire and as a gay man—I have learned that the morality of the masses cannot be accepted as inarguably true merely because it is so widely accepted.
Who am I? To some extent, this singular question has lingered in the minds of self-aware beings throughout time and, by many accounts, before even that. Humanity has found as many answers as there have been philosophers to ponder the question and, given the apparently infinite diversity amongst the human population, this seems most appropriate. Each person must define for oneself what makes one distinct from others. Such personal differentiation seems to be an essential part of developing a sense of self-identity and, by extension, one’s place in a world made of countless other individuals. We see this struggle for individuation manifest, most pronouncedly in adolescence, in voluntary isolation from those figures of authority that, theretofore, provided one with ideals and the particulars of character. Having attained sufficient emotional distance from overriding external forces long enough to develop a unique perspective and, more importantly, an awareness of one’s unique perspective, one may emerge from one’s chrysalis, fully formed as an individual and prepared to forge one’s own path.
How, then, are empathic vampires to define themselves?