Adventures through a darkened looking glass…

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Presented by

Tim

Since 2002 our guest this evening has been gathering friends and followers in the modern Vampire culture, as well as helping hundreds, in the culture, she has created one of the most enduring cultural resources that we know of today, she has represented us in documentary work and has authored works directly aimed at guidance and practical help for every modern living Vampire.

Her contributions can’t be underestimated and now she is working to further ensure that modern living Vampires have the knowledge and resources to deal with this gifted existence.

Returning with a reviewed, refined and re-developed… could we pardon a pun and go so far as to say, “revamped” support and reference resource, it gives us the greatest pleasure to welcome back to RVL one of our dearest and most special friends, from points North, the amazing, indefatigable Lady CG.

——————————————————————————————————————–

~ Lady CG ~


RVL: Good evening Lady CG, it is always an honour and genuine pleasure to have you with us. How are you dear lady? And how’s the family? Survived the Yule season okay? *chuckles*

CG:  Good evening Tim, always a pleasure to be your guest.

RVL: Over the last couple of months we have been eagerly awaiting official word of this new venture of yours– would you tell us how, and when, the original concept came about?

CG:  Anyone who has been by Smoke and Mirrors over the past couple of years is aware of how full the old message board is. It has gotten to the point where it is now difficult, even with the search to find anything on that site.  Our counter doesn’t turn anymore, we seemed to have exceeded the max number of posts it is willing to show us.  It was just time.  It all came to a head when Yuku who used to own the site was bought out by Tapatalk. Tapatalk has the nice feature of being mobile friendly but it completely ruined all the formatting on our old threads.  I could fix them all but it would take forever.  Combined with how full the site is, it just makes sense to start something new, mobile friendly and EMPTY!

RVL: What is your aim in moving away from the previous “Smoke and Mirrors” format that we are all familiar with?

CG:  Smoke and Mirrors was created in 2002.  That was a long time before “mobile friendly” was even a catch phrase. We needed space to continue to grow and I wanted that space to be modern, mobile friendly and attractive.  I wanted it to be updateable.  I wanted more control over the background processes.  I finally found a tech who wanted to work with me, so I hired him.  The new site we developed is what you see today on The Darkened Mirror.

RVL: Now, we have established that you are no stranger to the modern Vampire Culture… May we ask, of your personal background, would you give just a quick bio for newcomers that may not know of you… as difficult as that they may be to believe of course… do you identify as a modern living Vampire and for how long have you been aware of your true nature?

CG: I think it was about 1995 when I first found people I related to online.  While my Vampiric experiences predate that time, those things are very personal in nature and appropriate here but the first online people I found who were “like me”, I found in a little IRC channel called “Parents Kitchen”.  My experiences there convinced me to look for even more information and others who related to the term “Vampire” elsewhere on the net as the community awakened to the new internet age and I found my first public home in the old OneGroup e-groups that would later become Yahoo Groups.

My first home was Vampiric e-group.  A relatively small group hosted by Blue Moon Occult Shop in the UK.  I became a moderator there in 1998, I believe.  I met a lot of good friends in that group, some who are still good friends today.

It was only a couple of years later that some of the first “modern” message boards were starting to become popular.  I found my way to The Pathways to Darkness message board run by the Sanguinarium.  I loved that board.  I was still moderating Vampiric but this was different, fun and the people there were amazing.  It was my first exposure to people like Sebastiaan Todd and Michelle Belanger, but they were far from the only friends I met there.  I collected a great group of people around me and the discussions were first rate.  When the board closed a year or two later and left we poor message board orphans out in the cold I started looking for a new board where we could continue our discussions.

In 2002 I was hanging out on Drink Deeply and Dream when Hapsburg and I decided to create our own board.  We wanted a place where there were no bars on what we could discuss, where there was no topic that was off limits.  Haps found ezboard and we built what would become one of the largest and one of the longer running message boards in the community.  As you know, Smoke and Mirrors still exists today as an archive of community history and discussions dating from August 11, 2002 to present.

RVL: The development of the new initiative comes during the 16th anniversary year of Smoke and Mirrors, how does it make you feel to be still a major source of cultural reference after that long?

CG:  I don’t know that I actually think of it in those terms, lol.  In truth it feels like I’m starting over.  When Facebook came into its own a lot of the community went all in.  Message boards all over the community more or less “died” as people chose to favour instant messaging and groups where reactions happened in seconds rather than the hours and days it often took to get feedback on the old message boards.

When I decided to rebuild I felt like I was looking at a monumental task in trying to drag the communities back to message boards.  Most young Vamps cut their teeth on cell phones and instant messaging.  I was afraid it might even be a hopeless task.  I tried once or twice to see if there was any reception to the idea.  In the end I had to wait till “Facebook Burnout” actually became a thing and enough people, besides myself, began to miss all the advantages of message boards over Facebook groups. It’s a slow process but I think we’re finally seeing enough interest in things outside of FB, and enough technology updates to the message board systems to draw people back, at least a little bit.

Darkened Mirror logo
(reproduced by permission)

RVL: Since the names, Smoke and Mirrors and Darkened Mirror seem to, ahem, reflect a common theme, that is, mirrors, what is the continuing message being carried by the name?

CG: When we looked for a name for our first board, Haps and I tried out quite a number of possibilities. In the end there were a couple of factors: We wanted a board whose name was not obviously vampiric.  We wanted something that would “sell”.  Smoke and Mirrors was catchy and when shortened to S&M it became something that stuck in the minds of our members in a humorous way.

When I was looking for a name for the new site I didn’t want to give up all association with our old board and yet I wanted it to be different, and there is still some hope that it will be a smaller project, quieter, perhaps a little more scholarly.  Darkened Mirror seemed to fit the bill, alluding to our old site and still fitting into the community theme, so to speak.

RVL: If we may ask now, a little about the format of the Darkened Mirror, will it be a similar sort of site to Smoke and Mirrors or is there going to be a departure from the S&M format?

CG: Now that the site is built you can actually see that for yourself!  We’ve gone with a similar format with a twist.  While we still have some general forums, hosted by myself, we are now offering a more “Collegiate” format site with some of the best teachers in the community offering their expertise in their own forums, teaching what they know best, while still under the safe umbrella of our site.  We take care of the tech and the trolls and the teachers can do what they do best, teach.

Along with that change we have also added a Discord server for text and voice chat.  You read that right, we are now offering voice discussions and support in addition to text chat to enhance the services we provide as teachers and mentors.  On top of the obvious social benefits this also supports our teachers in providing a place for actual lectures and channels for both group and one on one support in real time.  We can actually TALK to our members and offer voice support that does not run up their cell bills.

~ Lady CG ~

RVL: …and will you be employing “moderators” or “co-admins” at the new resource?

CG: Moderators definitely, as well as Teachers who run their own courses in their own forums.

RVL: How has the initial growth curve and response been to the set up thus far, from your point of view?

CG: We’re in a good place for having officially opened just a couple of weeks ago.

RVL: Given the current shape of the modern Vampire culture, and its often volatile and changeable nature, will anyone who comes seeking a place in Darkened Mirror be afforded one? Will there be some sort of “checks and balances” employed to maintain a certain standard of membership and interaction within the resource?

CG: We have talked about that among some of our staff, but in the end it was obvious that we wanted this resource to be as accessible as possible to those wished to avail themselves of it.  We have moderators to keep an eye on things and the teachers will largely moderate their own classes.  If there is an issue it will be dealt with by myself or my tech.  Abuse of the system will result in i.p. bans, no fooling around.  I’m counting on the support of the community to help keep the resource friendly and so far it’s working out well.

RVL: Prior to embarking upon the project did you consider changing, rearranging and refurbishing ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ or, do you feel S&M has served its purpose admirably and now it’s time to change direction a little for you

CG: We did.  I did initially consider just “revamping” the place.  The problem with that is the amount of community history filling up the old S&M forums.  It seemed dishonest to edit it all, especially since it is still used as a resource to those looking for information or researching VC history.  So in the end I simply locked up the forums, put most of the important ones on READ ONLY and decided to leave it be.  My tech and I have discussed possibly moving the whole archive to the new site, but for now it’s safe and fine where it is and we have put of that discussion for a later date.

Darkened Mirror homepage art
(reproduced by permission)

RVL: …and have you, as yet, received endorsement from any other major group or organisation for the initiative?

CG:  The support has actually been tremendous!  I don’t even know where to start thanking people for all the encouragement and all the advertising we’ve been given.  It’s been overwhelming and it’s been wonderful.  I think our community writers have been one of the biggest sources of encouragement, time and articles for the site.  Vampire Community News and Vampire Network News have both been generous in allowing us to post news of our opening and new articles. VNN has been tremendously supportive.  I can’t even start to thank them.  RVL has been supportive in offering this interview, Berinvonn offered me an interview for Alaska After Dark, so eventually I’ll be doing my first podcast interview.  Almost everyone has been supportive either in offering time, teachers, people to work on our new project, the Knowledge Base, where which we want to turn into a community encyclopedia.  I am sure I am missing some names, but support for the project has been community wide and I just can’t say enough about how good everyone has been.

RVL: …can we, dare we, ask… any plans to turn the Darkened Mirror into the Court of The Darkened Mirror? I’ve voted at S&M; along with many, many others, to make you a deity, what about Her Royal Highness Queen CG… being as how you live in a commonwealth nation and all?

CG: No, no courts for me, *laughs*. At heart I am a writer and a teacher.  I run a Coven here in Brooks and THAT is about as much time and responsibility as I can handle.

I just think Courts and Houses should have a physical presence.  I largely limit the scope of my boards to being oriented to the online community, which in my mind, takes them outside the possibility of being a court or house.  I am Canadian, as you know, and with we Canadian Vamps scattered across a vast country I find I am most useful as an OVC facilitator rather than one based in an actual physical court.  Most Courts and Houses prefer their members to be adults.  Online we can stretch that a little and help younger Vamps get ready for life in the Houses or Courts, as well as being here as support for Vamps who prefer to remain solitary or who live outside of areas covered by the Houses and Courts.  So no… no Queen CG. – You WERE kidding right? ‘cause that’s just a plain scary thought, *laughs*

RVL: …and what is the true ultimate goal, or aim, of the Darkened Mirror project?

CG: The Ultimate Goal is to provide a learning and teaching and support site that meets the needs of a more modern community.  The mobile friendly forums, the Knowledge Base project, the Discord server are all designed to work together to help Vampires, Therians and Otherkin find support and information online to help them learn skills that will benefit them in the outside world.  I’ve always believed that it’s not enough to survive being a Vampire or Kin type.  We have the right to THRIVE, and on DM we are hoping to help people find the path and skills to help them to do that in the way that best suits their natures.

RVL: We are aware that you have, in recent months, withdrawn from certain other places around the way… was this to concentrate specifically on the development of the Darkened Mirror?

CG: Almost entirely.  DM has been a work intensive project.  It became obvious early on that I had too many irons in the fire.  I HAD to drop some things, so I prioritized and dropped the areas that were most stressful to me.  Life requires us to pick and choose what we expend our energy on. I needed time to get DM up and running.  I hope I will eventually have time to return to things and places I’ve had to leave behind but right now this was just more important.

RVL: We’ve spoken of practical things, such as aims and goals but can you tell us, what is the guiding philosophy behind the Darkened Mirror project?

CG: I’ve always only ever had one philosophy in my GVC goals.  Being a Vampire or Kin is hard.  When I went through “awakening” I did so not knowing what was happening to me, which was ridiculous considering my mother’s family was full of Vampires!  My goal has always been to try and insure that no one who goes through this does so alone and uninformed.  My goal with S&M was to insure there was always a light on and a hand to hold when it got tough.  My goals for DM are the same, but now we want to do so with the benefit of newer technology.

RVL: As far as the group website is concerned, may we ask, is the infrastructure fully in place and, relatively, bug free now?

CG: *Laughs*  Well we hope so.  My projects are almost never a “finished product” Even when the site has all its ducks in a row I am forever finding things I want to do and having my poor tech talk me out of yet another of “Cg’s Hare-brained Ideas“… Hmm sounds like a new forum name… but I digress.  Things seem to be largely working. Avatars now work, signatures are now possible.  We have some “unfinished areas” like the Knowledge Base, which will be an ongoing project for a long time to come, and we have an unused “shop” which we are toying with, perhaps with the idea of a “kin marketplace” but we’re still messing with how we want that to work.  The basics are up and running both on the site forums and my blog.  What else will get added, I have no idea, but it’s me so anything is possible.

img. source: psiholistic.ro

RVL: So, if people want to be considered for membership where should they go to find the Darkened Mirror?

CG: You can find our site at https://www.darkenedmirror.com  and our “discord” chat facility is available at https://discord.gg/HgPGprE  They should just come on down, in the case of the forums you need to make an account if you want to post and take part in the discussions, no membership is required if you just want to read.  For the Discord just bring yourself and your sense of humour. Texting is possible on phones or desktops, if you’d like to take part in the voice chats you’ll at least need earphones to hear or better still, a headset if you’d like to take part in voice discussions.  We have some tech friendly people who can help if you come in and have issues either on the board or on Discord.  I spend a lot of time in the voice channels, and I really look forward to hearing the voices of people I have known online for years, but never actually spoken to!

RVL: …and how does Lady CG, personally, feel about heading into the 16th year of providing resources, education and support for modern living Vampyres?

CG: Old?… With my 55th birthday coming up in March I admit to sometimes feeling my age, especially when I watch those who started out as kids on S&M now taking their place as community writers, teachers and leaders in their own right!  All in all it’s actually a good feeling, it’s been rewarding.  I am actually looking forward to getting to know a whole new generation of members.  Exciting times!

RVL: Dear Lady CG, it has been an absolute joy to be able to spend this time with and we are very happy, and excited, to help you unveil this new project. We hope; and we are sure, it will become just as iconic in the modern culture as Smoke & Mirrors before it.

CG: Thank you Tim!  It’s always a pleasure talking to you.  I’m ecstatic about the new project and I think there are going to be some truly exciting days ahead as the community helps me to define my new project in terms of the modern community.


The new project, Darkened Mirror, is, as you now know, a brand new and by Lady CG’s owns words, empty playing field. I have joined to represent RVL there and I know that Lady CG and her team are looking for contributions to fill the knowledge base there. I urge everyone, don’t be jealously protective of your knowledge, share it so that the entire culture might benefit from it. Lady CG and her team have built a splendid new place that is leading the way for support and information for modern Vampires in the age of instantaneous communication and cell-phone apps, it would be a measure of the maturity of the culture if people were to get behind this latest venture by a renowned, admired and deeply respected leader in our culture.

Go take a look, it’s stylish, it’s ‘sharp’, it’s classy,
It’s

Darkened Mirror homepage art
(reproduced by permission)

Copyright RVL, the Darkened Mirror & Lady CG, 2018

NB: Where used, quoted portions of other works are reproduced by permission, or under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, wherein allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

This article may be linked to but may not be copied or reproduced, nor redistributed in any manner, including electronic without the express permission of the copyright owners.

The views and opinions presented in this article are the opinions of the author and/or contributors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Owner/s of RVL, their officers, assigns or agents. RVL and its officers do not personally, individually, or jointly necessarily recommend or condone any of the activities or practices represented.

For further information please see the RVL Website Disclaimer

 

So, you want your own empire?

img. source: struts.co.uk

In the editorial “Focus Pocus vs. Self-interest, which one’s better?” I introduced what I feel to be the top 5 considerations for forming a “group” that I have used and relied on for over two decades in business and private, those items were made in response to a question that was asked of me about what I felt were the five most important factors in forming a group. The important thing to remember, first off, is that it doesn’t matter what sort of group you are forming, it’s like there’s no difference between selling balloons and perfume, “selling” is “selling”.

Now, anyone reading this is going to be asking themselves, “What qualifies this writer to be saying all this stuff?”

Well, the short version is, he has been involved in, created, managed and facilitated “teams” for specific purposes in industry and commerce since 1985. He has been a hands on manager in the supply chain arena, a workshop scheduler and manager and an assistant to the G.M. in engineering and fabrication. He has studied and qualified in Business and has lead Occupational Health and Safety committees. Since coming to our wonderful and rambunctious cyber-world he has served as administrator and moderator in a number of organisational online presences and has been Owner/Facilitator of his own groups along the way. As far as RVL goes, since coming on board in early 2011 he has led the team that has seen our little e-zine grow from just a couple of hundred views a month in a handful of countries to having an audience of over 3,000 visits per month, regularly and being read in over 120 countries. That’s the short version and if that doesn’t cut it then I suggest you stop reading and go make a cuppa…!

The list for the “Hypothetical Group Project – Top 5 set-up requirements that I proposed read;

1) Balanced and co-ordinated “founder team”. It has been proven, in psychological and workplace studies that a “Focus Group” consisting of individuals of different strengths and specialties makes for the best mix of creation. The one thing that is important above all, each member of the team should, ideally, be in the project for the ‘right’ reasons.

2) Advertise. From day one, a presentation for public consumption. This will thwart the “rumour mill” and the “haters”.

3) Communicate. Create a webpage, not a group, where you can feed regular updates on progress and growth to “followers” and have them see, thus spread the word, that you are NOT hiding anything.

4) Appoint a spokesperson, 1 ONLY. All communications for public consumption should be made by that person only. Extra people, throwing in extra words may seem to be uncoordinated and will, even if unintentionally, provide ammunition to the “haters and critics”.

5) Maintain the flow, growth and development. Appoint more staff if you need to, assign specific tasks and goals to each. DON’T try and go it alone. Any delays will come across to followers as, “Yeah, well, not really THAT interested, just doin’ it for shit’s ‘n’ giggles really…”

So, let’s assume we have our group established, that’s a milestone indeed but the real work comes in now, how to grow, how to develop, how to mature the group into a long term, viable and respectable entity.

“Near Dark”, F/M & Near Dark Joint Venture, 1987.

It is necessary to realise that the visibility, popularity and reputation of the group leaders/owners will undoubtedly influence an initial acceptance or non-acceptance, in broader terms, of the group itself. This is inescapable and the harder one tries to, if necessary, counter the initial perceptions the bigger the problem will become and will create a diversion from the goal and purpose of the project.
You will probably experience an initial “rush” to join which can see your membership numbers reach what appears to be a very respectable number, however, if this “rush” doesn’t translate into involvement and interaction on a steady and continual basis you will find yourself sitting at the head of a list of names, and that’s all.

So, what’s the best way to get people to WANT to get involved?

This is something that’s going to be up to owners and their staff to guide, the staff of the group, the people running it have to realise two things; 1) Rome wasn’t built overnight and 2) You get out of it what you put in. Yeah, I know… two hackneyed and overused old phrases BUT that doesn’t make them untrue. Patience, in the early days, is going to be the key to getting what you want.

There’s another old saying that you’ll hear from time to time, usually reserved for optimistic commercial entities, “Build it and they will come”, unfortunately that’s only true of shopping malls and brothels… anything else needs to be displayed and in order to make that display effective you need “a hook”, you need something unique, something about your group project that no one else has. Better come to terms with the fact, from the get-go, people aren’t, wholesale, stupid and if there’s one thing they are in our modern Vampyre culture, they are spoiled for choice so you have to make your ‘jewel’ shine just a little brighter than the other folks’

The best idea, for promoting your group, is to have a two pronged approach. For this, and much as I do hate to admit it, Facebook is an ideal vehicle for multi-layer marketing, if you will. Create your group on Facebook where you have control over visibility and accessibility. The second step in the establishment, make a Facebook ‘page’, an entirely different thing to group. On the “Page” you can offer teasers, snippets, highlights, quick promos and pretty much any form of short and enticing tid-bit to get people coming to your group. A very good idea is to start with a Statement of Purpose, or Mission Statement.

img.source: coachjudynelson.com

Writing a Mission Statement is not just about saying, “We are a group of fluffy-toed green wiggles and we want to spread word about our great lifestyle as fluffy-toed green wiggles. We don’t want any DRAMA coz’ that upsets ALL fluffy-toed green wiggles and we don’t like being upset.”

Hmmmm…! Doesn’t really make it does it? Get together with your “founder team”, read the mission statements of some of the biggest and longest established Houses, Covens, Groups and Organisations and make practical use of the myriad examples available out there… don’t just cut and paste someone else’s mission statement… that’s gonna get you pegged as “just plain wrong” – be sincere, be succinct and put your idea out there cleanly and clearly.

Once you have the grand opening…

Things are gonna start off slow, that’s a given. It’s going to take time to attract people from there comfortable other 1367 groups… yeah? Don’t laugh just check on people who do come to you to join.

We call these folks “trophy club hunters”, it’s kinda like who can get the most groups. It is NOT humanly possible to keep up with notifications from 1367 groups so notifications get turned off, simple. Doesn’t do you any good though.

Let’s face it, you want people in your group who are going to find/create interest and who are going to generate activity in their interactions with the others in your group. If people are motivated they will start discussions, and I don’t mean just regurgitating old discussions ad nauseum, there’s plenty going on around and within the modern culture to provide food for thought for people and that, ultimately, will be one of the strongest draw cards of your group.

img source: sylvielefrancois.com

Group members – The lifeblood

One of the things that is going to set your group apart from the others is its membership. Any group membership, regardless of its size, needs to be a well-balanced, interested and active membership. People with ideas, people with concepts, people with a little verve otherwise they are just going to sit there and say… well… nothing and that, ultimately, will see your group wither and die as so many others have done.

It is at this point you, and you co-founders, will need to decide how the hierarchy of you group will be set up. In this you have two choices, and here again, it comes back to “focus group” versus “special interest group”.

Consider, if you will, the following question; is your group a “democratic” establishment or an “autocracy”? That is, will you and your co-founders have an equal and equitable say in how the group runs and how the decisions are made for the group or, will your group be under your sole control as owner with your co-founders as administrators? There are equal pros and cons for both models and really, when all is said and done, it comes down to your personal style.

It is going to be very important that your potential members understand what sort of group it is because a set of rules is the one thing that separates an establishment from a rabble.

Img. source: louisdietvorst,wordpress.com

Looking forward, your group’s wider role and appeal

Once your group is off the ground you will be, I assume, deciding a couple of things; will your group be a small body, say you and ten of your closest like-minded friends, or will you be aiming for large membership and, hopefully, some recognition in the wider modern Vampire culture? It’s important that you know where you are going for without goals and aims a group simply founders.

In deciding the course for your fledgling group you may wish to consider establishing a presence with one of the “cooperatives” in play today.

It is here that you have, to my mind, three choices.
1) The Dark Nations, under the stewardship of the renowned Madam X of House of The Dreaming, is a “United Nations” style body that is made up of “Embassies” from different organisations within the modern culture. Each group that is granted membership (by application} maintains a representative embassy at Dark Nations aimed at promoting and facilitating relations between groups and organisations within the culture.

2) The Unity Project, led by King Maven Lore of The House of Lore New Orleans and Queen Gia Ahlia Bathory von Ecsed, Countess of Cachtrice and Queen of The Vampire Court of Memphis, is a unification project with similar aims that has established itself along, loosely, Monarchical lines where a collective of localised “Courts” are joined in a cooperative effort to achieve ongoing harmony and relations between “Courts” across the United States.

3) Independent House/Organisation, where the group/House or Organisation maintains an independent and active presence in the wider modern Vampyre culture.

I suppose it all rather depends, at the end of the day, whether you would rather call yourself Owner, Ambassador or King/Queen. Either way, again, it is by your choice that determines how you will guide your group in interacting with the wider culture.

Regarding Members

This is always, has always been and will always be one of the most difficult of decisions that any group leadership will face, what sort of people do you want in your group and again it comes down to “focus” versus “special interest”. A great deal has been made of the fact that group memberships, being made out of “people” in general, will be prone to all the pitfalls of having disparate ideas, differing ideologies and different philosophies… this is NOT a bad thing, it keeps discussions lively, it provides the widest range of opinion sharing and perception and can, very often, lead to unique and imaginative product, solutions and projects. Having said that however you really don’t want your group to become a seething mass of arguments and sniping… i.e. DRAMA

So, how to keep the “Drama Llama” in the barn?

One solution could be found in the following proposed “Membership Evaluation Framework”. This method has been developed based on the marvellous Bonewits’ Cult Evaluation Framework, developed by Isaac Bonewits, and provides a simple set of observable criteria by which any group owner could be able to determine whether a person is going to be suitable for their group… no, it’s not elitism, it’s common sense… you don’t elect a group of cattle to run a round up now do you?

Group Membership Evaluator

In conclusion

In essence, in forming any group for a purpose or objective, it is important that you establish a solid core of key members who are dedicated to seeing the group thrive and become what you want it to be. These people, including you, need to be willing to “get their hands dirty”. By that, you and your co-founders need to be able to effectively dedicate time to the project – time EACH WEEK, I would suggest a minimum of five hours per person.

You need to have a “hook”, something that is unique and desirable to members of the culture to make them want to get interested and involved in the group.

You need “quality” input… quantity, although it looks good on the surface, might be all potatoes and no meat and that isn’t going to cut it for very long before your group gets consigned to the “Ho Hum, seen it all before!” basket.

Remember, having a thousand members or followers looks good but if they’re not doing anything at all then you’re gonna be a King/Queen on a lonely throne, an ambassador without a tribe or a leader without followers in which case… why did you come here?


Copyright T & RVL 2018

NB: Where used, quoted portions of other works are reproduced by permission, or under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, wherein allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

This article may be linked to but may not be copied or reproduced, nor redistributed in any manner, including electronic without the express permission of the copyright owners.

The views and opinions presented in this article are the opinions of the author and/or contributors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Owner/s of RVL, their officers, assigns or agents. RVL and its officers do not personally, individually, or jointly necessarily recommend or condone any of the activities or practices represented.

For further information please see the RVL Website Disclaimer

 

From the outside looking in…

img. source: Applied Vision Works

Written, Edited and Presented by
Tim

A gentleman came to RVL’s Facebook page yesterday and in response to an information link from the Smithsonian Magazine, Real-life Vampires Exist, but They Are Scared to Admit Their Practices to Doctors, he proceeded with the following opening statement, I quote;
“Drinking a little blood to live the delusion that this is what “real-life vampires” do…is not being a real vampire. The Slavic Vampire, the very vampire archetype itself, never drank blood. He was never observed drinking blood, there has never been a single blood-drained body found and never any evidence for this at all. 

Most importantly, of all the documented reports there is not a single instance where any of the “victims” ever claimed their blood was drank…despite the “attacks” being described by them.”

A little disconcerting to have someone come into one’s “house” and call them delusional wouldn’t you say? having said as much however I think we could probably agree that the majority opinion and view of our culture is, and will continue to be, coloured by such thinking.

Perhaps there still may be surprises forthcoming in that discussion since we have been graced with a response to my input of;
” Good evening to you, “T.” I look forward to reviewing and responding to such.”

It will be intriguing to see how the gentleman’s work; and conclusions, stack up against the works of many highly respected, and eminently qualified, academicians such as D.J. Williams, John Edgar Browning, Joseph Laycock, Emily Prior and Suzanne Carré along with some of the articles at The Red Cellar, among others.

While certain strides have been made over the last five years or so in the matter of depicting the modern Vampire community as exactly what it is we still have those who will hearken back to antiquity in an attempt to impose their views, dare I say prejudices, on the modern culture. Once again, it would seem, it is time to reinforce a message and hope that the message will supplant the ignorance.

img. source: Daily Mail news, U.K.

Antiquity, Folklore and History

Many people will tell you, quite forcefully in some cases, that Vampires today have absolutely nothing to do with the “old” archetype, an archetype that has been in evidence for a little over 5,200 years now… heck, we’ve even outlasted some animal species…! To say something like that is like me saying to you, dear reader, forget about where your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, great-great grandparents and great-great-great grandparents come from, they didn’t really have anything to do with you… We have great history, great tenure, high points, low points, sad points and funny points in our inheritance, just like every other race.

The description, and thus the definition, of the Vampire archetype was ruled by a great number of variations in localised belief systems, superstitions and folklore. It was both commonly and widely held, in just about every nation and race on the planet, that the “vampire”, by whatever name it was known, was driven by its need to consume blood to survive in its commonly perceived “undead” condition.

The notion of vampirism has existed for millennia. Cultures such as the Mesopotamians, Hebrews, Ancient Greeks and Romans had tales of demons and spirits which are considered precursors to modern vampires. Despite the occurrence of vampire-like creatures in these ancient civilizations, the folklore for the entity we know today as the vampire originates almost exclusively from early 18th-century southeastern Europe[1] when verbal traditions of many ethnic groups of the region were recorded and published.

The Burney relief

Indeed, our friend and associate, Dr. James Lyon, Ph.D made note that;
In other words, the original concept of the vampire springs entirely from the lands of the former Yugoslavia, not from Romania, Bram Stoker or Anne Rice.
He went on to say,
Rather, I wanted to use “real” vampires, the original autochthonous depictions of vampires from Balkan folklore and history as recorded over the centuries by anthropologists, of which there is a great deal of material.

These are horrible creatures that bear no resemblance to pop-culture vampire. They are shape-shifters that hang out at watermills, tend to be butchers, weapons salesmen or travelling salesmen, and carry a burial shroud with them. They bloat up after feeding and have cat or goat shaped eyes. They turn into butterflies, not bats. They can’t turn you into a vampire simply by biting, and you can’t kill them simply by driving a stake through the heart. To this day there are reports of these creatures in Balkan media, especially in rural areas.

Starting with Article 20 of the Law Code of Serbian Emperor Dusan in 1349, to various documents from the Orthodox and Catholic Churches over the centuries, to the vampire trials in Dubrovnik between 1736-1744, to the Austrian Army’s vampire autopsies in the 1730s, up to present day beliefs in vampires, there is ample material to draw on. Fortunately, Balkan scholars have recorded a great deal of this in their local languages”[2]

So, we are faced with an extraordinary amount of material that is still available in order to be able to make some manner of informed decision about what we “know” of the Vampire in Classical antiquity.

Img. source: desertcart.ae

A contemporary model 

The “contemporary” Vampire was given to us in several parts.

Firstly, the most commonly available dictionary definition is provided as;
Vampire
noun: 
preternatural being, commonly believed to be a reanimated corpse,that is said to suckthe blood of sleeping persons at night.[3]

In which instance the origin of the word is noted as being of combined Germanic/ Serbo-Croatian extraction and finding its birth between 1725 and 1735 a.d.

From here we must also look to alternative interpretations since the Vampire archetype is nothing if not a polyglot of a number of sources, as I mentioned.

Looking further in the dictionary we also find;
Vampire
noun:(in Eastern European folklore) a corpse, animated by an undeparted soul or demon, 
that periodically leaves the grave and disturbs the living, until it is exhumed and impaledor burned.[3]

It is absolutely clear, to everyone, we hope, that modern living Vampires are NOT these. There is no crawling out of graves, there is no transforming into bats, mist or other such things and we do NOT roam around the countryside looking all mysterious in long black capes looking for succulent young ladies, or gentlemen, to bite the necks of. So, FORGET ALL THAT PLEASE.

Abraham ‘Bram’ Stoker

THE contemporary Vampire that we all know and love, more or less… was a development of fiction, fiction that first found its stride in poems such as –

“The Vampire (1748) by Heinrich August Ossenfelder, Lenore (1773) by Gottfried August Bürger, Die Braut von Corinth (The Bride of Corinth) (1797) by Johann Wolfgang von GoetheRobert Southey‘s Thalaba the Destroyer (1801), John Stagg‘s “The Vampyre” (1810), Percy Bysshe Shelley‘s “The Spectral Horseman” (1810) (“Nor a yelling vampire reeking with gore”) and “Ballad” in St. Irvyne (1811) about a reanimated corpse, Sister Rosa, Samuel Taylor Coleridge‘s unfinished Christabel and Lord Byron‘s The Giaour. [4]

Byron was also credited with the first prose fiction piece concerned with vampires: The Vampyre (1819). This was in reality authored by Byron’s personal physician, John Polidori, who adapted an enigmatic fragmentary tale of his illustrious patient, “Fragment of a Novel” (1819), also known as “The Burial: A Fragment”.[5][6] Byron’s own dominating personality, mediated by his lover Lady Caroline Lamb in her unflattering roman-a-clef Glenarvon (a Gothic fantasia based on Byron’s wild life), was used as a model for Polidori’s undead protagonist Lord Ruthven. The Vampyre was highly successful and the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century”.[7]

Of course, the quintessential Vampire, the most notable and the most influential caricature in the history of the Vampire myth, was Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula. In many ways we all still live under the gloomy pall of The Count whenever we use the word “Vampire”. A complete cultural change in thinking and perception wrought by one man, with or without help depending on whom you believe, that cemented the notion of the Vampire as being a Romanian nobleman, or Boyar, in his life before death. In one fashion or another the Count has been with us ever since. That was in 1897.

“Vampires”
~ by Mr. Jack on Deviantart
(mr–jack.deviantart.com)

Modern Vampires

Modern. serious conceptualisation of the Vampire could well be held to have originated as early as 1858. In France, Z.J. Piérart, a psychical researcher on vampirism and professor at the College of Maubeuge, founded a spiritualist journal, La Revue Spiritualiste. His rejection of popular reincarnation theory led him directly to his consideration of vampirism. He became interested in the possibility of psychic attack and in a series of articles he proposed a theory of psychic vampirism, suggesting that vampyres were the astral bodies of either incarcerated or deceased individuals that were revitalizing themselves on the living.[8]

This saw the first serious and “scientific”, if we can use the term in this context, departure from the archetypal Vampire and reached into a whole new realm of vampiric interaction with the living.

Arguably, the first established “Vampire” orthodoxy came in 1966 with the founding of The Order of Maidenfear, in the United States, by Anne de Molay. With the purchase of a property to be used as a “house” for women ‘Vampires’ to gather and inhabit the twentieth century suddenly became the focus of a new movement, a movement connected, in name, to a history stretching back to around 3200 b.c.

So, then, what to make of all this? What can we conclude? What legacy did we inherit from the sources of Classical Antiquity, 19th century European Occultism and, more importantly, 20th century revivalism?

Quite simple really, Vampires are alive and well and thrive in modern society, well, at least if not thrive certainly survive and mingle. How do they do it? What causes modern Vampirism? What are the alternatives for modern living Vampires in the 21st century?

Graphic source:
mythunderstoodalliance.com

Defining the Modern Living Vampire

This has been one of the most stubborn thorns in the side of the modern Vampire culture since its inception. We don’t all consume blood, yet we are all Vampires. We don’t all live in drafty old castles and wear black clothes and capes, yet we are all Vampires. We certainly can’t emulate the ‘special effects’ that Hollywood has imbued Vampires with, yet we are all Vampires… so, the next, most obvious, and hardest, question must be, “What is a Vampire?

If I told you that this subject, more than any other single topic, has embroiled the modern culture pretty much from day 1 I don’t think there’s anyone who could dispute or disagree, yet when we come to attempt definition it seems an almost impossible task.

The gentleman I mentioned at the beginning of this presentation offered a link to an article as evidence of his position, unfortunately it did not help his case since the link was broken. It was a link from one of our most precious cultural resources, sanguinarius.org

In seeking what is probably the best, most comprehensive, and all-inclusive definitions from that site one only need look to the Dictionary of Sanguinese housed there.

We find;
“Vampire:
A much-disputed term with many meanings, depending upon whom you’re talking to. See also the definitions of “sanguinarian”, “blood-drinker”, “blood fetishist”, “psychic vampire”, “Vampyre Lifestyler”, and “Vampiric Community”. Here, it is used to encompass all of the above-listed groups into a general category. Also, here, it is not used to define any of those as some sort of supernatural or superhuman beings or someone who has returned from the dead (excluding being revived by medical procedures), and so forth. Anyone who makes those sorts of claims is lying.”[9]

In addition to this, and not simply drawing on the opinion of one author of a particular article, we can also find various attendant entries such as, Combo, Energy vampire, Psychic vampire, Psi vampire (psi-vamp, for short) and Sanguinarian.

The method of definition has, over recent years, become complicated by the fact that even within the society and culture of the modern living Vampire there is a certain political correctness that need be observed so as to not alienate any one segment of the cultural body.

http://guides.wikinut.com/

Employing the K.I.S.S. principle

On September 18 of 2012 Lady CG created this topic for discussion at Smoke and Mirrors, “Lets Discuss: Defining Vampires“.

Between September 18 and December 15 a group of members discussed the best way to define the “Modern” vampire.

That group included Lady CG, myself, Crimson Dragonwolf, Starfire 77, Dolphinmoon, Zandra Amara, Nox Oculus, Zerochan, Chameleon1 and The Harlot.

At the conclusion of the discussion we had pared down the definition to this simple and succinct statement:

“Vampire (also: Vampyre) is a person who requires supplements of energy and/or physical substance; usually extracted from another source or living being, to maintain their health and wellbeing in some manner.”

In addition to this definition I would like to offer, after deep consideration and an amount of study of the concepts represented in the widely accepted, and utilised ‘lexicon’, offered at the late Lady Sangi’s support site, a further definition that I believe fits a great number of members of the modern culture.

Traditional Vampire: A person who is a modern “Vampire”, as defined by the statement above, and who, in their life, embraces the aesthetic of traditional vampire beliefs and perceptions.

Modern Vampires are no more delusional than Christians who drink wine and call it blood, they are no more delusional than Wiccans; a fully recognised modern religion based on ancient lore and beliefs, they are no more delusional than the scientists who struggled for years to prove that the Higgs-Boson particle actually existed and, perhaps, it is delusional to believe that the world must fit into one narrow tunnel of vision that suits the perfectly ordered world of one mind.

——————————————————————————————————————–

Copyright T & RVL, 2018

References:
1. Silver, A., & Ursini, J. (1997). The Vampire Film: From Nosferatu to Interview with the Vampire (pp. 22–23). New York: Limelight Editions.
2. “From Sarajevo with… fangs ~ Dr. James Lyon“, RVL interview series.

3. “vampire”. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. Retrieved 29 Jan. 2018. <Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com/browse/vampire>.

4. Marigny, pp. 114–115

5. Cohen, pp. 271–274

6. Christopher Frayling (1992) Vampyres – Lord Byron to Count Dracula.

7. Silver & Ursini, pp. 37–38.

8. The Ultimate Vampyre Timeline Rev. 14, RVL et.al.

9. Sanguinarius.org, Vampire Support, terminology and Lingo. Retrieved Jan. 29th, 2018

Further recommended reading:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vampire

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