From Mina Harker’s Journal, 30th September.
“My friends, this is much, it is a terrible task that we undertake, and there may be consequence to make the brave shudder. For if we fail in this our fight he must surely win, and then where end we? Life is nothings, I heed him not. But to fail here, is not mere life or death. It is that we become as him, that we henceforward become foul things of the night like him, without heart or conscience, preying on the bodies and the souls of those we love best.”
Dracula; Bram Stoker (1897 Ed.)
Vampires, vampyres, vampir… throughout history and human belief creatures of great and inherent evil, predators of such scale, knowing no remorse, no fear and no qualm about their own survival and their need to prey on human victims but surely that remains in the past, it remains in the books of superstition and black histories.
If not where does that now leave us? and what has the modern living vampire sub-culture inherited from those times of grimness and fear?
What is a predator?
1. Zoology . any organism that exists by preying upon other organisms.
2. a predatory person.
1920–25; < Latin praedātor plunderer, equivalent to praedā ( rī ) to plunder (derivative of praeda prey) + -tor –tor
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2013.
Our guests this evening join us to discuss the question, “Modern Living Vampires – Predators or not?”
It gives us great pleasure to introduce, for the first time at RVL, Jane M. and Zee No.
Jane is a self-identified sanguinarian/psychic vampire who came into the VC/OVC around two years ago, and has recently become more active within the community through her work as a contributing writer for The Vampire Observer, and as an administrator of TVO’s discussion group, The Vampire Collective.
Zee No tells us, “I identify myself as Pantheist now after following Wicca for over 20yrs. My patrons were Maat and Thoth. Pantheism to me is more cosmic and universal in the true sense of the word, though I still hold the base truths of Wicca to heart. I follow the right hand path.”
She came into the community about 7yrs ago armed with an intense curiosity about how she came to be a vampire and what it really meant.
It is also with the greatest pleasure we welcome back digital artist, poet, published author, creator of the Vampire Script and self-identified sanguinarian vampire Vodalok Nightkiller ( a.k.a. L.A. Nantz ),
Joining us also is our esteemed friend Balkan history expert, economic and political observer and author of the paranormal thriller, “Kiss of the Butterfly”,Dr. James Lyon Ph.D
RVL: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to RVL…and welcome back as the case may be, thank you very much for sparing a little of your valuable time.
JM: Thank you very much for having me.
VN: What we spare here with you will give many others pause to consider their own lives, it is my pleasure to once again be here.
ZN: You are quite welcome Tim. I am honored to be invited.
JL: It’s my pleasure to be here.
RVL: Historically and classically vampires have always been equated with unwanted and fearful attacks on human victims, how deeply does tens of thousands of years of conditioning affect the perception of vampires in today’s world do you think?
JM: I think it affects the common perception of vampires as anything with such a long and deep literal and mythological history would: absolutely and completely. I think the sheer mention of the word evokes all kinds of predatory images, whether it’s frightening or seductive.
ZN: It has created a desire for power in the archetype, that is realistically impossible to achieve. Many fear even the idea of such a creature even though they insist vampires do not exist. I think on some level people believe in them but fear the truth. But fear of truth is a common problem in today’s culture.
It creates an even larger problem when someone claims to be a vampire. People are prone to either dismiss the person as mentally ill or, if they believe them, a danger to society.
VN: Not nearly as much as we would like to think; all one needs do is look at how an unknowing mundane world has worked so hard to shape the nightmares of our ancestors into something, which is easier to understand and accept. At least that is true of the western world. What that truth may be else where I cannot say.
JL: I deal with vampires entirely from the perspective of Balkan folklore, largely because the word “vampire” originated in the Balkans, and because that part of the world probably has the richest legacy of the creatures. In that context, vampires were part of ancient Slavic mythology, much as Medusa or the Hydra, were part of ancient Greek mythology. Yet given the pop-culture trends of the past 25 years, the entire perception has become one of a vampire as potential boyfriend/girlfriend material.
RVL: Media attraction to, not only the archetype but to similarities with supposed vampire-like predatory activities, colour the headlines that are aimed at attracting readers. How much damage do you think this does to the image of the modern vampire sub-culture?
JL: I’m not well-versed enough on the modern vampire sub-culture to comment on that.
JM: I wouldn’t call it damage as much as I’d call it unfortunate association. Association with the word vampire is invariably connected to the archetype and mythology mentioned in the previous question. It’s not necessarily people drawing a link between “vampire crimes” and the real vampire community as much as they’re identifying parallels between the literal criminal acts, such as attacking people and drinking their blood, and the mythos itself. So, then, anyone using the word vampire, subsequently, will be unfortunately connected by association in the minds of the mainstream press, and those who don’t understand what the subculture actually is.
VN: The amount of damage done to the culture is endless and ever evolving. As we as a culture attempt to find a way and place in today’s world, it continues to colour anything we hold dear into a poison that no mundane person can rationalize. Whether it be a movie like “Twilight” or headlines in the news touting this murder or that to a vampire like addiction or mental disorder, we are constantly under siege by the world we want so much to be a part of openly as Vampires.
ZN: It’s hard to say. More people are becoming aware of the way that the media tries to manipulate the public. But alas, as we all know, there are far too many ignorant people out there that are the perfect target for this kind of misinformation. Ultimately, as the media does on many other subjects, it creates fear through sensationalism. I wonder sometimes if the media does this on purpose because they KNOW we exist. But that may just be my imagination going overboard, which it does sometimes.
RVL: In your opinion, as long as we are using the term “vampire” to describe ourselves will we be able to shed the popular image as developed through fiction and entertainment?
ZN: Most likely that term will never be modified. I was initiated into Wicca in the early 80’s. That was a hard time to be practicing magic. I was harassed in public many times. People didn’t understand what we were and often thought we were worshiping Satan. Education became our best weapon. Nowadays most people, even Christian churches, know the truth about witches. I believe the same can happen for vampires. It is just going to take some time and initiative with education to get there.
JM: No. In the minds of the masses, you can’t separate one from the other. You can’t remove a word from its common perception, especially when that perception is ongoing and reenforced in fiction and pop culture.
VN: No. Look at how long it has taken most nations to shed the hypocrisy of the ideal of a superior race, or an inferior one. In many places the peoples and cultures still hold to such ideals and the bile that is the life of them. Ignorance is ever the seed and breathes of hatred and aggression. As long as we are known as “Vampire”, there will be the negative opinions and beliefs that go with it.
JL: I suspect that it will be difficult, particularly given that a vampire was traditionally an undead creature that had risen from the grave to suck the life force from living beings. The main stumbling block to comparing the modern “vampire” sub-culture with the folkloric vampire is the “undead” part. From what I understand, most individuals who associate with vampire movements or are sanguinarians, do not claim to have risen from the dead.
RVL: Obviously today there is a differentiation between “Psi”-vamp predators and Sang-vamp predators, it has been the subject of many a discussion. Do you think, in essence, there is a difference or is a Predator a Predator, regardless?
VN: You might as well ask me, is a Lion in a zoo a predator, or is the one in the wild a predator. The answer will always be yes. It is what they are by birth and nature, no matter how we try to separate ourselves from that word or the big V word; we will not be able to. It’s what we are, regardless of how we feed. The better question here is what kind of predators are they, we. Do we look for weak people to prey on, or strong, do we allow them generosity, or none. Do we treat our prey as equals, or as slaves?
JL: I think that at this point we are delving into types of behaviour dealing with dominance, subservience, and in some cases, just plain obnoxious people.
JM: I think there are different kinds of prey, and different motives for preying on others, but a predator is, in essence, always a predator.
ZN: Yes, a predator is a predator. I was awakened by a Sang. I have always found that strange since I am a Psi. I do not feed on blood but when hungry I often feel like baring my teeth. *Laughs*. I actually do that when I get pissed off. A predator feeds on animals. What is unique about vampires is that we need to feed on our own species, for the most part. I find that aspect fascinating.
RVL: Not so very long ago an uproar hit the sub-culture with certain representations that “donors” were to be considered less “important” than their vampire “masters”, would you consider this to be a predatory attitude?
JL: This goes back to the question of dominance, subservience, respect for the participants in the activities, etc. It seems an unfortunate human trait that whenever someone gets a little power, they often try misuse it in regard to others.
JM: It’s not one I personally share, but I wouldn’t call it predatory if it’s a relationship between consenting adults.
ZN: Not really. Many ancient cultures revered the animals that ate and gave thanks to them for giving their life so that they could live. I eat meat. I am also thankful for them. Animals at the very least deserve to die respectfully without suffering. Those vampires who have an attitude that donors are beneath them are nothing but elitists to me. And honestly, those who behave that way make me wonder what game they are playing online.
VN: Extremely; yes. To consider one’s self better than another, that willingly gives of itself so that you or I might live, is very predatory. Even if we consider them equals in some way, we still hunt them out, those that are willing to give to us. We hunt them out. Now please, take note that even here, I without meaning to, referred to the donor as “Itself”, this also is predatory. To remove the level of equality in any way is the act of a predator. Ask yourselves, honestly, how do you, refer to your donors. Have you ever used non personal terms or words to describe them, call to them, in any way?
RVL: One of the latest news items regarding “vampires” revolves around a twenty-three year old man in Turkey. It is known that he has been auto-vampirising, that is cutting himself and ingesting the blood; he has been arrested a number of times for attacking and injuring people to drink their blood. The newspapers are ALL calling him a “real vampire”, the Doctors that have reviewed him are saying he is suffering acute multiple mental disorders, in your opinion which is more likely and was it appropriate to use the “V” word in the headline? [http://www.reelz.com/movie-news/15740/stranger-than-fiction-doctors-in-turkey-report-real-life-vampire-with-multiple-personalities/]
JM: How the mainstream news defines “real vampire”, and how the real vampire community defines it are, at this point in time, two very different things. Anyone committing crimes that are similar to the mythology of vampirism, attacking people and drinking their blood, is always going to be called a “real vampire” by the mainstream press, simply meaning they’re a real-life manifestation of a fictional monster, like the bath salt drug addicts who ate other people’s faces being called zombies. Again, this is the association problem the real vampire community faces when inheriting all this mythology.
Additionally, I don’t think being dubbed a “real vampire”, in the mythology-come-to-life sense, and having multiple mental disorders are mutually exclusive. This man was/is obviously very mentally ill, while committing crimes that reminded people of vampires, not as a subculture, but as a monster of myth. And in that sense, it’s a natural use of the word, which happens to be unfortunate for those who also use it.
JL: I have spoken with friends in Turkey, and it appears that individual in question was deeply disturbed with a long history of unusual/abnormal behaviours that went beyond blood drinking. I understand he is now being given mental health care.
VN: First and formost, the “V” word as always with the Media was used to catch attention. Something they will always do, appropriate or not. This man’s condition, how can anyone of us say what is the truth of him? Have you dined with him, Walked with him along the road or through a store or home? We can make conjecture as to his condition, nothing more. Mine is that he may have a rare disorder, in turkey it would not be unrealistic for the doctors to ignore such things and jump to the wrong conclusions for various cultural reasons. Mental disorders, possible again, but we will never know the truth of it.
ZN: Hmmm… They are both equally likely I think. It is only appropriate to use the word vampire in a headline for a story of that type if the person who has committed the act has identified themselves as a vampire. I am in no position to judge the validity of that statement without knowing them in some way.
Of course the doctors are going to say he is mentally unstable. They don’t believe in vampires.
RVL: A number of commentators have bemoaned the “dilution” of the image/archetype of the vampire in the modern sub-culture do you think that the predatory aspects of the archetype are necessary to maintain the image?
JM: I suppose that would depend on the purpose of maintaining the image, and in what context you’re maintaining it.
VN: The “dilution” of the Archetype/image… if we are by our nature a predator, mind you not the murderous monsters of legend or film, but predators none the less, then how do we separate ourselves from that image in any light? We can only change in the public eye what we can change in ourselves as a community. As long as we feed on the living in any manor or fashion, we will always be seen as predators. There is no Dilution of the Archetype.
ZN: I have studied vampires for several decades. Long before my awakening. I guess deep down I already knew what I was. But many scholars believe the vampire archetype is a symbol of humans’ love/hate relationship with sex and death. There is a bit of truth in that. The archetype has gone through many evolutionary change over the centuries. If anything they are more human. The dilution I see is vampires being able to resist their nature. This may be a statement from culture that sees vampires as merely being addicts. But eventually the vampire gives in to his nature and feeds. That is the one aspect that has never changed in pop culture. I don’t know if it is even necessary to maintain a certain image.
JL: From a purely folklore viewpoint, the predatory element is essential to the vampire. The Balkan folklore vampire is an undead hunter, a predator, who seeks nourishment in the way any other predatory animal does. Some are more sophisticated about how they acquire their food, but at the end of the day, the predatory aspect is a substantial part of what brings fear into the hearts of the potential victims. After all, would vampires continue to terrify and fascinate the public if they subsisted on a vegan diet and lived in Ashrams?
RVL: What, in your opinion, is the most common effect or impression, of wearing prosthetic fangs anywhere other than at special events of a vampire theme? Could this be a visual link with predatory behaviours?
VN: Such things do no good to us, if worn or used anywhere save at themed events/parties. I’ve personally, over the issue of wearing fangs had mixed reations. One donor in particular would not let me feed unless I wore them. In the end I said good bye to that donor. That experience has soured the thought of them in my mind. Ask this question of any mundane, see what they say. They won’t say predator, most will say “lame”.
JM: Yes. Any literal representation of the vampire archetype is going to call to mind mythology, which includes, in this case, predatory behavior.
ZN: I don’t really understand that behavior. I do not dress the “lifestyle.” I was, however born with four snaggle teeth. The bottom two were removed as a child. So I have effectively always had a kind of set of fangs. Because of that I have often been jokingly asked if I was a vampire.
I find myself confused when people reject the inaccuracies of the archetype but then want to wear false fangs. Maybe it is their way of advertising what they are, or just simple intimidation. I don’t really know.
JL: There is a time and place for everything. The same question could be asked about a person carrying an assault rifle in broad daylight, just because he/she is permitted to.
RVL: Do you believe that modern vampires, in the main, are predators at the deepest level of the belief? If so, why? And ,If not, Why not?
ZN: Well, yes, of course. Humans are no less a predator than vampires. Vampires do possess more of an aggressive hunting nature. I believe it is a strength that is self protective and useful in feeding and recognizing when we need to feed.
JM: I think whether or not someone is a predator is individual. As a whole, I wouldn’t call the entire modern vampire community predators by nature.
VN: Yes. Blood, energy of any kind, it is nourishment for us, we must seek it out. That action is always a hunt of one kind or another, even if the donor is a romantic interest. The act of feeding on them changes how we see them.
JL: I must defer offering a response, due to my lack of familiarity with the sub-culture.
RVL: What would be the most logical way to shed the “predator” image that is commonly associated with the vampire by those outside the sub-culture?
JL: Perhaps the self-identified “vampires” should drop the “vampire” moniker altogether and find a different means of labelling themselves.
VN: We would have to find a new way to refer to ourselves, and as a community, change the ideal of taking what we need into something other than what it is. I don’t think such a thing can be done.
JM: The most logical way to shed the mythological connotations associated with the word vampire, if that’s the goal, is to use a different word and create new meaning around that.
ZN: *Laughs* I don’t believe that will ever happen. It is a core nature of the vampire. It is necessary. It is possible to become more accepted by those outside the sub-culture without shedding the predator image. Education is the best tool we have a the moment.
RVL: If you identify as a modern living vampire do you consider yourself predator at any level? If so, why? And if not, why not?
JM: No. As a predator is technically defined as someone who preys on, victimizes and/or exploits others, I would not consider myself a predator on any level.
VN: Of course I do. I have always felt that looking for a companion or a donor was the act of a hunt. Even if it’s a metaphorical hunt, it’s still that. And in romantic relations, even the mundane world still refers to the act of dating as the hunt.
ZN: Oh yes. I would have no problem killing an animal for food. I have done it already. I hide it well from the general public, but I could be quite vicious in the right setting. Even though I am Psi and not Sang, the sight of blood, even in print is evocative to me.
JL: I’m not a predator. I’m a bureaucrat. *smiles*
RVN: Do you have any other general comments that you would like to make about this subject?
VN: No, I think I have shared as clearly as I can what my position on this is. 😀
ZN: The predatory side of vampires is what keeps many people in denial of their true nature as a vampire. The information we are fed by our culture concerning vampires can cause us to fear ourselves. It is the heart of the dark side within us all, be you vampire or not. It is best to embrace it so it can be better understood. That is the only way to truly know yourself and successfully discipline your own behavior.
Educate each other. It is the path to enlightenment and freedom.
RVL: Once again, to all our special guests this evening, thank you very much for your time and for sharing your thoughts with us, we are very grateful.
JM: Thank you very much for having me. I’m honored to have been on this panel, on behalf of myself and TVO.
VN: I’ve enjoyed this moment in time with you
ZN: Thank you so much for having me here. Your questions were very interesting.
JL: Thanks for inviting me. I wish you all the best.
It would seem that the question, are modern living vampires predators or not, is destined to be an ongoing consideration and discussion point for a long time to come. I don’t think that there can be any doubt that each observer will assess and answer the question according to their understanding and personal definition of predator and in that respect it gains the same scope and scale as asking a group of real vampires to define a vampire.
The truth of the matter? Well, that’s in the eye of the beholder it would seem, it is also in the practice, the soul and the conscience of each and every self-identified modern living vampire.
© Real Vampire Life, Zee No, Jane More, Vodalok Nightkiller & Dr. James Lyon 2013
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