Chatting with Vampires ~ To the left please

Chatting with vampires header jpegBy
Tim

Satan, Lucifer, Lord of the Flies, The Great Deceiver, The Serpent, Beelzebub… The Beast… all names synonymous with the various concepts of the Devil, the Christian concept of the anti-power to God. A religious separation of the powers of light and good, darkness and evil.

For a great part of human history this icon, and those considered by the church to be associated with it, has been reviled as the ultimate evil power of the world and has been the subject of countless works of fiction and movies that recount the endless war between the two concepts but with the growth of modern vampirism and the many and varied perceptions that go along with it, the power that is regarded as Satan has found new interpretations in a theistic and spiritual path.

In the 1992 film “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” the main character, upon learning of his beloved’s suicide and therefore damnation takes the following approach…

DRACULEA (translation):  I renounce God!  I shall rise from my own death to avenge hers with all the powers of darkness!

Draculea stabs at the altar cross with his sword. Blood pours from the cross, from the eyes of statues, and from candle flames. Draculea fills a chalice with the blood and drinks it.

DRACULEA (translation):  The blood is the life and it shall be mine!

Thus, with the character of the bishop hopping about proclaiming “sacrilege” we are driven inexorably to the conclusion that Draculea is now in league with the ancient foe of God, i.e. The Devil, and so we have the reinforced image of vampires being evil in the extreme. This is a perception that has followed the vampire since its earliest recognition and right up to the present day in fiction. Those of us who inhabit the worldwide society of modern vampirism, however, know better.

To share with us some of the new perceptions of the role of “Satan” and the convergence of theistic paths with modern vampirism, we are honoured to welcome back to RVL two members of the venerable House Rakoczy, Lady Anya Ligeia Rakoczy and Lady Kelly Scarlet Rakoczy.

RVL: Good evening ladies and welcome back to RVL. It is a great privilege to have you with us once again and to be able to spend some time learning from you about this subject.

Lady Anya: Good evening, Tim. Thank you for the opportunity to share my personal views, and that of the Stygian path practiced by our House. It’s always a pleasure to participate with RVL.

Lady Kelly: Thank you, Tim.  I am honored to be here this evening.

Rakoczy House dual sigil pic jpeg

RVL: The subject of theistic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theistic_Satanism) and spiritual Satanism is not a new one, and from our understanding Satanic groups have various opinions about Satan, ranging from the conviction that he exists and ought to be worshipped, to Anton Szandor LaVey’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Szandor_LaVey) symbolic interpretation, which emphasizes individual will and pleasure-seeking. Why do you think the “Satanic” image has received such “bad press” over the ages?

Lady Anya: I think the short answer is, a relentless campaign by the Right Hand Path, and in particular, some Christian sects, to discredit the tenets of the Left Hand Path. As you have astutely pointed out, the central tenets of the LHP are the cultivation of Individual Will and the practice of Freedom, as long as one accepts responsibility for these. Painting these principles as “sinful”, or worse, “evil”, has been the stratagem of the RHP in order to maintain their control over those who don’t want to think for themselves.

Lady Kelly: Indeed, Satanism, in both of its forms, theistic and nontheistic, places emphasis on doing one’s Will as well as carnality.  As far as doing one’s Will, Satanism shares this philosophy with other Left-hand Path (LHP) philosophies, including my own Stygian, or Underworld/Chthonic path.

The LHP practitioner seeks self-individuation, apotheosis and godhood, which flies in the face of the largest Right-hand Path religions, i.e., Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.  In the big three religions, it is the Will of Jehovah or Allah that is done.  In Wicca, it is the Will of the god and goddess that is done.  The Left-hand Path adherent says, “my will be done,” where the Right-hand Path adherent says, “thy will be done.”

The goal of self-individuation is creating one’s own objective universe or real world, as well as immortality.  The magickian and the sorcerer accomplish their goals via magick ritual and seeking gnosis from within as well as from the otherworld.  A fine point to make is that modern-day Luciferians (not to be confused with Satanists) and some spiritual Satanists do not believe in entities at all but see spirits as an archetype residing within the psyche.  The end goal is the same however.

 

 “Satanic Panic” was a sociological and psychological phenomenon that began in the 1980’s that purported ritual child and animal abuse.  Psychologists were implanting memories into vulnerable children and their parents.  This nonsense came to a halt when insurance companies ceased paying for treatment.  However, with the advent of movies like, Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen, the idea that occultists are dangerous psychopaths are entrenched in the psyches of impressionable persons.  There are some African Traditional Religions (types of Vodoun) and African-Brazilian religions where animal sacrifice is practiced. As far as I know, domestic animals are not sacrificed and the farm animals that are sacrificed are eaten.

If we want to be truthful about human and animal sacrifice, we can look to the Bible as our example.  The Bible is rampant with animal and human sacrifice.  Today, most of us are far too civilized to employ such nasty feats.

 

Fueling a current Satanic Panic, we have sensationalistic preachers like Bob Larson casting out demons and preaching utterly untrue garbage about occultists, once again, spreading satanic panic.  In South Africa, satanic panic may have become a fulfilled prophecy as crimes have been committed that seem to be spurred on by these supposed satanic teachings from preachers.

If we want to be truthful about human and animal sacrifice, we can look to the Bible as our example.  The Bible is rampant with animal and human sacrifice.  Today, most of us are far too civilized to employ such nasty feats.

product_thumbnail.php Testament of Shadows

RVL: How do you interpret the archetype of Satan?

Lady Kelly: Satan of the Bible is actually Helel, a lesser god.  The prophet Zoroaster, knew of the Great War, where enmity ensued between brothers Asiz/Ahriman (the Dark Lord House Rakoczy speaks of) and Enki (an Elder God).  Zoroaster confused the Satan of the Jews with the Dark Lord and the Jews adapted the name, Ahriman the Adversary, into their own language. 

From House Rakoczy’s Testament of Shadows, “It is Ha-Samael that embodies and expresses chthonic divinity as a whole known also as Lotan; this is the serpent of old, the dragon of chaos once known as Ahriman and one aspect of which was conflated with Helel and became known as Satan in the Bible.”

Lady Anya: The archetype of Satan, the fleshly aspects of the Dark Lord, can be a very empowering one to overcome guilt and shame and to embrace the flesh. Just as the archetype of Lucifer, the spiritual aspects of the Dark Lord can be a powerful guide to the quest for apotheosis, to ascend to the divinity inherit in the individual.

The titles “Satan” and “Lucifer”, which rightly belong to the Dark Lord, Asiz have been wrongly conflated with the Christian “Devil.” The Dark Lord, Asiz, or Ha-Samael, is the God of the Upyre, the God of the Underworld, and the embodiment of the forces of Chaos. He is not “the devil,” nor the ruler of Tartarus/Zin, but the parent of the Upyre and the ruler of the Underworld. The titles Satan and Lucifer have been applied to Him, and they are His titles, but Ha-Samael is not Helel, the foe of Jews or their God. The Dark Lord is nature and native to the Underworld, whereas Helel, fallen angel, is a light bound in darkness and a foe to both the Dark Lord and the God of the Jews.

In Babylon, the Dark Lord was called Ahriman, and when the Jews were enslaved in Babylon by their own God, they saw Ahriman as an adversarial force, and so gave him the title in Hebrew of Satan, likely derived from the Egyptian name Sutekh. The angel who rebelled against the God of the Jews was named Helel. He was, therefore, seen as a foe to the Jews, and therefore to align with Satan. Later, the Church of Rome, who worship the Roman sun god, an adaptation of Enki, god of light, though they falsely link their God with the God of Abraham, linked Helel and Satan to aspects of the Dark Lord, Asiz or Ha-Samael, and to Venus, and called this creation Lucifer. Likewise, the cult of the moon god, Allah, linked Satan and Helel to Asiz because their God, Allah, like Enki, is one of the “Elder gods” who oppose the Dark Lord. The Muslims called Him Iblis for His Lucifer aspects and Shaitan for His Satan aspects.

The titles Satan and Lucifer are wrongly applied to Helel—they actually belong to Diabolus, the union of Shaitan and Babalon; and Prometheus; the union of Yogsoboth and Chronozon—aspects of Asiz, the Dark Lord. The title Satan expresses the energies of freedom in the domain of the flesh, with blood, and with the planet Pluto; while the title Lucifer expresses the energies of freedom in the domain of the spiritual, with sulfur and with Jupiter. The red lore of the blood and the golden lore of sulfur both belong rightly to the Dark Lord and not to Helel.

The Dark Lord invites those who follow Him to claim the radiance of the spiritual which is concealed in the carnal; to accept ultimate freedom and to build personal power through the doing of one’s own Will as long as one accepts responsibility. The Dark Lord, Asiz or Ha-Samael, is no fallen angel, but the ultimate freedom, the Dragon of radiant Darkness.

 

RVL: May we ask, in matters of worship and/or ritual do you perceive the “Satanic” image as an embodiment or an idea?

Lady Anya:  In worship and ritual, I see the Dark Lord as having many aspects, both male and female. These aspects are both embodiments of virtues to aspire to and sacred entities upon which I call in faith.

For instance, my Patron, Astaroth is a female aspect of the Dark Lord (going by the Grimorium Verum, not the Lesser Key of Solomon.) Astaroth is a triune goddess: Lilith, the Mother; Babalon, the Priestess; and Tuchulcha, the Devourer. All three of these archetypes I call upon at different times to fulfill my walk in life as mother, wife, teacher, student, writer, businesswoman, and sorceress.

Lady Kelly: We celebrate the Feast of Shaitan in March.  It is a time when Stygians actively mate to produce a child.  Also, an act of decadence or abstinence is performed to show we have control over our own nature.

Shaitan is one of the titles of the Dark Lord.  Shaitan is the adversary of Allah in the Koran and has two translations: one is the mighty dragon, the foe of Allah, and the other is beautiful or all-seeing. 



RVL: There may be those who read this article who believe you are some sort of Witch who is in league with the Christian Devil, how would you respond to that?

Lady Kelly: They are half right!  I am an Upyra (vampyre-witch), a sorceress, a magickian, a Bokor, and many other things.  One thing we Upyreshi believe in is freedom of religion.  I honor those who practice and hold to the Christian faith.  We do not try to undermine Christianity nor profane the name of the Christian god.  Additionally, we are too busy on our own path to play those games, which in effect, would be a sort of reverse Christianity.  

Lady Anya: I am quite certain that there are many who hold this view, some of them potential clients who may come to me when they want a curse lifted or an evil entity banished, so I appreciate the free advertising.

Removing tongue from cheek, I would respond that I am a Sorceress who practices old-school witchcraft. I am, in fact, allied with my Patron through a Pact. I do not believe my Patron to be the Christian Devil or the foe of the god of Abraham. My pact is with the Dark Lord, Asiz, in the aspect of Astaroth, dark female divinity. My powers are my own.

RVL: So, at the risk of being impudent, what’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done?

Lady Anya: Besides desecrating a Church with my demon lover, you mean? I don’t see any of my conduct as naughty or sinful, but I do definitely have a sense of humor along with a deep spiritual conviction—shopping at Hobby Lobby (a chain of stores run by born-again Christians) for my altar supplies does make me giggle.

 

Lady Kelly: Lol.  Oh, alright.  I worked for a huge defense contractor.  One of the guys (M) I worked with was an absolute jerk.  He’d become a supervisor despite his stupidity.  It’s always those types, right?  A young woman in his group had received her layoff notice.  Shortly thereafter, the Human Resources Department of a company whom she had interviewed with called for a recommendation.  M suggested another employee who had received a layoff notice.  Needless to say, she wasn’t hired by that particular company.  She was very bright and deserved better.  So, myself, Miss Justice to the rescue, sort of.  Or Miss Vengeance shall we say.

 

M’s briefcase was mainly for carrying his lunch and looking important.  *Cue the Mission Impossible theme.”  On Tuesdays, our department had a staff meeting.  I took a Barbie doll and taped it up to look like a bondage fetish doll.  And I put it in his briefcase, knowing that he would flip open his briefcase with a big show and great aplomb during the staff meeting with our Chief and 12 other managers and supervisors.

 

Funny thing, M never said a word about his Bondage Barbie.

 



RVL: If we may, moving on to the connections between “Satanism”, or rather the theistic path in the sense that you have described, and modern Vampirism beliefs, what do you perceive the connection to be?

Lady Kelly: Some Satanists (this is not widespread as far as I know) drink blood for spiritual empowerment.  It is probably the psychological effect of performing a taboo they seek since they do not need the blood  Regarding psychic vampyrism, well…there are several reasons one who is not a vampyre becomes adept at the practice:  draining an enemy, control over another, and gathering power for oneself or for ritual.

Lady Anya: There are no direct connections. Many who live as vampires have no religious beliefs, either RHP or LHP.

There are those who see their vampirism as a “condition” or weakness, a belief which is anathema to the Stygian paradigm. Our holy scripture itself (the Testament of Shadows) states: “The ape is the prey of the desert wolf; as such are we to man when man kneels to the sins of his own Gods.”  (Litany of Sebek Khem, verse 6) What this means is that as Upyre, we offer a choice to those human who damn themselves and therefore seek us out: death or change. Thus, we serve a purpose in Nature.



RVL: Do you think; in general, that a belief in Satan, thus in God, and the belief in one’s modern vampirism go hand in hand?

Lady Anya: Not in the slightest. Vampirism is, in my opinion, genetically based. One either has vampire (or, as we in House Rakoczy prefer to say Upyre) DNA or one does not. No belief is required—it is equivalent to a racial characteristic. Does a person born into the Jewish race need to believe that this is their bloodline? No. Do they have a choice about practicing Judaism, or any other faith? Of course. This is how I see the connection between vampirism and any other faith or creed. An awakened and practicing vampire may be atheistic, theistic, have a strong secular value system, study occult arts, or not, just as a non-vampyric individual may make these choices.

The one connection that could be seen is in the case of some newly-awakened vampires who don’t have the benefit of either a blood relative or mentor to steer them as they begin to intentionally feed—especially in the case of Sanguinarians. These young ones may experience guilt about feeding on others, and extrapolate that to “being evil.” From there, experimentation with darker paths may result, Satanism being one of these. However, if this is motivated solely by thoughts of self-damnation, it is unlikely to “stick” with any true walking of the Left Hand Path, in which, rather than seeing the self as damned, one begins to perceive the Self as divinity in embryonic form, and thus, needing no redemption.

Lady Kelly: No, I don’t this is the norm at all. Many who practice vampyrism are not vampyres at all. 

RVL: In movies, ranging from “The 7th Victim” (1943) to “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), Prince of Darkness (1987) to “The Rite” (2011) the concept of the “Good versus Evil” battle has been liberally treated in line with popular Christian beliefs, do you think this plays a large part in the negative connotations applied to anything that has to do with the perception of “Satanism” in any form?

Lady Kelly: Absolutely, media has a huge influence.  The Satan of today is a created universal archetype that is deeply embedded in the psyches of the masses. 

Lady Anya: Absolutely. Dark and Light have been painted as synonymous with Good and Evil. Do I believe there is a Great War between the forces of Dark and Light? Yes. I do not see this as negative, just a fundamental operating principle of the Cosmos. It is a striving for balance between the forces of Chaos and Individual Freedom, and those of External Authority.

 

 

RVL: Do you identify as a Satanist and a Modern Living Vampire?

Lady Anya: I identify as neither. I follow the Stygian road of the Left Hand Path. The entity I address as the Dark Lord is Asiz, who is neither the Christian Devil (Helel) nor an archangel (Lucifer) cast out of the kingdom of the god of Abraham. I’ve written an essay for the benefit of my students explaining the difference between the Dark Lord and these entities and why the names Satan and Lucifer hav been conflated with His.

I am a “living vampire” in that I inhabit a mortal humanoid body, one of many incarnations. I am Upyre, born with Upyre DNA and believe my spirit to be immortal.

 

Lady Kelly: No, I do not identify as Satanist. I identify as a Stygian, one who follows the Chthonic path.  My particular path focuses on Loogaria (the Vodoun sorcery and practices of the vampyre-witch of the Southern USA), traditional witchcraft, and necromancy.

 

My Sire, Magister Mephistopheles, Head of House Rakoczy has written an insightful book on the Loogaroo, Cultus des Loogaroo (Cult of the Loogaroo): Louisiana’s Own Legend & Lore of the Vampyre, for those who would like to research further.

 

http://www.lulu.com/shop/t-broussard/cultus-des-loogaroo-cult-of-the-loogaroo-louisianas-own-legend-lore-of-the-vampyre/hardcover/product-21094740.html

RVL: What are the positive things that you gain from your faith and beliefs?

Lady Kelly: Knowing who I am, that I am a microcosm of the macrocosm, and vice-versa.  This has freed me to do my Will upon the earth.  My Sire, through his mentoring of me, has given me the keys to unlock my potential.  I am a very busy sorceress, mentoring students, doing successful workings for others, and doing divinations which are things I wanted. Probably one of the most exciting ventures for me is writing my own Cultus which will not be available for public scrutiny but means the world to me.

 

A practical example of manifesting my will is being able to compose music.  I had dreamt for years of doing so.  Suddenly, in February, I started composing a Nocturne.  Now, that is Will manifesting.  Next, will be my continuing to paint (I’m an impressionist painter, have been juried into shows sponsored by the National Endowment for the arts and was shown in the Frye Museum in Seattle)  as that is where my natural talent lies, and entering more shows.  I haven’t decided quite where I want to go with my art.  I have to make room in my busy life somehow.  I guess I better put my Will on that.

Lady Anya: Freedom from guilt and shame. Freedom from following a set of rules and dogma. Self-confidence. Greater self-esteem. Greater knowledge, both of my Self and of that which is outside my Self: the great Cosmos and the mundane world in which I walk. Above all, the sense of empowerment that comes with realizing that the only limits which exist are those I place on myself.

 

RVL: If you were going to complete the following comment about the modern Left Hand Path as connected with Modern Vampirism, what would you say?
“KEEP CALM AND…..”

Lady Kelly: Do what thou wilt.

Lady Anya: “REMEMBER: A WOLF CARES NOTHING ABOUT THE OPINION OF SHEEP.”

 

RVL: Have you any general comments you would like to make about the connection, in your case, between your modern vampiric beliefs and your theistic beliefs?

Lady Anya: My belief is in the Dark Lord, Asiz, and principally, in my Self. It is a tenet of the Stygian path that He gave his children only one directive: to do our own Will and to accept responsibility for it.  The principal way it’s affected the way I live as an Upyre is to embrace my predatory spiritual nature and to feel neither guilt nor shame for being who and what I am.

 

Lady Kelly: I do combine my spirituality with my vampyrism.  I see the Dark Lord as the father of the Upyre.  This does not apply to all vampyres of course.  Not all are seed of the Dark Lord. 

 

RVL: Thank you very much indeed for spending this time with us and giving us this fascinating insight into the perceptions and concepts of the path you follow.

Lady Kelly: You are very welcome, Tim.  I enjoyed the discussion and hope that it will clarify for others who I am and what I believe/practice.

Lady Anya: It’s been a privilege to have the opportunity to share my personal path, and a pleasure. Thank you, Tim.

 

In 1971 Led Zeppelin informed us,

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run,

There’s still time to change the road you’re on.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Led_Zeppelin_IV#Track_listing) perhaps they should have mentioned there are “many” paths. Historically, prior to the great reformations of the church, state persecution ceased in the 4th century, when Constantine I issued an edict of toleration in 313. On 27 February 380, Emperor Theodosius I enacted a law establishing Nicene Christianity as the state church of the Roman Empire. The Great Apostasy is a term used by some religious groups to describe a perceived fallen state of traditional Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic Church, because they claim it allowed the traditional Greco-Roman mysteries and deities of solar monism such as Mithras and Sol Invictus and idol worship into the church. In short, in their opinion, the church has fallen into apostasy.[1][2] They feel that to attract the pagans to nominal Christianity, the Catholic Church took measures to amalgamate the Christian and pagan festivals [3] so pagans would join the church; for example, bringing in the pagan festival of Easter as a substitute for the Pasch or Passover. Is it a natural progression then that certain “belief paths” should seek to wrest back, in this enlightened day and age, the “old ways” or, seek out alternative ways to explain life the universe and everything?

Given that today’s interpretation of the Vampire has so very little to do with the age old archetype that embodied evil and Satanic connection we shouldn’t be surprised to find that such ideas and concepts have found comfortable coexistence within a number of practitioners, a number that by all accounts seems to be growing. It is important that we shed the ingrained and religiously dominated images of the centuries and look at these things with fresh, wide open and independent eyes for that is, ultimately, the only way to see the truth of a thing.

Insert: Copyright notation RVL, Anya L. Rakoczy and Kelly S. Rakoczy 2013

 

1. Newcomb, Harvey (2003). Great Apostasy: Being an Account of the Origin, Rise and Progress of Corruption and Tryanny in the Church of Rome. Kessinger Publishing. pp. ix.

2. Talmage, James E. (1973). Jesus the Christ (40th ed ed.). LDS Church. pp. 745–757. OCLC 2012826.

3. Will Durant in The Story of Civilization, Volume 3, “Caesar and Christ”:

 

http://littlespyeye.wordpress.com/category/supernaturalparanormal-and-religion/

Legend of Scholomance – 2009, “Mephistopheles”, House Rakoczy.

A VAMPIRE’S GUIDE TO NEW ORLEANS ~ Steven P. Unger

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I wrote this article on New Orleans as an homage to one of my favorite cities, one still fresh in my mind and heart after a long-postponed revisit there as an invitee to the Vampire Film Festival’s Midsummer Nightmare last year.

All of the photos in this article are my own, except for the portrait of the Compte de St. Germain and the two pictures otherwise credited.  Most of the text is a compendium of others’ words and research.  With apologies to anyone I may have inadvertently left out, my online research for this chapter led me to articles from hubpages.com; Kalila K. Smith (whose Vampire Tour I can recommend from personal experience—see http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Kalila-Smith/178024410); New Orleans Ghosts.com; GO NOLA; Brian Harrison; Haunted Shreveport Bossier.com; and Frommers.com.  I’ve borrowed freely from all of these sources and recommend them highly to those who would like to delve more deeply into the secrets of this unique city.

download If you have ever walked the dark, rainy streets of the French Quarter at night, you have seen the voodoo shops selling their gris-gris and John-the-Conqueror Root.  You’ve seen the old woman in the French Market whose pointing finger foretells your death  And if you know the right person to ask and you ask in the right way, you’ll be shown to the vampire clubs.

I’ve been in those clubs and seen people who believe with their heart, body, and soul that they are real, live vampires.  And some of the people in those clubs are scared to death of a select group of vampires who have only appeared there a few times, and always in the darkest of night

By day, of course, the vampire clubs are closed and locked or turned back into regular tourist bars . . .      Crazy Horse’s Ghost

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St. Louis Cemetery (Photo Courtesy of David Yeagley)

Like the Spanish Moss that drapes the trees of the nearby bayous, mystery and the occult have shrouded New Orleans since its birth.  For hundreds of years, families there have practiced a custom called “sitting up with the dead.”  When a family member dies, a relative or close family friend stays with the body until it is placed into one of New Orleans’ above-ground tombs or is buried.  The body is never left unattended.

There are many reasons given for this practice today—the Old Families will tell you it’s simply respect for the dead—but this tradition actually dates back to the vampire folklore of medieval Eastern Europe.  First, the mirrors are covered and the clocks are stopped.  While sitting up with the deceased, the friend or family member is really watching for signs of paranormal activity, e.g.,. if a cat is seen to jump over, walk across, or stand on top of the coffin; if a dog barks or growls at the coffin; or if a horse shies from it, these are all signs of impending vampirism.  Likewise, if a shadow falls over the corpse.  At that point, steps are taken to prevent the corpse from returning from the dead.

Ways to stop a corpse—especially a suicide—from becoming a vampire include burying it face down at a crossroads.  Often family members place a sickle around the neck to keep the corpse from sitting up; stuff the mouth with garlic and sew it closed; or mutilate the body, usually by decapitating the head and placing it at the bottom of the feet.  But the most common remedy for impending vampirism is to drive a stake into the corpse, decapitate it, then burn the body to ashes.  This method is still believed to be the only sure way to truly destroy the undead.

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THE CASKET GIRLS

 Ask any member of the Old Families who the first vampires to come to New Orleans were, and they’ll tell you the same:  it was the Casket Girls.

Much of the population that found their way to New Orleans in the early 1700s were unwelcome anywhere else:  deported galley slaves and felons, trappers, gold-hunters and petty criminals.  People who wouldn’t be noticed if they went missing.

Sources vary on the specifics, but the basic story is that the city’s founders asked French officials to send over prospective wives for the colonists.  They obliged and after months at sea these young girls showed up on the docks, pale and gaunt, bearing only as many belongings as would fit inside a wooden chest or “casquette,” which appears to have been the 18th Century equivalent of an overnight bag.  They were taken to the Ursuline Convent, which still stands today, where the girls were said to have resided until the nuns could arrange for marriages.

Some accounts say they were fine young women, virgins brought up in church-run orphanages; some say they were prostitutes.  But there are many who swear they were vampires, vampires who continue to rise from their “casquettes” on the third floor to break through the windows and hurricane shutters—windows and shutters that always seem to need repairing after the calmest of nights—to feed upon the transient crowds that for centuries have filled the darkened alleys of the Quarter.

Finally in 1978, after centuries of rumors and stories, two amateur reporters demanded to see these coffins.  The archbishop, of course, denied them entrance.  Undaunted, the next night the two men climbed over the convent wall with their recording equipment and set up their workstation below.  The next morning, the reporters’ equipment was found strewn about the lawn.  And on the front porch steps of the convent were found the almost decapitated bodies of these two men.  Eighty percent of their blood was gone.  To this day, no one has ever solved the murders.

downloaddownloadLe Compte de St. Germain and the Balcony at Ursuline and Royal

 If there is one person who encapsulates the lure and the danger of the vampire, it is the Compte de Saint Germain. Making his first appearance in the court of Louis XV of France, the Comte de Saint Germain endeared himself to the aristocrats by regaling them with events from his past.  An alchemist by trade, he claimed to be in possession of the “elixir of life,” and to be more than 6,000 years old.

At other times the Count at claimed to be a son of Francis II Rakoczi, the Prince of Transylvania, born in 1712, possibly legitimate, possibly by Duchess Violante Beatrice of Bavaria.  This would account for his wealth and fine education.  It also explains why kings would accept him as one of their own.

Contemporary accounts from the time record that despite being in the midst of many banquets and invited to the finest homes, he never ate at any of them.  He would, however, sip at a glass of red wine.  After a few years, he left the French court and moved to Germany, where he was reported to have died. However, people continued to spot him throughout Europe even after his death.

In 1903, a handsome and charismatic young Frenchman named Jacques Saint Germain, claiming to be a descendant of the Compte, arrived in New Orleans, taking residence in a house at the corner of Royal and Ursuline streets. Possessing an eye for beauty, Jacques was seen on the streets of the French Quarter with a different young woman on his arm every evening.  His excursions came to an abrupt end one cold December night, when a woman’s piercing scream was heard coming from Jacques’ French Quarter home.  The scream was quickly followed by a woman who flung herself from the second story window to land on the street below.  As bystanders rushed to her aid, she told them how Saint Germain attacked and bit her, and that she jumped out of the window to escape.  She died later that evening at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.

By the time the New Orleans police kicked in the door of Saint Germain’s home, he had escaped.  However, what they did find was disturbing enough.  The stench of death greeted the nostrils of the policemen, who found not only large bloodstains in the wooden flooring, but even wine bottles filled with human blood.  The house was declared a crime scene and sealed off.  From that evil night to the present day, no one has lived in that home in the French Quarter.  It is private property and all taxes have been paid to date, but no one has been able to contact the present owner or owners.  The only barriers between the valuable French Quarter property and the outside world are the boarded-up balcony windows and a small lock on the door.  Whispers of Jacques sightings are prevalent, and people still report seeing him in the French Quarter.  Could it be the enigmatic Compte checking up on his property?

ANNE RICE AND THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES

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Lafayette Cemetery (Photo Courtesy of Phil Orgeron)

There is no one who has done more to bring the vampire into the New Age than Anne Rice, born and bred in New Orleans, with her novel Interview with the Vampire and the films and books that followed.  Those who have profited mightily from the popularity of True Blood and Twilight owe her a great debt.

The ultra-retro St. Charles Avenue Streetcar will take you close to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, the gravesite of Louis de Pointe du Lac’s (Lestat’s companion and fellow vampire in Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles) wife and child and where Louis was turned into a vampire by Lestat.

The Styrofoam tomb from the film Interview with the Vampire is gone now, but you can easily find the site where it stood, the wide empty space in the cemetery nearest the corner of Coliseum and Sixth Street.

During the filming of Interview with the Vampire, the blocks between 700 and 900 Royal Street in the French Quarter were used for exterior shots of the home of the vampires Louis, Lestat, and Claudia, trapped  through time with an adult mind in the body of a six-year-old girl.  In fact, the streets there and around Jackson Square were covered in mud for the movie as they had been in the 1860s when the scenes took place.

The perfectly preserved Gallier House at 1132 Royal Street was Anne Rice’s inspiration for the vampires’ house, and very close to that is the Lalaurie House, at 1140 Royal Street.  Delphine Lalaurie, portrayed by Kathy Bates in American Horror Story:  Coven, was a real person who lived in that house and was indeed said to have tortured and bathed in the blood of her slaves—even the blood of a slave girl’s newborn baby—to preserve her youth.  She was never seen again in New Orleans after an angry mob partially destroyed her home on April 10, 1834.  There is a scene in American Horror Story where Delphine escapes from the coven’s mansion and sits dejectedly on the curb in front of her old home.  A private residence now, some locals still swear that the Lalaurie House is haunted, and that the clanking of chains can be heard through the night.

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Built in 1789, Madame John’s Legacy (632 Dumaine Street) is the oldest surviving residence in the Mississippi Valley.  In Interview with the Vampire, caskets are shown being carried out of the house as Louis’ (Brad Pitt) voice-over describes the handiwork of his housemates Claudia and Lestat:  “An infant prodigy with a lust for killing that matched his own.  Together, they finished off whole families.”

RESOURCES FOR VAMPIRES

 As a service to this most vampire-friendly city (http://www.vampirewebsite.net/vampirefriendlycities.html), the New Orleans Vampire Association describes itself as a “non-profit organization comprised of self-identifying vampires representing an alliance between Houses within the Community in the Greater New Orleans Area.  Founded in 2005, NOVA was established to provide support and structure for the vampire and other-kin subcultures and to provide educational and charitable outreach to those in need.”

Their Web site also points out that “every year since Hurricane Katrina, the founding members of NOVA have taken food out on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas to those who are hungry and homeless.”  (See http://www.neworleansvampireassociation.org/index.html.)

FANGTASIA, named with permission from HBO after the club featured in True Blood, is an affiliation of New Orleans-based musicians and film and TV producers who for three years have presented a multi-day vampire-centric event of the same name, the first two years at 1135 Decatur and last year at the Howlin’ Wolf.  You can follow their plans and exploits via their blog at http://www.fangtasiaevent.com/fangtasia-blog/.

Next year FANGTASIA hopes to create “the South by Southwest of Global Vampire Culture” at an as yet undisclosed location in Greater New Orleans.  As they describe it:

Moving beyond this third consecutive year, FANGTASIA is building a broader international draw that will bring fans to not only party at club nights, but also attend conferences, elegant fashion shows, film & TV screenings, celebrity events as well as an  international Halloween/party gear buyers’ market.

Participants will experience gourmet sensations, explore our sensuous city and haunted bayous… as well as epically celebrate the Global Vampire Culture in all its sultry, seductive, diverse and darkly divine incarnations.  Additionally, FANGTASIA is strategically poised months prior to Halloween to provide corporate sponsors and vendors a perfect window to connect with their core demographic.  This also allows FANGTASIA to actively support and promote existing major Halloween events in New Orleans and beyond.

On the subject of vampiric Halloween events, for 25 years the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club (http://arvlfc.com/index.html) has presented the annual Vampire Ball (http://arvlfc.com/ball.html), now as part of the four-day UndeadCon (http://arvlfc.com/undeadcon.html) at the end of October; and on the weekend nearest Halloween Night (for example, November 1, 2014) the Endless Night Festival and New Orleans Vampire Ball takes place at the House of Blues (http://www.endlessnight.com/venue/).

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The Boutique du Vampyre (http://feelthebite.com/boutique2013.html) is a moveable (literally—they’re known to change locations on short notice) feast of vampire and Goth-related odds and ends, many of them locally made.  There are books as well—you may even find a copy of In the Footsteps of Dracula:  A Personal Journey and Travel Guide if they’re not sold out.  Their Web site itself holds a surprise treat:  a link to a free video cast of the first two seasons of Vampire Mob (http://vampiremob.com/Vampire_Mob/Vampire_Mob.html), which is just what the title implies.

Finally, no visit to the Crescent City would be complete, for Vampire and Mortal alike, without a taste of absinthe (http://www.piratesalleycafe.com/absinthe.html), or even more than a taste.  There is a ritual to the preparation and serving of absinthe that should not be missed; one of the sites that does this authentically is the Pirates Alley Café and Absinthe House at 622 Pirates Alley.

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 Steven P. Unger is the best-selling author of In the Footsteps of Dracula:  A Personal Journey and Travel Guide, published and distributed by World Audience Publishers (http://www.amazon.com/Footsteps-Dracula-Personal-Journey-Travel/dp/1935444530/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262485478&sr=1-1).

In the Footsteps of Dracula can be ordered from your local bookstore or online at www.amazon.com,. www.amazon.co.uk, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.amazon.fr, www.amazon.de, www.amazon.com/Kindle, or with free delivery worldwide from www.bookdepository.co.uk.

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