Crossroads 2017 – …but what does it all mean?

Presented by

Tim

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
There may be many of you wondering why we, John, Tim and Lady M, have chosen to re-open RVL, the answer is quite simple; in the time since we have returned to the modern vampire subculture from personal ‘leave of absence’, and especially online, we have noticed that there is still a vast amount of information that is questionable, erroneous or just plain wrong. It is our contention that unless these “wrongs” are addressed then the ball of confusion simply grows and grows until one cannot separate the fact from the fallacy from the fiction.

Many thousands of people, either within the subculture or affiliated with it in some way deserve to have available, at their fingertips, factual information and informed, cross checked information which they can confidently rely on when facing, and answering, their own questions or doubts.

In the “About RVL” statement we include the following comment;

“What RVL can not be ~

RVL cannot become a “public forum” of debate. We do welcome comments from our readers that are presented in such a manner that is consistent with informed opinion, rational in manner and presentation and to a large extent, non-inflammatory. Though we appreciate candid and honest expression RVL will not be party to fostering inappropriate dissension and argument.

We will undertake to review all comments that are sent in but, as with any periodical, the final decision whether to permit comments to be posted or not rests with the administration of the site.

We will not accept any comments that are vulgar, obscene, needlessly provocative, and derogatory or aimed at harassing any other person who has posted or commented here.

We will remain neutral in position, of a high standard of presentation and non-discriminatory in our dealings within and outside the community.”

It is vitally important to our work, and in maintaining the confidence of those who choose to engage with us that we maintain these standards and that our contributors and readers have confidence and trust in us. To betray that trust would sound the death knell for RVL.

We are a non, and not for, profit operation… we will never solicit money from our followers, contributors and supporters as we do not feel this is appropriate in our arena. Yes, there are costs involved in running RVL but we happily accept and cover those costs because what we are doing is so important to us and we hope that it brings some value, guidance and knowledge to all our readers. Integrity, that is our watchword, as it was in the past, so it is now and going forward. We hope this will be amply reflected in what we do.

Finally, we are most grateful for the support of our followers and supporters, with over 980 followers on Twitter and followers in a variety of other forums it is our commitment to keep providing meaningful, relevant and entertaining vampire life culture, studies and information that is freely available to all.

We welcome contributions from any of our followers and readers, subject to our Submission Guidelines, as we always have. If you have an idea for something you would like to see tackled at RVL, if you have an original authored article that meets the RVL criteria for publication, whether you have an event, a gathering or some other function you would like put up at RVL as a “social notice”, if you wish to have your group or website linked to in our ‘directory’ pages, or any other item that you feel appropriate material for this E-Zine, please feel free to contact us, via email, to giltine51@gmail.com

We undertake to review, at our earliest opportunity, any submissions that are received and to work with the authors/ owners/ originators to get the message out.

That is what we at RVL offer, that is what we intend to provide and we intend to do so in a professional manner, from a neutral and non-partisan viewpoint and without fear or favour.

Deepest respects,
T

Editor In Chief – John Reason’s Real Vampire Life E-Zine

Vampires – Pack or Solitary beings PartII

Pic. source: http://www.themindtrap.com/ Maroussi

There are a great many unaffiliated people in the subculture today, and there have been for a long time. Many who seem to feel that belonging to an organised House is either unnecessary or undesirable. Beside these members of the subculture walk those who are firmly, loyally and happily affiliated with a House, so, what is it that a House membership affords people? What comforts, what support, what benefits can be gained from belonging to such an organisation?

Following an interview/ editorial with Magister Mephistopheles of House Rakoczy we were afforded the great honour to be able to conduct a one-on-one with Lady Magdalena Rakoczy. RVL and Lady Magdalena first discussed this piece after she was a guest on a leading Vampire sub-culture radio podcast and the result was less than satisfactory.  We decided, at the time, that it would be an excellent idea to revisit the topic in a better and more professional manner.

In the interest of presenting a balanced approach to the topic raised in this presentation Part 2 looks at the benefits of House membership.

It is considered, in many circles, that for a “House”, “Coven”, “Order” or other such affiliation of modern living vampires to be successful it must be organised, it needs some sort of rules based footing and it needs capable leaders to administer it effectively or it will, assuredly, dissolve into chaos… this we have seen so many times in the past. Lady Magdalena is a member of a solid, reputable and long standing “House” in the sub-culture and thus is probably still, as she was then, a singularly good example of someone to talk to about the matter. The content of that interview/ editorial is as follows.

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RVL: Good evening Lady Magdalena and thank you very much for agreeing to participate in this editorial interview.

M: Good evening, Tim. I appreciate the opportunity to share my opinion.

 

RVL: Amongst the results yielded by the first stage of The Living Vampire Survey we tabulated the following. The question was “Do you belong to, or affiliate with a;”

Vampire House 12.7%

Vampire Coven 8%

Vampire Organisation 14.9%

Meetup Group 11.5%

None, I am Ronin** (i.e. independent and unaffiliated) 71.5%

The results are quite dramatically skewed in favour of the un-affiliated, why do you think this might be?

M: I think most newly-awakened vampires are surprised to learn that Houses even exist. Once they do, many don’t have any idea how to contact a House, or how to tell whether it’s legitimate. There are so many rumours and wild claims out there, I believe many vampires are wary of becoming part of any group. And because most of us are strong personalities, remaining independent and not “answering” to anyone else is appealing to many.

 

RVL: Are you currently a member of a vampire “House” and how long have you been a member of that, or any other, house?

M: I’ve been a member of House Rakoczy since March, 2011.

 

RVL: What do you see as being the main benefit/s of membership in a “House”?

M: Leadership and guidance from senior members; mentorship. I’ve had the incredible privilege of being personally mentored by Magister Mephistopheles, Head of House Rakoczy, as well as the opportunity to learn from other members whose experience has greatly expanded my knowledge. Support and friendship from House brothers and sisters to face issues in both dayside and nightside lives, and finding ways to achieve balance is invaluable. And now, I have the chance to share my own insights and experience with younger members and to see them grow on their own paths.

 

RVL: Do you think that, being a member of a house, can make a person feel safer, ‘stronger’, more secure than if they were not a house-member?

M: Most definitely. Outside of the Community, most of us face challenges in our mundane lives including the feeling of isolation, as we are “other” than the vast majority among who we live and work. The feeling of kinship within a House, of knowing that there’s leadership and experience you can draw on in difficulty, is a blessing. And within our Community, there is so much diversity, with so many strong opinions–belonging to a House whose paradigm resonates with your own allows you the freedom to be yourself, without fear of offending; to be accepted completely for who you are.

 

RVL: What do you think is the best method for a newcomer to make an informed decision about which “house” may be right for them?

M: If you feel called to join a House, research! Visit the sites and/or pages of as many Houses as possible. Talk to members of those Houses. Ask them questions. Learn as much as you can. Examine what the House beliefs and practices are, and whether they resonate with your own inner truth. Find out what policies the House has in place, as well as what hierarchical structure (if any) exists. Take the time, do the homework, and don’t commit to becoming a member of any House unless it has something to offer you which you consider to be of value, and you, in turn, have something to give back.


RVL: If a newcomer contacts a house with a view to joining what, in your opinion, should be the initial reaction of the house and its administrators.

M: I can only speak to what my own House does. In House Rakoczy, people seeking membership are encouraged to visit our website, and to learn what it is we believe and how we operate. If the newcomer is serious about membership, he or she then contacts the Head, who discerns whether they might be a good candidate. If he does, he assigns a senior member to mentor them as a prospect to the House for a period of time, usually six months to a year. This allows both time for the House to see if the member is truly a good fit, and for the member-to-be time to decide if the House is truly the right one for them. If, for any reason, either party changes their mind with the period of prospectship, there are no hard feelings.

 

RVL: If you have, in the past, spent a good amount of time as a Ronin but now are affiliated with a “House”, what made you take that direction? And, conversely, if you were a “house” member and have now stepped away what made you decide to do that?

M: I am a late-awakened vampire. My first impulse was to look for others like me. I met a few other vampires in real life in my area, then travelled to New Orleans in 2010 to attend the Anne Rice Ball and the Endless Night Ball. I met Belfazaar Ashantison at UndeadCon and heard him speak of his own, House of Mystic Echoes. I read his paper on how to found a House and was intrigued. Shortly thereafter, I began to look for a House. I visited a great many websites, took the AVEWRS Survey, and joined the Colorado Vampire Association, to which I still belong, as well as a local Meetup group, which has since folded. I looked into a number of Houses and organizations before learning of House Rakoczy. When I began talking with Magister Mephistopheles, and discovered the depth of his knowledge, and the focus of the house on serious occult study, I was fascinated. The concept of the vampire, or as we prefer, Upyre, as a race, and the study and preservation of Upyre lore, strongly resonated with me. Likewise, the emphasis on occult studies, of developing oneself as a working magickian and sorcerer, and the cultivation of the warrior traits of self-discipline through martial arts and physical conditioning, were vitally interesting to me.

The Magister is about to publish a great work, the Testament of Shadows, the sacred text of the Upyre race, and has already published the Cultus des Loogaroo, which lays out the history of the Loogaroo bloodline, as well as its spiritual traditions. I am proud to say I’ve contributed to both works with copy-editing and some illustrations—and in turn, this has imbued my own fiction with a much richer dimension. Since joining the House, I’ve completed one novel, The Right Hand of Darkness, and have two others outlined.

Being part of House Rakoczy has enriched and enhanced every aspect of my life: I’ve grown personally in my path as a novelist and a working sorceress, as a member of the Community, and even in my dayside life, as I am a much more disciplined and focused person than I ever was before.

 

RVL: In your opinion, how should established houses treat Ronins in the general environment of the vampire-subculture?

M: I believe Houses should treat Ronin vampires, as well as members of other Houses with respect. Regardless of beliefs and practices, we share a kinship with other vampires and have both gifts and burdens in common. Respect, and good manners, should be encouraged so that we may co-exist as a Community and support each other.

 

RVL: What, in your opinion, is the main drawback/s in belonging to a “House”?

M: I can think of only one: negative views held by others in the Community. In the past two years, I’ve been criticized for choosing to join my House, and have heard allegations of its being a harem (something I’m sure my many House brothers find amusing) and a cult—also ridiculous, as within our House, members practice all sorts of diverse paths from Quimbanda to nontheistic Luciferianism. Fortunately, I’m secure enough not to care about the negative opinions of others.

 

RVL: There are “Houses” that maintain a high visibility in the sub-culture and others who prefer to be almost invisible, to your mind which is preferable? And do you think recruiting members to a house is a good practice?

M: I believe there are different purposes which initiated the founding of different Houses. Some are purely social and want to provide venues for large groups vampires to interact with each other in public situations, and even to include non-vampires who enjoy the archetype—those Houses would, understandably, encourage recruiting. Other Houses remain “under the radar”, perhaps because the views held in common by its members may not be considered politically correct by the overall Community, and have drawn fire, or because the House is one of serious study and doesn’t want to attract dilettantes and role players. House Rakoczy falls into the latter group. I believe both types of House serve a purpose, so neither is preferable.

 

RVL: Do you see the same value in an “Online House” as opposed to a “Real, physical, vampire house”?

M: I think this question has two components. The first would be the definition of a real, physical vampire House. To some in the community, this means that all the members live in the same building, literally “housed” together. This type of house is in the minority. To others, it means that members live near enough to each other to meet in person.

Still other houses are purely online. Although some in the Community live in large urban areas where they can meet in person, many others are isolated in rural communities or ones in which there are no other vampires nearby. For them, an online house, if it’s an ethical one with a purpose of providing leadership, fellowship, and the furthering of personal growth, has great value.

Our House has a number of Lodges, in the U.S. and elsewhere, therefore, members communicate with each other online as well as in person. I belong to the Twilight Lodge of House Rakoczy, based in Louisiana. I travel there once a year to meet with the Head of the House and other House members, and communicate with my Sire (mentor), other House members, and my students online and via telephone on a daily basis.

 

RVL: Do you have any other comments you would care to make on the subject of Vampire “Houses” today?

M: Whether to belong to a House or to remain Ronin is an important decision. If your motives for wanting to join a House are to have a “cool name,” or appear more important by association, you’d be better off finding a role-playing game. If, on the other hand, you find a group with principles and beliefs you hold in common, and respect its leadership and other members, joining that House could be a tremendous enrichment to your life.

 

RVL: Thank you very much for joining us and sharing your insights with us today, it has been a great pleasure spending this time with you.

M: Thank you, Tim, for the opportunity to speak with you. It’s been a great pleasure for me, also.

————————————————————————

The strength of any ‘House’ is in the hearts and the minds of its members, if the members feel strongly represented, comfortable and secure then the house is on a sure footing. There are many people abroad in the VC/OVC who, I would hazard to suggest, feel somewhat detached and remote due to their geographic situation and that is where the online portal or web-space of any house becomes even more important. The internet has indeed given us the opportunity to engage with others in a way not previously easily possible.

As Lady Magdalena has most persuasively presented, House membership can be a great source of support, comfort, inspiration and guidance and these tools, when put toward personal growth and improvement, are gifts that are more precious than many and allow people to leave their mark on, and make their contribution to, today’s real vampire subculture.

Copyright: RVL, TB and Lady Magdalena Rakoczy 2013, 2017

nb: ‘Ronin’, also ‘independent’, a modern living vampire that is NOT a member of an organised ‘Vampire House’.

NB: 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, and accept no liability, nor responsibility, for the use or misuse thereof. Anything that the reader takes from this article is taken at their own discretion.

This information is freely available to all FOR PERSONAL USE only, it may be reproduced, or linked to, on personal web sites WITH FULL CREDIT but it may not be used for commercial purposes nor for general distribution without PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT from the Copyright owners.

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In many ways the concept of the “Vampire House” has, even if promulgated by the entertainment industry and by popular fiction literature, become a grounding concept to many. Naturally, there are Houses who consider themselves aloof to anyone outside their ‘walls’ and to whom anyone outside is a non-person and less of a subculture member for not being in “the” right house – The Asetian’s are a prime example of this, and it is perhaps through the veils, and the ‘smoke and mirrors’ of many House Leaders that we are usually unable to determine a clear picture of what actually happens within such enclaves. That being said, however, there must be – at least for some – certain comforts that go with being a member of a “House”.

When I first came to know of my own nature I joined an offline group (only banks, scientists and big business had computers and internet back then) of people who were of the same nature, we were sanguinarian and we met, regularly, in various places. We came to recognise that we needed to have some sort of ‘Code of Conduct’ in order that we would remain ‘unseen’. It was a comfort and it was reassuring to have that, and your companions, at your back… it offered a sense of safety, if you will. That sort of interaction, that closeness between members of a gathering of any sort, goes a long way toward instilling a sense of pride and loyalty, something that seems lost in the online sub-culture but, as I mentioned in part 1 of this presentation, it really does fall to each person involved to make their own decision about whether to fall in with a “House”, or whether to remain independent.

Copyright RVL 2017

Website disclaimer

Vampires – Pack or Solitary beings?

Foreword

“Vampire: The Masquerade is a tabletop role-playing game (tabletop RPG) created by Mark Rein-Hagen and released in 1991 by White Wolf Publishing.

Clans and sects

Vampires organize and divide themselves politically and ideologically into sects which form governing structure for undead societies. Laws and norms concerning the place of vampires within the mortal world, feeding, the treatment of vessels, vampiric morality, secrecy, feeding grounds, Gehenna and the distribution of power form the basis of these divisions. The two major sects are the Camarilla and the Sabbat, but there are other sects as well, such as the Inconnu or the Anarchs. A sect is something a character may choose in-game, though this decision is often chosen for them by their Sire. Defection to one side or the other is possible, but come with great risk, as much of what motivates the Jyhad are the ideological differences between the Camarilla and the Sabbat.[8]:19-22”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vampire:_The_Masquerade

“Le Vampire” Burne-Jones

Between October of 2012 and July 2014, as the Editor and Senior Staff Writer of a leading sub-culture E-zine, I wrote, and published a series of three articles dealing with the hardest things about being a modern living vampire. One of the things I didn’t address within the scope of those three pieces was the constant battle that was always being waged to get us all to join some group, house, coven, order or clan.

Historically speaking there has never been any mention, in any contemporary or classical literature, or popular reference, to vampyres congregating in such organisations, so why only in modern times? Is it because we need the sense of security of knowing there are others like us? Hardly, I think, we are all well aware that there are many thousands of others, if not tens of thousands, whom identify as modern living vampyres in one form or another. Gatherings aimed at furthering the “common good” of the whole of the sub-culture? It has yet to be evidenced in any movement, organisation or concept that has come our way has made a significant and long-term beneficial contribution to the people involved. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I would suggest that within the sub-culture we have more good intentions than your average worldwide religious order and it doesn’t seem to have helped. We are seeing, even today, the huge gulfs that separate different sub-sectors of the culture. We are seeing disparate ideologies and disparate ethics being played out, across the board, every single day. It is, in the end analysis, all in the interests of those who believe that their vision, or concept, is the only realistic one.

The only realistic thing that we can say, for certain, about modern living vampires is that they are NOT naturally pack, or group, oriented.

It is true, before anyone jumps all over this, that there are certain “organisations” that do embody the concept of a “gathering”, or as one well known wag put it, “a bicker”, of vampires; organisations such as the secretive ToV, the Strigoii VII and orders such as Kheperu and Rakoczy; for example, stand the test because they are hierarchical and have a strict process of induction, development and enhancement that has developed over a length of time. Outside of such structured society groups there are a huge number of “groups” which are not as controlled and administered in respect of membership, membership growth and development and adherence to organised principles and practices. These are the groups that seek to establish “democratic” bases and “democratic” processes within their structure, or, at the other end of the scale, are created and ruled by some singular, despotic individual who invests themselves with some title, position or other extravagance and sets out to make as much noise as possible in as many places as possible in an attempt to appear ‘larger than life’.

The sheer number of groups, houses, clans, courts and orders that have come and gone – even since this writer came to the online vampire sub-culture – beggars belief. Constantly shifting bases of membership, of allegiance, of communication and ideology have created a kaleidoscope of the sub-culture until it reaches the point where the reality of it and the surreal have become so blurred that it is impossible to tell them apart.

At the base of all of this is the concept that modern living vampyres need, or want, to congregate. I would suggest that, at its very foundation, this idea has created more damage than any single event, or time period, in the history of the contemporary movement.

If we discount the earlier folklore and little proven, if at all, accounts of vampires and such things we can clearly identify where the “congregation” concept came from. It certainly wasn’t present in any learned treatise or written work, native myth or folklore prior to the 20th century and indeed, it only seems to have grown out of the previously mentioned referents afforded by the White Wolf Studio’s RPG creators when they developed and released ‘Vampire: The Masquerade’ in 1991. This, it could be argued, fuelled the surge in growth of the concept of ‘Vampire Houses’. Following on from that the entertainment industry grasped the idea that vampyres hung around in groups because, well hey, what’s better than one vampire? Ten vampyres… makes for better fight scenes etc.

 

An exception, and valid argument against this, can be made when considering small enclaves of like-minded people who get together, face-to-face, in meetup or encounter groups and hold regular, or semi-regular, get-togethers. Still, these are NOT houses, clans, orders or courts… they are simply ‘meetup groups’, like philatelists or bridge groups, they represent local and low key way to keep in touch with nearby friends and fellow modern vampires. However, and this is very important, without the hierarchy, the regulation and the strict structure previously mentioned they still cannot properly be ruled as a house, clan, court or order. The sheer weight of people constantly moving between online entities, constantly joining new “houses” and arbitrarily affording their allegiances to the newest “flavour of the month”, for a time at least, gives any sort of online “house” an amorphous nature that cannot be relied upon to remain in existence for any extended period of time.

In May 2013 John Reason’s RVL conducted an interview with a high profile member of a well-established and long-time offline “House” within the sub-culture. The purpose of the interview was to highlight what were, at that time, the benefits of belonging to an organised, hierarchical and regulated vampiric “House”.

The interview was preceded by results from the first stage of the RVL year long survey of the sub-culture in which it was revealed that the majority of the survey population considered themselves to be independent from any group or organisation. The question was to do with membership in vampirically oriented groups, we found the following,

Vampire House  (12.7%)

Vampire Coven  (8%)

Vampire Organisation  (14.9%)

Meetup Group  (11.5%)

None, I am Ronin** (i.e. independent and unaffiliated)  (71.5%)

Ref: http://realvampirenews.com/home-and-hearth-the-benefits-of-house-membership/

 

Now, these results are, as they always will be, fluid since they were derived from online survey responses and given the undeniable fact there is so much movement among the myriad online groups available.

Why do people move camps? Why do they invest their lot in new “leaders” as frequently as said “leaders” keep appearing? Does the barrier of non-physical communication affect the concepts and ideals that the people of the sub-culture carry with them? In all of the research, in all of the reading, in all of the inquiry you may care to engage in you will not find any instance of “groups” of vampyres prior to 1966 with the establishment of the matriarchal Order of Maidenfear… you may well find references to specific orders that have strict codes and processes inherent in them following on from that but in the realm of the general free-for-all that the sub-culture seems to have become it is apparent that a general confusion has reigned supreme for decades.

Pic. credit: ‘Van Helsing’,
Universal Pictures
Sommers Company, Stillking Films &
Carpathian Pictures. 2004.

In the earlier days, the days of the EZBoard and Php message boards and the like, vampire groups, online, were good and highly accessible venues for those who were isolated and those new to the sub-culture to learn. Sites such as Sanguinarius.org (1997) and SphynxCatVP’s Support Board (1999) were repositories for knowledge about being a modern living vampire but now we have arrived at a point where the learning and exchange of information has become eclipsed by the chaos and the value of any opportunities has diminished greatly. As sad as it is, and as loath as we may be to admit it, there is very little that the sub-culture, especially in its current online incarnation, can constructively offer newcomers. So, we are at a juncture where each person involved in the online sub-culture must decide, for themselves, whether they are able to continue as a “group” member, or whether they are better keeping their own counsel and staying clear of involvement with other person’s agendas.

In another article, one of the RVL series “Chatting with Vampires”, the following comment was made by the interview guest;
After much time and experience, I’ve come to believe that the “community” would do so much better as a union of individuals rather than breaking into groups that seem to self-destruct,

and went on to say, “ We are all of the same nation, whatever our tribes might be.

Modern Vampyres, those without specific vampyric ideologies that they adhere to, those that are not part of a structured “order” and those that stand outside of the often referred to “politics” of the modern, contemporary, situation are left wondering in which direction to turn and for this very reason many will, and will continue to, return to solitary ways because that is the way of the vampire. They have never, in history, been ‘pack’ beings and there are indeed some leopards that cannot change their spots. Of course, you will always hear many proclaim that modern living vampyres have nothing whatsoever to do with historical accounts of vampires and revenants of that type – agreed – we do not creep out of our graves at night to sap the living of their life. True – we are not undead denizens of that realm somewhere between life and death. True, we have very little in common with the historical, except that we take his/her name quite freely and treat it as though it were a right bestowed upon us. Well, perhaps we are mistaken there too.

Vampires, by every acceptable historical referent are solitary creatures. Vampyres did not have “community” bodies, houses, courts, covens or groups. Vampires, throughout history, prior to 1991 and the advent of Vampire RPG, did not congregate as we do today and even within those congregations we are only happy so long as the aims, goals and purpose of these congregations suit individual aims, goals and purposes.

We live under a borrowed name, we live in direct contradiction with every acceptable historical reference, our groups shift and change frequently and dramatically… perhaps that’s inevitable given that modern vampires, per se, are not the product of group consciousness or racial identification but rather the product of a lack of any other term by which to refer to ourselves – this, in its turn, leads to the question, inevitably, are we really vampires at all or something else that we haven’t yet properly and adequately defined?

 

Copyright RVL 2017
Further References:
http://realvampirenews.com/real-vampires-one-of-the-hardest-things-about-being-us/

http://realvampirenews.com/real-vampires-the-hardest-thing-about-being-us-2/

http://realvampirenews.com/real-vampires-the-hardest-thing-about-being-us-pt-3/

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