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Over the years, decades even, in the Modern Living Vampire Culture there have been endless debates, definitions, arguments and discourses on what makes an “Elder” and Elder, and what makes a leader a leader in the culture. The very definitions that have been applied appear, at the best of times, to be fluid and open to interpretation. So, out of that, how do you convene an Elder and Leadership Conference in the modern culture? What ‘yardstick’ is used to determine what’s to be discussed and defined, what measure is applied to determine whether a person is, or is not, qualified to be an “Elder” or “Leader”?
One of the best and most concise definitions of an Elder, in our opinion, comes from “Dictionary of Sanguinese” by Sanguinarius “A prominent member of the vampiric community who is honored and respected for his or her experience, knowledge, willingness to help others, accomplishments and devotion. Elders are often those individuals who have helped establish a community, organize groups, or help network the community.”
One event that aims to examine, discuss and, perhaps, even redefine these things is the “Elder and Leadership Conference 2019 that is being co-hosted by Clan Resurrectus and the Greater Chicagoland Vampire Coalition.
We were recently given the opportunity to speak with the three leaders who have come together to make this event happen. It gives us great pleasure to welcome back to RVL Lord Stefan Resurrectus, Patriarch of Clan Resurrectus, Georgia, Derek Lestat, CEO of the Greater Chicagoland Vampire Coalition and, for the first time, a warm welcome to Magistra Xia of Ordo Omnia.
RVL: Good evening gentlemen and Magistra Xia, welcome and thanks for sparing a little of your time to discuss this cultural initiative.
SR: Absolutely. Always a pleasure to be here, thank you for having me.
DL: Thank you, it’s good to be back here.
RVL: The first question, which I would imagine would be on most people’s lips is, why? Why an Elder and Leadership conference?
SR: It seems to me that my memory does not include an actual sit-down in person face-to-face meeting of the minds amongst the leadership. Don’t get me wrong, there are several courts such as the Court of Lazarus that brings the leaders of their area together on a fairly regular basis in order to discuss matters, by and large the Leaders and Elders of the Community do not speak much outside of Facebook or emails. Too much can be misinterpreted or misunderstood in the written word. In person, there is a much better interpretation of ideals.
DL: Myself, I would first counter with asking “Why not?” Let’s scale it down some, make it more personally relatable. Pretty much everyone who interacts online has made friends and acquaintances who live some distance away. And some of us a fortunate enough to arrange to meet in person. Now let’s scale it back up again, with that thought in mind. Within the Vamp Community, there is no shortage of leaders of many groups. We meet online, we become acquainted and sometimes even friends. Some of us live relatively close, some are metaphorical worlds away. We thrive on sharing ideas and experiences, comparing notes, etc. And with so many of us reaching for the same or similar goals, it all only stands to reason that we should at some point convene in person. There is so much more to be gained from physical personal interaction than merely words typed on a screen, or a Skype session.
RVL: …and what is the ultimate goal, or goals, of the conference?
SR: The ultimate goal, at least my goal, is to bring us together in order to get on the same page. With the growth of the community over the past few decades, I feel it’s time for those that in a position of leadership to speak and discuss our responsibilities to this community. There was a time that our numbers were much fewer, and the Courts were able to delineate responsibility and stay on top of issues that came up. With the influx of “leaders” and new organizations in the past 5 years alone have convoluted the question of what a leader or Elder is and what is their responsibility, not only to their respective organizations but to the community of a whole.
DL: For me, I see the goal as being a “meeting of the minds”, as it were. We as leaders and Elders have many different experiences, viewpoints, ways of going about things, dealing with people both in the positive and the negative. This is a great opportunity to pool our knowledge, to learn about ourselves and each other, and to take away new knowledge and experience, and to bring that back to our respective groups.
MX: A huge objective of the conference is education. A lot of misconceptions can occur when there is a lack of communication and constructive debate, handwork and initiative for betterment of the overall whole.
RVL: As far as attendance is concerned, are there any restrictions on who can attend?
MX: Restrictions on who can attend would be those who are known in the community as Sin Nomine. This essentially means that they have committed a crime within the community and have hurt others so therefore they are turned away from activity within the community. This is for the protection of all especially new ones coming in who are looking to seek direction or advice from other advocates.
SR: There are no restrictions per se; if you want to get to know these people we talk to every day online this is a good event for you. Let’s face it, we go to events and pay $100 plus dollars for a few hours in a very loud and eclectic surrounding versus less than $100 for 2.5 days with food and lodging included with entertainment and really be able to connect with others. The only restriction is the Summit itself will be explicitly for the leaders to meet and talk. Everything else is open to all.
RVL: …and for those unable to attend will there be transcripts of lectures, presentations and discussions made available after the event?
SR: We have discussed that, and it’s my hope to have the Seminars and other events videoed and make them available either on FB or YouTube with links on FB. The Summit itself will probably be closed files open only to leadership with transcripts.
MX: Yes there will be audio available for those who cannot attend and of course web based videos as well
RVL: It’s already been hinted that there will be a 2020 conference, will this “Conference” become an annual event and will the location remain the same each year?
SR: *laughs* We are actually looking at a 2020 conference and summit. We will probably really get on that once everything is scheduled out for 2019. We have been offered a location in Virginia for 2020 by the Vampire Court of Richmond through King William Azrael and I intend to look into that once 2019 is up and running. I think it would be interesting to have the conference in different cities, but for the moment we’re going to concentrate on what we have now and the location for 2020.
DL: I would love if this were an annual event for everyone. Unfortunately, not everyone can always attend, due to personal, monetary, or logistical concerns. If it can become an annual event, that would be great. It would be even greater to rotate the venue around the map, not only for a change of scenery but also so people who can’t attend due to distance can get a better shake at it another year.
MX: Yes it would be nice to see this event become an annual endeavour for the community so long as the true heart of the event can be cherished and kept. The idea of this being a platform for education and openness.
RVL: What are some of the activities that will be included in the conference and who will be “key speakers” and/or guests of honour” if any?
MX: Some of the activities will include lectures by elders of different houses , selling of wares and goods and great social time between those who don´t ordinarily get to interact with each other. Being able to have intimate conversations on deep topics face to face is very integral to our kind and for learning and development of new vampiric technology.
SR: I am pleased to announce several: first off, we have Baron Misuraca as our Special Musical guest, along with seminars by Magistra Xia and Magister Alad or Ordo Omnia, King William Azrael and Lady Luna of the Vampire Court of Richmond, Reaper Wolf from Ordo Phoenix, HPS Lady Danaan Starseed and many others, not to mention vendors from fangsmiths to crystals to creative works for sale.
RVL: Let me throw a curve ball at you folks, how do you, personally, define “elder” and “leader” within the framework of the modern living Vampire culture and what would you say to people who might disagree with your definition or analysis?
DL: In most usage, the word “elder” itself implies longevity, that one has been around for some time, seen a lot, done a lot, experienced and lived through a lot. That context is fitting within the Community, I feel, as an Elder has “Been There, Done That”, someone with the wisdom of experience to share.
As for what it means to be a leader, let me quote management expert Peter F. Drucker (1909-2005), who said “Rank does not confer privilege or power. It imposes responsibility”. And as both leaders and Elders in the Community, we are tasked with responsibility, not only for those in our respective Clans and Houses etc, but also for the Community as a whole. We have the experience, the wisdom, in most cases That Certain Something, it is our responsibility and our duty to impart that to the next generation, much as a good parent would to their own eager children.
SR: Ah, good one. I always enjoy this particular subject because there are so many opinions on this particular subject. Let me say that by definition, and Elder is someone who has survived all to be an Elder. However, the title of Elder is supposed to be one of respect; and Elder is one who takes their responsibility seriously not just to those of their House but to all; an Elder will take on the responsibility of teaching others all that they have learned with the understanding that they will not be around forever. A leader is a person who has the vision to lead and takes on the responsibility of leadership; that all are equal from the fledgling to the Elder; a leader takes on the burden of politics and the well-being of those that are in their charge. Not all leaders are seasoned to the point of Elder, but in time will. Not all leaders are Elders; not all Elders are leaders.
MX: of course there will be those that disagree and have different definitions of what an elder or leader could be that is part of the mystique of the vampire . A predator does not follow others but instead meets with other predators and offers respect and at times friendship. We all are on our own path but to begin to define these terms is what i would like to discuss . Vampiric technology is always developing . An elder is simply one who has dedicated their life to Vampyrism, runs a house , educates , works with others and continues to better the community . In essence if you are an elder you have a job outside your dayside. A leader is a Vampyre with experience who is directing a project or has recently been given a task in a House . They take on the role of inspiring others and assist an Elder to lessen the weight of the job or task at hand . This is Order of Omnia´s definition of those two roles. So can an elder be a leader ? yes. Can a leader be an elder ? not always. Of course I am only speaking for Order of Omnia to share perspective . I do not speak for any other Vampyres.
RVL: There will be those, as I’m sure you are aware, who will decry the validity of the event and will claim it to be a ploy to establish some sort of “control” system in place… this is, after all, the “VC”, what would your response be to that kind of criticism?
SR: Sigh. Such is always the case. I will state again what I’ve stated on several occasions; there will never be an absolute control over the VC by any one person or organization, especially without the vote of the vox populi. However, a body of moderation is not out of the question. That is not what this is about. This is about us all working together. I’ve stood for Unity for 30 years, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it has to start at the top. If the leaders and elders can’t get along and work together, what hope do we have for the rest of the community.
DL: This is not some sort of diabolical cabal, gathering in shadows to deliberately screw over everyone we don’t like. We are not some sort of an Illuminati, and Lex Luthor was not invited.
If you are so full of your own self that you can’t see this meeting of the minds for what it is, then that’s probably the reason you weren’t invited to begin with.
Let me toss out another quote: “Haters gonna hate”.
MX: My response to that criticism is that we are only here as a platform to encourage education and the sharing of ideas. Think of this like a salon noir where philosophers would gather and express and challenge perspectives. This event has absolutely nothing to do with the human concept of power but the evolved idea of evolution and betterment.
RVL: As to the location, the venue, why the choice of a South Carolina parkland venue?
MX: Stefan has chosen the location for the group and having a relaxed atmosphere is extremely important for learning. The woods and nature holds a very important role in aiding one to tune in and shut down daily troubles or work anxieties. This allows us to let the mind focus in areas that are less used such as in meditation. So I support the location as it is a great springboard for people to relax and learn.
SR: I attended the Beltane Brouhaha there this year and found it charming, definitely rooted in nature and rather isolated. The cabins, while rustic, were wonderful and the camaraderie was unparalleled. I saw this as a perfect grass-roots location to begin all this. It’s absolutely beautiful and quiet…at least when the celebrations weren’t on. *laughs*
RVL: …and where can the folks who are planning to attend find out all information they are going to need about the venue?
MX: Information can all be discovered via the Facebook website.
RVL: Have you any anticipation, or expectation, as to the number of attendees? What would you say to those who may be on the fence about coming along?
SR: Space is limited as far as cabins themselves. If you’re looking for a private cabin, best to sign up and register quickly. There are 59 cabins available, each able to handle 4 people comfortably. We are anticipating between 60-100 people for this first one; there are areas for those that wish to pitch a tent, not a whole lot of RV room.
DL: If you’re on the fence about it, ask yourself how cool it would be to say “Yeah, I was there”. Consider the bragging rights you could bank.
MX: I think it is great to go in with no expectation at all. Whatever will be is going to be but either way every year the alchemy of the collective will change due to the people who choose to participate. This is a great avenue for differences to be explored and good face to face conversation to happen.
RVL: What sort of event security will be in place for the duration?
SR: The event will have security; there are several individuals with security experience who will be monitoring the event 24/7.
MX: As far as security is concerned we will have gatekeepers who will act as guardians for the event .
RVL: This is probably going to turn out to be the largest gathering of recognised Elders and Leaders since the COVICA Council was convened in 2000, is it an aim of the conference to unilaterally re-establish some sort of guiding body for the modern culture?
SR: That type of decision would have to be made by a popular vote of all the leaders, not just those that will be in attendance; the community is far too big now for any one group coming through and establishing any type of regulatory body. I would think that if one particular area wanted that, it could be established, but again that’s not what this is about. Opening lines of communication and agreeing to work towards a better community is the first step in any process that might be imagined at this time.
DL: Baby steps.
RVL: Where do you think leadership in the modern culture falls short these days?
SR: A fair question, and it depends on where you look. We have leaders that deal mostly in entertainment, we have some that just wandered into the scene and think they should be respected as scions, we have some that are apparently mentally and emotionally disturbed and surprisingly they have followers. I think that is one of the areas; a true leader develops other leaders and not followers; followers are inevitable, but developing good leaders is rare. Lack of communication is another; when there is no communication and bad communication is where issues arise. There are some who sit up in their ivory towers and ignore the works of others and some that cloister themselves and care little about what’s happening in the world around them. I don’t think there’s any one answer, there’s a variety of things that cause the problem. Hence, the need to meet.
MX: Of course we are looking to redefine and give new meaning to ideals of the past. If the vampire and the ideology of the predator does not advance we are no holding true to the values of evolution. I think again every organisation could have a different answer as to where leadership falls short. From the Order of Omnia perspective our foundations are rooted in education and advanced ritual format. We fall short as a community when individuals who claim to be something they aren’t hurt others through sexual abuse, mental abuse or criminal activity. As every culture and community has these feats so do we. That is why education, structure and getting more information out there is so important. So individuals know where to go to be lead safely and securely.
DL: In many cases, I see too much personal ego and even narcissism being bandied about. That is not what good and effective leadership is about.
RVL: …and the solution?
SR: Meet, greet and speak. Working together is the only way to repair the problems in our community.
DL: First thing an aspiring good leader should be aware of is: it is NOT about YOU. Not everything begins and ends with you, your opinions, your likes and dislikes. You are the voice for your people. Your own bullshit takes a backseat. Be amicable. If you go around offending other people, or worse, other leaders, simply because your view on something is not theirs, you end up pissing people off, possibly even the wrong people, and that will only continue the divisiveness within the Community. Get off the high horse, and stop patting your own back long enough to shake hands with your peers.
RVL: Is there anything else you would like to pass on to our readers at this time about the conference or in general?
DL: Even if you cannot attend in person, please lend your support of the event and its goals. Even just a simple comment on Facebook saying “Hey, good idea, I support this” would be wonderful.
SR: Come and break bread with us. Let’s talk, laugh and learn together, eat good food and be entertained. Let’s grow closer together in the true spirit of unity.
RVL: Magistra Xia, Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time today. RVL is very happy to be a sponsor of the conference and we will be watching, with great interest, to see the results… we wish you the very best of luck with the event.
DL: Thank you very much!
A bold move? A grand gesture? An important initiative? Will the benefits be widespread or not?
As this particular conference development is still in it’s infancy, relatively speaking, and there are many more months of work to do before it comes to fruition, there is still ample chance for more and more people to become involved. It is our hope that this will happen, that people from across the culture will recognise the importance of this event.
There can be no doubt that the culture, the community, whatever you wish to call it, has long been crying out for some measure of consistent and common sense direction from its recognised leaders – this event represents a unique opportunity for just that.
It’s not an event for a “portion” of the community, not an event for an elite cadre, it is an event for the whole culture regardless of where you may be, or stand, in relation to that culture. A chance to forge something strong and above all durable that will provide a hitherto unseen level of cooperation and communication.
Will the REAL leaders and Elders please stand up…
Copyright RVL, Elder and Leadership Conference 2019, Clan Resurrectus, the Greater Chicagoland Vampire Coalition and Ordo Omnia 2018
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