Researched, Written, Edited and Presented by
Tim & Lady M.
There are many words that are brought into play every day that are used to describe a variety of circumstances and situations and nowhere, it may be said, is this more prevalent than in our own Modern Living Vampire Culture. Whether rightly or wrongly is beside the point and this editorial is NOT meant to be an indictment of the use of any word so employed. This is a discussion piece, it is a reflection piece and, hopefully, will prompt many to take a serious look at a commonly used term to decide whether or not it is appropriate in certain instances and the possible impact of the use of such a term.
A very common term used throughout the modern Vampire culture is ‘Family’, an innocuous enough word that occurs throughout everyday life also but what does it mean, within our specific context? Having been told, some years back now, that, “Words don’t mean what they mean in the dictionary, they mean what people think they mean…” we have been asking around a bit to find out exactly what the concept is applied to in our culture.
There have been times that I know of when people have been welcomed, lauded and embraced as “Family” but this suddenly seems to turn sour for a number of reasons and all of a sudden they are out of ‘the family’. I have seen, and heard of, people starting ‘families’ and populating said ‘families’ with unknown (to them) members… how does this equate with the normal concept of a ‘family’ unit?
What are the bonds that join people who have never physically met and make them decide to call themselves a family?
What is the cost when someone who is devoted to a ‘family’ they are in, and are committed to, is told, “You will do this now or you are NOT family…!” Does this have the same impact as real life family disputes? Is it somehow worse because you know that in real life families things will blow over?
There are so many questions revolving around the concept of family in the modern Vampire culture that it might almost seem that the word ‘Family’ has become as disposable, and meaningless, as many others we employ today.
With all of this “muddy water” clearly in view then, let’s consider the meaning of the term “family” in relation to the modern Vampire culture.
Whichever way we choose to turn we have to accept that the word, “family”, does have a definition and an origin, those are…
Family Noun (UK)
[ C or U + sing/pl verb ] a group of people who are related to each other
[ C/U ] a social group of parents, children, and sometimes grandparents, uncles, aunts, and others who are related.
1350–1400; Middle English familie < Latin familia a household, the slaves of a household, equivalent to famul(us) servant, slave + -ia -y3
A further defined set of explanations is given at Dictionary.com
Family [fam-uh-lee, fam-lee] noun, plural fam·i·lies.
- a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not:
- a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for:
- any group of persons closely related by blood, as parents, children, uncles, aunts, and cousins:
- all those persons considered as descendants of a common progenitor.
- a group of persons who form a household under one head, including parents, children, and servants.
- a group of related things or people:
- a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals and, frequently, live together:
- a group of products or product models made by the same manufacturer or producer.
Which also notes that;
[Slang.] A unit of the Mafia or Cosa Nostra operating in one area under a local leader.
The popular, crowd sourced Urban Dictionary carries the following definition;
A group of people, usually of the same blood (but do not have to be), who genuinely love, trust, care about, and look out for each other. Not to be mistaken with relatives sharing the same household who hate eachother. REAL family is a bondage that cannot be broken by any means.”
Quite an array of things we can pick from should we choose, so, has the term been simply ‘borrowed’ or has it been ‘misappropriated’?
Does the use of the word “family” actually meet the criteria of meanings associated with the word? We all know there are many, many names for a “cohesive” unit in the VC, “Group”, “Coven”, “House”, “Order”, and “Temple” and so on and it would appear that the term “family” is generally found in usage within one or another of these units.
The fact is that within said groups/houses or whatever the official name is, there are generally found to be a number of people who have never actually physically met each other… this would seem to deny the definition wherein it is held that a family is a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not, a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for, any group of persons closely related by blood, as parents, children, uncles, aunts, and cousins, all those persons considered as descendants of a common progenitor, a group of persons who form a household under one head, including parents, children, and servants, a group of related things or people.
Perhaps the only definitive idea we can apply is “a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals and, frequently, live together.” I believe the Manson Family fitted this profile…!
To gauge the understanding of the term in relation to the Culture we made contact with a number of people, whom we have had the pleasure of working with before, and put the following question to them;
“In relation to “groups” within the modern Vampire culture what do you understand the term ‘Family’ to mean?”
The Regent of The Vampire Court of Dallas, Mike Burgess, suggests that;
“Family is and will seem to always be one of the most common ways to describe the internal dynamic within multiple types and forms of organizations within the VC as a whole… and exists as an important part of the public/private dichotomy that exists in any community organization…a public face and a private face visible only to those inside of the group.
Personally, “family” in this sense perfectly describes what we do internally every day within the VCD…the members in our organization in particular behave and are treated as siblings – we are to lift you up the hard times, celebrate the good times, argue, make-up, and help you grow as a person if needed…this goes for even leadership – since we hold (me included) since each member’s voice with equal weight. Publically, we have our titles and the presentation to the world…while internally, this family atmosphere has been very much the central reason for our success.”
It is obvious that the VCD is an enviable model, one to be emulated and one that would certainly appear to fulfil the context specific definition of a VC “family”.
Queen Tania Tranquilitatis of The Court of The Call of Avalon in the U.K. has a somewhat more direct opinion on the matter, she writes;
“Family to me is standing by them no matter what…
As with you and Mar and all the deception and hurt you both unfairly received from ******.
It’s standing up for the truth.
Standing by those unfairly accused by others.
Doing whatever you can to support them in any way you can.
Hugs and blessings to you both”
Family, and the depth of connection between the members of a family have been known to be of the most intense and intuitive kind. Siblings knowing when the other is hurt, family members exhibiting extreme feats of courage and strength when a loved one is threatened. Perfect family traits under extreme conditions, however, we must make ourselves aware of the “norm” also. As the following excerpt, at Psychology Today, reads;
“The Perfect Family
The idea of a perfect family fascinates us, even if at some level we know there’s no such thing. But by imagining that there are those who seem to have everything right, we are setting ourselves up for perpetual disappointment. Especially if we strive to mimic them.”
Do we go looking for the “perfect family” in the cyber realm? Do we imagine that a sense of being “included” in such a family is going to cure us? Prepare us? That they are going to stand by and support us? Fight for us? Do we imagine that we are going to find something that we have been missing out on in real life?
This is where it can become both tricky and dangerous. When we open up and expose ourselves to the vagaries of people we have never met and whom we know nothing of, except what they choose to portray. When we choose to put our faith in people without knowing one thing about their personal histories or agenda, surely we are opening ourselves up for the biggest kick in the balls since David Hirst hit the crossbar at 114 mph during a football match against Arsenal in 1996.
The web resource Goodtherapy.org notes;
“Rejection can also result from life events not involving relationships, such as being turned down for a desired position. While any rejection can be painful, some instances of rejection may be more affecting than others. Because most humans desire social contact, and many people crave acceptance from society, being rejected can incite negative feelings and emotions.
The feeling of rejection is believed to have developed as an evolutionary tool to alert early humans who were at risk of being ostracized from the tribe they belonged to. A painful rejection from others in the tribe was likely to encourage an individual to modify any problematic behavior in order to avoid further rejection, or ostracism, from the tribe. Those who were able to avoid further rejection were more likely to survive, while those who did not find rejection to be particularly painful may not have corrected the offending behavior, making them less likely to survive. Humans have therefore evolved to experience rejection as painful.”
Could such rejection, from what is supposed to be a supportive and like-minded society, be more severe and damaging than from a real-life society where it is commonly held that no one gives a damn about anyone else?
Gordon Smith, Convener of the research group CLAVIS, member of HotD and Staff member at RVL, gives us his words in response to the question;
“For me, Family are the people who inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves while sticking around even when we’re at our worst. Specifically within the context of Vampire culture, Family reminds us that Awakening is an ongoing process and helps keep us grounded in who we are while joining us in our explorations of who we are becoming.”
Is the simple fact that we share a common belief, i.e. we are modern Vampires, enough to form the bonds necessary to be considered “family” in any true and definable sense of the word or is it more of an identification within the identification that brings this about? We know that the dynamic in a real family, i.e. the “social group of parents, children, and sometimes grandparents, uncles, aunts, and others who are related”, is a complicated process that develops over a number of years, even generations, so how can we expect the same bonds to develop over any less? Is it a fact that the “bonds” that are spoken of in relation to a “a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals and, frequently, live together”, are sufficient to satisfy using the common term?
Lord Stefan Resurrectus, Patriarch of Clan Resurrectus and convener of the The first annual Elder and Leadership Conference and Summit 2019, honoured us with a brief treatise on the matter of “Family” (which can be read in the full form HERE) and one of the quotes that particularly stood out from that reads;
“The VC/OVC is not so far removed from the technical definitions. The problems are seeing each other as brethren and identifying those that are a problem/or a danger to the community as a whole. Most of the organizations that I have dealt with, especially the more long-standing and successful, have an intrinsic sense of family regardless of their structure”
He goes on to say that;
- is there, no matter what.
- Will defend you to the end, even if they disagree with you
- Will tell you the truth, no matter how much it hurts
- Will be beside you through good and bad
- Will not betray the family no matter what”
Are the ideals that Lord Stefan speaks of common to the real life family? Can anyone recall unpleasant difficulties and problems within real life families? How many can recall their biological family maintaining these strictures? How do these things compare with the, dare we say, “Pseudo-families” that exist within our culture? Is it a case of, as I suggested with the quote from Psychology Today, “…by imagining that there are those who seem to have everything right, we are setting ourselves up for perpetual disappointment. “
In the end analysis, how many people have been disappointed, let down or rejected by our pseudo-families? What are the lasting effects of such rejection? Does anyone, except the victim, know or care?
In another article, entitled “Family Dynamics and Distress”, presented at Psychology Today it is noted that;
“There exists at times in families, one who will do all possible to preserve the structure, no matter how dysfunctional it may be. This person often utilizes an authoritarian stance and expects their children to respect them solely for the sake of their presumed authority. Their objective is control,”
Our Assistant Editor, Research Director, my wife, Lady M, writes on family;
“Family comes together in love and respect to nurture and be a part of your life through good and bad. How does that sound? I have people on my friend’s list on Facebook that have been there since I first opened my account, these few I consider family as for each move that I made, each mistake that I made, every time I shut down … they came looking for me to see if I was alright… if that makes a person family than it works for me.
I have a problem with the use of the word family in the context of Groups within the VC … most of these groups are strictly “blue screen” groups that never have any face to face interaction. People come and people go in and out of these Groups with, I believe, no more family bond than a drop of water in the ocean. Just because there is one commonality involved with bringing people together, in my mind, does not a family make. How can I call someone my family based on a timeline page, usually with no photo and sketchy information?
There are other Groups within the VC that recruit you for who you are or who you know and how much information you can bring into that Group … no family vibe there, yet they will tell you all of the words you want to hear, how family is so important and that you will always have family within that social structure… until you misstep and are booted out…! What family does that to you???
I have always, with the exception in my first paragraph, believed family to be people that you trust, honor, respect and love and have actually sat down and shared a meal with. I also believe that family sees the best and the worst of you but they are still around with physical support, encouraging words or just a hug.”
I suppose that we can’t be too sensitive can we, I mean, what’s in a word right? It’s a well-known fact that our modern culture is built on “borrowed” words, “made up” words, borderline plagiarism and fictitious imaginings. There was nothing official developed, or available at the beginning so whatever was handy came to the fore. Any attempts to quantify, define or widely explain since then have been virtual battlegrounds that have never gained what we might call consensus. The question we MUST ask ourselves, by loosely using the word family, especially where we know that there ARE vulnerable people, are we actually harming people? Are we setting people up for distress and putting them at risk of psychological harm by having them equate the pseudo-family of the VC context with the emotional connections generally experienced in real life family circumstances?
Even though attempt after attempt has been made we have been unable, collectively, to come to a universal, or even wide-ranging definition of what we modern… erm, well, whatever we are, are. Should we simply continue to muddle and mutate words to suit ourselves or should we be looking toward developing a more proper set of definitions, and terms, for use within the culture? In much the same way as we can’t truly use the word Vampire to describe those of us whom identify as such since we are not, quote, “ Vampire; a preternatural being, commonly believed to be a reanimated corpse, that is said to suck the blood of sleeping persons at night.”
Can we, in good conscience, use the word family with impunity and without expecting damaging ramifications at times?
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