Crossroads 2017 – Honesty, Integrity and the non-Partisan approach

Researched, Written and Presented by

Tim

Just think, not long now and I’ll have to design the ‘Crossroads 2018’ header image…

Good evening,
I trust everyone is well? You know I have a habit of revisiting certain things that I feel are of great importance to, not only our readers but to the cyberworld in general and this evening I wanted to return and take an updated look at “information”, information and its presentation, its uses, its benefits and even some harms.

There is a vast array of information sources available to the explorer of the modern real Vampire culture online, just like in the rest of the ‘world information’ infrastructure. Sometimes it is very difficult to discern whether the source you are looking at is totally accurate, honest and approaching matters with an unbiased sense of integrity.

In many cases it may not be so difficult to tell, for example, if you want to read positive things about the current government of the United States you read certain ‘pro-government’ newspapers, if you want to review negative things then you read other news sources. It is very much the way of things these days… as the old saying goes, “Opinions are like a-holes…” etc. etc.

So, how does the reader tell that what they’re reading is kosher?

img. source: pewinternet.org

When we prepare a publication piece at RVL we begin by researching the subject, the material, available resources and information that may be in the searchable public domain. From there we will ALWAYS attempt to make contact with the people involved in what we are intending to write on, after all, our audience wants to read about those people and their ideas rather than what we interpret their aims, goals and purposes to be. If the piece is an “Opinion Piece”, like this one, we will identify it as such, hence the “Crossroads” banner and headlines. In all cases we go to great lengths to ensure that what we are writing about is based in fact, is supported by material that can be linked to and cross-referenced or checked by the reader. We may not hit the mark 110% but we will always strive to get as close as we can and we will, with all except the “Crossroads” pieces, perhaps, seek for a mandated balance of impartiality but never doubt that sometimes even being neutral can get you in trouble though…!

Over the last couple of months we at RVL have been reviewing a selected sample of ‘Vampire’ resources, reviewing for content, reviewing for informed comment, reviewing the supporting information on which such commentary is based and looking for common denominators in these resources. Naturally, as one would suspect, we have found both ends of the spectrum. In presenting the following conclusions we are NOT denying anyone the right to say, and write, whatever they will… after all the freedom of expression is enshrined in, certainly, the constitution of the United States and, by and large, in the constitutional instruments of the majority of democratic institutions around the world.

Perhaps it is with a sense of the necessity for integrity, honesty and impartiality in reporting ‘news’ and ‘current affairs’ in the world wide real Vampire culture that we tend to measure other sources and determine our own path.

The resources that we have focused on during this period of observation are Lady CG’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, Jet Berelson’s ‘VampireFreaks’, Zane Robinson’s ‘Awake and Drink’, the late, great, Sanguinarius E. Sanguinarius’ ‘Sanguinarius.org’ and the relatively newly arrived ‘The Red Cellar’.

In each case, firstly, we must accept the fact that the owners and writers for each resource have the right to have an opinion about whatever they will, they have a right to publicise these opinions within their groups and to disperse these opinions as they see a necessity to do so, everyone has that right and that is something that must remain inviolate. The rub comes where said opinions, from anywhere, can’t be, or are not, supportable.

With this in mind let’s take a more in depth look at each;

img. source: Zane Robinson’s awakeanddrink.org

Beginning with Zane Robinson’s ‘Awake and Drink’, as a part of its offerings the resource presents a series of analyses of different sites, groups and web-resources along with the author’s opinion of each resource. One of the items that stands out is the analysis and presentation relating to Temple-House Sahjaza.

Mr. Robinson opines that;
My own thoughts on this Temple are generally disfavorable. Although their online presence is fairly unexciting, they are an extremely active in-person group. There have been numerous reports of some…unruly members of this group; however how much of that is the individual, versus how much is the Temple is questionable.

It is one thing to say that there have been “numerous reports” of something, quite another to offer substantive proof to support that statement and this is where opinions can fall down.

He goes on to write;

Also of concern is the indecisive attitude in regards to whether or not/how much they want to associate themselves with the Sanguinarium and vampyre subculture. For instance, here are two statements from this page:

“We will only accept those who come with a desire to maximize their potential and who can make a significant contribution to the Family, the Sanguinarium and the Vampyre subculture.”

“The Sahjaza, as a Family, do not hold involvement in the politics of other organizations or games of individuals of the sanguinarium and vampyre subculture.”

While I understand where they are coming from with this –that they don’t want to be taken down with all the other idiots out there by those idiots’ actions– you just can’t have it both ways;…

One of the problems here is that this is “old news”, it does not reflect the modern and most current outlook and practices of the organisation. This particular timeframe was somewhere back in the early to mid- 90’s, around 24 years ago.

The other major difficulty we discovered was that none of the hotlinks to “sources” mentioned in the analysis worked so we were unable to verify any of the statements and substantiations offered. We did make attempt, on two occasions, to contact Mr. Robinson for clarification via email but we received no response.

Upon reading further, particularly with reference to the section entitled, “The ‘Guide’ to Vampyrism” ( accessed via the publicly accessible dropdown menus ) we read that the site owner is adamant on the following point,

“The one thing that I will not tolerate is misinformation. While you may or may not agree with all which is posted within this site, unless you can challenge it with an argument well-supported enough to change my mind or the minds of others viewing, then the information contained herein will not change.”

At the very least it could be concluded that the web resource ‘Awake and Drink’ is now defunct by virtue of its material being long out of date, if not somewhat self-contradictory.

.

img. source: Lady CG’s Smoke and Mirrors

In stark contrast to this example we have Lady CG’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, established in 2002 this resource has had, and still does, a long and illustrious record of support and service to the modern Vampire culture. Many of you may recall that Lady CG was a guest on A&E’s “Secret Lives of Vampires” documentary, along with Lady Michelle Belanger, in 2005.

Smoke and Mirrors offers, and always has, in depth ‘real-time’ discussion facilities, a live chat venue on-site along with extensive archives of articles, editorials and reports that go back, pretty much, to its inception and provide a huge resource for students of the modern culture.

Of the many resources offered the modern real living Vampire there are a great number of practical guides for actually living the life, not in any theoretical sense but from the solid basis of Lady CG’s personal experience. Items such as the “Vampyres for Beginners” forum, an informative, supportive and non-judgmental place for newcomers to find out much needed things, Lady CG’s own seminal work, “Practical Vampyrism”, a book that modern Vampires can use as a guide to healthy and happy Vamp life.

Make no mistake, there is always room for opinions at S&M as well but the difference between there and many other places is that the atmosphere is most decidedly non-combative and though discussions can get lively they are, by the great majority, mutually respectful and non-judgmental.

img. source: Unesco

From the very beginning of my association with Real Vampire Life E-Zine, Real Vampire News back then, our owner made it very clear that decorum, impartiality and a ‘fair hearing’ for all were the foundations for the E-Zine. Yes, we are allowed to have opinions and, as Staff we are allowed to publish said opinions BUT the condition is that we identify such as personal opinions NOT the general position or opinion of the E-Zine. That’s why I created the “Crossroads” series. As I said, “…everyone has one” and has the right to speak their opinion.

Jet Berelson – founder of VampireFreaks
img. source: Google-Plus

One of the biggest surprises that we got while researching this matter was in the well-established and widely known web resource “VampireFreaks”. Originally developed, we discovered, as a Goth/ Indie/Industrial cultural resource it has, unfortunately, become widely associated with criminal instances perpetrated by individuals who frequented the site with predatory intent. As we also discovered, over something like two months of interactions there, there are NO real Vampires, or, at least, none who wanted to ‘stand and be recognised’.

After entering an inquiry, and touching base every few days or so, these are just a sample of the replies we received;

“They sparkle”

 “Just mosquitoes. ~shrug~”

“Vampires Bite”

 “there was a Vampire Duck called Count Duckula, he was enemies with Danger Mouse”

“Vampires existed in Ancient Egypt. They drunk blood in certain rituals.”

“Do you wear a fedora”

 “The red cross is an insatiable blood sucker.”

“Don’t even get me started on the Red Cross”

“I’ve worn fedora’s for 20 years until about last year when it suddenly became a thing not because I’m anti hipster, just because I wanted it to be 1935 again” 🙁

“You miss college that much?”

“I WISH I was college age in 1935, are you kiddin’!? Fun time to be alive. As long as I still lived in the NJ/NY area and not like Wyoming”

Okay, drifting off topic there at the end…!!! Out of curiosity we attempted to contact Mr. Berelson to determine how the name came about for the site, thus far we have yet to receive a reply.

VampireFreaks.com is an online community for the Gothic–industrial subcultures. It was created by site owner, Mr. Jet Berelson, in 1999, beginning with a limited range of forums dedicated to Gothic–industrial music.

Stepping away from the online site VampireFreaks hosts an online store that sells Goth and alternative clothing, it also hosts a number of events, mainly in the New York City area. Information of these events can be found on the website. Two of the most popular being the ‘Cybertron’, a gothic-industrial club night in NYC, and the ‘Triton Festival’, a music festival that has attracted gothic-industrial bands from around the world.

The site has been, as I say, somewhat unfortunately, linked with a number of violent and sexual controversies however, in a reported response the site owner has said, “the website does not influence its users to commit crimes”, and goes on to note that “The goth scene is a very friendly, nurturing, non-violent community and we are very supportive of our users and do not condone any illegal activities”.

But, as I said, contrary to the name, NO Vampyres to be found, sorry.

img. source: The Red Cellar

One of the latest resources that we have watched develop is that of ‘The Red Cellar’ and the linked resource ‘Ask a Sanguivore’.

It is a growing resource and one that caters specifically to sanguine Vampyres, now there are those that have, and will, opine that such separation is not good for the overall culture… sorry, doesn’t hold water in my opinion (there you go, there’s that phrase…!) It is vitally important to any culture that the rights of its individual sectors be upheld in equality… after all,

“The United States Constitution First Amendment (1791) Free Exercise Clause guarantees a person’s right to hold whatever [religious] beliefs he or she wants, and to freely exercise that belief. The amendment guarantees an individual’s right to express and to be exposed to a wide range of opinions and views. It also guarantees an individual’s right to physically gather or associate with others in groups for economic, political or religious purposes. It was intended to ensure a free exchange of ideas…” [Ref: Monk, Linda. “Amendment I”. Annenberg Classroom. Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.]

The Facebook portals offer an up to date reporting of resources for the student of the Sanguine and the website presents articles, editorials and commentaries regarding the current Sanguine life and movement. It is true, to some extent, that the Sanguine Vampire culture has been under assault for many years, the proliferation of ‘alternative’ Vampyre practices and theories that came along over the last ten to twelve years has been nothing short of breath-taking and, while each had its own points of merit in most cases, we have to agree that nothing says “Vampire” like the consumption of blood.

Whether the proofs are coming to support beneficial and nutritional uses for the ingestion of blood or whether we look back at ages old recipes that contain blood in some form in foodstuffs, whether we allude to the old folklores of the Vampire or whether we choose to examine the accounts of the ritual and historical uses and consumption of human blood among ancient, and indigenous, races we must accept that there is a great deal of merit in the Sanguine assertions and that ‘The Red Cellar’ is at the forefront of the studies of such.

img. source: Elcom

One of the greatest difficulties that anyone faces when coming to an online culture is in deciding what is a “good” source of information, and what is a “bad” source. Unfortunately you can get drawn to a “bad” source by the trappings of glamour and glitzy approach… it’s an age old advertising ploy, “catch the eye, catch the attention”, this can, however, often hide inferior product – false advertising? Some would say “clever advertising”. A good thing to bear in mind all the time.

Whenever anyone asks me what I consider to be the best web-resource for Vampires on the net they all expect me to say, naturally, J. Reason’s Real Vampire Life E-Zine, many of them are surprised when I don’t… my answer never varies, and hasn’t for the last decade or so…

Sanguinarius.org

In August of 2015 a great tragedy was visited on the modern living Vampire culture, we lost Lady Sanguinarius E. Sanguinarius (a.k.a. Sangi) Her site, Sanguinarius.org, had become the yardstick by which everyone else measured their site developments and has been heavily supported and frequented since its establishment in 1997.

The site is still being maintained and provides a great range of resources for the modern culture. In an easy to navigate manner, the tab drop-downs at the top of the home page make it simple to find exactly what you’re looking for and the vast amount of information, much of it going back to the nineties, is maintained and fully accessible.

From The Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame (Version 2.6) to Vampire FAQ’s, from an Online Press Room to Vampire Community Graphics to the famous ‘Dictionary of Vampspeak’ and more there is a wealth of study information and interaction/reading available to anyone looking for relevant and unbiased information.

As it says, on the “About Us” page, in the ‘Statement of Purpose’;
“To establish and maintain a national/worldwide communication, information, and support network for all blood-drinkers, self-identified vampires/vampyres and otherkin/therians;”

At last visit it seems that the “Registration” for site is still disabled, however, we have contacted the administrators/managers at The VCMB (the Sanguinarius.org message board) to determine whether this will be changing and when. We will make the information available when we receive a reply.

In Conclusion:

As you can see, and perhaps it’s no big surprise but the resources available on the internet for real living Vampyres, students of the modern culture or researchers looking for credible sources, vary widely in scope and quality. The first thing one needs to make sure of is, “am I reading facts or opinions?”

If you can identify them as “facts” then they should be supportable, able to be cross-referenced and verifiable. A fact is NOT a fact just because someone says it is.

If you identify it, or rather, should the author identify it as “opinion” then, ideally, it should be informed, based in some sort of original fact or verifiable possibility. After all, opinion without support can very often be mistaken for something else and ignored.

Cases both for and against need to be built, built in calm, rational and sensible ways. They need to be supported and, above all, plausible. If they’re not they simply sound stupid, no?

Don’t sound/look stupid – doesn’t help anyone, least of all you…!

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Copyright TB & RVL 2017

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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.

For further information please see the RVL Website Disclaimer

 

Special Edition – Sang vs Psi: Making a Case for Separation ~ by Lady CG

Mountainside Conference Centre, Bethany, W. Virginia

Mountainside Conference Centre, Bethany, W. Virginia

Presented by

Tim

Good evening,
Tonight we have the honour of bringing to you an article written by the renowned, and highly respected, modern vampire sub-culture leader Lady CG of Smoke and Mirrors. The topic is not a new one, indeed, many may well recall past writings of a lady who went by the name of The Infamous CJ, the topic may well arouse the same discussions and tit-for-tat contests that often go hand-in-hand with such things in the modern sub-culture but it also marks a return to a question that goes much deeper than it seems at first glance.

On January 1, 1863 the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, issued The Emancipation Proclamation that was aimed at all of the areas in rebellion during the Civil War. It proclaimed the freedom of slaves in the eleven states that were still in rebellion. It marked the recognition of a segment of the population of the United States as being free to make their own decisions and lives within the larger cultural group of the population of the country.

In 1918 the Representation of the People Act was passed, enfranchising women over the age of 30 who met minimum property qualifications and giving them the right to vote in the United Kingdom. The Representation of the People Act 1928 extended the voting franchise to all women over the age of 21.

Two examples of two different cultures recognizing the right of a sub-cultural group to exercise not only their inalienable rights as members of the human race but also opening the door for later petitions by other sub-cultural groups, such as the contemporary recognition afforded the Wiccan movement, to be recognized as valid and valuable parts of the whole. The topic was also touched on, and superbly so, in the July 2012 editorial by Lady Elzie Roze, “Bigotry in a Marginalized Minority Community – Vampires and Human Rights

RVL E-Zine is very pleased to be able to reprint, with full permission of the author,

Sang vs Psi: Making a Case for Separation
(or, I Want My Blood, and Drink it too!)

I got involved in a conversation the other day that inspired some soul searching, on my part. I thought I’d share my mental processes and perhaps shed some light on what causes Sangunarians to occasionally opt out of the greater Vampire Community. While I do not know if it is wise or even possible to separate the VC into its individual component groups, I DO believe that there is a need in the community for more separation then it currently has, or a change in community politics if the greater Community wants to keep its Sangs around over the long term. There is already and alarming exodus of older Sangs to private communities and away from public shared communities. There is much to gain from this, but also a chance that much will be lost.

I was an active community leader for many years. Stress and bickering and Community drama caused me to actually leave the entire VC for a couple of years. I’m back, but I have little public interest beyond my Sangs and my Vamplings. I’ll fight tooth and nail to protect them, but I don’t have a ton of interest in the community beyond that, and they are the only ones I come out fighting for now. There are some good reasons for that. While it’s true much of the Community is very supportive of Blood Drinking, there is a vocal minority that make becoming a healthy Sang a damned if you do and damned if you don’t proposition.

The Problem:

The most difficult part of being a blood drinker is that there is no politically correct way to get the blood we require to feed. We require blood. It’s dangerous to take it from donors (disease, accidents) and it’s cruel to use animals… We’re threatened with criminal charges, we’re attacked for our feeding methods on all sides. We’re told by some that we should “evolve” to feed on methods that do not suit our nature, we are expected to live up to the expectations of those who do not need blood and when we can’t magickally conjure it out of thin air we’re damned for incidents of rage, dramatics and expected to behave like normal people, no matter the results of our inability to feed, especially if that inability to feed creates media worthy incidents that draw negative attention to the Vampire Community.

It’s difficult to feed in a way that is considered safe and politically correct, and yet that very necessity is the answer to minimizing negative incidents in and around the community. An unfed Sanguinarian is an unstable Sanguinarian. If there was a way to insure that everyone who needed blood could safely get enough the number of incidents would decline dramatically. Desperate Vamps find desperate solutions, or they act out in rage. Non Sangs seldom understand that starving Sangs are not that different from any starving creature. We get sick and we get cranky and we get desperate. Think of the difference it would make to our public image if there were no headlines regarding slips of the knife, forced feedings, animal cruelty by beginners learning to kill animals for blood. Think of the difference if every Sang knew how and where to get blood and how much they required.

Sadly there is far too much stigma attached to blood feeding in the VCs present state of evolution. There are few places where this kind of information can be passed on publicly or in a way that would reach everyone who needs it. There is far too much condemnation from our own community when it is here that Sangs should find the most help and support. The topic of blood drinking is unwelcome on most boards and groups and certainly not welcome in any positive way in news groups and other semi-public Facebook groups, which have become the primary means of communication within the VC at this time, if they were ever welcome at all. Want proof? Try bringing up killing animals for blood on any group and see the results. How do we pass on information and techniques without talking about it publicly? How do we catch young Sangs before they learn bad habits or make horrible mistakes that lead to incidents that might make the news? As the community stands right now, it’s almost impossible.

The Solutions:

I’m one of the leaders with the opinion that we Sangs need our own community and should drop the name “Vampire” and just leave the rest of the community behind. While I believe the greater community WANTS to help, it’s clear that many have no desire to support or help Sangs, and even those who do realize there is a liability involved. We are not politically correct enough.

While I believe there are ways Sangs and other sectors in the community complement each other, it becomes more and more clear that we need our own communities where we can insure our kind are being fed and are healthy. The community in general doesn’t seem to see its better for the public image of the VC when blood drinkers are properly educated. Fewer media worthy incidents are a GOOD thing. Of course.. It’s not as easy as it sounds to separate ourselves from the community we presently inhabit and have taken part of for years.

The problem lies, in this case, in the fact that other Vamp communities feel threatened when Sangs talk about leaving the community all together. I’m sure almost everyone is aware of the Psi / Sang wars back in the 90s. Psi’s demanded the right to part of the Vampire Community, which originally only encompassed Sangs and our donors.
(We’ve been trying to get rid of them ever since – I jest, of course, sort of -don’t get your knickers in a twist, we all know I have a back handed sense of humour)

I have a lot of Psi friends, and I do believe there are places where it benefits us to have joint projects, my own message board is open to Psi’s, Sangs and most of the Otherkin communities, but we are NOT the same, and for some reason the idea of Sangs going off on their own again panics the community. I can understand why Hybrids would find it threatening, though.

When I owned the board S&M DARK, a more “adult” version of Smoke and Mirrors I had separate forums for Psi and Sangs, and as an experiment, made people choose which one they would be in, they could NOT be in both. It was very difficult to watch hybrids try to decide where they belonged, and not an experiment I’d want to do on a community wide basis. That said, there needs to be a better system than we have at present.

The sad thing is: It should not be NECESSARY to separate the Sang and Psi communities at all. We do have much in common.. but as long as the communities are joined at the hip, it will be impossible to get MOST Sangs feeding the way they need to for optimum health, and “incidents” are going to continue happening as long as we have unfed Sangs running around. We will continue to have unfed Sangs running around as long as other parts of the community continue pressure to make the community politically correct. We can’t have it both ways. If Sang feeding continues to be demonized the attached stigma will continue to prevent us from creating a truly healthy Sang community. The lack of a healthy Sang community is what demonizes Sang feeding in the first place. It’s an endless cycle

The first step to a healthy Sang community is breaking the cycle and teaching EVERY Sang that it’s OK to feed, and that there are healthy, even legal ways to do that.

I realize this opinion piece will likely create a lot of discussion, and I hope it does. I’m known for shooting straight from the hip and I think I’ve done that here, though I probably should have followed advice from Anthony Hogg when we were discussing the topic:
…framed as a dietary thing, it would be much more…palatable, heh heh

Stay Well.
Stay Fed.
Lady CG 2014

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I would suggest that we are not simply looking at a “separatist” issue; we are not looking at some attempt to establish an “elite” class that hold themselves over and above others… no, what we are reading here is a representation of the RIGHTS of every person of a sub-cultural group to follow their own path, believe in their own beliefs and the basic HUMAN right to be left in peace to explore their own identity and group consciousness without fear of malice, vilification or interference. As long as the group does so WITHOUT harm to any other then this is, and must be, as hundreds of commentators have pointed out before, a basic right to be respected and an assured right for EVERYONE.

Perhaps now is the time that the wider sub-culture extends those basic rights to the Sanguinarian community.

 

Guest article: “Sang vs Psi: Making a Case for Separation” copyright Lady CG 2014
Reproduced by RVL with full permission.

Introduction and closure, copyright RVL 2014

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