Welcome to 2018, it’s a great pleasure to be back, all “holidays” survived etc.
In opening our account this year, dear reader, we would like to introduce you to some new friends of ours.
House Sauromatos is in Germany, and while it may be considered, by many observers, to be a young House its tenets and its honourable pedigree can’t be questioned. From its activities to its philosophies it represents, in great fashion, the ideas and concepts that are core and foundation of Vampyric thinking.
We were contacted last year, via the RVL Facebook page, by the Owner and Head of the house, Mikhail Sauromatos and from that initial contact we were determined to conduct an interview editorial with this most personable and unassuming Vampyre.
Without further ado we have great pleasure in presenting a Vampyres beyond borders special with Mikhail Sauromatos…
RVL: Good evening Mikhail it is an honour and genuine privilege to have you spare us a little of your time today, we hope all is well with you?
MS: I am very pleased to have the opportunity to reach out to your readers, especially those abroad, and I am honoured to see our name amongst those of other esteemed vampyric organizations featured in your past editorials.
RVL: Firstly, since this is our “first contact”, so to speak, would you share with us a little of the history of House Sauromatos, how and when it came into being?
MS: Certainly. House Sauromatos is just now slowly beginning to reach out internationally. We first came together as a vampyric household more than two years ago, under the blood moon of September 2015. Before, we were a blood-circle, a loose gathering of vampyric individuals connected by the shared lineage of my own mentorship. Since we took on the name of Sauromatos to establish the groundwork for a traditional vampyric household we continuously expanded upon and refined our teachings and organizational structure, to the point where we are actively lending support to likeminded individuals who seek to found, establish or re-establish themselves as traditional houses, covens and other organic forms of vampyric self-organization. In those, we see some of the most fascinating elements of vampire culture directly embodied.
You see, this wonderful facet of real vampyre culture has declined in the wider German-speaking vampyre community despite an ongoing interest in everything connected to traditional vampyric structures. Covens and houses retreated, became increasingly insular and underground and therefore with time became myths for wide circles of our communities. With ghost stories of dangerous cabals overshadowing living history, the very concept can make some people distrustful. What House Sauromatos is striving for is very much founded in the spirit of a cultural reinvigoration or a renaissance, so to speak, to rebuild trust in traditional vampyric structures.
RVL: What is your personal vision for the House, in the longer term?
MS: To lead by example. It is a motto we instill in our affiliated members who serve as mentors. House Sauromatos seeks to inspire our local communities to celebrate their vampyric heritage, the soulful and noble aspects of real vampyre culture which we believe will contribute to the long term attractiveness of vampyre culture and therefore, ultimately, its survival. For the good of vampyric society I envision a pluralistic landscape of many diverse and strong vampyric organizations maintaining healthy lines of communication. I hope that through our lived example we are in some degree able to contribute to that vision.
RVL: We know that there is a strong presence, in your country, of real modern Vampires, can you give us some idea of how widespread the population is there?
MS: From what we can observe the German vampire community may very well be the most active in the world, thanks to a sizable presence of the gothic subculture with big events like the WGT in Leipzig each year and many venues across the regions, that by most standards would be considered havens for the vampire community. In most of the larger German cities there will be several vampyric individuals and black swans that are actively engaged in vampyre society.
RVL: …and all-in-all, how many real living Vampires would you estimate there are in Germany, or the German speaking regions?
MS: According to the founder and owner of the largest and most active German-speaking online vampyre community, Ines Benecke, based on online interactions alone we can estimate there are around 2000 real vampyres in Germany with a higher dark figure of vampyric individuals with no online history being far from improbable.
RVL: We know, from previous discourse, that your House is a Sanguinarian haven, is that the most predominant type of real Vampire where you are? And, if so, why do you think this is?
MS: It is true that there is a strong overall focus on sanguinarian approaches to vampyrism in the German-speaking community to the point where ‘Vampyr’, as a term and identifier, is primarily associated with a blood drinker. The dichotomy of psi and sang-vampires is not as pronounced in Germany. Most vampyres would probably consider themselves as ‘hybrids’ if that term would be in popular use, which is not the case for the most part. Generally vampyres here do not make strict distinctions based on how they feed. We are all vampyres… and the majority of vampyres here are practical blood drinkers first and foremost, whether they rationalize the object of their craving to be a subtle life-force best accessed via sanguinary praxis, or whether their hunger for blood is beyond such rationalizations. Pure energy-feeders, which do not engage in some sort of sanguinary praxis, are certainly a much rarer sight in established German vampyre society.
This fact is reflected in the very makeup of our communities. Established vampyre society is shaped by the needs and interests of its members, which are primarily sanguinarian-oriented in our case. For this reason there is a strong emphasis in German communities on providing the necessary resources and infrastructure to enable vampyric individuals to safely engage in sanguinary praxis. Naturally, our wellbeing as blood feeders directly depends on the wellbeing of our communities. This degree of direct involvement has allowed sanguinarian-oriented communities to prosper. We observe that communities built by sanguinarian-oriented vampyres on a strong sanguinarian foundation tend to be more active, stable and long lived to the benefit of the whole of vampyre society. House Sauromatos knows this predominance of sanguinarian interests when it comes to shaping vampyric society as the ‘Primacy of Blood’ and it is one of our core tenets to preserve this status quo.
As far as we are aware this is a rather unique trait of vampyre culture in German-speaking countries. So as for the reason why there seems to exist a predominance of sanguinarian vampyres, the answer would most-likely be that it is a self-perpetuating subcultural trait ingrained in the structures and values of German vampyre society.
RVL: How do you find dealings with Vampire groups and Havens in other countries to be, easy or difficult?
MS: For what humble experience we may have in that regard, we have generally made only positive experiences with fellow vampyres from abroad. It really is fascinating how little negative impact (sub-)cultural differences or language barriers have on genuine understanding stemming from a common experience of the vampyric nature.
RVL: …and on that note, do you find a great difference in ethic and aesthetic from that which you are used to?
MS: Of course. I find these differences to be very refreshing and stimulating, actually. Especially aesthetics-wise there seem to be great differences. For example, to us somber Central-Europeans vampyrism in the Americas always seems to be a tad louder in general, more flamboyant maybe. That’s naturally a very easy generalization, but there seems to be some truth in it, don’t you think?
RVL: From your point of view, what are the best and worst things about being an “information age” modern Vampire? Do you think social media is a benefit or a curse?
MS: I personally struggle a little with social media to say the least. I mainly got to know the vampyric community via active forum-based online communities. Those times sadly seem to become a thing of the past. Forum activity is dwindling even here in German-speaking communities. I empathize with those vampyres who are feeling a little lost, but then again I see how forms of social media have already been adapted in new and exciting ways by many vampyric individuals. It is my hope that the coming vampyric generations will use new technologies to the benefit of our heritage. There is still room for optimism. Many barriers have been broken down and communication especially on an international level seems to have gotten easier. I’m very interested in seeing a truly global vampyric community taking shape through improving international channels.
RVL: Does House Sauromatos take in international members even though they may not be able to physically attend events and gatherings?
MS: We greatly value Vis-à-vis meetings and experiences and thus require affiliated members to attend our gatherings at the very least once a year. As far as membership is concerned, numbers have never been our aim. House Sauromatos requires each potential member to join to have the approval of every active member of the household. Our core policies don’t lend themselves well to rapid expansion. Instead, we are rather locally oriented as a group: very selective, very protective, very focused. We aim for internal cohesion, strength and unity to better serve the vampyre community.
Association with the household from outside mainly happens through our protectorates, groups sharing a similar ethos or vision connected to the household in a manner akin to the relationship between mentor and protégé reflecting the principle of filiation at the heart of our household. Protectorates can be the personal covens or projects of our affiliated members, which may or may not have affiliated members of the household in their ranks, or they can be fully independent entities that are just being actively supported by House Sauromatos. The protectorate system was chosen to further our long-term goal of a cultural renaissance. In accordance with our vision to reinvigorate the German-speaking vamypre community towards a more diverse landscape of vampyric organizations, we have extended an open invitation to all interested parties in our local communities to lend the support of House Sauromatos to anyone wishing to revive or establish vampyric households, covens or similar forms of vampyric self-organization. Groups supported this way may choose become protectorates of the house given a similar ethos and successful cooperation.
This practice is mainly confined within the German-speaking vampyric community, but we are certainly open to use this model internationally. Indeed, there have already been talks on the possibility of expatriate members of our circles setting themselves up abroad. Through these groups, especially those who choose to be counted as a protectorate of the house, it will be possible to take part in the greater affairs of House Sauromatos and fully benefit from our network even if full affiliation will be impossible due to location.
RVL: Prior to the establishment of House Sauromatos, were you active in the off or online scene there?
MS: I have had an active role in the community for about 5 years now, both on- and offline as that goes pretty much hand in hand in our parts. After I found the right circles I quickly and very naturally took to mentoring, providing advice and guidance to vampyric individuals to the best of my abilities, which in turn refined my own understanding of vampirism.
The philosophical tenets of Orthodox Vampyrism, which would later form the basis of House Sauromatos, were first conceptualized by me around that time as a result of my experience as mentor. Before all of this, I was just a seeker among many coming to terms with my own vampyrism and looking back on more than a few detours in youthful “occult” dabbling. My personal awakening, which like many I had to face alone, was an especially harrowing time. I vividly remember aimlessly wandering across snow-bedecked fields, alone but for the company of crows, desperately thirsting for answers. But answers came, eventually. It has been a steady rise since those days, of that there is little doubt.
RVL: …and, if I may, crystal ball time…Where do you see House Sauromatos in say, two years from now?
MS: I’d like House Sauromatos to be a firmly established presence in our communities. I’d like to see us gaining more friends and making less enemies.
RVL: …and is it a goal of your house to unite other Houses and Havens in your region, or is that something that already exists?
MS: What we can realistically hope to accomplish is to bring other Houses and vampyric organizations, both longstanding and newer ones, closer together via improving lines of communication and diplomacy. The infrastructure is certainly already there as the German-speaking community possesses a unique treasure in our oldest, largest and most active online community, a central nexus for vampyres, black swans and nightkind in general, with more than 15 years’ worth of experience.
RVL: Tell me, Sir, when you’re not presiding over The House, what does Lord Mikhail Sauromatos do for fun…To chill out?
MS: This is the most difficult question to answer so far…
I suppose what grounds me most is to spend time being alone, in soulful peace. I lock myself into my studio and paint whenever I get the chance. I am an artist by trade and a mystic by nature. There is something about the process of creating something which allows for stepping outside of yourself and letting subtle forces guide you. While the art-trade itself and I have a difficult relationship at times, getting lost in the process of creation and emerging from this netherworld with the result of your work is still something that brings a very profound joy to my soul.
RVL: We’ve spoken of practical things, such as aims and goals but can you tell us, what is the guiding philosophy behind House Sauromatos and the other local entities there?
MS: A guiding philosophy… For House Sauromatos this is Orthodox Vampyrism, which is a term we coined for our own ethos, a set of positions and values build on one another concerning vampirism that we adhere to and pass on, often aurally. I will try to briefly summarize it for the reader.
Orthodox Vamyprism is essentially practice oriented, with a clear focus on sanguinary praxis as a solid basis for vampyric identity. We concern ourselves with the vampyre as a human blood drinker first and foremost. There is a reason we refer to us as vampyres, but regardless of our tradition and bloodline, we are humans living amongst humans. We are not essentially better or worse than our neighbors. If one is to ask you what sets you apart from them, you should answer that it is your practice of vampirism and your subcultural identity, as these things are tangible and beyond doubt.
Blood and its mysteries are at the center of Orthodox Vampyrism. We, as vampyres, seek to find ourselves in the ‘Mysterium of Blood’ as we call it. We believe that only through blood, through sanguinary praxis, we truly get the answers pertaining to our vampyric natures. We can only really trust in blood and in our own experiences as vampyres. Each vampyric individual has to find their own answers as to the reasons why they are vampyric or what the nature or the essence of vampyrism is. Orthodox Vampyrism does not provide those answers.
From direct experience of blood’s mysteries flows a certain reverence: to blood, to blood-givers, and to a vampyric society that enables us to safely engage in sanguinary praxis. On this basis we teach what we know as ‘Practical Ethics’. Blood must not be wasted for it is holy to us. The blood we sustain us with as vampyres is a gift to us by our donors or blood-givers who are to be treated accordingly. Orthodox praxis requires all partaking parties to be able to fully consent. For this reason feeding in public and feeding on animal blood is considered to be outside of orthodox praxis while feeding of minors is considered a clear violation against orthodox praxis.
Further, we believe in the ‘Primacy of Blood’, a term used to describe the predominance of sanguinarian interests in our communities as a status quo benefitting the whole of vampyre society and thus in our eyes worthy to be preserved. We maintain that sanguinarian vampyres are most directly affected by the state of vamypre society. Sanguinarian wellbeing is directly tied to the wellbeing of their community. Sanguinarian vampyres are called to shape and to preserve their communities according to principles such as stability and safety because of their more direct involvement. To remember and hold true to this honorable charge is an obligation for those adhering to the tenets of Orthodox Vampyrism.
Lastly, Orthodox Vampyrism puts great emphasis on the respect for vampyric culture, for our traditions and our subcultural heritage. We are part of a beautiful and authentic global vampyre culture visibly connected through shared forms, shared terms, shared language. There is immense strength in that. We do not think it wise to shed some forms because they seem unnecessary or foolish to others. We proudly refer to us as vamypres. We do this is because ‘the mantle of the vampire’ is part of our culture, our history, which at the very least we respect, if nothing else. The same respect is also to be extended to other approaches to vampirism, other vampyric groups, organizations and their representatives, as autonomous parts of a greater whole, all united under ‘the mantle of the vampire’.
It is important to keep in mind that the above is not necessarily representative of the wider German-speaking community, even if the positions House Sauromatos maintains through Orthodox Vampyrism resonate with quite a lot of the local vampyre population.
RVL: Does House Sauromatos have a web site, or sites, where our readers can catch up with what’s happening? And do you have a staff that works with you in maintaining these resources?
MS: Our online presence is rather small and for the most part I am personally responsible for any outer representation of the house. We do have a website, featuring our core texts in German language, which requires a simple password to access that is only given out to members of the real vampyre community or serious seekers. Such playful eccentricities have been a feature of our household from the very start and are unlikely to change I’m afraid.
We are accessible though and are experimenting with various outlets on various platforms with various success.
Our Facebook-page is a very convenient way to contact us, while our Tumblr-blog fulfills a support role, where I answer various questions relevant to our household in particular or real vampirism in general. For learning more about House Sauromatos as a non-German-speaker, this would be the place to start.
RVL: …and have you anything that you would like to add that we haven’t covered in the interview? Any pearls of wisdom for our readers?
MS: I don’t know about pearls of wisdom but perhaps a few words of caution wouldn’t hurt if your readers would indulge me a bit longer…
There is a topic we at House Sauromatos like to remind ourselves of when our philosophical covens gather. That ultimately all our noble dreams and aspirations come down to one single thing: survival.
If we want see our vampyric culture and heritage prosper in the future, we need to actively secure our continued survival against the lure of complacency. We cannot afford to stay inactive and let stagnation run its course. We need to preserve the potential for creativity, for serious self-discovery and profound self-expression through the vampyric mysteries which will continue to fascinate and draw seekers towards us. Taking in and trusting new people is as much a part of this as staying true to lived and authentic forms of vampyrism and not getting completely lost in the many distractions of vampyre society and politics.
RVL: Mikhail, it has been a distinct pleasure being able to catch up with you, many thanks for taking the time out to answer our questions. We are honoured that you permitted us to work with you and we look forward to keeping in touch and doing so again in the future.
MS: Likewise. I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s been an honour.
As I said, an unassuming man whom, nevertheless, shows us his deep passion for the modern culture, a deep confidence that it can move forward and grow to become something greater.
Experiencing this confidence, and his knowledge, in chatting with him is infectious and shows that there are people all over the world; in our modern culture, who are unaffected by the negatives and whom are working, in their own Houses and groups, to build a better and stronger culture for the years to come.
Copyright RVL & M. Sauromatos/House Sauromatos, 2018
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