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.
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’.
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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