The Vampire is Not Always Right

There’s a little website I’ve been following ever since my days in retail: Not Always Right.com. It’s full of stories about customers who were wrong, and couldn’t understand why. As the years went on, they expanded to complaints about idiot co/workers (Not Always Working), students/teachers (Not Always Learning), romantic partners (Not Always Romantic), family members (Not Always Related), friends (Not Always Friendly), healthcare (Not Always Healthy), legal (Not Always Legal), and uplifting stories of hope (Not Always Hopeless). They honestly need to add a “Not Always Vampiric” section.

A common adage in the world is “Just because you have an opinion, it doesn’t make you right”, but people sadly keep forgetting this. Just look at political debates on your Facebook and Twitter timelines. Every person in those arguments has an opinion. Are they all right? They think so. Doesn’t mean they are, though. There’s a political cartoon that has been floating around, which people interpret as “Both sides are correct in their thinking”, the true meaning going over people’s heads until an edited form started in circulation. As it states in the edited form, only one of those people is correct. You have to look at other factors to determine who is in the right: Landmarks, other numbers on the ground nearby of the same style, etc. Same goes for views in the Global Vampire Community. NGwd99W

Vampirism, if we look at it from a medical standpoint, would be classified as a “Spectrum Disorder”, much like Autism is, where there are similarities amongst the people with the condition, but significant differences from person to person. Another spectrum it could be compared to is the political spectrum from Conservative to Liberal. So, let’s take a closer look at it in that viewpoint. We’ll put Sanguinarians on one end, Psychics on the other end, and Hybrids in the middle. Vampiricspectrum1

Now, Suzy Q is a pure psi vamp, has never tried blood, or has and it made her vilely ill, but she feeds on her environment primarily, so she’ll be Aaaaaalll the way over here. Vampiricspectrum2

Johnny is a Med-Sang (a Sanguinarian vampire who believes that their condition is purely physiological, and not metaphysical in any way, shape, or form). He’ll go to the extreme other end of the scale, like so. Vampiricspectrum3

Now, Mary is a hybrid, who leans sang heavy, just barely using psi energy, often subconsciously. She’ll be in the middle, but closer to Johnny than to Suzy. Vampiricspectrum4

Thomas is also a hybrid, but he only takes blood when he has a very strong craving, say, once every few of months, if not longer. He’ll be closer to Suzy in the middle area. Vampiricspectrum5

Matt is a hybrid, but he needs everything in fairly equal amounts. He is what some would call a “pure hybrid”. He’ll be smack dab in the middle. Vampiricspectrum6

Now, you might be asking “But, Pixie, what about the two other arrows close to the extreme?” Lemme give an option for them. The arrow close to Johnny is not a hybrid, but a sang. But Harry the Sang thinks that his vampirism isn’t purely physiological, but also maybe something metaphysical. Perhaps he thinks that something with his soul caused his vampirism, who knows. He might have tried to feed energetically and it did nothing for him or made him feel worse. Let’s put him on our chart. Vampiricspectrum7

Now, the last psi arrow. Well, let’s say that Suzy gets her energy from her environment like elemental vampires, not necessarily from people. But, on the other hand, Kay can’t do that, they need a human donor for their psychic energy feedings. She is still a true psi, blood makes her sick or does nothing for her like Suzy, but she can’t feed off of say, a thunderstorm or a tree. Vampiricspectrum8

So, now we have our little group of vampiric friends. They are all vampires, so, by some people’s opinions, what works for one should work for the others, right? Wrong. Kay can’t feed like Suzy can, even though they are both considered to be Psi’s. Thomas, Matt, and Mary are more similar, but also different in subtle ways. And what works for Johnny and Harry wouldn’t entirely work for Thomas, since he rarely needs to ingest blood to stay healthy. Even Johnny and Harry have their differences in how they handle their feeding. Johnny goes very methodological, documenting what he ate, how often he feeds and at what volume, any other medical conditions that might plague him, etc., whereas Harry might go at it with a more spiritual approach. Yes, he might feed as often and the same volume as Johnny, but he doesn’t think his vampirism is something that a medical or genetic test can find.

A problem that we have is people thinking that all vampires are vampires, and that’s pure fallacy. It’s more like the dog analogy: All collies are dogs, but not all dogs are collies. All Sangs are vampires, but not all vampires are Sangs. And even further than that, not all Sangs are Med-Sangs, and not all Psi’s are Elemental Psi’s. There are extremes on both ends of the vampirism spectrum, and learning to look outside of your own little box, where you’ve neatly explained to yourself what your vampirism is and why we might have a more cohesive community. No one caring what kind of vampire you are, and when told “Hey, that doesn’t work for me, I’ve tried it”, you back off and take it in.

The same goes for vampiric politics. Some people are Ronin, the vampiric equivalent to the Pagan Solitary Witch. They alone determine their vampirism, not where they fit into the community. Some need to be in a group for support but say a smaller one, consisting of family and close friends. Others need to be in a bigger group, like a House or Court, with varying ranges of castes, ranks, or positions.

Same rule applies here: What works for you won’t work for everyone else. You can evangelize the wonders of your path from here to Timbuktu, doesn’t mean that your path would work for me, or for the guy sitting next to me.

There is a difference between giving advice and preaching. There’s a difference between taking constructive criticism and learning from it and jumping into defensive mode whenever someone says a negative opinion about your beliefs. The better person works on learning said differences and focuses on giving advice and taking constructive criticism and not preaching or lashing out when someone disagrees with us. Not only are you stunting your growth as a person if you lash out at people who disagree with you, but you’re stunting the growth of new members of the community, making them afraid to come forward with their questions, opinions, and ideas so they stop learning, hiding in their little corner away from the Negative Nelly’s.

“But, Pixie!” you cry. “Why should I back off if someone says something doesn’t work for them? They must be doing something wrong or they need more practice, obviously. I’ve been a vampire for umpteen number of years, so, therefore, know more than noobs!” Wrong. You know more about your form of vampirism and your section of the community than most. You don’t know much more about any other kind of vampirism than Joe Blow down the street who just watches vampire movies for the scare factor. Until you are able to walk in their shoes, feel their needs, suffer from the negative side effects of their specific kind of vampirism, you honestly don’t know jack squat, and this is the point where you’re to go “Oh, okay then.” and back off. Phrases like “This works for me, but your mileage may vary” are better than “This works for me, so it should definitely work for you.” The latter phrase implying “If it doesn’t work for you, are you sure you’re a vampire?”, which can have significant negative effects on the new members of the community, and the community as a whole.

If you’re a member of the Global Vampiric Community, you need to realize that just because you’re a vampire, that doesn’t make you always right.

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Story Time: My Path Through the Vampiric Community

About a decade ago, I wrote an essay that I jokingly titled “What I did over my summer vacation AKA How I became a donor”. Things have changed drastically in the community since I wrote that, let alone since I first found the community roughly 20 years ago. Heck, I’m on the third computer since that essay and my 5th hard drive. I might have the essay somewhere on a hard drive that isn’t dead. There’s likely a version floating around the internet somewhere, but it’s really out of date, so, this is a take on that, but more updated to fit today’s community and how we interact now.

I’ve sat on a precarious perch, one foot in the vampiric community, one foot out. I am not a vampire, though I have family, friends, and loved ones who are. I am not a “normal human”, “mundane”, “vanilla”, “nil”, or whatever colorful term people use these days to describe those who are not other. I’m otherkin (fae class, to be precise) so I can empathize, to a point, what vampires go through, feeling different in society. The road that I took for me to accept that part of me was rocky, to say the least. I can’t even imagine how much harder it is/was for vampiric people. So, as the kids these days say, story time.

I became actively aware that the vampire community was a thing when I was a young teen (around the age of 14, when I was able to access the internet without parental supervision), and it kept figuratively hitting me upside the head until I became an active member. I can honestly say, save for family, at first, I thought it was (pardon my language) a crock of shit. It was the late 90’s, Vampire: The Masquerade was not only a popular role-playing game but a show on television. All the kids in my circle of friends were into role-playing games, and V:tM was the newest cool thing. My character was a Toreador (almost always, if I have the choice, I’ll lean bard with the occasional dabble in Ranger/Cleric classes). I wanted to flesh out my character a bit, but since my father wouldn’t buy me the player manual I got on the internet, back BG, “Before Google”, and innocently searched for vampires. One of the first pages to come up was Sanguinarius’s site: http://www.sanguinarius.org. Honestly? At first, I thought it was, pardon my language, a crock of shit. “Someone’s going way too far down the rabbit hole” kind of thoughts. I refined my search, got the information I needed to fill out my character sheet and bio, and went on my merry way. Then I needed to look up some information about paganism. For some odd reason, up again came Sangi’s site. An online pagan radio station (we would call it a podcast these days since it was prerecorded, and you downloaded the mp3 to listen on your computer at your leisure) mentioned her site in the show. A website I wrote silly stories on had an article about vampirism that sourced her site. It was like the universe was trying to hit me upside the head with “Oi! Vampires! They’re important to you!”

My brother came out to me as being a psychic vampire during that time period. I eventually figured out that I was otherkin. The pieces all started to fall into place. I became a donor for my brother and a friend, another psychic vampire. We experimented with energy work. The fun thing we used to do to practice was energy ball hacky sack. (Like I said, it was the late 90’s. Hacky sacks were popular.) We did what we could to survive high school, and moved on to adulthood as we gradually graduated, myself being the youngest of the bunch. After graduation, my brother and I founded a House for our friends to find shelter and share ideas, help each other, what have you. It’s what a House does. By this point, my brother had joined the military, and through an internet chatroom, we found others like us scattered across the world (mostly also in the military, but some of us weren’t). This led me back to scrolling through the internet, looking for resources for our House and educating myself further, bringing me back full circle to Sangi and her website. A few years later, forums were super popular, so I joined hers.

If you haven’t looked at her forum through the years, hers was divided up into groups, like all were. There was the introduction area, the news area the silly area, then she and her moderators divided up the different members by what they were in the community. Sang, psy, donors, we all had segments. One public (everyone from the different groups could see the posts there), and one private (members of that classification and moderators only could see). I eventually graduated up to being a moderator there, myself. Thanks to those privileges, I could see a little deeper into the minds of vampires, since I could see into the private areas. This both fascinated and horrified me. I wasn’t a vampire. Part of me wished that they (the vampires) could feel comfortable to post these thoughts in the public area, but the other part of me was like “I’m not one of them, I shouldn’t be seeing this. The other mods aren’t like me, so should they be seeing our private area?” This spurred me to create my own website and forum (now defunct, though I still own the URL), and Sangi, who by then was my dear friend, christened it her sister site and forum, the donor version of her vampire site.

This had it’s own ups and downs. Some people in the community loved the idea. A safe place for donors to discuss things about being a donor, without the prying eyes of non-donors, it was new. And, yes, we had a segment for the vampires, and they had their private subforums. But the thing that stuck in people’s proverbial craws was that there were no vampire moderators or administrators. All four of us original founders and therefore mods and admins were donors. Not vampiric in any way (other than my energy signature can confuse people at times). They had this idea that my website, my forum (my name is the one on the bills), was a vampire site and therefore a vampire should be in charge. The fact that we refused more than annoyed people. Thankfully, we had people who cheered us on.

Eventually, through my work at Sangi’s and my own forums, plus some other locations, I was nominated and accepted as a member of the Voices of the Vampiric Community aka VVC. Since then, I’ve spoken at the New Orleans Vampire Association (NOVA)’s Cirque Du Nuit and at the House Kheperu Gather about being a donor and our side of the vampiric equation. I’ve had the list of vampires that I donate to change, some of whom are no longer a part of my life, though I wish them well. I’ve had a fairly lucky life when it comes to being a member of this great community. It’s had its fair share of ups and downs. I’ve had death threats, I’ve had stalkers, I’ve had my inbox inundated with “Can you find me the Edward to my Bella?” and “How do you become a vampire?”. I’ve also had “You helped me realize who I am, thank you,” and “Thank you for the inspiration, I want to change our community for the better like you did”. You have to take the bad with the good, but, as the Doctor said, “The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”

People will always find things to harp on, poke at, until someone turns into a grumpy bear and roars. Not everyone operates in the community in the same way, and that’s okay. As long as no one is coming to harm in any way through what is done, my thoughts are “Whatever floats your boat.” I’m not saying I’m perfect, that I don’t have a temper, or that I don’t have opinions that cross others opinions, but I try my best, and that’s honestly all that we can expect from one another. A common thing said is that trying to get the vampiric community to agree on anything is like herding cats. For example, we, as a community, have never fully glommed onto the idea of using the term vampire. There are segments of the community who would say that those like me, non-vampiric people, shouldn’t have access to any part of it. Obviously, I don’t agree with that, but I’ll just tell people why. We all, vampires, otherkin, donors, “none of the above” but are pulled into the community through ties to any of the former… We are a community, for better or for worse. In the past 20 odd years that I’ve known that this was a thing, I’ve seen it grow, change, evolve… From ads and articles in goth ‘zines, to flashy blinky sites with a scrolling marquee, to forums, to Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. I remember the “kindervamps” (what Sangi used to call the under 21 crowd in the community) being all obsessed with the Twilight franchise, Vampire Freaks, and having “raccoon tails” dyed into their emo styled hair. I remember fights with my brother over the color scheme for our first House website because he might have better fashion sense when it comes to clothes, his color sense when it comes to web design is horrific. AIM chats with friends in the community over the latest news/gossip have now evolved into DM’s on Twitter or Facebook messenger.

The one thing about us as a community is that we are adaptable. We tend to go with the flow, no matter what new thing is thrown at us. Some groups are reverting back to how it was before the internet and social media became what they are, and going back to being a purely offline thing, with meetings and social gatherings. Some groups still use the feudal system of governance: Kings, Queens, Regents, etc., and that works for them. Other groups are more of a democracy, with elected officers that change on a set basis, and that works for them. Some have never associated with an organized group and never will. Cool.

That’s not to say that we are perfect. We are a highly defensive group of people. If someone says something that goes against our personal worldview, quite often our first response is lash out and think that whatever was said is a personal attack against us. It’s always been like that, unfortunately, and we’ve never, as a whole, learned how to get past this flaw. In the preface to this article, I said that its inspiration was written about a decade ago, so I posit this challenge for our community for the next decade: ease down your defenses and don’t be so quick to lash out at opinions that differ from yours. Again, I don’t think we’re perfect. We’ll have upsets and squabbles. But we, as a people, can focus on improving ourselves. I look forward to the next decade with my friends and family in this big crazy community.