Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vampires of the Church, Part II

In my previous piece of writing, I was looking over the vampires and the view of the Christian Church. Besides, the view of the vampires on this matter as a point of fancy, has been revolving in my mind since then. In other words, meanwhile we discuss whether or not to believe in them, what do vampires (or the ones who call themselves as vampires) believe in? When you surf on the web for vampire beliefs, many underground cults and orders cross your path. And most of them are fee charging role playing theme memberships, and the rest is often about spiritual vampirism. It’s also true that most of the vampire fans dont pay too much attention on these. Apparently, you dont have to believe in one of these religions or change your existing belief in order to be a vampire fan. As I was trying to find an expert who did research on these matters, I found Marcia Montenegro. Marcia is a pro astrologer, Christian spiritualist who has a school of her own. It seems to me that Marcia had chosen to become a spiritualist by passing through many different roads. She is known to have studied New age, occult and Eastern disciplines like Zen and Tibetian Buddhism and Hindu mythology. How fortunate we are that, as a person who standing in the crossroads of all these belief systems, she had written an article on vampires and their belief systems. Marcia, as a devoted Christian missioner, had also added some rightful personal comments to her article that she thought that they might “inspire” her readers which I ask for her pardon for my exclusion. I just wanted to share some of the interesting parts on our main plot discussed in her article with the Turkish vampire fans.

“There is a lot of history, myth, and folklore surrounding vampires, from the Bram Stoker novel Dracula and the 1922 silent film, “Nosferatu,” to the 1985 movie “Fright Night” and Anne Rice’s 1976 novel, Interview With A Vampire. What many are unaware of is that today there are those who consider themselves vampires, and there is a real vampire underground in this country and in Europe. But these vampires are not turning into bats. These present-day vampires are people who may not consider themselves totally human, believing that they were born a vampire, or that they became one through some kind of initiation involving blood-drinking and/or sex. The vampire persona may be also taken on as a form of personal expression, or to indicate feeling set apart from society. What is true is that this subculture is totally outside mainstream culture, and is more a rejection of that culture’s values than a rebellion against it.

The vampire subculture covers a range of beliefs and practices. Those involved may:
Limit their involvement to role-playing games and to fantasy
Gather at Goth or similar clubs on the weekends
Be attracted to and involved in erotic practices associated with some forms of vampirism
Be drawn to the occultic, dark side of vampirism
Believe they can gain special powers through blood-drinking
Be in a group or “clan” with others
Identify themselves as a vampire based on their own personal criteria
Since the movement is (sub)culture-driven and leaderless, there is no set of consistent beliefs; there is dispute as to what a vampire really is. The vampire is revered by various people as a romantic hero, as a rebel, as a master of dark powers, as a predator, as an outcast, or as an immortal. Some claim blood-drinking must be a part of it, while others assert that drinking blood is the province of vampire wannabes, and that the true vampire does not need blood but instead feeds off the psychic energy of others.

Many consider contemporary vampire subculture to be a subset of the Goth culture, a movement embracing the romanticism of darkness and the outcast persona, for the vampire sees himself as the outcast of an uncaring society as well as its reflection. Most Goths, it is important to note, are NOT in the vampire subculture. The Goth movement arose out of the punk subculture in the late 1970’s, mainly through music, and as a statement against what was seen as the oppressive, materialistic, and superficial values of mainstream society. Despite their dark fashion, Goths are usually gentle people with artistic and literary tastes. Sometimes their deliberate off-putting look is either a test to see who will accept them for who they really are, or is a way to continue an isolation they are used to. Violence is not a mark of this culture. As a social movement connected to Goth worldviews, the vampire subculture is believed to mirror the predatory nature of a society whose technology and corporate power have eroded intimacy and cast out those who do not submit to its dehumanization. In this sense, society’s dehumanization is mocked by the figure of the vampire, who himself is not considered human.

There is disagreement as to who is a vampire, since the culture attracts diverse types. As in the modern Neopagan movements, there is no authority to decide the standards or definitions. Additionally, many vampires and vampire groups are secretive and are difficult, if not impossible, to investigate. In this respect, it is not unlike Satanism, whose high degree of secrecy prevents a clear or consistent understanding of its practices and practitioners. Many believe that there are those who can extract or weaken the “psychic energy” of a person. Those who hold to this view believe that the person who does this is a vampire because he/she is draining another of their aura, vitality, or emotional, physical or psychological energy. There is no coherent or consistent ideology in this subculture. One may find vampires who practice or believe in agnosticism, sorcery, various occult beliefs, reincarnation, or a mixture of these. Most vampires reflect the same attitude as Goths, that everyone has a right to their own beliefs. Before you dialogue with a Goth or someone into a vampiric lifestyle, be sure that you are concerned for them as a person and respect them as such.

Marcia Montenegro, also names a few books on this matter in her article for the fans:
Katherine Ramsland, Piercing the Darkness: “Undercover with Vampires in America Today”
Jeff Guinn, “Something in the Blood”
Rosemary Guiley, “Vampires Among Us”