Vampire Sunrise Vigil
Written by: Michelle Belanger
A number of people in the vampire subculture have requested me to write rituals based specifically on the vampire archetype. I've written Vampyre weddings for the Sanguinarium/OSV and rituals cementing the bond between a vampire and his or her donor as well as rites dedicating things like courts and havens. However, up until recently, I have never fully explored or integrated the complete archetype of the vampire as it exists not only in the community but also in film, fiction, and the popular imagination. But like all symbols, this archetype is rich in meaning and can serve as a potent focus for the consciousness of the participants. The following rite is one of my first attempts at writing a ritual that consciously utilizes the vampire archetype as a part of the meaning and power of the rite.
Perform this ritual when there is something in your life that you need to get over or leave behind, be it an attitude, a relationship, or a particular period of your life that needs to be over.
This ritual is best done alone. It is also best done outside. If you can find a remote spot with a good view of the east where you will be undisturbed for a few hours in the early morning, this would be ideal.
This ritual is symbollic of dying and letting go of things that are painful to you. It gets its symbolism from the traditional idea that a vampire will burst into flames when exposed to the sun; there have been numerous instances in fiction and in film where a vampire has “met the sun” and thus brought an end to his or her life. The idea is a powerful one of the flames of renewal, with a spin that makes it especially pertinent to those drawn to the vampire archetype.
All you need for this ritual is yourself, a small parchment which you will prepare ahead of time, a non-flammable bowl of sand (a large mixing bowl filled up half-way with playsand works well), and a lighter or book of matches (a lighter is much, much easier than matches). Please note that it you live in a dry climate that is prone to wildfires, please take every precaution necessary to insure that your use of fire out of doors does not get out of hand and endanger anyone. It goes without saying that any rite that uses fire requires you to handle that fire safely and responsibly to prevent injury to yourself and anyone else.
The parchment that you prepare ahead of time will contain a statement or list that detail what you are symbollically “dying” to. You may want to prepare this a few days ahead of the vigil itself and carry it on your person for a while, really charging it with the energy of those ideas, attitudes, feelings, and so forth that you are trying to let go.
Try to pick a clear, cloudless day for the ritual. Ideally, the place where you will be performing the rite will give you a clear view of the sun -- some place where, once the sun rises, you will be bathed in its light. If it is at all possible with your schedule, stay up the whole night before you perform this rite. You can spend the whole night at the location of the final part of the ritual, but this is not absolutely necessary.
When you are ready to perform the ritual, get up a few hours before dawn, while it's still dark enough to see the stars. Take a ritual bath or shower to cleanse yourself and get yourself into a spiritual frame of mind. Put on new, clean clothes. You can drink some water, but otherwise you should fast, not eating, drinking, or smoking a cigarette until after you've performed the rite. When you are ready, take your parchment, bowl, and lighter and head out to the location you've chosen.
Spend the next two hours or so keeping a vigil at the spot you've selected. Sit down in the grass and meditate on what you want to leave behind and why. Reflect upon all the reasons you are doing this and go over in your mind each little thing that led up to this point in your life. Consider the words you have inscribed upon the parchment and what they mean to you. Then think about what it will be like to release yourself from these things, to let the flames swallow all of it, until it is only ash, blowing away on the wind.
As you start to see things grow lighter in the east, it's not uncommon to experience a certain amount of anxiety or even fear. Any kind of letting go and leaving things behind is like a little death, and it's perfectly natural to be frightened of death, even if you've chosen to meet it on your own terms. The most frightening thing about letting go of something you've gotten used to is the fact that you're never sure what might come next: so the fear of death is really a fear of the unknown.
As you watch the dawn approaching, consider these anxieties and fears. Remind yourself that soon there will be no going back. Once the sun slips over the horizon, you will never be quite the same person again -- the old you will be consumed by the fire, and something different will emerge. Wrestle with the fear and dare yourself to continue sitting there, to face the sun and all that it represents. Dare yourself to face the prospect of letting go.
As the sun slips over the horizon, imagine that you are a vampire just like in the movies and the books. Imagine that the rays of the rising sun indeed can scorch your flesh, are scorching it even now. As you feel the sun fall on your face, your arms, your hands, feel it burning you to ashes -- burning away the person you were and leaving something else behind.
Once the sun has fully risen over the lip of the horizon, take out the parchment. Read off the words you have written then -- out loud so all of nature can hear these words, or silently, reflectively to yourself. Once you have read the words on the parchment, take out the lighter. Strike the flame and say:
I let these things go.
I let them go,
And they are ashes
Carried upon the wind.
Light one edge of the parchment. Hold it as the flames lick toward the center. Hold it as long as you can without getting burned. When only a tiny edge held in the tips of your fingers drop it into the bowl of sand. When the last ember has died, carefully pick up the charred parchment. Crush it in your hand and blow these away on the wind. With that final breath, expel everything and anything connected to what was written on the parchment that you have held inside you: all pain, all doubt, all attachment. Let all these things drift away on the wind with the ashes of who you were.
When you are done, face the risen sun. Feel its heat upon your flesh and know that it has burned away something you needed to let go anyway. Take a moment to reflect on this in silence, then gather up your things and return home.