Vampirism and the Dark Side
Written by: Michelle Belanger
Most of us are aware that many Pagans and Wiccans consider vampirism to be something akin to black magick. This is to say nothing of the Christians who, if they accept our validity at all, seem to be under the impression that we must be demonic or Satanic in origin. I'm not going to try to defend our kind to the Christians. They've got their own problems, and until they sort those out, I don't think there's much of a chance of having a positive dialogue with them. But a lot of us in the vampire community are Pagan or Wiccan, or we work directly with people of those faiths. And so it's important for us to understand why they object to us, and why they are wrong in that objection. As mentioned previously, the main tenet of the Wiccan / Pagan faith is "An it harm none, do what thou wilt." Some groups will add "in word, thought, or deed" to the "An it harm none" part. The very act of feeding upon another person is immediately construed as causing harm.
If nothing physical is done to the "victim", then the harm is in the very thought, the act of directing one's magickal will toward the purpose of taking something vital away from another. This is seen as a selfish act, and as such falls into the realm of what the Wiccans consider black magick. A lot of what vampires do naturally, because it largely involves manipulating, influencing, or affecting others, can at the very least be considered grey, and grey is a very hazy area of magick and morality for the Wiccan and Pagan communities.
Now, it would be a fallacy for me to try and say that vampirism is not negative or dark. There is a very clear and present element of darkness in who we are and what we do. Most of us are attracted toward dark images and symbols; we resonate with dark gods and goddesses (if we resonate with deities at all); we all tend to wear dark clothing and we shun the bright, daylit hours. The mistake the Pagans and Wiccans make in their attitude toward vampirism is not in perceiving it as dark, but in perceiving the darkness as necessarily evil and destructive.
I think having an awareness of our "dark side" or shadow, or whatever you choose to call it, is one of the things which typifies us vampires. Many Pagans and Wiccans tend to embrace the light wholeheartedly, but they are very intimidated by the darkness. They tend to reject the darkness just as thoroughly as many Christians do. This ultimately overbalances the religion, making it blind to one full half of existence and experience. For good or for bad, there is darkness in all of us, and that darkness needs to be accepted and understood for a person to be whole.
Being a vampire, there is a certain amount of darkness which I cannot ignore. It is a part of me, something which I am reminded of on a constant basis. I feel a greater surge of power with the nightfall. This surge of power extends to the Wheel of the Year so that on holidays like Samhain and the Winter Solstice, both darkside holidays, my power is at its peak. Many of my strengths and abilities come from a potentially negative drive to feed upon the life force of those around me. I am attracted toward wearing dark clothing, not only because it looks nice on me, but darker colors tend to absorb more energy, and energy absorption is very in tune with who and what I am. There is just no denying it. Darkness is a part of us, and in many ways, it is what defines us as what we are.
Many of us are Pagans and Wiccans in addition to being vampires. For example, I'm a High Priestess in a rather large community and I also write for a number of Pagan and Wiccan magazines. But in light of the general Pagan and Wiccan attitudes, how can we balance our vampiric natures with a Pagan or Wiccan morality? What about the law of "An it Harm None"? How does that apply to one who's very nature is potentially harmful and who's very acts of survival are seen by many as a hostile attack?
I'll admit, I don't always explain to the Pagans and Wiccans whom I serve as Priestess what exactly I am. Many of them are not ready for that (also, I figure, if they can't tell -- since I hardly hide it from them on a spiritual level -- then they're being intentionally blind to it). But I don't see that as my fault -- it's a problem in them. I am comfortable with the balance that exists within all things. The cosmos is made up of pairs of dynamic opposites -- death / rebirth, darkness / light, positive / negative, male / female. If they are still too insecure about the darkness in themselves that they must reject the darkness in everything, then they are motivated by fear, not self-righteousness.
What I'm saying is that I see this acceptance of the darkness as a great strength of our community (and I certainly do perceive vampirism as a separate aspect of the modern magickal revival -- not quite Pagan, not quite Wiccan, but something else just as profound and valid). Because of our natures, we perceive and understand the necessary Balance in all things. We are part of that Balance, and sometimes we can feel it moving through us. More than anything else, it seems that our purpose in the metaphysical scheme of things is to present this Balance to the world and to help integrate other systems that are blindly one-sided.
How do we represent Balance, though? How do we make certain that darkness is given its due, just the same as the light? And - most important of all - how do we present to people that the darkness is not evil or negative but can be just as healing and positive as the light? This I think is something we need to strive to demonstrate through our actions and our teachings. By embodying the Balance within our Selves, within our daily lives, we will demonstrate its necessity and purpose to others. There is strength and power in the light, but that light would not exist without the contrast of the darkness. The two are part of a whole, and in order for us to be whole and therefore healthy, we must accept both and work with both to the best of our abilities.
Being a vampire is not just about feeding upon life. That is what we do, but not necessarily what we are. It is our place to represent darkness in a world blinded by light. We are about being different and accepting that difference as something that empowers us and makes us unique. We are about accepting the dark within ourselves and embracing that darkness to make us whole beings. We are about celebrating the thresholds: body and spirit, pleasure and pain, death and life.
Our lives should be lived as a message to the world about the beauty of accepting the whole self, of living without guilt and without shame, and celebrating the unique and beautiful essence of every single soul.