The Nature of Vampirism
Written by: Michelle Belanger
This article, another old stand-by of Michelle's that has been circumlated around the Internet and now appears in the collection Sacred Hunger: Vampires in Myth and Reality asks hard questions about the nature of vampirism and its place in the natural scheme of things.
Being a vampire in this day and age is not an easy thing. It is hardly the glamorous life it is made out to be in books or movies. It is often a great liability, creating unwanted hassles, hate and distrust from those around you. Among the many real vampires I have had contact with over the years, I have learned that a number of them would change their nature if they could. But vampirism is hardly a choice. It is something we carry within us, and whether latent or realized, it affects every aspect of our lives. We cannot be other than what we are.
Because vampirism is so poorly accepted and so misunderstood, most true vampires find themselves isolated, confused, and constantly tortured by self-doubt. It is so much easier for us to disregard our personal experiences as delusion and simply pass our nature off as a fetish rather than accept the truth of what we are. It is a joyous and almost frightening moment when we finally realize that we are not alone, and that the lifestyle we are driven to lead is both a natural and a legitimate one.
But what is a vampire exactly? There are a lot of blood fetishists out there who call themselves vampires, but in my experience vampirism goes beyond mere flesh and blood. Just drinking blood does not make you a vampire. If we were to define vampirism through blood-drinking alone, then we would exclude a whole portion of the community who feed off a far subtler manifestation of the life force.
Vampirism is an essentially spiritual hunger, a need to reach out to others and drink in their very life. Call it prana or chi or orgone energy, it’s still the same: it’s that subtle electric fire that courses through us beyond the flesh. Blood may touch it and carry a rich store of it throughout the body, but it is so much more than blood.
Although it is spiritual, vampirism is not necessarily supernatural. We do not claim to be undead beings like Dracula or Lestat. We don't possess super-human powers. Much of our natural abilities can be learned by others skilled in magickal work. Our hallmark talent is energy manipulation, and that’s being taught these days in weekend seminars for Reiki and Chi-Gong. What we are and what we can do only seems esoteric to the uninitiated. It’s not really all that strange once you accept that there is energy moving within you and around you, constantly, and that some people are able to interact on that subtle energy level.
So what makes vampires unique, really? The only thing that sets us apart from the typical person is our need to feed upon the life energy of those around us. Our systems work upon an energy deficit which we must make up for. I believe that most of the energy manipulation powers we manifest were honed because we must rely upon them to sustain ourselves. Where others might live their entire lives oblivious to such potential within themselves, we have no choice but to rely upon it. It's a survival technique. All of the abilities and powers that might make us seem gifted beyond the ordinary person are just compensation for what some have described as a "psychic handicap."
Magickal workers, particularly Pagans and Wiccans, have criticized vampires a great deal in recent years because they believe what we do is wrong. They call us "energy thieves" and revile us as creatures that work against Gaia, the generative Earth Mother. They assert that our very nature is anathema to their primary law: An it harm none, do what thou wilt. In our defense, I think what we do is simply natural. Although it is a vulgar comparison, I believe that feeding is no more a wantonly evil or destructive act than eating a hamburger. It is something we must do to survive, and sometimes survival requires that one organism must prey upon another. Feeding upon others is just our nature, and I think denying our nature is a more potentially destructive act than accepting it.
Vampires feed upon life. It's not that strange a concept. Think of it as energy, if you must -- the biological electricity which runs our cells and allows our synapses to function. Other cultures have called it prana or chi, ruach or mana. It is that vitalizing force which healers and yogis can harness in such practices as Reiki, Tantra, Qui-Gong, yoga, and T'ai Chi. It is really only an alien concept to Western culture. The Chinese, for example, take it for granted that certain individuals produce more energy than others. It's part of the balance of Yin and Yang. Those who do not produce enough chi to maintain themselves take it from those who produce more than they can use. In the West, we call this vampirism. In the East, it's a simple fact of life.
The only reason vampirism is such a big deal in the West is because Western concepts of reality lack the spiritual depth of similar concepts in the East. In the West, we have sacrificed the notion that everything possesses vital spirit in favor of living in a sanitized and controllable technological world. It is, however, a world without a soul. In such a world where the natural exchange of energy between all living things is debunked as delusional and esoteric, of course vampirism is misunderstood. It has been marginalized into superstition and folklore. At best, even those who believe in energy manipulation and magick consider vampires "evil" and terribly misguided. The energy workers can use their own energy to heal. They can find room to believe in a positive exchange. Yet they find it hard to believe that anyone -- save the most base black magicians -- could have the capacity to take energy as well.
Vampires are real, and what's more, we are a part of the natural order of things. Everything must have its opposite to balance it out. For every light worker who gives energy to heal, there is one of us who must take energy for ourselves. It's Yin and Yang. And in order to understand vampirism and ourselves, we simply must accept that. And if you, my non-vampiric reader, can open yourself up to such "esoteric" concepts as Reiki, Feng Shui, and the world soul, vampirism really isn't as far-fetched as you think.