The Ethics Continuum of Psi-Vampirism
Written by: Michelle Belanger
Notes from a presentation given by Michelle Belanger at KinVention North, Kitchener, Ontario, March 2003.
if you can take it, then it's yours
The Robin Hood Approach
take from those who have more than enough
strive to feed only from willing individuals;
take covertly and without permission only in emergencies
"eat to live, do not live to eat"
Vegetarian Vampirism/Alternate Energy Vampirism
never feed her sentients no matter the cost to yourself
I distinguish ethics from morals because morality, typically dictated by a religious tradition, is also typically predicated upon the notion that the world functions in terms of black and white. With a moralistic paradigm, there is good and there is evil, and it is a simple matter to discriminate between the two.
However, anyone who is actually lived in this world understands how facile that view can be. In real, everyday life, rarely do we encounter clear black or white -- instead, everything is patterned in infinite shades of gray.
Ethics, are not predicated on notions of black and white. Rather, ethics acknowledges the shades of gray and seeks to establish reasonable guidelines for proper behavior that take into account situational variations that can affect the absolute value of an action. Morality cannot always be adequately applied to things that we must do for survival.
For example, murder is wrong, yet the soldier who kills on the battlefield is no criminal, and few would blame a person for killing in self-defense. Stealing is also wrong, but most people would agree that the man who steals a loaf of bread to feed his family should not be seen as a thief.
Ethics accounts for these gray areas were some actions may be more wrong were more right depending on the situation. Vampirism falls deeply into these gray areas.
Anyone can take energy. In fact, everyone actually does. Each and every person in this room is, at this very moment, engaged in a complex interchange with the energy of the environment around them. This includes the energy of the people around them, with my energy, with yours and yours and yours.
Each and every one of us is both giving off energy and taking energy in. This is a perfectly natural process. Each person has a different ratio of give-and-take, and for each person, this ratio fluctuates based on a myriad of factors including physical health, psychological well-being, wakefulness, and mood.
So, in light of that, what makes a vampire? The need to consistently take more than give, and I would also specified the need to take mostly human, vital energy.
So now we come to ethics. If each and every one of us naturally takes some energy and if some of us, especially those were awakened, can do this consciously and willfully -- what is actually wrong?
This takes us back to our continuum of ethics. This continual roughly states some of the basic attitudes toward the behavior of vampires that you are likely to encounter among the awakened -- including vampires, psions, witches, and ‘kin.
In position one, we have Darwinian vampirism. This is based on the notion that taking energy is a right, and vamp arisen is nature's go-ahead to exercise that right. The idea here is, if you can take it, then it is yours.
You will find this attitude among Satanists, Setians, the Temple of the Vampire, and members of the OSV. Most people would agree that this is the least ethical of attitudes and vampirism. I would be among them.
Next we have Robin Hood Vampirism. This is predicated upon the idea of have’s and have-not’s -- where anyone with a decent amount of energy is typically a "have" and a psychic vampire is a have-not. The good fortune of a "have" to possess an abundance of energy is seen as a justification for a vampire to take that energy away for themselves. This, though not as unethical as Darwinian Vampirism, still tends to be predatory and poses several ethical flaws. While “theft” of this sort can be justified in truly extreme circumstances, even among vampires, such circumstances are rare. More often than not, this becomes a rationalization an excuse to abuse others for their perceived good fortune.
Pragmatic Vampirism occupies the middle slot. This is all about gray areas. The basic goal of a Pragmatic Vampire is to feed only from willing and capable donors, yet the Pragmatist acknowledges that these are hard to come by. It is accepted that some circumstances demand a vampire take from unaware and unwilling targets or suffer terribly himself.
In Pragmatic Vampirism, the choice to feed in a predatory fashion is based upon the balance of needs. It is already known that taking energy from a target who is unable to consent will cause at least some discomfort. This discomfort is weighed against the discomfort endured by the starving psychic vampire. If it seems that a better, more ethical opportunity to feed will not present itself within a certain window of time, then the Pragmatic Vampire will deem it an acceptable choice to feed.
After the Pragmatist comes the adherent of Sustainable Vampirism. This is the person who, regardless of their own state of need, will only ever ambiently feed -- that is to say that they do not at any time take energy from a person directly, but instead draw upon the diffuse, free-floating energy given off by people in general, which will either be absorbed by another or disperse on its own.
The problem with Sustainable Vampirism is that the vampire protects the safety and well-being of others at a cost to himself. Ambient energy provides only subsistence maintenance. When a vampire limits himself to this type of feeding, it has a severe impact on his quality-of-life. The real question when measuring the ethics of Sustainable Vampirism is how far should an individual go to inconvenience himself for the sake of others?
The last point along our ethics continuum goes to even greater extremes, at least as far as self-sacrifice goes. I only know of very few psychic vampires who follow this route. Most of the time it is solution suggested to us or imposed upon us by others who really don't understand what psychic vampirism is.
The basic premise of Vegetarian Vampirism is that it is wrong to feed upon sentients -- willing, aware, or otherwise. Vampires are seen as beings who are negative and destructive by nature, and feeding under any circumstances is seen as an act of harm. Many people who hold a belief in the functionality of Vegetarian Vampirism are not vampires themselves. They also usually carry an attitude of "love the sinner, but hate the sin." While it is seen as regrettable that a psychic vampire has this need for energy, the psychic vampire is expected to sacrifice his own well-being for the Greater good.
Aside from the obvious questions of quality-of-life, Vegetarian Vampirism runs headlong into a very serious problem: a starving vampire is nobody's friend. No matter how noble, well-intentioned, or self sacrificing a psychic vampire may be, if that person is truly a psychic vampire and he or she must take in human vital energy in order to maintain physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. To abstain from this is to invite a host of problems, and in the end, though the vampire will probably survive, it will be in the loosest sense of that term, existing just barely is of pale, suffering shadow of who they could be. The need for energy does not go away in any case. When repressed or denied it comes out unconsciously, directed by instinct.
Once a vampire passes into deep need, they can no longer really control their intake of energy. With supreme effort, they can dampen the energetic intake that naturally occurs around them. However, they will still instinctively take energy from any person they come into physical contact with. Vampires who have passed a certain point of starvation are also prone to unconsciously Dreamwalking, sending themselves out to friends and loved ones and feeding upon them the dreamspace. All of these activities at this point are Unconscious and instinctive, and therefore almost impossible to control. As noble as sentiment as it may be very vampire to abstain, starving a true psychic vampire is not in anyone's best interest.
Pure selfishness is undesirable because it is destructive to others. However, pure selflessness is equally undesirable because it is destructive to the self. In case of psychic vampires, pure selflessness carries the additional repercussions of ultimately causing harm to others that cannot be controlled. Having considered the extremes of the continuum, it is clear that the best choice remains the middle ground. Ethical psychic vampirism seeks to consider the needs of both the psychic vampire and those around him, examining the gray areas between meeting a need in the harm that that need can create.