A Sacred Hunger
Written by: Michelle Belanger
I've always assumed that people outside our community would have the hardest time believing in psychic vampirism. And yet, as I watched peoples' reactions to Don Henrie's display of sanguine vampirism on episide 6 of Mad, Mad House, I got something of a surprise. Although Don had attempted to explain the subtler aspects of what he was doing, people still kept trying to force his vampiric practices into a materialist paradigm. Outside the notion of eating or drinking something for physical sustenance or medical support, the vast majority of viewers just couldn't grasp it.
Although I myself am not a blood-drinker, I do understand what Don and other sanguine vampires get out of blood. The first step to this understanding is to step away from a strictly materialist point of view. A vampire's sanguine hunger cannot be rationalized through medical terms. So many people try to argue that drinking blood cannot cure anemia and has no real nutritional value, but these arguments all miss the point. Modern vampires are not self-medicating by drinking blood. They do not expect to get any *physical* sustenance from the blood whatsoever. The blood is merely a focus. It is the physical expression of the life force which courses subtly through all beings.
If blood as a more-than-physical substance still seems confusing, one has only to refer to the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus and review the Kosher laws to see otherwise. The Bible says "The Blood is the Life." What is stated in the rest of the related passages is that the blood contains the *ruach* of an animal. Ruach is the Hebrew equivalent of chi, another word that can be translated as breath/life/spirit. So the Lord God forbids his people from eating the blood of an animal because the blood is a carrier for that animal's life-force, its spirit -- and in their views that life/spirit properly belongs only to God, from whom it originated.
Significantly, in the extra-Biblical text The Book of Enoch, one of the sins committed by the Nephilim (children of the angels who came down and intermarried with the daughters of men in the pre-Flood world) was the drinking of blood. This was seen as an abomination because the blood was sacred. The blood carried the life and the spirit, and the bastard sons of the angels were drinking what the Lord God had reserved only for Himself. It was because the angel-born Nephilim were committing the sin of stealing what God had reserved for himself, in addition to teaching humanity the arts of magick, of cosmetics, and of warfare, that the angels still loyal to the Lord urged him to punish both the Nephilim and humanity with the Flood.
Now, this is not to say that modern vampires are necessarily connected to the Nephilim. Rather, I'm pointing these stories out to show that at the roots of both Christianity and Judaism, there is a precedent for blood being more than just a physical substance. If you reduce it to platelets, hemoglobin, and plasma, you miss the point.
Cultures the world over have attributed blood with a sacred power, and several ancient peoples drank the blood of their slain enemies in a ritual exchange intended to help them gain those enemies' power through the magick of their blood. Blood was considered a worthy sacrifice even by the ancient Jews because it held power -- the physical substance was a vehicle for the real sacrifice, which was life force.
It is this sacred aspect of blood that Don Henrie and other blood-drinking vampires are tapping into. This is the mystical portion of Don's lifestyle that renders it a belief system on an equal level with witchcraft and Voudun -- hence his inclusion on Mad, Mad House to begin with. Don is not just dressing up for a fashion statement and he's not just drinking blood to sate a fetish. There is a very real phenomenon driving Don that may be obscured for some people by his love for the Gothic aesthetic and flambouyant fashion.
The vampire Don takes life -- indirectly through the medium of blood or directly in the form of energy/chi -- because it enriches and empowers him. He thirsts for that life because there is a side to his everyday experience of the world that is not just physical but metaphysical -- and the life energy of blood strengthens and nourishes his spiritual self just as his physical body is nourished and strengthened with more traditional fare. If you want to learn more about what Don himself believes, check out his official site,The Vampire Don. If you're feeling really patient, wait for The Psychic Vampire Codex to come out this fall -- it explains everything all, from how the modern vampire community got started & what it believes to how vampires use energy -- through blood or purely through physical contact -- to feed.