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Atlanta Vampire Alliance [AVA]  |  Vampires & Vampirism  |  Vampire Community & Subcultural Discussion (Moderators: Merticus, SoulSplat, Eclecta, Maloryn, Zero)  |  10.06.11 - The Sanguinarian Next Door: The Truth About Real Vampires 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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« on: October 16, 2011, 04:53:59 PM »


The Sanguinarian Next Door: The Truth About Real Vampires
by Kristin Clift on Oct 6, 2011 - 12:16 AM

I found myself in a large Radisson hotel conference room at 11 p.m., intently listening to the emotional and spiritual benefits of drinking blood.

Everyone told me not to go alone. But there I was, alone, in a room full of vampires — yes, we’re talking real vampires. They call themselves Sanguinarians.

The word “vampire” immediately conjures thoughts of blood-sucking monsters from media sensations like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series and HBO’s True Blood. This mythical monster inhabits the common cultural psyche to such an extent that you could ask any seven-year-old what a vampire is and he’d be able to rattle off the stereotypical traits — physical appearance, skin tone and even how to get rid of one. However, the common cultural psyche has been less saturated with knowledge about a unique type of “true vampire.”

The “true vampire,” as opposed to being a persona of mythological origin, is a person with the notion that they are in fact, a reincarnated vampire. While such persons may or may not indulge in beliefs about supernatural abilities or origins, there is a worldwide community of individuals who consider themselves to be vampires.

In the plush conference room in Salt Lake City, a hodgepodge group of people sat in a semi-circle enlightening me in the ways of vampirism. There was a fairly evenly distribution of gender, all between the ages of 18-45. Looking at them you wouldn’t think that they drank blood. No, they didn’t have fangs and they weren’t overtly Gothic (OK, so maybe they wore a little more black than the average person).

The contemporary subculture of vampires is a highly stratified, multifaceted network of members that meet via the Internet. The vampires maintain a complex belief system with New Age religious influences. Participants of these communities have developed a dynamic neo-religious movement with rules, meetings and even an entire self-limited lexicon. The people I met with even banded together during Hurricane Katrina to raise funds and ironically, donate blood.

There is more than one type of vampire and not all of them drink blood. A certain type of vampire requires “psychic energy.” They are self-classified as “Psy Vampires.” “Sang” and “Psy” vampires draw from Eastern religions to explain their need for blood or psychic energy. Blood is one of the most potent sources of pranic (or life force) energy. Vampires believe that they are pranic energy deficient. They believe this deficiency becomes an embodied psychic energy vortex. To best describe this phenomenon, think of a person who, whenever you leave their presence, causes you to feel inexplicably emotionally drained. That person may be suffering from a lack of pranic energy.

Sanguinarians obtain their blood through “Black Swans” or close friends who willingly donate their blood for consumption. Black Swans are of course screened for pathogens beforehand. Black Swans cannot themselves be vampires — that would mean they are deficient in pranic energy as well.

Sanguinarians vary in their requirements, but usually a shot glass of blood once a month will suffice. When blood is not available, sometimes V-8 juice makes for an acceptable substitute temporarily. When they go without blood, they complain of migraines or intense irritability. Other symptoms that are common to vampires are gastrointestinal disorders, inverted circadian rhythms, moodiness and sometimes photosensitivity.

Sanguinarians discover they are vampires typically the same time as puberty when they undergo an “Awakening.” Some vampires know they are vampires much earlier on as their parents are vampires as well and it is believed to be a heritable trait. Vampires do not condone vampire fetishists, role-playing or crimes acted out in the name of vampirism. The group I met with made sure to distinguish themselves from these social deviants.

As an aspiring anthropologist — and with an insatiable curiosity — I met with them frequently for a few months to conduct an ethnography. In the anthropological ambition of making the strange familiar and the familiar strange, I found that while these “True Vampires” were quite different from the fanged creatures of the dark we’ve come to know (and often lust after), they’re not much different from other religious group of like-minded individuals forming a community under a common belief to find acceptance and support.

And who knows, your next door neighbor just might have an insatiable affinity for blood.

Kristin Clift is a grad student in the depths of New Zealand studying at the University of Otago where she is embarking on her dream of becoming an anthropologist. She enjoys reading peer reviewed articles and writing not-so-peer-reviewed articles. Follow Kristin on Twitter at @kristinclift.

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