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Atlanta Vampire Alliance [AVA]  |  Vampires & Vampirism  |  Vampire Community & Subcultural Discussion (Moderators: Merticus, SoulSplat, Eclecta, Maloryn, Zero)  |  09.10.15 - Interview With A Vampyre - Berinvönn Dærthledd 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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« on: September 26, 2015, 03:22:59 pm »


Interview With A Vampyre - Berinvönn Dærthledd
September 10, 2015 - By Kirsten Swann - Anchorage Press

Why it sucks to be a vampyre in Alaska

The vampyre walked into an East Anchorage Kaladi Brothers cafe and ordered a latte.

He wore dental acrylic fangs and black leather; a custom-designed ankh necklace and pinky rings decorated with pentagrams. By day, the 47-year-old Alaskan works in telecommunications. By night, he goes by the name Berinvönn Dærthledd and hopes to unite local vampyres into some semblance of community.

For three years, he organized vampyre meetups. He made a website—NocturneBorealis.com—and a Facebook page, and began running the online radio program Alaska After Dark. He dreams about building a house for vampyres in Alaska—a place where they can feel free to be themselves and spend time with others.

And it’s not easy.

“The way it is here, it seems like a lot of people don’t want to come out and show what they are,” he said. “They’ll admit they’re vampyres to other vampyres, but the public? No, that’s not gonna happen.”

Alaska’s vampyre subculture remains shrouded in darkness.

Its members are solitary and discreet, Dærthledd says. Occasionally, he might run into a fellow vampyre at a local watering hole—Chilkoot Charlie’s or Mad Myrna’s. Like two ships passing in the night, they usually come and go with only a distant understanding.

So what exactly is a vampyre? The “y” spelling differentiates between subculture and folklore. Pop culture is full of the latter; from Twilight to True Blood. The subculture is very different—and very real.

Called “sang,” sanguinarian vampyres drink blood. Called “psy,” psychic vampires feed on life-force energy—human or animal. Dærthledd, who identifies as a “human living vampyre,” believes every vampyre has the capacity to do both.

Psy vampyres can feed any number of ways, he says. Photos posted to social media, large crowds of people or even sex are all fair game. Dærthledd feeds via Facebook.

He describes it as an almost three-dimensional connection: As the connection grows stronger, more details seem to form. Psy feeding can be inadvertent, he says. Ambient feeding happens in a crowd. Ethical feeding is the practice of first asking for permission.

If a psy vampyre is feeding on you, he says, you may experience a sudden headache or quick fatigue.

“The last girlfriend I had accused me of feeding on her so hard that she got heart palpitations,” Dærthledd said.

The last time he drank blood was about two years ago in New Orleans.

“It was a kick, I swear,” he said. “Even my eyesight improved.”

Some feed from a syringe, some drink from a glass. Dærthledd prefers to feed directly from the flesh.

But drinking blood comes with its challenges. Of course, you have to find a willing donor. Then there’s the issue of blood-born pathogens: Donors have to be healthy and clean. Dærthledd demands to see the paperwork.

Without sustenance—either blood or energy—vampyres can become sickly and depressed, he says. It varies from person to person. So do the signs of vampyrism, Dærthledd says. Some say they experience heightened levels of empathy. Others might be able to perceive auras or have a level of psychic ability.

Nearly 10 years ago, the Georgia-based Suscitatio Enterprises, LLC released the preliminary results of a research study on the world’s vampyre population. The vast majority of people surveyed say their vampyrism brings special powers—increased physical senses or mental acuity.

Nearly 80 percent of respondents believed their spirit existed in a former lifetime. More than 75 percent were independent; unaffiliated with any house, clan, coven, haven, order or court. Most of them live in California, Florida, Georgia, New York, Ohio or Texas. The majority identify as psy.

The biggest misconception? That vampyres are satanic. While the two aren’t mutually exclusive, they’re two separate things entirely.

There are many parts to a vampyre’s life, Dærthledd explains. The nightside is the part spent in vampyric pursuits. The dayside is the time spent among the “mundane.” Twilight is the period in between.

And there are many kinds of vampyres, he says. Some are devout Christians. Some enjoy pageantry and vampire folklore, others prefer to keep a low profile.

They can’t be made—they must be born. Sometimes, it can take time to recognize their ability. That period of time is called awakening. It traditionally comes around puberty; the age when Dærthledd, who grew up in Anchorage, first developed a fascination with blood.

“I didn’t think anything of it,” he said. “I just thought I was a weird kid.”

For a while, he was a “self-styled Satanist.” Fast-forward to 2007, when vampyres networked on MySpace and Dærthledd started receiving messages from a guy who runs a temple in Ohio. He came across a few people “who pretty much knew what I was before I did,” he said. They asked him questions that seemed to fit with all the feelings he’d had over the years.

He’d always felt different, he said. Vampyres seemed to explain why.

Over the next two years, he worked to form the Anchorage Vampyre Quorum, whose members consisted of vampyres and those curious about vampyrism. In its heyday, the group had about 30 members, Dærthledd says. Then the group began to shrink.

Fewer and fewer people were using Meetup.com. Some of the group members had personal issues that kept them from coming, Dærthledd says. Others abandoned the in-person meetings for private groups on social media sites. MySpace was old news.

“Everyone would rather do their thing on Facebook and hide, I guess,” Dærthledd said.

The Anchorage Vampyre Quorum held its last meeting in 2012, but Dærthledd never abandoned his hopes of uniting Alaska’s vampyres.

These days he’s joined by his girlfriend, lifelong Alaskan Lisa Surina

Surina, now retired, has long, black hair, long, black fingernails, thick, dark-rimmed glasses and a deep fascination with the occult.

She spent years studying the subject, exploring the science behind the folklore. She was especially interested in the mysteries of EVP—electronic voice phenomena. When she met Dærthledd, she joined the vampyre community as a donor and advocate. She has yet to meet any others here in Anchorage, she says.

But it’s not for lack of vampyres.

“With a little more exposure, I think more people will come out of the woodwork,” she said. “Because they are here.”

Outside the Land of the Midnight Sun, things are different.

Texas has the Vampire Court of Austin, organized “To provide a safe haven and family environment for all of Austin’s vampire community as well as give back and support the city that has supported us.”

In Georgia, the Atlanta Vampyre Alliance promotes “unity in the Atlanta, Georgia real Vampire Community while being available to the newly awakened to encourage self-awareness and responsibility.”

Sebastiaan van Houten, a fangsmith and author who goes by the name Father Sebastiaan, brings the Endless Night Vampire Ball to venues around the world—New Orleans, New York and Austria.

Dærthledd’s dreams for Alaska aren’t quite so grandiose.

Earlier this year he launched another website, ArcticFangs.com, where he sells “realistic, custom fit fangs to local Alaska residents.” He hopes to build a house that unites and elevates the local vampyre community.

“For me, I want to create a house that gives you benefits,” he said. “I’ve even offered my home as a safe haven, because there are people out there who do feel alone.”

It’s easy to feel alone in the far north.

Jade, a 24-year-old from North Pole, said she hoped moving to Anchorage would connect her to more of the state’s vampyre community. Then she learned there wasn’t much of a community to begin with.

A psy vampyre, Jade was fascinated with the folklore from a young age.

“I just sucked up any and all information I could,” she said.

Then she began noticing some strange things. In her hands, electronics were sapped of their battery power; except that one time, when she was inexplicably able to recharge her phone in order to call police one dark night when she needed it most.

Unlike others, Jade doesn’t hide who she is. Her mother knows. So do her coworkers. Whether or not they really believe her is another matter, she says.

Jade feeds at work. With hundreds of people coming through the grocery store every day, it’s easy to strike up a conversation with a customer, move close and grow stronger by their energy, she says. They never seem to notice.

She would like to see a more unified front among Alaskan vampyres. She’d like to see more people come out from the shadows. Sometimes, they don’t even know they’re there.

“Being a psychic vampyre, you don’t always necessarily know,” she says.

That’s another area where Dærthledd believes an established community could do some good. It could help new vampyres learn about themselves. It could provide support and common ground; maybe even a sense of pride.

Without that, the Last Frontier can be a lonely place, Dærthledd said, downing the rest of his latte.

“Being a vampyre in Alaska sucks,” he said.

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