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Atlanta Vampire Alliance [AVA]  |  Vampires & Vampirism  |  Vampire Community & Subcultural Discussion (Moderators: Merticus, SoulSplat, Eclecta, Maloryn, Zero)  |  10.30.08 - Good Housekeeping, Vampire Style - House Morpheus 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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« on: October 31, 2008, 11:27:38 am »

http://live.orato.com/lifestyles/2008/10/30/good-housekeeping-vampire-style?page=1

Good Housekeeping, Vampire Style
By Citizen Correspondent Emilie Conroy
Date Posted: 10/30/08


Vampires are real! If you think that’s outrageous, let me tell you about the weekend I spent as the honored guest at a local vampire house. Not everybody gets invited to sample the real vampire lifestyle in an intimate setting, and perhaps there are even fewer people who would accept such an invitation. But I know Kate Blanche, the head of House Morpheus in Philadelphia. There is nothing about Kate or about her interpretation of vampirism that I found disquieting. When Kate asked me to spend a weekend at Morpheus, I couldn’t resist.

Morpheus was the Greek personification of dreaming, sometimes called a god of dreams. From the street, House Morpheus is a typical Victorian home, with three floors, turret-like windows, and a vast garden still in bloom even in early October. Kate, a willowy figure in flannel shirt and jeans, comes to meet me at the door. “We try to keep it understated,” she tells me. “The neighborhood knows what we are, but it’s not our way to force ourselves.”

I’m drawn back to the garden, to the lush quality and variety of life tended to presumably by a vampire groundskeeper. Maybe so much life and beauty would be the last thing to expect at a vampire house, but according to Kate, the garden is a vital part of practice in this community. “We’re basically about living energy,” she said. “Nothing gives so much accessible living energy as a garden—as the process of growing and nurturing life. Everything we put in will return to us in time.”

A large marble plaque is hung over the entrance to the salon. This is the sigil, a kind of coat of arms. What looks to me like a dragon is actually a rendition of the ancient ouroboros, a serpent holding its tail in its mouth symbolizing eternity. The Latin inscription Ad Vitam Aeternam means Unto Eternal Life, but Kate clarifies. “Unlike your typical horror movie vampire, we don’t believe we are immortal—physically, anyway. But there is a strong belief in that part of each of us that might well be eternal, and that is the life we mean.”

We sat in a salon where Kate served us tea.

I might have expected a more gothic aesthetic, but the only bit of somber décor was an array of artificial skulls, including a large ceramic skull resting on the mouth of a glass on a coffee table. Kate must have noticed my interest. “In House Morpheus, we hold that the skull is the seat of the mind, and the mind is all important to us. Therefore, we use the skull as our emblem as a representation of the abstract mind.”

She sat across from me, crossed her legs, and sipped from her teacup. “I understand that absinthe is the drink of choice among many vampires,” she said with a subtle smile. “But I abhor the stuff this early in the afternoon.”

So how had Kate come to this point? What was the path that had brought her to lead a community of modern vampires? “I’ve always been psychically aware. Even as a child I was especially sensitive—maybe even too sensitive. For a long time I assumed there was something really wrong with me, and then I met Anna Gatewood.”

Gatewood was the founder of House Morpheus, a graduate student who had started to examine the vampire from a variety of viewpoints. She concluded that the vampire in some form exists in all world cultures and is possibly part of a collective subconscious. In all cases, vampirism involved energy play to some extent. The vampire did not get power from blood, Gatewood theorized, but rather from the living energy that was in the blood. Would accessing this energy possibly be a positive thing? Gatewood believed it would indeed, and a new breed of vampire was born.

Eventually Gatewood left her house to Kate, which is how Morpheus is a residential community today.

As I understand it, the vampires of House Morpheus believe in an entity of living energy around all of us and all through the universe itself. This energy is both alive itself and imbues all things with life. A vampire, then, is adept at energy play and adept at tapping into this energy. A vampire knows how to take the energy they want and manipulate it for their own purposes.

I had to ask Kate the obvious question: Why use the word vampire?

“As a term, vampire is a word of power. Anna knew that. For whatever reason, those of us here get a great deal of energy simply by calling ourselves vampires. Ultimately, we are making ‘vampire’ into what we want it to suggest rather than allowing the word to define us.”

Kate took me on a tour of the house. On the main floor are the salon, a larger meeting room, and a kitchen and dining room. “We eat normal food just like you do,” Kate said, showing me the contents of the refrigerator and the pantry.

Two upper level floors were dedicated to bedrooms for the more than 30 vampires living in the house. Some chose to have roommates, and some opted to live alone. As we wound through the house I met many of the residents, most of whom were quite friendly.

Here are the statistics of the vampires living in House Morpheus. All hold at least a four-year degree in a variety of disciplines, with a strong leaning towards the humanities. In mortal legal terms, the residents are between 25 and 40 years of age; Kate Blanche is 36.

While the employment level waxes and wanes with the general economy, the vampires are competent in the workplace and tend to do well in general society. There are six couples living in the house, with two having taken the actual step of marriage.

If there is a preferred occupation in the house, it is artistic expression of all kinds. Kate introduced me to Lilitu, a professional gothic belly dancer who recently had her navel area tattooed by Arthus, the resident skin design artist. While Lilitu has brought five housemates, including two men, into her dance troupe, Arthus has owned and operated his own tattoo parlor for over ten years. Several writers are currently working with literary agents on projects intended to explore this unique lifestyle.

Kate herself is a musician, giving lessons in piano and guitar while seeking out cultural musical influences from around the world. “I got into sacred drumming when I was island hopping in the Caribbean,” she said. “It appealed to me on a base level as a good way to tap into this living energy we keep mentioning. Sometimes the whole house will convene for a drumming session to raise energy.”

I can say that the living energy was a tangible presence to me in House Morpheus, even though I was not actively trying to connect. Later on, I mentioned this to Kate. “I’m not surprised. You don’t have to be trying to feel what it is we are doing. This is a place where we are all concentrating on a better existence and a better future.

Maybe people will never associate optimism with the vampire, but that is what we do every day and every hour.”

“Is there much of a search for a new term?”

Kate turned to look out the window and then smiled at me. “What is a simple word when you are seeking your place in the universe?”
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