Resurrecting the Vampire Throughout History
In modern society, vampires are thought of as legend, as epitomized by a mysterious tall, dark figure in a cape named ‘Dracula’, one of the undead, that rapes virgin women, drinks their blood and has supernatural powers.
The symbol, myth and meaning of this ancient being varies from time period to culture, to country. In ancient times, vampires were seen as a very real threat to mankind. The word ‘vampire’ is defined by The Vampire Encyclopedia as originating from the Slavic languages. Two definitions offered are, Webster’s International Dictionary as “a bloodsucking ghost or reanimated body of a dead person, a soul or reanimated body of a dead person, believed to come from the grave and wander about by night sucking the blood from persons asleep…” (Bunson, p 262). 2). As well, in Brian Frosts book The Monster With a Thousand Faces, he offers a broader definition of the vampire as being “fundamentally a parasitic force or being, malevolent and self-seeking by nature, whose paramount desire is to absorb the life-force or to ingest the vital fluids of a living organism in order to sate it's perverse hunger and to perpetuate its unnatural existence” (Bunson, p 263).
To shed some light on the contemporary vampire living in present day society, and how it relates to society, I have been in contact with a person that I have ‘found’ on the Internet while doing research for this paper. This person, who goes by a pseudonym (for obvious reasons, and with his permission says I can use his pen-name for the sake of this paper, ‘Osiris’. Which as a point of interest, Osiris is the King of the Dead in Egyptian mythology, which fits nicely), claims to be a ‘real’ vampire (as well as Wiccan). This person seems to be very knowledgeable and intelligent on the subject of his lifestyle and is very convincing. In experiencing and living how he says he does and the way he presents himself seems far from crazy.
Obviously, communication in this context needs to be taken with a grain of salt. But if I was to be asked whom I would believe to most likely be a ‘real’ vampire (though I am still hesitant) I would say this person fits the bill to a tea. If anything, his answers to my questions will hopefully give some personal insight into the beliefs and lifestyles of vampires, these marginalized and misunderstood people who co-exist with us in society. I will intersperse my questions and his answers at appropriate points throughout this paper.
To begin gathering information from this person, I posted a message on a forum asking for people who could help me for the sake of writing an academic paper for university on Vampires for my Sociology/Anthropology class on Witchcraft. This vampire, a 29 year old man from Georgia asked me:
Might I ask where the correlation between Wicca and Vampirism comes in? I myself am both Wiccan and a Vampire. I am Sanguine/Psy and also extremely empathic. I just do not see the relation between the two however as I know plenty of vampires who are not Wiccan.
I explained to him that it was just the topic I chose to analyze for the subject of this paper and has nothing to do with Wicca in particular.
I first asked him ‘What are vampires exactly? Are you ‘human’?
Osiris answered: Vampires are beings who must feed on the life force and energy of others. This is achieved by the ingestion of blood or the draining of the pranic life energy we all possess. Vampires do this because they lack sufficient amounts of said energy to truly be healthy and survive. As for if we are human, other than the need for blood and energy, yes we are basically human.
Vampires, Witches and Werewolves, Oh My!
Vampires are closely linked to both the werewolf and the witch. Folk stories lead to unrealistic portrayals of both vampires and witches. A werewolf is tied in with vampires as they both are
associated with sexuality and of course their love of blood.
Werewolfism (Lycanthropy) is defined as “a particular form of raving madness manifesting itself in the patient's belief that he is a wolf, with lupine teeth, refusing to eat anything but raw, bloody meat…and indulging in unrestrained sexual attacks on any victim he can overpower” (Eisler, p 34). Dracula, the most famous of vampires, for example, proclaimed his vampirism by “pledging allegiance to wolves” (Auerbach, p 14). The Greek word for ‘vampire’ is vrykolakas, which is in all Slavonic languages, the exact English equivalent of ‘werewolf’. The meaning of the word has easily shifted to vampire since there is a common belief that a man who has been a werewolf in life becomes a vampire in death” (Summers, p 218). The vrykolakas is one of several beings that haunt the Greek. It can be killed by lightning and consumed by fire. Arcadians in telling accounts to D. Lee “made no clear distinction between what we would call fact and fiction, or history and folklore” (1941). This is interesting in that if many other primitive societies do this, it is easy to see how something like the vampire can wind up in everyday factual belief. The werewolf was a symbol of the real fear of animal attack and the vampire was created as a symbol for another threat in people’s lives. This threat represented by the vampire was that of “nature out of control, specifically natural cycles. The most blatant of these cycles was that of death and birth…[as well as] weather and farming seasons” (Wright, 18). They, like witches, were also thought to be able to control the elements and that having a vampire bathe would cause rain to fall. During a drought, nobles would have all the peasants bathe in the river hoping one to be a vampire (Summers, 308). Also like witches, vampires were mostly peasants, as the wealthy were never accused of vampirism. People who were bored during a holy period, or with abnormalities, as well as “thought who commit crimes against man or religion” (Peardon) were likely to become vampires. People on the fringes of society and the church, like witches, made an easy and logical target for blame. Though, not included in this category are “lepers, the mentally ill or the lame” (Wright, p 26). Another way vampires are connected to werewolves and witches is that people who were werewolves, witches, dead wizards, heretics, outcasts, etc. in life, became vampires in death (Masters, p 51). Like witches in early folklore, vampires killed children (and others) and used their life force as their own. As well, like witches, people excommunicated from the Church (Eastern Orthodox faith) and who died not being reconciled could become vampires (Wolf, p 27/8).
Q: Have there been any historical large scale trials/inquisitions (that you know of) for hunting vampires as there has been for witches?
A: Most of the major events were named after the trial of the person or their death. This is the case for John George Haight (sic) and Elizabeth Bathory. In historical terms, a witch received more of a trial than a vampire or werewolf. The automatic sentence for those suspected of vampirism was final death in the eyes of the law.
Though, witches and vampires were different in some respects because they operated in a different historical context. “Vampires were a discursive contradiction – firmly embedded in local beliefs and constructions but named in such a way that their outsiderness was foregrounded. Unlike witches, vampires were not deeply rooted in local society, they did not fly or travel on familiars, but had mechanized mobility” (White, p 28/9). As well, like witches in early folklore, vampires killed children and used their life force as their own. The vampire we know today is based on myth and early Judeo-Christian beliefs such as “Lilith, the first wife of Adam, who feeds in the night on the newborn” (Holland, p 40).
Apparently though, according to Osiris there are some modern day vampires who are Wiccan as well.
Q: You mentioned you are Wiccan as well as a vampire. How does this tie in with your life/fit together with your being a vampire? Do you think being Wiccan compliments your being a vampire?
A: Actually there is no tie in. I was raised Christian and became uncomfortable in the church at a very early age. I began to seek answers and a path which more closely fit what I felt about the world. I eventually came to Wicca at the age of about 13 and began studying it in earnest at age 14. I was released from my mentor at age 20 as a High Priest. I have since self dedicated myself as a Priest of Isis through study and communication with the Temple of Isis and with the Fellowship of Isis. [Lurhmann mentions this as an 'ad hoc' ritual magic group p 70] I think the only compliment being Wiccan gives to my being a vampire is the sense of energy around me and being able to tap into that energy. Being both sanguine and psy, I use the psy/energy feeding abilities to hold me over between sanguine feedings.
Q: You said you know other vampires who are also Wiccan, do you see this as a natural progression/step, or is it just a personal choice for all?
A: It is a choice. I know other vampires who are Christian and others who are Buddist and some who call themselves Satanists. Religion is a choice we all make within ourselves. Being a vampire is not.
In some countries, ‘live vampires’ (as opposed to dead vampires discussed next) formed covens that exactly resemble the historical witch society. It is not surprising to learn that in some districts, vampires are chiefly women who “possess a certain control which enables them to extract the ‘power’ of animals and objects for their own use” (Summers, p 307). This definition sounds much like that of ‘Psi-vampirism’. There are quite a few different types of vampires depending on the region and country. As mentioned above, there are Live Vampires and Dead Vampires as well as Living Vampires and Psi/Psy (different from Pyschic) vampires.
Live Vampire Types
In Romania, is where “people destined to become vampires after death (outcasts, heretics etc) may be able to in life to send out their souls…and…bodies to wander at crossroads with reanimated corpses” (Summers, p 305/6). As well, live vampires could merge with ordinary witches or wizards and meet with other witches and wizards either in body or spirit (Summers, p 306).
Dead Vampires are basically re-animated corpses (almost like zombies, though zombies are the lowest on the supernatural evolutionary chain and vampires are highest). A Ghoul is also closely linked to the vampire and beliefs in them occur in the Middle East, which also believes in two other vampire type beings. A Ghoul is defined as, “a reanimated body…which feed on other corpses” (Melton, p 22) not blood. Ghouls are also linked to zombies, but like the latter, are not controlled by witches. Asia, India, the Pacific Islands and Australia have fourteen different vampire types; Central and South America and the Caribbean have nine, Europe and the UK have seventeen (including the Incubus). Africa has four different types, which I will speak of their beliefs later. In 1823, England outlawed driving stakes through the hearts of people who had committed suicide (McNally, p 146).
Osiris would fall under this category as “people who practice vampiric acts such as blood drinking, to satisfy an emotional need. Some claim, however, they do need to drink blood to sustain their health” (Peardon).
Q: What is it like to live this way?
A: Imagine being malnourished most of the time. Imagine being sick quite a bit. If I go for extended periods, over a week, without feeding, I become physically ill. I become nauseated, my stomach knots with cramps, I am more sensitive to light, sunlight included, noises, and easily irritated. This is not a way I recommend someone live. It is not easy being this way. I would not wish it on anyone. [sounds like the symptoms of porphyria]
Psychic Vampires (a.k.a ‘magnetic vampirism’)
Psychic explanations of vampires arose in the 19th century as psychical research was beginning to investigate occult and supernatural experiences. Magnetic vampirism is defined simply as “the sapping of life force by one person from another” (Melton, p 30). A ‘Psi-Vamp’ is “a living being that sustains its life, way of life, or own emotional state by draining or feeding from the energy, emotions or life of another being, almost always human” (Peardon) though I have also read they drain nature’s energy as well.
Belief in Vampires
Belief in vampires probably arose from people who suffer from ‘clinical vampirism’, not the mention historical figures like Vlad Tepes ‘The Impaler’ and Elizabeth Bathory. Clinical vampirism is a disease called ‘porphyria’ (pronounced por-fer-e-ah, or por-fi-re-ah) was first proposed by UBC chemist David Dolphin in 1985. It is a genetic disease that King George III suffered from that “makes the skin sensitive to sunlight…can also cause retraction of the gums, making a person’s teeth appear longer than normal” (Economist, p 89).
Q: Some would argue that vampirism is more a mental illness than a way of life. what would you say to these detractors?
A: I would simply ask for the proof that my physical differences and symptoms are brought on by some mental disorder. Explain why my metabolism is different. Why my heart rate is almost nil at times. Why my temperature is 4-5 degrees lower than most people. If it is a mental disorder than the doctors have it too because they cannot explain my conditions.
Q: How do doctor's explain your condition (unusual symptoms)? Have they given you any kind of rational explanation or are they just stumped?
A: They are stumped. Have been since birth
Q: Would you say you have 'clinical vampirism'? If so, how did you 'contract it'? I have read of vampirism as being a 'disease' of sorts that you can contract through blood (and heredity?) Is this true at all? (in your opinion)
A: I think it is possible to inherit the traits. I believe mine came from my grandfather, No one else in my family exhibits the traits other than myself and my grandfather when he was alive. I do not think I am a clinical vampire. I was born as one and did not acquire it. I have never had a blood transfusion or any surgery until a few months back. I do not believe that it can be passed from person to person though like AIDS or the like.
Q: Do the people who have 'clinical vampirism' that you know of, think of themselves as vampires?
A: Truthfully, I do not know of any cases of clinical vampirism personally so I can only make an opinion on that and not a fact.
Other symptoms caused by porphyria include: gastrological problems (stomach cramping, nausea), neurological and psychological disorders, photosensitivity (intolerance to sun or bright lights), pigmentation of the face (skin changes color, usually getting lighter, losing color) anemia (blood deficiency), with enlargement of the spleen (an organ acting as a reservoir for blood) and excessive amounts of porphyrins are excreted in the stool and urine, giving it a dark red, bloodish color (Readers Digest, p 284 1991) which could be construed in a convoluted way as where the idea of drinking blood came from. These symptoms sound very much like the ‘traditional’ vampire.
There is an alternative theory, that the vampire was inspired by rabies as “the symptoms of rabies include insomnia, an aversion to mirrors and strong smells, and an increased sex drive” (Economist, p 90). As well, rabies is passed on through biting.
As well, people’s fear of vampires and the undead may have been rooted in the prevalence of premature burials; and live burials do still occasionally occur (Olivio Salazar).
The belief in the vampire “has its origins in the animism, spiritism, or personification of the barbarian, who, unable to distinguish the objective from the subjective, ascribes good and evil influences to all natural phenomena to good and evil spirits” (Stetson). To the peasants, the vampire “is a poetic, imaginative way of looking at death and at life beyond death” (McNally, p 152).
As said near the beginning, belief in vampires could have sprung from the notorious Vlad Tepes (The Impaler) Dracul, also known as Dracula. He was even known as Dracula during his reign as Prince of Wallachia, Transylvania in the 15th century. Dracula skewered his victims on large stakes and had them bleed to death and then drank their blood. He was imprisoned and spent almost four years in Turkish captivity (Florescu, Bio of Vlad Impaler, p 37). Even Vlad Tepes himself can be linked to the idea of the werewolf, because the German term for werewolf is ‘berserkers’ and that is what Dracula (Vlad Tepes) was referred to as (wütrich) (McNally, p 150). Countess Elizabeth Bathory during the 1570’s, bathed in large bathtubs of her servant girls blood (after torturing and killing them with the help of her ‘right hand man’ who peaked her interest in the Occult). She believed blood would keep her eternally beautiful. She was never formally convicted of any crime, even though over fifty girls were found dead and buried on the grounds (McNally, pg 154-159).
“It is a common belief in primitive races of low culture that disease is caused by the revengeful spirits of man or other animals – notably among the tribes of North American Indians as well as African negroes” (Stetson).
Vampire Beliefs in Africa, Greece and Romania
Vampires survive in today’s society because of their variety and the fact that almost every different country and culture in the world has at least one name for the vampire.
Africans have a strong belief in vampires (along with witchcraft). Their vampire beliefs most likely emerged from witchcraft beliefs, but even witchcraft does not describe the phenomenon that Africans mean where talking about vampires. To dismiss African belief in vampires (which they call ‘mumiani’) as “fears and superstitions and reduce them to anxieties – about colonialism, technology…[and] health” (White, p8) does not do them justice. Vampires were considered political realities in Africa, not social problems and “the result of envy and asocial behavior” (White, p 22). The 18th Century Balkan vampires were not like the ‘traditional’ bloodsucking ones, and could be tied in with old ideas about race and blood, so that Balkan vampires and Jewish ritual murder could be sometimes linked. (White, p 28).The vampire served as a scapegoat for a myriad of negative actions in society.
Africans (and others) expressed problems and conflict through the image of the vampire. Vampires were an ‘epistemological category’ through which Africans described their world –as belief and metaphor (White, p 50). “Vampires…straddle the connections between medicine and violence, between the supernatural and new scientific rationalities that were becoming naturalized. They were [like belief in witchcraft] a way of talking about the world that both parodied the new technologies and showed the true intent behind their use” (White, 29). Vampires were used to discuss wealthy men, new machines and medical testing. Vampire stories, belief and folklore in Uganda are a way to explain everyday occurrences such as saying “too much about chloroform to ignore the place of inhaled drugs in ideas about colonial intervention “ (White, p311). In Colonial North Rhodesia, vampire stories are used to describe the changing techniques of tsetse-fly control because “such stories describe colonial intervention and the ways in which insect-borne diseases were considered part of that intervention” (White, p 311). As was popular belief in Europe, vampires were thought to be harbingers of disease, which will be touched on, in a later part of this paper.
Vampire beliefs are the strongest and most persistent in Greece than any other country (Gelder, p 25). In most cultures around the world, the vampire is seen as inherently evil. In ancient Greece, however, “it is the happy dead, the blessed ones, Elysian heroes who return and are in this manner nourished with blood to lend them life and strength” (Summers, 17).
Where the vampire is thought to have originated, Romanians believe people who are cursed will not decay and wander aimlessly at night until absolution is granted –which explains why vampire beliefs exist in these Eastern Orthodox countries. Romanians have the term ‘strigoi’ for vampires, which are ‘demon birds of the night that eat human flesh, drink blood and fly after sunset’ (McNally, p145). Romanians also believed that vampires, like witches, could enter your house through keyholes and chimneys, so to prevent this you could rub these objects with garlic (McNally, p 147/8).
The Symbol of the Vampire
Q: What do you think the vampire symbolizes? (Might as well get the answer from the horse's mouth!)
A: In original myths, the vampire was a true walking corpse. It was a thing to fear. Since Bram Stoker and others brought the legends to the western world, the vampire has become a symbol of lust. It is the fantasy of romance with the unknown. The danger, the risk, everything that you know is wrong, the vampire seems to make right and he brings out the deepest, darkest desires that you hide so deep within you.
The vampire symbolizes a myriad of different things depending on the culture and the era. Vampires can be seen as metaphors for psychic ills and personal evil (White, p 18). They are also very much a product of modern theories of the body because they deal specifically with the bodily fluid of blood (rather than milk or semen) (White, p 28).
In the late 19th century new sociological meanings were formed about the vampire. At the time the suffragettes were fighting and challenging what most men considered natural order. “Dracula depicted what would become of women if they were liberated of conventional morality. Blood itself came to symbolize morality. A woman drained of it lost all decency and became an unprincipled nymphomaniac” (Olivio Salazar). Also in the 19th century, “the intimacy, the sharing, the maternal suffusion” (Auerbach, p 59) was the essence of the vampire’s allure, where, with its blatant homoerotic undertones, the vampire “threatened the hierarchical distance of sanctioned relationships” (Auerbach, p 60). Victorian descriptions of the vampire focused mainly on its sexual deviance (among other things) not unlike witches. Vampirism can be seen as “a powerful metaphor for addiction” (Holland, p 41), addictions that follow out of boredom.
“In a pre-industrial society, it is hardly surprising that this should have been associated with the aristocracy: no one else had the money or time to feel bored. But with the spread of wealth, ennui was democratized, and with it, increasingly, the vampire as well. This made its significance as a metaphor all the more valuable to an outwardly prudish society such as Victorian Britain, where there were plenty of mortal shadows stalking the night” (Holland, p 41). Could ‘Jack The Ripper’ then, by this definition, be seen as a sort of vampire, Sexually ravaging and mutilating young women in the night?
“Nowadays, the vampire’s function of a metaphor for transgression is so obvious that it leaves very little space for the myth” (Holland, p 41).
In plague-ravished Europe, vampires began to be seen as carriers of disease, a parasitic entity to transmit the plague. “It is hard to judge whether the vampire was invented to explain plagues, or whether plagues were added as another trait to the already existent vampire” (Peardon). Also symbolic is the vampire's blood drinking, which is seen as a “perversity of human morality” (Peardon) and Christianity. In drinking blood, the vampire was symbolically taking communion. In this way, the vampire makes a mockery of religion and also of human life because he seems to be alive but is not.
The vampire can symbolize everything our culture sees a need to repress, “the proletariat, sexuality, other cultures, alternative ways of living, heterogeneity, the Other” (Gelder, p 52). Culturally, the vampire is highly adaptable and stands for a wide range of meanings – specifically repressed urges of desire, fear and anxiety (Gelder, p 141). Belief in the vampire arose in the 18th and 19th century, during the modern era, after the local beliefs in witchcraft became more prevalent during the plague epidemics.
The Vampire in Novel and Film
The vampire is seen as excessive - in meaning itself (in this way it is related to The Enlightenment, which ordered meaning hierarchically). As well, because he (it) is seen in many films and novels as living extravagantly and luxuriously (as in the most recent film remake of Bram Stoker’s Dracula). According to Gelder, “the vampire must be exorcised because he represents an excessive form of capitalism” (p19).
The novel Dracula, “has been read as a social psychological, anthropological and political document” as well as an anti-Semitic document and Christian allegory (Wolf, p 257). Radical feminist Andrea Dworkin characterizes Dracula as being “beyond metaphor in its intuitive rendering of an oncoming century filled with sexual horror…sex and death as synonyms…mutilation of the female body as a male heroism and adventure” (Wolf, p 257). It can be read in our present time (with our projecting of our experiences back into the past) as a metaphor for “the Victorian confusion, guilt and anger over the ‘proper’ role of women” (Wolf, p 258). Count Dracula can be seen as a kind of domineering, patriarchal father figure that has a lot of control and power over women.
In a psychological examination of the novel Dracula, you can see the vampire’s identity as ‘the other’ and the identity of those who see the vampire, as ‘the self’. “It is possible to read the vampire as a Self-image, a means of figuring socio-political-sexual excess which although represented as foreign…lie much closer to home” (Gelder, p 43).
In the 1930’s film culture, a ‘vamp’ was “a woman who seduced men and sucked them dry of all their self-respect and their souls” (Olivio Salazar), so the vampire could be seen as an outlet for role reversal of women in a patriarchal society. A female vampire, like women ‘possessed’ by witches could use this to break free from their oppressed status.
This breaking free is evident where some anthropologists have found ways of seeing Dracula, the king of all vampires, as “representing the liberating power of the menses in women” (Wolf, p 259). Before meeting Dracula, [like the three women in The Witches of Eastwick before they meet Darryl (Satan)], the women are dressed in uncomfortable, unflattering dresses, and spoke meekly. After their encounter with the Count (as with Satan in The Witches) they become carefree, unencumbered, and voluptuous, in unrestrictive flowing clothing (Wolf, p 259).
Novelist Anne Rice, says that the vampire is “a metaphor for the outsider, the alienated” (Wolf, p 260). According to Rice, Dracula and vampirism have become “an admirable symbol of the solitary exile” (Wolf, p 260).
Q: When you were younger (at school) how did you feel you fit in with the other kids?
A: I was an outsider and pretty much introverted.
Q: Did you always have a feeling you didn't belong in the 'normal' world that people such as teachers and other authority figures earmark for you?
Personally, through my research, I have come to the conclusion that the vampire symbolizes humanity’s innate fear of growing old, and of death itself, because that in itself is the great unknown and the vampire’s struggle between life and death is one of humanity's great mysteries.
As evident in the many works of film (dating back since 1922’s Nosferatu there has been 29 films about Dracula and the vampire) in literature, and its prevalence in societal beliefs around the world, the conventional view of the vampire as culturally marginal has shifted to a “recognition that the vampire is not only central to culture but may even be (re)constructing it in its own image” (Gelder, p 142).
The Modern Vampire in Society (Interview Questions)
I am going to include the rest of the questions I asked of Osiris and his answers that did not directly fit into the paper, but that are interesting anyway and gives an idea about what it is like for the modern vampire to live in today’s world.
Q: Can you really live longer than 'regular' people?
A: No. As I said we are basically humans. We may have shorter or longer lives depending on our overall lifestyle.
Q: How do you feel about modern Vampire films like 'Queen of the Damned' (that focus on real vampires). Do they portray you properly?
A: Emphatically NO! They are still the works of fiction and do not portray “REAL” vampires in the slightest. They still take their ideals from the fiction and mythos of the last 2 centuries.
Q: How 'out' are you to the public/society?
A: I am pretty out myself. Work does not know, but friends, most of my family, and in most cases, people I meet know soon after.
Q: How do people react when they discover that you are a vampire?
A: Depends on the person. Some are intrigued. Others fearful. Others aroused. Still others completely terrified.
Q: Do you feel society is more accepting to alternative lifestyles like vampirism (and Wicca)?
A: I feel that as a whole society is accepting of most alternative lifestyles such as being Wiccan or Buddhist or even being Homosexual. However, they view the consumption of human blood as an atrocity and as being a mentally challenged (read Psycho) person. I do not think society, as a whole, is ready to accept Vampires into the mainstream or even alternative world.
Q: what do you 'get out of' being a vampire? (benefits)
A: Really, I have no benefits. I do not enjoy being a vampire. I have slightly heightened senses. I can hear both ultra high and low sounds. I have a very high sense of smell. Yes I can smell blood even in low amounts. My vision even with glasses is relatively keen as well. I heal pretty fast from most major injuries (fractured finger healed in a week and ½ without a doctor’s aid). Overall though it is a curse more than a blessing.
Q: When did you first realize you were a vampire?
A: I have always had the taste for blood. I was drinking the blood of others even as a child. I did not begin to call myself a vampire until my teens and did not fully awaken to the fact I was one until my late teens .
Q: What was your parents/friends/lovers reaction?
A: Parents: Freaked but accept me and love me still.
Friends: it varied but for the most part they accept me.
Lovers: again it varied, but most of my donors are either my current or former lovers.
Q: Do you feel that the recent explosion of vampire and general occult TV programming and films will lead to more vampiric awakenings amongst people?
A: I think there will be a surge in blood fetishists, but as for awakenings. I do not believe so. You will have a lot of role players and wannabes but they will eventually grow out of it. I have been this way since childhood. No signs of my "growing out of it".
Q: What would you say differentiates real vampires and their lifestyle to those 'wannabe' vampires who see it as 'cool' or a temporary trend?
A: The physical symptoms I have named earlier. A wannabe will not have the withdrawal symptoms and illness vampires do. It is almost like a junkie in need of the fix but worse in my opinion because without the drug, the junkie can recover. Without the blood we do not.
Q: do you feel discriminated against in everyday life?
A: Well if work knew, I could probably lose my job as it is high profile. So yes I would say I am in a way.
Q: The vampiric lifestyle can obviously operate on a number of different levels. What would you say these were? and what level do you see yourself on?
A: Hmmmm I would say that there are really only two ways the lifestyle works...
In the coffin as I like to say or out of it. I am definitely for the most part out of the coffin. This is much like the closet for a homosexual. When they come out, they are out to the world for the most part or the important people in their lives, while not the entire world at large.
Q: People always fear the unknown or out of the norm. Do you feel it would make it easier for you if people were more educated about your way of life, or is this not important to you?
A: I really think those who wish to learn will ask the right questions. Those who will never learn will continue to fear. So no, I do not believe that education is the key to this. It is in the hearts of the individuals. As there will always be a racist or a homophobe or a religious zealot, there will always be those who fear that which is different from them.
Q: How do you convince (that might be the wrong word) people to give you their blood? Do you actually bite them? or do they let their own blood for you?
A: Usually it is with a sterile scalpel as it does far less tissue damage than a bite. I will bite into the wound which keeps it open and the blood flowing a bit more freely. Some make the incision themselves while others are too squeamish to do it so I make the cut. Mostly it is just a sort of talking to. An explanation of what will happen and the safety aspects and precautions to prevent infection. A lot of donors are quite willing to give their blood to a vamp. That is why they are donors.
Q: Vampires or Vampyres: what is the difference? Why the different spelling?
A: Most vamps use the Vampyre to set themselves apart from the mythological vampire. I personally have no preference on this.
Q: Do you know of many other real vampires like yourself?
A: At the moment, I am acquainted with 30 nationwide on a personal level and 2 on an international level.
Q: Are you bothered by how vampires are portrayed in popular culture/media? Or do you just see it as ignorance and a way for big corporations to make money (i.e. Count Chocula cereal, or the vampire in Sesame Street), so you don't let it get to you?
A: I think they portray what they have heard for so long because it really is all they know. Superstitions and legends, myths from a time long ago. Besides, being as real vampires are pretty much like you or any other person on earth, it would be boring to see or read about as there are no special powers, no hypersexaulity, no special effects.
Q: Would you even want to present to society how you actually are?
A:I do not think they are ready to listen. Plus as I stated above, we are really pretty boring.
Q: What are the similarities (and differences) between the mythical/folkloric vampire and the 'real'/living vampire?
A: Mainly the powers. They are only "real" for the mythological vampire. I wish I had a few nifty tricks up my sleeves, but I don't. We don't burn in the sun, well any more than anyone else. I do burn pretty quick and can get a severe sunburn in less than an hour, but I do not turn to dust and burst into flames. The stake through the heart, well it will kill anyone. Garlic..love the stuff. Crosses, I actually enjoy looking at the old gothic crosses. They are beautiful. I only back off when someone tries to shove it up my nose. Holy water, just a refreshing drink or splash. The only real main similarity is that we must drink blood to survive.
Me: Thank you very much for any help you can give in answering these questions!
Osiris: You are most welcome. If I can assist you any further, please let me know.
In conclusion, like witches, vampires have a variety of interpretations to explain societal problems and social ills and the unknown. Because the vampire was a strictly rural and peasant phenomenon throughout history, the vampire is a product of a marginalized people, until the 1700’s in the West where the vampire gained popularity through written documents and accounts. Since then, through film and literature, the image and symbol of the vampire has only grown and metamorphosed into something almost indistinguishable from the ancient folkloric vampire. Vampires existed and exist because there is a need to “explain the unexplainable” (Pearson). The symbol, myth and meaning of the vampire will forever be changing to suit the time and place, and flourish in people’s imaginations.