By Corvis Nocturnum
Almost parallel to “normal everyday life” there is another. At night we find Vampires do exist in dark nightclubs across the country, and we occasionally find Satanists performing rituals who aren’t Devil worshipers at all. There are people dressed as Dominatrices, complete in bondage gear, in this world rich in its mix of diverse and wondrous people, each one having their own story. In dealing with our fellow travelers in the dark, it is a razor’s edge we walk. Strangers stare in childlike awe or whisper, of course, but to become accepted among any of them, treat them as you wish to be treated. Above all be respectful. This goes for anyone, at any stage of acceptance, which is sometimes forgotten. Ironically, respect and proper behavior, which may be inconstant in everyday life of a vast amount of most “regular” people, is demanded among the majority of people in so-called “alternative” religions and lifestyles.
No matter your own title or that of those in your presence, bear in mind the old adage of attracting more flies with honey. In nearly every subcultural community, no matter how diverse the type, elders have laid out detailed documents of proper behavior. As much as it may shock the lay person, Satanists follow much more than one might think; The Eleven Rules of the Earth, The Nine Satanic Statements. The Vampire Community has The Black Veil. BDSM lifestylers have protocol. Many of these written guidelines have their origins in Renaissance times, were courtly behavior was expected. The medieval courtiers of literature were gentlemen, a compilation of traits ranging from classical scholar, well-dressed in their choice in attire, a cut above the common in public speaking. All of this influencing and codifying the precise qualities from chivalric codes and nobility, and is the source of the flawless dress, impeccable speech and manners of an English gentleman of old. Just because Satanists, Vampires (or Vampyres, depending on your preference) and Goths may look freakish does not preclude them from having societal manners. In fact, possessing the commonly shared intellect and individuality that made them outcasts is a hallmark of our predecessors. From classics writers such as Byron, Poe, Shelly, and Stoker, and their literary works that are such an influence on Vampires’ and Goths’ Edwardian style of jewelry and dress, to works of art by people such as Joseph Vargo, Brom, and myself, have a far reaching effect in many ways. Etiquette in dark subcultures today came from a bygone era where it was a given to act as a polished and refined as one could — exemplary specimens of human dignity, a living example of an ideal society.
It is important to understand the attitude of the past in comparison of today, especially in dealing with issues among alternative people.
There are areas of debate in ethics and safety among Vampires. It is touchy, in giving and taking of blood. Some cling to its necessity, whether it is symbolic and magical or not. The debate rages. The feeding type debate here is used for many reasons. Two examples are for the purpose of psychology, the other safety.
Safety and common sense should need no guidelines, but an alarming amount of people take no heed to it. If for no other reason than following proper protocol, newbies hopefully will save themselves from AIDS, and any other STDs. Rules can be useful as a psychological tool here. If new members want to social-climb, they need follow guidelines to save face. If it also saves their lives, so much the better — a lot of leaders make it mandatory that their members get checked for diseases. Seeing as BDSM aspects of bloodplay and the erotic nature of vampires in general merge, safe sex is encouraged. The overlap in these subcultures is severe at times, due to shared interests, and mentalities.
Dangers do exist, especially online, where anyone can claim to be whatever they wish, egos rise to ridiculous levels. This sad fact rears its ugly head as witnessed in the news of true deviants who use the net as a stalking tool to find victims, as these serial killers pretending to be a good Master or Dominant seeking a Slave or Submissive. Alarming rates of people think they have to ignore common sense to be a subject under or with BDSM lifestylers. The law automatically assumes practitioners are deviants en masse, and sweeps in — hence the secrecy generally found among many of these subcultures. Safe houses and guidelines have luckily been appearing more and more.
On shows such as CSI the demeanor presented of most vampires is more than slightly skewed. A negative portrayal for entertainment, depicting vampires as deranged sociopaths instead of rational people who have a differing sense of style, needs, and beliefs. Televisions or movies portray the two extremes of good and bad in these kinds of groups. Yes, the images in fiction most of us see or read about are vile or are anti-heroes like Lestat of the Anne Rice novels, or Laurel K. Hamilton’s Jean-Claude. Yes, they personify the 14th century dress, elegance and meticulously delivered speech. One in particular, such as “The Vampire” Don Henrie, has this allure. Some may feel these traits are pretentious or arrogant. However, instead of having little or no regard to his fellow clubber, he has an almost regal quality. Don allows no politics on his official website, and disdains gossip in person. If others followed his example perhaps there would be less strife in the community.
Underneath this thin veneer of poise lay predators, at times. Some have no ethics and prey upon the unwary; deeming it their right to use anyone as a living battery, to throw away when its usefulness is used up. To these people, it is as Deacon Frost said in the first Blade movie, “These people are cattle, our food.” Fortunately, others however feed from ambient energy in clubs, concerts, harming no one. They follow The Black Veil, clinging to manners to disprove the stereotype of malice that folklore and modern fiction paint them. Clubs of a BDSM nature or large raves have been shut down by authorities, under the pretense of prostitution or drug raids because society fears what it does not understand. Some Pagans buy into the same hype and fear, treating Satanists and Vampires in a similar fashion as some of the Christians throughout history reacted to them, short of killing them! An ironic double standard. There are Vampire churches. The Church of Satan is as equally protected as Wicca is in the U.S. Army guidebook, but it does not seem to matter. To protect our image, dark pagans, Goths, etc., either behave perfectly to prove false their unwarranted harassment, or lash out without any code of proper conduct.
Michelle Belanger’s Psychic Vampire Codex explains clearly the types of Vampires that walk among us and ethically details both feeding techniques and conduct. My own book, Embracing the Darkness; Understanding Dark Subcultures explained away misconceptions many groups face in their own words, the feelings and reasons for being misunderstood from a plethora of individuals in hopes the mainstream would fear us less. But more importantly, we both strive to provide a voice for our peers, and offer guidance we didn’t have.
True predators exist in all classes of people, from doctors and lawyers in our everyday life to punks in the street. Just because the modern vampire happens to feel comfortable in an archetypical presentation publicly does not a monster make. It is unfortunate that the shadow side of life is full of many egomaniacs who believe their path condones rudeness, and malicious or unethical behavior. But it is the individuals’ choice, not the type of lifestyle that dictates such things. The “asshole effect”, as Dark Pagan John J. Coughlin calls it, of many in the left hand path who selfishly disregard the responsibility that power and leadership demand. One must strive to serve while leading, becoming an example. That is the role of an Elder, High Priest, or Dominant.
The best defense against attacks is to leave no chinks in your own armor. Keeping a good reputation is vital, guard your reputation carefully, one seldom gets the chance to earn respect twice in life. By acting noble, you inspire confidence. The words we use are weapons in the war of wills. People judge you by it as much as they do your choice of dress. There is power in a good vocabulary; it speaks of good breeding, manners, and intelligence.
If you wish to be treated like a king, then act like a king. It has been said “For to princes and other great men, it is a rule to rule themselves that rule others.” Ambition is a fine thing, and craving the finer things or power is not evil, but how it is gained, and how it is wielded is important. I am an elitist who wants to have the best in life. But I remember how hard the climb was and who helped me get there.
Tread lightly in the dark; you never know who you step on!