Sanguinarius was first conceived in 1996 after a failed pre-Internet attempt to find and network real vampires around the country and internationally way back around 1993 or ‘94. I was a member of a rather secretive organization back then, whose intent closely mirrored my own personal agenda; unfortunately, the group never really got off the ground due to social politics, drama, and distrust. It was secretive mainly to try and keep fakers, posers and roleplayers out, rather than for any nefarious reasons. But, those who were not accepted into the organization for whatever reasons, as well as those who just heard about it from them, destroyed our little network through negative publicity. I think we managed to get all of two newsletters published. We finally disbanded and went our separate ways.
I let the thought gel a while, and when I caught wind of the internet and managed to get a hold of an old computer and get connected on AOL, I started trying to publish a personal home page with my side of the story, and a few snippets of vampiric advice that I had managed to learn or pick up on my own. Thus was born The Home Page of Sanguinarius (late ’96 or early ’97). I’d scour the internet for hours, trying to find other decent pages to link to and (self-identified) “real vampires” to talk to. I didn’t know a lot back then and had many misconceptions as to what “real vampires” should be.
At some point, I added a message board and a chat room to my page, and others (both vampires and non-vampires alike) began to find me and actually take me seriously. I knew there were others “like me” out there! I took a deep breath and made the decision to change my page’s name to Sanguinarius: The Vampire Support Page; I refocused my efforts from “setting the story straight” to collecting information and advice and helping others learn about real vampires and themselves.
I’m piecing together little fragments from my memories so please bear with me.
I remember back then, I had the time and resources to talk to others one-on-one, read and answer posts and emails daily, and host a regularly scheduled chat to give vampires and those seeking a time they knew others would be talking in the chat room (rather than being like isolated ships passing in the night but missing each other). I practiced early forms of SEO (search engine optimization) and marketing before the term “SEO” even caught on. Sanguinarius‘s popularity began to grow and attract more people.
There were a small number of “real vampire” articles floating around the ‘Net and emails (they weren’t all so good by today’s standards, but I still had a lot to learn both about real vampires and myself). One article which I posted on my page (I was so happy! I had an ARTICLE to offer my visitors!), the author eventually contacted me and let me know that she would rather not have the article published so I took it down and began searching for and soliciting things more suitable.
Meanwhile, I continued to search for information, sites and other real vampires, and add various useful or informative things to my site, and it slowly grew. It outgrew my allotted webspace for my AOL account so I moved onto Tripod, a free website-hosting company. Raphael Osiris, the webmaster of the now-defunct Coven Organization, offered me a “coffin box” (webspace) on his server and I gratefully accepted because I could install more useful tools. His site boasted all sorts of nifty real vampire and vampyre lifestyle resources. I remember his site ran V.I.T.A.E. Search, the Vampire Internet Topical Access Engine; it gave me the idea to start my own directory and focus solely on real vampires (back then, before FaceBook made everyone lazy, lots of people had their own actual web pages); and thus The Real Vampire Directory was born.
But there was trouble in the works and The Coven Organization website was down and up again several times — along with it, all the hosted coffin boxes, including Sanguinarius. A good friend, Sangpoursang (who, alas, is no longer with us), felt my site needed consistency and reliability and so sprung for the sanguinarius.org domain. At first, I didn’t do much with it; just used it mainly as a backup in case TCO went down again (I still had my spot at Tripod, after all). But when TCO finally disappeared for good, and I discovered that I could have complete control over my site, had a real CGI bin to add useful scripts, logs, backups, etc., I went for it and moved fully onto Sanguinarius.org. To hell with Tripod.
Meanwhile, Channel #Sanguinarius, my Dalnet chat room, was beginning to take off and had many visitors coming through; some stayed and became longtime regulars and we had many a great conversation late into the night in that place!
At some point, I converted my original InsidetheWeb message board into what would become the Vam-Personals, if it wasn’t already called that; I’d moved my regular message board to either ezBoard (now Yuku) or Server.com; not sure — I think it was ezBoard; Server.com came later. Lots of self-identified real vampires and seekers and posers posted their “ads” on the VamPersonals. Some were desperately seeking others to communicate with; some were looking for blood; some were wanting to become vampires; some were just screwing with people (there was very little moderation because I was beginning to get busier than I used to be).
Back then, the general vampire community was in a fright due to postings and threats and blusterings from alleged hunters and slayers. Most of them were probably bored roleplayers messing around. Some I’m sure were a little crazy and into weapons and such and all of them tended to pontificate upon things like the best way to kill real vampires (they didn’t distinguish us real vampires from folkloric, fictional, undead, superhuman or immortal ones); what weapons were best; or how many they’d already dispatched. On the other hand, I have no doubt that a few of them were serious about harming real (human living) vampires or their pets or property; I’d heard a few tales from vampires on damages; one was gang-raped, for instance; another had their pet dog murdered. So this kind of shit does go on, but, looking back on things, it was by no means as prevalent as many feared.
At one point, I went undercover (sort of) and created a vampire hunter’s persona and page to kind of give them all a place to congregate so I could keep an eye on them. laughs I know, silly, but some of the shit they’d say would make your hair turn grey. For a while, the page actually garnered a fair amount of respect in the “hunter/slayer community” (if you could call it that) until I had to turn it over to a minion (ok, a helper…I like “minion” better) due to time and resource constraints.
There was a time when most of the self-identified real vampires were blood-feeders, but there began to be more and more psychic vampires dominating the arena with their needs and beliefs. They would accuse the previously dominant blood drinkers of being fakes and claim that they — the psy-vampires — were the real vampires. It seemed every conversation one of US started got turned into a psy-vampire topic. Blood drinkers had nowhere we could go to just talk amongst ourselves and share our own experiences with each other. By this time, The Vampire Community Message Board was on Server.com and I created a separate message board for us (no psy-vampires allowed), titled Bloody Minded: A Message Board for Blood Drinkers. Things began to heat up. A lot. Bloody Minded gave the blood-vampires a place to call home and gave them courage to speak up, and stand up to the psy-vampires (nowadays called psi vampires, or psivamps for short). The tension kept rising until, in a nutshell, all hell broke loose and a “war” of sorts broke out between the bloods and the psys; it almost ripped the community apart. You can read about this in greater detail in my article, “From the Beginning…”
There were other issues going on, as well. What to call ourselves? “Vampire” had (still has) so much cultural, fictional and folkloric baggage attached to it. Sometime during this general time period, Amy Krieytaz and I put our heads together and coined the term “sanguinarian” as an alternative to “real vampire”, or “blood vampire”, in order to start new and remove some of the preconceptions. We wanted to come up with a term for “psy-vampires”, as well, but Vyrdolak, author of the Fireheart article “Real Vampires” and webmistress of the now-current By Light Unseen, strongly opposed the term because it was based on her actual surname or her family’s name. So we quickly dropped that. I won’t say what it was; I don’t want to inadvertently give it life again.
There was much discussion on what a real vampire should be and shouldn’t be. And there was no rhyme or reason to the terminology different people used. For instance, some used “vampire” while others used “vampyre” to differentiate real vampires from fictional or folkloric, while others did it in reverse. I think even before this point, I had begun to collect terms and do my best to define them in order to bring some kind of standardization to the vampire community. This has had wide usage and later became the book,
The Dictionary of Vampspeak.
As for Sanguinarius‘s role in the vampiric community, I have always had my Statements of Purpose to show my agenda and goals. I have tried to stay on-target and periodically refer to them to refresh them in my mind. Sometimes, if my direction changes, I’ll give them an update or add to them.
I have tried to avoid drama, and not infrequently have mediated in disputes between individuals. I generally avoid affiliations unless I think doing so better serves the community; staying neutral has allowed Sanguinarius to reach and help many more people than it would have otherwise. Also, my site has provided resources to allow others to network with each other and organizations. Sometimes, I do take a side and speak out if I see something is going badly, or is not beneficial to the community. Sometimes, I just work quietly, behind the scenes… Often, Sanguinarius has worked with or assisted in the promotion of individuals and organizations that I feel are honestly working toward the goal of community betterment or developing their own resources.
Sanguinarius began as a simple home page, then began evolving to meet the ever-changing, ever-growing needs of an expanding community: from a small group of blood drinkers, to the psi-vampires, to the vampyric lifestyle and sub-culture, to otherkin and therians in more recent years. The community has grown and changed over the years; people have come and gone. New faces with desires to further the community appeared on the scene, which has, to an extent, allowed Sanguinarius (and it’s webmistress, me — “Sangi”) to step back a little from having to do everything and let others enthusiastically take it upon themselves to do some of the work I and my site used to do.
Currently, I am attempting to modernize and restructure Sanguinarius, and automate the process of website submission and publication, to better serve the vampire and otherkin community, both on- and offline. Comments will be allowed — indeed, welcomed — so that discussion of the articles and information may easily take place. User-roles are being created so that those wishing to help out or give back in some way are more easily able to assist. Maybe…just maybe…this new version of Sanguinarius will enable me to get back to one of my early purposes and bring a better level of support to individuals seeking information, advice or community.