By Michelle Belanger
The Black Veil is a set of ethical guidelines designed to serve as a moral compass for the vampire community. The original Black Veil was written by Father Sebastiaan van Houten (then-called Father Todd) for the Sanguinary Society (later the Sanguinarium) in 1999 (possibly 1998). Subsequent revisions were made by Michelle Belanger in the fall of 2000 and later in 2003. As there is such diversity within the vampire community, the Black Veil has been the focus of much debate and controversy. Many who first encounter the document assume that it is intended as a strictly enforced set of rules. Others question the applicability of any set of guidelines to the community as a whole. Finally, there is the issue of the first published version of the Black Veil, which many felt owed a great deal of inspiration to the “Traditions” of the role-playing game, Vampire: the Masquerade.
The Black Veil as it stands now is purely a set of guidelines and moral suggestions. While it still serves as the backbone for the Sanguinarium and the new Order of the Strigoi Vii, it has also been adopted by numerous groups and individuals who share no affiliation whatsoever with either of these groups.
The first mention of the Black Veil appears in the 1998-1999 edition of the Vampyre Almanac and reads:
The central philosophy of the “Black Veil” revolves around 1) hospitality 2) unity of the family 3) prevention of negative media exploitation and fundamentalist attacks 4) maintaining the mystique of the vampyre aesthetic 5) inspiring chivalry & honor.
A subsequent version published on the Internet was reminiscent of the seven Traditions of the Masquerade. These rules were followed by the fictitious secret society of vampires supposed to exist within and throughout the modern world as depicted by the authors of Vampire: the Masquerade (Mike Rhein-Hagen, et. al).
This first version was unacceptable not only because of the issues of possible plagiarism raised by others in the community, but also because the perception that these rules intended for the real vampire community had been drawn from a role playing game seriously trivialized the legitimacy of that community. Subsequently, Michelle Belanger got involved and requested permission to revise the Black Veil in order to increase its legitimacy and appeal. The resulting ‘Thirteen Rules of Community’, released in the fall of 2000, were clearly removed from any RPG influence and tailored more to the needs of the community at that time.
At Endless Night in October of 2003, a meeting between representatives of the Vampire Church, Bloodlines, the Sanguinarium, and individuals from many other independent organizations gave rise to a second revision of the Black Veil. This version was released a few weeks later. Trimmed down from thirteen and back to seven rules, the new Black Veil was streamlined to remove pretentious and overly “Goth” language to once again increase its appeal to the continuously evolving greater community. The main idea behind this final revision was to express, in plain and simple language, the ethics already innately valued by the majority of that community.
As it stands now, the Black Veil is intended as a set of guidelines only. There is no obligation on the part of anyone within the vampire community to strictly follow these rules, and there is certainly no way to enforce them. However, as these guidelines were an attempt to give voice to the unspoken rules generally followed by everyone anyway, we feel that they adequately reflect the values upheld by many individuals within the community. At the core, they are simply common sense rules of behavior based upon respect for oneself and for others.
Beyond expressing the values held by a majority of the community, the main function of the Black Veil is to provide a widely publicized ethical code that the media can see when issues arise that might reflect poorly upon our community. When someone commits rape, assault, or murder and attempts to tie this to vampires or vampirism, we merely have to point to the tenets of the Black Veil to show that such behavior is not condoned by our community and that those who commit such crimes are acting well beyond the bounds of what we consider acceptable. In this, the Black Veil exists more for our own protection than anything else, and its continued existence insures that those outside of our community have a more positive view of who we are, what we do, and why we do it.[Sanguinarius and Sanguinarius.org support and endorse this version of the Black Veil.]
Below is the third version of the Black Veil endorsed by House Kheperu. To see other versions of the Black Veil and more information, please click back to Sanguinarius’s Articles Index, Vampyric Lifestyle & Culture and select a different version. For an alternative to The Black Veil, refer to The Vampire Ethos.
The Black Veil v. 3 — “House Kheperu Edition”
Respect yourself and present yourself so that others also respect you. Take care in revealing your nature. Explain what you are, not to shock, but to teach and to inform. Do not flaunt what you are, and know that whether you want them to or not, your actions will reflect upon the rest of the community.
Share your nature only with those with the wisdom to understand and accept it, and learn to recognize these people.
Among us, there are many different practices and many points of view. No single one of us has all the answers to who and what we are. Respect each person’s individual choices and beliefs. Learn about them and share what you know. Our diversity is our strength, and we should not allow misunderstanding to weaken our community.
Find the path that is right for you and uphold this freedom for others.
Do not allow your darkness to consume you. You are more than just your hunger, and you can exercise conscious control. Do not be reckless. Always act with a mind toward safety. Never feed because you think this makes you powerful; feed because this is what you must do.
Be true to your nature, but never use it as an excuse to endanger those around you.
Give respect to those who have earned it. Anyone can claim a title, but a true leader will prove him or herself through dedication, hard work, and great deeds. Even so, leaders should be guides and not dictators. Look to them as examples, but always decide for yourself what you must do.
Respect the person, not the position, and understand that your choices are always your own.
Know that there are repercussions to every action, and that you alone are responsible for your decisions. Educate yourself about risky behaviors, then always act with wisdom and common sense. Do not allow others to abuse you, but also, do not selfishly abuse.
Respect the rights of others and treat them as you would be treated.
Feeding should occur between consenting adults. Allow donors to make an informed decision before they give of themselves to you. Do not take rapaciously from others, but seek to have an exchange that is pleasant and beneficial for all.
Respect the life that you feed upon and do not abuse those who provide for you.
Reach out to others in your community. Exchange ideas, information, and support. Be hospitable to others, and appreciate hospitality when it is extended to you. Do not engage in illegal activity, for this can endanger us all.
Seek to nurture our community and support all those who do the same.
Written by Father Sebastiaan circa 1998 and revised by Michelle Belanger in 2000 & 2003.
Note: a copy of the Black Veil (v 3.0) appears in the back of the forthcoming book The Psychic Vampire Codex: A Manual of Magick and Energy Work, by Michelle Belanger.