Contributions By: Sylvere ap Leanan, Michelle Belanger, Merticus, Zero, Maloryn, & RedRaven[Sangi’s note: This document is based on a similar document written by Sylvere ap Leanan, but contains contributions, additions, and rewrites by the individuals listed above. It was written as an alternative to the Black Veil because many members of the OVC felt the Black Veil was too RPGish, and had originated as a set of guidelines for LARPers (Live Action Role Players). Even though the Black Veil was rewritten a number of times to reflect the evolving needs and viewpoints of the OVC (and later the Ordo Strigoi Vii), it was still widely regarded as RPGish and pretentious. This document, The Vampire Ethos, was written from the ground up with real vampires and the vampiric community in mind. It serves as a suitable alternative set of guidelines for the community. I would hope many will adopt these as their own and strive to adhere to them, though doing so is purely voluntary; it consists of mainly common-sense guidelines formed out of respect for both others and oneself.]
We recognize the intrinsic value of everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or spiritual philosophy. We do not follow or promote any particular religious, political, or philosophical creed. Our community strives to create an atmosphere in which individuals are not only free to create their own meanings, values, and convictions, but also expected to do so. To that end, this document represents a basic premise for ethical, educational, and safety awareness within the vampire community.
Use of the phrase “vampire community” implies all those who actively participate in the discourse and social interaction surrounding vampirism. This includes those who personally identify with the psychic (psi), pranist, sanguine (sang), or living vampi(y)re archetype and subsequently practice what is known as modern vampirism. It includes the donors who many such vampires rely on and trust with their health and safety. It also includes those friends, advocates, and supporters who contribute their own voices to online discussion and offline interaction, as well as those who approach the community in the spirit of sincere discussion. Though it is primarily intended as a forum for vampires and donors to share their experiences, the vampire community is the result of all of these types of participation. There is no class system within the community, and we reject any imposed social structure which values some community members over others. All of us are relevant to the community and to each other.
If we want the respect of others, we must in turn be willing to afford them the same respect. Our beliefs evolve from our own unique experiences; there is no one set of “rules”, nor one path that’s right for everyone. There is no harm in disagreements amongst one another; however, discourteous behavior should be avoided when possible. We promote the fair treatment of others with open-minded contemplation of their views. However, it violates our principles to expect undeserved deference, or to accommodate that expectation in others. We will not grant respect to those who by their actions prove themselves unworthy of such. The vampire community is comprised of individuals with diverse social backgrounds and spiritual paths. Although we may not agree with someone else’s belief, practice, or tradition, we all have a common right to exist, and to participate in the community.
We encourage originality and self-expression tempered by personal accountability. Each of us is solely responsible for our own words and behavior. No member of our community, whether vampire, donor, or advocate is isolated from the rest — our actions reflect not only on ourselves, but also on the rest of the community. More adept or tenured members of the community should assist those who ask for advice, each in accordance with their own ability and absent of any personal agenda. We recognize the existence of sensationalist media and its potential threat to both the safety and privacy of ourselves and our loved ones. We expect those members of our community who appear in public, whether at social functions, in print, or on the Internet, the radio, or film to act in accordance with these principles — to conduct themselves at all times in a responsible manner.
The vampire community is the result of its members engaging in self-discovery; it is not a prefabricated identity. Whether one is a vampire or donor, a friend or supporter, the substance of the community is formed through our self-awareness and interaction. We are true to ourselves, and encourage self-awareness in others, so that we all can live according to our own aesthetics and consciences. While it is acceptable to use pseudonyms as alternatives for proper names, we believe that adopting a phony persona robs us of the opportunity to form genuine, lasting bonds with each other. The vampire community is a product of our own individual contributions and perspectives; in this culture being untrue to oneself strips the entire community of relevance and purpose. In addition to our own self-awareness, we should be aware of what goes on within our community, striving always to foster a safe and structured environment for ourselves and others.
Vampires and donors alike are committed to protecting the safety of their loved ones and themselves. We will make every effort to educate ourselves on safe feeding methods, including but not limited to: basic anatomy and physiology, first aid, sterilization, disease prevention, and safer sex practices. In all matters relating to feeding we will exercise judgment with a clear and alert mind, acknowledging the bond between vampire and donor. Anyone who performs an activity that is knowingly harmful, negligent, or contrary to the prior expressed desires of a donor may endure harsh and openly voiced or published criticism within the vampire community as well as potentially become subject to involvement from law enforcement.
We encourage adhering to the following practices:
- We do not fail to thoroughly screen donors for both physical and mental health conditions and concerns with frequently updated testing information as applicable. Likewise, we do not fail to uphold all applicable laws governing legal age of consent and matters relating to blood consumption or exchange.
- We do not feed from those who are knowingly infected with HIV, Hepatitis, or other blood-borne diseases or from those whose physical afflictions or condition places them at risk of harm by either sanguine or psychic feeding.
- We do not feed from someone whose psychological health we have reason to believe may be harmed by either sanguine or psychic feeding
- We do not allow others to feed from us if our physical or mental health is in any manner compromised or we harbor any doubt as to our present health status.
- We do not fail to practice safer sex, and likewise do not feed from those who do not practice safer sex. Blood exchange should occur between consenting adults, ideally while engaged in a monogamous relationship or otherwise universally agreed upon arrangement.
- We do not feed from anyone who is intoxicated, under the influence of illicit or illegal substances, or otherwise unable to render informed written or verbal consent.
- We do not draw unfavorable attention to our donors or ourselves by either flaunting feeding practices in an inappropriate setting or by exposing ourselves to those who actively seek to exploit us for personal gain.
- Whether we are vampires or are donors, we are not hesitant to report illegal behavior to law enforcement and remove ourselves from harmful situations.