"Real Vampires"- how can this be anything but a contradiction in terms? We all know about vampires. Stock characters of fiction, guaranteed box-office draws, the media vampire has been familiar to us since childhood. Generally speaking, our blood-suckers appear with a tongue planted firmly in one toothy cheek-from Bela Lugosi hamming it up in the 1950's, to last summer's teenage "vamp" movies, to Count Chocula breakfast cereal, the media seldom treat the vampire as truly fearsome. The stereotyped vampire traits are familiar to any child: vampires have big fangs, sleep in coffins, are instantly incinerated by sunlight, and are best dispatched by a stake through the heart. But the most important "fact" that we all know of course is that there are no such things. Of course, in terms of the mythical, literary and cinematic conventions, we are correct: there are no "legions of the undead" stalking the unwary. We have explained the folklore with politics, misunderstood diseases, and hysteria, the literary and cinematic images with psychology, history, and sociology. We of the 20th century are confident that vampires could not really exist. But then, most of us are never forced to think otherwise. For a number of people, the concept of vampires becomes a critical and often lifelong concern. To live with, love, or befriend a real vampire is to encounter a set of problems which may demand expanding the boundaries of one's accepted reality. To come to terms with being a real vampire oneself is to face a lifetime's karmic challenge. Some people reading this article already know this. The rest are probably thinking, "Real Vampires, give me a break! Sure, there are some pretty weird people out there, but all they need is a good therapist." Yes, there are people who take on all the trappings of a gothic novel: dressing in black, claiming or pretending to be "vampires" in the supernatural sense, wearing capes, sleeping in boxes, even getting their teeth capped. There are more frightening people who seek to torture or kill animals or human beings in order to gain power, emotional release or sexual thrill, and who sometimes call themselves (or are called) "vampires". But most of these individuals are troubled people who have been attracted by the cultural myths about the vampire: supernatural powers (because they feel powerless), overwhelming sexuality (because most of them have sexual issues and no true relationships), immortality (because they fear aging and death). Individuals like these are the most recent "explanation" for humanity's persistent belief in vampires. But beyond and behind all the folklore, the psychological theories, the role playing, even the traditional spiritual assumptions, lies the real truth about vampires. The field of vampirology is complex and mysterious. There are many aspects to the vampire phenomenon, and they would require several books to fully explore. One aspect of vampirism which frequently troubles magickal, spiritual and other small groups, the most common form of vampire, is found among living people who share with us the benefits and disadvantages of physical existence on this plane, yet are not quite human. These people appear on the surface to be somewhat eccentric members of society, yet their outward idiosyncrasies only hint at how different they are from those around them. Each of us incarnates for a lifetime with a certain way of relating to the physical world through the vehicle of our physical body. A vampire is a person born with an extraordinary capacity to absorb, channel, transform, and manipulate "pranic energy" or life force. She also has a critical energy imbalance which reels wildly from deficit to overload and back again. This capacity for handling energy is a gift, but the constant imbalance of her own system is the cause of the negative behavior patterns and characteristics which may be notable about a vampiric person. Real vampires do not necessarily drink blood-in fact, most of them do not. Blood-drinking and vampirism have been confused to the extent that for the average person, a vampire is defined as something that drinks blood (such as a "vampire bat"). But when we look beyond casual assumptions to the details of common beliefs, we find something quite different. Throughout both folklore and literature, there is an understanding that vampires require energy or life force. Many old folktales accept that vampires suck blood, yet never describe this actually happening. The victims slowly decline and waste away, and the survivors assume that some evil fiend is draining them of blood. They know that the Bible says, "the blood is the life", and anyone who was losing their life force must be losing blood. Yet, in many instances the vampire's "attack" does not even involve physical contact. In others, it is clearly sexual energy which is exchanged.1 Fresh blood is the highest known source of pranic energy (life force).2 Human beings have practiced blood-drinking for many reasons throughout history, but drinking blood alone does not indicate that a person is a vampire. Only real vampires can directly absorb the pranic energy in fresh blood, and for this reason some real vampires are attracted to blood and find different means of obtaining it.3 However, it is a rare vampire who cannot absorb energy in much more subtle ways. This is the mechanism that causes real vampires to inflict harm on others and themselves if they fail to recognize what is happening and do conscious work on transforming their inner natures. Vampires are no more likely to be either malicious or spiritually aware than the general population, but without awareness, they can spend their lives making themselves and others unhappy, and will continue to incarnate in this pattern until they take action to change it. There are a number of external symptoms of vampirism, but it is important to realize that some of them are found in ordinary human behavior. Real vampires are identifiable partly because they have a majority of the symptoms, not just one or two. But more significantly, real vampires are distinguished by a certain quality to the energy. While anyone reading a description of the symptoms and behavior patterns might find a few that apply to people he knows, or even to himself, real vampires have a way of standing out vividly to everyone who interacts with them. There are few people who do not know at least one vampire. Physically, vampires are usually "night people"" on a biochemical level. They have inverted circadian rhythms, with body cycles such as temperature peaks, menstrual onset, and the production of sleep hormones in the brain occurring at the opposite time of day from most people. They have difficulty adjusting to daytime schedules and frequently work nights. They tend to be photosensitive, avoiding sunlight, sunburning easily, and having excellent night vision. Their vitality ranges widely, and they can be vigorous and active one day, depressed and languorous the next. They frequently have digestive trouble. Even those with cast-iron stomachs have many issues with food that are rooted in their constant hunger for energy. Contrary to the image of the vampire as thin, many real vampires are troubled by obesity because of a hunger that makes them food addicts, and a system that is sluggish in processing physical food. They are also sometimes troubled by other substance addictions for the same reasons, but since their systems are tuned to pranic energy more than to processing physical substance, they may not be as sensitive to drugs and alcohol as an ordinary person would be. Emotionally and physically, vampires are unpredictable, moody, temperamental and overwhelming. The major distinguishing characteristic of real vampires as opposed to ordinary people who share those qualities is the vampire's intensity. Vampires are extremely intense people. They are frequently given nicknames such as "the black hole." When others talk about them (usually to complain about them), vampires are often described by such terms as "needy," "attention-seeking," "grandstanding," "manipulative," "exhausting," "draining," "monopolizes the conversation," "jealous," "huge ego," and so on. A vampire's emotions are deep, fervent, and powerful, and she usually displays great psychic ability and has uncontrolled magickal and psychic experiences. Vampires are also empaths, and while they remain unconscious of their natures, they are frequently "psychic sponges" who simply absorb vibrations from everywhere, with the expected emotional instability resulting. A "hungry" vampire -- one whose energy level is imbalanced to the deficit side -- becomes an involuntary psychic vortex, drawing all pranic energy in the area towards her. When the energy does not flow in fast enough -- and it is typical of vampires that the energy never flows fast enough for them -- she will begin manifesting behavior patterns to increase the amount of conscious attention she gets from others. For this reason, some vampires develop a pattern of being aggressively confrontational, or of constantly antagonizing people with whom they have relationships. Nearly all vampires, whatever ploys they use, have a talent for attracting (or distracting) the attention of everyone present. Once a vampire overloads on energy, she reverses her behavior patterns. She may become morose, silent, withdrawn and introverted. Some vampires become maniacally cheerful when they are satiated, but even their good moods seem to annoy others, and it is more typical for vampires to be infamous as wet blankets. "Hungry" and "overload" phases can occur within a few minutes or last for days at a time. Vampires are commonly loners, in part because they feel so different from those around them, but also because they have a need to control the degree of contact they have with sources of energy. Real vampires are not the demonic fiends of Christianized folklore, but as long as they refuse to accept their inner nature, their bad reputation is not undeserved. Unconscious vampires have a tendency to reach adulthood with less than the average level of social skill and general finesse, and tend to be selfish and self-centered. The demands of their own energy systems are so distracting to them that it is difficult for them to pay attention to the needs of others. Their relationships tend to be disasters. Different vampires develop different patterns according to what works best for them in their life situation, but several patterns are common. The "femme fatale" or "lady-killer" vampire forms a continuous series of sexual connections with one partner at a time, dropping each unfortunate lover as they become too exhausted (or defensive) to support the vampire's energy needs. Other vampires form a long-term relationship with a single person: either another vampire whose energy cycle complements their own, or a person who derives satisfaction from being a psychic servant or martyr. A common pattern, especially in young adults, is to continuously join social, religious, political and magickal groups and either blow them apart or end up being thrown out. Vampires may go through roommates, housing situations, magickal groups, jobs and lovers like so much Kleenex. Many people find that they feel "creepy" or "weird" around a vampire. This is usually due to the effects of one's own life force being drawn towards the vampire's vortex. Most people feel uncomfortable and distracted when their energy is pulled away from themselves. In addition to this, a common result of such an energy drain is for the aura to pull in tightly towards the body, and this causes a prickling sensation on the skin -- the "creepy-crawlies." It is no more common for vampires to be psychopaths or killers than it is for any random person on the street. However, a prolonged, or very involved, relationship with a vampire can put a severe strain on the emotional and psychic energy systems of an ordinary person. Folklore suggests that victims of a vampire become vampires themselves. In reality, people who have been seriously "drained" -- that is, have had their own energy pulled off balance into a deficit -- also become psychic vortices which pull life force away from other living things. However, they are never as powerful as a true vampire, and unlike vampires, quickly recover and stabilize. True vampires are born the way they are -- no one can be "turned into a vampire." However, years of energy depletion can lead to health problems ranging from depression and malaise to a suppressed immune system and susceptibility to serious illnesses. Most people will break off the relationship before it gets that far. Many vampires are attracted to magickal paths. In a magickal working group, their ability to wreak havoc is increased because of the psychic openness and trust that exist there. But there can be a benefit, as well. Some vampires become aware of their true natures and choose to undertake serious work to transform themselves. As soon as they begin doing so, they become more acceptable working partners and companions. Once in control of their capacity for handling energy, they become extraordinary magicians and healers. Their ability to hold the attention of others gives them the potential to be fine leaders and teachers. Ultimately, the purpose of vampires is not to plague the universe but to facilitate its healing. Vampirism is the dark, or unfocused, side of a certain kind of psychic talent, one which has been developing for many lifetimes. It is destructive only when a vampire either refuses to face the truth about herself and work with her abilities, or when she chooses to play out a sinister role because of the illusion of power it gives her. Because of this, many of the vampire characteristics described above are far less evident in the most powerful vampires, the ones who have done considerable work on their inner selves. Many of these are poised, pleasant, competent individuals, with great personal power. They have come to terms with who and what they are, and no longer exhibit the negative qualities associated with "psychic vampirism." 4 Unfortunately, unconscious vampires are far more common than evolved ones, and it is these troubled souls who more usually appear in magickal groups. There is no "generic advice" to give those who believe they may be dealing with a real vampire. Those who are so inclined might try to help a friend or fellow group member explore their inner nature and come to terms with their destructive behaviors. Those who feel victimized can choose to end the relationship. Each case is different, and can only be judged by the individuals concerned. But it is important for anyone involved in magickal or psychic work to understand that vampires are a real phenomenon, and that, like all perils, they should not be greeted with fear or anger. Nothing is evil by nature -- only by choice. Terror of discovery (followed by ridicule or rejection) inhibits the self-development of many real vampires. When they reach out for friendship, they are often reaching out for help. A person who believes she may be a real vampire herself has a long and difficult process ahead of her. The most important step on her path is complete self-awareness: of her relationships, patterns, energy levels, and all other personal qualities. The most challenging work may often be summarized in the simplest of terms. Knowledge, awareness, and control are the lessons real vampires must learn in order to harness their abilities. If real vampires are not the immortals of fiction, they can at least be confident of one thing: for better or worse, they will keep the qualities they develop for many lives to come. NOTES
- For a thorough examination of traditional vampire folklore, see the works of Montague Summers and Anthony Masters.
- Other high sources of pranic energy include semen, fresh fruits and vegetables, and the breath of living animals. Meat -- filled with chemicals, long dead, refrigerated, frozen and "aged" (partially decomposed) as it is -- contains almost none. Many real vampires, aside from drinking blood, are vegetarians.
- For a somewhat flawed but interesting look at blood-drinking and vampirism, see Stephen Kaplan. Leonard Wolf explores this subject from a more philosophical and personal viewpoint.
- This is not to suggest that even evolved vampires are always comfortable to be around. They remain unpredictable, intense, emotional, and altogether overwhelming personalities. Most are remarkable sexually, and all still draw energy, although they can generally control this to some extent. Furthermore, this article is not intended to mislead -- real vampires, even evolved ones, do sometimes drink blood in order to obtain their energy. Those who understand the many ways that life "gives way" to nurture more life will see this as no more unnatural than eating live vegetables or animals for food.
- Stephen Kaplan, Vampires Are (ETC Publications, 1984)
- Anthony Masters, The Natural History of the Vampire (Berkley Publishing Corp., 1972)
- Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu, In Search of Dracula (New York Graphic Society, 1972)
- Montague Summers, The Vampire: His Kith and Kin (University Books, 1960)
- Montague Summers, The Vampire in Europe (The Aquarian Press Limited, 1980)
- James B. Twitchell, The Living Dead: A Study of the Vampire in Romantic Literature (Duke University Press, 1981)
- Leonard Wolf, A Dream of Dracula (Popular Library, 1972)