“But first, on earth as vampire sent,
Thy corse shall from its tomb be rent,
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And suck the blood of all thy race.”
Vampirism has become an obsession for many people throughout the world. This obsession has led to the creation of a countless number of stories starting with Lord George Byron’s The Giaour (1813), which is quoted above. Vampire Diaries, Being Human, and True Blood are the most recent of the character known as the Vampire. It does not matter if we are talking about Bill Compton (True Blood) or Stefan Salvatore (Vampire Diaries) the young adults of today might be feel a deep connection to them as the young adults of the late 1980s through the 1990s found with the vampires created by Ann Rice. The might want to find Lestat de Lioncourt within the boundaries of New Orleans in order have him “turn” them.
Throughout the years Vampirism has grown to more than just what is seen within books, movies, and television shows. In fact throughout the world there are millions of people who feel they can relate to the mythical vampire so well that they created their own subculture and new religious movement.
“Currently there is a prevailing phenomenon of modern vampires whose serious commitment to their beliefs; community and culture meet the criteria for designation as a new religious movement. Vampirism is a specific to real vampires and is practiced in western society both individually and community through many different organized vampire groups variously referred to as clans, churches, covens, orders, houses and circles. There are many subgroups of the main clans and a significant number of individual unrelated less known groups. Similar to other new religious movements it is difficult to establish an accurate number of followers Estimates range from 1,000 to 100,000 self-identified vampires throughout the world “(Perlmutter, 2004, p. 145)
For any movement to be considered a new religious movement it needs to be more than just a passing fad. This movement has grown throughout the years so much so a religious movement has been created. The growth of this movement is not just seen within the United States but throughout the world.
When one creates images of the modern vampire, you might come up with images of Edward Cullen or one of the Salvatore brothers who are all able to walk in the sunlight. Others might have images of Dracula or someone dressed in garb from the 1800s, which are all images we have seen through the past few decades through television shows and movies. The fact is there is a large subculture which is just as diverse as the people who choice to live their lives portraying the persona of being a vampire.
We at Athena Research Group believe that any sort of self-expression is a positive. Not everyone is going to fit into the norm of society and these subcultures help provide a positive means of expression for those who are not “normal”. This research article is to help others understand what the vampire subculture is and help everyone understand that this subculture is no more dangerous than any other subculture in the world today.
Juveniles and the Vampire Movement
Teenagers are searching to find a community they can connect with. During the teenage years (12 to 18 years of age) we are struggling to create an identity outside of our family. For those who have studied child development they will recognize this stage as Identity versus Identity confusion stage of Erickson’s Eight Stages of development. This is the time of our lives where we become more independent of their families, typically pulling away from our parents in order to figure out who we are and what we want to do with our lives.
There are certain elements of the vampire subculture which draws teenagers to it. This culture has a romantic, mysterious element which will attract young lost souls to it. Some of the juveniles attracted to this movement will become hard core members and continue with the lifestyle, others will outgrow the attraction. The initial attraction to the vampire movement may be through books, television, the internet, or role-playing games. While juveniles involved in the movement may seem odd in their manner of dress and speech, they are not for the most part violent. The acts of alleged vampire crimes are isolated incidents perpetrators will use their membership in a vampire clan as a justification for their antisocial acts not because membership requires any sort of violence.
Key Characteristics of the Vampire Subculture
Role playing games are extremely popular among juveniles and young adults
Vampire: The Masquerade, Blood Letting, and BloodLust Vampire ShadowHunter are all roleplaying games which could be a juvenile’s introduction to this subculture. When a role-player is engaged in playing these games they will take on the persona of a character they are playing. These games can either be acted out using pencil and paper format or they may be acted out live action. A great deal of fantasy is involved in role playing. If a juvenile is struggling to maintain a firm grasp on reality will initially realize they are just playing a game but eventually this understanding will fade away. The longer they remain involved with the role-playing game the more they begin to believe that the game has somehow become real. (This is not a typical response to playing role-playing games.)
Vampires and the Fetish Scene
The fetish community is another subsection of society which can be mistaken for the Vampire community due to similarities in dress and accessories. There are similar behaviors which both communities might engage in. One must realize that the two communities along with the Gothic community coexist in many aspects but are not exclusive with their behaviors.
This section has been set up as a brief introduction to the Fetish community in relations to the Vampire community.
Blood Rituals & Blood Play
The fetish community is a closed tight lipped community due to the nature of the behavior. It is hard for anyone who is not actively involved in the community to gain a hold of any information due to the need for privacy. This is similar to the Vampire community who feels that their society needs to remain private in order to protect the members of the community. These secret societies hold their belief systems and rituals close and will only allow those who have been initiated into the communities to know what they are. Just because something is a secret so not automatically make it bad. There is some danger involved in the blood fetish scene because of possible transmission of disease. There is also a risk of injury or death from bloodletting.
Dawn Perlmutter, author of Investigating Religious Terrorism and Ritualistic Crime describes blood fetish in the vampire community in the following manner:
A custom frequently affiliated with the vampire scene includes bondage/discipline sexual activity fetishism and sadomasochism. This is related to the characteristic is the vampire predator/hunter and is a mandatory ritual in some religious groups to achieve higher levels of spirituality participants are referred to as regent (master) and thrall (slave). This involves an aspect of vampire magic termed true name which is a variation of the sadomastic safe word
In vampire religion sadomasochism is theologically one from of feeding because according to the vampire codex a spiritual interpretation of vampire energy coupled with strong emotion is more fulfilling than simple energy alone
According to the codex the most intense emotion to feed off is fear and the next is ecasty either sexual or religious. Sadomasochism is the form of vampire religious ritual provides a combination of all 3 emotions hence it is an intense form of assimilating energy from another. Real vampires retain a high status in the subculture and are well respected within the vampire community (Perlmutter, 2004, p. 151)
Again, finding any information of the nature of sadomasochism as it pertains to the vampire subculture is difficult
Vampires seem to be everywhere these days. All you have to do is head to the local mall where teenagers and young adults hang out and it will be easy to find a vampire. There are those who choice to live within the Vampire subculture for more than just their teenage years. These people help Vampire subculture meets the requirements to be considered a new religions movement. There is even a Vampire Church that is recognized as a religious institution by the federal government located in Washington State. Time will tell how this movement will affect the Modern American landscape.
Perlmutter, D. (2004). Investigating Religious Terrorism and Ritualistic Crimes. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press LLC.