Types of Community Groups
Because our community is so splintered and dispersed, it is difficult to set such clear definitions about the different kinds of Vampyre Groups in stone. Mostly, definitions of groups in the Vampyre community tend to be similar to those in Wicca or other “occult” circles. However, for the purposes of introduction, we will focus on Vampyres only.
In the days before the OVC (Online Vampire Community), the structure and entire fabric of the Community was completely different. Everything was smaller and more personal, far more secretive and much more focused and direct. Today we know most of our Groups as “Houses” – whereas before, there were no Houses, only Covens, Orders and Clans. Religious or spiritual Groups were called “Temples”, and generally this practice has continued, with some religious or spiritual paths also calling themselves “Houses” as well.
Clutches, Covens, Orders and Clans
When a Coven was founded and was small, it was called a Clutch. Only after a year and one day could it be called a Coven. When a Coven reached a certain size where it was considered too large to manage itself or to meet safely, a small group would separate from it and form a new Clutch, which remained part of the larger Coven. This process was known as “hiving off” and sometimes the smaller groups were known as “hives” (this process still exists today in pagan or Wiccan covens). When the Coven had two hives or clutches of its own, it was called an Order or if they wanted to be grand about it, “Ordo”.
When these hived-off groups began to hive-off clutches of their own, the collective was called a Clan. Since the Vampyre Reformation in the early 1990’s and since the internet influence began to be felt, Vampyre groups have become known as “Houses”, with “Coven” taking a secondary place, presumably due to association of the term with witchcraft.
Today a Coven or House is a group of Vampyres numbering more than three, and usually, operating in, but not limited to, a particular geographic area or specific location. Thus, there are Groups today with “inner circle” members who meet regularly in real life, and “outer circle” members who participate in the Groups’ online forums or groups on social media such as Facebook. Mostly, as in Wicca, three is seen as a perfect number to begin a coven with, but whether this number includes only Vampyres, or both Vampyres and Swans or Otherkin, is not really an issue of great import.
Before the period we call the Reformation, Vampyre groups did not often include Otherkin as they do today, but almost exclusively consisted of Vampyres. It seems that today groups will simply choose whether they prefer to be known as a Coven or a House (or even Clan), indicating that they are viewed essentially as the same thing. Before the Reformation of course, this would not have been recognized by the Community, but as they say today “anything goes”.
Some Vampyre Houses take the title “Ronin”, or “a house of Ronin” to indicate they do not follow any other value system other than their own and consider themselves in effect independent of the rest of the Vampyre Community. “Ronin” is a term that refers to the Japanese feudal system, where ronin were Samurai who lacked allegiance to a particular house (or royal family), but who were nonetheless honorable and skilled as samurai, meaning a Vampyre who is not a member of any household. Houses of Ronin do not necessarily isolate themselves, they just stick to their own way of doing things.
There are also those who reject the title of “Ronin” altogether, adding to the spice of things in our diverse community. It is assumed that a VC group would be governed by its Founder, or Primus, or by a leader of a smaller sub-group (a House or Coven) elected or chosen from among other leaders. It is quite apparent that although there are many known and unknown Vampyre Covens and Houses in the modern world, some of which have formed extensive alliances and associations with each other, based on their mutual beliefs or views – that there is no actual governing authority which represents the combined identity group called Vampyres.
Vampyre Temples are an eclectic sort, with each one seeming to follow its own mind, tradition and path, often making things up as they go along, and sometimes ascribing to another religion and applying the lens of vampiric spirituality upon it. Quite often these paths are dark, and could be either left or right handed, and may or may not refer to a patron deity, which could be one or more of many deities Vampyres view as patrons. Internal structures appear to follow similar alignments as seen in Pagan or Wiccan Temples or Orders.
Many Vampyre Community groups or Houses are foundationally religious or spiritual in nature. Many carry the name “Temple of…” indicating this. Most groups though, appear to respect the privacy of the beliefs of their members, without forcing a particular doctrine on them. Few appear to be wholly secular (non-religious). It seems that even secular Houses hold rituals to mark certain occasions, such as the initiation or welcoming of new members, and so on.
Secular Vampyre Houses often have secular (non-religious) rites which may be performed in order to give a deeper meaning to some of the events which take place within the House, such as rites of passage.
Haevens (or havens) are safe places where Vampyres and their Kin meet. These can take the form of public meeting places, such as coffee shops, clubs etc which are friendly to Kin or owned by Kin. They also include venues which are closed and accessible only to Kin or associated Otherkin. There are well-known examples in the USA and UK for example, which have very strict entry requirements. Some require dressing up in full regalia and even cosmetic fangs to enter.
Online And Offline Groups & Communities
Our community extends around the world, wherever there are Humans, and Shinai and Otherkin, there are Vampyres. From history, it seems there have always been real-life offline Vampyre communities, secretive and hidden from plain sight, but the advent of the Internet changed all that. Since about 1996, at the time of the Vampyre Reformation, the Vampyre Community went online, setting up message boards, forums, information resources, educational groups, and online meeting sites. Today almost more than half our activity as a community occurs in online forums and is known as the OVC (Online Vampire Community).
As time passed, the need for distinction between VC and OVC intensified at first, and has now ceased to be relevant as most VC participants also have access to the internet, allowing them to participate online as well. This means that the VC is no longer separated by internet connectivity as a determining factor.
As a caveat to this, it has to be mentioned that this also exposes the true Vampyre community to risk of all kinds of dangers – anyone can join a forum and start posting as a Vampyre – anyone, including role-playing game aficionados, trolls, and in fact, anyone wanting to find out more about the community, whatever their motives, be it curiosity or something more sinister. Care should always be taken when online in your Nightside life – use your Vampyre name, or a pseudonym as a user name, avoid giving too much detail, and especially anything that can be used to identify you in your Dayside life, such as an address or phone number, employer, etc. Use your head.
Structures Of Vampyre Groups
Because our community is so splintered and dispersed, it is difficult to set such definitions. It seems that before the Reformation and the OVC, groups would generally stick to a rigid formula and a traditional pattern. The modern Community is a different animal it seems, although there are certain generalities observed today that may make groups seem cult-like or sinister.
Inner And Outer Circles
Most Vampyre groups seem to consist of various groups within groups, with the most trusted or experienced members at the center (Elders), and lesser experienced or lower ranking members in concentric layers around them, like the layers of an onion. This largely depends on the focus or membership of the group. In some cases, these groups will consist entirely of Vampyres, while some will include Vampyres, Swans and Otherkin depending on the values of the group. Advancement from one circle to the next is usually a matter of trust, service, or even the successful completion of various designated tasks or courses.
As an example, a House may have two circles – an Inner and an Outer. Sometimes these Circles are given names, or designated colors – or simply referred to as “Inner” or “Outer” Circles. The Outer Circle may consist of ordinary members of the House i.e. Swans, Donors, Otherkin, and an Inner Circle of Vampyres. Within the Inner Circle, there may be other designated groups with specific roles in the Group.
Within the whole House, there may be Covens which form part of the House in general, but which may consist of members of one or both Circles. During the Fledgling period, Fledglings fall under the Outer Circle, except where training activities may include an invitation to meetings of the Inner Circle. The Outer Circle may also have Orders.
“Holding Court” is the Vampyric community meeting of a House or Coven, usually under the guidance or control of an Elder or other community leader, in reference to the medieval or aristocratic custom. This can be to address specific functions, or to socialize, but in either case, this usually only involves Vampyres and those within the community. Court is held at a House, a Haven, or a mutually agreed venue, such as a community friendly coffee shop or other meeting place. This may also sometimes be called “Quabal” (qua-ball) or even Cabal – a gathering for socialization, ritual, initiations and education. Court is more for formal internal discussions or decision making purposes.
Types Of House Meetings
Some House meetings fall under the description of the term “Court”:
“A Vampyric community meeting, usually under the guidance or control of an Elder or other community leader, in reference to the medieval or royal custom of ‘holding court’. This can be to address specific functions, or to socialize, but in either case, this usually only involves Vampyres and those within the community. Court is held at a House, a Haven, or a mutually agreed venue, with varying degrees of privacy as required, such as a community friendly coffee shop or other meeting place.”
The different forms and occasions for House Meetings to be held IRL, at a pre-set location or haeven are set out below (these are examples):
Regular House Meetings:
Who is present? : Anyone who is a noted member of the House and is expected to attend.
When? : Weekly, Monthly, or as agreed upon at a prior time.
Why? : To discuss House matters, socialize, keep up to date with House or community matters, host educational sessions etc.
Special House Meetings:
Who is present? : Anyone who is a noted member of the House as needed for whatever reason the Meeting is called. This sort of Meeting is either OPEN (to the entire House) or CLOSED (for Vampyres only), or for various individuals as the situation demands.
Why? : To discuss matters affecting either the whole House, or parts of the House in relation to the other parts of the House, such as in sensitive matters involving disagreements between members or parts of the House.
Sabbatical House Meetings:
Who is present? : Anyone who is a noted member of the House and is expected to attend.
Why? : For circles and rituals, such as for marking Awakenings, Yearling Rituals etc. Usually OPEN to the whole noted House membership, but set by the nature of the ritual or circle.
Open House Meetings:
Who is present? : Anyone who is a noted member of the House and is expected to attend, as well as anyone allowed entrance to the haeven or venue chosen for the Open House Meeting. OPEN in this case means open to anyone from outside the House as well.
Why? : In order to provide an inside look into the Vampyre community to interested parties, friends of House members and other invited individuals. This is in the form of a welcoming, a ritual, an information (Q&A) session, and followed by a social session. It should also be noted that this does NOT include press, media or live broadcast of the event.
All material on this site, copyright of Octarine Valur and the Vampyre Culture Center, © 2012 – present.