Group Types In The VC

What kind of groups are there in the Vampyre Community?

Like any community, there will always be a need for like-minded individuals, friends or families to gather into groups. Some will formalize these groups, give them names – and over time, a framework of conventions has been developed within the global Vampyre Community.

Because our community is so dispersed and diverse, it is difficult to set such clear definitions about the different kinds of Vampyre Groups in stone. Definitions and practices of groups in the Vampyre Community tend to be predominantly similar to those in occult circles, as in how many members would be required to form a Clutch as opposed to a Coven, when a coven could split into two, and when it was appropriate for several covens to be called a Clan.

Even today, when a Vampyre enters the community, there is a tendency to underestimate them if they do not display the “right” lineage, or they have an “inferior” mentor, or if they do not belong to a group. Often participants were gauged according to which group they belonged to. People tend to respect someone more if they belong to the “right” group, have the “right” name, or have a proud VC lineage. Groups are therefore important from a cultural standpoint, but also because they are the focal point of the actual foundation of the community: interaction. Group interaction is the focal point of any community, and so it is with the VC. Groups helped participants to share knowledge and facilitate learning in the forms of mentorship and apprenticeship in the times before the internet and the information revolution. Without groups, there wouldn’t have been a community at all.

In the beginning, before the internet and social media, Vampyres only interacted face to face in their groups. Sometimes groups were hostile to each other, and the community was divided – but sometimes they would co-exist peacefully, form alliances, and even merge.

Before the OVC (Online Vampire Community) first appeared in the early 1990’s, the structure and entire fabric of the Community was completely different. Everything was smaller, more isolated and more personal, far more secretive and much more focused and direct. Perhaps the biggest difference is that 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 subsequently 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 occult groups such as Pagan covens). When the Coven eventually had two hives or clutches of its own, it was called an Order, or if they wanted to be grand about it, an “Ordo”.

When these hived-off groups eventually began to hive-off clutches of their own, the collective was called a Clan.

Houses

Since the period which the Culture Center has named “the Vampyre Reformation” in the early 1990’s and since the internet influence began to be felt in every corner of the VC, Vampyre groups have become known as “Houses”, with “Coven” taking a secondary place, with Houses being more or less on a par with Clans. “Clutch” is a term which appears to have fallen into disuse.

Houses today tend to contain smaller hived-off Covens inside them, and while these groups are members of the House and part of its unique collective identity, each Coven also has its own leader, and identity. Of necessity there is also a hierarchy at play within such Groups.

There are also standalone Houses or Covens who have no interest in subdivision, and which operate under the same name regardless of how big or diverse their membership is or becomes.

Generally speaking though, 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. Generally, 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 Vampyre Reformation, Groups did not often include Otherkin or even Donors 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, without any regard for the different distinctions between these terms. Before the Reformation of course, this would not have been tolerated or even recognized within the Community, but as they say today “anything goes”.

“Ronin” Groups

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.

Temples

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 to it. Quite often these paths are dark, and could be either Left Hand Path (LHP) or Right Hand Path (RHP), and may or may not refer to a specific patron deity, which could be one or more of many deities Vampyres view as patrons. Lilith is one particularly popular deity, as she is viewed as the “Mother of Vampires”. Internal structures appear to follow similar alignments as seen in many Pagan Sanctuaries, Temples or Orders.

In addition, many Vampyre Community groups or Houses are specifically 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.

Vampyre groups often have 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

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 the VC or owned by VC participants. The term Haeven also includes venues (or private spaces within public venues) which are closed and accessible only to the VC. 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 simply to enter.

Courts

A “Court” is a large group of Vampyres together with their groups or venues in a geographic location (such as a city, a state or province, or a country, who are affiliated to either a specific group or a leader within that area. Examples include: The Vampire Court of Austin (Texas).

“Holding Court” is the Vampyric community meeting of a House or Coven (or even the meeting of several groups) 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 Haeven, or a mutually agreed venue, such as a community friendly coffee shop, a night club 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.

Online And Offline Groups & Communities

The Vampyre Community extends around the world, wherever there are Humans (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, and that only one amalgamated conglomerate VC remains.

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 the VC is so diverse, again it is difficult to set such definitions. It seems that before the Vampyre Reformation and the OVC, groups would generally stick to a rigid formula and a traditional pattern of ethics, conduct, traditions and protocol. 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 to the uninitiated.

Groups are seldom round-table-based, but sometimes are (i.e. N.O.V.A.) are even more seldom democratic, but sometimes are (i.e. Voices of the Vampire Community) – and tend to be hierarchical. Vampyres seem to love hierarchies.

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 or apprenticeship 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.

All material on this site, copyright of Octarine Valur and the Vampyre Culture Center, © 2012 – present.

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