Vampyre Community Hierarchies

Vampyres love hierarchy, titles, tradition and protocol. They clothe themselves in it in their community meetings, and within their own groups.

Here follows a brief explanation of Vampyre Community hierarchies:

Monarchies:

In some cases, Vampyre communities have organized themselves based on a monarchical model, where they are led by a King or Queen who is an absolute ruler of whichever groups, territories or subjects form part of their VC influence – or rules them in the manner of a constitutional monarchy, with the aid of a form of parliament or council. Democratic decision-making processes are followed in some cases, and in others the role of King or Queen may even be elected positions.

The best known current examples of a VC monarchy include:

A Court usually holds dominion over the VC in a specific geographic area, such as a city, a state/province or country larger than that laid claim to by a group such as a Coven or House, and will typically include such smaller groups within its list of assets. Group members in that area of influence and leaders of those groups would typically be included in invitations to “hold court” or to attend VC events or gatherings under the auspices of the Court and to a degree, to hold affiliation with the Court and its monarch. Not all Courts view themselves as political or administrative entities, but some do. Many exist more for social ends and to help the community interact and grow.

Associations, Committees & Non-Profits:

For lack of a better word to describe them, a lot of typical VC groups are run like committees, clubs or informally – or like associations. Group leaders, if there are any, are either self-appointed (usually the founder of a group will automatically assume the leadership role), or elected by the other members.

These groups do not usually lay claim to any geographic area, and several often exist in the space of a single city without over-stepping on each other’s boundaries. Some may be set up as Covens or Houses, but they may also follow a less typical “vampire lifestyle” model.

Sometimes these groups (in more liberal countries) are known publicly and even register as non-profits and charities. Many interact with Academics and other researchers, and even act as community-independent “spokesvamps” when dealing with the media or law enforcement agencies in their countries.

The best known current examples of this type of group include:

  • New Orleans Vampire Association (N.O.V.A.)
  • The Atlanta Vampire Alliance (A.V.A.)
  • Voices of the Vampire Community (V.V.C.)
  • Suscitatio LLC

Group Internal Hierarchies Discussed

Depending on what sort of VC group you are looking at, and depending on where that group falls on the scale of “the vampire lifestyle” and Vampyre culture and its many influences, you should expect a great deal of variance in the sort of roles members of such groups would assume, and what sort of hierarchy, ranks, castes and titles they would adopt.

Caste Systems: 

Vampyres do not generally react well to being classified, or having a label or classification thrust upon them by others. Even in the context of self-identification, it is a known tenet of the VC that nobody can tell someone they are vampyric – it is up to the individual to come to that conclusion on their own and to self-identify for their own personal reasons and based upon their own experience.

However, within some Vampyre groups,  specifically those which follow the Path of the Kherete or the Kheprian religious path – a completely vamp-centric spirituality which was created by and for psychic Vampyres, adherents are organized into different “castes” or groups according to their abilities or vampiric nature or psychic talents.

These castes define how the individual is utilized within the circle, and also how they interact within that type of community. Kheprian castes include that of “Warrior“, “Counselor” and “Priest“.

This “caste” model appears to be entirely unique within the Vampyre Community.

More Broadly Speaking:

The basic building block of the Vampyre Community is the group, whether it is a Clutch, a Coven, a House, or an Order or a Temple, or a Court – and regardless of whether the group is secular, social or a religious or spiritual entity, these will usually have some kind of social hierarchy or internal order. Many known VC groups appear to have adopted a democratic format in electing leaders or deciding issues, but many adhere to older traditions as well. There is no reason to criticize these well-established traditions, except where abuses of power occur.

Broadly speaking though, in terms of the Vampyre subculture – just as in many secretive and hidden societies, there are certain common traits which transcend diversity, and tend to reflect in how new members are distinguished from long-time members, novices from elders, or by what function individuals perform in the group or community in general. Below is a brief explanation of the more common terms.

Fledgling

In simple terms, a Fledgling is a young or recently awakened Vampyre with little experience in the skills or knowledge required to partake in the community. Once they are apprenticed to a more experienced Vampyre who takes it upon themselves to teach them what they need to know. In web-wide lexicons, Fledglings are also known by the terms “Childe”, “Progeny” and “Yearling”. When a Fledgling has been with their Mentor for a set period, typically one year, the apprentice is inducted into the group as an equal member.

Calmae

A Calmae is an adult of the community, a more experienced Vampyre above the level of Fledgling, considered to be below the level of Elder while carrying many of the duties and responsibilities of Elders in some organized, structured groups. In some groups, use of the term “Calmae” has fallen into disuse.

Adra

An Adra is a more experienced Vampyre, who consents to be a Mentor or sponsor to a Fledgling. This is typically one who takes a younger, awakening Vampyre under their guidance to teach them all they should know about their nature as Vampyres, Vampyre laws and etiquette – and how to interact with Mundanes, Donors and other Vampyres. Within the community, the Mentor remains responsible for the actions and conduct of the Fledgling for the period which the Fledgling is under their tutelage.

Elder

In many different communities we find the phenomenon of “the elder”, in which a small elite group in a particular society, culture or religion carry influence and even authority in that group.

The Vampyre community has used the word “Elder” traditionally for an indeterminable period. Other social subcultures which interact with the VC on certain levels, such as therians and weres – at least to our knowledge, do not and probably never have. Though they have a similar concept in their societies, this is wrapped around words like “Alpha”, “Pack Master” and so forth – though there may be some exceptions. At any rate, whatever it is called, the basic notion of what makes an “elder” is similar.

Oxford online dictionary defines an elder in the context we are looking at as:

“a leader or senior figure in a tribe or other group:  a council of village elders.” “an official in the early Christian Church, or of various Protestant Churches and sects: ‘he left the Church of which he had been an elder'” and ” a member of a senate or governing body.”

According to Wikipedia,

“The term “Elder” (or its equivalent in another language) is used in several different countries and organizations to indicate a position of authority. This usage is usually derived from the notion that the oldest members of any given group are the wisest, and are thus the most qualified to rule, provide counsel or serve the said group in some other capacity.

Elder is a role played in the organised community that is most common in subsistence cultures, Elderhood being the condition or quality of being an elder. It is essentially the state of being in the latter portion of one’s life and being looked to for leadership of either a passive or active nature by your peers and\or subordinates due almost exclusively to this fact. Sometimes it involves a ceremonial investiture of some kind, and other times it does not. Sometimes it involves a definite chronological milestone which must be surpassed, while at other times the required age is simply relative to the ages of all of the other members of the group in question. Once having met the peculiar requirements of their individual groups, however, all elders are generally expected to mentor, share their experience, create a sense of oneness for their followings and, most especially, act as the spiritual embodiments of their communities.

Informal elderhoods An example of informal elderhood is the role of the matriarchal grandmother as it appears in many parts of the so-called global South. In the absence of viable male alternatives or even in the presence of them, grandmothers in these areas tend to serve as both the de facto heads of their groups of descendants and the catalysts of their periodic reunions and meetings. By so doing they provide their families with a cohesion that would probably be absent if they weren’t present. Another example is that of the vocational mentor who guides his or her apprentices with tools of sponsorship, advocacy and the demonstration of skills. He or she serves to facilitate creativity in his or her charges by teaching the methods of the past as they pertain to their various occupations.

Formal elderhoods In more formal examples of elderhood, elders serve as the members of the governing and/or advisory bodies of higher personages such as kings and presidents. This often gives them a prestige amongst their peoples that’s comparable to that of the classical nobility of ancient Europe. Due to this, elderhood of this variety is generally considered to be something worthy of aspiring to in the communities where it exists.

Elders in online communities There are long established conceptualisations of elders on the Internet. In such online communities elders are typically though of as established members who are outbound, often due to unwanted changes they can’t prevent. It has been argued that such users should be using their experience to help foster a sense of community among newer members, but often instead they take part in ‘trolling for newbies.'”

It would seem from experience that the Vampyre community straddles accross all three these areas, since it exists both online and offline, and is in some groups or areas both formal and informal.

What is the criteria for being an “Elder” in the VC? Is it someone who has spent more time spent in community than others? Is it someone who has a high position in their own House or group? Is it someone who has written a vast number of posts on a forum or articles or books referred to by the community as canon or doctrine? Is it someone who defines the framework of our culture and community and influences what we believe about ourselves and each other? Is it someone who makes a business of making and selling fangs or hosting hugely popular parties around the world? Is it someone who rules the VC, makes decisions for others and acts like a politician or leader? Is it someone who intimidates or abuses others? Is it someone with a popular website or online network and a vast number of followers or friends on Facebook?

Octarine Valur, Regent of the SAVA and also widely regarded as the founder of the South African VC, says:

“I believe it is the same or a similar concept in most alternative communities in that an “elder” is NOT someone who has just been around a while, started a group, tallied up 3 million posts on a forum and is starting to turn green and smell interesting.

An elder is someone who acts as a mentor, a teacher, a guide, someone who displays skills of benefit to the community and who passes these on to others and who ACTIVELY does things in the interest of those who rely on or depend upon them. Being called an elder does not entitle one to act like an ass towards others, to put on fancy airs, or to be abusive. The community does not need to bow and scrape to an elder.

An elder is someone who *should* have the needs of the community close to their heart, and is essentially a servant for the community – which can be a pretty dangerous and thankless job. I prefer being called a “bat farmer” to an “elder” personally… perhaps because what we here do boils down to community building. I may not take myself seriously on a personal level – but I take what I do seriously. In any case – in South Africa we seem to refer to “mentors” not “elders”.

A leader, on the other hand, is something not entirely different, not completely the same thing.”

During community debates in early 2014, opinions were offered within the community on what an elder is, and the criteria for measuring up who deserves to be given such a title. It was even suggested that sites such as Sanguinarius, Smoke & Mirrors and the AVA should provide a public listing of trustworthy and ethical “Elders of the VC” so that participants could know who they are and approach them for advice should the need arise.

This prompted the thought-provoking response below from Merticus on the subject of Elders in the VC.

Pitfalls, Mousetraps & Elders Of The Vampire Community

(Reposted from the article with permission of the author.)

Lately I’ve been asked ad nauseam for an opinion on the following topic so here you go…

The Vampire Community is a convoluted ball of hypocrisy that has devolved in many areas into a form of perverse entertainment — many playing their own angles to nurture disruptive goals and longstanding vendettas. Any truth to be found is measured in shades of gray and who can convince what mercurial faction or personal friends to side with them while everyone involved conveniently ignore facts to support their own version of reality. If one delves too deeply into the outcries of dissatisfaction they may find themselves lost in the minutia, manipulated like pawns and trapped by madness.

After more than a generation of existence we should consider the inescapable reality that we are a fractious, stubbornly independent and often egotistical lot who have embraced the label of ‘vampi(y)re’ as an extension of our personal identity. If you are not happy within your own personal life you do not need to look solely towards the Vampire Community as the beacon of hope, means of an escape or a friend group who will be there to encourage your development. We do not hold the master key that one needs to be successful — that begins with finding the inner strength to develop your own voice and take control of your life.

Before contemplating accomplishing anything of significance on a large scale we need to first work towards understanding why many have stepped into the shadows decrying ‘elders’ and ‘cookie-cutter groupthink’, establish defined goals that are realistic to achieve and make a good faith effort to educate the uninformed as to how the Vampire Community has developed during the last few decades. This includes examining similar projects which either failed or faded from our chronically short-term memories. Setting aside for a moment the notion of serving as an elder, council member, ambassador, representative of an embassy, et. al. one should ask themselves what have they individually done – not just talked about doing – to improve problems they have identified within their local or greater community.

Back channel lines of communication between groups and individuals already exist. Choosing to use them and engage with others you either do not personally care for or trust is the true crux of the issue that needs to be remedied. Mutual cooperation among all vampires, groups and organizations along with other grandiose ideas would do well to take a back seat to focusing on personal growth, education, research into our own identity and learning to initially support one another as individuals rather than as a collective horde bound by artificial hierarchies.

I would like to remind everyone that perhaps the greatest source of confusion when attempting to conceptualize or define what it means to be a ‘real vampi(y)re’ stems from a confluence of various diverse movements within the Vampire Community (or the overall subculture alongside mythos, folklore, philosophical adaptations from spiritual, cultural and fundamentally disparate groups) approaching the subject at differing points in time, direction and originating influence(s). One’s self-identity with the loosely defined concept, condition, state of being, et. al. of ‘vampirism’ is entirely dependent on the individual and no more or less valid than the next person.

To frame this another way…

  • Some vampi(y)res have medical and/or mental conditions which they’ve yet to find a satisfactory answer for.
  • Some vampi(y)res have medical and/or mental conditions which they’re in denial over.
  • Some vampi(y)res incorporate magickal or ritual practices with a spiritual blend of ‘vampirism’.
  • Some vampi(y)res are left-hand path leaning ‘vampire’ spiritualists or esotericists.
  • Some vampi(y)res don’t believe ‘vampirism’ has anything to do with religion and/or spirituality.
  • Some vampi(y)res believe their soul is inhabited and/or are fallen angelic or demonic ‘vampires’.
  • Some vampi(y)res believe ‘vampirism’ to be an evolutionary advancement in certain humans.
  • Some vampi(y)res believe ‘vampirism’ is caused by a virus because they read certain websites.
  • Some vampi(y)res simply enjoy the ‘lifestyle’, wearing fangs, and dangling an ankh around their neck.
  • Some vampi(y)res really wish they could emulate fictional (perhaps even folkloric) ‘vampires’.
  • Some vampi(y)res felt a void in their life and have ‘attempted’ to fill it with ‘vampirism’ and the O/VC.
  • Some vampi(y)res have no clue who or what they are and don’t care either way – ‘vampire’ sounded good.
  • Some vampi(y)res have no desire to define their own identity because they never learned to think for themselves.
  • Some vampi(y)res are still searching for their own answers (physiological, medical, spiritual, or otherwise).
  • Some vampi(y)res are completely deluding themselves (regardless of whether ‘vampirism’ exists or not).
  • Some vampi(y)res really wish they could close their eyes and wake up somewhere else.
  • Some vampi(y)res won’t be here this time next year because they will no longer identify with ‘vampirism’.
  • Some vampi(y)res are just bat @&*# crazy.
  • Some vampi(y)res think ‘vampirism’ is a combination of ‘everything’ because they think this is an appealing idea.
  • Some vampi(y)res will think I didn’t cover some element of their own personal experience in any of the above.
  • Some vampi(y)res will be correct in this thinking.

I am personally indifferent to anyone and everyone who either ‘trusts/doesn’t trust’, ‘likes/doesn’t like’, ‘respects/doesn’t respect’, or ‘considers me an elder/doesn’t consider me an elder’ in the context of their professional interactions with me through the Vampire Community. Furthermore, how long one has been participating in the community is completely irrelevant to any personal opinion or measure of respect I may hold when weighed against the merits of one’s contributions or actions. I am far from perfect and will not pretend to hold anyone to a standard that would require or encourage that they ‘bow’ or ‘kiss a ring on my hand’.

While I personally consider the application of such doctrine disingenuous to the practical expectations of our, or any contemporary, ‘society’ I have not, and will not, intentionally dishonor those who believe in such formality or respect given by them to any existing elected or title bestowed vampi(y)re. I embrace the individually and rich history of our community and thereby the right of free-thinking adults to form whatever institutions, guiding precepts, rituals or beliefs they wish to follow. With this comes an acknowledgment of those who came before me, those who have come after me, and an objective evaluation of what ideas formed the basis of various segments of the community and which of these ideas can still be improved upon today.

In keeping with this view, I do not feel it is within my right nor ethically responsible to compile any list of individuals I would deem as ‘elder(s)’ and place this information in a publicly accessible group, forum, website or resource for newcomers and interested parties to reference. It is my belief that the attempted creation of any singular authoritative ‘elder listing’ would never obtain universal or even widespread acceptance without the presumption of personal biases and individual allegiances. I believe that opinions regarding the suitability of individuals to mentor and teach others rests in the hands of the seeker to discern; and that we as a community should provide the necessary tools for them to be able to independently make this evaluation through the lens of safety and abuse awareness. I will continue to focus my efforts on the compilation of resources, strengthening communication infrastructure and placing those who seek answers in touch with responsible individuals from their local areas who are willing to lend a hand.

Attitudes of entitlement, deep-seated mistrust, intentional deceptions or duplicity, wanton ignorance and purposefully baiting others to engage in negative rhetoric is not improving any of our lives or friendships. Such behavior is simply narcissistic and predatory vampires using their fellow vampires as prey. Rather than investing energy into destabilizing the efforts of other individuals and groups, those who are sincere in their claims of wanting to help should use their talents and time towards assisting those who are in the most need of direction and support.

I do not believe the majority of problems some perceive as prevalent within the Vampire Community derive from a present lack of organization, communication or information availability. No matter how all-encompassing or elegant a system that is designed, it is only as effective as the people involved and their willingness to continually invest time, effort and monies despite any setbacks they may encounter. Any system, council or organization’s ability to garner participants is only as effective as the level of respect afforded to its creators and in turn that respect offered unconditionally back to the members themselves.

Pitfalls, Mousetraps & Elders Of The Vampire Community By Merticus – January 15, 2014

Copyright © 2008-2014 – Vampire Community News (VCN) & Merticus – All Rights Reserved

Swan

“Swan” is a Vampyre Community term to describe a non-vampyre who is aware of the existence of Vampyres and may or may not interact with the VC. Swans are color-coded according to how they interact with the VC.

  • White Swans are people who may or may not move in Vampyre circles, who are aware of Vampyres, but who are hostile or intolerant of Vampyres. A synonym would be ‘vampophobe’.
  • Black Swans are individuals who are not Vampyre but who are close to one or more Vampyres, may socialize within the group, and are often supporters of the community. This does not necessarily imply that they are Donors. Black Swans are further classified according to how they donate, that is, if they donate.
    • Crimson Swans donate to sanguine Vampyres,
    • Crystal Swans to PSI Vampyres,  
    • Amber Swans to both or either.
Donor

Donors are Shinai who willingly feed and sustain one or more Vampyres with their essence – their blood or prana (life force). Some Vampyres also act as Donors to other Vampyres. Donors are highly prized, appreciated and greatly respected members of the Vampyre Community. The international Vampyre Community has various annual days of Appreciation for Donors. Typically Donors do not tend to interact with the broader VC, but there are exceptions where some Donors have risen to positions of great respect in the international community, such as Cheri LBW.

Kin

“Kin” or “Kindred” is a term used by Vampyres to describe themselves and other Vampyres. It has largely fallen into disuse due to its later widespread usage in role-playing games (LARPing), and by “lifestylers”. Given that its use predates any role-playing games, many Vampyres still do not want to sound like role-players, and this is sometimes at the expense of the richness and uniqueness of Vampyre culture.

Otherkin

Otherkin is a term used quite widely in the occult community of the Western world. In general occult circles it is used to describe those who identify as witches, practitioners of magickal arts, therians, lycans and weres (shape-shifters), elves, faye, etc – and sometimes even Vampyres.

In the Vampyre Community however, it is applied to describe all other groups aside from Vampyres, excluding Mundanes or Shinai. Vampyres are “Kin” and everyone else in the Vampyre community, including donors, swans etc, is “Otherkin”. Those outside our community are labeled “Mundane” or “Shinai”.

In Vampyre society and in our Groups – and especially in South Africa, one will often encounter a mix of both Kin and Otherkin.

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

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