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Posts Tagged ‘vampires’

Written by:
Wendi Friend
2006

Pale skin; full, blood-red lips; sleek black hair; long, flowing cape over formal-wear; piercing eyes; sharpened teeth – Surely, you’d recognize a vampire if you saw one, right? We know things about them too, don’t we? We know they can’t stand daylight, that they shape-shift into bats, they have psychic powers to stun their potential victims for erotic blood-drinking, that they can be put off with garlic or a crucifix, or that we can remove their eternal un-dead status with a stake through the heart, right? Wrong. While these assumptions may be proven true in works of fiction, they have not much bearing in reality. That’s right, I said reality. Modern vampires are, in fact, a reality. However, much of what we think we know about vampires, how they live and what powers they possess, are deeply steeped in fiction and not at all true in the real world of modern vampires.

What about witches – would you know one if you saw one? Surely the green skin, wart infested nose, shaggy hair, pointed boots, cone-shaped hat, and bubbling cauldron would be clues, right? Wrong. While we all love, or at least relate to, the Halloween representation of the haggard witch, this stereotype is sadly misleading, as are the beliefs about the origins of a witch’s power coming from evil, such as devil-worship.

Grouped with vampires and witches are the infamous werewolves, humans who transform to wolves during full moons. Some say these transformations are involuntary and that they take place only after one has been attacked and bitten by another werewolf. Others suggest werewolves are nothing other than witches who use drugs, herbs, and ointments in conjunction with spells to consciously transform themselves to werewolves. But can werewolves be real in our modern world? Through mental illness, physical conditions, and other circumstances, werewolves do exist in the here and now.

Vampires, witches, and werewolves are often thought to be a form of satanic followers – evil concoctions created when a person has no morals and sells their soul to the devil in exchange for phenomenal powers beyond human reach. This is a misconception founded in fiction, stretched truths, or, with all due respect, ignorance. The truth is, there are modern vampires, witches, and werewolves intermingled with us every day and we rarely recognize them. They work at our banks, our doctors’ offices; they are postal workers, school teachers, housewives, and business men. Unlike myths and legends, these very real humans are not lurking in the shadows awaiting their prey. On the contrary, some may lurk in the shadows for fear of being discovered! Because they live unconventional lifestyles that are often ridiculed due to fear and lack of understanding, these lifestyles can be quite difficult to endure!

Abraham (Bram) Stoker did a spectacular job of romanticizing the image of vampires and shrouding the lifestyle in mystery and myth. Though Bram Stoker did his homework and began his writings based on research, his creativity played a dominant role in adding elaborate mistruths to the existence of vampires. Vampires of legend are said to be un-dead and immortal. During the supposed eternal existence of the vampire, they use their supernatural powers and prowess to entice and entrap their unsuspecting prey. Once the vampire has secured their prey, they use razor sharp teeth to pierce the neck of their victim and drain the blood and life-force. This act serves not only as food for the vampire, but also as procreation as the bite of a vampire thus transforms the victim into a vampire as well. According to the fiction tales vampires are afflicted by sunlight, sleep in coffins, can shape-shift into bats, can be repelled with garlic or a cross, and can be killed with a stake through the heart. None of these characteristics are attributed to or claimed by modern vampires.

Modern vampires can be divided into two categories, as different from one another as day and night. The first type of vampire is, indeed, a blood-drinker. The second type of vampire is known as a psychic vampire who preys on the psychic energies of their victims rather than blood.

Blood drinking vampires are nothing at all like what the fiction tales have portrayed. Not to be mistaken for “goth” lifestyles, modern blood-drinking vampires can and often do appear as normal as your next door neighbor or grocery store clerk. They are born, age, and die as every other human. They require the same nutrition as other people, and can get sick with any number of illnesses from the common cold to terminal cancer, and even AIDS. In fact, AIDS and other blood-related illnesses are a serious concern for modern blood-drinking vampires.

Modern vampires do not attack unsuspecting prey, nor do they seek to kill their “donors” or “partners”. Quite the opposite, blood-drinking vampires of this age seek permission from partners and usually consume only small amounts of blood. Because of the risks involved with blood transfers, partners in blood-drinking will often responsibly seek medical screening prior to partaking in the sharing of blood. Teeth are rarely used to make puncture wounds. Instead, a small knife is used, often by the “donor”, to make a small incision from which blood can be drawn. Many modern vampires state that there’s nothing erotic or sexual in the exchange of blood, but more that the need for blood is an overbearing physical craving. Such is the lack of romance in their lifestyle, they say, that they find it difficult, if not insulting, when others desire to be “turned” into a vampire.

Modern blood-drinking vampires, in most cases, claim absolutely no supernatural or psychic abilities. Most modern vampires will not draw attention to themselves by way of elaborate formal wardrobes or “costume” appearances. More often, true vampires are discrete with their lifestyles for fear of being misunderstood or treated abnormally. This is not to presume they are ashamed, but that they feel alienated and can experience great obstacles in personal relationships and otherwise ordinary circumstances.

Psychic vampires prey not on blood, but on energy. Unlike the permission-seeking blood-drinking vampires, psychic vampires are said to draw energy from unsuspecting victims through meditation and focused intent. To psychic vampires, not “feeding” on the energy of others can result in the same way as not eating a meal, leaving them weak and tired. Psychic vampires are much more likely to express flamboyant styles in their appearance, openly displaying their hierarchy in the “energy” food chain, which can be an intimidation tactic for unnerving potential prey.

Like the misconceptions with modern vampires, modern witches are largely misunderstood and wrongly judged based on stereotypes. Most belief systems existing before the advent of Christianity are grouped into one label: Pagan. This label is unjust because so many differing belief structures and lifestyles existed before Christianity and do not deserve to be grouped with one another. The modern conception of the word “pagan” is often associated through ignorance with devil-worship. The majority of modern witches don’t believe in the existence of Satan, or a devil. Modern witches are very connected with the natural seasons and cycles of the Earth, drawing on the Earth’s resources to increase energy, develop self-actualization, and for healing purposes.

Modern witches are attuned to the earth and its seasons; they embrace the gifts of the earth such as crystals, herbs, and the elements. Likewise, modern witches align themselves with planetary movements and lunar tides. It is the solstices and full moons in the wheel of the year celebrated by witches, traditions that have lasted since before the days of Christianity. Many of today’s mainstream holidays were originally pagan celebrations, having been absorbed and modified by Christianity in the days when Christians strove to abolish the ancient rituals.

Stories and legends may portray witches as turning people into toads or casting upon them evil spells, but these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are sometimes a few bad apples in a crop and not all generalizations apply to all people of a certain lifestyle, witches live life by the creed, “Do as ye will an’ it harm none”. Harming none is the foundation for any action taken by a modern witch. Sadly, it is the conflict between religions hundreds of years ago that spawned many of the misconceptions, fears, and stereotypes associated with witchcraft. The symbols and tools used by modern witches, when not understood by the general public, inspire unfounded negative reactions. With a little bit of research and open perspectives, many of the reservations associated with witchcraft would cease to exist.

Werewolves, perhaps, get the worst rap of these three lifestyles because being a werewolf, in modern terms, is harder to hide, more difficult to control, and is more often than not an unwanted affliction rather than a conscious choice. Why? Modern werewolves can be divided into two categories, or conditions known as Lycanthropic Disorder and Porphyria.

Lycanthropic Disorder is a mental condition in which the afflicted believes whole-heartedly that they are part wolf although there are no physical indications. In some cases, the condition is intentionally or unintentionally drug-induced, but it can occur in people who have never used drugs or alcohol and have, until the point of affliction, been considered “normal” by all standards. Unfortunately, if a person in this condition truly believes themselves to be part wolf, they can commit crimes against humanity, including their own family, in playing out their role as the hunter seeking prey. Because this is considered to be a psychological condition, medications can be effective in treating some cases of Lycanthropic Disorder.

Porphyria, unlike the mental condition of Lycanthropic Disorder, is a variety of physical conditions that can produce werewolf-like features in an otherwise normal and healthy individual. In some cases of Porphyria, excess body hair is developed in both male and female persons; fingernails can be discolored and misshapen, causing them to seem claw-like. Porphyria can also produce skin conditions in which the color of skin appears abnormal.

Many myths and legends do stem from some element of truth, but are often twisted and contorted into misconceptions and false understandings of real life experiences, lifestyles, and conditions. We cannot shun the creatives for their role in perpetuating such stereotypes and fears, but at the same time, we must accept our own responsibility in sifting fact from fiction. Living an unconventional lifestyle is difficult enough in its own right. When the public reacts to such lifestyles in harsh ways based on fear or ignorance, it can be extremely damaging to the individual who may not have a choice in the lifestyle they’re living.

Vampires, witches, and werewolves are not (in most cases) servants of the devil, nor do they feel they have a choice in who or what or how they are. It’s not always by bite or birthright that vampires, witches, and werewolves come to be. They simply discover in time that their lifestyle and needs are what most people consider “alternative”.

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