By Light Unseen

The "Psivamp Revolution" and Its Aftermath

Beginning in the early spring of 1998, a variety of online debates centered on a critical issue: what, exactly, was meant by the term "vampire" (or the then-current "real vampire"), what characteristics did a "vampire" have, and who should be considered one, and hence a member of "the vampire community?"

Many of the heated discussions had their direct or indirect origin in my own website. The direct origin came from a couple of features of that site in particular: the "real vampire traits checklists," which some felt were misleading, and the FAQ question "What is a psychic vampire," in which I made the (apparently contradictory) statements that "there is no such thing as a psychic vampire," and "all real vampires are psychic vampires by nature."

What I meant, and made a complete mess of explaining at the time, was that I believed that all "real vampires" could and should be drinking blood, that "real vampires" needed blood for its pranic energy content, and that the community should not dismiss or invalidate any bona fide "real vampire" merely because he or she didn't, or couldn't, find a source of blood. How my article and website were interpreted was a bit different--and unfortunately, I apparently was extremely obtuse (and remain somewhat skeptical) about what some people tell me was "my influence in the community."

There were a growing number of self-defined "psychic vampires" in the Online Vampire Community (OVC), and an even larger number of what were then called "psi-blood feeders"--people who reported craving for, and/or being satisfied by, both blood and "energy." I heard from a lot of these "hybrid vampires" in my own email, and independent surveys by the original owner of the Psychic Vampires website seemed to support this "bell curve." It appeared, at that time, that the majority of Vampire-Identified People reported a need for blood and "energy" in varying proportions.

Like Sanguinarius, I was less concerned with categories and definitions than in uniting the entire community according to what it shared. I expected a high degree of diversity. I hoped to encourage varieties of Vampire-Identified People to see themselves as having vampirism in common and so feel more like a unified class of kindred spirits, despite their differing needs and practices.

Community member Amy Krieytaz, however, continued to bring up the question of supposedly "pure psi-feeders" and "pure blood vampires" feeling "excluded" by my model, which was anything but my wish. My chief sympathies were with blood-drinking vampires, but I got the impression (accurate or not) that many "pure" blood-drinking Vampire Identified People (i.e. Sanguinarians) in the online community did not have a high opinion of me and my website. Meanwhile, Amy attempted to address the situation by inventing more and more hair-splitting "overlapping categories" of so-called "real vampires," and we debated this issue in private email.

I perceived an ominous change as the summer of 1998 went on. The online "psychic vampires" (with and without blood-craving or blood interest tendencies) continued to increase in number incredibly rapidly, and websites, chat channels and messageboards specifically for them were being founded enthusiastically. As this was going on, "psychic wars" began to break out in which the "psychic vampire" community rallied around one or more members who complained of being attacked, often during IRC chat sessions, by other "psychic vampires" (either members of the group or hostile outsiders).

These claims baffled and disturbed blood-drinking Vampire Identified People who could not understand what these attacks meant or how to assess reports of something they could not perceive. The skepticism--no matter how quiet and noncommittal--the "psychic vampires" sensed from other members of the OVC contributed to a widening crack. Instead of seeing themselves as "real vampires" with an experience in common (a need to "feed" on blood or "energy"), the online community was beginning to separate into two halves. One side still felt that vampirism by definition implied a need to drink blood. The other side was beginning to openly suggest that "real vampires" should not need to drink blood, but instead should "evolve" or progress to the "higher" level of "psi-feeding." Long before this difference of opinion became openly contentious, it was creating a deep psychological rift. But the greatest irony of all in this development, at least from my perspective, was that it was all my fault.

Prior to the publication of my FireHeart article in fall, 1987, nobody, under any circumstances, considered a "psychic vampire" something that could be positive, or that anyone would ever admit to being. Every book that dealt with "real life vampirism" defined vampirism on the basis of blood-drinking. If psychic vampires were mentioned at all, it was in the context of early occult literature that described psychic vampires as people (or astral entities) who drained the vitality of others, either unconsciously or maliciously. Some books described "psychic vampires" as the leechlike, clinging, using personality types defined and denounced by both the Church of Satan and the Temple of Set. The sole "positive" reference to a "psychic vampire" from his own point of view occurs in Norine Dresser's American Vampires, and that was published two years after my article. Without meaning to, I had introduced a totally new paradigm for psychic vampirism. When it was dropped into the whirling maelstrom of the Internet, with the posting of my 1987 article on the EarthSpirit website at the beginning of 1997, it was like a bomb going off. When I put up my first website as a response to the article, I only managed to pour gasoline on a roaring fire.

All of these people who were reading my website weren't adopting my ideas as a whole package. They were extracting from my site what agreed with their pre-existing worldview and ideology, which ninety-nine percent of the time meant completely ignoring my assertions that all "real vampires" need to drink blood and that "psychic vampires" are not a separate class of vampire. My site acted as a psychic vampire manifesto, and those who read it adapted my ideas, and passed them on to others who further adapted them, and so on. I had started a revolution, in which a "psychic vampire" suddenly was not a draining, energy-challenged individual who leeched off other people and needed to be "cured," "magically bound," or avoided, but a kind of superior being, a potential master energy-wielder, who could outgrow any need to "feed" on blood, or on other people.

But I didn't own this revolution. I watched my ideas, my terminology, and often my exact words circulate through the Internet, and I didn't get the credit for them. (To be fair, most of the people passing them on evidently had no clue about their origins. For example, the term "pranic vampirism" originates with me--I'm the first person to link the word "pranic" and the word "vampire." But nobody remembers that now, except a few people who have recently attempted to claim, without a shred of documentation, that they were using the term "pranic" earlier and are blatantly lying.)

But I did get the grief for the results. Many blood-drinking Vampire-Identified People didn't like me because some self-defined "psychic vampires" were adapting my ideas in ways rather unflattering to them (and very much at variance from my intentions). Some "psychic vampires" didn't like me because I continued to insist there was no such thing as a "psychic vampire." Almost everyone was dubious about me because of my "vampire traits checklists," which were widely seen as a bad idea. As I was buried under an avalanche of email that mostly pled for an explanation of checklist scores, I was beginning to agree with that point of view.

The Psychic Vampire Revolution was a movement whose time had come, and the self-defined "psychic vampires" (or "Psivamps") can't be blamed for the way they expanded into the nascent online community. After all, so many Vampire Identified People continued to bravely maintain that the "vampire community" should (somehow) include every self-defined vampire. What nobody seemed to realize--perhaps not even the "Psivamps" themselves--was that the "psychic vampire" community was hiving off into its own completely independent reality, with its own leaders, its own subcommunity, its own vocabulary, and its own concepts. It was also growing explosively, with self-defined "Psivamps" outnumbering both blood-drinkers and self-defined "hybrids." (I think many "hybrids" were intimidated into believing their blood-craving was "unevolved" or unethical and tried to suppress or deny it. The anonymous surveys distributed by Suscitatio LLC in 2006 reveal that the majority of Vampire Identified People still claim to need both blood and "energy.")

As the "Psivamps" became stronger, more self-assured, more articulate, and developed a better consensus, their collective influence naturally became much stronger in the general online fora. The blood-drinking Vampire Identified People found their opposing self-definitions thrown into sharp relief as a result, and began reaffirming their own identity, pulling back into their own subgroup and grumbling behind the scenes.

Under the mounting pressure of this still unacknowledged and widening breach, the explicit issues finally erupted publicly in September 1998. Some blood-drinking Vampire-Identified People logged complaints that the "Psivamps" were "taking over." Sanguinarius forcefully stated her view that "real vampires" were defined as blood-craving or blood-lusting Sanguinarians, period, and that "psychic vampires" were not worthy of the name. She posted this message on both the original Bloody Minded messageboard and then the general Vampire Community messageboard, and the "Psivamps" suddenly found themselves brutally challenged by an acknowledged leader of the vampire community. They were, naturally, hurt and dismayed, the more so because a few other Sanguinarians cheered Sanguinarius' message and added their agreement.

Some "Psivamps" angrily responded to Sanguinarius' message while others simply abandoned the messageboard for their own exclusive "Psivamp" fora (at least until they cooled off). Sanguinarius later relented on her strong position and apologised, but she continued to state that she simply did not understand the "Psivamps'" perspective on life, and that her real allegiance was to other Sanguinarians and their issues. Her view was probably representative of many blood-drinking Vampire-Identified People. However, Sanguinarius and many others reaffirmed their dedication to the community as a whole. An uneasy truce was settled, and Sanguinarius renamed her main messageboard "the Vampiric Community Messageboard" in accordance with a new suggestion of Amy's that we consider ourselves the "vampiric" community of "vampiric" people (not just "vampires").

At about this same time I was undergoing a private capitulation, based partly upon my finally realizing what I had, in a certain sense, wrought, and partly upon bowing at long last to another in a string of disappointments I had encountered ever since getting online in December of 1994. I threw in the towel for good on any ideas of unifying "real vampires" under a single multi-faceted definition. I posted a long, abject, public apology to Amy Krieytaz for misunderstandings regarding her proposal to name "hybrid" or "psi-blood feeding" Vampire Identified People after me, as "Arthenian vampires." I then temporarily took down some sections of the Real Vampires Home Page website, including the troublesome "real vampire traits checklists," for long-planned and extensive revisions.

Although some of the upsets settled down, the general tenor of the online fora did not improve. As I saw it, the contention of the big split created a psycho-social atmosphere that attracted a huge amount of negativity to the Online Vampire Community.

When I launched my completely redesigned website in December, 1998, now named Living Vampires, I created an accompanying messageboard for it, and also started a couple of email lists. But for the next eighteen months, my fora and all the other high-traffic messageboards were constantly plagued by a series of extremely persistent, obnoxious and Internet-savvy trolls, several of them posting from other countries. It seemed that we messageboard moderators spent all our time deleting obscene posts, tracing IP numbers, identifying nuisance posters who used multiple nicknames, filing complaints to ISP's, and struggling to keep discouraged members from giving up on us. Several boards survived a number of sophisticated denial-of-service attacks in which they were flooded with hundreds of obscene posts. only advised us to "ignore" the trolls and asked me at one point "what we'd done to offend these people" and provoke them into bothering us so much.

Apart from the outright trolls, I was distressed by the fact that most of the owners of messageboards appeared willing to tolerate, and sometimes even encourage, personalities on their boards that I saw as being highly destructive to any "community" spirit and discouraging to other posters. The most active and verbose posters, it seemed, tended to be strongly opinionated and blunt-spoken egotists who were always ready to lecture, attack and abuse anyone they disagreed with. On top of that, they made it clear that they didn't identify as "vampires" of any kind, but needed to explain to all of us why we were wrong about things. There were also some individuals who were very obviously (to me, anyway) quite mentally ill, yet were praised for their poetic wisdom and truthful insight. I communicated at length to other messageboard moderators about my concerns, and my feeling that we all needed to raise our standards and have the fortitude to moderate much more strongly on behalf of our more humble members who were being intimidated by these overbearing individuals. The other moderators chose not to agree with my advice.

By spring of 2000, I was fed up with handling the problem posters and being flamed to cinders on my own messageboard. I closed my messageboard and other fora down and retreated from participation in any and all Vampiric Community fora. In retrospect, I probably should have had a thicker skin. But there were other stressors in my life at that time, and I decided that I wasn't being rewarded for the investment of time and energy I was making. Sarasvati offered to take over my messageboard, stating that she felt it was important to some of its core members, trolls regardless. I turned the messageboard over to her, and she ran it successfully for many years as Echoes of Night.

But I was far from the only frustrated moderator in the online community. Most of the messageboards became moribund or were shut down, and a number of key individuals and leaders largely retreated from participating in online fora. Those that remained began to set up fora on servers with EZBoard or similar companies that required members to register and log in before they could use the forum. This virtually eliminated the problem of trolls, spamming and nuisance posts. However, some members of the online community were not comfortable with having to register as members, and others (including me) did not like the format of the new fora. These individuals refused to participate in the members-only messageboards. Many well-known websites, some of them with extensive and high-quality information, were abandoned or taken down during the next couple of years.