[Trigger warning: I am not attacking or even criticizing The Black Veil. This is more of an examination of the various interpretations and current applications of The Black Veil. To get the most out of this article, I recommend reading it more than once.]
I’ve read The Psychic Vampire Codex and actually still carry my copy around with me. The way my memory works is that I often don’t remember information verbatim. Being extremely visual, my brain often translates information into visual images and symbols that makes sense to me…and I’ll store a lot of information as mental pictures. I’m a visual thinker.
I don’t necessarily believe that everyone who refers to The Black Veil always follows it literally in the manner in which its concepts are stated. Even though there is the implication that they follow it to the letter, when they refer to it…we all have a variety of ways to understand all the information that we are presented with.
We each have our own ways of interpreting, storing and remembering information. It is useful to share definitions at regular intervals. While we might think we are on the same page, we might actually be using different translators.
Anyone who is interested should familiarize themselves with the wonderful commentary found on http://kheperu.org/black-veil/. The Black Veil was intended to be–
. “At the core, they [The Black Veil] are simply common sense rules of behavior based upon respect for oneself and for others.
Beyond expressing the values held by a majority of the community, the main function of the Black Veil is to provide a widely publicized ethical code that the media can see when issues arise that might reflect poorly upon our community.” http://kheperu.org/black-veil/
The section that I wanted to address is the first one of The Black Veil. It seems that this section is what many of my fellow Community members have in mind, when they criticize the behaviors of others, not acting in ways which they consider proper or appropriate.
Respect yourself and present yourself so that others also respect you. Take care in revealing your nature. Explain what you are, not to shock, but to teach and to inform. Do not flaunt what you are, and know that whether you want them to or not, your actions will reflect upon the rest of the community.
Share your nature only with those with the wisdom to understand and accept it, and learn to recognize these people.”
The beauty of this section is that the language is open enough for exploration and elaboration. A Community teacher can expand on and explain the various concepts in this passage. A serious student can meditate on the concepts separately and how these concepts interact with each other.
One of the factors that I keep in mind, when I read The Black Veil, is that Michelle Belanger is an occultist and metaphysician. She knows the value of looking beyond that literal meaning of words. There is value in looking for double meaning, underlying meaning and unintended meaning in any sort of communication.
The Black Veil can be used as a framework to pass along the valuable information that each Elder or individual House wants to pass along to their pledges and students. It can be a wonderful teaching tool.
It can be used to teach discretion to newbies. Younger people (who can sometimes be more passionate than calculating), newly awakened vampires and vampires who are new to the subculture might not have the discretion, discrimination or other relative reference points to act in a way which is productive for themselves and the community, at large. To error on the side of caution is sometimes more prudent.
However, the problem with assuming that being discrete or respectful is ALWAYS better is that SOMETIMES being shocking or scandalous might have some excellent payoff, depending on real-life circumstances. In terms of social needs, perhaps dramatic reveal has gotten a favorable reaction on the part of some vampire’s audience–whether that audience was a full bar, a small group of friends or an individual.
[**Not that I am encouraging being shocking or scandalous. I am merely pointing out that some absolute teachings might be seen as invalid, because they are not always applicable or practical, across the board. What sometimes happens is that newcomers will “throw out the baby with the bathwater” and assume the entire body of information is invalid, because of some part not holding to be absolutely true.**]
Furthermore, scandalous, dramatic or distasteful behavior might have led to the beginning of a donor-relationship in some cases. A positive outcome in the form of a donation is possible, regardless of the style of the introduction to and approach towards the subject of vampirism.
Aside from formal donation (with consent)–for an energy feeder who is able to be nourished on negative emotional energy alone, the bigger, the better the shock value. There is a larger payoff, in the form of a negative energetic feed, when this type of energy vampires DO NOT conduct themselves with respect and elegance.
“Respect” can be an amorphous concept, in and of itself . Respect can constitute a fear of approach. Respect can be seen as a sort of sacred treasuring. Respectful debate can include objective examination and direct questioning, without negative judgement. Respectfulness might not always be practical or desirable…again, depending on circumstance.
Sometimes, acting what we think of as “respectful” might not be as valuable when weighed against a personal gain, in the form of emotional satisfaction or energetic payment. In short, not everyone sees the benefits of having respect, at all times. Especially, when the vampire is attached to the mystique of the fictional vampire being vicious or beyond reproach…in short, above everybody else.
Some vampires have no interest in trying to gain the respect of others. Either, they might not embrace the idea of being a cooperative part of the modern collective of the Vampire Community/Subculture…or they are attached to the idea of Vampire as being a rebel, villain or above all authority. Either this vampire will not take other’s opinions into consideration….or will actively be contrary, and do what they perceive to be in contrast to other’s opinions.
As far as their actions reflecting upon the Community, either they might not care or purposely perform those actions which they think would cause shock, awe and controversy.
“Share your nature only with those with the wisdom to understand and accept it, and learn to recognize these people.” –http://kheperu.org/black-veil/
This is actually wonderful advice.
No. Actually, AND…
This is a great section to meditate on. By “meditate,” I mean to write this line at the top of a piece of paper, close your eyes, muse on the various ways to interpret this concept, imagine the various ways that this concept could be applied in the practical world, then freewrite on the thoughts. Perform this multiple days in a row.
Discernment is an excellent tool to cultivate. Not only for recognizing other kindred, but just to use in a very practical way in life–to make our navigation smoother. Unfortunately, many people either over-reveal or under-reveal their nature. Two simple questions that can help one decide whether or not there would be mutual/greater benefit to revealing one’s nature–
–What would be the positive outcome of me revealing my nature to this individual, in this scenario?
–Do I have an underlying negative reason for wanting to reveal my nature to this individual, with the unconscious expectation of creating negative or dramatic results?
Just as dictates and advice need to make sense in the context in which they are written or passed down–perhaps our need for absolute discretion is no longer practical.
That’s right. I said, “practical.”
Even 20 years ago, the need for secrecy was much more vital than it is today. Let us start by just remembering some reasons and benefits for remaining in secrecy, in the past. Real Living Vampires could have been persecuted…or at the very least, ridiculed for believing in such things as we do. Besides that, putting out the information of real, practical vampirism could have led to quite a bit of imitation by non-vampires, sometimes with dangerous or damaging results. In short, there is the stigma from engaging in vampirism or the idea that one is strange, delusional or dangerous also comes with the embrace of the beliefs in actual vampirism.
The call for discretion and secrecy was not only to protect the vampire or one claiming to be a vampire–it was also to minimize the possibly embarrassing and bad representations of Vampires that might be putting themselves out there. However, at this point, there is plenty of bad information out there, including false teachers.
At this point, I’d like to address the idea of representation and reception, in general. Perhaps, I lean on the sides of jaded and cynical…but, it seems that the world has more critical [negatively critical, not just objective and discerning] responses to things than supportive responses. Part of this might be the lazy tendency that people have to lump all like items the same in a group. No representative can encompass all desirable qualities. People and all of their variations are not easily lent to this process. We look for something to criticize about representatives, instead of viewing the “spokesperson” as one interpretation among many.
If we are talking about all members of a religious group, for example, it is not completely reasonable to lump all followers into the same group because interpretations and expression of any religion is not uniform all the way through the membership. Let us illustrate using the hypothetical example of a Christian church. There is a standard book of reference [The Bible, but even that is subject to variations of the book] and whatever official reference material for that particular church/denomination. However, beyond that, church members will run the range according to the level of dedication that they make to studying the church teachings and the individual application of that understanding to their everyday life. From there, explanation and expression of that understanding will vary considerably. Some church members will quietly share their experience and information only when directly asked to. Other church members will wait for the earliest opportunity to share their testimony when it seems relatively natural to talk about their understanding, within a conversation. And then we have the fanatics–who seem to constantly go on an on about what they think they know, without waiting for an organic opening in the conversation for their testimony.
There are some very knowledgeable Bible experts. There are some people who know their particular religious tradition very well–some of them can present information in an informed, well-spoken way. Then we have plenty of people who can neither present themselves in an interesting or informative way. As a matter of fact, there are some speakers who are counterproductive in the way that they present themselves or the information that they are trying to put across to potential convertees. Whether that is a fault in the actual delivery, the structure of the presentation of information, failure to correctly gauge receptivity of the intended audience…comparable problems can come across when Vampires or Role Players intend to present their life experience as educational or informative.
At risk of sounding negative, I am very aware that there are many people who are less than receptive audiences to anything which seems out of their version of ordinary. On top of that, some people are hypercritical of everyone–it doesn’t matter what the vampire looks like. The vampire will be criticized for being too stereotypical (looking too much like the media portrayal of a fictional vampire) or for not looking “traditional” enough (not looking enough like a media portrayal of a fictional vampire). There is no standard appearance, set of mannerisms and speech pattern which will represent all vampires in the community, because we vary so much in type.
Is the solution to have no representatives out there?
Or is there a remedy in having a larger variety of representatives out there?
In this internet/media age, everything is already out to the public. There are many examples of vampires on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. None of them have the mass approval of everyone within the Subculture and Community. There are complaints about various Real Vampires breaking the rule of Discretion…displaying actions or speaking openly about vampirism.
If we take a step back, we could argue that someone who really wants to be discrete about their nature would not draw attention to themselves even with the subtlest of clues–no attending public events, no admission of vampirism in any capacity and certainly, no fangs. The internet is no discrete place, even when we set our pages to “friends only” and only add ourselves to secret groups. It’s all a matter of degrees.
There are a lot of bad, embarrassing, misleading representations of Vampires out there in medialand. There is a plethora of bad, harmful, disempowering information that is all too available to the newly awakening Vampires AND the non-vampiric Public. We have all sorts of misinformation that is already out in the mediaverse. Those of us who are Real Living Vampires can continue to keep semi-public/semi-private, while we keep criticizing all levels of everyone else’s reveal…or we can be more realistic about what is going on in the world and offer a more productive and practical alternative.
To counteract the ignorance and bad information, we can acknowledge that what SOME of us really want as a Subculture is to offer relevant and practical information to the newly awakened–along with a secondary presentation of the Vampire Subculture offering a reasonable, well-spoken variety of speakers and teachers.
Perhaps, the “speaking of our truth” and “coming out” that has been embraced by other minorities feels like a productive way of empowering our still secret and silent groups. Discretion might have been a way to keep safe in the past. But now, some of us instinctively feel that hiding and being silent might not be as powerful as reaching out and speaking up.
This is a media age. With or without talent or skill, many people are now broadcasting their lives out loud–offering information and teaching, on whatever their truth is. Some of these are informative and truthful. Some not. There are going to be more Real Vampires who will stumble along, sharing their lives openly, whether the rest of us like it or not. We can’t turn off their video cameras and shove them back into the coffins. Perhaps, another alternative is to cultivate proper role models for them?
Adapt to the times and the current culture and show them how we would like it to be done?