What are our traditions in the Vampire Subculture? What exactly are these Old Ways and Teachings?
We use these terms much the same way that we use them in the Pagan and Magickal Communities. They refer to practices that we repeat within a particular context…or beliefs that we profess, as part of a particular group.
Because common usage sometimes veers off from formal definition–new “traditions” can be declared on the spot, with the intention or promise to repeat the practice again, in the future.
When traditions are upheld in the Vampire Subculture, there is no guarantee that the practices and beliefs are ancient ones or even very old.
I’ve heard references to “tradition” and “old ways” in ways that infer that the beliefs and practices are old, they are automatically beyond question and therefore indisputable. It’s a trick of language to label something as “old” to infer that it is long-standing because it must have intrinsic and time-proven value.
On one hand, if something is claimed as part of a long-standing tradition, it is fair for someone to be curious about the documentation or research which traces this practice or belief, over time. There is nothing wrong with practices and beliefs being associated with a modern mythos or legend, as a storytelling technique–but, claiming an imaginary history to validate the value of a tradition is a bit misleading.
On the other hand, more modern traditions have no need of a long history if they have value in and of themselves. Practices can have practical value–they can be a way of performing a metaphysical or physical activity that is useful. They might not be traceable far back into history, but they might be the recommended practice within that group, because they work.
As far as practices which are not necessarily the most practical or effective, they might have more value on a symbolic level. Perhaps these practices are repeated because the founding or early members of the group practiced in such a manner. Repeating the same activity is a way of honoring the lineage and keeping connected to the group mind of the House.
As far as beliefs within a tradition go, they might sometimes be presented as fact or historical account that is passed down to later generations. While this might be the case at times–in other cases, there might only be validation for the belief in question because there is the false presentation of the belief as fact. We can think of this as a purely mental process–meaning that we are observing only the information that confirms our expectations–or as a metaphysical process–meaning that we are manifesting the thoughtforms of the beliefs in these traditions.
There is nothing wrong with having a standard set of practices and beliefs in one’s particular group, house or lineage. However, we should be aware and careful where language can be misleading. In paganism, we refer to “Traditions” when we refer to particular bodies [sets] of information–practices, mythos, deities, symbols and beliefs. For the most part, pagans understand that it is a package of information that the individual adopts because it makes sense to them in their philosophical navigation through this world. Traditions in paganism are optional and consciously chosen.
In contrast, many Modern Vampires often see themselves as born into vampirism–some of us see us as something more equivalent to a “sub-race” within humanity. Vampirism is not chosen, not optional. The “traditions” within the world of Vampirism could be mistakenly seen as being more obligatory, belonging to our heritage. It is not like choosing between religions, where one has the option of changing between churches, as their understanding changes and grows. Some people might feel that this is more like discovering that you are part of an “ethnicity”–you already belong and this is what your people have been doing for centuries. Many newbies find it believable that there might be long-standing lineages, with hidden wisdom–the most efficient practices and “beliefs” (which are implied to be “facts) are passed down in the form of traditions.
When pledging into groups, respect the ways of their organization. Discretely gauge which parts of their particular Tradition are negotiable, if you want the option of modifying the information. If non-negotiable aspects don’t mesh with your perception or experience, gracefully excuse yourself from the group and find another which nourishes your growth.