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Vampyric Feeding: Redefining Need

Vampyric Feeding: Redefining Need

My journey through vampirism began in an era where there was a lot of pressure both on individuals and on the community at large to come to a general consensus and form a homogenous belief set, identity, and lexicon. It seemed like every time I turned around, groups were trying their best to establish common language, collective or universal definitions, and codes of conduct and ethics they hoped would be adopted by the community at large—serving both as guidance and perimeters for our identity and the people who claim it. This absolutely makes sense, we are in a community to come together with like minded individuals who have shared lived experience with our very unique and atypical identity. We want and need people to understand us and know that we aren’t alone. We want to know we’re not crazy, and that what we are going through is both real and common in some context. Especially when the broader culture around us (fresh off the Satanic Panic and Susan Walsh disappearance) very much believes us to be dangerous, crazy or at the very least playing pretend. It’s easy for the need for community, support, and common understanding to get tangled up with the desire for legitimacy, acceptance, and freedom from persecution. Occasionally that overlap can have the unintended consequence of over policing ideas, stifling healthy discourse, and limiting the “acceptable” level of diversity of experience to create a homogeneity that is easily digestible and acceptable to the dominant culture.

In some parts of the community I came up in, there was heavy pressure for your vampiric experience to look exactly like the agreed upon definition and fit all the predetermined parameters. In variation from the common narrative was met with heavy suspicion or even ridicule. So many people were afraid of being seen as posers or lifestyles simply for having a slightly different opinion or experience. In reality, there is a lot of diversity in the vampire community and there can and should be room for differing experiences to co-exist. I’m glad to find the community in a state where we can put things like the “sang vs psi conflict”, and the poser shaming to bed. Vampirism is a very personal experience and we all come to it a little differently. 

Over the last 20 years, I have done a lot of introspection. Coming up in that climate has really created a level of caution when it comes to sharing that introspection or talking about my first hand experience. I have kept so much to myself out of fear of losing my support community. This is a series on those introspections. It’s time for me to share some conclusions and thoughts that I don’t often see articulated in our community. My hope is they reach someone who resonates with them, someone who really needs their experiences validated the way I did when I first awakened and found myself in a harsh community. I’ve built a tough skin over the years, and I want to use that to uplift those around me. 

In the vampire community, it is a commonly held belief that true vampires need to feed, or at the very least, a vampire must feed. For many, the need to feed, rather than the desire or ability to, is what distinguishes the vampire from the non-vampire. After all, everyone is constantly engaging in the exchange of energy. We are all giving and taking energy to some extent at all times. We all need life force energy, that’s how life works. That begs a few questions here. 

What is vampiric feeding? 

Feeding in a vampiric context, at its most simple, is the intake of an external source of bloodFor blood drinking vampires, there is a diversity of opinion on why they crave blood and exactly what it is in the blood that feeds them. Some people view blood as a carrier or conduit for life force energy, others believe there is a physical element of the blood that their body is processing biologically. or energy—typically with the intent of supplementing, improving, maintaining, or balancing something in order to achieve optimal well being or performance. 

It is usually deliberate, though for many it can and does begin instinctively and on a subconscious level, especially when it comes to energy. As a vampire awakens, the goal is usually for feeding to become deliberate and usually consensual, but not everyone shares the same ethics 100% of the time. 

There’s some debate on if the source of outside blood or energy must be from a human, or if intake of things like animal blood or energy from any source constitutes a vampiric feed, but it is a pretty commonly held belief that the human aspect of it is necessary for many—especially where energy is concerned— that is not a universal truth.

How does energy feeding differ from typical energy exchange?

Energy is all around us and moves in and out of us with everything we do, esoteric  or mundane. Everyday activities and connections are energy exchanges. We give and take energy naturally as we move about our days, do chores, have conversations, witness the reality of the world around us. We can get bogged down and drained by living a life out of alignment with our nature, needs or goals. Trauma, tragedy, and collective miasma can drain and expend our energy too. Rest, connection, nature, performance, touch, expression, meditation, conversation,  are all ways to balance and restore our energy, not to mention a whole host of metaphysical and magical techniques. 

Life force flows to and from us at all times. Sometimes we give more, sometimes we take more. Sometimes we have a greater need, sometimes we have extra to spare. Vampires, more often than not, have a different overall relationship to energy and energy exchange. For vampires, regardless of the how and why, usually the natural, subconscious flow of energy exchange is simply not enough. Everyone needs to take in and share energy, but the needs or desires of the vampire are often different. 

There is no universal reason that applies to all psychic vampires on why they must energy feed, but some common motivations and explanations include: 

  • Having a faster than average energy metabolism, burning through energy faster than you can replenish it
  • Not being able to generate enough of your own energy, if any
  • Being completely disconnected from energy sources
  • Not being able to easily process or cycle the energies of everyday exchange
  • Having an energy type, spirit shape, or otherkin nature that isn’t the most compatible with human life force energy
  • Injury or illness of the energy body or of other spiritual origin 
  • Entity attachments, parasites, or symbionts 
  • Side effect of energy body alteration or psychic surgery or adjustment 

This shortlist is far from exhaustive. The old joke is that there are more explanations and definitions than there are vampires. 😅

How do we define need? 

One of the things I’ve contemplated over the years is how I understand and relate to the concept of “need” in the context of vampiric feeding. Back when I first awakened, the big distinction that made a vampire real or legitimate in the eyes of the community instead of a lifestyler, poser, or fake, was the need to feed, not just the desire or ability. Vampiric energy techniques can be learned and mastered by anyone, not just folks who have some sort of innate predisposition for vampirism.  And for many in the community at the time of my awakening, showing any sign that you enjoyed feeding meant that you didn’t really need it or you might be a poser or someone who is putting on the vampire archetype for fun. Relating to feeding as anything other than a necessary, boring, serious obligation, was met with scrutiny and ridicule in some parts of the community. This was especially true for blood drinkers in some spaces, but in others, it was especially true for psychic vampires. 

Much of the community understood that “needing” to feed meant that going without it, even for short amounts of time, would mean the vampire would become very sick. It wasn’t unusual for people to believe that all vampires were inherently very sickly by nature and that feeding helped the vampire approximate healthy. 

For those people, the notion was that a vampire 100% needed to feed in the way that some humans need to take medicine to manage symptoms of a chronic illness, or manage pain. Often with the idea that even with feeding, you’re never quite at the same baseline as folks around you.

But there are other frameworks for need. I absolutely believe that many vampires absolutely do have this experience and so need to feed in this way for those reasons,  and I don’t think that is the only legitimate paradigm or understanding of need. 

What if some vampires need to feed the way that all humans need food, water or even sleep? The way carnivores need meat and herbivores need plant matter. That is simply what you must consume and how you must consume it. You need to feed in order for your systems to operate, but you’re not inherently sickly or unwell. Certainly, long term extensive neglect of this need won’t end well for you and you may even become very sick due to that neglect, but you aren’t sick by nature of needing it. 

What if some vampires need to feed the way humans need things like connection, touch, community, or joy? You aren’t going to die without them, but you simply aren’t at your best without them—and again, long term lack can produce more tangible or physical signs of being unwell. Life with those things is simply much more bearable, optimal, enjoyable, easier, or natural. You still need them. 

Not dying or not becoming sickly without something doesn’t mean you don’t need it. It also doesn’t mean you’re not suffering, though I don’t think suffering is always necessary to indicate need either.

Does feeding make the vampire? 

There is a growing camp of people who don’t think feeding is a primary or necessary piece of the equation when it comes to defining vampirism. Whether or not someone needs to feed is irrelevant to folks who don’t think vampirism is about feeding.  Vampirism can also be about a specific relationship to energy or your body (physical or energy), psychic skills, or connection to specific energy currents and vibrational wavelengths. Some vampires are people who have a certain energetic flavor to them, an outlook on the world, a glamour or a skill set. And to that point, even if feeding is a need for you, it can be a disservice to define and understand your vampirism solely through your feeding needs. Feeding is an extremely personal, and often private part of many people’s journeys, but for most of us, it’s not the only part of the journey. When it comes to psychic feeding, the skills and awareness to develop and nurture in order to be able to feed can and do have other purposes and applications too. They don’t only serve us in the context of feeding. Energy work has all kinds of uses on ourselves and for others or even in the context of magic. Vampires are so much more than what we feed on and why, and it’s okay to embrace that. 

My Personal Takeaways

There is room for grey area and for your experience to be hard to pinpoint or articulate, or for it to be a mix of things. The idea that something as personal, subjective, and metaphysical as psychic vampirism needs to be easily defined and set in some rigid little boxes and parameters has always been absurd to me and I’m excited to see an age in the community where we are moving away from those ideas. Don’t get me wrong, clear and easy to understand definitions are important, but it’s equally important to have a degree of flexibility that reasonably accommodates diversity of experience. 

Vampiric feeding and need are complicated and can be defined and experienced though different lenses. Feeding can be enjoyable and necessary at the same time, they aren’t mutually exclusive. Just as I can enjoy eating, sleeping, or an ice cold glass of water, I can enjoy taking in blood or life force energy. Having pleasant experiences and positive emotional associations with meeting your needs is healthy. 

I also think there is room for the definition of vampirism to expand beyond need. That vampirism can be legitimate even if people just enjoy feeding or feel drawn to the act. I think there are a lot of reasons why people might be drawn to the vampire as a spiritual archetype or metaphor and as long as people aren’t using it to do harm, that can be legitimate.  Even if that experience doesn’t completely align with my own, it doesn’t mean there isn’t room for it under the vampire umbrella. The older I get, the larger I see the umbrella to be. There are so many different facets of experience underneath it and we all feel drawn to the archetype of the vampire for one reason or another. At the very least, we have that in common. On the flip side, it’s also important to have access to people who speak the same language as you, who have shared experiences and understand and interface with the world in a similar way. We need people around us who are vampires in the same way we are. It’s natural to seek out that kind of community and support. I do it too. We can also greatly benefit from others are different from us. Whose vampirism might not always make sense to us. It’s important to balance out spaces where folks are like minded and sharing experiences, and spaces where there is a lot of diversity and our differing perspectives challenge each other. Both are important for growth. 

Whether we need to feed or not, what we feed on or how we are defining “need” or even “vampire”, can vary so much person to person. Vampirism is so complex and multifaceted and I am excited to contribute to an era in the community where there is more room for that kind of diversity.

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About The Author

V.S. Nightborn

V. S. Nightborn is your friendly neighborhood Vampyre Historian. I awakened in 2003 and have been a member of the online vampire community since 2005. I am not a member of any particular house or bloodline, what some might call ‘Ronin’. I’m no expert, but I do think my decades worth of trial and error has resulted in valuable insight and experiences that I am happy to share in our community. In addition to my vampyrism, I have been a practicing Witch and Spirit Worker for the last 20 years with a focus on trance, journey, and relationships with the Fair Folk. Be careful, I may or may not be among their number. 😈 I’m incredibly passionate about preserving vampyre history & culture, and educating people—vampyre and non vampyre alike—about our community and needs. As Coven Historian, I own an ever growing library of books by, for, and about our community and experiences. If you need a resource, just ask!

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