TEMPLE OF THE VAMPIRE
TEMPLE OF THE VAMPIRE TIMELINE
1970-72: Dr. Jeanne Keyes Youngson began receiving, as president/founder of The Count Dracula Fan Club (now The Vampire Empire), letters from people who self-identified as vampire. The organization’s purview was subsequently extended, making The Count Dracula Fan Club the first research organization to study real vampirism.
1972: Stephen Kaplan established the Vampire Research Center in Suffolk County, New York and oversaw a “vampire hotline” that received numerous phone calls from people claiming to be vampires, albeit many were hoaxes.
1986-1988: Vampire fanzines and newsletters began to experience broader distribution.
1989 (December): The Temple of the Vampire gained tax-exempt status as a religious organization in the U.S.
1989: The Vampire Bible was published.
1990s: The Temple of the Vampire ran ads claiming, “Vampires are real! Join us” in such magazines as Fate and Gnosis.
The 1970s heralded the first, if disjointed, network of persons self-identifying as human vampires: people who consume human or animal blood and/or absorb psychic energy out of a need, which they claim derives from the natural lack of energy their bodies produce (Browning 2015). People who openly or in secret identified as vampire in this way commenced attending Dark Shadows conventions and other social vampire fan gatherings, in addition to bondage and S&M conventions whose attendees included blood fetishists, “cutters,” and other potentially willing blood and energy donors. This led for the first time to networking and the use of a system better suited for identifying blood and energy donors. Eventually, limited print runs of self-printed newsletters (or ‘zines) began to appear, and, like social gatherings, this print media was especially helpful in merging into one interconnected community the real vampire groups and individuals scattered across the U.S. (Browning 2015). The Temple of the Vampire emerged during this communicative heyday.
The Temple of the Vampire (often abbreviated to TOV in online and print literature) is presently the only international Vampire church to receive tax-exempt status as a religious organization by the Internal Revenue Service. The Temple was granted tax-exempt status in 1989. According to the Temple (in a church email archived at The Arcane Archive), the organization has been known by various names throughout history: the Order of the Dragon, the Temple of the Dragon, and, in ancient Sumeria, the Temple of the Vampire Dragon Goddess Tiamat (or Hekal Tiamat) (“Temple of the Vampire” n.d.). The Temple of the Vampire is based in Lacey, Washington, and its founder, George C. Smith, M.A. (aka Lucas Martel, or Nemo) is a Washington State Certified Mental Health Counselor (C.M.H.C.) who has been in private practice for over twenty-five years. He has a background in “self-help” products (transcendental meditation, psychic readings, stock markets, martial arts, and “anger cure”) and is a former member of the Church of Satan, with ties to the Temple of Set. The Temple of the Vampire is predominantly a mail-order organization, much like the Church of Satan, and it forbids the drinking of blood or illegal activities by its members. According to the Temple’s website, it is “the only authentic international organization in the world that represents the true Vampire religion.” The Temple has been “in continuous existence” since it received governmental recognition, which the Temple sought in order “to allow its membership to benefit from the legal protection of religion under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution” (Temple of the Vampire n.d.).
Membership, according to the Temple’s website, “grew slowly but steadily for the first few years, but with the explosion of electronic communications, there has been a rapid growth in membership.” The Temple of today, it has claimed via email, “is a carefully calculated experiment to more publicly reach those who may be of the Body of the Blood yet unaware of their full heritage” (“Temple of the Vampire” n.d.).
The Temple of the Vampire is, according to Joseph Laycock, an initiatory (rather than “awakened”) group that “cites [its] techniques as coming from a sort of vampiric divine revelation” (Laycock 2009:73). Laycock also astutely notes that vampire institutions like the Temple “are modeled after traditional religious institutions, complete with hierarchies and documents” (Laycock 2010: 13). The Temple’s tenets, its origin, and its resurgence are indeed explained in The Vampire Bible (Temple of the Vampire 1989), and the Temple’s sacred rites include magical rituals aimed at achieving special vampiric powers, contact with the Vampire Gods, and vampiric communion. The Temple, according to its mission statement, adheres to the supremacist belief that the “Vampire is the next step in human evolution” and exists as a predator to humans (Temple of the Vampire n.d.). To Temple members, individuality is paramount above all else: “We [The Temple] believe the value of the individual is superior to that of any group or tribe or nation. In everything we do, we believe in challenging anything opposing individual freedom” (Temple of the Vampire n.d.). Dawn Perlmutter is apt to point out that the Temple “also profess[es] that Vampires created all the religions of the world to keep humans under control, that Vampires are the rulers of the world, and that humans are nothing but a source of energy for the undead gods” (Perlmutter 2014:322). Similarly, J. Gordon Melton, in summarizing a Temple recruitment email, explains: “The modern public temple has attempted to locate those who might be of the Blood—those who have realized their difference from the mass of humanity, who resonate with the Dark of Night, who recognize themselves as predators, who know there is something more to life, and who wish to possess it” (Melton 2011:699). Together, Perlmutter and Melton refer to the dual personality of Temple members. First, there is the “Earthly Vampire,” or the “Dayside” of his personality: the “skeptical materialist who approaches life with a no-nonsense perspective,” laughing “in scorn at the humans who find themselves believing in the superstitious nonsense which our kind [the Vampire] created for their control,” dedicated all the while “to personal, material mastery of life” (“Temple of the Vampire” n.d.). Second, there is the “Magical Vampire,” or the “Nightside” of his personality: learning “to slip in and out of belief systems as they serve him,” belief in magic “only engaged in when magic is actually used,” with Vampire powers, “to include shapeshifting, flying, mesmeric power, superhuman strength and physical immortality,” being “accepted as real first within the Nightside of the Vampire’s mind,” and “from the Will’s connection to the Powers of Darkness, the fantasies of power become realities,” manifesting “in what are called out-of-body lucid dreams and are approached by the sincere and dedicated application of the Higher Teachings of the Temple” (“Temple of the Vampire” n,d.).
The Temple of the Vampire embraces the ancient religion Hekal Tiamat, whose sacred book is the Shurpu Kishpu. Principal among Temple religious teachings, however, is the process of contacting the Vampire Gods through a seven-step ceremony. The first step, according to The Vampire Bible, is “Entering the Chamber,” a metaphor for any place of magic, inside or outside, that is absent of disbelief. The “Declaration of Self,” that is, facing westward towards a mirror and declaring both one’s status as a “Living Vampire” and the purpose of the ceremony, comes next. Afterwards, in “The Calling to the Four Winds,” the celebrant faces south, east, north, and west (in that order), at each point calling forth the Undead Gods. The fourth step, “The Sacrifice,” is, according to Massimo Introvigne, a crucial one, as “the celebrant offers to the Vampire Gods his or her life force and the life force he or she has captured from other weaker human beings” (Introvigne 2002:149). Physical signs that contact has been made may include, among others, the feeling of air rushing past, the sensation of being touched, a tingling in the face and finger tips, or hearing one’s name being spoken. “Vampiric Communion” follows, wherein the celebrant receives, in varying degrees, the higher energy of any present Vampire God(s) and discovers in the process the renewal of his own energy and vitality. With the sixth step, “The Restoration of Power,” the celebrant drinks from a chalice “and declares again his chosen status as a dedication” (The Vampire Bible 1985:8). Finally, in “Leaving the Chamber,” the celebrant conducts a few minor ceremonial rituals, depending on who is present (a priest, for example), then extinguishes any open flames and declares the ceremony’s closure. Underscoring the Temple’s observation of ritual and stark ideological imperatives is “The Vampire Creed”:
I’m a vampire.
I worship my ego and I worship my life, for I am the only God that is.
I am proud that I am a predatory animal and I honor my animal instincts.
I exalt my rational mind and hold no belief that is in defiance of reason.
I recognize the difference between the worlds of truth in fantasy.
I acknowledge the fact that survival is the highest law.
I acknowledge the Powers of Darkness to be hidden natural laws through which I work my magic.
I know that my beliefs in Ritual our fantasy but the magic is real, and I respect and acknowledge the results of my magic.
I realize there is no heaven as there is no hell, and I view death as the destroyer of life. Therefore I will make the most of life here and now.
I am a Vampire.
Bow down before me.
In addition to The Vampire Bible, the Temple of the Vampire now disseminates its religious philosophy through several other main texts, including The Predator Bible, The Priesthood Bible, The Sorcery Bible, and the Vampire Adept Bible, as well as several audio programs, all of which can be procured at the Temple’s website. Church publications also include, according to Perlmutter (2014), Bloodlines: The Vampire Temple Journal and the monthly newsletter Lifeforce: The International Vampire Connection to CABAL.
The Temple of the Vampire utilizes several divisions and developmental levels that are reached after successful application of the “Higher Teachings,” which the Temple makes available in order of development. To be classified as a “Lifetime Member,” according to archived church correspondence, one must offer some material donation to the Temple, like money, for example, or any exchangeable object of value (“Temple of the Vampire” n.d.). After making “a suitable minimum donation” (as listed in the “Current Offerings Available” disclosure sheet), Lifetime Members are eligible to acquire The Vampire Bible, as well as the Vampire Ritual Medallion and the Vampire Temple Ring. The next level, Active Membership, is a Lifetime Member who has made formal application for affiliation and afterwards granted by the Council entrance for what it calls, “advanced study.” This particular church standing “is considered the First Circle of the Outer Temple and carries the title of Vampire Initiate” (“Temple of the Vampire” n.d.). The Second Circle of the Outer Temple, the “Vampire Predator,” is the title granted to a Vampire Initiate upon successfully achieving “specific results in Vampiric development, both earthly and magical” (“Temple of the Vampire” n.d.). The Priesthood of UR, the Third Circle of the Temple (also known as The Inner Temple or the Temple of the Dragon), includes Vampire Priests and Priestesses who successfully demonstrate an advanced application of the principles of Vampirism and then swear an oath to serve the Temple. The Priesthood of UR is also, according to Temple correspondence, “the Gateway to the Hidden Mysteries of the Temple from which this earthly world is quite literally ruled. These Mysteries are revealed to those who prove themselves worthy of such trust” (“Temple of the Vampire” n.d.). Finally, the Vampire Sorcerer or Sorceress and the Vampire Adept comprise the two most outer circles, according to Dawn Perlmutter (2014).
The Temple’s hallowed ritual magic ceremonies of “Vampiric Communion” (also “The Calling of the Undead”) are entered into at all levels of the church to achieve magical outcomes (“Temple of the Vampire” n.d.). What is more, Vampiric Communion can be enjoyed both in group ceremony or solitarily; thus, physical encounters or interactions are not required for solitary members of the Temple to pursue and achieve successfully the vampiric path. According to Temple correspondence, however, although “there is no requirement for socialization, most members discover that not only is ritual strengthened by numbers but a thirst to be in the presence of those of our own kind can only be quenched by such meetings” (“Temple of the Vampire” n.d.). The Temple therefore conducts “Conclaves,” often annually according to the church and throughout the world, in order to stimulate interaction between active members.
Laycock astutely remarks that the Temple of the Vampire is “the most active, secretive, and controversial of the left-hand path vampire groups” (Laycock 2009:74). According to Introvigne, many who self-affiliate with the “Gothic milieu” or lifestyle “check out the Temple of the Vampire. Few stay, fearing that the mail-order scheme may simply be a money-making business, or disagreeing with the brutal worldview. After all, in contemporary literature, “postmodern vampires are often depicted as not entirely evil” (Introvinge 2002:149). For Laycock, “Vampire occult groups” like the Temple and others, “although they represent a minority of the [real] vampire community, have the resources to publish more books, create more ambitious Web sites and have their representatives appear on talk shows and documentaries” (Laycock 2009:70). As a result, “The publicity of these groups has led scholars to make over-generalizations of the [real] vampire community, namely that [real] vampirism is a religion and that it is associated with Satanism” (ibid). More still, author, psychic vampire, and vampire community leader Michelle Belanger believes, along with others, that the Temple is nothing but a front for the Church of Satan, founded “in order to generate revenue through the sale of memberships, dues for gaining ranks, religious books, and vampiric jewelry, revenue that is then passed on to the Church of Satan” (Laycock 2009:77). (For further information on the Temple’s critics, see Laycock 2009:74-78.)
Belanger, Michelle A. 2004. The Psychic Vampire Codex: A Manual of Magick and Energy Work. Boston: Red Wheel/Weiser.
Browning, John Edgar. 2015. “The Real Vampires of New Orleans and Buffalo: A
Research Note Towards Comparative Ethnography.” Palgrave Communications 1, no. 15006.doi: 10.1057/palcomms.2015.6.
Introvigne, Massimo. 2002. “The Gothic Milieu,” Pp. 138-51 in The Cultic Milieu: Oppositional Subcultures in an Age of Globalization, edited by Jeffrey Kaplan and Heléne Lööw. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
Keyworth, David. 2002. “The Socio-Religious Beliefs and Nature of the Contemporary Vampire Subculture,” Journal of Contemporary Religion 17:355-70,
Laycock, Joseph. 2010. “Real Vampires as an Identity Group: Analyzing Causes and Effects of an Introspective Survey by the Vampire Community.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 14:4-23.
Laycock, Joseph. 2009. Vampires Today: The Truth about Modern Vampirism. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
Melton, Gordon J. 2011. “Temple of the Vampire,” Pp. 601-02 in The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead, Third Edition, edited by J. Gordon Melton. Canton, MI: Visible Ink Press.
Perlmutter, Dawn. 2014. “Vampire Culture.” Pp. 319-23 in Religion and American Cultures: Tradition, Diversity, and Popular Expressio, edited by Gary Laderman and Luis León. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.
Temple of the Vampire. n.d. Accessed from http://templeofthevampire.com/ on 1 September 2015.
“Temple of the Vampire.” n.d. The Arcane Archive. Accessed from http://www.arcane-archive.org/societies/temple-of-the-vampire-1.php on 15 August2015.
Temple of the Vampire. 1989. The Vampire Bible. Lacey, WA: Temple of the Vampire.
John Edgar Browning
21 October 2015