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Order Hoarders: A Brief History of Some of the Many Occult Organizations Affiliated with Vampirism

Given the supernatural nature of folkloric vampires and their association with the shadows, it’s unsurprising that so many self-identifying vampires subscribe to occult philosophies or that a number of new religious movements build on their various ideas of vampirism. Although several distinct groups have claimed to offer the “one true vampire religion” and sorting through the details of each poses the challenges inherent in any attempt to grasp the finer points of a group whose practices are largely kept secret, familiarity with the basics of these groups is of interest to those seeking a deeper knowledge of vampire spirituality and history. While hardly an exhaustive list or a complete review of the groups listed, this summary of various traditions related to the vampire subculture may serve as a brief introduction to the history of some of the spiritual movements affiliated with or influencing the community of self-identifying vampires.

Hermetic Orders

Some of the oldest known occult orders arose from the collision of the ancient Greek and ancient Egyptian cultures around the beginning of the Common Era.¹ Attributing their central philosophical doctrines to the Greek god Hermes Trismegistus, identified with the Egyptian god of wisdom, Thoth, contemporary Hermetic orders include the Freemasons, Rosicrucians, and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.² Valuing diverse belief and personal experience, Hermetic orders believe that absolute Divine truth manifests itself in all faiths, the singular source of which can be discovered with devoted study and direct participation in spiritual practices that ultimately culminate in once more becoming one with the Divine.³

One Hermetic Order, the Golden Dawn, was formally founded by Samuel Liddell Mathers, Dr. William Wynn Westcott and Dr. William Robert Woodman in Britain in 1888.⁴ Soon spreading throughout Western Europe, the United States and New Zealand, the order features initiatory rituals designed to gradually guide students to enlightenment.⁵ The details of the magical practices of the order were revealed to the public in part when Aleister Crowley published some of the Golden Dawn rituals in Equinox,⁶ and later in full by Dr. Francis Israel Regardie in his publication of The Golden Dawn.⁷

Although the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn’s central teachings did not focus on vampirism, the Order provided its students with documents describing first-hand accounts and practical insight into the application of its philosophy,⁸ one of which, Flying Roll V, describes several encounters by the author with people he identified as vampires for their tendency or ability to draw vital energy from others.⁹ Former member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Dion Fortune,¹⁰ went on to describe psychic vampires as energy parasites and instructed readers in methods of protecting against them in her book Psychic Self-Defense.¹¹

Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO)

The OTO has been active since its founding in 1895¹² and became highly visible under the leadership of Aleister Crowley, a former member of the Golden Dawn,¹³ beginning in 1922.¹⁴ Building on the esoteric traditions of earlier occult organizations like the Freemasons and Rosicrucians,¹⁵ the OTO came to distinguish itself under Crowley with the integration of his Thelemite philosophy,¹⁶ which contends that many religious traditions arise from universal truths and that individuals have a divine mandate to discover their higher purpose—their Will—and to conduct themselves accordingly. This Law of Thelema is typically summed up as “Do as thou wilt” and the many processes of discovering and employing that Will are referred to collectively as “Magick”.¹⁷

While not addressing vampirism directly in its core teachings, according to Michelle Belanger’s Introduction in Vampires in Their Own Words, Crowley’s version of sexual vampirism taught at high levels of the OTO may have contributed to some of the practices and philosophical beliefs of modern vampires.¹⁸ Furthermore, the OTO certainly inspired later organizations in both structure and philosophy.

Church of Satan (CoS)

Anton LaVey, who founded the CoS in 1966 in San Francisco, California,¹⁹ studied the works of Crowley and others affiliated with the OTO, but criticized them, suggesting that their philosophy relied on disingenuous justifications allowing them to explore “the darkside” without honestly and directly embracing their interests.²⁰ LaVey encouraged readers of his Satanic Bible to exercise their will magically for the purposes of self-empowerment with a philosophy of immediate self-indulgence²¹ that is fundamentally atheistic.²²

LaVey had a bleak view of “psychic vampires” which he defined in The Satanic Bible as “individuals who drain others of their vital energy” and which he went on to describe as emotionally manipulative.²³ The later statement, however, that “the Church of Satan does respect and appreciate” the Temple of the Vampire²⁴ supports the view that LaVey used the term “psychic vampire” to refer to people who engage in the unsavory behavior he described rather than those who actually identify as vampires or who practice vampirism as a sincere spiritual path.

Temple of Set (ToS)

One group the CoS certainly does not “respect and appreciate” is the Temple of Set.²⁵ The ToS was founded in 1975 by Michael Aquino, a former member of the CoS who was inspired by Crowley’s Thelemic principles²⁶ and who combined the CoS’s focus on openly embracing the goal of personal godhood with a more traditional sacred history crediting a higher power, namely the Egyptian god Set, with the origin of human consciousness.²⁷ Founded in California, the same state as the CoS from which it split over concerns regarding the LaVey’s “intentions to commercialize” Satanism,²⁸ the ToS includes a number of groups called Pylons that allow members around the globe to socialize and discuss their studies.²⁹ Members of the ToS work to enact their will magically with the ultimate goal of ascending to a higher state of being that transcends mortal limitations. While acknowledging the divinity of Set, Setians do not worship him per se, but rather strive to attain such divinity themselves.³⁰

The ToS includes several Orders—groups which focus on “specialized fields of study and research”—including the Order of the Vampyre.³¹ The Order of the Vampyre disavows any connection with the broader vampire community and specifically disallows blood-drinking and disagrees with a number of beliefs about psi-feeding common in the VC.³² The ToS’s idea of vampyrism, as explored within the Order of the Vampyre, is a magical state that “enables a natural and effortless exchange of Power from the lesser to the Greater”.³³

Temple House Sahjaza

Led primarily by Goddess Rosemary and founded in 1976, the group that would eventually come to be known as Temple House Sahjaza was initially a female-only coven³⁴ for vampyric witches³⁵ called the Black Rose Coven,³⁶ became the Z/n (Zenith/nadir) Society NYC in 1985,³⁷ and formally became House Sahjaza in 1998.³⁸ House Sahjaza is non-denominational and open to all genders and members are encouraged to explore their own spiritual paths.³⁹ While Sahjaza members practice diverse spiritual beliefs, they reserve their core teachings for those initiated into the House and all members share a common code of ethics.⁴⁰ Although many of their practices are only shared with the initiated, House Sahjaza is known for its rituals involving donor blood.⁴¹ One notable former member of House Sahjaza was Father Sebastiaan⁴² who would go on to found the OSV.

by Hesperus

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