“I am no one’s Lord“, he proclaims when he is referred to as such. Mikhail Sauromatos, young head and founder of House Sauromatos, is arguably one of the most respected authorities on vampyric subcultures in Germany. We spoke with him for Black Rose Society about himself, his view on vampyric elites and the role of the largely mysterious vampire clans, houses and covens in the society of real vampires. The name and decorum suggests them to be hierarchical, highly stratified organizations, with self-styled vampiric leaders or elders lording over and attended by orders and ranks of devoted members. Mikhail Sauromatos disagrees.
M: The reality of vampyric households is very different from what you would expect coming from classic vampire fiction. Real Vampyre Houses can formally be neo-aristocratic associations celebrating the vampire archetype, studying and refining living vampirism, while informally they are often surrogate families. While a level of stratification is traditionally upheld, in reality this mainly fulfills a need for stability and security, which is ceremonially reproduced by hierarchy and ritual. There is often a striking difference between the formal structure and the informal familial nature of this kind of society. As head of my household I am responsible for balancing both of these aspects as to further the realization of the vision that is House Sauromatos. Responsibility and service. I serve vampyre society as much as I serve myself. It is the ethos of our household: To serve by example.
BRS: Can you tell us about the origins of the name of Sauromatos?
M: The Mythos behind House Sauromatos is inspired by the mysterious Sarmatian and Amazon peoples of antiquity. The Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus described the Sarmatians as a “tall, handsome, and robust people with piercing eyes.” They were “no one’s subjects, none can even tell you where they are from, since they are conceived, born, and raised in faraway places.” Skilled warriors, “they delight in danger and warfare and do not know the meaning of slavery, since all are born of noble blood, and they choose as their chiefs those who are conspicuous for long experience as warriors.” Our vampyric household capitalizes on the many colorful tales surrounding blood-drinking, dragon-scaled, Sarmatian horse warriors, thought to be the offspring of the legendary Amazons, settling down in Europe during the migration period, setting themselves up as local aristocracies or even whole ruling classes as proposed by the Polish foundation myth of Sarmatyzm, according to which the Polish gentry is decended from Sarmatians who conquered and enserfed the local Slavic population before eventually adopting their language and becoming slavicized. Sarmatians are also prominently associated with influencing the Arthurian legend cycle, including the Grail legends, and the development of chivalry in medieval Europe. House Sauromatos places our mythological ancestors at the very heart of a Pan-European romantic ideal of nobility, one we strive to re-capture and meld with the ageless vampire archetype.
“The horsemen par excellence of classical antiquity were the Scythians, who lived on the plains north of the Black Sea beyond the borders of Greek civilization. Roaming the steppes east of the Scythians, were tribes that Herodotus called the Sauromatae, who were thought to be the offspring of Scythians and Amazons. Later, in Roman times, called the Sarmatians, they showed up in the west-as the first heavy armored cavalry (cataphractarii) in Europe. When the Huns came from Central Asia and in A.D. 375 shattered the Ostrogothic Empire that had been established in the former lands of the Scythians, agricultural Germanic tribes – Goths, Burgundians, and the much-maligned Vandals – as well as nomadic tribes from the steppes, such as the Alans, cousins of the Scythians and Sarmatians, were driven from their eastern homes and set adrift westward. The uprooted Germanic warriors successfully adopted the nomads’ cavalry equipment, and from the blending of the two cultures emerged what became a fundamental concept of the medieval world, chivalry.”Nickel, H. (1973). The Dawn of Chivalry. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 32(5), 150-152. doi:10.2307/3269236
BRS: What does nobility mean to you in the context of real vampyrism?
M: The essence of nobility as lived by true vampyres is more exemplified by notions of duty to one’s own, passion, loyalty and service, than by a hollow spectacle of false superiority. The neo-aristocratic vision of House Sauromatos emphasizes giving back to the disenfranchised an unconquerable sense of freedom and personal responsibility, a home, a family and a purpose to those who walk in the footsteps of the eternal exiles.
BRS: This all sounds rather romantic.
M: Of course. We vampyres are romantic creatures are we not? But we of House Sauromatos never forget to stay grounded in vampyric reality, adhering to our teachings of Orthodox Vampyrism.
BRS: What exactly is Orthodox Vampyrism?
M: Orthodox Vampyrism, which is a term we coined for our own ethos, a set of positions and values build on one another concerning vampirism that we adhere to and pass on, often aurally. Orthodox Vamyprism is essentially practice oriented, with a clear focus on sanguinary praxis as a solid basis for vampyric identity. We concern ourselves with the vampyre as a human blood drinker first and foremost. If one is to ask you what sets you apart from them, you should answer that it is your practice of vampirism and your subcultural identity, as these things are tangible and beyond doubt.
Blood and its mysteries are at the center of Orthodox Vampyrism. We, as vampyres, seek to find ourselves in the ‘Mysterium of Blood’ as we call it. We believe that only through blood, through sanguinary praxis, we truly get the answers pertaining to our vampyric natures. We can only really trust in blood and in our own experiences as vampyres. Each vampyric individual has to find their own answers as to the reasons why they are vampyric or what the nature or the essence of vampyrism is. Orthodox Vampyrism does not provide those answers.
From direct experience of blood’s mysteries flows a certain reverence: to blood, to blood-givers, and to a vampyric society that enables us to safely engage in sanguinary praxis. On this basis we teach what we know as ‘Practical Ethics’. Blood must not be wasted for it is holy to us. The blood we sustain us with as vampyres is a gift to us by our donors or blood-givers who are to be treated accordingly. Orthodox praxis requires all partaking parties to be able to fully consent. For this reason feeding while intoxicated, feeding in public or feeding on animal blood is considered to be outside of orthodox praxis while feeding of minors is considered a clear violation against orthodox praxis, something we take very seriously in our communities.
Further, we believe in the ‘Primacy of Blood’, a term used to describe the predominance of sanguinarian interests in our communities as a status quo benefitting the whole of vampyre society and thus in our eyes worthy to be preserved. We maintain that sanguinarian vampyres are most directly affected by the state of vamypre society. Sanguinarian wellbeing is directly tied to the wellbeing of their community. Sanguinarian vampyres are called to shape and to preserve their communities according to principles such as stability and safety because of their more direct involvement. To remember and hold true to this honorable charge is an obligation for those adhering to the tenets of Orthodox Vampyrism.
Lastly, Orthodox Vampyrism puts great emphasis on the respect for vampyric culture, for our traditions and our subcultural heritage. We are part of a beautiful and authentic global vampyre culture visibly connected through shared forms, shared terms, shared language. There is immense strength in that. We do not think it wise to shed some forms because they seem unnecessary or foolish to others. We proudly refer to us as vamypres. We do this is because ‘the mantle of the vampire’ is part of our culture, our history, which at the very least we respect, if nothing else. The same respect is also to be extended to other approaches to vampirism, other vampyric groups, organizations and their representatives, as autonomous parts of a greater whole, all united under ‘the mantle of the vampire’.
BRS: You describe yourself as a traditionalist in matters concerning vampyre culture. Can you tell us a bit about what that means for you and your household?
M: I am a young man and I hold the privilege to be one of the generations of vampyres to not have directly lived through the infancy of our vampyric society. There is value in having an outside perspective on our community’s history, in the sense that we are now able to not only look back in reminiscence, but to have a historical perspective. Our heritage has wonder. It inspires us to learn. It calls us to build on the existing foundations and to go further. I chose to seek out knowledge and I chose to preserve the worthy and noble aspects of what I saw for those who might be coming to the heritage with the same wonder. I believe in survival, and I believe that traditional forms of real vampyre culture can provide the timeless appeal we need to secure it. My Advocacy for living tradition is therefore a result of me being a student of our history. House Sauromatos on the other hand is the embodiment of a proud vampyric heritage that wants to survive.
BRS: About your heritage, you once said Sauromatos is carried by the ethos of the “Old Covens” and in your talk at the Vampyre Congress of 2018 you mentioned older traditions stemming from an occult backround the household is profiting from, apart from the living traditions of international vampyre culture. Is there a connection?
M: Yes and no – In that talk I gave a very brief summary on the development of forms of vampyric-self organization from older models, dating before the advent of the internet, and new models developing out of the old forms. There is a distinct shift in character between what I termed the Old Covens, predating the reformation and re-organization, and the New Houses, formed with or after said re-organization. The vampyric Houses in my analysis therefore form an important bridge, uniting the old traditions of the pre-Internet underground Covens and Societies and the new global information age and its requirements.
Another point in my talk at the Congress was the uniqueness that vampyric households bring to the table, enriching vampyre society. I also gave an overview of different Houses and their character active in Germany at that time, including Sauromatos which I characterized as the regional traditionalist blood-mystic Death-Cult.
BRS: A Death-Cult. Are you serious?
M: Dead serious. Inside House Sauromatos we do practice a form of death and ancestor-veneration, amongst other forms of spiritual and occult experimentation, including a Cult of Cain, which in an authentic form is quite rare for real vampyres after the roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade popularized Cain as an ancestor figure to their brand of vampires. Cain has been venerated as a patron by many groups such as witches and sorcerers, some of which influenced early vampyric society. We pay homage to the figure of Cain or Qayin in our own way.
BRS: So this is what you mean with older traditions from an occult background?
M: Yes, that is certainly a part of it. While House Sauromatos does not proclaim to have some Secret Truth reserved only for the initiates or some Secret Knowledge taught only after rising the ranks, we do profit from what we learned from certain occult societies that I myself was familiarized with, that in some ways were compatible with the vampyre ethos, as we understand it, and what we are trying to achieve in House Sauromatos.
BRS: How much of House Sauromatos is shaped by your own experiences and personal vision?
M: Most of it, actually. I will not pretend otherwise. First and foremost, it has been my mentorship and my passion that lead to the establishment of a vampyric household that could take that mentorship further, refine it.
Our core policies don’t lend themselves well to expansion. Instead, we are rather locally oriented as a group: very selective, very protective, very focused. We aim for internal cohesion, strength and unity to better serve the vampyre community. Numbers were never my concern. No, what I wanted Sauromatos to be is an inspiration, an example to follow, a challenge, a lasting invitation to enrich vampyre society with the new establishement of traditional forms of vampyric self-organization, after so many stagnated.
BRS: So it all comes down to survival?
BRS: Thank you, Mikhail.
M: My Pleasure.
BLACK ROSE SOCIETY 2019