Some concepts have been part of the subculture surrounding real-life vampires / vampyres for quite some time. The awakening is one such concept, among the most prevalent ones at that. It has been around since Michelle Belangers Psychic Vampire Codex, perhaps even longer, and has been undergoing many transformations and reinterpretations to this day. That being said, this article will not delve into different types or models, but instead presuppose a basic, implicit understanding of awakening in order to deal with the concept in a generalized manner.

Our first goal is to explore the importance and role the awakening has in the Vampyre Community (VC), therefore treating it as a common narrative and framing device instead of an essential aspect of vampyrism presents itself as the most worthwhile approach. This purpose requires a look at the functions and potential advantages of awakening narratives.

From an individual’s point of view, they primarily serve as a framework for the adoption of a vampyric identity. The utilization of such narratives retrospectively structures previous experiences, adds new meaning to them and even presents a systematized path for further developments. All of this features into the social aspect of the awakening. Newcomers who frame their experiences in established ways automatically become more recognizable, relatable and authentic to any group’s members. Beyond that, some groups practically require prospective members to have a recognizably authentic awakening story. Consequently, awakening narratives both serve to authenticate identity and attest to integrability for newcomers.

As stated earlier, the awakening is not just a framework for self-discovery and integration. Beyond that, it serves as a narrative explicitly maintaining the notion of vampyrism being an essential part of one’s being. Vampyres are not created, they are ‘born this way’. Even situations in which donors develop a taste for blood are framed as awakenings, no matter how much creative reconstruction and reframing of previous experiences is necessary.

For this reason, the current concepts of awakening are treated as a given, beyond criticism and an essential part of vampyric development, instead of being just a framing device. Many groups expect their members to use them, or will at least be highly critical of alternative narratives as they seemingly threaten to invalidate the legitimacy of their own vampyric nature or identity. And although the purpose of this article is not to entertain laughable notions about a supposed vampire retrovirus, it is strange how differing frameworks and points of view are so controversial in this otherwise diverse and individualistic subculture. Since there is no empirical data about potential causes of vampyrism as a condition one is born with, it should not be taboo to approach the subject from different angles, to develop different frameworks and narratives.

Nothing of what has been written in this article serves to discredit, invalidate or attack the vampyres using the awakening framework. Neither is there any intention to challenge the notion of any vampyres being ‘born this way’, but instead to broaden the horizons of this subculture and allow for alternative approaches. Newbies don’t have to be boxed in and forced to adopt an awakening narrative, and being open to explore new ideas and ways of thinking is not harmful to the wider subculture.

On the contrary, it could easily lead to advancements in our collective thinking and be a catalyst for positive change. Both things the VC is in desperate need of, considering the small number of us and the even lower numbers of young vampyres finding their way into established communities. Averting the slow decay of the VC will require structural changes as well as the continued adoption of new technologies and types of media. But above all else, there is a pressing need to reevaluate our ways of thinking and to question what has been taken for granted.

Written by Cinis for Black Rose Society.