Are Vampires Part of Pagan Religions?
Why Are There No Vampires in the Wicca Books?
By Patti Wigington Updated September 24, 2019
So you've been reading a lot of books about Wicca and other Pagan religions, and you've seen mention of all sorts of supernatural phenomenon, from divination to ghosts to things you've maybe never even heard of... but there's no mention of vampires. Why do you suppose that is?
Did You Know? While there are some people that we refer to as energy vampires of psychic vampires, the blood-sucking you see in fiction isn't part of Pagan practice. Early vampire fiction was considered quite risqué — it combined death with sex and lust, which was frowned upon by polite society. Nice young ladies didn't read about vampires. Some people, who consider themselves sanguinarians, obtain blood to drink from voluntary partners, which is always done in a consensual manner. This, too, has nothing to do with Pagan spirituality. Well, for a variety of reasons, the main one being that vampires aren’t part of traditional Wicca, or any of the other Pagan paths. Does that mean there are no Pagans who are interested in vampires? Not at all – it’s just not generally part of the religious structure. You might like avocados, cute shoes and Irish pub tunes, but that doesn’t make any of those things part of Pagan practice.
Keep in mind that there are some people that we refer to as energy vampires or psychic vampires, but if you're talking about the blood-sucking sanguinarians of movies and novels, that's an entirely different thing.
That having been said, certainly vampires have gained a lot of popularity recently, thanks mostly to pop culture. Between the Twilight series, True Blood, and the skyrocketing sales of various paranormal romance books, vampires are everywhere. Now more than ever, they seem to be portrayed as the tragic, romantic heroes, with little to no emphasis placed on that whole blood-drinking, throat-shredding thing.
Vampires in Fiction Vampire biting Victorian woman albertogagna / E+ / Getty Images The earliest written tale of vampires actually appears in the form of a German poem by Heinrich Ossenfelder, called simply The Vampire. Like later vampire stories, it’s pretty heavy on the erotica, particularly for being written in the 1700s. A few decades later, Thalaba the Destroyer was written, and was the first time a vampire showed up in English literature. During the nineteenth century, lurid vampire tales became very popular, and both Coleridge’s Christabel and Joseph le Fanu’s Carmillia take advantage of the theme of taboo lust with their stories of lesbian vampires (yes, there were lesbian vampires even in the 1800s!). Finally, Bram Stoker delivered what some might call the quintessential piece of vampire lit, in Dracula, which he published in 1897.
These early pieces of vampire fiction were really quite risqué for their time – they combined death with sex and lust, which was rather frowned upon by polite society. Particularly during the Victorian era, when Stoker’s work came out, there was a good deal of sexual repression, and the image of the lustful vampire drinking the blood of the terrified virgin was considered scandalous. Nice girls did not read vampire fiction.
For some great scary vampire fiction without romance or sparkles, check out some of the following:
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Christabel Joseph Sheridan le Fanu, Carmillia Robert Southey, Thalaba the Destroyer Bram Stoker, Dracula Ann Rice, The Vampire Lestat, Interview with the Vampire Stephen King, Salem’s Lot Justin Cronin, The Passage John Ajvide Lindquist, Let the Right One In Finally, there are a number of wonderful scholarly works analyzing the role of repressed sexuality within the confines of the vampire novel throughout history.
Sanguinarians and Psychic Vampires
In addition to the fictional vampires of books and movies, there is a small segment of the population who consider themselves true vampires. Often referred to as sanguinarians, they obtain blood to drink from voluntary partners. The blood is obtained either by cutting or with a needle and syringe, and is always done in a consensual manner. While there is some occasional overlap between the sanguine community into the modern Pagan community, being a sanguinarian does not automatically make one a Pagan.
Also, there are a number of people who consider themselves "psychic vampires" - these are people who feed off the energy of others, either with or without permission. However, this terminology is a bit misleading, since it does not involve the transfer of blood and can be done from a distance, and without the knowledge of others.
At any rate, if you’re interested in vampires, go ahead and read all you like – but you most likely won’t find any vampire information in books about Wicca or other Neopagan religions. While there may be a few magical traditions out there that include vampires as part of their belief systems, these are likely to be few and far between.
Sources Browning, John Edgar. “The Rules of Being a Real-Life Vampire.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 9 July 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/10/life-among-the-vampires/413446/. Grasberger, Katja. Women and Sexuality in Bram Stokers "Dracula.". GRIN Publishing, 2016. https://www.grin.com/document/322902. Newman, Kim. “A Brief History of Vampire Fiction.” Wired, Conde Nast, 15 Jan. 2018, https://www.wired.com/2012/04/vampire-fiction-history/. Tringali, William A.. (2016). Not Just Dead, But Gay! Queerness and the Vampire. In BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 138. Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/138