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xmag.com : October 2003: Bloodsports

For as long as humans can remember, there has existed the desire to prolong our own lives. The denial of the inevitable and the craving for strength and power through immortality could be construed as fear of our own demise. Or it could merely be survival of the fittest, the desire to sap the strength from those weaker than us. This is what makes the race of Vampires appealing to those in many different social strata.

The true history of Vampires can be traced back thousands of years and throughout the world. The most famous of Vampires was Vlad "The Impaler" Dracula, who came to power in the mid fifteenth century in the southern district of Wallanchia, located in the southern region of Transylvania (modern day Romania). Though he only lived to see his mid-40s before his beheading in 1476, it was his bloodthirsty legacy and penchant for brutality that secured his place in history.

Fast forward to the modern day Vampire. There do exist groups of people who claim to be of the Vampire ilk. While they may not be immortal, can indeed walk in the sunlight and do not cringe at the site of religious objects, there are those among this group who partake in the drinking of blood. Unlike vampiric lore in which the victims are unwilling participants in this blood feasting, those involved in modern day vampirism are typically involved in a consensual relationship. Truth is, these rituals have existed for many years. However, back in times of yore, people needed more spiritual or non-scientific explanations to explain acts and people who were misunderstood, and so certain "myths" were added.

Human Living Vampires, or HLVs, profess to have a desire to consume blood either since birth or after a sudden "awakening." Most HLVs refuse to call this any sort of "fetish," although the ingestion of one human being's blood by another could be considered a highly erotic act. Think back to Vampires and how they've been portrayed in print, television and cinema over the years. Many of the victims seem to experience a certain amount of fear, morphing to light-headedness and even ecstasy as the blood is taken. Call me crazy, but fear, light-headedness and ecstasy remind me of losing my virginity in high school. To HLVs, the taking of blood is never sexually gratifying, nor is it done using a non-willing participant. But blood-taking is about the only comparison one can make between HLVs and the classical Vampire. At least I've never heard or seen documentation of someone who can fly, turn in to mist, live forever, etc.

Intriguingly, the closest one could come to being an actual "Human Living Vampire" would be if they had the disease Porphyria, the symptoms of which include sensitivity to light, skin lesions and the receding of the gums, giving the canines a more "fang-like" look. Also of note is the fact that this recessive genetic disorder was prevalent in noblemen in Eastern Europe, as they had the tendency to marry within the same family. Because the disease affects the iron levels of the hemoglobin in the blood, a theory exists that those afflicted with the disease may have imbibed the blood of others in an attempt to alleviate the symptoms of their disease.

Bloodletting itself, as well as the drinking of blood, is a ritual that has been around for thousands of years. In certain religions, animal sacrifice coupled with the drinking of blood preceded going to war or celebrated a royal birth. One example was the cult of Mithra, where converts were accepted into the "church" only after undergoing twelve trials, including ordeals by fire, water, hunger, cold, flagellation, bloodletting and branding. While this may sound like a highly successful fetish event, this exhausting ordeal lasted anywhere from two to seven weeks, unlike today's events where after a good flagellation at the club you hit the Taco Bell drive-thru, go home and peel off your black PVC.

While several religious organizations believe that bloodletting and Satanism go hand in hand, I personally think that these are simple ceremonies carried out so that one person may feel more empowered by the other person's spirit or lifeblood. In actuality, this is no different than the realms of consensual BDSM. Certain safe zones should be paid attention to (i.e., don't go right for the wrists or jugular, make small incisions, and don't have some sort of blood borne disease).

My personal experience with blood ritual is limited to getting hit in the face on a 4th grade playground and the occasional bloody nose. Oh yeah, and there is the act of falling down some stairs while drunk, but I'll spare myself the embarrassment of going into that. Blood is not a "sweet nectar." It's warm, thick and salty, and the human being's typical response is to NOT want to drink it. In the best case scenario, a bit of blood would be sucked from an incision made on another. Any amount of blood from a wine glass is probably too much, not to mention the fact that there is the whole problem of coagulation once blood comes into contact with the air. While the imbibing of another human's blood may be intriguing and sultry, the idea of chewing on a scab is downright icky.





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