The Black Veil: A Vampire’s Code of Conduct
While researching real vampires – sanguinarian vampires, people who feed upon human blood; and psychic vampires, people who feed upon the energy of others – I came across a code of ethics, a guide of etiquette created for the greater vampire community for those that wish to follow it.
Originally written in 1997 by Father Sebastian as a code of conduct for patrons of the vampyre haven Long Black Veil in New York City, the code has been altered a few times since then. In 2000 Michelle Belanger, a member of COVICA (the Council of Vampyric International Community Affairs), revised and evolved the Black Veil, gaining the code mass popularity around the world. In 2002 Michelle Belanger, with the input of Father Sebastian and others, presented the BV 2.0.
Below are the 13 principles for modern vampires to follow, if they so choose, the text is by no means a set of rules one must follow, it is also not a set of instructions on how to be a vampire.
This lifestyle is private and sacred. Respect it as such. Do not make a sideshow of yourself. We do not have to prove ourselves to anyone. Appearing on public TV to tell the world that you drink blood is useless attention-getting. It gets a negative reaction for the whole community. Our place is in the shadows; our greatest protection from small-minded humanity is the fact that they do not believe we exist. Someday they may be ready for us to reveal ourselves to them, but that time is not now.
Do not hide from your nature, but never show it off to those who won’t understand.
Our paths are many, even though the journey we are on is essentially the same. No single one of us has all the answers to who and what we are. Respect everyone’s personal views and practices. We cannot let petty differences of ideology prevent us from maintaining a unified community; there are enough who would attack us from the outside.
Our diversity is our strength. Let our differences in viewpoint enrich us but never divide us amongst ourselves.
Use sense when indulging your nature. Do not flaunt what you are in public places. Feed in private and make certain your donors will be discrete about what happens between you. Donors who create rumors and gossip about us are more harm than they’re worth. If you engage in blood-letting, put safety and caution above all other things. Blood-born diseases are a very real thing, and we cannot risk endangering ourselves or others through irresponsibility. Screen donors carefully, making certain they are in good health both mentally and physically.
Never overindulge or get careless. The safety of the entire community rests upon each member’s caution.
We cannot and should not deny the darkness within. Yet we should not allow it to control us. If our beast or shadow or darkside is given too much sway, it clouds our judgement, making us a danger even to those we love. Never indulge in pointless violence. Never bring willful harm to those who sustain you. Never feed only for the sake of feeding, and never give over to mindless bloodlust.
We are not monsters: we are capable of rational thought and self-control. Celebrate the darkness and let it empower you, but never let it enslave your will.
Live your life as an example to others in the community. We are privileged to be what we are, but power should be accompanied by responsibility and dignity. Explore and make use of your vampire nature, but keep it in balance with material demands. Remember: we may be vampires, but we are still a part of this world. We must live lives like everyone else here: holding jobs, keeping homes, and getting along with our neighbors.
Being what we are is not an excuse to not participate in this reality. Rather, it is an obligation to make it a better place for us to be.
We are, all of us, a family, and like all families, various members will not always get along. However, respect the greater community when having your disputes. Do not let your individual problems bring emotional strife to the family as a whole. Settle your differences quietly among one another, only seeking out an elder’s aid in mediation when no other solution seems possible. Never bring your private disputes into public places and never draw other family members into the issue by forcing them to take sides.
Like any normal family, we should always make an effort to present a stable and unified face to the rest of the world even when things are not perfect between us.
Our havens are safeplaces where everyone in the community can come to socialize. There are also often public places where we are likely to encounter people who don’t understand our ways. We should respect the patrons of these places as we should also respect the owners of the establishments and always be discrete in our behavior. We should never bring private disputes into a haven. We should never initiate violence in a haven. And we should never do or bring anything illegal into a haven, as this reflects badly upon the community as a whole.
The haven is the hub of the whole community, and we should respect it as such, supporting it without business and working to improve its name in the community so that we can always call it home.
The community is extensive and diverse. Every city has a different way of doing things, and a different hierarchy of rule. When entering a new city, you should familiarize yourself with the local community. Seek out the local havens. Learn what households have sway here. Get in touch with key members of the community, learn who is who, and show proper respect where it is due. You should not expect to impose your old way of doing things on this new community. Rather you should adapt to their rules and be glad of their acceptance.
Always be on your best behavior when coming to a new city either to visit or to stay. We are all cautious and territorial by nature, and only by making the most positive impression possible will you be accepted and respected in a new community.
This lifestyle is not for everyone. Take care in who you choose to bring into it. Those who are mentally or emotionally unstable have no place among us. They are dangerous and unreliable and may betray us in the future. Make certain that those you choose to bring in are mature enough for this burden. Teach them control and discretion, and make certain that they respect our ways.
You will be responsible for their actions, and their behavior in the community will be reflected back to you.
There are certain members of our community who have established themselves as just and responsible leaders. These are the people who helped establish local communities, who organize havens, and who work to coordinate the networking of our culture. While their word does not have to be law, they should nevertheless be respected. They have greater experience than many others, and usually greater wisdom. Seek these elders out to settle your disputes, to give you guidance and instruction, and to help you establish yourself in the local community.
Appreciate the elders for all they have given you: if it was not for their dedication, the community would not exist as it does now.
Without those who offer themselves body and soul to us, we would be nothing. We cannot be other than what we are, but it is the donors who sustain our nature. For this service, they should be respected. Never mistreat your donors, physically or emotionally. They are not to be manipulated or leeched off of for more than what they freely offer. Never take them for granted. Appreciate them for the companionship and acceptance which they offer us, which so many others would refuse. This above all: appreciate the gift of their life. That communion is sacred. Never fail to treat it as such.
When you choose to take a position of authority in the community, remember that you do not lead for yourself alone. Leadership is a responsibility, not a privilege. A good leader must set an example for everyone through his actions and behavior. His motives should be selfless and pure, and he should put the interests of the whole community before his own.
The best leaders are those who serve to better the community and whose person and behavior gives no one — even those outside of the community — a reason to criticize them. They must strive to be above reproach.
Being a vampire is not just about feeding upon life. That is what we do, but not necessarily what we are. It is our place to represent darkness in a world blinded by light. We are about being different and accepting that difference as something that empowers us and makes us unique. We are about accepting the dark within ourselves and embracing that darkness to make us whole beings. We are about celebrating the thresholds: body and spirit, pleasure and pain, death and life.
Our lives should be lived as a message to the world about the beauty of accepting the whole self, of living without guilt and without shame, and celebrating the unique and beautiful essence of every single soul.
For more information on the Black Veil, as well as about real vampires, I highly suggest visiting www.sanguinarius.org.