Okay, I want to be a vampire, who doesn’t? They have great clothes, great hair, intimidating power, and they live forever. No wonder people are lining up for films like Twilight, and continuing to worship at the altar of Buffy Summers. I even met a gentlemen at a pagan event who claimed to practice the Vampire religion. Not sure what this entailed except for an albino complexion, a lot of leather, and a propensity for weirdness. I don’t know what to make of that, and I’m also not sure what to make of this recent resurgence of Vamp-tastic film and fiction. Luckily, Margot Adler has sunk her teeth into this material and she lays it bare for us.
I met Ms. Adler for the first time over a decade ago when she attended on of my Voodoo rituals. It is truly an honor and a privilege to know such an iconic legend for Pagans and women everywhere. Her most recent book Vampires Are Us is honest, thorough, and compelling- everything we would wish a vampire book to be.
Adler begins with a touching explanation of her own connection to the topic, about personal and public meditations of death, and then situates the origins of the phenomenon in it connection to early fantasy science fiction, a point I have made in my in depth look at Spiritual lessons from Sci-Fi. Because quite frankly there is almost always a reason to invoke Mary Shelley and that fateful weekend at Villa Diodati. where Frankenstein and The Vampyre saw their unholy births.
Vampires Are Us begins it chapter on power with the following quote from Buffy Summers “There is no good or bad, there is just power.” These creatures of the night are the ultimate power. Physical, sexual, intellectual, economic, political… almost every permutation of power is at their disposal.
Eating the Other
Bell Hooks‘ seminal essay on “Eating the Other:Desire and Resistance” has always been my go to text about Vampires, I even made a short film about the racialization of vampires. Margot Adler touches on this concept in part when she brings up the notion of otherness as it relates to the meta-vampire tale. She calls them “ outsiders and dark rebels with enormous strengths.” This makes them simultaneously dangerous and desirable, a deadly duo.
A Whole Lot of Reading
An extensive body of work was consulted during the research for Vampires Are Us. Margot Adler read more than 260 vampire novels, and she does us the favor of devoting the second half of the book to a complete bibliography of these. There are a wealth of suggestions here, I’m glad to see old favorites of mine like Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned, and Baudelaire’s famous poem “Les Fleurs du Mal.”There are also some you may have missed like Carlos Fuentes’ Vlad and George R.R. Martin’s Fevre Dream, which makes Adler’s top twelve list. I recommend Vampires Are Us to anyone wishing to learn more about these dark demons, both inside and out!
For more information about Margot Adler please visit www.margotadler.com
Vampires Are Us is a feature in the Patheos Book Club, and my fellow Patheos Pagans are having a Vampire roundtable. Please sink your teeth into their work too:
Christine Kraemer “Vampires and Addicts”
John Halstead, “How Vampires Led Me to Paganism”
John Beckett, “Vampires Are Us”
Niki Whiting, “Are We Vampires?“
Peg Aloi, “REVIEW: Vampires Are Us, by Margot Adler“