Link to original: http://sphynxcatvp.nocturna.org/faq/most-doctrines.html
Every now and then I get a piece of e-mail that goes something like this:
"I want to become a vampire. What are your doctrines and beliefs?"
While I (and many others) have dealt with the "I want..." issue already in other articles, I've now gotten the doctrines portion of the question enough times that it's time to write something to cover that too...
The short answer
Vampirism doesn't inherently have spiritual or faith-based "doctrines" or "beliefs" (and by "faith-based" I mean religious or quasi-religious) other than that "we believe we are vampires". It is a state of being. We just *are*. It's like trying to ask about doctrines and beliefs for diabetics. It's also not inherently a "lifestyle" even though there are some who choose to dress for what they consider the 'vampire aesthetic" (fancy clothes, cloaks, etc., just for example.)
The longer answer
There ARE groups out there that do have spiritual or faith-based approaches to vampirism - just as diabetics may be Christian or Buddhist, for example - but it's not a "one size fits all" method. Some of these groups prefer members to follow one or more leaders, and others encourage personal growth either with individualistic approaches or as part of a supportive group. Not all vampires are part of any of these groups - Some people haven't found the right one, others - such as myself - are just not not the "join a group" type of person. (I'm aware OF most of the groups out there, they just don't appeal to me for one reason or another.)
Lifestyle choices are just that - choices - anyone can *dress* how they perceive a vampire would dress, if they want - fancy clothes and cloaks being a pretty good example - but it doesn't make them a vampire, the same as wearing a 3-piece suit does not make a person a boardroom executive. :) Clothing is merely external, you may choose to let your clothing choices reflect the inner you, or choose to blend in with everyone else (not a bad idea if you have to go looking for a job...)
Vampires do NOT have to participate in a spiritual or faith-based or lifestyle group of any type - I don't - but if you are contemplating such a thing, then take a minute and print out the "Is it a cult?" checklist so you can refer to it when checking out the various groups online. That way you at least have a chance of not getting trapped in a bad group. Also, keep in mind internal group politics - regardless of stated objectives, these political environments may make the interactive "feel" of a group actually be completely opposite from what is advertised.
That said, there are metaphysical (psi energy manipulation, empathy, etc.) aspects that real vampires DO deal with on a daily basis. However, metaphysical aspects do not necessarily equal something spiritual or faith-based. Energy work is energy work, regardless of the focus tools or methods used.
There is no official vampire capitol of the world, there is no reigning vampire authority and there is no official hierarchy that stands over all vampires, despite what some groups may have you think. Many vampires will form their own "houses" or "covens" which *may* simply be a wide group of friends. These groups typically consist of any combination of bloodvamps, psivamps, donors and other vamp-friendly people and may have various official-sounding organization names. Typically the creator of such a group takes a self-appointed title of leadership and hands out titles and/or positions to other members of the group. Regions may even have two or more "covens" or "houses", either loosely affiliated or with no knowledge of each other.
Members of an organization may claim to be part of a "vampire underworld" - however there is no worldwide underground. There may be "local underworlds" as each area's vampires may have their own distinct social structure from simple to complex. Always remember that the kind and benevolent attitudes preached online may not exist in person/off-line - you should *always* be careful when