Archive for February, 2013

The BDSM of Vampires

My favorite Dracula - Frank Langela

My favorite Dracula – Frank Langela

I’ve had vampires on my mind lately, partly because of the blood play posts I made recently, and partly because I just signed a contract with Etopia Press for two vampire novels. (I’ll post more on that when I have solid info to share.)

Vampire superstition and folklore is as old as written history, perhaps older. They were popularized in the early 19th century by novels such as The Vampyre, Varney the Vampire, and later, Dracula, and have been a part of literature and entertainment ever since.

I’ve read theories that vampires gained popularity in Victorian times because they provided the perfect sublimation for repressed sexual energy. Sex was a forbidden topic, something dangerous and sinful, and indulging in it could have severe social repercussions. Enter the vampire: a mysterious, dangerous creature that penetrates its victims and consumes blood, the fluid of life. Vampires are as powerful as the sex drive itself, impossible to resist. Giving in to one literally results in death, symbolic of the death of social status and spiritual purity Victorians associated with sexual behavior. The theory makes sense to me.

"Kiss the Dead"One of the Anita Blake novels by Laurell K. Hamilton

“Kiss the Dead”
One of the Anita Blake novels by Laurell K. Hamilton

But these aren’t Victorian times. Sex is accepted as part of who we are as human beings, and enjoying it is pretty much expected. So why are vampires still so popular? Perhaps now they’re a sublimation of something else. Vampires provide a safe fantasy in which people can explore a part of themselves that’s forbidden and frightening. In Victorian times it was sex. Today, I think it’s BDSM.

Some of us take pleasure from pain, and most people don’t understand that. Yet many of those same people are drawn to vampires, creatures that offer a mixture of both, and are as seductive as hell. It works from both sides: the fantasy of being a victim leaves you free to imagine the pain/pleasure experience. The fantasy of being the vampire is an outlet for sadists, in which they can explore the desire to inflict pain and cruelty without actually doing it.

Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore in "The Vampire Diaries"

Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore in “The Vampire Diaries”

Then there’s the Dom/sub aspect. What is more dominant than a predator convincing its prey to voluntarily allow it to feed? And, best of all, to enjoy it? The control exerted by the vampire and the surrender of the victim is a heady fantasy, especially in a society where submissiveness is viewed as weakness and Dominance is viewed as abusive. In the vampire fantasy, the submissive can’t resist giving in. You don’t have to be ashamed of it. And the vampire itself is forced, by its own hungers, to dominate. Fantasizing about being that predator removes the guilt involved in giving in to that side of our nature.

The vampire fantasy can be just as alluring to those of us who practice BDSM as it is to those who suppress their desires. The safe, sane, and consensual nature of today’s BDSM removes us a step from the basic urges. We get our brains involved in the process. We get practical. That’s very important, but it means we can’t get as swept up as we’d like in the passion and danger. In the vampire fantasy we don’t have to negotiate. We don’t have to think about the technical aspects of a scene or worry about safety or sanity. There is a part of us that yearns to let go of the intellectual, analytic side of our brain and give in to primal needs and emotions. Vampire fantasies provide a safe way to do that, and take away the guilt.

Kate Beckinsale as Selene in the "Underworld" movie series

Kate Beckinsale as Selene in the “Underworld” movie series

I think vampires will always be popular, because they represent a dark side of ourselves that we want to let out but can’t. It used to be sex. Now it’s BDSM. Who knows what it will be next? There will always be something we suppress, because it’s necessary to rein in certain urges in order to coexist with other people. Vampires are the perfect coat rack on which to hang that which is forbidden.


Going Deeper into Aphrodite

Tattoo by Tamara Sulc

Tattoo by Tamara Sulc

In the novel I’m currently writing, the main character is a priestess of Aphrodite. (She also happens to be into S&M – what a surprise!) The Goddess decides to use her to teach a lesson to a certain being that was cursed long ago for abusing the gift of love. In writing this book I am drawing upon my own experience as a priestess.

I suspect a few of you out there are thinking this priestess thing is kind of weird. Fair enough. Compared to what’s considered “normal” I suppose it is pretty weird. But you know what? The world is full of weird. We’re all weird to some extent, including you. In this blog I focus a lot on sexuality that most people consider bizarre, but sex isn’t the only place where people are different from the mainstream. I say embrace the weird, not just in the realm of sex. Don’t dismiss what you think is strange; listen and learn. Because when you accept what you find strange in other people, you’re more likely to accept it in yourself.

Now, on to the topic at hand. No matter what your beliefs, spirituality is unique and personal to each of us. I thought it would be nice to share someone else’s perspective along with mine, so I asked my friend and fellow priestess, Tamara Sulc, to talk about her experiences with Aphrodite. I found it interesting to discover the similarities and differences between us as priestesses.

In the novel, my lead character, Erica, dedicated herself to Aphrodite when she was in her twenties. She feels that she was a priestess long before that, though. Love in all its forms, not just romantic, has always been of prime importance to her. I feel the same way. One of my earliest memories is of telling my dad I loved the devil. Needless to say, this came as a shock to my father the fundamentalist Christian minister, but it made perfect sense to me. I was taught that as a Christian I should love everyone. At the age of four it seemed only logical to me that this would include Satan. I felt kind of sorry for the guy. If someone loved him enough maybe he’d come back to God. So love, compassion, and kindness have always been important to me, long before I became a Pagan and dedicated myself to Aphrodite.

Tamara also feels she’s always been a priestess of love, but for her it goes even further. She says, “I remember my past lives back 3 lives in a row almost fully. I also have a lot of really vivid flashes of lives way back. I have in as many as I remember, always been a dedicant or priest/ess. Most of those have been to the Goddess of love. So I have in a way always been hers.”

Like everyone else, priestesses of Aphrodite sometimes struggle with love. In my novel, Erica gets royally pissed off at Aphrodite for turning her life upside down just to teach a guy a lesson.  She and Aphrodite are estranged for a while. In my life, there is one particular person I find nearly impossible to love because he did something I can’t bring myself to forgive. Over the years I’ve come to understand and even feel compassion for him, but there’s still hatred there as well.

Tattoo by Tamara Sulc

Tattoo by Tamara Sulc

In Tamara’s case, it was romantic love that she turned her back on for a while. “When I divorced I gave up on love. My friends kept saying I would find love again; I laughed and then swore to the Gods that it would NEVER happen. I went so far as to list the most unreachable goals for a mate, and that if he fit those I would admit defeat in the face of love. Of course Aphrodite, took that as a challenge. I was literally thrown into his arms in the pouring rain and mud. So it was that I admitted defeat in the face of love. Then and there, I dedicated myself to her again. She told me that I had been her dedicant all along, and now it was time to move up and take on the work. So it was not until then that I took on the work of priestess in full.”

In our culture, Aphrodite is most associated with sex. That’s where the word aphrodisiac comes from, after all. In the novel, it’s a big part of Erica’s service to Aphrodite, and it is while she is having sex with Cal that Aphrodite steps in to bind the two of them together. Even casual sex generates emotional and spiritual energy, and in this case the Goddess uses that as part of her spell. Obviously, sex plays a big role in my relationship with Aphrodite. (Duh—I write erotica!) And much of this blog is dedicated to teaching people about sexual preferences they may not understand. I want to help people embrace their sexuality and accept that of others.

Tamara says, “I think that as far as worship goes [sex] is beautiful. I think that the union of bodies in passion is the gateway to ecstasy, the gateway to being one with the Goddess. It is in that union that there is power, power to create not just life but so much more. The erotic sensual passion that leads to orgasm…. it is the closest we can come to the ecstasy of being in the presence of God and the Goddess. I often use sex to build energy and power in ritual if the ritual will allow. Also for me every time I am with my husband it feels like I am the Goddess and I am making love to my God…so for me every time is a ritual, filled with love, and dedicated to her and to the God.”

Unfortunately, our culture has come to associate Aphrodite with romance and sex to the exclusion of all else. Those things are important, but only a small part of what she represents. Tamara puts it well: “Aphrodite and her worship are so much deeper. She is like the ocean you see the surface and think it is one thing, but go below and it is a whole different world. The deeper you go the more unusual and beautiful it becomes…there are more sides to it than just sex and pleasure. Amazing though they are.”

Love takes on many forms other than romance and sex. Love for family and friends, love for animals, even for strangers. Every time we are kind and compassionate we are sending love out into the world. I’ve written that into Erica’s character, not always overtly, but as part of how she interacts with others.

Tattoo by Tamara Sulc, work in progress

Tattoo by Tamara Sulc, work in progress

One of the things I admire about Tamara is how she actively tries to spread love and good will all around her: “When I started work at mom’s store, Moonflower, I really dedicated myself to making everyone who walked through the door not only feel at home but feel loved, like they really had come home. I listened like they were my children, my aunts, uncles, & cousins, like they were all my family,” she says. “I grew up in a church that taught me from an early age that love is the strongest most powerful thing in the universe. Real love, love that has no judgment or boundaries. And that we are all the children of the universe. Later when I learned teachings from other belief systems I could see that LOVE was the bond in every one. After really learning that, I have tried to spread love a little at a time one conversation to the next. One huge love filled hug at a time.

“At the end of last year I decided to take it to the next level. (I am encouraging others to do this, too.) Walk up to a total stranger and say, “This world is too full of hate, and we are all in reality brothers and sisters. It is time to spread love, and not hate. So I tell you now, you are my brother/sister, and I love you exactly as you are.” Then turn and walk away. Give them the gift of unreserved love. Make love go viral. That and constantly being there for all my friends and family, with ready hugs and unreserved love on tap! (And sometimes total strangers, yes I have been known to give random hugs to those who look like they need it.)”

In my first post here at Aphrodite’s Writer I talked about how she is also the Goddess of beauty. That’s another part of my service to her: recognizing beauty in everything around me, and making the world a more beautiful place wherever I can. Most of this is focused on art and graphic design. (In writing this I realize I haven’t made it a part of Erica’s character—something to look at in re-writes!)

Tamara Sulc at work on a tattoo

Tamara Sulc at work on a tattoo

Tamara is a tattoo artist. The images in this post are all samples of her work. When I ask her if it’s a part of her interactions with Aphrodite, she says, “It has not been but that could change. I do ritual work with my tattooing, and have often toyed with the thought of sex and or bondage and tattooing, which could be done in ritual. I am also wanting to ask her to be present while tattooing things that are related to her worship. I have yet to have that opportunity. But I know it will come.”

So what’s my point in talking about all this? Mostly what I write here has to do with sex, promoting acceptance and understanding of it in all its forms. But I believe it’s important to take that attitude into every area of our lives. Learn to love the weird wherever you find it, including within yourself.

I’ll end with Tamara’s take on it: “Love, like the Goddess, is a many-faceted gem. And while eroticism and pleasure are powerful tools, so is agape love. And it is when you find that we are all connected, that we are all one, and that everything is ….then you cannot help but love everyone, and everything. Then you will see that you are one with the universe. In the meanwhile I challenge you to spread love to others without restraint. Walk up to them and tell them you love them, exactly as they are.”

I want to thank Tamara for opening her heart to us and sharing so much about herself. If you’d like to know more about her and her tattoo art, check her out on Facebook:




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