Interview with Don Webb
FS: Can you tell us about the Order of the Vampyre and it being the first org for vampires?
DW: The Order of the Vampyre is the second oldest Order in the Temple of Set. Orders are areas of specialized study and affinity that Second Degree black magicians can join. If you think of the Temple as a university, then Orders are like majors. The First Degree is your basic work – showing competence in magic (through objective results), competence in philosophy, (through writing and presentations), ethics (through deeds, not words) and a deep commitment to self-improvement and rational thinking. The OV began, (in essence,) when young Canadian Priest Robertt Neilly read a review of an occult novel that featured a magical order of ethical, but fierce, Vampyres. As he opened his mind to the idea it became a vehicle for the Vampiric essence to come into being. His initial thoughts had a profound effect on Lilith Aquino, who understood that the Vampyre was the correct metaphor for her blend of glamor and neo-shamanism. When cast into the world, it called out to others who would find a door to themselves – and the Essence itself draws attention as the very existence of this magazine demonstrates.
FS: What is the Vampyre’s relationship to energy?
DW: The Vampyre seeks to transform herself into a being with greater freedom than average humans. The energy needed for this task is found in all things that give humans joy, strength and/or a desire to transcend the petty laws that mankind imposes on itself. Energy must be found from outside the self in the early stages, and then generated from within the self (for the beginnings of immortality,) and finally exchanged with others to open the psyche to its potential. Vampyric energy is beyond conventional good and evil, but has an internal mandate to grow and explore the Cosmos. If you obtain enough of it, then you are compelled in the last stages of your Initiation to awaken it in others.
FS: What is the social parasite?
DW: Humans have, through language, custom and law, created a mindless machine that ensures a smooth working herd concerned only with politely working itself to death and becoming sleeping consumers. As we absorb the laws, morals and customs of our fellow humans, so too we develop a little voice that tells us how to act. If you want to feel how strong it is in you, you need only notice the next time you are having a really shitty day. Someone asks you how you are, and before you even contemplate the question you say, “Fine, and you?” The social parasite tells us what to wear so that we fit in. We dress one way for work and don another uniform for our tribe. We may think we are being more free by wearing fetish gear at a fetish party, but the social parasite is just whispering in our Ear, “See? You are 100% individual. Just like everyone else in the room.”
FS: You talk about Aonic Words such as Try, Xeper, Thelema, Indulgence?
DW: Yeah, I do.
Now, beyond the smart-ass response (which is my Social Parasite playing the program: “Being a Smart Ass Teenager”, Let me define Aeon and Word. An Aeon is a point of view that lets you deal with communications between parts of the Self and lets you view the world outside the Self with a filter. The Aeon is a tool for creating order within and imposing order on the world outside. As Aeons come into being, that is to say, create useful communications between small groups of humans to increase their energy and efficacy – a spokesperson will arise to create a doorway in the form of a word. These Magi, (to use the current occult lingo derived from the Persian Utter Words,) these sum up the point of view and are themselves vehicles producing magical change. I chose the Words of nine magical humans, (men and women, gay and straight, white and Bipoc,) to trace the historical evolution of the Tools useful to the Vampyric Essence. Some of these humans may be well-known, such as Crowley who Uttered Thelema. Some may be less well known, such as Pascal Beverly Randolph, a nineteenth century black American who more-or-less created sex magick as well as mirror magic and summed up his life work with the word TRY. I use these words to help the Vampyre awaken certain energies in himself in a guided order. As the energy arises from within it resonates with magical work done by others.
FS: The OV does not endorse the consumption of blood for Vamypres. Why is that?
DW: There are three reasons. Firstly if you want to transcend the natural order, then you can not rely on a natural substance. Blood serves to keep the natural order going in obvious ways like nourishing the body, and in subtle ways such as creating the electromagnetic field that surrounds the body. Don’t steal from nature to transcend nature. Secondly, all Setians revere the life force whether it’s in a pussy cat or a violinist. We don’t take what we find sacred. Thirdly, it is an unadvisable health practice for dozens of reasons from HIV to the fact that blood is a natural emetic.
FS: What is psychic vampirism to you and the OV?
DW: The notion was first articulated in English by Dion Fortune, (and later by Anton LaVey,) who in typical Laveyan fashion said that he came up with it. Now, of course, the notion has entered the mainstream. Its funniest version through What We Do In Shadows. Unlike the Vampyre, who knows when and why they are taking in another’s energy, the “psychic vampire” is able to leach energy from others for a limited break from their pain, fear and insecurity. The sad thing is that they don’t gain anything from the practice and they give nothing in exchange. You know these people. You spend time with them and you feel dull and drained. They use guilt, (which is to say they weaponize your social parasite against you,) or conventionality, or their own wretchedness to steal the energy of humans around them. Being as they always feel low on energy they are drawn toward more energetic creatures to feed from. The customs of the social parasite often keeps us from avoiding them, so I give some useful social and magical skills for that effect in my book.
FS: How did you come into the ToS (Temple of Set)?
DW: I’m a professional writer of science fiction and fantasy. In 1988 I was invited to submit a story for an anthology about the Salem Witch trials. I spent one afternoon organizing my research into a timeline, “at this point dreams were considered evidence in court . . . at this point some people were making a lot of money accusing witches . . .etc.” It was night, I was done writing for the day and I turned on Geraldo Rivera’s Satanism in America. I watched “occult experts” saying exactly the same bullshit that had been said of the “witches” of Salem nearly 300 years before. One particularly fat loud man in an ill fitting suit said, “Geraldo I know where every Satanist in America is, and I know where they buried the bodies.” At this moment Michael Aquino asked, “Well then, as a policeman, why don’t you arrest them?” The fat guy sputtered, clearly not used to a logical rebuttal. The next night at a friends apartment, I said, “I’ve never written a fan letter to anyone on TV, but I would love to write to that Aquino guy.” One of my friends frowned at my remark. I figured that I had offended her. At the end of the evening she asked me to drive her home. As I drove into the dark she said, “Do you really want to write to Dr. Aquino?” “Yes.” “Well, I’m seeing him next week at the International Conclave of the Temple of Set, I’ll take your letter.” I was amazed. She didn’t look like an occultist. She had a great job, she wasn’t wearing tacky occult jewelry, she could talk intelligently about science, art, and politics. I wrote my letter, but I ended it with “I am puzzled at the notion that a group can help you be a stronger individual.” Dr. Aquino wrote back a gracious letter but ended it with, “We’re confused on that point too, maybe you should join and explain it to us.” That funny remark intrigued me. So I joined. Seven years later, I was High Priest. I held that office for six years.
FS: Were you always a member of the Order of the Vampyre?
DW: No. When I first entered the Temple of Set, a friend of mine, who later left the Temple, told me the OV was for pretty people and the Order of the Trapezoid was for smart people. I didn’t think I was in group number one, especially since the first OV member I met had posed for Penthouse. After years of practice, wherein I explored various practices dealing with energy and attention, I came to have huge respect for the OV. My own dear friend Lilith Aquino invited me. I joined in my eighth year of affiliation with the Temple, and upon writing a very early draft of the book that became Energy Magick of the Vampyre I was Named a Master of that Order.
FS: What is the relationship between the Vampyre Current and the Current of Set?
DW: The watchword of the Temple of Set is an Egyptian verb transcribed as Xeper (pronounced “Kheferr”). It can be translated as “I Have Come Into Being.” We, all of us humans, are the product of things we don’t control such as our heredity and culture. What if instead of just drawing on the energy of other forces like ivy clinging on the wall draws from sun and rain, we took responsibility for our own creation, going from a product of the universe to a self-created being that can exist independently from the universe. This process is Xeper. The Vampyre seeks to exist independently from the world as well, living and loving on her own terms through centuries. The Vampyre is an example of Xeper drawn from folklore, fiction and film. We are self-created and seek to raise select others to our status. Of course, as awakened beings, we are horrified at what the zombielike herd does and we have to use our powers to at least mitigate their stupidity. I’ve noticed over the years a good deal of Setian terminology and methods entering various magical or “vampiric” groups, so I cast this book forth so that skillful practitioners can have access to better information and Energy.
FS: Tell us a little about Don Webb outside of the Vampyre & Magick world?
DW: I have written twenty books ranging from mysteries to poetry and I have had fiction published in Weird Tales, Analog, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Asimov’s, Interzone and Amazing – and over 40 anthologies. I teach a course in writing the horror novel for UCLA Extension, where I have been a top rated instructor since 2002. I have a beautiful wife, Guiniviere Webb, whose magical work is detailed in one of the chapters of Energy Magick of the Vampyre. I have worked on a professional fireworks crew, written screenplays (which were filmed), been a Christmas Tree salesman as well as an industrial spy. I’ve got three annoyingly cute cats, a huge library, and I am a named Fellow of the Barront of Rachane, Scotland.
FS: This entire Vampyre/Vampire culture evolved since the OV was founded, what do you think of it and how will your book interact with it?
DW: The Vampyric culture began as a result of Victorian morality. Dr. Polidori wanted to write a book about his love for his rather cruel employer, Lord Byron. Bram Stoker, a bisexual Irishman wanted to write a book about his love/hate relationship with his boss, Emily Gerard. The same Emily Gerard who wrote Transylvanian Superstitions, (which was Stoker’s source book,) and was an ardent feminist. Sheridan Le Fanu, an Irishman writing at the height of British colonialism wrote Carmilla, a lesbian vampire novel. These are the seeds of the current tree. The Vampyre is empowered and sometimes overpowered by the images of Sex, Glamour, and the Unknown. Some people are drawn to the imagery when they are undergoing major life transitions. At such times, magical energies are much easier to access. If they need to play and work with these for a few years, I think it’s a good thing. For the few that find this current the best Doorway to themselves, the OV remains and evolves. We are neither “bothered by,” nor “contemptuous of” smaller groups, nor do we sit in judgement of their practices. They serve a function – and if our terminology has been a help for their self-evolution we have fulfilled some of the Mandate we receive by partaking of the Vampyric Essence. Anytime you have groups that are marginalized, desire that is outlawed, or even a human galled by the limiting rules of time and space, then the Vampyre will arise, clothe her being in current myths of darkness and outrage and seek others of her kind. For those moved to innovate and explore this in a long haul group, the Order of the Vampyre will bid them welcome.
FS: What inspired you to write Empowering Magick of the Vampyre? How long have you been working on it?
DW: I was compelled to write the first version of this book in 1998. I was High Priest of Set and I wanted to collect and codify many of the Orders practices in a coherent method that would resonate with Xeper. My original book Vampyric Alchemy was helpful for Order members. This year, after the nightmare-filled sleep of 2020 is a time for people to nurture the seeds of Self they found in the strange mixture of boredom and fear that was 2020. So, you might say it’s a gardening manual for folks that found their seeds. I think the world having seen true horror could use a little Play.
FS: Is there anything we didn’t cover you would like to add?
DW: My most recent book of fiction is Building Strange Temples from Ramble House. The Washington Post said people should read it, and who am I to argue with the Washington Post? I wrote a small book of vampire fiction: A Velvet of Vampyres, and many folks like the e-book. I do try to share what I learn generally, but as a Texan I must keep my chili recipe a Secret . . .start writing!
Read the full version with graphics in our Beltane Edition.
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