Vampiric Shamanism

From Circle Of The Crone

The Circle of the Crone has over the years attracted membership from a large number of vampires who still hold to their traditional beliefs. Many of these were shamans prior to their embrace. That is to say they were the specialized intermediaries between the natural world and the spirit world. The nature of the Circle of the Crone Covenant has changed their practices to a certain degree, but mostly in function rather than in belief.

Traditionally the postition of a Shaman was not a full time job (that would be a priest), but was in fact a skilled position that required specialized training and the time spent working as a shaman was compensated for by the people they served. However, with the blending of practices within the Acolytes, the term 'Shamanism' has come more to mean almost any practictioner/believer who follows a belief structer that could be defined as Animatism or Animism.

From Native American totemic beliefs, to African ancestor worship, to the feared shamans of Nepal, Mongolia and Asia, there is a dizzying array of beliefs that get folded under the umbrella of 'shamanism' within the Circle of the Crone. In as much as one can define a basic set of practices for such a varied group they are:

  • A belief in a spiritual world that is at least partially seperate from this world
  • A belief that spirits can be worked with/for and often, in fact, it is an obligation by humans and/or vampires to work with and for the spirits
  • A belief in supernatural happenings that surpass the works of werewolves, mages or vampires. Usually attributed to Great Spirits or very distant Gods. These spirits are thought to put down the rules of the world that mankind (and vampires) must follow.
  • A set of initiation and indoctrination rituals are used to temporarily bring the person into contact with the spirit world via an ecstatic trance-like state. This often involves 'primative' acts done in the traditional manner of their chosen people such as vision quests; consumption of certain food, drink or chemicals; and/or drumming, singing or chanting.
  • A tendancy to act as a 'healer', both physically and spiritually. However, some cultures acknowledge the Shamans ability to harm as well as heal.

She-Bear, Coyote, Crow, and how the world was made

OOC: The following is a complete fictionalization that gives an example of the thoughts/stories/beliefs of a vampiric shaman. The character cobbled together a bunch of Native American legends and added a vampiric flavor to it. ICly, he passes the story off as the ancient legends he was taught as a young freshly Embraced vampire, with the caveat that it is not meant in any way to be absolute truth. By John Nixdorf, Player of Ian O'Toole

Back in the time before times, there was the sky kingdom and the earth. The sky was separate from the earth, and was where all the great totem spirits lived. The earth was forgotten and shapeless, filled with angry spirits who were the leavings and waste from when the Great Spirit made the sky kingdom. Earth was watery, and ruled by the monsters and flawed spirits who were broken and unfit for the sky kingdom. From time to time a totem spirit would anger the Great Spirit and the other totems, and be cast out of the sky kingdom onto the Earth. This happened to three of the totems, Crow, Coyote, and She-Bear.

Crow and Coyote were old tricksters, although both were very different in their methods and styles. Crow was more subtle and clever; Coyote’s jokes were a little cruder and more obvious. Crow left the sky kingdom first, because he never liked authority and through his clever jokes he showed a lack of respect for the rulers of the sky kingdom. Coyote was thrown out because he had an affair with Wolf’s wife, when he turned himself into Wolf and went and slept with her. He did this to get back at Wolf for calling him a weakling and a coward, but he was judged the guilty one and was cast out for his activity.

Crow and Coyote found themselves on the Earth then, without a lot to keep them company. The world was mostly water, with only a small patch of muddy land for them to live on. The waters all had many monsters in them, and were a dangerous place for anyone else. Coyote and Crow decided this wouldn’t work, it was much too boring. They decided to make animals to help them shape the world. Coyote dug up piles of dirt and mud, and Crow shaped them into animals that they remembered from the sky kingdom. However, these mud shapes had no life in them, and being male, both of the tricksters had no idea how to make them live.

It was around this time that She-Bear was banished from the sky kingdom. She had lain with Bear and become pregnant, and had cubs. She-Bear loved her cubs, and enjoyed raising them, but one night Bear became jealous and angry of the attention the cubs were getting, and killed them. She-Bear flew into a rage and tore Bear apart. The Great Spirit decided that She-Bear was too violent and savage, too unpredictable to allow to stay in the sky kingdom, and she had to go to Earth. She was even angrier at this, and when Crow and Coyote found her, they left her alone for a long time to cool down from her anger. They knew she could tear either one of them into pieces and eat the pieces.

After a moon had passed, She-Bear had calmed down and went to go find Crow and Coyote. They had finished making mud animals, and were just sitting there surrounded by almost every kind of animal. Coyote told She-Bear that while they could make animals, they couldn’t bring life to them. Only women can bring life, and Crow and Coyote weren’t the marrying types. She-Bear roared then, so loud and long that both of the tricksters ducked down and hid. When they looked up, they saw that She-Bear had roared all the animals to life.

Everyone had a problem now, the little bit of mud and earth was too crowded. The beavers and otters were happy enough, and the muskrats and the seals, but everyone else was out of room. Coyote then said he had an idea. He gave Crow a berry he’d stolen from the Great Spirit. This berry made things bigger for anyone who ate it. Coyote had a crude purpose for it, there was a part of his body that he wanted to make really big, but Crow could use it to make his wings bigger. Crow caught onto Coyote’s idea, ate the berry, and grew many times his size. He then flew up into the air, over the waters, and flapped his wings as hard as he could. He flew over the water beating his wings. The wind from his wings pushed the water away. Under Crow’s flight, there were mountains and valleys, plains and rivers. This made the monsters angry, because they had to either live on the land or be crowded into the water.

With all the earth made, Crow wanted to go back to his smaller size, but he couldn’t figure out how. That’s when he became Raven, the Great Raven. He wasn’t happy that he was stuck at his size, and he couldn’t sneak around as easily as he used to be able to. He asked Coyote if there was a way to make himself smaller, and Coyote laughed and said he had no plans to make smaller the part of his body he’d wanted to make bigger.

All the animals spread out over the world, settling down into families and villages. Coyote and Raven helped make cubs for She-Bear, and then they went on their separate ways. She-Bear was the strongest of any of the animals, and most of the animals looked up to her as a leader and mother figure. Since they were angry at each other still, Coyote went walking along the coastlines and through the south of the land, and Raven went flying north. The smaller mud-animal crows and coyotes went all over the land, but Raven and Coyote always stayed away from each other from that point on.

The men and the manitush

One day Coyote found a seashell near the ocean. He opened it up, and found a lot of small people in there. He still had some of the growing berries, and he fed it to the little people, and they became men and women, the first tribes. Coyote taught them how to hunt and live, and how to make villages. Then he went back to wandering, and men grew and spread. The first women had children often, and humans spread faster and faster. The animals complained to She-Bear, and She-Bear asked Raven and Coyote if they had any suggestions, because otherwise she would just kill all the humans to get rid of the problem. Raven and Coyote went to the humans, and told them that they could only hunt animals when it was necessary, and to always thank the animals they killed. They were also told to never bother the villages of the animals where the young animals were cared for and raised. The humans agreed to this, and women started to have children less frequently because it was too hard to take care of them with less meat for food and furs for clothing.

The humans kept to themselves, and didn’t trouble the villages of animals. The animals avoided humans when they could, and tried to work with them to keep from being over-hunted. However, one year the winter was as hard as any before it on the earth. She-Bear went into hibernation, and Coyote went to the warm deserts, while Raven huddled in a tree using his greater size to keep his children warm. The humans in their villages were cold and starving, as were the animals in their places. Halfway through the winter, the humans ran out of food. They decided that instead of freezing, they would go kill the animals and eat them, and take their furs for more warmth. The villages of the animals were decimated, and only the animals living out far from others and far from the humans survived. This is why today most animals don’t have villages, and those that do like prairie dogs always post guards to watch out.

When She-Bear woke up, she was furious. She decided to punish the humans by bringing forth some of the monsters that had hid in the outer parts of the world, and setting them on the humans to control their numbers. There was a village of humans who had not turned on the animals, but instead had frozen to death in their village. She-Bear rewarded their devotion by bringing them back to life, calling them back from the Spirit Lodge, and giving them the power of the monsters. There were limits to this, as the monsters could not abide fire or sunlight, and they gained their power from the blood of living things, so the human monsters that She-Bear made had to accept the same restrictions. These human monsters were called manitush by the other humans, because they were foolishly considered to be evil.

She-Bear taught the manitush many things. Because their old sacrifice had saved the animals, they were given the power to talk to and command animals. Since they had shown strong spirits in refusing to kill the disadvantaged animals, they were given strong bodies that could resist the attempts of others to kill them. They were also taught control over their own bodies and how to survive in nature, how to avoid the sun by sleeping in the earth and how to turn into animals. They were even taught how to lie in wait for unsuspecting humans by turning into the mist that waits near the waters, and they were taught how to make their hands into fearsome claws to tear up any warriors foolish enough to seek them out. When She-Bear had taught the manitush all these things, she set them loose on the humans, with instructions to keep the humans afraid of the dark places, and of the night, and of the wild, so they would not spend all their time hunting down animals.

At first, the manitush were overly zealous in their duties, and the humans were nearly decimated. Coyote returned from the far deserts to find this, and was very sad because the humans were his friends, and he was amused by how often they are foolish and entertaining. Coyote went to She-Bear, and asked her to tell the manitush to be more lenient with the humans, or else he would teach the humans how to fight the manitush, and war between the groups would be an ugly business and would not benefit anyone. She-Bear was angry with Coyote for being so threatening, but she did see the wisdom of his words. She told the manitush to only kill the humans when they had done something truly offensive, like kill an animal without thanking it’s spirit, or starting a fire in the forests without any regard for what happened. After a while, a balance was struck between Coyote and She-Bear, and between the manitush and the humans. This continued for many years.


Performing Cruac rituals as a Vampire Shaman

Vampiric Shamanism ritual styles

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