[Someone else who's a sang vamp may come in later to give their personal take on that, but I'm mainly trying to get the whole basic energy-feeding thing down to a comprehensive statement -- AND trying to keep it from turning into some sort of goth manifesto or the antithesis thereof. Bear with me -- I don't usually say much about what I know ultrapersonally in this line.]
The main types of vampires -- or rather, of vampiric feeding-methods -- are as follows, and I'll elaborate after & between on the distinctions and overlaps:Sanguinary or Blood Vampirism
As per the current cultural info, the individual requires an occasional small portion of human blood (from a willing donor--and there are strictly-held health/ethics guidelines about this) in order to maintain optimal energy levels. Tends to (as do some psi-vamps) have marked sensitivity to light and to have typically predatory senses and sensibilities, though these are often either ritualized (via community dramatics and terminology) or repressed (i.e., 'I'm just a normal human who needs a bit of blood to feel right'), in contrast to Therian predator-instinctive behaviour which is otherwise closely paralleled. NOT THE SAME as a blood fetishist, because a fetishist does it for sexual pleasure or out of sensual habituation, not out of any arguable physiological need. Psychic Vampirism
...."Psychic Vampire" (as termed by popular psychology, so let's explain it and clear that up...)
This is where one takes in life-energy from other humans in order to maintain optimal energy levels for oneself. Those conscious of their state tend to maintain a code of ethics on direct energy donation from others; those unconscious of their state (or in great pain/fatigue) may draw on others without permission or self-control -- which is universally considered unethical, at least by all who value ethics. The unconscious psychic vampire is considered to be a danger to both self and others, and need not have any known psychic abilities or interests/beliefs atall in order to become a drain on others -- the mundane type is the hardest to convince out of predation, because of being resistant to the underlying concepts to understand what they're doing. It is possible to feed directly from one person at a time or from accumulated group-energy, or (least intrusive) from ambient (locally-shed) group energy within one's environment."Psi-Vamp" (where not used as the short form of Psychic Vampire)
Usually described as a person who has highly-developed psychic abilities that drain their personal energy and require that they augment from other sources to maintain stable energy overall. Or, as someone whose magical practice itself is founded upon the appropriation of others' psychic energy. Also see 'Learned Psychic Vampire' in the types-list at http://www.psivamp.org/types.htm
for another version...the general consensus I've gathered would be that the energy is not required for survival but only to support a higher accustomed level of energy-working, therefore it's assumed as invalid vampirism beside the actual need of "real" vampires, regardless of personal ethics.
On the other hand, most people who are actively engaged in psychic activity and magery know that it is
highly energy-draining (duh, it is all 'energy work', right?), and take pains to ensure recovery after exertion with either high-energy foods (potassium, B-vitamins and electrolytes are particularly needful, as well as higher permissible levels of sugars and caffeine) -- or, with a consensual borrowing of energy from others who are sufficiently adept with it, or from elemental sources. It's a blurry line, and I think that the similarities are greater than the differences, even if one claims a need to survive and the other claims a need to recoup conscious and deliberate expenditure.Empathic (Emotional) Vampirism / Aesthetic Vampirism
Draws energy from the emotions of others, and ambiently rather than aggressively (i.e., the energy must be released/shed, willingly or not, rather than 'taken out'). Some people may feed on violent or negative emotional energy (though it's not considered 'healthy' to do so), and may unethically provoke in-person or online conflicts and distress around them to fill that appetite. In some (the aesthetic kind), this may mean feeding through music, art, drama, dance, literature, or even films, television news or documentaries -- 'renewable sources', I might add, for the release of emotion, whether from fellow viewers or via the originally-captured energy of the performers/composer/artist. Empathic vampirism may quite often be accompanied by a certain disconnection or inability to self-articulate one's own
emotions, or to interpret others' everyday low-level emotions and implicit attitudes constructively.Sexual (or Tantric) Vampirism ('Incubus', 'Succubus', Lamia, Leanan Sidhe...)
Feeds on specifically sexual energy, whether on the slow flame of sensuality, seduction and intimacy, or the sudden explosive release of energy that accompanies (is) orgasm. There is much overlap of lore and practice here, partially because 'sex magick' has such a long tradition in human ritual and partially because of types like the Leanan Sidhe, which may perhaps be best explained as a vampiric adaptation
of fae in order to survive off the vigorous energy of encroaching humans. (The Leanan Sidhe, which translates as "faerie lover", actually uses a combination of tantric
and highly aesthetic/emotional energy-feeding, and they are typically described as "muses" that inspire the creative talents of their lovers to new heights, even though they may (far less acutely so these days than in the old rural folklore, I'd imagine--and hope) drain them so deeply with that focus as to waste away their mortal lives.) Elemental Vampirism
Feeding directly off of wind, waterfalls, ocean tides, streams, sunlight, fire, storms, electrical fields, trains, sound frequencies (even self-created ones as in vocal toning and harmonics), etc....the effective thing, as I see it, is the presence of wave activity in itself
, in any particular form (light, motion, sound, electrical voltage). Closely related to empathic feeding, but does not require an emotional/aesthetic stimulation to be effective.Pranic Vampirism
Feeding off of life-energy in general, without any specific restriction of form/medium, from the most specific focus to the total life-field of one's immediate surroundings. General-purpose term that essentially describes all
vampires of the psychic type, but perhaps most often used by those who resent and avoid the psychological establishment's appropriation of the term "psychic vampire" to demonize all feeding from human psychic/emotional energy.Disclaimers: Vampires/energy-feeders do not claim to be immortal, undead, or (uniformly, at least) on the dark=evil side of conventional religion. Some
may have the semblance of natural fangs, but you'll never catch them without a reflection, or going into blisters and convulsions at the touch of holy water, or recoiling at the sight of a cross or the smell of garlic.....gah, you know the stuff....and the threshold bit only applies to hostile entities trying to cross wards. No dinky rubber bats, either.
There is great dogma and lack of active consensus on what makes a person a psychic vampire instead of someone who simply knows how to feed on energy when they need it. Afterall, one can argue that we all feed on energy and are dependent on it, therefore we are all vampires and just vary in the surface conditions of it and our own self-awareness of what is deliberately possible.
The most commonly-cited statement is that all psychic vampires have an energy deficiency -- a lack, a constant leak, or a missing/broken chakra (chakras being the anchor-points between the soul and the physical body)...I'm certain that these explanations have validity for some, but I don't know how well they can suffice for all, and the degree of hunger is a hard thing to define, at least so far as a threshold between ability and dependency.
I think that it doesn't always need to be a deficiency, physio-structurally -- it could be merely a regional displacement, or a higher degree of detachment from the normal connective experience of body-sensation, emotions and mind. Some people may simply be accustomed (from present or past life-experience and/or training) to gaining sustenance in a rarefied manner that has affected their ability to maintain vitality 'normally' -- or they may even have been being fed on in their formative years (or lifelong) by the hungers of others, thereby inducing a vampiric condition that they must learn to navigate for their own survival...in which case it's analogous to nutritional deprivation or to mental/emotional abuse -- which in fact I'd say it is, even though done sub/unconsciously. I would venture to say that most psychic vampires (at least) probably had their condition pre-awakened through their own family or social dynamics, whether via neglect or through high degrees of emotional pressure and tension that required them to start finding ways to sustain and 'heal' themselves internally.
General innate (i.e., non-imitated) traits that do seem to be fairly common among all these "real" vampire types are:
* The preference for nocturnal and/or solitary activity (besides being online at ungodly hours...)-- besides the eternal night-hunter mystique, there's A, getting out of the glaring sun and/or the noise of other humans and everyday life, and B, minimizing unwanted contact with the psychic/emotional milieus of other humans, giving time to recover and assimilate energy.
* Definite sensitivity to light (most notably, and ranging from sensitive eyes to skin allergies and fatigue in the sunlight), sound, scents, food additives, and/or the quality of physical contact.
* Moodiness...or rather (to put it less 'moodily'), highs and lows and tempers that vary widely with energy level and may even have been been diagnosed as bipolar. I don't think I'm atall out of the realm of logic to say that a vampire who has not been feeding properly is likely to be either depressive, irascible or both at once.
* A bit of palpable social reserve and holding-back of one's own emotions when in general company, often interpreted as standoffishness by those who prefer to have more of a person to hold onto. Whether actually instinctive or learned by trial and error, it's important for any vampire to maintain self-control (and therefore control itself) in their interpersonal interactions, though this is a neutral practicality and may cover the lifelong "social vampire" ('energy drain') as well as the self-disciplined psi-vamp or psychically-gifted trying not to get baited or fed on by others, vampy or
I do hope that makes some solid sense, both to those in the know and those who have never looked up an online field-guide to vampirism atall. Any questions or challenges, please reply below...