Come Halloween (or any other fancy dress occasion) many of us pick vampires as their costume of choice - but there are actually people who believe they’re real life vampires – blood drinking and everything.Merticus, 37, has identified as a vampire since 1997, and lives with his wife in Atlanta.But that doesn’t mean he wears fake fangs, shuns garlic and believes he’s immortal. Aside from dressing typically all in black, and his unusual name, you probably wouldn’t guess that behind closed doors he drinks human blood.And it's more common than you might think, apparently there are communities of blood-drinking vampires all over the world.There are different types though. While ‘lifestyle vampires’ might adopt the aethetic look of a what a popular depiction of a vampire, ’Sanguinarian vampires’ are individuals who apparently can’t adequately sustain their own physical, mental, or spiritual wellbeing without the taking of blood or vital life-force energy from other sources, according to Merticus.The relationship between vampire and donor (known in the community as ‘black swan’) isn’t necessarily romantic, but for some – certainly for Merticus – there is a sexual element involved.His wife, who isn’t a vampire, is his ‘donor’ and he says their relationship has never been stronger.Apparently when vampires don’t feed for a while they feel ill.“Many complain of severe headaches, pain throughout their bodies, and extreme weakness,” Merticus says. “Others of a craving or hunger that they can’t seem to satiate with food or drink.”Unsurprisingly, finding a willing participant isn’t easy though and some vampires resort to animal blood as a human donor isn’t available.“We recognise how ‘crazy’ it sounds when we refer to ourselves as vampires. It ultimately comes back to the word ‘vampire’. I’m not a fan of the label, it often clouds people’s perception of who we are, while also serving as one of the greatest allures and even means to attract donors. But vampirism is fundamentally an extension of who I am on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level,” Merticus, an antiques dealer, says.“I’ve always felt something was different about me that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I was aware at an early age of unexplained phenomena.”His first experience of drinking human blood was in his mid-20s with his partner at the time, and while other ‘feeding’ experiences have been ritualistic, others have been in the realms of BDSM.“But always performed privately, safely and consensually,” Merticus says.
He ‘feeds’ from human blood about once a week, typically one to two tablespoons, but says that energy doesn’t always need to come in that form though.“My feeding preference is from the prantic energy of others through touch or breath, often coupled with tantric or sexual contact. But blood is more potent and has an undeniable psychological component.“The feeling of the donor after feeding may range from a state of euphoria to complete exhaustion and even confusion. Personally I feel an intense and prolonged wave of energy wash over me.“Proper aftercare for donors is important whether you are feeding from blood or from psychic energy and varies greatly depending on the individual. It’s important to get to intimately know your donor, their medical history, emotional health and even mental state.”Is it a fetish then? Apparently not.“Blood fetishism should not be confused with sanguinarian vampirism. This being said, there are some sanguinarian vampires who enjoy blood play, such as blood dripping on one another and the sight of blood, as well as consumption.”Drawing blood isn’t done through biting, as you might imagine, as that’s not sanitary. Instead a specialist kit is used.“I naturally surround myself with positive energy in my dayside life as a counter to the darkness I sometimes encounter in others who self-identify as real vampires and in myself,” he says.There is no scientific evidence that vampirism is a real condition, and it’s not recognised in the medical profession either. It’s generally agreed that there are serious health risks associated to the extraction and consumption of human blood.Dr Marc Pacifico, a BAAPS consultant, says: ”Whilst we may consume the blood of animals (black pudding comes to mind), this is normally cooked. Untreated human blood carries the risk of transmitting disease.“I would be particularly worried about HIV and hepatitis. In addition, if drunk in large quantities, there is theoretically a risk of iron toxicity – something animals that live on blood (such as vampire bats) are specially equipped to deal with.”Nonetheless there is a growing number of people in the online vampire community.Meriticus set up the Atlanta Vampire Alliance, a group to help promote self-awareness and responsibility among the city’s vampires.“Today, we’re a relatively close-knit friend group of thirteen individuals representing an eclectic slice of the modern vampire community. Most of us are in our thirties and forties… including everyone from rocket scientists to nurses.“There are vibrant and organised vampire communities in cities and countries all over the world.” Yep, even the UK.To find out more visit Merticus’s website or follow Vampire News on Twitter.