Interview With Father Sebastian Todd

Silver :Sebastian, thank you for meeting with me this eve :o)

FatherTodd: it is my pleasure and honor.

Silver : firstly, just give us a brief introduction on yourself for starters…

FatherTodd: oooh I don’t know where to start.

Silver : :o) anywhere you like :o)

FatherTodd: let’s see. Well I grew up just like any other kid into fantasy,fun, Ren Faires, playing D&D and vampires. Loving spooky movies with my mom..

Silver : oooo I have never been to a Ren faire.. I hear those are pretty kewl :o)

FatherTodd: yes but you brits are gifted with a castle on every corner, lol..

Silver : hehehe well maybe not EVERY corner, but its true there are some pretty neat sites all around..

FatherTodd: yes I always enjoy visiting England. In fact I have some weird connection with you Brits. Over two dozen have stayed at my flat over the last five years.

Silver : ok, the name of your organization is The Sanguinarium..can you tell us a bit about it?

FatherTodd: Well I started out with a draw to the vampire archetype, like many of those reading this interview.. the Sanguinarium was an organization I started to meet others like myself and form a community based on collected information on real vampires…it eventually got so big and political myself and a few of it’s founders folded inMay of 2001 to better serve the community with other projects. I felt it was at a point where it could exist on
it’s own..not as a “society” or “organization” but a community.

Silver : what other sorts of projects are you talking about?

FatherTodd: ok well I am working on Vampyre Magazine and the Vampyre Grimoire. The magazine is a more all around vampyre mag for everything from art, fashion, spirituality, music, lore, fiction, etc.

Silver :yes I have heard you make mention of it on the main e-list..

FatherTodd: the Grimoire is a final edition of my older lineup of the Vampyre Almanac annual books. It is a collection of the best texts and interviews on real vampyres and the subculture surrounding it..the Grimoire is my dream, to provide a resource for people to make their own ideas on vampyrism,but offering a bunch of examples.

Silver : ok just going back to the original question here, how long has The Sanguinarium been going?

FatherTodd: since 1995..

Silver :ok so you have been active then for quite some time..

FatherTodd: it came from the vision of the vampire connection in Anne Rice’s vampire books. Of a network of “back rooms” in bars and clubs where vampyres could be free to be themselves without fear of human resistance.

Silver : you mean like the Theatre Des Vampires?

FatherTodd: that I guess was a part of it. If you look in Katherine Ramsland’s book, the Vampire Companion she details the vampire connection..

Silver : hmmm, I don’t think I have actually heard that name before.. I will have to have a look into it :o)

FatherTodd: it was more in Queen of the Damned. she mentions bars like Dracula’s Daughter in San Francisco, and the Lamia in New York City.

Silver :see, now that kind of thing would go down pretty well over in the UK I fact, I think many who are sort of underground may be tempted to surface if they had somewhere they could go..

FatherTodd:you have some nice organizations like VEIN and numerous vamp societies in your area who I know the leaders of.

Silver : yes I have heard of VEIN..

FatherTodd :in fact, my original family House Sahjaza has several covens and branches in London.

Silver :ok…how long ago did you discover your vampirism, and what type of vampire would you say you are for those who don’t know?

FatherTodd:it was gradual for me and came to me step by step..first I got into the roleplaying, but it just did not make sense to me for my spiritual or fetishistic side…it was fun as I live theatrics. But after getting into fangmaking I met so many people who were into it and taught me so much about the condition, lifestyle, whatever your expression is…then after being in the NYC “scene” for some time, she came to me..

Silver :she?

FatherTodd: yes the one who “awakened”, “embraced”, “turned” me. Or whatever you choose to call it.

Silver : did you have any unusual problems when you found out what you were? and if so, did she in some way help you deal with them?

Father Todd: just bad nightmares and a lot of bloodlust.

Silver : you are sanguine then?

Father Todd: yes.

Silver : ahh right :o)

Father Todd: but I also practice pranic (consentual psi vampyrism) after I had learned the techniques through Michelle Belanger of House Kheperu’s teachings. I am fortunate to have wonderful donors.

Silver : so basically, you can take in the energies in any way you need.. a good thing really.. I always said its nice to be able to have more than one way to feed available to you, but even better to utilize all those other means..

Father Todd: I only do it when offered, there are supplemental ways I feedlike earthbinding and spiritual feeding, well, I am writing an article on the different types of vampyres for the new Almanac / Grimoire.

Silver :is that the article you showed me?

Father Todd: they are mainly classified by their feeding techniques… that is only the basic version, but yes..

Silver : I enjoyed reading that…

Father Todd:every time I write something I have to revise it like a 100 times to get what I want ..

Silver : I do that also…

Father Todd: but this book will be my final edition for some time.

Silver : you are never satisfied with the original version, and later, you always seem to have a little something more here and there to add as well :o)

Father Todd: I have a GREAT publisher who is giving me the freedom to do as I please.

Silver : that is very helpful :o)

Silver : so, ok.. if I could ask you.. how long have you been a member of COVICA and what does it mean to be a member of that?

Father Todd: hmmm I actually was the founder of COVICA and gave it the name.

Silver : ok, what does it actually stand for as well?

Father Todd: COVICA is a council I set up and formed with Damien Daville, Michelle Belanger, DarkRose, Sanguinarius and a few other elders of reputable and active organizations. it stands for the Council of Vampyric International Community Affairs, we are not trying to be a governing body, but an influential group which provides resources and assists in direction for the greater community, such as the Black Veil, the Lexicon of Terms, the Sanguinarium Language, etc.

Silver : that’s a good thing.. the vampiric community needs help.. its good to know something like this is out there and available to those who might need it..yes I read the lexicon the other night when you let me have a look.. that was pretty kewl..there were things in there I had never heard of

Father Todd: we do it because we care about the direction of the community and see it as one large extended family… we each have our own diverse contributions to add to it ..

Silver : oh yes, it helps if you are 200% committed and I can see definitely that you are.. you seem to do an awful lot..

Father Todd: it is funny how many people doubt that, but oh well. I will keep doing it out of love for my people… I see the vampyre/vampire subculture has just left its womb and is forming its own traditions and identity…there have been many influences on it.

Silver : well from talking to you a lot lately, I for one know that you have a lot on your plate to deal with.. you are involved all over the place and its all vampire community based issues as well..

Father Todd: yes and now I am beginning to focus ..I was young with a lot of ambition. It is now time for me to clean my plate and focus on what is most important, one thing at a time..

Silver : ok, most of us know that you are a part of House Sahjaza, what kinds of things happen within this part of the organization and how long has HS been up and running?

Father Todd: HS has existed in its current form since 1993. But we recently just became more public directly as the Sahjaza..Clan Sabretooth actually was a public experiment for us, so that we could select a wonderful group of people to come together..

Silver : are any of the members within HS active in other ways in the community like for example, within the VC, or have other houses they have bridged out with from the original?

FatherTodd: we are extremely private about who is a part of our membership, because we do have members in many organizations and such, and they want to participate in those groups to their best, but in general our higher ups are not permitted to take titles or duties in other organizations.

Silver : right, ok.. :o)

FatherTodd: but the members of House Sahjaza are responsible for many wonderful contributions to the vamp community.. we see ourselves as a group of scholars who record and watch. Plus we are no longer politically oriented.

Silver : before The Sanguinarium, were you yourself involved in any other groups, houses, or organizations?

FatherTodd: only my family..

Silver : ok :o)

Silver : you are writing a book called the Vampyre grimoire..what all have you written about in it? do you have a deadline as to when it will be published?

FatherTodd:well it is a revision and huge expansion on my previous Vampyre Almanac 2000.

Silver : you have had a book published before this? ²But primarily the Vampyre ALmanac 1998-9 and then the 2000 edition.

Silver: wow, ok now that’s something I was not aware of..

FatherTodd: actually Damien is in the 2nd one.

Silver :I have actually, with your permission had a look into this new book, and I was amazed at a lot of the things you said within..not to mention the hours you must have put into it..I look forward to it coming out so I can have a proper read of it myself.. its very well written..

FatherTodd: thank you, there is a lot of work to be done on it..

Silver a lot has been done already..

Silver : I understand you run regular meets known as Long Black Veil ( in New York ) and Slimelight ( in the UK ).. can you tell us what one might experience attending one of these?

FatherTodd: well LBV is long gone, it ran for 4 years and had its day..Slimelight is actually a club in London which is run by a close friend and we collaborated on a NYC edition..Right now I am running the Endless Night Festival in New Orleans this halloween and the Valentine’s Ball in NYC in Feb. 2002..that is all I have on my plate right now..

Silver: the endless night festival, what exactly is that? from the sounds of it, it seems like maybe a major function and a good time as well :o) just explain a bit about that if you don’t mind..

FatherTodd:it is an annual event I run for the whole of the vamp scene in New Orleans. Although produced mainly by House Sahjaza all are invited.

Silver: that’s sounds like fun, I wish we had something a bit closer to where I am like that..ok, I am gonna take a different turn now and get into that article we spoke of recently wrote an article on the Strigoi Vii – would you mind going into a bit of detail on what that means?

FatherTodd: well Strigoi Vii translates “living vampire” from Romanian. For so long I have worked on finding a word to call ourselves besides “vampyres”..

Silver: well, it is true that the word ” vampire ” does catch a lot of hell..

FatherTodd: yes, we tried the word Sanguine but that eventually got a lot of bad feedback because it did not cover the other types of vamps including pranics, tantrics and others.

Silver : when I think of the word ” sanguine ” I tend to think of blood feeder..

Silver: this is actually a good area to comment on..I have always wondered why it is so many people get upset or go into a form of disbelief when you mention the word vampire “..

FatherTodd: that is why I have been trying to promote the new name..yes indeed..I believe it is none of their business..

Silver : ok this is true..can you explain a bit about the Strigoi Vii way of using the energies gained in a ritual concept?

FatherTodd: well in my article “A Sahjaza perspective of Strigoi Vii” I give examples only from the view of my family..but I would prefer to use it as a generic term for vampirism over one path, but within the Sahjaza we have many different types of vampyres, sanguines, pranics, tantrics, etc..we call our form of feeding Communion. It is more or less of an exchange instead of just taking..

Silver : so basically, to call ones self a strigoi, could include whatever kind of vampire you see yourself as?

FatherTodd: yes anything.

FatherTodd: but the one difference is the lifestyle / fashion vamps..

Silver :ahhh….

FatherTodd: the difference is that Strigoi Vii practice communion according to our definition..

Silver : how does a Strigoi Vii make a communion with a spirit and what actually happens as a result to both the strigoi and the spirit? what is gained or lost as a result of this communion?

FatherTodd: well many paths believe that our life energy (prana) is what survives after life. Since that is what we feed from, it is still possible to feed from a spirit.

Silver :so, could that be considered to be some form of necromancy?

FatherTodd: well yes I guess..

Silver : ok now that just got my attention because that’s something I myself am interested in learning more about..

FatherTodd:but many different spiritual paths deal with this in different ways. some would freak at the term necromancy..

Silver : no doubt..

FatherTodd:I would like to explain more, but I have not chosen to participate in that. Only a few Sahjaza practice spiritual communions..I am not interested and do not feed that way..

Silver: that’s ok.. maybe another time as for all of that :o)

Silver: you mentioned in your article that sometimes a strigoi will make a connection with an unwilling partner..what kinds of disastrous results come from this?

FatherTodd: well have you ever met that person who just drains you? and you don’t know why?

Silver : yes I have come across a few like that to be honest..

FatherTodd:those are unawakened who feed without knowing it. Or are those “Strega” as Viola Johnston puts it who take from unwilling donors.

Silver: this is why I stress to those in the main VC list the importance of learning how to shield against unwanted things such as this happening..

FatherTodd: some people are vampyres and do not even know it..

Silver : yeah I am well aware of that..

FatherTodd: yes but few people know how to do such things..

Silver : I also have an article that I wrote for the VC that has a method of how to go about shielding.. its my opinion that if you can ” see it ” you can cause it to be..

FatherTodd: that is one perspective..

Silver: sure..mine is sort of developed by having taken in what many others who are adept at it had to say and sort of adapting my own method..I would be especially interested in hearing more about astral projection and dream walking as you call it..what happens here and how does one get to the point of being able to astral or dream walk?

FatherTodd: well there are systems for it to be “forced”.

Silver: really? because I know I have experienced it, but it happens to me without me doing anything..

FatherTodd: well more or less brought about in a ritual like sequence..for me I have not performed it in that fashion, it just comes naturally late at night, or randomly occurs.

Silver: same for me too.. always I have wanted to be able to have control to some degree at least..

FatherTodd: from what I hear it is not hard. These visions create inspiration or give me clues where to start, they are not all that complete.

Silver : ok.. do you not think, that when you see something through astral projection that maybe this is the ONLY way you are able to see it? or maybe experience it? as in, it would be too much on you in the awakened state?

FatherTodd:I see it like seeing a movie. Everyone may see the same thing differently.

Silver: from what I know, its ( for me ) like I am actually there and actually experiencing..similar to dreaming, except that I remember in great detail..

FatherTodd: like a REM scale dream?

Silver : that and much of what I have seen has actually happened..

FatherTodd: yes I believe that.

Silver: well, I’m not sure..I mean, nothing monumental like the world is going to end or anything like that..

FatherTodd:: understood..

Silver: :o)

Silver : in your article, you mentioned something called ” somnusium ” and explained that sometimes the vampire gives up being vampiric this wise? and can it actually happen? I mean, I should have thought that being vampiric is much like eating and sleeping..something we are and need to do in order,to maintain health and well-being.., how does this actually happen and have you known anyone personally that this has happened to and if so, how are they able to function now?

FatherTodd: lol, in the philosophy my family practices it refers to putting your nightside (primal, magickal, vampyric side) to the backburner and not participating in the is kind of like fasting..

Silver :ok but to forget it altogether.. I can’t fathom that.. my being vampiric, I could not imagine waking up one day and deciding, ” I no longer wanna be like this “..

FatherTodd:it is not about forgetting about being a vampyre or not being a vamp, are you familiar with the RPG? it is like torpor in the roleplaying game.

Silver :I know what it is, but I never was interested in it..

FatherTodd: yes some of us need to formalize a balance. Yin and Yang, we are still humans after all.

Silver: true and this is a part of us..I guess I can understand needing a break form time to time..

FatherTodd: it is important to appreciate what we are.

Silver : true :o)

FatherTodd: and get reflection..

Silver : yes :o) ok.. I have one final question for you :o)

Silver : if you could give some advice to anyone just discovering their vampirism, what would it be?

FatherTodd: hmmmm….be patient, respectful and do loads of research. Knowledge is power. You don’t have to join an organization to be a vampyre, just be and empower yourself. Mentors are a good start, but make sure they truly know their stuff, taking more than one mentor is not bad, step by step..

Father Todd: my pleasure..