"Real vampires" believe that they must either consume blood or feed on "subtle" energy in order to maintain their physical, mental, and spiritual health. Recent scholarship has analyzed vampirism as a religious movement or as a cluster of "vampire religions." This article argues that vampirism should be viewed foremost as an identity around which social and religious institutions have formed. This model accounts for the mosaic of religious and cultural orientations held by vampires and acknowledges the vampire community's claims that vampirism is not a choice. It also facilitates a functionalist reading of vampire discourse as validating a new category of person.
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