|Prince Andreas Axikerzus Sahjaza and wife Xendra Sahjaza|
Interview with author PRINCE ANDREAS AXIKERZUS SAHJAZA
I met you through Goddess Rosemary of the House of Sahjaza. How long have you been involved in her group?
In 2005-2006 she found me on the website of the famous electronic community Vamp of New York. She knew their stories and achievements. We began to talk and she saw a nobility and difference in me. I was taking my first steps in structuring and organizing the South American and Lusitanian Vamp context. She welcomed me as a son and I gained a spiritual family that shelters, inspires and awakens me. A rich source of wisdom and expertise that has made a difference in the providential moments of my life. Around 2009 I made my association with Sahjaza public. Before it was something I kept discreet as I was learning more. In 2010 I was the first Brazilian to be named Elder in the Vamp context and in 2015 I mace High Elder. Today in 2017 I occupy one of the highest administrative levels of the Sahjaza international dynasty, that of Prince, and I am the patriarch of his Brazilian lineage.
Codex Strigoi is a compilation of the last eleven years of the work carried out in front of the Círculo Strigoi, a discreet Vampyric Cosmovision society I founded. It's a closed series of seven books, published in hardcover and with special paper that offers wisdom, rites, exercises and practices to all neophytes or even veterans of this via nocturna. For us, what we call convenience as a vampire is the heir to a vast legacy that is transcultural, transregional, and beautifully post-human, that is associated with the mythical golden age, the law of the night, and that perennial philosophy and lyricism that best speaks to the heart. It is the archetype of the hunter spirit and that which subjugates him beyond this garden selvage. The real Vampire is not in the richness of pop culture which many try to emulate, nor in denial of belief in this model. Codex Strigoi aims to offer the timeless vision and less comfortable aspects of this context, offering a journey through the power of healing and inspiration of so-called darkness. It’s a holistic view of the sacred and the profane in several manifestations through hermetism, paganism, traditional witchcraft, and other views.
What exactly is a Vampyric Cosmovision society? When you founded Círculo Strigoi eleven years ago, what set this society apart from the occult underground in your area?
Vampyric Cosmovision is how we identify and live the spiritual side of the Vampyre context. We know there are other denominations, but we think this is the most operative and functional. In a nutshell, it is a bio-psychic-spiritual way of seeing and dealing with nature and the world. The Strigoi Circle is a discreet society founded just before the autumn equinox in South America in 2006. Our focus has always been the perspective of the Vampyre archetype in the face of spirituality and so-called paganism. We have always seen many groups of spirituality and religions talking about vampires from their point of view. We continue against the grain and search for ways to a more authentic and faithful expression in line with the so-called perennial wisdom, which is the motor of all Western spiritualities.
How old were you when you discovered your fascination with vampires? What about them attracted you and why has that fascination stayed with you to this day?
I discovered vampires in childhood when my family and friends still told stories by the light of fires and marshmallows. Here in Brazil stories of haunting are called "Causos" and it is a beautiful tradition that is being lost. The vampire stories were my favorites. At the beginning of my adolescence, the internet and videocassettes were rare in our country, I would stay up late to watch movies of Christopher Lee as Dracula or even reruns of The Hunger with David Bowie and Catherine DeNevue, Japanese animes like The Vampire Hunter D (1985) or Dom Dracula. Magazines like Tales From The Crypt and national comics of terror by Eugenio Collonese, Rodolfo Zalla and Alvaro Moya always fascinated me. Pulps and fangstasias of the Brazilian master Rubens Luchetti as well. From the U.S. I’m a great fan of Anne Rice, Charlane Harris and Poppy Z. Brite. The feral, wild tone of vampires veiled under elegance and decadent glamour, like that of nature, tells me about strength and ability to crystallize dreams in this savage garden and transmute good encounters in immortality and presence of mind. Something metaphorical and of great spirituality that dialogues with the spirit of the artist as the antenna and vanguard of the species.
Do you remember any of the tales told by family and friends at the campfire? Were you inspired to read classic fiction or read about actual vampire legends?
They are particular memories and a collection of myths brought by my grandparents who came from northern Italy and also from Friuli Italian, South of France, and places like this. Many speak of the silver eyes lurking in the darkness around the houses high in the mountains. My father used to say we're from the darkness and we'll get back to him when he told such stories. Some talk about ladies in long white dresses who walk under the moonlight in dark forests. And they naturally taught sagacious children not to meddle with certain forest spirits who call them by name when they walk alone in the woods. As a teenager I discovered the writings of Carlos Ginzbourg and noticed that such stories were versions brought by our ancestors of the old world, many of these stories were about Buona Bliss or the Goddess who visited the faithful in the farms and cottages. Others about the furious army of the dead that rose in the days of the winter solstice to Odin's commando or the Harlequin or King of the Elves ... or Hell. Such stories inspired me to write and want more of all that. They teach us how to reconcile what we imagine and what we accomplish, vision and action-something far superior to what is offered by modernist or postmodern education, essentially superficial and which seeks only to be merged with the self-surfeited and leads one to an empty materialism.
Why do you think tales of the unknown captivate people and inspire them for years afterward?
The unknown, the other side or simply beyond the veil speak of autonomous and independent force zones mapped by mystics and Kabbalists of all times and kingdoms. They are well known by artists, although always strange as a dark forest that keeps the authenticity and countless dangers. The search for the grail and the hero's journey always begins in the darkest, most dreadful corner of the forest. The mysterious and the unknown impel us and connect permanently in the present, withdraw us from the comfort zones of ideologies or dogmas and everything that numbs our perception and personal power. They take us from the cosmogonies and eschatologies, gêneses and apocalipses, measures and dimensions given to us by third parties. They free us from these everyday parasites. That strangeness, slight fear, flash of courage and presence of spirit, even if they are fond of fear connect us with the telluric force of the earth itself. They integrate our circuits of consciousness and make us wake up. At least that's what I understand about stories of the unknown and their effect on people.
How much does religion misrepresent the vampire archetype? What efforts do you make to present it in more of an authentic and faithful manner?
If we think of what happened in Europe between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, we will conclude the entire image of the vampire is a farce entangled by the Catholic Church and Christianity as a whole. Basically they compiled, guided by their agenda, the vampire archetype. Spiritualists and occultists have tried to explain what Catholics and Protestants have done through their bias. The damned poets and the romantics inherited all this rich legacy and attached to it the metaphorical tone to discuss sexuality, death, the transition from wild life to that of big cities in the industrial revolution and criticism of customs. Voltaire and Marx appropriated the entire Catholic symbolic repertoire on vampires to illustrate their philosophical positions. If we think of Bram Stoker or the film industry built around the novel Dracula... if we say Vampyres are something else we will be in big trouble. Folks fervently believe that the vampire exists, and it's exactly in this caricatured, stereotypical tone. The polar opposite is who believes that there is no way around this caricature and that the people who believe in it are silly and stupid. Both positions choose a denotative, materialistic view that strangles contemplation and reflection, and causes you to lose focus on the connotative, spiritual, and artistic tone of the vampire archetype.
To illustrate and touch the vampire archetype I sought the imaginary, the occult and especially the story to broaden my vision. This ecstatic process is a way of touching immortality named Wyrd by the Norse. It led me through research into northern Russia in the 10th century, a colonized region that brought together Swiss from Uppsala and Gottland as well as native Russian peoples. Before Orthodox Catholics spread there were so-called pagans, historically named Uppyr. The Slavic people formally arrived there in the twelfth century and heard strange rites of the undead that ceased to exist almost two centuries ago but spread throughout Eastern Europe. More skillful readers of this interview will think of certain Victorian tales by Sir Arthur Macchen or contemporary tales by George R.R. Martin in the novel "Fever Dream." For me, vampires are much closer to people who inherit a spiritual DNA or daemonic legacy, which ignites when it gets access to specific symbols or experiences, like gasoline near a lit match. Dead perhaps only for a society of consumption or a mediocre and materialistic life; but quite alive for its nature and the cycles of the ecosystem.
Describe the tales of Sir Arthur Macchen and George R.R. Martin, and how much or little weight they carry in relation to vampires.
Arthur Machen, a true genius of his day, imagined a race parallel to humans, perhaps descended from the same root but not like others. They carried a strange legacy and were able to make visible to all others images they visualized. I cannot readily remember the name of the tale, but it posited the Himalayas as the origin of this parallel race. They would have been fantastic beings which included vampires. Almost a century later the prestigious author of Chronicles Of Fire And Ice, adapted by HBO as Game Of Thrones, developed this idea in his novel "Fever Dreams". For Martin there is what folklore invented about vampires and werewolves, but there would be a race with characteristics of both myths. On a full moon night they became thirsty for blood and sometimes for meat. They were predators disguised as humans, but living among humans they adapted their myths and rites. Strangely both writers are little known from the contemporary Vamp context, which is a waste. I think their imaginative tales slipped into primeval truths
Where do you think the mainstream loses sight of the concept of a real vampire? How has it been made safer for mass consumption since the release of Nosferatu in 1922?
Both the mainstream and the underground never understood the vampire, They scratched some of their essence and perspectives in most cases. This does not invalidate and detract from works like Sheridan Le Fannu's Carmilla or Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and Bram Stoker's celebrated novel Dracula, which completed 120 years of its publication. I think the genius of the game franchise (now also an animation) Castlevania or even RPGs and LARPs like Vampire The Masquerade explore interesting nuances and are well contextualized. The Vampire is a powerful archetype throughout the world. I believe that all the explanations by Catholic scholars in the late 1400s is a misrepresentation used to standardize and homogenize something delightfully arcane and pagan. I connect with the myth and rite of the so-called "Wild Hunt", the fertility rites of the earth and Guilds of marginal professions of old Europe. The Italian micro-historian Carlos Ginzbourg presents in his works almost a hundred names of these groupings; we can easily notice how they were decharacterized and transformed into vampires. There are studies of the etymology of the term that refers to the orthodox Catholicism of northern Europe and the inhabitants of the fields. It throws us into something much denser, juicier and rewarding, full of countless scarlet nuances reflecting the moonlight. Studying this more realistic view brings us to the heart of something far more complex than what is accepted at this point in history. The face of the Dragon, the hunter spirit and the feral heart is a more pompous way of talking about a daemonic legacy which some in our context bring as a mark of their character and creative life. This makes us different in our spiritual and inner life because we access frequencies inaccessible to the human masses. We are a seemingly grotesque and savage vanguard at first glance, but truth exists in this wild garden.
The film Nosferatu of 1922 is a theme I love explaining in my lectures at universities for film students and bookstores. The film was a plagiarism of Bram Stoker's work and was sued by his widow. Only one copy survived and was found decades later in a basement trunk. Just like a bottle with a message thrown overboard. The film was produced by the German company Prana Films, sponsored by members of the secret order Fraternita Saturnus. The character was nothing more than an animated version of his totemic spirit in a bust called Gotos that received offerings and libations, in addition to resembling the founder of the order. It is said the film was an attempt to popularize the mysterious totem and expand its power through the occidental imagínario. If it was I believe they were successful, spiritually speaking. That alone is indeed fascinating. Less than two years ago a tomb looter stole the skull of the cineaste who idealized and produced the film. Police investigators say so far that it was a crime of a spiritual, hidden nature. There are rumors that the lead actor playing Orlok was a vampire in real life. Now if we leave all that aside and focus on the term Nosferatu we will see that today in the Balkan region it is used by families of practitioners of traditional witchcraft as a daemonic spirit transmitting magic and spiritual legacy.
All this leads me to think we live in Vamp spirituality; I like to call it Vampyric Cosmovision. It is different from the vampire simulations and emulations that at most try to translate what was seen in pop culture as a hidden language In an esoteric sense. I also think it is quite different from what other religions and spiritualities try to categorize us as: stereotypes of foundations or dogmas with which we have no relation. I think that the true Vamo has not yet reached the masses and has not been made safe for one reason: Such a draconian archetype is still unveiling itself to we who have lived with it for at least four decades. I see and walk this way in my art and craft. If we try to define it at this moment, it will still escape us.
Have you done research on the Fraternita Saturnus? Where can people read about this secret order? Would it be better to read about them on the internet or seek out books about them?
Fraternita Saturnis is a discreet German society that I learned about in the book "Vampires: Ritual Blood" by the Brazilian Thelemite author Frater Piarus. The group is active in Brazil and that's all I can say. There is the site of a researcher named Peter R. Koenig who presents such a group with more detail about their paradigms and practices that ended up influencing my article of the film Nosferatu. The name of Peter's website is http://parareligion.ch.
How many publications have been written by Peter R. Koenig, and how informative and accurate would you say his work is?
I have been following the work of Peter R. Koenig on the internet for well over a decade. My interest in him was his historical and investigative perspective on disputes between the Thelemite Caliphate and some Brazilian Thelemites. His articles have always been rich in content and well documented. Particularly the series dedicated to the Fraternita Saturnis ended up becoming one of my favorites. It offered great resonance to the documents I had the privilege of studying in the last two decades.
How often do you host lectures at universities? Do you make a lot of acquaintances when hosting them?
In eighteen years I had the opportunity to attract attention from councilors, deputies, master masons, pagan leaderships, and university professors of regular and other courses. My work is considered original, singular, and relevant in history, sociology, anthropology, cinema, art, and more recently philosophy. In November I was invited to a semi-public event at the Armando Alvares Penteado School (one of the most important in the country) for a debate with one of the greatest philosophers and professors there, Luis Felipe Pondé, about Vampyrica's Cosmovision, paganism, and visions of alternative spiritualities. I have a great friend and academic mentor, Edgar Franco (Post Doctor and Advisor at the University of Goiás), a visionary musician and graphic artist known as Ciberpajé and author of the Dark Ambient project "PostHuman Tantra" that influences me to deal with the Brazilian academic environment. Terror and the fantastic are expressions of the sublime, discussing what is beyond the veil of accepted reality. My lectures and presentations focus on the transdisciplinarity of these incursions into various cultural segments. The Vampire is my personal proxy in Western imagination. I have been curator of one of the most important festivals of Brazilian cinema called CineFantasy, I am master of ceremonies and speaker of the Cinephenomena event. Between 2015 and 2016 I took the causes of pagans, and creators in these events that stopped the council of the largest city in South America.
What insight do you get from studying Luis Felipe Pondé’s work?
Luis Felipe Pondé is one of the greatest Brazilian philosophers today. He is a columnist and author of books that offer a more authentic view of history; different from the brainwashing we are exposed to from kindergarten that inebriates our perceptions. The Brazilian school does not offer a history of Brazil with real facts, it offers us a caricature in which we only have territory and paranoia. In addition to professors, they always caricature and distort the monarchy as fools without any intellectual primacy. Strange, because it was the same monarchy that brought all the modernity, libraries, industries, and the cultural advance that we had here. Our history told from the perspective of the military or the Marxists are full of inconsistencies and holes. I like Pondé because it confronts with documentation and good perspectives.
Our meeting and debate on the history of ideas, beliefs, dogmas and freedom of thought will be in November at the renowned Armando Alvares Penteado College and I believe it will be productive for the participants.
How much of an influence has PostHuman Tantra been for you regarding the Brazilian academic environment?
Talking about PostHuman Tantra is talking about the life and career of the musician and artist Edgar Franco, but also the achievements of the postdoctoral professor in the area of architecture and its wealth of publications and transmydiatic works. A mix of Timothy Leary and Trent Reznor, he explores his fictional universe of the post-human dawn and the consequences of extreme technology and its links to nature. Considering his countless works and academic publications, besides his own remarkable and original artistic production, we have a highly educated and practical thinker who should be better known everywhere.
Describe your involvement in Cine Fantasy. How long has this convention been held and what activities does it offer?
Cine Fantasy is a festival that promotes films, animations, celebrations, lectures, courses, honors, panels, and training focused on the seventh art for the Brazilian public, big names of the local segment, and invited countries. Each issue brings together more than 150 participating films. The event has been supported by our Rede Vamp and has existed since 2008. In 2011 we were invited to curate animations from the "Dark Little Tales" segment which featured animated short films with a slightly romantic footprint and somber endings. Here in Brazil, initiatives like Cine Fantasy are rare. Until at least halfway through the current decade we had only Fantas Poá in the Rio Grande do Sul and Cine Fantasy in São Paulo. Today the context has improved somewhat and more Brazilian states and cities have developed smaller festivals turned to fantastic cinema. For about four years I kept the regular Sarau Midnight Mysteries event and the Fantàstica Academy with partners in bookshops and bookstores in São Paulo that offered a closer approximation of the creators of the genre. These events brought together more than 150 people. Another initiative I support and participate in is Cine Phenomena. I am the master of ceremonies and present short lectures on the works of the fantastic exhibited there. Unfortunately, the last Cine Fantasy took place in 2016 and so far the producers and creators have not announced a new date. I'm hoping for them to return in 2018.
How long have you been involved with Cine Phenomena? How many people attend it each time it’s held?
I have supported Cine Phenomena since 2015 when I was invited by the organizers to talk about Dracula in history and in pop culture due to the success of my book "Vampyric Mysteries" by Madras Editora. The event began that same year if I remember correctly and happened at the famous MIS Museum Of Image And Sound of São Paulo. The space is known to have hosted exhibits on David Bowie to Tim Burton. Cine Phenomena has traveled through various facilities, its average audience is 100 people to 1000 people. I keep a video record of all my presentations.
How many viewers are subscribed to your Youtube channel? How aggressively do you promote your videos there?
Our YouTube channel has an average of 1800 subscribers and has been standing for more than eleven months except for sporadic videos. As we focus on generating well-developed author content, in addition to a good production we have a nice audience. In Brazil, Youtube is synonymous with clowning humorous most of the time. With what we do we are far from their ideal. But it is worth mentioning that there are great Youtubers of the alternative context who leave this model and who we admire enough. Rarely do we promote our channel; we only alert new videos on our social network pages and the Vamp Net of course. Secretly our channel on Youtube is a kind of a capsule of the memory of everything we do. In about ten years these memories and memories will be very valuable to us.
What is Vox Vampyrica? I gather it’s a radio broadcast on the internet. Who are the featured guests on the show?
Vox Vampyrica is a weekly radio program (web radio) broadcasted since 2006, initially a homemade podcast - the first of the Vamp, Goth, and Occultist genres we had in South America. As of 2010, it became a weekly show and I think we are the most traditional and uninterrupted program of the genre transmitted in this world. There have been over 300 issues where unreleased themes or that had the Vampire as a starting point were approached with the richness of research and density. Our guests were not so many but focused on occultists of respect of the Brazilian scene, local musicians and writers of terror and fantastic literature very well chosen. Since 2014 my beloved wife Xendra Sahjaza has become a co-host and we have concluded a contract with Antena Zero Broadcast, the main Brazilian web radio of rock and alternative music, occupying its Monday schedule called Dark Mondays. We try to offer regular podcasts of these broadcasts on our official website www.voxvampyrica.com. In the sound predominates the strands of Darkwave, Dark Electro, Synth, 80's, 90's and 21st Century Goth, Dark Pop, Dark Rock and movie soundtracks.
How many more listeners do you hope to reach now that Vox Vampyrica is being aired on Antena Zero Broadcast? Are there websites where your program can be streamed?
Vox Vampyrica has an average of 5000 listeners every Monday at midnight on the Antenna Zero Broadcast, which is a high number for a Brazilian program and a subject considered restricted. Webradio Marketing department loves us! It can be watched midnight every Monday at Antena Zero www.antenazero.com and its previous podcasts can be found on the official website of the program:
Are people outside of Brazil listening to Vox Vampyrica as far as you know?
Our program is broadcast in Portuguese so we know we have listeners in South America, Central America, Portugal, Madeira Island, and Angola. We know people who speak Portuguese in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan enjoy Vox Vampyrica. I imagine the music and setlists of Vox Vampyrica are universal. I have articles of my own translated in these countries; some even remember to quote the source and the author - which is good! After appearing with Vox Vampyrica in 2006 the initiative was honored and Vox came up in the American Vamp community but it seems they have already closed.
How much do you want to see the general public’s perception of vampires changed through your efforts and through the efforts of people you work with?
When I look at the last fifteen years in a less lively or enthusiastic way, at least nowadays we have an established community or at least a firm, continuous audience that supports publications, events and humanitarian actions like Vampires Day for a donation of blood or the Cultural Tour São Paulo Maldita or the Meeting Of The Tarot Of The Vampires that raises rations for dogs and cats abandoned of shelter. This helps us to offer a good force for the lives of all. This generated a more friendly relationship with the media and Brazilian television. It is not the ideal and will hardly be one day, but at least it offers a counterpoint to psychopaths mistakenly associated with vampires.
If I look more enthusiastically, we managed to stop City Hall of the largest Brazilian capital. There we had events that debated a macro context of the esoteric as professionals and workers, assuring their right and representation in times of religious persecution and fanaticism. We defend our right to come and go, collect cultural products, meet and get dressed as we wish. I think of our diverse participation with lectures on the Vampyrica Cosmovision in events of caliber and international reach such as the Mystic Fair, the largest fair of professionals and esoteric products in South America. At least eleven years we have participated in lectures, workshops and sometimes public rites in major conferences. In my lectures I have had in the audience great international pundits such as Rachel Pollack and Marcus Katz. Not to mention our ties of friendship and partnership with leading pagan leaders, Asatru and even Brazilian Freemasons and other discreet societies. I like to think at least in Brazil our Vampyrica spirituality is well represented and capable of being faced with crises.
Do you think vampires can be seen in less of a negative light in your lifetime?
I am realistic that what we are, what we represent, and what we do. I think we will never be accepted as aesthetics or philosophy and still less as spirituality because we deal with taboos and by extension the great totems of Western culture. Death, ruins, sexuality, sensuality, and the exploration of consciousness and thresholds of the vanguard. We can be consulted, heard, and even conquer more spaces, but we deal with the forbidden of the great religions, the underground and veiled accesses to the hidden ones for decisions of life. All this nourishes, instigates, provokes, and challenges us in many ways.
You see, we are not criminals of any kind. We despise sociopaths and people who hurt others because of illness or criminal impetus. We are not parasites, obsessers or saboteurs of others’ lives and we never will be. But we are those who find in the night, the dark and the stars the "Blood", the "Motto", the reason to be and to search for more. This will always make us strangers, lunatics and the margin of superficiality and conformity of the masses. But in a way this is good, we are happy and that is what we have today.
For all intents and purposes, I believe in immortality as leaving behind an aesthetic and philosophical legacy. In this sense, I currently publish Codex Strigoi that brings together eleven years of the arts, practices, ethos, rites, and philosophy of our discreet society called Circle Strigoi. I have published another one that has taken ten years of study, research, and Vampyric Mysteries The Art of Contemporary Vampyrism (which has sold more than 10,000 copies in Brazil). In December 2017/January / 2018 I will launch my new book "God Is A Dragon: Art And Craft Of The Vampyric Cosmovision". These books are already translated into English and I suspect they will be released in London in 2018 or 2019 at Rede Vamp. We have more than 800 articles and content generated by me and collaborators. I do not know what will be of all this in the future, but at present, they have generated a reality to be lived among so many people in Brazil, through you, and through many others in other countries. I'm glad all this is more of a bridge of a reality created and channeled by Goddess Rosemary Sahjaza in the '70s.