Those Who Have Gone Before – A Brief History Of The SAVA

The SAVA Executive Committee

Members of the SAVA Executive Committee are appointed by the Regent. The following are presently serving members of the SAVA Executive Committee:

  • Octarine Valur (Regent of the SAVA)
  • Kay Valur Valkir (Praetor to the Regent)
  • Lena Le Strange
  • Father Izak Havoc
  • Draygon Allesandro Sheppard
  • Lilith Draconia

Below is a brief history of the South African Vampyre Alliance (SAVA) giving a broad description of events and listing past leaders and prominent figures:

Background:

Events immediately preceding the establishment of the SA Vampyre Alliance (SAVA) is relevant to the establishment itself:

Up to 2009, there was no South African OVC (Online Vampire Community). The only South African VC group which is known to have existed prior to February 2010, was House of Havoc, based in Centurion, Gauteng (as of December 2009). Up to that time, any interested participants from SA had to find overseas groups to join and participate in, in the form of forums and later on the new type of social media such as Facebook. Even then, South African Vampyres were hard to find online. Reluctant to come out of the shadows, they continued to interact offline for a long time, and it is understood that many still do. It was only when Octarine Valur entered the international OVC in December 2009, that big things began to happen in the local VC in short order.

Valur founded House Valur in February 2010. In May of the same year, she started the Real Vampire Forum on Facebook to which she referred all the local VC participants she could find. It is there that the seeds of the South African Vampyre Alliance (SAVA) were planted, and the organization has been since its founding until today, for all intents and purposes, “THE” South African VC.

The SAVA was established on May 26, 2011 and initially adopted a traditional hierarchical membership and organizational structure based upon a blend of Eastern and Western (American) VC cultural norms. Following several reorganization efforts, the present compromise – a semi-corporate model – was adopted in August 2017.

Since 2012, the SAVA has officially been a Regency, headed by a Regent rather than by a monarch as is more prevalent in the VC – and ‘the Regency’ implies the entire SAVA membership and everything it represents.  The Regent is assisted by an adjutant or ‘vice’ member, who holds the appointment of Praetor.

SAVA History

For the newcomers to the SA Vampyre Community, it is natural that they should wonder who the people are who have participated, created and supported the SAVC over the years. It’s natural that they should hear about the SA Vampyre Alliance (SAVA) and then wonder how long it has existed and who built it. It’s natural that they may wonder what sort of events shaped it in the past to make it what it is today.

The South African Vampyre Alliance, better known as ‘SAVA’, was founded formally on May 26, 2011 after more than a year’s work by SA VC community founder Octarine Valur, spent interacting with the VC online, scouring the web for signs of local Vampyres. In 2010, she had gathered those she did find into the first SA VC group on Facbook, ‘Real Vampyres SA’, the group which would become the basis for SAVA.

SAVA history is better understood as categorized into 2 distinct periods with a significant overlap, which itself represents a 3rd period between the other two:

  • The High Council Period (May 26, 2011 –  Oct 8, 2012)
  • The Red Council Period (June 8, 2012 – Sept 19, 2012)
  • The Regency Period (June 8, 2012 – Present)

There is a significant overlap between these periods (June 12, 2012 – Oct 8 2012) in the time when SAVA acquired a Regent, until the demise of the last High Council. Between Oct 8, 2012 and Sept 19, 2013, there was a period during which the SAVA was controlled exclusively by the Regency group – the Regent and her 2 Praetors (called the ‘Red Council’). This span is called the “Red Council Period”.

During its history, the SAVA has had several forms of governance and unique governing bodies, including the High Council (2011 – 2012), the Shadow Senate (2013 – 2016), the Regency Group and the SAVA Executive Committee.

THE HIGH COUNCIL PERIOD (May 26, 2011 – October 8, 2012)

This is the period starting from the foundation of the SAVA on May 26, 2011, at which the organization was administered by the committee known as the High Council. Intended to consist of nine equal members, each holding the position of Magister and heading community-building attempts in each of the nine national provinces of South Africa – this group never reached the full theoretical compliment of nine Magisters. The reasons why the number was never attained are varied, but the chief reason is likely that some provinces were simply blanks on the SAVA’s radar of VC activity at the time. Nevertheless, the High Council persevered with three Magisters. The notion of following a democratic model was strong, and although the first High Council was self-formed from the volunteer founding members of the SAVA in three different provinces, the long-term goal was to reach a point where Magisters would be elected by other members of the SAVA. The SAVA however was a long way away from reaching membership numbers large enough to support such a system.

This goal of elected officials was achieved in October 2012, by which time the SAVA boasted full-time 48 members nationwide. The Third SAVA High Council was elected to power in the first ever SAVA Magisterial Election, in which a Magister as well as an assistant for each Magister (called “Secundi”) were elected from the same provinces.

The SAVA High Council (between May 26, 2011 – October 8, 2012)

  • Octarine Valur – Magister, Mintaka Halo (May 26, 2011 – June 8, 2012). (No Secundus available for candidacy.)
  • Nereo [Willow Geldenhuys] (May 5, 2011 – Feb 23, 2012) Vanessa P (Feb 23, 2012 – May 21, 2012) Samael Anathan (May 21, 2012 – Oct 8, 2012) – Magister, Gacrux Halo
  • Lamia Satanei [Kem SekhmetBa-en Aset] – Magister, Avior Halo
  • Jhenephyr Phoenix Liliam (Feb 23, 2012 – Jun 8, 2012) Kay Valkir Noctem (June 8, 2012 – Oct 8, 2012) – Magister, Ilyatha Halo
  • Jaco Lazarian von Draco Dravana (Feb 16, 2012 – Oct 8, 2012) – Magister, Zaurak Halo
  • Erostine Cruor Turais (May 6, 2012 – Oct 8, 2012) – Magister, Turais Halo

While most of the ground-work in laying the organizational and administrative foundations of the SAVA occurred during the early High Council period, this formative period was to be marked by unfortunate internal turmoil and drama. While the High Council began with just three Magisters, it gradually expanded to reach a maximum number of six Magisters by October 08, 2012.

Several catastrophic and highly politicized incidents at the close of 2012 led directly to the chaos that put the final nail in the coffin of the High Council, and very nearly the SAVA as well. To a degree, the internal dissent resulting from personal differences among some of the founders and newer members had already been brewing in the SAVA High Council for some time, and matters escalated shortly before the elections of October 2012. By the time the election realized, factionalization had already gradually developed within the SAVA, and especially between the Magisters.

The SAVA had been barely a month old when it became embroiled in an unexpected literal war waged against the local Vampyre Community by a hostile faction of Pagan separatists who viewed and treated all Pagans among them, or in their spiritual circles as either threatening, dangerous, or as lesser beings. For members of the SAVA and the local VC, the “Pagan-Vampyre Dispute” and the following “Pagan-Vampyre Conflict” marked the period between August 27 and September 19, 2011 with constant hostility, risk of actual physical violence, online hacking, bullying and public exposure. Although all open hostilities had ceased before the end of 2011 and mainstream Pagan leadership and community organizations had openly opposed what were essentially attacks conducted by religious fundamentalist Pagans, there were occasional flare-ups coming from the smaller, hostile faction. Unfortunately, this too was to result in some drama within the SAVA membership itself.

Although the SAVA had never been a religious body, and members were and always have been free to identify with any religion they wished, there were issues about which Pagan faction members held membership in. Perhaps in retrospect it was hubris for the High Council to demand that members not associate in any way with Pagan covens who formed part of the anti-Vampyre faction, but after all, it made no sense at the time why any Vampyre would wish to attend covens who were openly vocal about their vampophobia. At any rate, one faction of the SAVA had disregarded High Council instructions to not align itself with a hostile Pagan faction (the NPT). Members of another coven in Avior persisted in meeting with leaders of that vampophobic Pagan faction which was then actively hostile to the SAVA, and even engaged in discussions of mentorship despite admonitions to desist. Perhaps it was to be expected that since this faction had sympathizers in the High Council, this resulted in an ideological rift forming with the membership.

Additionally, there was dissatisfaction in the membership regarding the leadership of the SAVA – not so much the actions of the High Council, nor the way in which the High Council had conducted VC affairs during the Pagan-Vampyre Dispute/Conflict, but merely the perceived lack of democracy in choosing leaders. The first Magisters had been the first members of the SAVA willing to accept the responsibility of community-building in their areas, and any members who joined later and who were the first SAVA members in their provinces automatically became Magisters. While this was an imperfect method, it was the most effective choice available to the High Council in kick-starting the building of the local VC. It had always been the intention of the High Council to hold elections to choose SAVA’s leaders when the SAVA was able to conduct such a process, and the original time-frame for the first elections had been set at after five years of operation, due to practicalities such as anticipated small membership numbers. Despite the transparency with which the SAVA and the High Council had operated, and despite the fact that the intention to conduct elections was public knowledge at the time, the notion of appointed, un-elected leaders did not sit well with all. Malcontent began to spread within the SAVA, aided and abetted, it was suspected, by external forces, including SAVA’s enemies within the Pagan community. To make matters worse, after the Pagan-Vampyre Conflict of 2011, there were heightened tensions between the local VC, the SAVA and local Pagan groups, with the occasional outbreak of hysteria concerning possible energy or DOS attacks by these groups on SAVA members.

Since all Magisters on the High Council were of equal rank, decisions were typically arrived at as a committee, with debate and voting playing a major role in the decision-making process. At times there were ties in High Council votes, due to there being an even number of Magisters at the time. This in ability to break a dead-lock sometimes resulted in inaction. Undermining the High Council further throughout this period, some Magisters appeared to engage in ‘cock-fighting’ each other in public meetings, each trying to outshine the others, each trying to build their own little ‘kingdoms’ in their areas of responsibility as if they were doing it solely for themselves rather than for the community or the membership. Some Magisters only seemed to be interested in the prestige they acquired from being Magisters, while not being actually interested in doing much that was actually ‘magisterial’. Some reveled in the attention they got in the local VC for using the title of Magister, and spent a lot of time building a fan-base rather than living up to their responsibilities.

The SAVA and its High Council Halo management system led to a kind of political arena fraught with in-fighting and competition. Instead of building the SAVA and SA VC as a whole, Halos began competing against each other and against the common good, which hamstrung co-operation and hampered progress.

In contrast, some Magisters stood out among the crowd during those times. Octarine Valur, who had been the driving force behind the founding of the SAVA, was administrator of the SAVA’s social media groups and websites, and was well-connected with well-established and influential VC groups based in the USA, held a lot of influence and was perceived to be very powerful in the young SAVA, even though she held the position of Magister and was legally equal in status to the other Magisters. The Lady Octarine Valur however had been active in the international VC for a number of years as a community builder and had already built up an enviable reputation, which some members in the SAVA found intimidating and possibly led to jealousy. In February of 2012 for example, she was invited to become a member of the prestigious international VC body “Voices of the Vampire Community” (VVC), and her House (House Valur) became a member of the Dark Nations organization. These two organizations were at the time recognized as the two most influential and long-lived in the entire VC. Even as an equal, Valur already acted as an organizer and motivator within the SAVA, and effectively ran the show, and the other Magisters knew it. Even so, Valur remained humble and her management style was to give positive reinforcement to those members who worked to build the organization and the community. Gradually however, a feeling of resentment was built up within the SAVA by those who felt left out or less visible.

This rift within the SAVA was made even larger when some members moved to align the SAVA with a hostile Pagan group and essentially revolted when the High Council held on to a vote to not allow this. Those involved were expelled from the SAVA, but that was not to be the end of it – they formed an external and bitterly hostile entity of their own, and made their intentions to “bring down the SAVA” very clear. They embarked on a course of propaganda and misinformation against the SAVA and in particular, against Octarine Valur – who was portrayed as a merciless dictator. This Avior group still interacted for a time with the local VC on open groups run by SAVA, where they engaged in psy-ops in the pursuit of their goal to sabotage the SAVA, even after being removed from all SAVA controlled groups. This open hostility lasted well into 2013 before fading away – but sadly, the trouble in SAVA’s embattled High Council did not end there.

On June 8, 2012, matters took a turn for the worst when the Magister of Ilyatha attempted to secede her Halo from away from SAVA control along with all its members. Fortunately this attempt failed outright, and the former Magister was expelled from the SAVA, along with only two of her own coven members who had supported her mutiny. Following this event, the High Council and the SAVA itself was in crisis and uncertainty.

As owner and administrator of all SAVA’s online resources, Octarine Valur held all the keys. This gave her a very strong position to lay down the law within the SAVA should she ever choose to do so. It’s certainly true that she set out to create a fair, equal and democratically run community-based organization, and perhaps to her credit, she did not use her power within the SAVA until matters reached such a crisis-point. Considering the trend among other regional VC umbrella organizations, where the leader is hailed as a King or Queen, Octarine Valur chose instead to reorganize the SAVA into a Regency, with herself as Regent and absolute ruler of the SAVA.

After she created the position of Regent, becoming the first to hold this position on June 12, 2012, Octarine Valur, as Regent, made sweeping changes throughout the internal structures of the SAVA. Valur instituted the system of Praetorship, appointing two loyal personal assistants (Psion Valur De Nocte and Kay Valkir Noctem) to these positions. Together, these three formed a council of their own (the Red Council), which became the embodiment of the Regency of the SAVA, and which effectively controlled the organization by being able to override the High Council (which now acted like a kind of lower parliament) completely. This marked the end of the High Council era (in which the High Council had been autonomous), and the start of the Regency period. (This also marked the start of the brief period called ‘the Red Council Period’, in which the SAVA was run exclusively by the Regent and her two Praetors, ending on September 19, 2013 when the SAVA elected its first Senate.)

THE REGENCY PERIOD (June 8, 2012 – Present)

As Founder of the SAVA, Octarine Valur took the newly-created position of Regent to bring order to the High Council. June 12, 2012 denoted the beginning of the Regency Period in the history of the SAVA. When Valur assumed the position of Regent, she relinquished the position of Magister of Mintaka, which was assumed first by Gabrielle Draegan, and then by Vidal Ashtaroth.

The position of Regent was greater than that of any Magister, and acted as a tie-breaker in Council votes as well as having the power of veto. Regardless, any way one looks at the situation, Valur now held absolute control over the SAVA and everything within it.

Although some in various factions within the SAVA had vigorously encouraged her to take the title of ‘Queen’ – and although she undoubtedly had the power to do so at the time, this was not Valur’s personal goal, nor did it match her long-term ambitions for the SAVA. There were far too many (she felt) ‘tin-hat dictators’ in the VC at the time, calling themselves ‘king’ or ‘queen’ of their corners of the VC – with drama involving blood-wars over who would win the crown to match – for her to be at ease with that choice. She wanted to end drama, not to perpetuate it.

The following were the first members of the SAVA Regency group, known as ‘the Red Council’ which then operated in secret:

  • Octarine Valur [Regent of the SAVA] (June 8, 2012 – Present)
  • Psion Valur De Nocte [Praetor to the Regent] (June 8, 2012 – Dec 31, 2014)
  • Kay Valkir Noctem [Praetor to the Regent] (June 8, 2012 – Present)

Unsurprisingly, the outcome of these events did not sit well with some of the remaining Magisters, since it appeared very much to be a coup of sorts, and the early part of this period was marked by continued subterfuge, factionalization and the resulting exodus of several SAVA members. Trouble was brewing.

By August 2012, a campaign to discredit and remove Octarine Valur from the SAVA and the SAVC was uncovered, with at least one Magister being complicit and being found to be in direct and almost constant contact with the exiled members of the Avior group. On several occasions, members of the exiled Avior group resorted to public theatrics, openly accusing Octarine Valur of being a ‘dictator’. At the close of September 2012, a Magister was exposed by several of his colleagues for passing sensitive information to this group. The resulting drama threatened to send SAVA into a thermonuclear meltdown!

With member confidence in the High Council – and the SAVA’s ability to keep its members information confidential – in tatters, the Regent immediately suspended the High Council and announced elections to select a new elected High Council.

The Elected SAVA High Council (October 8, 2012 – November 15, 2012)

For all intents and purposes, the ‘third’ and final incarnation of the High Council represented a major step forward for the SAVA since it marked the moment when the High Council was elected by SAVA members, while the Magisters then also had the assistance of Secundi, who were also elected.

Magisters:

  • Circe Arcanum – Avior Halo
  • Jaco Lazarian von Draco Dravana – Zaurak Halo
  • Kay Valkir Noctem – Ilyatha Halo
  • Kitra Gabrielle Draegan Seymore – Mintaka Halo
  • Nox Kassapu – Atria Halo

Secundi:

  • Ahzek Ahriman – Ilyatha Halo
  • Vidal Astaroth – Mintaka Halo

Even as the election was being hailed as a big step forward, the last High Council of the SAVA did not perform as expected. Weeks went by with a tiny handful of members conducting any SAVA business at all, with the lion’s share being performed by Octarine Valur herself. By November it had become split down the middle and was wholly dysfunctional. SAVA was in serious trouble. By November 15, SAVA could have ceased to exist. It could easily have gone either way.

On November 15, 2012, the Regent disbanded the High Council, and resolved to govern the SAVA with the assistance of her two Praetors (personal assistants), until such time as the membership of the SAVA was perceived as ready to elect a new governing body. Together, the three – Regent and Praetors, publicly announced the Red Council, which managed the SAVA in trust effectively until the election of the first Shadow Senate on September 19, 2013.

THE SAVA SHADOW SENATE (September 19, 2013 –  August 15, 2017)

Despite the period during which the SAVA was run by the Red Council being peaceful and productive by comparison, many of the newer SAVA members expressed a desire to be more involved with the activities of the organization. Almost a year had passed since the turmoil of the dissolution of the last High Council, and the Red Council reached an agreement that it might be time to reopen administration to the broader membership. Instead of returning to the High Council model, a new, friendlier-sounding democratic alternative was offered. With the introduction of the Shadow Senate in September 2013, the SAVA effectively reverted to management by its membership. Senators were chosen by a process by which they were nominated as candidates for the election and were given a period to woo votes from other members, before the election itself took place, although the process was administratively the same as that used previously for the last elected High Council.

The Senate worked together with the Regency group (previously the Red Council) which consisted of the Regent, two Praetors to the Regent (personal assistants) who had the power to act in her stead should the occasion demand, and a Secretary to the Regency. All four members had the right to vote in the Senate, giving the Regency a possible 4 votes in opposition to 5 in the Senate. The Regent retained all the same rights as laid out in 2012, giving her the right of veto no matter what the Senate vote outcome. To her credit however, the Regent never used that right.

The following members served in the SAVA Regency as of June 8, 2012:

Regent of the SAVA:

  • Octarine Valur (June 8, 2012 – Present)

Praetor to the Regent:

  • Psion Valur De Nocte (June 8, 2012 – Dec 31, 2014)
  • Kay Valkir Noctem (June 8, 2012 – Present)
  • Lunah Valur Eir (Jan 4, 2015 – 2016)

Secretary to the Regency:

  • Lunah Valur Eir (Jun 5, 2013 – Jan 4, 2015)
  • Serephim Lena Karayan (Jan 4, 2015 – 2016)

The following members of the SAVA previously served as Senators of the Shadow Senate:

Session 1 (Sep 19, 2013 – Mar 18, 2014):

  • Jaco Lazarian von Draco Dravana
  • Jezebel Strigoi
  • Kitra Gabriele Draegan Seymore
  • Samael Anathan
  • Serephim Lena Karayan

Session 2 (Mar 18, 2014 – Jan 4, 2015):

  • Dagan Nightalon
  • Jezebel Strigoi-Saet Khefer (Mar 18, 2014 – Jun , 2014)
  • Danae Valur Draco [Nadine My-Addiction]
  • Octavius Drake (Mar 18, 2014 – Dec 30, 2014)
  • Serephim Lena Karayan

Session 3 (Jan 21, 2015 – 2016)

  • Cian Ashling
  • Dagan Nightalon
  • Nox Kassapu Rakoczy
  • Nyx Louloudi
  • Wulfric Grey

THE SAVA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (August 15, 2017 – present)

The institution of this committee marked a turning point in SAVA’s affairs, and a departure from the largely foreign culturally norms prevalent in some parts of the VC. By 2017 it became obvious that a change of strategy was needed. Previously the SAVA’s efforts were put towards creating and building a local VC – which by that time had pretty much already been accomplished. SAVA had to realign itself and move towards adopting a caretaker role, becoming a self-contained council of representatives of the South African VC – a body more in line with the role of a traditional leader, rather than trying to govern it.

Members of the SAVA Executive Committee:

  • Octarine Valur (Regent of the SAVA) – (August 15, 2017 – present)
  • Kay Valur Valkir (Praetor to the Regent)
  • Lena Le Strange – (August 15, 2017 – present)
  • Father Izak Havoc – (August 15, 2017 – present)
  • Draygon Allesandro Sheppard – (August 15, 2017 – present)
  • Lilith Draconia – (August 15, 2017 – present)
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