Beyond Humanity: House Kheperu Gather 2014 Presentation

See the presentation slideshow text here.

Resources and Further Reading:

  • O. Scribner’s Non-Fiction Writings: Three extensive projects in .pdf form by O. Scribner: a comprehensive history of the otherkin community, a directory of otherkin and therian writings, and a book-list.
  • Project Shift: A therianthropy information and resource site. Also check out their Resources page for links to other useful sites and some forum communities.
  • Beyond Awakening: A blog about otherkin and therianthropy. Infrequently updated, but the archives are worthwhile reading.
  • Wiki/FAQ: A somewhat out-of-date but still fairly relevant and informative wiki/FAQ on otherkin. The other Articles on may also be of interest.

Active Forums:

Referenced in Presentation:

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Not Completely Human: The Online Life of Therians and Otherkin

AkhilaThis is the translation of an article by Olivier Clairouin published in May 2014 in the French newspaper “Le Monde“. I, Akhila, am not the author of the original text. I stayed faithful to the original at the expense of style. I translated the awkwardness of the text as is; I did not seek to improve the article. Thanks to Dinictis and Khamaseen for proofreading.

On blogs and forums, thousands of them gather around one certainty: half human, half dragon, elves or… rabbits, they were born in the wrong body.

Since kindergarten, Camille* has known this: she’s not entirely human, she’s otherkin. Like many others, she’s had a strong feeling that a part of herself came from a fantastical creature such as an angel, an elf, or, in her case, a phoenix.

Morticia is a therian. She’s never felt comfortable in her human skin and she firmly believes a part of her is animal: “I don’t necessarily think I’m an animal deep-down, but I don’t think I’m completely human either”, she explains. She confides that she feels much closer to rats than to her human peers: “I growl, I bite, I munch food like a dog would”.

Teenage craze? Not necessarily. Camille is 39 and works as a government employee in the French administration. Morticia is 23 and a management assistant for an American NGO. Although most otherkin and therians on forums mention ages roughly between 15 and 24, it seems that all age ranges are involved.

Old Communities

La série « Animporphs », populaire à la fin des années 1990. | Scholastic

Popular series « Animorphs » from the late 90’s. | Scholastic

It must be noted that otherkin didn’t wait for Animorphs or the vampire fad in movies to see the light of day. Purportedly, the concept appeared in 1972 when the first elf groups were born (Elf Queen’s Daughters, the Silver Elves) and the term itself became popular in the 90’s with the creation of the first mailing lists that gathered elf-identified individuals (elfkin) and other creatures as well.

In 1993 the first place of exchange for therians was created, followed one year later by a website catering specifically to people close to dragons, dragonkins. (All of these dates and references can be found in a “timeline” developed by some members of the otherkin community.)

Nowadays, one can dig around and find a good number of blogs (such as here, here, or here), dozens of mailing lists, chats, forums (WulfHowl, OtherkinFellowship, The Werelist), encyclopedias (AnotherWiki), and even physical gatherings. Although noticeably smaller than its American counterpart, the French community still has some meeting points such as the Howl of Silver Wings forums, the therian and otherkin forum for French-speakers, or the Château Blanc.

All testimonies agree on one thing: Internet played an essential role for every therian and otherkin, giving them the possibility to get in touch with people who experienced the same “feelings” and allowing them to put a label on these. Many posts and guides can be found to help internet users narrow down their research and define what their “theriotype” or “kintype” is exactly.

24 year old wolf-woman Amy explains through e-mail:

“As cliché as it may sound, I’ve always felt “weird” or “different” from others. I stumbled upon a forum where members discussed otherkin and similar topics. I felt a very strong connection to others when I read their experiences.”

Same story for Morticia for whom “Internet played a great role in these influences. I spend most of my free time online, immersing myself in various subcultures, in the furry fandom [community for fans of anthropomorphic animals] as much as among the therian communities”, she claims.

In spite of the overwhelming dominance of wolves and dragons in the field of alternative personalities, a great many species are represented within the community, and sometimes coexist inside the same individual – each of which, a possible reflection of a former life. As an example, an internet user on this forum claims to be a wolf, a demon, and a samurai all at once.

So be it. But how does it manifest itself exactly?

 Shifts, Telepathy and “Astral Travels”

In an article from 2001 about an elfkin group, Village Voice understood the phenomenon as a direct offshoot of the 80’s New Age movement. The interpretation is shared by Danielle Kirby, one of the rare sociologists – if not the only one – who has addressed the topic. In a 2006 essay available online, this researcher from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology draws a parallel between the convictions of therians and otherkin and a form of neopagan belief:

“As an interim classification, the Otherkin fit broadly

within the ideas encapsulated by the neo-pagan movement and

religions of re-enchantment, although it needs to be stressed

that such a classification is only general. To construe this group

as specifically neo-pagan or techno-pagan obscures the focus of

the participants. The Otherkin’s relationship to paganism should

be seen in terms of a shared body of knowledge rather than of

similar intentions or practices, although individual participants

may or may not adhere to some form of pagan belief.”

As outlined by Danielle Kirby, there is no rite or practice common to otherkin, properly speaking, as the focus is much more on personal experience. However there is the shared belief in a number of things such as reincarnation, astral travel, “shifts”, auras, or telepathy.

Herolie, a 25 year old French person who identifies as a winged unicorn (and who introduced herself as an indigo child – a person with particular psychic or mental powers -, which illustrates the New Age legacy), claims she could envision her second nature through astral travel, a sort of trance where she could see the animal she was in a past life. “Travel” being considered out-of-body experiences, she explains on a webpage where she answers the questions of visitors.

In a post published in November 2011, a woman under the name “BellaDona Saberhagen” presented herself as a former otherkin and detailed how one of her dragon friends had to regularly consult a shaman to “clean up” his aura which would “get dirty” over time, especially after tough times like romantic break-ups.

Camille, our 39 year old phoenix-woman, says she can use a form of telepathy. When asked how the gift manifests itself concretely, she explains:

“It’s very different from what you’d imagine from movies. You don’t hear voices (good thing, that would freak me out!), but you perceive emotions and feelings […]. There are other peculiarities for which I lack a term: I can guess how movies end, how books end, I can figure the outcome of a situation.”

Concerning “shifts”, specific moments where human nature is subservient to the “kin” (the other nature), many testimonies can be found about this experience, as well as numerous attempts to establish a typology. Azraël, 18 year old French vampire approached on a forum for French-speakers, describes them as such:

“In my case, it involves better senses and reactivity to my environment (what one may call “sensory shift”), phantom limbs (similar to that of an amputee), a very sharp instinct (such as an animal’s, a predator for me), and sometimes what is commonly referred to in the vampire community as “the thirst” (of blood). Regarding phantom limbs, in my case it is of course longer canine teeth (well, I’m a vampire after all) and more powerful limbs, sometimes claws even.”

Without going as far as necessarily believing in astral travel and the paranormal, most otherkin and therians claim they experience more or less regularly the concrete expression of their alter ego, which sometimes make conventional social relationships difficult. “Taking a crowded subway train during rush hour can be a real pain”, Azraël reveals.

feel_badIn a message from her blog, a therian recounts how she lost her first job in 2008 because of an unvoluntarily “shift” in the middle of the store she worked at.

If some research is enough to be aware of the number of people following a similar spiritual quest, a part of the community that doesn’t agree much or at all with this mystical version of their situation, and prefers a more psychological explanation, can just as easily be found.

This is the case for people like Twigo (a badger), or Azzio, a young person from Montpellier with an owl and jackal as theriotypes. On her blog, she analyzes with apparent lucidity the origins of her identification to these two animals:

“Therianthropy, animal identity, to me, is pure and simple psychology. A psychological abnormality. I’m not saying it should be cured, I’m not saying it should be eliminated. It’s a support in life, a personal way to hide, to protect oneself, to live fully.”

And, further:

“Then, about shifts or ‘fluctuations in animality’ (in that the animal becomes more present), I think it is more closely related to certain episodes of some people with Asperger’s. To me, in any case, it involves a rejection of any physical or tactile stimulation, an inability to express myself properly, and a propensity for growling, hissing, and talking gibberish.”

Here therianthropy appears not as an excuse but as a way to deal with certain difficulties in social relationships, some kind of defense arsenal to facilitate self-acceptance and as a way to distinguish oneself. There is no mystical dimension taken into account.

As a 2012 Gawker article explained before (this view is also shared by Danielle Kirby), the concept of otherkin and its derivatives now cover a much larger range of interpretations than at the origins of the movement, with noticeable influence from LGBT rhetorics. “I don’t feel comfortable with the earthly body life/society gave to me, please respect my identity, be it a wolf, an alien or an elf”. This is in essence the argument to be found here and there online.

It is not coincidental if one encounters the terms “species dysphoria“, taken directly from “gender dysphoria”: just like there are people who find their sexual parts and gender do not fit who they really are, there also are individuals who are uncomfortable with their species. These individuals, especially in France, would prefer the term “transspecies” rather than “therian”, as if to relate closer to gender issues and move away from any mystical legacies.

Thus, Morticia considers herself “genderfluid”, while Azzio claims to be androgynous. Her voice betraying her young age, the latter explains in a breakneck pace that, for her, species and gender issues are “inseparable, because I know the thing [in her case, a trauma] that caused a lack of identification with my gender also resulted in not identifying with my species”, which reflects what she wrote on her blog:

“I feel bad because I don’t have a penis. But I also feel bad because I don’t have a tail.”

The most ridiculed group on the Internet?

The troll is also part-human. | National Library of Norway.

The troll is also part-human. | National Library of Norway.

Fertile ground for bringing the most diverse communities together, Internet is also a catalyst for criticism and troll epidemics, that finds the otherkin and therian communities to be easy prey. Considered by many as a hobby for teenagers who long for recognition, putting forward one’s membership to one of these communities is often subject to ridicule (for example, by displaying one’s deep sense of identification as a bread loaf); it sometimes triggers never-ending hateful disputes (as can be seen in the hundreds of comments under that video) riddled with Godwin points.

Similarly, in May 2012 three teens admitted hiding behind the Tumblr “Prince-Koyangi” for months (the blog’s content has since been deleted) presenting as a “demiromantic asexual autistic transasiatic cat”. The partners in crime claim they created this otherkin parody to draw attention to the absurdity of this community and how its demands weaken those of other groups, like the LGBT community, by belittling their arguments when otherkin put themselves on equal footing with them.

Whatever one might think of this antagonism, it has the merit of attracting attention to one of the main characteristics of these communities – otherkin, therian, transspecies or other – in that they are distinguished by a blurring that allows each and everyone to take for themselves the terms and blend into a subcommunity that agrees with the form of one’s feelings and beliefs. Otherkin define themselves in relation to transsexuals or fursuiters, therians in relation to otherkin, transspecies in relation to therians, etc.

 “With such personal and specific ideas, there may be important variations in the way people understand these terms and a personal investment that is therefore just as important”, explains Danielle Kirby. With their fuzzy outlines, these communities have an undisputable advantage: enabling these individuals who feel different to support each other and share their experiences, without impeding their ability to claim their own uniqueness.


* Names have been changed.

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On the appropriation of trans* narratives by therianthropes

Akhila Edit as of  Summer 2014: this articles revolves around the use by therianthropes of terminology that parallels their experience of animal identity with that of gender identity.

I originally posted it in full here on Beyond Awakening, but a year later I noticed that people credited the article to “Beyond Awakening” instead of crediting me as the author, and most consistently ignored the original website on which it was posted even though it provides a lot of context for the writing (such as the other texts that led to the making of this final essay).

Read the article in full here: I’m not deleting this post so that other can still leave comment about the article here, and to avoid broken links.

– Akhila

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30 Days of Otherkin Challenge List

Thanks to a suggestion from House Hesson, I thought I’d post a list of public blogs that are filling out the 30 Days of Otherkin challenge. If you’re doing this challenge and you’d like to be on this list, please comment with a link and I’ll add your blog.

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Calls for Submissions

There are a few different projects happening in the otherkin/therian/etc community right now, all looking for submissions. I thought I’d gather them in one post. If there are any other projects looking for submissions that aren’t listed here, please comment so I can add them.

New projects:

Under the Skin: Therian Community Voices

We are looking for essays from therians to be included in a publication, tentatively titled Under the Skin: Therian Community Voices. The goal of this project is to compile written works by therians or animalistic otherkin which describe their experiences with therianthropy/animality.

If you have essays, stories, or poetry about your animality, or on topics such as shifting, phantom limbs, discovering your theriotype, species dysphoria, or anything else pertaining to your therianthropy, please consider submitting them for this publication.

Nominations are also welcome if there is an essay or poem written by someone else which you would like to suggest to us to potentially include in this work.

Submission requirements:

  • The topic of the work must pertain to therianthropy or experiences of animality from therians and otherkin.
  • The work should be creative and original; consider what makes this experience unique to you, as we want to share a wide variety of experiences and voices.
  • The work must be completed to a relatively polished degree. Please check for grammar, spelling and continuity. If you have a learning difference or if English is not your first language, or if for any other reason you need assistance bringing your writing to a higher level of craft, contact us – we can help.
  • Works of up to 5,000 words in length will be accepted.
  • The author must be available to be contacted for copy-editing.
  • You may submit as many works as you wish; however, only two pieces per person will be selected for inclusion.
  • Please list an author name you would like to go by for your accepted submissions.
  • The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2013.

To submit your work or someone else’s, or to ask any questions about this project, please email it to, or post to the “Under the Skin” subforum in the “Werelist Media Center” section of the Werelist forums, making a new thread for each submission.

Radiant Obscurities

In essence, the intent of Radiant Obscurities is to gather a variety of writings from therians and non-therian otherkin that focus on aspects of “being animal” (whether the animal is extant, extinct, Earth-based, otherworldly, fictional, etc.) but are of animal/animal-like or creature types that are relatively uncommon in the therianthropy and otherkin communities. It’s easier to state what creature types won’t (at least likely at this time) be included on the site: canines, felines, and avians are the main ones due to the commonality of canine and feline theriotypes, and avians due to the existence of the wonderful “Birds of a Feather” site that hosts writings about bird and feather-winged therians and ‘kin (I thus encourage avian writings to be submitted there instead). Dragon’kin are rather common, however, dragon is such a huge umbrella term, I am apt to potentially include some kinds of “dragon’kin” writing on Radiant Obscurities (RO), more particularly if they are kinds of dragons or dragon-like creatures that are generally uncommon or rare amongst the otherkin and therian communities (aquatic dragons are one example I can think of right now).

Kinds of writing accepted can be essays, articles, poetry or poetic-prose, and likely some short stories or fictional writing may end up on there if they fit the desired subject matter for the project.

It can be rather difficult to find writings by uncommon therio-/’kintypes, with many of them being scattered widely (and thus not a more convenient way of browsing them by relative creature-type categories, especially in a singular site), and some people only make one or two writings about their uncommon ‘type(s) and may only end up posting them on a forum, journal, or other personal blog.  I would like to help people be able to find writings more easily about ‘kintypes like: aquatics, invertebrates, ungulates, non-feline/non-canine Carnivorans, bats, rodents, reptiles and amphibians, ‘uncommon’ mythical, fictional, and otherworldy/other-realm animal-like creatures.  My aim is for this to be an interesting, helpful, and valuable resource in the otherkin and therianthropy communities for any and all who are curious to read “being animal” writings from [insert uncommon ‘types], and to hopefully help those of certain therio-/’kintype categories to better find writings on creatures similar to or the same as their kind.

2013 Therian Census: A rough demographic survey of the therian community. Review last year’s results here.

Other projects that have been up for a while but are continuously seeking submissions:

Project Shift

Project Shift is an information and resource site, aimed at providing the public with up-to-date information on therianthropy and the therianthropic community. There is plenty of scattered writing on the topic of therianthropy, and plenty of basic ‘What is Therianthropy?’ articles, but thorough resources are uncommon, and Project Shift intends to fill that niche, to help new therians and people interested in therianthropy better understand what it is. We are both an ongoing project and a community effort, and we welcome new ideas and contributions.

Birds of a Feather

If you’re a bird or identify as a bird in some way, and you’ve written something about the subject that you’d like to share with other bird-people, you found the right place! If you don’t have writings of your own, you can still help us by suggesting links to add to the various resources and articles pages.

Yes, we also accept submissions if you’re an extinct bird or bird-like dinosaur, a part-bird therian, or a gryphon, tengu, phoenix otherkin and such as – you are just as welcome as any other avian person.

We welcome everything relevant to avian identity and experiences: musings, essays, poetry, reviews of the books/websites/movies you’ve seen, tales you’d like to share, or even your own “UPG” myths and stories. Want to compile a specific information page for your type of creature? Go ahead! Want to write a critical commentary of your favorite fictional bird character? Just do it!

This place is a constant Work In Progress so the actual content is not exhaustive. Anything relevant or helpful for bird-folks can fit in this project. If you have a writing to share here, just contact Tsu, Meirya… or just any of the contributors really, and send them your writing. They’ll post it and indicate your name, link back to your website if you have one and add any information you deem important.

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30 Days of Otherkin Challenge

I wanted some prompts for writing about otherkin, but the original 30 Day Non-Human Challenge was not open-ended enough of a prompt series for my tastes. I decided to make my own, modeled in style more closely after the 30 Days of Paganism meme. Feel free to modify and adjust the below to your heart’s content. I’ll be completing this challenge over on Tumblr.

30 Days of Otherkin

  1. Identity: Current
  2. Identity: History/development
  3. Identity: How/why you are otherkin
  4. Identity: Other aspects of your identity (in addition to/besides your otherkin identity)
  5. Identity: Doubts
  6. Kintype(s): Facts and fiction
  7. Kintype(s) Interactions (with your kintype or with others of the same kintype as you)
  8. Kintype(s): Mythology, legends, lore
  9. Kintype(s): What’s it like to be your kintype?
  10. Kintype(s): Common misconceptions
  11. Community: Online
  12. Community: Offline
  13. Community: Family
  14. Community: Friends
  15. Community: Significant others
  16. Being otherkin: Challenges
  17. Being otherkin: Shifting (or lack thereof)
  18. Being otherkin: Reincarnation and past-life memories (or lack thereof, or [non-]beliefs about reincarnation)
  19. Being otherkin: Experiences (descriptions and stories of an experience or experiences relating to your otherkin nature/identity)
  20. Being otherkin: Expressing your other-ness
  21. Being otherkin: Psychological/mental/emotional factors
  22. Being otherkin: Energetic factors (Alternatively: Movement and physicality)
  23. Being otherkin: Value and meaning (regarding or derived from your otherkin identity)
  24. Your spirituality (Alternatively, for athiests/etc: Practices that nourish your psyche/mind/heart)
  25. Does your otherkin identity influence your spirituality (or psyche-nourishing practices)? How?
  26. Fiction, media, and/or music that is meaningful to you as otherkin.
  27. Advice for someone just Awakening.
  28. A topic you wish was discussed more often among otherkin.
  29. One misconception about otherkin you’d like to clear up.
  30. A question you’d like to ask the otherkin community.
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Finding a Therapist

Many people I’ve spoken to within the otherkin, pagan, and other alternative communities are skittish about seeing a therapist. They’re afraid of being misdiagnosed due to their beliefs, practices, or identities. They don’t want to be stigmatized, and they don’t want someone to try and “fix” their beliefs or identity.

These are legitimate concerns. But sometimes a therapist is necessary or extremely helpful, and there are measures you can take to mitigate such potential issues.

Please note that I’m writing this from the point of view and the experience of someone in the United States. Techniques, precautions, and logistics may vary based on location. If you have any tips for finding a therapist in your region, please add it to the comments!

Finding a Therapist

  • Directories such as Psychology Today‘s can be valuable in locating therapists in your area. I particularly like Psychology Today’s because you can search by specialty, insurance, and therapeutic orientation.
  • If you are comfortable doing so, ask other people in your local alternative community for recommendations. They may know a therapist who is aware of and friendly to alternative lifestyles and minority beliefs.
  • If you are in college, it’s very likely that your university has free counseling. A lot of the counselors may be graduate psychology students on their internship, or recent graduates still getting their supervision hours, so they will be less experienced, but may be fairly open to education as a result. Tell the counseling office that you need someone who is GLBT and Pagan friendly.
  • Look for therapists who are GLBT-friendly or who work frequently with GLBT clients. This is not because you are GLBT – you may be straight for all I know – but because someone who works with GLBT clients is likely to already have been exposed to alternative spiritualities such as Paganism, and alternative lifestyles such as kink and polyamory. They will thus likely be more open to other alternative identities, and better equipped to deal with the cultural and personal issues that come with such.
  • If you do not have insurance, look for therapists who provide sliding-scale or income-based services. This will narrow your options considerably, but you should still be able to find someone suitable.

Your First Session

  • Most therapists offer a free consultation. If they don’t automatically offer you one, ask about it. It may just be over the phone, or it may be an initial session. Either way, make sure you do this! This is your opportunity to interview the therapist, and it is their opportunity to evaluate if they feel they can provide you with adequate services for your needs.
  • Remember: you are hiring the therapist. You can walk away at any time, and you can shop around. Make sure they’re a good fit. Interview multiple counselors if needed. Find one you feel comfortable with. If you can’t open up to your therapist, you won’t get much out of your sessions, and so you’ll be paying for something that isn’t working. Don’t be afraid to hunt around until you find a counselor who is a good fit!
  • Bring materials on your relevant communities, identities, and beliefs to the first session. Most therapists have never heard of otherkin; if you feel that you need to talk about your otherkin identity in therapy (which you may not need to; I’ve had plenty of productive therapy sessions and never talked about identifying as avian), bring good, solid information on the subject to give to the therapists. All the counselors I’ve spoken with are open to education, and if you don’t educate them, they’ll probably go researching the subject on their own – and there’s a lot of bad information out there on otherkin. Do yourself a favor and provide information that represents you. (This also goes for Pagans, polyamorous people, folks in the BDSM community, etc.) If the therapist is dismissive or not receptive to education, find a different therapist.
  • Many (though not all) therapists will collect demographics in the first session. They will probably ask you about your history, any previous physical or psychological diagnoses, and your current life circumstances. This is a standard procedure; the therapist is acquiring context on your situation. They will also want to know what you’re coming to them for, of course. Do you need help with depression? Relationship issues? Grief counseling? Identity crises? Depending on the therapist’s modality, they may suggest running some tests, usually either a series of questions administered verbally or a long list of questions in paper form.

Keep in Mind…

  • Clarify what the privacy policies are in your region. In the United States, HIPPA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is the standard national privacy set of regulations around medical information. It’s why you get a printout to read and sign whenever you visit a new medical professional. There may be additional regulations depending on your state. Essentially, though, a therapist cannot share any information about you with anyone – not even your parents if you are a minor – unless they have reasonable cause to believe you are a direct, immediate threat to yourself or others. At that point, they are required by law to act for your protection, and may disclose that they believe you are a threat to self/others. Even then, though, they cannot disclose additional information about you. If you are a minor, the therapist is additionally required to report (in the USA) if there is an external threat to your personal safety (i.e., if you are being abused in any way). I’m not sure of regulations in other countries. Research the privacy requirements in your region or ask your counselor about them.
  • You are not going to be hospitalized for having non-mainstream beliefs. I so often see otherkin on forums fretting about getting “locked up” for being “crazy”. This is not going to happen in the United States (I can’t speak for other countries, as I don’t know their regulations as well). First, if you are a minor, it is not an easy thing to get you admitted to inpatient hospitalization; there are limited beds, and you have to be a serious and immediate threat to yourself or others, the intake staff have to have reasonable cause to believe you’re a threat to yourself or others, and they have to have the space available for you. If you’re an adult, there are more beds available if you can pay for them, but that’s only if you admit yourself consensually. To admit an adult into hospitalization against their will requires a medical hold, which requires them to be an immediate and serious threat to themselves or others, and it is very difficult to get a medical hold on an adult for longer than 24-36 hours. The ease or difficulty of this varies by region even within the United States, of course, but you are still not going to be hospitalized merely for identifying as otherkin.
    Now, if you say you’re planning to kill people because you’re a demon and you think it’s your duty, or because you’re a wolf and you can’t control your bloodthirsty rages, that’s another matter entirely – you now fall into the “danger to others” category. It’s not because of your otherkin identity, though; it’s because you are seeking to hurt other people.
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Community Building: Unmet Needs

There’s a fascinating, fantastic thing happening on Werelist right now. They’ve started a subforum called The Barn Raising for supporting development of additional therian sites and resources. There’s a brainstorming thread for identifying unmet needs in the community which has already generated some interesting ideas and possible solutions for those ideas.

Let’s expand this to the broader otherkin community. What needs aren’t being met in the ‘kin community as a whole? What have you always wanted to see as a resource for otherkin? Maybe it already exists, or maybe someone else out there would be happy to help create that resource.

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Link Roundup

Some nifty things happening around the ‘kin community online:

  • Birds of a Feather: A resource by and for bird-folk. There’s a lot worth reading there even if you aren’t a bird-person, but if you are, feel free to contribute! There are essays, poems, and resources on everything from swans and ravens to tengu and phoenix. If you prefer to follow it on Dreamwidth, there’s a feed for that here.
  • THETA: Therianthropy Education and Therapeutic Alliance. New and still under development in some areas, it’s a site geared towards educating mental health professionals on therianthropy and otherkin.
  • The Kin Cast: A podcast hosted on YouTube about otherkin-related topics.
  • TheriKiNexus YouTube Channel: YouTube videos from a variety of otherkin. They also have a website for organizational purposes.
  • Oceanic Instincts: A WordPress blog by Elinox, a wolf/mer-person.
  • Beneath the Skin: Writings on animal spirituality by a wolf/jaguar therian.
  • Within the Ruins Between Forest and Sea: Essays on otherkin, multiplicity, and spirituality by a multiple system.

Are there any new (in the past few months) sites, blogs, articles, or projects that I haven’t listed here? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add them!

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The Wings, the Sky and the Bird

[X-posted from Birds of a Feather]

human bodies are

temples for the human soul

cages for the birds

(swanblood, Nonhuman Haiku)

I find this haiku beautiful, and at the same time I feel conflicted. I wonder: is it really so? if some bird-people don’t exactly feel trapped in their human body, would it mean to others that they aren’t real birds? I have the experience and self-confidence to know better, to not let others’ words alienate or diminish who and what I am. I know this isn’t easy for everyone though, which is why I do not like making too definite statements about identities.

I used to be different, but I like to think I changed for the best. It’s okay if someone’s experience of being raven or clouded leopard isn’t exactly like mine, it does not mean they aren’t valid experiences. It only means that I don’t relate to them. And vice versa – it isn’t because one’s experience of being bird or feline differs from the norm that their therianthropy is unvalid.

I remember a recent quote from the nonhumanlibrary:

“Jack London writes amazingly vivid descriptions of Nature in all of his books, my favourite being The Call of the Wild.

Which is, naturally, a call that all of us feel, hm?”

Although it probably wasn’t the poster’s intent, such statements, as timid as they may be, end up restricting what it’s like being a “therian” or “otherkin”, excluding a category of individuals altogether.

What about people who identify as domestic animals or others folks who don’t feel such a “call”? Invisible, forgotten. And invariably I wonder “what even IS being wild?”. Is it living remote from human spaces? What about birds who live in urban settings but don’t let people approach them? What about common ravens, who can be extremely shy in the wild and extremely tame right after they get caught? Or is it about a lack of socialization? But animals such as ravens and wolves have social rules of their own.

More and more, I tend to think of “wild” as a human qualificative for everything they want to distinguish themselves from as humans, just like “animality”. It’s not something that exists on its own, it only exists in relation to humanity’s standards, in human heads, to set them appart from other animals or from the animals they can control. Beside, wouldn’t it be a bit appropriative to define oneself as “wild” – I’ve seen such a claim, that animal-folks must be “wilder” than non-therians – when they grew up with a roof above their head and many of the commodities human folks can access?

I think “wild” is merely a bad substitute for something else, like the feeling one does not belong with most human groups, or that one feels out of place in urban spaces, and such as. I understand the homesickness of someplace alien to “civilization” (another anthropocentric and ethnocentric concept). I understand the aches. Supporting a misconception is one thing, essentialism is another. I feel it can be harmful to imply that “all of us [who are therians] experience the Call of the Wild, naturally“. Because it isn’t true.

Animal-folks who are still questioning may be misled to deny who they are because they can’t find any statement that doesn’t erase their own experience. Just like “shifting” used to be mandatory to be a legit “were” in the past, many animal-people seem to have difficulties to depart themselves from an idealized version of what is supposedly “being animal”. By suggesting that this call is an experience common to all animal-folks, it translates as “if you don’t experience it, you’re not an animal-person”. Or alternatively, that you aren’t as much as others, ie. you’re a sub-therian.

I feel conflicted about some things I read from other avian-people, such as the yearning for the sky and flight. On one hand, I feel that I should be able to fly; there’s the phantom wings of course, and some undescribable sensations. On the other hand though, it does not define “bird” to me, and I don’t like it when other people reduce “being a bird” to “flight”. That’s why I’ve said little on the subject; I don’t like putting the emphasis on that part of my raven experiences.

Judgemental people might say that I’m not a bird as much as others, or that it’s because I’m also a feline – a flightless animal – and that it means I’m not a “pure” bird. In reality, there is more to “raven” than just the clouds and wind. This isn’t just about my experience, either. Many birds are primarily ground-dwelling, such a pheasants and other galliformes. Additionally, there are many birds that do not fly at all. From emus to penguins, from cassowaries to rheas, including some grebes and cormorants, these doesn’t even include the plethora of extinct birds and prehistoric relatives that were only or mostly terrestrial, such as terror birds.

Not all bird creatures belong to the sky, in part or in whole. Not all animal-people are “wild” animals nor feel trapped in a human body. It doesn’t make us less *anything* than others. It’s not that I don’t want to hear about the sky, it’s just I also wish there would be more talking about the rest.

First of all what I feel is “avian”
Not like the idealized:
Doe-eyed greeting card doves, perfect blonde cherubim and seraphim on Christmas ornaments, American eagles keeping solemn protective vigil over the interests of rich men in suits, gentle internet gryphons holding tea-parties

But like the bird I know through my pets and my interest in biological history
Ruffled, neurotic, temperamental, beady-eyed and alien, beneath the feathers a reptile running at a warm-blooded pace

(crowgoblin, excerpt from “On tengu-ness”, 2004)

– Akhila

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