Finding Home Away From Home

One recurring theme in the otherkin community (less so in the therian community) is that of Homesickness, a longing ache for one’s place-of-origin, for the world or time or culture that was once home. Ketrino refers to this as the Yearning and defines it as “a longing to be home; the place where you come from”, and has some interesting suggestions and thoughts on dealing with it.

Is homesickness the best descriptor of this phenomenon, though? In a CNN article, Professor Klapow says, “You’re not literally just missing your house. You’re missing what’s normal, what is routine, the larger sense of social space, because those are the things that help us survive.” He adds that “it’s normal and adaptive to feel homesick for some period of time. It’s just your emotions and mind telling you you’re out of your element.” But this view of homesickness (among others) assumes a temporary situation: being away from family at summer camp, or going to college in another state – much shorter-term than a whole lifetime in another world. All the suggested coping mechanisms and approaches for homesickness are geared towards adjustment and the knowledge that the situation is temporary, that “home” can be visited and contacted.

A different idea is that of third-culture kids (also called cross-culture kids or global nomads – the latter term coined because children raised in multiple cultures do eventually become adults). Kay Eakin described a “third-culture kid” as “someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than [their] own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture”. There are some fascinating statistics on the third-culture kid phenomenon that might be of interest to otherkin experiencing homesickness – I find the parallels intriguing. In this situation, the person is raised by parents of one culture, in the setting of another culture – possibly living in several different countries over the course of childhood and adolescence. This widens their exposure while also making it difficult for the third-culture person to identify with any one culture, sometimes leaving them uncertain of their identity and feeling like they never quite belong.

What I think particularly applies to otherkin who feel Home-sick, however, are the patterns and impact of culture shock. Dr. Lalervo Oberg defines culture shock as “an occupational disease of many people who have been suddenly transplanted abroad”. TeensHealth from Nemours describes it as “the confusing and nervous feelings a person may have after leaving a familiar culture to live in a new and different culture”.

Oberg describes a behavior set that people experiencing culture shock might fall into: “You become aggressive, you band together with your fellow countrymen and criticize the host country, its ways and its people. This criticism is not an objective appraisal but a derogatory one. Instead of trying to account for conditions as they are through an honest analysis of the actual conditions and the historical circumstances which have created them, you talk as if the difficulties you experience are more or less created by the people of the host country for your special discomfort.” The person experiencing culture shock may idealize their culture of origin, forgetting about or minimizing the negative aspects of it, and demonize or degrade the unfamiliar culture they’re in.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Misanthropism runs rampant in much of the otherkin community, and people often idealize “Home”. I’m reminded of a joking description a friend gave of some elven otherkin he’s interacted with: “I’m in a city, I hate the noise and concrete, I miss Home, our world was perfect. I’m in the woods camping, I hate the bugs and dirt, I miss Home, our world was perfect.” Could this attitude be, in part, due to a kind of culture shock? It occurs to me that the misanthromorphism prevalent among many otherkin may also be a sort of ethnocentrism: “This world and culture is inferior to my world and culture. Their ways of doing things are inferior to my culture’s way of doing things. These people are less developed, less intelligent, less enlightened, less desirable, and/or more malicious than my people.”

I have never experienced the otherkin variety of Home-sickness; I feel like this world is my native location. But I am intimately familiar with homesickness in general. When I was thirteen, my family moved from Texas to Massachusetts, and four years later from Massachusetts to Ohio. I identified very strongly as a Texan and I identified Texas as my home, and I felt out of place and adrift in Massachusetts. The homesickness for all that was familiar and beloved (history, culture, land, climate, social norms, communication styles) was acute and painful at first, fading to a dull ache over time. Adapting to the climate and culture of New England took longer. Part of the problem was a sort of culture shock which, while milder than that of someone who moves internationally, was still distinct and disorienting.

Over the years, through time and distance, personal growth, and the evolution of my spirituality and identity, I realized that Texas could no longer be my home. It was, once; it’s my childhood home and I will always bear the imprint of that cultural upbringing. But I would not feel at home or at all comfortable living there again; the conservative social and political climate does not accept who I am now and treats the communities I’m involved poorly. The realization of this, partway through college while living in northeast Ohio, hit hard; it meant releasing part of a long-held identity and I mourned that loss (and still sometimes do), yet I still had that out-of-place feeling of someone who was not “home”, who was in an alien place that they’d only mostly adapted to.

But you can find home in unexpected places. Sometimes you find a place that’s close enough, or sings to different aspects of you, or echo enough of your once-home to fit. I found that in Colorado’s Front Range. The climate (and endless skies undiluted by humidity and unobscured by dense forests – the dusty cloudscapes – the dry heat), flora, and fauna had enough similarities, as did some of the aesthetics and amenities (certain stores and restaurants, certain brands of food, certain architecture). It spoke to me on another level, too: the border spaces between mountain cliffs and rolling prairie felt like home to the hawk in me, its natural habitat (rough-legged hawk nests in cliffs and hunts the open land). At the same time, it didn’t have the social and political aspects that Texas did; I felt welcome, culturally, with my lifestyle and identity and spirituality.

I learned a lot about dealing with homesickness in those years. First, that it was important to learn the social language of the region I’d moved to, in order to communicate effectively with other people. What I’d originally perceived as rudeness was actually just a different mode of communication – more direct, more blunt, but not intended as impolite. Second, that it was vital to adapt to the climate and setting. I eventually developed a tolerance to cold, but heavy coats were and are often necessary to deal with the weather; if I’d just attempted to continue living like I did in warmer Texas, short-sleeved shirts and shorts, I’d be miserable and probably get sick. Some adaptations and concessions to your environment are necessary. Other parts were difficult or nigh-impossible to adapt to (the lack of sunlight, for example) but even there, some workarounds could be found (sun lamps, vitamin D supplements, etc) to make it more bearable. Eventually I found things to love about my new environment, and things to appreciate about the culture, whereas initially I’d hated everything about it and derided the people who lived there as well. This is a classic pattern of culture shock and adjustment to a new culture. It’s easier to deal with (and you can even learn to enjoy your new home) if you learn about the unfamiliar culture, choose to adapt to the new environment, and learn to appreciate the differences.

Inevitably, the environment you’re in changes you. You become accustomed to certain aspects, certain colors and flavors and figures of speech, particular amenities and patterns of life. You adapt, and you learn, and you shift into something a bit better suited to that environment. Even if you fight it – the rigid clinging to your old life and old patterns turns into a charicature of things half-remembered, into something like yet stiffly unlike the way you were before you moved. And if you do go back home… it’s not quite the same anymore, you’re half a step out of sync and it’s not quite how you remembered it. It’s common to experience a reverse culture shock, and it’s characterized in part by an idealized view of home and an expectation of complete familiarity, that nothing will have changed while you’ve been away. This might be something to read up on if you’re one of those otherkin who expects to go Home eventually, perhaps after this life is done; idealizing your home may do you more harm than good (impeding your ability to adapt to this world and culture and environment, as well as making the reverse culture shock worse).

In reading up on homesickness and related conditions, I stumbled across a complex German word that might better fit the otherkin experience of Home-sickness: sehnsucht. It is like homesickness, yet not at the same time; there’s no adequate single-word translation (“longing”, “yearning”, “craving”, “intensely missing” are listed by a few sources as close but not quite right). Federal Councillor Christoph Blocher says in a speech about a sehnsucht-focused art display that it has to do with a “tender longing [that] goes hand in hand with the painful knowledge that the thing longed for will never quite be attained.” C.S. Lewis also described it as an “inconsolable longing” in the heart for “we know not what”; he called it “the stab, the pang, the inconsolable longing” even in the midst of joy, often inspired by beauty. C.S. Lewis, author of the Narnia chronicles, wrote a great deal about it, but perhaps one of the more relevant and poignant passages is from the point of view of his character Psyche in Till We Have Faces: “It almost hurt me . . . like a bird in a cage when the other birds of its kind are flying home . . . to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. The longing for home.”

Which of these concepts – homesickness, global nomads, culture shock, and sehnsucht – best apply to your experiences? What works best for you in trying to deal with your Home-sickness, if that’s something that you have struggled with? Have you found a place here and now that feels like home?

Works Cited and Further Reading:

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Community History and Trends

For those of you who’ve been in the community for a while, what trends and cycles have you noticed?

A friend and I were talking about the ‘kin community as essentially having “generations” (feel free to substitute “eras”, “stages”, “phases”, or whatever other phrase works for you), with different characteristics/defining traits. Of course, the therian and otherkin communities have someone divergent timelines, having begun at different times and through different mechanisms. Note that I’m talking primarily about the online communities below.

Therianthropy

I am more familiar with the therianthropy community’s history than with the otherkin community, having been involved in the therian community for ten years. Note that the modern, online community goes back nearly a decade further than that, so of course my perspective is limited.

The first generation is probably the alt.horror.werewolves generation, which is where most people trace the origins of the modern therianthropy community. This started in the early ’90’s. Lots of talking about lycanthropy as spirituality, feeling like a werewolf, etc. Therianthropy starts getting used as a word in the mid-90’s. But this is the developmental stage of therianthropy, and from stories heard from “greymuzzles” who were around AHWW at the time, it was a really exploratory period: experiential, fluid, creative. We can probably say this “generation”/era ended around ’97 with a lot of friction and ideological differences, and an influx of trolls and spammers (“meowers”); people split off from AHWW around this time. AHWW remained in use for a long time afterwards, but it stopped being the center/focus of the community.

Second generation is perhaps roughly ’97/’98 to ’06 or ’07 or so, maybe? This is my generation of therianthropy. Forums popping up everywhere, and the greymuzzles felt they needed to help guide the therian community because the newbies just didn’t know what it meant to be “awere” (according to a quote on Orion Sandstorrm’s Otherkin Timeline). There were more articles on terminology, and defining what it means/is to be therian/were. There was a bit of a population explosion, and tons of different mailing lists and forums and LJ communities. The community became very critical about what is legit and what is not, and there was often intense grilling of newbies or less-acceptable identity/experience claims. Lots of debates on terminology and definitions; shifting gets split into a dozen or more categories. I think some of this was a backlash/reaction to the first generation’s difficulties regarding the idea of “physical shifting” (and so p-shifting discussions were even banned in some forums, or strictly moderated), and trying to get some credibility as a community, divorcing themselves from the use of words like “were”, “lycanthrope”, or anything else that looked too much like roleplaying or fiction.

This led to a splintering off in… oh goodness, I’m not even sure, probably ’05 or so? – I wouldn’t quite call it a third generation or era, though maybe it inspired that – where a small group of people (begun mostly by Lynxspirit / Walks-Between-Worlds I think, but also heavily influenced by Akhila and Quil, and I’m not sure who else) started using the term “animal person” instead (derived from Charles de Lint’s use in his urban fantasy stories, as far as I know) and focusing on the experiential side of animality, eschewing the use of excessive terminology.

The third generation would be the current one, potentially a backlash/reaction to the rigidity and increasing judgmental approaches of the second generation. This “generation” is more experiential and even starting to have seeds of activism here and there (primarily on the Tumblr iteration of the community, which is a bizarre and fascinating beast), and fusing a bit more with the otherkin community. (In most of the second generation you rarely saw crossover between the otherkin and therian communities. I think the increasing crossover has shaped both of the current era, as the therian skepticism/logic-heavy approaches have bled over into the otherkin community, and the otherkin magic-focused/acceptance approach has bled over into the therian community.)

Otherkin

This one’s debatable and I’m not as qualified to speak on it, as I’ve been in the ‘kin community for less time than the therian community, but we can probably stick the first generation as the Silver Elves era, their elfin mailing list, people who started discussing it seriously there. It’s debatable as to whether the Silver Elves were Discordians playing a giant joke on everyone, or whether they actually identified as elves, or both – but the point is that this is where the community really started. I don’t know anything about this “generation” of ‘kin (1980 to 1990 or so) other than what’s written about the Silver Elves.

Second generation probably began with the Elfinkind Digest, use of the word “otherkind”, and an open mailing list for “elves and others of the otherkind”, starting in 1990. There was also a parallel development on a dragon fanlist where people started identifying as dragons, similar to how the therianthropy community developed through a werewolf fanlist. The elven/fae community, maybe thanks to the Elf Queen’s Daughters and Silver Elves, has talked throughout this time about bringing magic back to the world, reconnecting the world with Faerie, thinning the Veil, etc; about this being their purpose as fae/elves, and the reason that they’re in human bodies. (You still see this sometimes, but not to the same frequency, I don’t think.) Glamourbombing got coined in the late ’90’s. From what I understand, the community at the time was pretty loosely organized, idealistic, and creative.

There might be an argument for a third generation starting in the late ’90’s with various otherkin gathers (Walking the Thresholds, Kinvention North, etc). Apparently there was a particular kind of community connected with those gathers. But I never went to any of them, and didn’t get involved in the ‘kin community proper until a few years ago (before that I was mostly involved in the therian community), so I can’t speak to this.

There also seems to have been a population explosion in the ‘kin community between 2000 and 2003 or so… including some discussions of issues with newbies and people who are fluffy, etc. Which may suggest a generational marker here. There is also a sudden burst of forums, mailing lists, and communities, possibly due to increased availability in technology.

Honestly, I don’t know the growth stages and eras of the otherkin community very well; the above are gleaned from stories heard from people who were there, and from reading Orion Sandstorrm’s history of the otherkin and therian communities. I know the therian community much better, since I joined it in 2002. So I don’t know what middle stages, if any, would be.

Thus I don’t know when the “current generation” of otherkin began, or how many there were before that – but it seems to me that in the past few years of the otherkin community there’s been a sharp increase in skepticism, criticism of others, rigorous questioning of how people came to their conclusions – whereas when I first poked my nose in the otherkin community five or six years ago, I was put off by the lack of critical thinking and the prevalence of apocalyptic thinking (“Veil fall”) and magical thinking in general (“astral battles” all over the place, elven princess syndrome, etc, etc; though you still see that nowadays, just not to the degree of five or six years ago). Now it’s looking a lot like the therian community towards the middle-to-end of its second generation for its avoidance of discussing experiences or how being “other” affects a person.

Another friend pointed out that the timelines above seem to reflect the identity progression of individuals, such as in the Otherkin Identity Model, and suggested that community tones and standards are set by the most influential members (often the ones that have been there the longest).

So… do you agree or disagree? Do you have different dividing lines, or other/more observances on the characteristics of various eras in the communities? I’m really more interested in generational traits here; Orion wrote up a pretty detailed history of the otherkin and therian communities that is fairly clinical, but it doesn’t really discuss the mood, characteristics, and values of various periods, which is what I’m curious about here.

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Norms, short-term history and the collective memory.

This “essay” stems from recent musings I posted in private elsewhere and which have suscitated interest. I had been reading various websites and blogs from the latest wave of otherkin, and found the recents developments thought-provoking sociologically speaking.

When I first was around in the therian community, the norm was animal-people complaining about feelings of body-dysphoria and phantom limbs, or talking about how much nonhuman they felt or how difficult it could be to adapt/accommodate everyday’s life. The norm was the spiritual take on therianthropy (such as animal souls in human bodies), the discussions also were more spiritual in content, and forums that hosted a non-spirituality-centric view of therianthropy were a minority. In fact, they were about two: the Werelist, and the Awareness Forums (note: at this point it was SO/TO/WAG, joint boards for Shifters.Org, Therianthropy.Org and the Were Artists Guild).

And now, we see a return of this take on things, only with an activist twist and more empowerment (as well as different media); and it’s cool to see this actually.

However, the overall short time – even if you consider our “community” started as recently as 92′ – where other voices had spoken up to say “this isn’t my experience of animality – here, I’ll write about what it feels like to me”, that time where some people dared talk about (non-pathological) mental therianthropy, or about animal identities that didn’t find immediate origins in past lives, or about having their animality functional and integrated into their daily life?

That era of the therian community seems to be perceived as “the norm”; maybe it now is in some places (the most influential? the largest?), but as I’m pretty reclusive I wouldn’t know first-hand. What is problematic in this understanding of the community, however, is that many people seem to not have any idea of how much criticism talking about this stuff could raise in most groups, originally. There is a great deal of confusion between some attitudes that took place back then and other behaviours that they’re criticizing in the now, with no regards to historical context, and this fosters an innaccurate understanding of both the community’s timeline and the intents of certain groups of people.

I will take as an example my own writings and similar personal websites from the early 2000’s.

It bothers me a bit when I read certain present-day criticisms, and feel that because we used to think or say X or Y, we are thrown into some same big bag of “anti-fluff extremists” that are seemingly the norm at the moment. It make it as though websites like mine or Quil’s or others were law, when really, only a certain sort of people or circles were into that, and the majority of the community either didn’t know of our existence, or didn’t agree with us, or they did to some extent but saw us – as individuals, voices – as a threat for their authority, or they had more reasons to not appreciate our involvement on forums very much (for those of us who did post, because some others fully embraced their marginal status and have never involved themselves in communities).

We weren’t necessarily kicked out of a place, as most times it was much more insidious, such as the practice from the people in the place (thus who kept the legitimacy to speak) to question one over and over until the person backed down, shunning their views and self. So many people didn’t feel safe around those places and would give up trying to explain their point of view, or were reluctant to register and post at all, because they didn’t want to go through this hassle of always having to “prove” the legitimacy of their experiences. Many have gone offline now, or moved to blogging or other ways to express themselves.

The validity of my own animal-identity was questionned directly and indirectly for many reasons, such as the fact I identify as more than one animal, the fact that for some time I identified more with a taxon than a single species, the fact I don’t view my animality as spiritual in nature (even though I can be a spiritual person), the fact that I had no sudden “awakening”, the fact that I don’t experience “shifts” in animality, and so on and such as… Even the fact that I wasn’t a native English-speaker got me in trouble a couple of times.

So at the time I was quite the oddball, and people like myself were a minority or hidden, more controversial than anything – not the norm.

I originally created the writing group Animal Quills because it wasn’t possible to discuss certain matters elsewhere. The topics were frown upon by the people in place because we didn’t fit the norms of what’s supposed to be a “true therian experience/identity”. Or in the later period, many people would participate with 101 types of comments and detract from the discussions on forums, and other thought-provoking contributions wouldn’t be brought up anymore. Many of us eventually stopped trying, as it wasn’t possibly to discuss the things we were interested in over there. Others just went on with their offline life.

I have personally not supported the widespread use of “awakening” to describe one’s process of discovering their animality – not only it can be misleading for newcomers that it’s so reminiscent of the holliwoodian werewolf transformations, but there also was the implication that one’s awakening marked the start of people’s therian identities. I’m also not fond of shifting categories and a number of other labels. To the newer wave that feel they are “reclaiming” these words, this make me sound like one of the elitists or extremists maybe, even though I have no qualm against the actual experiences behind these words.

But I’ll tell you what. These words are the ones animal-people who constituted the majority used against another category of animal people to disprove the latter’s identities. They reinforce the shifter-centric, werewolf-centric mainstream idea of therianthropy, actually erasing certain categories of animal-folk, such as the non-shifters, people who didn’t experience a drastic epiphany, and so on. For us, it can be a conscious choice not to use these words because we don’t want to support that practice of erasure, and the point back then was also to show it was possible to talk about animal-identity without using a shifter-centric ideology and such.

The norms of the community were quite tangible when a newcomer – who didn’t know of all the “rules” of the community beforehand yet quickly got an understanding of how things were supposed to work there – was brave enough to create topics such as “am I a real therian if I don’t experience shifting?” or “am I a real therian if I didn’t have a sudden awakening?” and so on. Because these experiences were believed to be mandatory in order to be real, and the widespread terminology reinforced that idea. Other experiences were silenced – until enough people begged to differ and spoke up.

So, what part of a generation of otherkin may see as reclaiming certain words, I see under a totally different perspective and I know I don’t want to rehabilitate some terms, because to me it feels less like reclaiming and more like the norm coming back again, the community returning to a shifter-centric point of view, et caetera. Some recent folk may use our old writings as a basis to illustrate the “old ways” and discard them, but they’re not setting themselves apart from a “us=community”, because we were never a truly integrated part of the community to begin with. Even though some of our ideas have apparently lasted, even though we left our mark somehow; I was not the norm when I was around.

The point is, people who belonged to this era? We were never an homogeneous bunch, and individuals like myself were more controversial than anything. What happened later, the lack of tolerance some have shown based on old writings they’d find inspiring, I’m not accountable for. I don’t agree with everything I’ve said in the past either, you know. I can take responsibility for myself and say “yeah, I used to be that person”; I cannot, however, answer for the actions of everyone who’s felt that because I or other people had written some stuff, they were legitimate enough to bash others.

It is ironic when a minority seemingly becomes a majority, even though it’s a common pattern for groups to oppose others to distinguish themselves and exist.

However, mistaking what we did when it was akin to “counter-culture” in reaction to the community’s norms, with the groups of people who are actively enforcing ideas as norms now (I do not support this practice)… well it’s a bit anachronistic, and disrespectful regarding what we actually accomplished. It erases as much parts of personal histories as a part of the therian timeline when people who were silenced spoke up. I remember countless hours of heated discussions where we’d raise points which were “out of the norm” back then, and it was nothing like the sort of hegemony some writings make it sound now.

This isn’t an actual rant; I hope to offer a perspective on the evolutions of “norms” (or the perceived norms), and some musings to chew on about the community’s memory. I don’t consider myself that old or wise, but I find it’s important to keep talking about these matters so that they don’t go forgotten, and to help correct a distorted view of this community’s history.

clouded leopard skull

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My Energetic Health: Grounding and an Energetic Surplus

I ground best outward, from my center, into air and into other people. The usually-depicted downward ground, from the root at the spine’s base, down the legs, into the earth – that doesn’t work very well for me, and so I have to make a regular conscious effort to ground out excess energy.

Complicating this is a related problem of an energetic surplus. In my experience interacting with and speaking with other animal-folk, therians (otherkin with kin-species native to this planet and plane) tend to produce a surplus of energy. They take in the raw unrefined energy of their environment, and their systems process it efficiently and effectively into refined prana, or life-energy. I’ve known a few psychic vampires to refer to therians (particularly mammalian therianthropes) as “energetic batteries”.

However, thanks to the combination of an energetic surplus and a poor natural ground, the extra energy builds up in my system and leads to blockages, sluggish energy, physical aches and pains, and lethargy. The most effective and enjoyable solution I’ve found is to donate prana to someone with an energetic need, benefiting both of us and getting the stagnant energy moving clearly again.

Unfortunately, that’s not always a feasible option. So I’ve worked to find alternatives. The following approaches have been the most helpful for me in mitigating the effects of energetic surplus.

  • Regular ritual practice. Doing the LBRP (Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram) on a near-daily basis over the past few months has been very helpful in clearing my subtle body and getting energy moving again. Anything that burns energy off and moves it through your system works for this, though.
  • Exercise. Mind, body, and spirit all affect one another. Physical exercise burns off energy. I’ve had much less trouble with the symptoms of surplus since I started working out on a regular basis.
  • Ground daily. Ground regularly, consciously, and fully on a daily basis. This is hard for me to remember, but very helpful when I do. Here is one grounding exercise, and here is one more. For me, standing outside in a strong wind can be very grounding; I let myself become mindful of how the wind feels on my skin, let it whip through me and scour off the excess energy, get things moving in my system again.
  • Cathartic activities. Engaging in something cathartic – engaging in something that releases pent-up energy and all the emotions and stress tied up into blockages and stagnant energy – is tremendously helpful, but a bit harder to do as it’s typically a more vulnerable process. For me, trancing through dance to potent music often accomplishes this. So does hiking out in the mountains or prairie. It depends on what is personally cathartic for you.
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Link Roundup and Some News

First, the news: Beyond Awakening now has a Twitter feed, @BeyondAwakening. It’s mostly just announcing new blog posts, but it’ll also occasionally have otherkin-related news, event announcements, and so on.

Secondly, the link round up: There has been a ton of interesting things happening on the otherkin community lately.

New Websites: A few otherkin have come out with personal websites hosting excellent articles, experiential writings, and spirituality essays. I’m very excited about this and I hope it continues as a trend; it reminds me of the period in the therianthropy community when personal essay sites were cropping up left and right, like Thébaïde, Absurdism, The Sanctuary, Being Lion, Spotted Fur, and many that are no longer around.

  • Eldr: Writings on spirit-work, firebird spirituality, and jotun nature from a jotun otherkin.
  • Walking Between Worlds: Essays on elves and the otherworld by two elven otherkin.

Tumblr: The subset of the otherkin community on Tumblr has been fascinating to watch. It’s different than anything I’ve seen in the ‘kin community thus far. They’re focused on activism (with some cross-over with the social justice community), affirmation and validation of otherness (sometimes going so far as to use the term “non-human” instead), and the nature and experiences of being otherkin in today’s world and culture. In some ways, it seems like a reaction against the trends of the bulk of the otherkin community to say “you’re just human now, deal with it”. They’re doing some very intriguing work and talking about otherkin from different angles than I’m used to seeing.

  • Dear Solace: A secrets and advice Tumblr – This is kind of like a combination of Post Secret and Dear Abby for otherkin.
  • Kin Diet – A Tumblr with recipes and ideas for kintype-related food.
  • Kin Speak states its mission as “an anonymous medium for otherkin people to share their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and ideas in an environment free from anxiety about what others may say or think about them”. It’s also engaged in open dialogue with skeptical non-otherkin in some outreach and activism.
  • nonhumanquotes – Lovely images and heart-felt quotes about being other-natured.
  • Otherkin News is a Tumblr mirror of the LiveJournal community of the same name.

Projects

Articles: These are articles that meet the writing challenges posted about before on Beyond Awakening, even if they weren’t written for that purpose.

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Challenge: Energetic Health

If you search for information on the subtle body, chakras, or the aura, you’ll find a picture similar to this:

This (with variations in the number of energy centers and how they’re depicted depending on culture or system of origin) is the standard subtle body. It maps perfectly to the human form, a line of chakras right down the spine. Some books, articles, and instructors suggest that all the energy centers should spin a particular direction, or that energy should circulate through the body in a certain way, and if it doesn’t fit this model, there’s something wrong.

Here’s the problem with that: not everyone’s system conforms to this model. Not everyone has a subtle body that maps perfectly to a human body. Some people have extra chakras where a wing or tail might be – or their subtle bodies are too large for their physical body – or they’re missing one of the standard chakras – or perhaps the quality of their energy is just finely spun, burning too hot and quick to be sustained by food and earth.

There are advantages and disadvantages to nonstandard energy systems. Some people with nonstandard systems are hypersensitive to the subtle reality – which means they’re very perceptive, but also easily overwhelmed by too much energetic feedback. Some can move huge amounts of energy around, but fit poorly in their bodies, resulting in aches, pains, and serious dysphoria.

The list goes on. Some common categories of energetic abnormalities that I’ve observed are as follows:

  • Difficulty grounding – where in this case grounding is defined as having a method of regularly shedding excess energy. Not grounding regularly can lead to frequent distractedness, light-headedness, difficulty thinking clearly or focusing, and headaches.
  • Energetic deficiency. This is frequently discussed in the vampire community, but it’s also a common problem for fae-kin, demon-kin, and some angel-kin, among others. This can have any number of causes, but usually means the individual who is energetically deficient needs to consciously feed by taking in refined energy such as prana (life-energy) to supplement or entirely supply their energy.
  • Energetic surplus. This is when you regularly produce more energy than you use. It’s worsened if you have difficulty grounding out that excess energy. Initially the excess energy results in hyperness, jitters, and scattered thoughts; but as the energy builds up in the system it creates blockages, turning sluggish and stagnant. This can lead to aches, pains, headaches, and lethargy. Expending more energy (either through exercise, regular energy work, regular grounding exercises, donating to someone with an energetic deficiency, or a combination of the above) can help remedy the issues that can arise from an energetic surplus.

Do you have a non-standard energetic system? What advantages and disadvantages has it provided? What have you found works best for your energetic health?

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Coping with Past Lives: Articles and Sources

In lieu of an actual article on coping with past lives (which is refusing to be written), and as I’m tired of beating my head against a brick wall of writer’s block, I thought I’d post some links to relevant resources.

Otherkin, Multiples, and Past Lives

Trauma and Past Lives, not otherkin-specific

Intrusive Memories and Dealing with Trauma, geared towards present-life trauma

  • The Persistence of Memory discusses one of the seven sins of memory, persistence, when a memory is intrusive (such as with flashbacks).
  • Flashback Management, specific to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but people dealing with intrusive past-life memories may find some of the techniques useful.
  • Coping with Flashbacks. I personally find the grounding techniques (engaging the senses) to be particularly effective.
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Your Optimal Functionality

I want to clarify what I mean by functionality.

Functionality is a scale, not two boxes of “functional” and “non-functional”. For example, a standard measurement of functioning in Western psychotherapy is the GAF (Global Assessment of Functioning) scale, Axis V in the DSM-IV-TR, and it focuses on the following determiners:

  • Personal/Internal
  • Social
  • Occupational/School

It is a blend of how well you function in your society and how much pain/distress you experience.

Some people can’t function in their society; that’s what disability benefits are intended for (however poorly implemented they may be). Sometimes the causes of the lower functionality are not fully treatable, and the person will never be able to function “normally” in their society. And that’s okay.

When I talk about seeking and improving functionality, I mean your optimal level and mode of functioning. It may look very different from Joe College Student or Jill Businesswoman – their optimal functionality is in a different place than yours.

It’s key, I think, to find a place in the world where you can survive, thrive, and minimize pain/distress for yourself. I have a draconic friend who would be terribly dysfunctional in an office job or in customer service – but she is brilliant when working outdoors and with animals, so she has structured her career around that. People expect someone in her occupation to be eccentric, not socially normative, which is an added bonus. Her personality quirks, her intensely other-than-human energy, and her experiences of being animalistic are actually strengths in her job, where in a more sedate, people-oriented job they’d be impairments.

Another example is Raven Kaldera who, by all accounts, would not be able to hold down a “normal” job or be content in an urban environment thanks to shamanic obligations, mental health, and personal preferences. So he lives on a spiritual commune on a farm in the middle of nowhere, writing books and serving gods and spirits in his way. He has found a niche wherein he can function as optimally as possible. His particular psychological and spiritual makeup makes him particularly suitable for that niche, where a “normal” person would likely have a difficult time.

Know your limits. If you’re a high-anxiety introvert, avoid working in customer service if at all possible. If you go stir-crazy in an office, seek an outdoor job instead. It’s not always possible to find a job that suits your needs and limitations, particularly in this economy, but do research the possibilities. Make a list. You might  be surprised at some of the options.

If your particular mental makeup prevents you from being able to hold down a job – then accept that, make some sort of peace with it. I know a few people who are on disability who find ways to feel productive and like they’re contributing in some way to their household or their community, whether it be through art, writing, or volunteering.

This goes beyond occupation and what you’re doing with your life, too – functionality is not just physical or environmental. For example, I’m going to eventually talk more in-depth about energetic health and functioning. Often as otherkin we have some energetic quirks and needs that have to be cared for and adapted to in order to optimally function on this plane.

What would your optimal functionality look like? What do you want that is possible in this world? What do you need in order to be content? What adds to your pain/distress, and what detracts from it? What strengths do you have?

For those of you who have managed to carve or find a place where you fit, how did you manage that? What does it look and feel like?

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Apologies for the Inactivity

My apologies for the inactivity! We’re still around; unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way of writing blog posts.

I’ve got a couple posts on the way, and activity should resume as normal (at least 1 post per month) from here.

Thanks for sticking with us!

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Challenge: Coping with Past Lives

Many otherkin and therians believe their otherness is caused by reincarnation: from living a past life (or many lives) as something other than human, such that it shaped their spirit or influenced who they are now. Otherkin in particular often seek to remember more of their non-human lifetimes to glean more information about who and what they once were.

I will not be talking about how to remember your past lives here. There are spades of new age websites and books providing tips and techniques of varying quality. What I see less of, and what I’m more interested in, is this:

How do you deal with past life memories?

My otherkin nature is not past-life based, and I’ve never sought to remember my past lives, but I’ve had memories surface unbidden. Moments of this life, or that one; emotional and tactile snapshots, never whole-cloth memories. For me, it happens as vivid recurring nightmares, or as an unfolding pressure behind my forehead, a blur of emotion and knowing and sensation. Sometimes they’re memories that affect me now, in the present. Sometimes they’re intrusive. Often they’re unpleasant – hence why I’ve not tried to remember more.

Traumatic memories seem to stick with people more vividly than pleasant ones. I know I’m not alone or even uncommon in my experience; I’ve met many people who’ve remembered downright terrible things happening to them (or by them). Sometimes that-which-was bleeds into that-which-is: I dissociated one past life self for a time, and I know others who’ve had similar experiences, or who have shifted back and forth between their now-personality and their then-personality when processing a particular lifetime.

And so, my challenge is this: How do you deal with past life memories? How do you handle intrusive memories? How do you process past memories, and what do you do if you-that-was is someone that you can’t seem to respect or approve of?

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