Experimental Role Playing as a Means of Self Discovery

I got into a discussion a while back with someone who was wondering about ways to see if his feelings of being a Dragon were correct or if he was just fooling himself. This eventually lead to conversations about “role-playing” as a means of “trying it on for size.” This person wasn’t sure if he understood the definition of role-playing in the context under discussion and so asked if I could give an example of what I meant. This is what I came up with:

In this case, I guess you could look at it as a very intense round of “let’s pretend.” Like you were in a play where you “really” get into the mind of your character. You study everything you can about who your character is, where he comes from, what his background is, what his beliefs are. That way you can base your actions accordingly, you actually “become” the character for the duration of the play. “Method acting” is a form of this type of role-playing. This is also used in some forms of religious ritual drama where one takes on the characteristics of a deity or epic hero. In modern Pagan circles, one of the most common examples of this would be the rite of “Drawing Down the Moon.” If done correctly this can, and should, eventually lead to the priestess actually taking on the characteristics and some of the abilities of her Goddess for a period of time… becoming in effect an Avatar. (cf. Law of Identification )

Using role-playing in the context of OtherKin-ness it can help a person to determine if their suspicions about being a Dragon (or a Gryphon, or an Elf, or whatever) are correct. It might go something like this…

He studies the various myths and legends of Dragons from as many sources as he can find and he talks to people who are convinced about the truth of their own draconity. (With the advent of the internet, this isn’t as difficult as it may sound… check places online such as draconic.com various newsgroups such as alt.fan.dragons, and the myriad of email lists on Yahoo and other such hosting services) ) He looks for common themes, beliefs and patterns of behavior. Asks people what being a Dragon means to them and how they view the world, etc. He checks out people’s web sites for what they list as Draconic characteristics. Once he gets to a point where he feels he has enough information to have a pretty accurate sense of the most common aspects which define what a Dragon is as far as mental, spiritual, and psychological characteristics go, he can then compare those to what he knows of himself. (Remember we are looking for “similarities,” not necessarily exact matches.)

Okay, now he looks at those characteristics that he couldn’t find a comparison to within his own mental make up. Something like, let’s say, feeling the urge to hunt by taking to the air. Why didn’t he find a similar urge in his own characteristics? It could be several possible reasons such as:

  1. He didn’t find it because he simply doesn’t have that urge (maybe he’s an aquatic Dragon), or
  2. It’s not something he ever tried to fully understand or identify before, or
  3. He’s not a Dragon after all.

The question now is which one of those possibilities may be correct. This is where role-playing comes in, and there are several ways to do it. My favorite way is to write a “first-person” story about it… something like:

“I awoke as the warmth of the morning sun fell across my face. I wasn’t ready to get up, preferring to lounge a while longer, but the sudden rumbling of my stomach reminded me it had been several days since I had last eaten. So I rose slowly to my haunches and stretched my wings to their fullest, giving them a few gentle flaps to get the circulation going. As I wandered down to the stream to quench my thirst, I became aware of the bellowing of wild bulls challenging one another over position within the herd. Once again my stomach grumbled it’s desire to be filled. It had been a long time since I had hunted wild cattle, and the thought of a herd so close made my mouth water. In eager anticipation I spread my wings and took to the sky…”

He would then describe in as great detail as possible the events of the hunt, feeling every nuance as if it were an accurate accounting of a past hunt, as if it were a memory. He shouldn’t worry if the words or style of the story is “pretty,” just if the feelings of the story seem real, or if they were simply words on a page. Can he actually “feel” the wind under his wings? Can he feel the muscles of his back and chest respond to the movement of his wings? Can he feel the moment of impact when he catches his prey, taste the salty warmth of the flesh as he satisfies his hunger? Basically, does he get a sense of “writing from experience,” or does it just seem like something he’s making up? To better understand the difference between the two, first he might write an account of a real life experience that affected him strongly, paying attention to what it feels like to “relive” that experience through writing about it. *Then* write the hunting story and see if he gets the same sense of reliving the experience or not.

Now, is this kind of role-playing a foolproof means of discovering the truth about whether or not someone is a Dragon? No, it’s not. It’s just a tool one can try to help gain some insight, maybe help him/her at least determine if s/he is on the right track. But it does follow some of the modern interpretations/theories on how magic has been observed to operate. (cf. Laws of Magic )

Role-playing can also help you to better understand what your “true form” looks like. I’m going to be talking about Dragons here, but this can be just as effective for other types of ‘Kin as well.

To try and nail down what your physical characteristics might be, look at as many different pictures of Dragons as you can find and “try on” different variations of what you feel your basic shape to be. Start at the top of your head and work your way down. Maybe do something like this: Add horns you your head… does that “feel” right, almost but not quite, does it feel too heavy, or just plain wrong? If it feels right, the your form has horns. If it’s close but not quite, try changing the shape, number and/or placement until it does feel right. If it feels “too heavy,” make them smaller or thinner. If they just feel wrong, the you probably don’t have horns. A lot if Dragons don’t. How about head fins like this? Or a protective head plate like this. In your mind, “try on” one or the other or both. See is either one or the other or both click.

Do you have visible ears that you can move? Try wiggling them. Can’t do it? Then you either don’t have visible ears or you don’t have ears you can move. If you can, try and get a feel for their shape. Reach up and “touch” them do they feel like a horse’s ears? A cat? Are they on top of your head on the side? Do they seem as if they would look like this?

You get the idea… It can take time for you to get the “feel” of each body part, but it’s a lot easier and will usually yield quicker results to work on one part at a time than to try and uncover the feel of your entire body at once, which can prove distracting. As you progress, trying I.D. more about one part of your form may trigger a memory of something else. If that happens, go with it and come back to the other part later. I suggested starting at the top of you head and working down because it’s a nice logical place *to* start, but follow you instincts and go where they tell you.

You can do the same thing for figuring out what sort of environment you lived in. Many times that will be reflected in what type of environment you feel drawn to in your present life. You have a yen for the desert even though you’ve never been to one? Do you look at polar ice flows and feel a vague sense of nostalgia? Does the idea of stalking deer through dense forests make you go “Oh yeah!”? How about diving under water an chasing fish for supper?

The thing with all of this, though is to be patient with yourself and don’t push too hard. If it seems you are having trouble leave off for a while and concentrate on something else. You can always come back to it later… it’s not like it’s going to go anywhere :}

Role-playing is scoffed at by many today in the OtherKin communities who see it solely as “outsiders” poking fun of something they take very seriously. I think this is wrong… and unfortunate. Role-playing as a means of spiritual exploration has been around far longer than role-playing as a means of entertainment as used in such “old fashioned” games as Dungeons and Dragons or its modern online equivalents such as EverQuest, Diablo II, Dark Age of Camelot, or what have you.

Rather than being decried, I think role-playing should be embraced by the OtherKin communities as a means of helping the newly Awakened to discover more about themselves and their spiritual heritage. It should be reclaimed as the valuable working tool it started out as. But that’s just one Dragon’s opinion… and everyone is free to take it for what it’s worth.

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