Otherkin is a lie. An effective, tidy, comfortable lie, but a lie nonetheless.
In the growing tradition (alright two rants) of starting these rants with an objectionable and blunt statement, then spending far too long trying to explain what I mean, along with the synthesis of the idea and somewhat connected concepts, here goes…
“Otherkin” is a label. Sometimes labels are useful, more often they become nice little boxes to put things in.
Over the last year I have seen many discussions, debates, heated debates and outright flamewars about what the term “otherkin” really means. A noticeable number of people have decided to stop using the term because its perceived common usage does not match the concept they used the word for. I’ve been in several of these exchanges myself (often on at least three sides of the question).
“You are missing the point dear”.
Which I finally understood.
One of the objections to the term otherkin is that it is a definition by negation. It says we are not human (at least in one interpretation) rather than we are something. For a long time I shared this reservation but used it because no one could think of a better one. Maybe there isn’t a better one, because this one is right. People are just missing the full implications.
It is not that we are other than human. It is that we are Other. (Or at least related to such). Not that we are in a different box, with a different label. We aren’t in a box at all. In fact the very concept of box is alien.
This is why we struggle with labels. Not that labels are always bad, but that in this culture they are tied to the concept of box. To label something is to put bounds on it. Which is all wrong. Labels just mark a conceptual point for easy reference, a point, not a box, and only loosely at that because things change, but it’s close enough you can find the general area again.
To illustrate – there’s a pole at the North Pole. It makes it useful to locate the general area. The concept of having a north pole is useful, it makes navigation easier and helps you get the map the same way up each time. However the precise position of the pole is usually irrelevant. And wrong. The ice under the pole floats, so the pole moves. As far as I know they don’t bother moving the physical pole, it’s close enough.
To get back to an approximation of the point…
Otherkin is a lie. It’s a lie because it implies “this thing can be labeled.” It can be marked, described and characterized. It can be filed away in nice little boxes, so you can fit it comfortably into your worldview. You can write a PhD thesis on it.
I’ve said elsewhere that Otherkin has some characteristics of mystery religions – that there are some things that can’t be described but have to be experienced.
What does any of this have to do with evolution, you ask? Well, probably you don’t ask as you either didn’t notice the subtitle or forgot about in the long ramble since. I’ll explain anyway. Yes, this is connected, be patient.
One of the concepts that gets discussed every so often is the idea that Otherkin are perhaps one of the next steps in human evolution. That can sound arrogant, but that is not how it is meant – not as a “we are better” but “where do we go from here?”. I think it could be a manifestation of social evolution.
Back when the Village Voice piece came out, people objected to the characterization of otherkin as people dissatisfied with their current lives in a technological society. Maybe he had something of a point. He got close, but he missed the real reason.
It is not the technology that is the problem – there are too many geek elves around for that. It is the boxes. The rules. The labels. The living.
It is not just an otherkin thing. I see the shift in many of the aware humans that I know. To get back to themselves. To experience life in full, rather than in the abstract of thought (or lack thereof) or the safety of socially defined rules. It can be scary. You have to let go of a lot of comforting lies and be honest with yourself. That’s hard. I still often fail at it myself.
But the change needs to happen or humanity will drive itself into extinction, and take a good portion of this world with it.
Labels become boxes. Boxes become rigid. Ideas become beliefs. Beliefs become absolutes. Change becomes perceived as death.
Change is life. Making stronger boxes, more rules, does not make you less insecure but more – because sooner or later something will not fit in the box. Stress induced illness is one of the major killers in technological societies. Stress from things not meeting expectations, from not fitting in the box.
We are change. We are embodiments of the Wyld, the Unknown. We don’t fit in the box. Not even those we make ourselves. Sometimes we don’t even see the box. Sometimes we don’t know boxes exist. Sometimes they don’t.
Maybe that is what the world needs. Examples of boxlessness. People who not only don’t fit, but can’t fit. People who can fit, but choose not to. People who are happy and healthy that way. Signposts for social evolution. People who experience life rather than labels.
Which means being honest with yourself because if you aren’t honest with yourself, you can’t really be aware of yourself or of anything else. That little box labeled “things I don’t want to know about myself” distorts your view of the world.
Over and over again I see newly awakened people asking others to tell them what they are, to give them a new box because the old one doesn’t fit. They get upset when someone says “I can’t do that”. The problem is how to help someone explore themselves without ending up just shifting which box they are using. I don’t have an answer to that one yet. It is important to know who and what you are, but it should be self-awareness, not a list of labels or a pile of neatly marked boxes.
Facing yourself is probably going to hurt. A lot. It is also going to be joyous, heart-wounding, giddy and solemn, hilarious and somber. We will love each other, hate each other, scream in anger, cry in sorrow, never speak to one another again, become lovers and friends.
Sometimes the biggest lies are the truths that ‘everyone knows’. Sometimes the truth is the lie no one understands.
The point of all this? There’s a reason I titled this piece the way I did. It’s the single piece of advice that all the others tie into, sometimes it is the hardest things to do, sometimes the easiest, it is however, the whole point…