The Death of the Otherkin Community

Well, that should get someone’s attention. If there is anyone listening.

A year ago you couldn’t breathe without a new mailing list or a new website
springing into existance, and people dropped off mailing lists because they could
not cope with the volume of email.

These days people sign off the mailing lists because there isn’t any mail.
Sometimes literally. Even elven-realities, the list of lists had days
recently when there were no posts at all. This is the list that had to have
it’s posting limit raised because the traffic was high enough it hit the “we
think you are being mailbombed” checks on the list server. There are lists
with 250 people subscribed, and no traffic.

You might say that mailing lists are not a good indication of the state of
the community, perhaps not, but for a long time they have been places of much
conversation, connection and debate. They have been the connection that ties
a widespread group of people into something resembling a community.

What happened to it?

I think I’m beginning to understand how many traditional wiccans feel. They
study and think and work, over a period of years. They live their beliefs.
Then along comes someone who has read one book, generally one of the fluff
pieces Llewelyn puts out, still wrapped in the mindset of the socially
christian community they grew up in, and declare themselves
to be the same as, or even better than, the traditionalists. And people
listen to the book wiccan, because they are outspoken about things they know
little about, rather than the traditionalist who quietly lives their beliefs.

It puts me in two minds about even continuing to run otherkin.net. Am I
providing the otherkin equivalent of that fluff wiccan book? Does the
existance of otherkin.net encourage the existance of wannabes who just want a
quick answer and a shiny new label to be non-comformist with a bunch of other
people? Do more resources, more explanations, more details just encourage
the wannabes, so that the actual otherkin take one look at the “community” go
“I am not like these idiots” and go elsewhere?

In my last rant I likened being otherkin to mystery
religions. Not that it is
a religion, but in that it is something that can only really be experienced,
not explained. (If you don’t believe such things are possible, go and explain
“purple” to someone who has been blind since birth).

In another, and vitally important way, being otherkin is not like any form of
religion. You can be initiated into a religion. Sometimes it is just a matter
of saying “yes, I believe this”. Mystery religions take you through the
experience so you understand.

I cannot take you through the experience of being an elf.

I could dress you up, and give you latex ear extensions. It wouldn’t make you
an elf.
I could talk philosophy and perspective. It wouldn’t make you an elf.
I could teach you magic and glamours. It wouldn’t make you an elf.

I can’t show you how. I can’t tell you how. Just like you cannot describe
purple to a blind man, and you certainly can’t show him.

What has this got to do with community?

A community is made up of people who have something in common. The community
is labeled by that commonality. The business community is made up of people
in business. The gay community is made up of people who are gay. The jewish
community is made up of jews. The otherkin community is made up of…

Well, actually I couldn’t tell you.

My community is made up of a very small number of people. People I have had
raging flamewars with. People I have doubted, cursed and occasionally called
unpleasent things. People I have loved. People I have hated. People who
understand the things there are no words for.

The people on many of the mailing lists, websites and so on. I can’t talk to
most of these people. Not that they are not good people, though probably some
of them aren’t, or that they don’t believe what they say. But what they are
and what I am are two very different creatures. I don’t think I can apply the
same label to both and have it continue to make sense.

So what’s the otherkin community? Three hundred people who don’t talk to each
other on a mailing list?

Otherkin.net was started as “Harmony and Dischord”
– a place for filtering
out the wisdom from the detailed discussions on the various mailing lists and
keeping it for posterity. Along the way it gained a role at facilitating
connecting people together. I’ve liked to think of it as a community
website, a resource. I don’t know who it’s serving anymore. Is it just a
mouthpiece for my personal rants? That hardly deserves the name
“Otherkin.net”.

I don’t think there is an “otherkin community”. I don’t think there can be
without a solid definition of what otherkin means. On that road lies
flamewars and politics. I have no interest in going there.

The otherkin community is dead. If it were anything more than the fevered
imagination of the hopeful and isolated to start with.

That leaves just you and me.

If you are passing by and find something here of interest or use. Drop me a
line. Pull up a chair. Offer your thoughts. Maybe we have something in
common. Maybe we don’t.

Me, I’m taking my own advice.

“Cherish what you are. Not what you were. Not what you might be. Be
yourself. Learn what that means.”

As for otherkin.net. “It’s a website, not a bible”.
Find your own truth, I can’t tell you mine. All I can do is live it, and see
who else dances to the same beat.

You wanna dance?

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