The troubles of being a pagan otherkin

Back in the day, when we all discovered being otherkin or other, regardless of kin type,

Paganism was a varied lifestyle choice, in which you were not equal to deity. Now, looking back I find that I am equal to deity. In fact, may even be deity. This is not an ego thing. I don’t have an ego, as some may know of me know that I eat, sleep, breathe ascension. I am ascended, and I am transcended. I am Strigoi, and not a vampire academy fan. Strigoi have similar characteristics to Elves, Sidhe, and even therians with the energy shifting. To shift the energy of oneself is to see an object, say for instance a shadow behind a tree, you can “feel” this shadow form, and become apart of it, thus trading your aura energy from that of a persona to that shadow behind a tree. This is how people become invisible in front of others. You can see them if you focus on them, but you will not “feel” their presence.

The act of being other is also mind boggling to the Paganism cultures. They can not accept, for fear of rejection that we are the Good folk, the noble gentry, the Sidhe, without a court or what not — Scottish Caledonian tradition. We are not here to judge them as pagans, for goodness sakes, do what you will! But take no shat! “The little people, are little.” No, according to history, early Christians drove out, or under, these people and their religion to the hills, thus making them little, but not in stature, but you can’t tell anyone anything. Let them believe what they want too, we did not come here to get their approval.

I don’t think the early Christians did anything. I think everyone at that point was just trying to stay ahead of the season, working in the field, not driving anything anywhere. Paganism, even to a pagan, even being other can get old to you if you let it and then you are not doing anything for a sabbat or a gather at spring, or fall. I don’t dislike Christians or Christianity, I dislike fundies. It can be just as bad to be a Fundie of sciences than that of a Christian religion. I can find similarity in Christianity, and other bible paths and denominations than I even can with pagans or heathens. I like and respect all traditions, even if it does not make sense. You can’t tell people, they have to learn it on their own.

Then, at some point, you will fall away from your spiritual path, and question yourself. “Ok, I know I am Vamp, Fae, Therian etc…where is my faith?” There are no wolven paths, no therian religions, very little vampire religion, and the Scots/Irish traditions are for the family witch of Scotland or Ireland, not the Faerie. Then you realize you live a faith, instead of are a faith. There is no God before you. You are your own deity. Your own God. That is when we all realize something powerful about ourselves in a good way. By George, you made it back to base camp.

Tolkien. Is. Not. A. Reference.

My usual, gut-level, teeth-grinding reaction to certain referential allusions that occasionally come up during discussion is as follows:

Tolkien. Is. Not. A. Reference.

While Tolkien was, to be sure, a scholar with a great deal of research on the mythos and legends of Europe under his belt, he did not write, nor did he intend to, a book of pure histories (as pure as such things can be); his works were not intended as a straight catalog of those myths. He combined those myths with his own personal vision and created a functionally fictional world, with its own specific flavor of races and beings.

Yes, the ‘elves’ in Tolkien’s fictional world were in some part inspired by creatures referred to in ‘actual mythos’, such as the LiosAlfar, and the nobler strains of ‘Sidhe’ (re: W. Y. Evans-Wentz; A.E.’s tale). Yes, the Ainur and the Valar have enough similarities to the mythos regarding the hierarchies of the Judeo-Islamic heavens and the beings therein to be considered derivative of those myth systems.

That Tolkien modified those systems and shaped them into his own narrative, his own myth system; into a work intended to be fiction, discounts him as a serious reference in such discussion.

Unless you come specifically from the fictional world that Tolkien created, you cannot refer to his works as being valid references for the history of your people.

Tolkien is not history.

However.

Neither are those myth systems from which he took so much of his inspiration. From one perspective, Tolkien’s body of work could be viewed along the lines of a modern Aeneid or Odyssey. It is an epic narrative, a heroic tale; a prose poem exploring the beauty of language for its own sake, of tale-telling for its own sake. It twines older tales together and makes of them a new storyline. How different is this from what Homer and Virgil did?

How much less viability is Tolkien given because his works were published in a modern era wherein belief in those particular myths is functionally obsolete? How much more likely would Tolkien’s works be to take their place in the folklore of Europe if they had been published without the fictional, alter-world veneer; if they had been published in an era in which there was still enough belief in the fee creatures of Europe to make additions to that line of legend possible?

There seems a tendency, indeed more than seems, as one has heard it said explicitly by various people, to discount any reference to the fee that comes published after a certain century; as if all true possibility of knowledge of those peoples ceased to exist after they ceased to be such a presence in this world. Modern works on the subject are hopelessly derivative and tangled, tainted by too much separation in time from the events, separated too much by modern life and long centuries of human influence to contain Truth. Bull. The fee have not ceased to exist. People who can see through the separation, whether it be time, distance, or some immeasurable barrier, have not ceased to exist. The tales that were told in the era from which such tales are considered viable were just as much influenced by the human society that existed then as tales that are told now are. They are no less, and no more, pure. They are no less, and no more, filtered through human perspective – the old tales, when recounted afresh during the last century or so, are only filtered through a longer timespan spent in that perspective and the shifts which have occurred therein. The works of Tolkien and other authors who further fictionalize and alter mythos do not contain The Whole Truth. The myths and legends upon which their works are based also do not contain The Whole Truth. Yet myth – The Tain, The Eddas, The Mabonigion – sometimes seem to be given a higher degree of credibility than they can rationally be owed; and are sometimes referred to in favorable contrast to modern fictionalizations to such an extraordinary extent that it seems reactionist: a knee-jerk ‘We are Not Fictional. We will not be taken seriously if We include Tolkien and other modern fictional sources among possibly viable sources of inspiration/fragments of truth/etc. We are referred to in Real â„¢ Mythology, therefore Our ideas about Our existences are valid and should be taken seriously.’

What is mythology but an established system of supposition and fiction based in some part upon observed Truths? What is most fiction but the process of creating a fanciful narrative based upon observed Truths? Why the vast divergence in opinion on the possible legitimacies of Myth as opposed to the possible legitimacies of Fiction? What is it about the existence of a spiritual reliance upon certain things that somehow brings them closer to Truth in people’s minds?

To what degree does the story of Etain and Midhir contain Truth? To what degree, at the time when it first came into being, was that story believed to be an accounting of actual events? To what degree did the populace believe in the existence of the Sidhe mounds, in the feats of Cu Cuchulainn? To what degree were such figures – the hero-men, the demi-gods – seen as real? Were they ideals; were they archetypal figures; were they, like Gandalf, Sauron, and Bilbo, designed mainly as vehicles to carry the narrative principle? (There are, of course, those exceptions to this, much as there are in Greek mythos; those figures who were known as deities, and given credence outside fictional narrative – in this case, for example; Brigit, the Dagda, Danu, etc.)

An example: It can be accepted that the peoples of that land at that time believed in the notion of shapeshifting – believed that among them, there were people who had that ability. The story of the Children of Lir includes in it this concept.

One can well imagine the common folk of the time listening to the story for the first, or the thirtieth, time, and seeing in their minds-eye the cruel sorceress Aoife cursing the children, seeing in their minds-eye the long, cold winters the children, now swans, spent struggling to survive on a frozen lake; much as folk today hear the stories of Tolkien or other fictional authors, and see Smaug sailing over the town of Dale, or see the elves sailing away from the Grey Havens.

Only here, today, our belief system is not inherently tied in to that narrative, and even we who believe in creatures such as elves, such as dragons, sometimes discount what threads of truth there may be in such works simply because by acknowledging that the separation between fiction and myth, when it comes to works classified only as fiction, is mutable and untraceable, we feel we invalidate our ideas about ourselves. This is not to say that we need give more credence to fiction, or that Tolkien and those of his ilk are a valid reference source when it comes to our histories or our people, but merely that it appears overly defensive to readily admit that myth does not contain pure fact, while refusing to acknowledge that sometimes, recently published works of fantasy, differentiated only from some myth by the changing standard of genre categorization and belief, may not always be pure fiction.

A Simple Introduction to Otherkin and Therianthropes

Version 1.1 – Updated 2014-05-19
Created 2013-09-16
By Orion Scribner
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Under these terms, you have permission to share, print, change, and translate this article,
so long as you only give it out for free, and credit Orion Scribner as the author.

 

What are otherkin?

Some real people think of themselves as kinds of creatures from mythology. These people call themselves “otherkin.”1 An otherkin has the belief that he is a creature from mythology, such as an elf.2 He says that elf is his true self. It is his identity.3This is real to him. It isn’t a pretend person that he plays in a game.4

Each otherkin makes his own idea of how and why he is an otherkin.5 He is the only one who can find what he is. Many otherkin say their idea of themselves is a personal spiritual belief.6 It is common for an otherkin to say his spirit inside him isn’t human.7 It is also common for an otherkin to say that he wasn’t human in his past life.8 They have the belief that people have one life after another. That is the belief of reincarnation. Some of them find other ways to think of themselves without using any of those beliefs.

They often use reasons from spirituality for their beliefs about themselves. However, this is different from a religion.9 Each otherkin has any religion he wants.10 Many of them have Neo-Pagan religions.11 As a result, many ideas about otherkin have a base in ideas from those religions. People don’t need to have the beliefs of those religions in order to say they are otherkin.

They look like humans. They were born like humans. Many of them say their bodies are human. However, some of them say they have elves in their family history. They say their own bodies are different from human bodies.12

What we know of as otherkin started in the year 1990.13 That year, a group of them on the Internet made the word “otherkin” for themselves.14 (The word “otherkin” comes from two English words: “other,” and “kin,” which is a word for a family.) That group had some roots in a few groups of people from earlier.15Earlier groups called themselves elves. Starting about 1972, the elves sent out writings in mailing lists and in magazines.16 Those elves are the earliest groups we have knowledge of who said they were other than human. If there were people like this in years before that, then I haven’t found writings from them.

Sometimes people use the word “otherkin” for other kinds of people who think of themselves as other than human. For example, animal people. Animal people people call themselves “therianthropes.”17

What are therianthropes?

Therianthropes are real people who think of themselves as animals.18 They believe they have animal selves. These selves aren’t pretend people for games.19 They are more than just their favorite animals.20 Each person finds his own idea of why and how he is an animal. He is the only one who can find whether he is an animal, or what kind. No other person can find out any of this for him.21

The first group of therianthropes started in 1993, in a place on the Internet. The place was made for having talks about werewolf stories. A few people there had a talk about how they had a feeling that they were animals.22 They took up the word “therianthrope” for themselves in 1994.23 (“Therianthrope” was a word for animal people in old stories. The word “therianthrope” comes from two Greek words. Theríon is a word for wild animal. Anthrōpos is a word for person.) Later, the therianthropes met the people who call themselves otherkin.

Therianthropes have the knowledge that their bodies are human.24 Some of them think of it as a spiritual belief to think of themselves as animals.25 They say they have an animal spirit in a human body.26 Some say they had been animals in past lives.27 Although these are spiritual beliefs, it isn’t a religion. That’s because each person has their own beliefs.28

Some therianthropes don’t use spiritual beliefs.29 Instead, they say their minds are like the minds of animals. For them, ideas from psychology are helpful for saying how their minds are different.30

Do they have a mental illness?

It is unusual for a person to have the belief that he is an animal. By itself, that belief isn’t a mental illness. Psychologists say that belief is only unhealthy if a person also has other problems that make worse trouble. One problem is if he has the belief that his body is becoming an animal. Then he might not have clear knowledge of what is real. Another problem is if he also has other mental problems that put him in danger. That could make a bad mix.31 Most therianthropes don’t have those problems.

Some therianthropes and otherkin asked their psychologists about this. Their psychologists said their beliefs were not a sign of mental illness.32 It is acceptable to have some personal beliefs. It is even acceptable if the beliefs are unusual. Beliefs are only a problem when they put somebody in danger, and make somebody too confused about what is true.

In short

Therianthropes and otherkin are real people who think of themselves as other than human.33 Animal people call themselves therianthropes. Otherkin are elves, or other creatures from mythology. Therianthropes and otherkin started as separate groups. These ideas are unusual. However, they are not a mental illness. For many of these people, it is a spiritual belief.

 

ENDNOTES

1. Writings that say that otherkin are people who identify as creatures from mythology:
Polydorases, quoted by the Crisses, ed., “Otherkin & Awakening FAQ v3.0 Beta.” http://astraeasweb.net/plural/cris-otherkinfaq-old.html (dead link, no archive)
Eyovah, quoted by the Crisses, ed., “Otherkin & Awakening FAQ 3.0 Beta.”
Michelle Belanger, “Dragons & faeries & gnomes oh my! The fascinating world of otherkin.” PagaNet News, vol. 10, iss. 4 (2003). http://web.archive.org/web/20040222145023/http://www.paganet.org:80/pnn/2003/Litha/Feature_Sample1.html (dead link, see the archive from 2004.)
Michelle Belanger, The Psychic Vampire Codex: A Manual of Magick and Energy Work (York Beach, ME: Weiser, 2004), p. 274.
Aeldra Nightwood. “Otherkin.” 2011-01-28. http://divinorum.cz/symposion/otherkin
Wolf in the Shadows. “Otherkin.” 2003-10-07. http://bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A1152983
Windrider. “Otherkin.” 2005-01-01. http://everything2.com/title/Otherkin
2. There are therianthropes and otherkin who are women, men, or people of other kinds. Please excuse me for using the word “he.” I had a reason to use that word. I made this article to be easy to translate into other languages. I had to use very simple grammar. That is why I had to use the words “he” and “him.” If I used the words “he or she,” or singular “they,” then automatic translators have difficulty with those. They also have difficulty with unusual words. I found that I couldn’t use other pronouns such as “s/he,” “sie,” or “xe.”
3. Writings that say it is an identity: Windrider.
4. Sources that say this identification isn’t a pretend person in a game:
FAQ Otherkin Hispano & Noctalium.” n.d. otherkinhispano. http://foroactivo.com/faq?dhtml=no (dead link, no archive)
Kreyas. “What is otherkin?”Circa 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080906191533/http://otherkincoalition.info:80/forum/blog.php/?page_id=7 (dead link, see the archive from 2008.)
Lupa, A field guide to otherkin (Stafford, England: Immanion Press, 2007), p. 27, 108-109.
5. Writings that talk about the individualism of otherkin:
Tirl Windtree, “What are otherkin?” 2003-04-06. http://www.otherkin.net/2016/09/what-are-otherkin/
The Crisses, ed., “Crisses’ Otherkin FAQ v 4.0.1.” 2001-02-08. http://kinhost.org/res/Otherfaq.php
Rialian Ashtae, “Forward,” in Lupa, A Field Guide to Otherkin, p. 15.
6. Writings that say that it is a spirituality, or that say that many otherkin think it is:
Otherkin.net, “On being otherkin.” Otherkin: The Missing Manual. Circa 2001. (dead link, see the archive from 2015)
Windrider.
Kreyas.
Polydorases, quoted by the Crisses, ed., “Otherkin & Awakening FAQ v 3.0 Beta.”
Belanger, p. 274.
7. Writings that say that many otherkin have the belief they are other than human in spirit:
Tirl Windtree, “What are otherkin?”
Wolf in the Shadows.
Adnarel. “What are otherkin, anyway?” http://main.otherkinalliance.org/articles/general-otherkin/what-are-otherkin-anyway/
Windrider.
Kreyas.
Reklaw. “Otherkin: A short introduction.”2003-05-23. Kuro5hin (online magazine).http://kuro5hin.org/story/2003/5/22/03514/1997
Belanger, “Dragons …”
Cara Des’tai. “The Internet goes mythic.”Fate (magazine). (2000). http://www.eristic.net/fey/media/fatearticle.php
HumbleLightworker, “Otherkin.” 2002-10-10. http://embracingmystery.org/articles/otherkin-humble.html (dead link, no archive)
Arhúaine. “What are otherkin?” Circa 2000. http://stormpages.com/wolfglade/Arhuaine/otherkinwhat.html (dead link, see thearchive from 2002)
The Crisses, ed., “Otherkin FAQ 4.0.1.”
Lupa, A field guide to otherkin, p. 27, 186.
Lupa, “Otherkin and the Pagan community.” 2006-10-22. WitchVox (online magazine). http://witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=uswa&c=words&id=11030
8. Writings that say that many otherkin have the belief that they were other than human in a past life:
Tirl Windtree, “What are otherkin?”
Wolf in the Shadows.
Windrider.
Kreyas.
Reklaw.
Belanger, “Dragons …”
Lupa, “Otherkin and the Pagan community.”
Lupa, A field guide to otherkin, p. 57-58, 162, 166.
HumbleLightworker.
Reverend Kim, “What the heck’s an otherkin?”
Arhúaine. “What are otherkin?”
Adara, quoted by the Crisses, ed., “Otherkin & Awakening FAQ v 3.0 Beta.”
Ghostshadow, quoted by the Crisses, ed., “Otherkin & Awakening FAQ v 3.0 Beta.”
Aeldra Nightwood.
Adzia. “Otherkine – kým jsi a kým chceš být? (Otherkin: Who are you and who do you want to be?)” 2009-01-03.http://cavern.cz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=355&Itemid=28
9. Writings that say that “otherkin” is not a religion:
Wolf in the Shadows.
Kreyas.
FAQ Otherkin Hispano & Noctalium.
Lupa, A Field Guide to Otherkin, p. 214-215.
10. Writings that say that otherkin practice different religions:
FAQ Otherkin Hispano & Noctalium.
Lupa, “Otherkin and the Pagan community.”
Lupa, A Field Guide to Otherkin, p. 211.
11. Writings that say that many otherkin practice Neo-Pagan religions:
Belanger, “Dragons …”
Lupa, “Otherkin and the Pagan community.”
Lupa, A Field Guide to Otherkin, p. 211.
Arhúaine. “What are otherkin?”
12. The founder of Otherkin.net, Rannirl Windtree, claims to be physically elven, “a human-elven crossbreed.” In “Here and now.” 2002-04. http://www.otherkin.net/2016/09/here-and-now/
The Silver Elves say their genes come from elves. In “Elves and brownies * A letter to Keith Olberman.” 2009-09-15.silverelves.wordpress.com/2009/09/15
Wildelf said that in the 1980s, more people thought of themselves as other than human for physical reasons. In “Various theories and the like…” 2002-03-01. otherkin.livejournal.com/30114.html
Arhúaine said that if a spirit that isn’t human is inside a human body, then that could make it different from the usual human body. In “Physically human?” 2002-04. http://www.otherkin.net/2016/09/physically-human/
Lupa gives some information about some therianthropes and otherkin who say their bodies aren’t human. In A field guide to otherkin, p. 41-42, 66-72, 170, 181-182, 241.
13. Orion Scribner, The Otherkin Timeline.
14. Orion Scribner, The Otherkin Timeline.
15. Orion Scribner, The Otherkin Timeline.
16. Aeona Silversong, “The Elf Queen’s Daughters.” Green Egg 1995 Winter 28:111, p. 29.
17. Writings that use the word “otherkin” for people with animal selves too:
Wolf in the Shadows.
Adnarel.
Windrider.
Belanger, “Dragons …”
Lupa, “Otherkin and the Pagan community.”
18. Writings that say that therianthropes identify as animals:
Wolf VanZandt, “Words and concepts.” http://theriantimeline.com/therianthropy/words_and_concepts
Therianthropes.com, “Therianthropy.”
Lupa, A Field Guide to Otherkin, p. 118, 124.
19. Writings that say it isn’t a pretend person for in a game:
Mokele, “So, what’s this ‘therianthropy’ thing?” Circa 2003. http://web.archive.org/web/20060203004125/http://www.therianthropy.org:80/mokele/intro.htm (dead link, see thearchive from 2006)
Therian Círculo. “Introdução à Introdução (Introduction to the introduction).” 2008-01-24.
http://therianbrasil.blogspot.com/2008/01/introduo-introduo.html
Shifters.org, “Therianthropy-an overview.” http://web.archive.org/web/20010512033309/http://www.shifters.org:80/overview/therianthropy.shtml (dead link, see the archive from 2001)
Jakkal, Shifting FAQ , 1999.
Lupa, A Field Guide to Otherkin, p. 131.
20. Writings that say that it isn’t your favorite animal:
Shifters.org, “Therianthropy-an overview.”
Wulfhowl.com, “What’s therianthropy?” http://www.wulfhowl.com/therianthrope-definition
ShadowsMyst. “Dispelling the myths.” n.d. http://shadowsden.org/therianmyths.html
21. “Nobody can tell you if you are a therianthrope or not. […] only you know if you’re a therianthrope or not.” Excerpt from Wulfhowl.com, “What’s therianthropy?” http://www.wulfhowl.com/therianthrope-definition/
22. Polar said, “Sometime in 1993, one of the posters to the [alt.horror.werewolves newsgroup …] stated that he, himself, felt spiritually like he was a werewolf.” In Polar, “Unofficial AHWW Archive.” 1998-08. http://web.archive.org/web/20020210095017/http://www.furnation.com:80/Lobo/forest/uh-ahww.htm (dead link, see the archive from 2000)
Mokele said, “a newsgroup, formed in 1992, called alt.horror.werewolves, which was focused on the discussion of werewolves, in the mythic sense, in movies, books, and assorted other media. […] Over time, there was more and more speculation about the spiritual nature and consequences of the topic, until in 1993 some brave soul took the plunge and said he felt he was a wolf inside, spiritually.” In Mokele, “So, what’s this ‘therianthropy’ thing?”
Therian Círculo. “Introdução à Therian Comunidade (Introduction to the therian community).” 2008-01-25.http://therianbrasil.blogspot.com/2008/01/introduo.html
23. Swiftpaw. “Tracing the Origins of the Term ‘Therianthropy.'” http://otherwonders.com/swiftpaws/therian/old/termtherian.html (dead link, see the archive from 2004)
24. Writings that say that therianthropes have the knowledge that their bodies are human:
Shifters.org, “Therianthropy-an overview.”
Wulfhowl.com, “What’s therianthropy?”
Ashen-Fox said that having the knowledge that one has a human body is what makes therianthropes different from people having mental illnesses. “Therianthropy is […] a constant state of self-awareness and the belief that while our bodies are 100% human-the souls that we’re born with are entirely different. This is the primary difference between the reality of being a Therian, and fantasy of a clinical disorder. We’re human. […] Our bodies are human, but our minds, souls, et cetera, aren’t.” In Ashen-Fox, “What is therianthropy?” 2009-02. http://deviantart.com/deviation/115731755
Sonne, “Terms and definitions.” Project Shift. http://project-shift.org/terms-definitions
25. Writings that say that some therianthropes have the belief that being a therianthrope is a spirituality: Therianthropes.com, “Therianthropy.”
26. Writings that say that some therianthropes have the belief that they have an animal spirit in a human body:
Jakkal wrote, “These are Weres that believe that […] they are simply the animal within. Basically, they believe that no part of their spirit is human, it is entirely animal, functioning within a human body.” In Jakkal, Shifting FAQ, 1999-12-24. http://web.archive.org/web/20020809034509/http://www.were.net:80/~pinky/shifters.html (dead link, see the archive from 2000)
Shifters.org, “Therianthropy- an overview.”
Tygerwulfe said that a therianthrope is “An animal spirit in a human body.” In Tygerwolfe, “Therianthropy: A personal definition.” http://tygerwolfe.com/?page_id=92
Wulfhowl.com, “What’s therianthropy?”
Mokele, “So, what’s this ‘therianthropy’ thing?”
Ashen-Fox, “What is therianthropy?”
27. Writings that say that some therianthropes have the belief that they were animals in past lives:
Jakkal, Shifting FAQ, 1999.
Wulfhowl.com said that one of the beliefs that a therianthrope can have is “The belief that you were a certain animal in a past life, which is somehow significant to your current life.” In “What’s therianthropy?”
28. Writings that say that the beliefs of therianthropes are not a religion:
Some of them don’t have a religion at all. Wulfhowl.com said, “Therianthropy is not a religion; in fact, some therianthropes identify as atheist.” In “What’s therianthropy?”
Mokele, “So, what’s this ‘therianthropy’ thing?”
Therian Círculo. “Introdução à Introdução(Introduction to the introduction).”
29. It can be spiritual, but it doesn’t have to be spiritual for everyone. Wulfhowl.com said, “Therianthropy is not necessarily spiritual.” In Wulfhowl.com, “What’s therianthropy?”
30. Writings that say that some therianthropes have the belief that their mind is like the mind of an animal:
Therianthropes.com, “Therianthropy.”
Wulfhowl.com, “What’s therianthropy?”
Quil said, “Therianthropes’ personalities are partially not human; certain instincts and feelings aren’t of the primate type.” In Quil, “Introduction.” 2004-10-14. http://absurdism.org/therianthropy/introshift.html
Wulfhowl.com said that one of the ideas that a therianthrope can have is that “Psychological factors which connect you to an animal (or group of animals).” In “What’s therianthropy?”
Mokele said, “Some therians are atheist, and interpret their self-identification as an animal in terms of psychology (Jung is popular among those that share this worldview, though not the only option).” In Mokele, “So, what’s this ‘therianthropy’ thing?”
31. Paul E. Keck, Harrison G. Pope, James I. Hudson, Susan L. McElroy, and Aaron R. Kulick. “Lycanthropy: Alive and well in the twentieth century.” Psychological Medicine 18 (1988) 113-120.
Keck’s article is about mentally ill people who have the belief that they are animals. Psychology’s current definition of that problem comes from this article.
32. Lupa gives the stories of three people whose psychologists said it is okay to be a therianthrope or otherkin. In Lupa, A Field Guide to Otherkin, p. 261-262.
33. Writings that use similar ways of saying that otherkin are people who identify as other than human:
Tirl Windtree, “What are otherkin?”
Tirl Windtree, “What is an otherkin?”
Wolf in the Shadows, “Otherkin.”
Windrider, “Otherkin.”
Adnarel, “What are otherkin, anyway?”
Miaren Crow’s Daughter, “What are otherkin?” http://home.otherkin.net/miaren/what.html (dead link, see the archive from 2005)
Belanger, 274.
Kreyas, “What is otherkin?”
Reklaw.
Belanger, “Dragons & Faeries & Gnomes Oh My! The Fascinating World of Otherkin.”
Lupa, “Otherkin and the Pagan community.”
Arhuaine. “What are otherkin?”
Starelf, quoted by the Crisses, ed., “Otherkin & Awakening FAQ v 3.0 Beta.”
The Crisses, ed., “Otherkin FAQ v 4.0.1.”
Tocosar Ætlanatra (Dandelion Æ), “Why an Elf? An examination of the tendencies of Otherkin to associate themselves with mythological beings.” 2001-05. http://otherkin.net/2016/09/why-an-elf

Till We Meet Again

Article originally posted on Dreamhart.org.

In our communities, as otherkin and therians and vampires, much of our interaction takes place online. To the point that the vampire community has even coined the phrase OVC, or, “Online Vampire Community” to refer to that portion of things.

This document, however, is about taking our community off the screen and into the real world. It is, simply put, a guide to meetups, mini-gathers, gatherings, howls, and conventions. It is intended to cover the questions of how-to, how-not-to, and what these events are like for both the person or people organizing them and those simply attending.

This guide was last updated on April 10, 2017.  Please feel free to suggest any additions, corrections, questions, or changes in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Read moreTill We Meet Again

A Revised Otherkin FAQ

Originally posted on Dreamhart.org.

Why This Document?

Frankly, this document exists because I am generally dissatisfied with the other otherkin FAQs currently in existence.  Many have not been updated in any meaningful sense for years, others strike me as woefully incomplete.  Worst, most seem to have a penchant for addressing the wrong questions.  And I’m not too fond of many of the answers given either.  This FAQ is my attempt to address these problems.

While there is overlap between the otherkin community and other communities such as vampires, therians, and starseeds (among others) the details of those additional communities are outside the scope of this FAQ.

This FAQ was last updated on July 24, 2018.  Please feel free to suggest any additions, corrections, or changes in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

What Are Otherkin?

That right there is probably the question most people who read this FAQ would like addressed.  What are otherkin?  I’m sorry to say that you’re probably not going to find a straight answer on this one.  That’s not because people don’t want to give you one, but because no one has ever been able to get the members of the otherkin community to agree on a single definition.  Oh, many have been proposed over the years but they always seem to leave someone out or else include members of other groups.

One of my favorites is this, from the old Otherkin Resource Center webpage (now defunct):

Main entry: oth•er•kin
1 : one who identifies with various mythological archetype as vehicles of spiritual evolution and self-expression, similar to Native totemism only with a stronger level of self-identification.
2 : someone who believes in reincarnation, and that not all of their reincarnations were as a human.

Another method of defining the term otherkin is to look at the word literally: otherkin are “kin to the other”.  I’ve written an extensive essay on that interpretation of the term, which may be found here, though my opinions on the matter have changed in the years since writing that piece.

There are many more definitions, of course.  Most of the popular ones can be found in the other FAQs referenced in the Additional Resources section of this FAQ.

Ultimately, however, otherkin are the people who choose to be members of the online otherkin community, the wider otherkin subculture, and/or self-identify as otherkin.  That’s the only 100% accurate definition of the word otherkin.

How do I know if I’m Otherkin?

A lot has already been written on this subject in the community, and the related question “What kind of kin am I?”  But, quite frankly, I think most of it is bullshit.  At best, you’ll be told to do some soul-searching.  At the very worst, you’ll be told to look at a checklist of supposedly otherkin traits and see how many you match up against or to get someone to take a look at you on the astral.  None of the answers given to this question are all that useful, in my opinion.

My advice?  Explore the community.  Meet as many otherkin of various types as you can.  Get a feel for the ones that seem genuine and clueful.  Read what they have to say about themselves, their experiences, their memories.  See if anything strikes a chord for you, if anything “resonates”.

If not?  No harm, no foul.  There’s nothing shameful in not being otherkin, and frankly it may make your life easier if you’re not one.  But if something does strike a chord?  Ah, that’s where things start getting interesting.

First off, don’t jump to conclusions.  Resonance means there’s an affinity there, but it doesn’t tell you a thing about the nature of that affinity.  And you can resonate with elements of fiction just as easily as you can resonate with genuine accounts of nonhuman experiences or memories.  I resonate strongly with the Minbari of Babylon 5, with the Taelons of Earth Final Conflict, and with the Tayledras of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series.  All three of these groups are fictional, and I do not believe that I was or am any of them.  But each of them has qualities that remind me of my elven life.  They resonate with that in me which is elven.

If you find something you resonate with, explore it.  Find out more about the group described by that source, and see how much of what you learn continues to resonate.  It may be that certain specific things resonate with you, while others do not.  For instance, while there are elements of the history, language, and culture of Tulari elves which resonate with me there are many other aspects which feel completely alien.  This is to be expected, as my own elven life was not among the Tulari.  It was among another group of elves that might be considered a cousin to them on a world called Alorya.  Use those feelings to guide you in your own search: resonance to steer you towards things you should look into more deeply, and the feeling of alienness to warn you not to go too far off course.

That’s how you’ll figure out if you’re otherkin, and if so what kind(s) of kin you are.  Because when you find the right ones, there won’t be the feeling of alienness.  Just more and deeper layers of resonance for you to explore.

That’s my opinion, anyway.  If you’d like other perspectives on how to know if you’re otherkin, and how to find out what kind of otherkin you are, there’s a whole section on the subject in the Directory of Otherkin Writings linked to from the Additional Resources section at the bottom of this FAQ.

Where do I find other Otherkin?

If you’re new to the community, this is probably one of your biggest questions.  The short answer is: online!  The internet is, hands down, the best place to find otherkin.  Even if you’re looking for a real-life, face-to-face meeting the internet is probably the best place to arrange it.  Below is a non-comprehensive listing of major places to meet otherkin online.  More can be found here and here.

Mailing Lists

KinFrontiers: Originally the “advanced” discussion section for a trio of otherkin-themed lists, this list hosts general otherkin discussions at this point.

Lostkin Project: A mailing list for otherkin who have no memories of nonhuman lives, but who don’t believe this life was their first.  Searching for reliable and repeatable methods of Awakening their true selves.

NewKin: The “basic” list from the aforementioned trio.  If you’re new to the otherkin community, this is probably where you want to start out.  The intermediate/general discussion list is now defunct and KinFrontiers has taken over that role in addition to advanced discussions.

WanderingPaths:  My own list, for general otherkin discussions from the very basic to the advanced.

Unfortunately the selection of otherkin mailing lists is not what it once was.  At this time, these are the only active general otherkin mailing lists I can recommend.  More lists, generally species or region specific, can be found here.

Forums

Draconity.org: A long-lived community for otherkin dragons, dating back to 2008.

Dreamhart.org Forums: My own forums, dealing with otherkin and the esoteric.  Everyone’s welcome.

Embracing Mystery: Another otherkin and esoteric forum.  Fairly long-standing, it’s been around since 2005.

Kinmunity: A new otherkin and therian forum replacing the older WulfHowl forum.

Stars on the Still Waters: A relatively young forum focusing on elven otherkin.

A more comprehensive list can be found here.

Community Journals

Otherkin Dreamwidth Community The main otherkin community on Dreamwidth.org.

Otherkin Livejournal Community The main otherkin community on Livejournal.com.

Otherkin Haven Dreamwidth Community A Dreamwidth community for otherkin which attempts to provide its members with a safe haven, free of drama.

Otherkin News Livejournal Community A Livejournal community which posts regular updates about developments in the community and news which may be of interest to otherkin.

Otherkin Writings Dreamwidth Community A Dreamwidth community hosting writings about otherkin “as an experience and identity”.

A more comprehensive list can be found here.

IRC Channels

#Draconic on Draconic An IRC channel affiliated with Draconic.com.

#Draconity on Draconity An IRC channel affiliated with Draconity.org.

#GryphonGuild on FurNet An IRC channel for those who love gryphons, or are gryphons at heart.  Similar to AFD but for gryphon-lovers and gryphon-kin rather than dragon-lovers and dragon-kin.

#Dreamhart on MibbitNet The IRC channel affiliated with Dreamhart.org.  Obviously, I’m the channel founder on this one.  There’s also a web interface available here.  Currently, a scheduled chat takes place every Tuesday from 8pm ET to whenever things break up (generally between 2am and 4am ET), but the channel is available for use at any time and there’s usually at least a few people in it.

#Draconic on SquickMe A fork of the #draconic IRC channel.

#Crossroads on Therian.org General discussion channel for therians.

A more comprehensive list can be found here.

Non-IRC Chats

GratuitousNonhumanty: DeviantArt otherkin group with a reasonably active chat.

Kinmunity: Web-based chatroom for the Kinmunity website.

Otherkin-Deviants: DeviantArt otherkin group with chat.

A more comprehensive list can be found here.

Meetups

These change frequently.  Here is the list of all the public ones I currently know of, but I highly recommend checking Meetup.com yourself for others, as well as the regional mailing lists and community journals.  Maybe even consider starting your own.

If you go that route, you may find the advice here and here helpful.  Though they’re written for the BDSM community rather than from an otherkin perspective, many of the same concerns apply.  These two articles might also be useful for those considering going to a meetup for the first time.  Again, they’re written for the BDSM community rather than from an otherkin perspective, but many of the answers would remain the same.  And I’ve written my own guide for members of the otherkin, therian, and real-vampire communities, which attempts to cover both perspectives.

If you’d like others in your local area to find you, you may also want to create a profile in Dreamhart.org’s Otherkin Directory.

Gathers

A Gathering Echo: Annual Texas Based Gather in September.

Summer Gateways: Annual Texas Based Gather in May.

A more comprehensive listing may be found here.

Face to Face

This section is here as a caution.  Just because someone is otherkin doesn’t mean they are nice.  Just because you remember them from past lives doesn’t mean you know what they’re like in this one.  If you decide to meet with an otherkin you met online, or even at a public meetup or gather, please plan for your safety.  To the best of my knowledge there are no otherkin-specific articles that have yet been written on this subject but I highly recommend two articles from the BDSM community on the subject of safety when meeting people offline that can be found here and here.  The vampire community has also written a good guide here.

Any advice for someone new to the community?

Use discretion when discussing your Otherness.

Basically, don’t shout that you’re otherkin from the rooftops.  Your mundane family, and you, may be a lot happier if they don’t know you’re a dragon than if they do.  Your coworkers?  They probably don’t want to hear about your past life as an elven princess.  Same with your classmates, teachers, friends, etc… they don’t necessarily need to know about this aspect of your life.  Pick and choose who you tell carefully.  Be sure it’s someone who will react well, and be sure you have a solid reason for telling them.

In the same vein, don’t run around online announcing your otherness in non-otherkin venues.  The nice people over on wicca.com would probably like to talk about Wicca and not about how you’re one of the Tuatha de Danaan.  And people in places like GaiaOnline would probably like to just play their game and not be bothered with other members spiritual beliefs.  Would you like to hear the Christian players proselytizing?  It’s not nice to non-consensually involve bystanders in your spirituality.

Last, steer clear of the media.  I can’t emphasize this enough, steer clear of the media.  I don’t care how sympathetic and understanding the reporter sounds, or how big a chance it is to finally get our side of the story told, it *never* actually works out that way.  You will get manipulated, you will get misquoted, and the otherkin community will be treated in a manner that is sensationalist rather than serious.  Just say no when it comes to participating in any form of media on the basis of your Otherness.  And that goes triple for “Reality TV” of any kind.  That said, if you absolutely positively cannot avoid giving an interview, here’s some advice on do’s and dont’s from the vampire community, the pagan community, and even the furry community.

You’re still allowed to apply critical thinking.

Finding out you’re otherkin is a pretty jarring experience for one’s worldview.  If you never believed in the existence of dragons, it can be a shock to learn that you are one.  Because of this, many otherkin completely abandon what they consider to be a mundane worldview in favor of a new, magical one.  And sadly, this often means leaving science and rationality at the door.

Because of this, and exacerbated by a general tendency towards being accepting of everyone’s beliefs, there’s a high level of bullshit floating around the otherkin community.  I could spend a lot of time listing what I consider to be examples of this but frankly that’s outside the scope of this FAQ.  Instead, I’ll just suggest that you not be afraid to apply reason and critical thinking to your own beliefs.  See if what you believe or remember is both internally consistent and reasonably consistent with what we know about external reality.  Also don’t be afraid to challenge people on the claims they make.  Extraordinary claims, such as physical shapeshifting or being an undead/immortal vampire, require extraordinary evidence.  Being otherkin doesn’t mean you have to be so open-minded your brains fall out.

Don’t share everything you know about yourself.

Holding some information back is a great way to verify what other people tell you.  If you’re comparing past-life memories with someone, hold a few details back.  Specific things that you will never share in a public setting.  Then, when talking with others who claim to remember the same things, see if they volunteer any of the things you’ve held back without prompting.

Similarly, hold some information back about what you know of your astral form.  Then, if someone else takes a look to “verify” things, you can see if they mention the parts you’ve held back and have a much clearer idea of whether they’re really looking at you astrally, or just telling you what you want to hear.

This technique is useful for external verification in many esoteric/spiritual contexts.

Don’t forget about safety.

The community isn’t all fun and games.  Like any online community, there are those who are out to manipulate you.  To use you. To hurt you.  It’s up to you to make sure they don’t get that chance.  Mostly, common sense is all you need here but some specific advice can be found in my own articles Warning Signs and Abusive Situations, as well as a vampire community article titled Social Predators, and a vampire community article titled Sociopaths.  If you’re planning to join an organization you may also want to evaluate it with the Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame, though the frame is subjective and with many cults you may not have the information to effectively evaluate it until you’re already a member.  Another good article on joining groups can be found here.

There were also a few articles linked to in the Face to Face section of this FAQ, on the specific safety concerns that apply when meeting someone from online face to face so you may want to go back and read them if you haven’t already.

It’s also important to stay safe in terms of your health. If you’re having unusual physical symptoms, check with a doctor first before deciding it has a spiritual or metaphysical cause.  Not everything is connected with being otherkin.  SphynxCat has a very good overview of various health issues and medical concerns for members of the vampire community here, and she also has a good section on safety when feeding on blood here.  And links to more information which can be found elsewhere.

Don’t set out to change the world (or the community).

It’s natural to want to contribute, to make a difference.  I think everyone feels that way.  But if you’re just starting out in the community, you’re probably not in a position to do much to help others.  If you have existing areas of expertise, feel free to use them, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’ve become an instant expert on otherkin because you happen to be one.  Don’t start out trying to create massive community projects, organizations, or the like.  Get involved with the ones that are already out there.  See what you can add to them by just providing a fresh perspective and another set of eyes.  You’ll be a lot more effective that way, and you’ll build credibility with those who are paying attention.  And when the time comes for you to give back to the community, and start your own projects and groups, they’ll be much more likely to support you in turn.

Another essay of mine which deals with this topic can be found here.

Don’t let it go to your head.

You’re not immortal.  You’re not royalty in this life.  You’re not even special, just because you’re otherkin.  You’re just different.  So don’t let it go to your head.  Don’t fall into fantasies about some future date when the veil will fall, magic will become real, and there will be a war between humans and otherkin.  Don’t fall into delusions of constant astral battles.  Don’t mistake fantasy and wish-fulfillment for resonance.  In short?  Otherkin are just as human as everyone else.  Hold onto that, it keeps you grounded.

It’s worth it.

There are many things about being otherkin, and about being part of the otherkin community, that will drive you crazy.  There’ll be days when you wake up and you’ll wish you’d never heard of otherkin, wish you were normal, wish you could just forget about it all.  But if you are otherkin, and you hang in there and find those you resonate deeply with, those who really understand you, those you may have known in other lives. If you can find those you can consider your spiritual family, in this life.  Then, I promise, it’ll all have been worth it.  I know it has been for me.

Additional Resources

Community History

Otherkin Timeline: The Recent History of Elfin, Fae, and Animal People

A History of Multiples & Otherkin Together

A History of Plantkin In the Otherkin Community

The Elf Queen’s Daughters and the Silver Elves

Foundation’s Edge: The History of the Online Werecommunity

Unofficial Alt.Horror.Werewolves Archive

A History of the Fictionkin Community

A History of the Therian Community – 1993

A History of the Therian Community – 1994

A History of the Therian Community – 1995

A History of the Therian Community – 1996

A History of the Therian Community – 1997

A History of the Therian Community – 1998

A History of the Therian Community – 1999

A History of the Therian Community – 2000

A History of the Draconic Community – 1993 to 2000

A History of the Draconic Community – 2001 – present

A History of the Unicorn Community

The Real Vampire Community’s Early Days

The Online Vampire Community Takes Off

The “Psivamp Revolution” and Its Aftermath

The Beginning To The Present Time (Vampire Community)

Terminology

The Otherkin Lexicon

Jargon on AnOtherWiki

FAQs

General Otherkin

An FAQ on Otherkin for the Perplexed Observer

A Simple Introduction to Otherkin and Therianthropes

Otherkin FAQ v 4.0.1

Otherkin and Awakening FAQ v 3.0 Beta

Feathertail’s Otherkin FAQ

So… You’re Awake?

Dragonkin

Draconity FAQ

Draconic FAQ

Elfkin

Elenari FAQ

Otherkin Hosts/Multiples

Otherkin Multiple FAQ Beta

Positively Plural FAQ version 1.1

Therians

Alt.Horror.Werewolves FAQ

Therianthropy FAQ

Contherianthropy FAQ

Vampires

Sphynxcat’s Real Vampire FAQs

Further Reading

The Otherkin Bibliography

A Directory of Otherkin Writings and Other Works, Organized by Topic

Real Vampire Community Resource & Link Directory

Resource Sites

Dreamhart.org

AnOtherWiki

Otherkin.net

Starlight Infinities

Sanguinarius.org

SphynxCat’s Real Vampires Support Page

Werelist.net

Draconic.com

Draconity.org

Béaltaine Féis: Bilé’s Fire Festival/Feast

Introduction:

Reality™ consists of multiple worlds, or as some today say, a “Multiverse of Realities”. At a very minimum, Gaelic Traditionalists believe there is a World of the Stars (the Sky), a Middle World (the Earth, or the Land) and an Underworld (the Sea). All of these worlds are connected in some way, with events and magicks from one affecting events occurring in a different world. These Worlds, separated by what some call The Veils, are closer at certain times called the “In-Between Times”. It should also be no surprise that the Ancestors practiced Their most important Magicks during such In-Between Times as the sunrise, the sunset, the moonrise, the moonset, and during the transitions of the seasons (Béaltaine and Samhain), as well as the extremes of the Sun (Mid-Winter and Mid-Summer), or the great “Fire Festivals”. The period from Samhain to Béaltaine is called “An Ghrian beag” or the “little Sun”. The period from Béaltaine to Samhain is called “An Ghrian mór” or the “greater Sun”. Great fires are kindled during the fire festivals. The thought behind this is that “like attracts like”, so that the Power of the flames will also attract the Magickal Power of the Sun. The fires also encourage and enhance the energies of the Sun and help to create conditions favorable to transmutation of magickal power.

Béaltaine is the first day of the summer season and begins the light half of the year, and Samhain is the start of the Celtic new year and begins the winter season, the dark half of the year. Béaltaine roughly translates to “Bel’s fire”, the Irish word for fire is “tinne”, and it refers to the bonfires lit on hilltops in honor of the Ancestor variously known as Bel, Beli, Bilé, Belenos, or Belenus. Bel, who is called Bilé (BEE-luh) in Ireland, is the Ancestor of light and fire, the life-giver, represented by the sun. Bilé is also called the “god of death” and He is associated with the Underworld. Why the apparent dichotomy? He is the Ancestor of both Life and Death. Bilé is often symbolically represented as the Tree of Life, connecting the three Worlds of Sky, Land, and Sea, so He is in many ways the transition and connection between Worlds. When we think of the three Worlds of Sky, Land, and Sea, and the elements associated with each (air, earth, and water), we might ask “What about fire? Where does that fit in?” Fire is that which connects every thing to every other thing… it runs through and is a part of everything. It is the connection and the Source of all things, it is also the “fire in the head”.

    “I am a wind on the sea,
    I am a wave of the ocean,
    I am the roar of the sea,
    I am a powerful ox,
    I am a hawk on a cliff,
    I am a dewdrop in sunshine,
    I am a boar for valor,
    I am a salmon in pools,
    I am a lake on a plain,
    I am the strength of art,
    I am a spear with spoils that wages battle,
    I am the one who shapes fire for a head…”

    -Amairgin, upon stepping foot on shore at Inber Colptha, Éire

“Fire for a head” means thought, and probably also refers to the magick inherent in thought… so it is fire that both creates and destroys, fire that runs through all things. Life and Death were very much a part of the ongoing process of Being to the ancient Celts. Death was considered to be a doorway between lives and not an ending. Life and Death are natural parts of the circle of time, which is eternal. The Sun spends part of the day (darkness) within the Depths. It spends the other part of the day in the vault of the Sky.

Béaltaine:

One of two Celtic fire festivals, Béaltaine is a celebration of the return of life and fertility to the world which takes place from sunset on April 30 to sunset on May 1. It is sometimes referred to as Cetsamhain which means “opposite Samhain.” In the various Celtic countries the festival is known by other names, such as Shenn do Boaldyn on the Isle of Man and Galan Mae in Wales. The Saxons called this day Walpurgisnacht, the night of Walpurga, goddess of May. Like Brigid, the Christian Church changed this goddess into St. Walpurga and attached a similar legend to her origin.

On Béaltaine, the entire tribe, village or clan traditionally leads the cattle to the Summer buailte (BOOa-ltuh) or pastures, until Samhain. Béaltaine is traditionally a fertility festival, an encouragement for the crops to begin growing and the cattle to give birth to the next generation. Sometimes, a procession is made around the fields with a burning torch of wood in order to obtain a blessing on the crops. On this day, all hearth-fires are extinguished to be rekindled at dawn the following morning from the sacred “bale-fire”. Traditionally, the hearth fire is kept burning all year, since its lighting on Samhain, until May Eve when the fire is extinguished. At this time, the hearth and chimney are thoroughly cleaned. It is also at this time that people give a thorough “spring cleaning” to their houses.

Two bonfires are kindled, probably from tein-eigin (need-fire), a fire made from the friction of two pieces of sacred wood, likely the oak. This fire originally symbolized the sacrifice of Bilé, the sacred Tree of Life. The Druids, would drive the cattle between these two bonfires to protect them from disease, to keep them magickally safe, and to ensure a high milk yield and fertility. In ancient Ireland, no one could light a Bel-fire until the Ard Ri, High King, had lit the first on Tara Hill. In 433 A.D., St. Patrick showed his deep understanding of this festival’s symbolism when he lit a fire on Slane Hill, ten miles from Tara, before King Laoghaire lit his. He could not have made a stronger symbolic usurpation of the people’s pagan faith. St. David made a similar gesture in Wales in the following century. These bonfires are kept burning all day and night, and people carry home torches from the Béaltaine fire to rekindle their own hearth, which is lit the next morning. The new flames symbolize a fresh start. The Maypole Dance, jumping through the Béaltaine bonfire, and the May Day games all celebrate the rebirth of Bilé.

A young, unmarried woman of the village is chosen to preside over the festival as the May Queen. Often the Queen chooses a consort from among the young men of the village, or sometimes the young men compete in a race or a mock combat for the honor. Young Celtic warriors (both male and female) often compete in various games of prowess, highlighting their skills as warriors, in the hopes of impressing some member of the opposite sex. The May King and Queen represent the Bilé and Danu, as Béaltaine is the celebration of the marriage of the First Father and the First Mother of the Tuatha Dé Danaan.

The Ancestors go and make love on the bare ground on Béaltaine ­ in some ways considered a ploughing of the earth, and the spilling of semen a fertilization of the earth, helping the crops to be fertile. Another, similar rite that used to take place at Béaltaine is called the “bringing in the May.” The young unmarried folks go out into the fields and collect flowers. They often spend the night in the woods, which sometimes results in many “greenwood marriages,” or “handfastings.” In the village the next morning, they stop at each home and exchange the flowers for food and drink. Thus, they represent a renewal of the Earth. This rite also represents the need of the tribe to share their belongings, sustaining the entire population as a result. Tribal needs always have priority over individual needs.

In ancient times, it was the May Queen who lead the singing to the rising sun (singing up the sun, as it were), as all the people congregated on the appropriate hill at Béaltaine. One telling explains that the May Queen rides in on a white horse and the May King on a black one. The Goddess on a white horse has a powerful association in Celtic mythology. When Niamh (NIV) of the Golden Hair comes to take Oisín (uh-SHEEN) away to the Land of Promise, she rides a white steed. Rhian Gabhra, or Rhiannon of the Gaels, rides a white mare in the Otherworldly realms. In both Welsh and Irish traditions the white mare symbolically represents the goddess in the Otherworld.

The May Pole, a phallic symbol for Bilé, is made usually from a Yule tree, its branches stripped and then planted into the Earth. Men and women dance around the pole, holding onto the ribbons and interweaving them as they go around. The King & Queen of May are elected as stand-ins for Bilé and Danu, and led the festival. (Also see http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/6360/may.html for a detailed description of, and instructions for, the May Pole Dance.)

Beltainne rites still take place at the famous Cloutie Well in Inverness-shire in Scotland. This well is situated on Culloden moor and is known by various names, such as Tobar Ghorm (the Blue Well) and Tobar n’Oige (Well of Youth). Cloutie means a cloth or rag. These clouties are tied on the surrounding trees by visitors who want to make a wish. Wells are seen as bringers of good health, and the water is considered sacred (not only because water represents Danu, but also because the Salmon of Knowledge lived in such waters). People make visits to the sacred well, and each clan territory has a sacred well. A visitor walks three times deiseal (sunwise, or clockwise) around the well, and then they throw in a silver coin, after which while thinking of their wish, they drink from the well using their hands. When those things are done, they tie a bit of colored cloth or a piece of clothing (cloutie) to a branch of a nearby tree. All of this has to be done in complete silence as well as when the sun isn’t in sight. The final part of the procedure requires that the visiting person be out of sight of the well before sunrise, otherwise the wish will not come true. According to the lore, young women also wash their face in the dew of Béaltaine morning to preserve their youth, as it is also considered to be sacred water.

As well as the widespread lighting of Béaltaine bonfires on moors or hilltops throughout Celtic lands, a special cake or bannock is made using eggs, milk and oatmeal. (Traditionally, meals on Béaltaine itself consist of cold foods, because the hearth-fires are extinguished.) These bannocks, which are kneaded entirely by hand, should not come into contact with steel. One piece of the bannock cake is blackened with charcoal and distributed along with the other pieces. Whoever draws this piece out of the bonnet has to leap three times through the flames of the Béaltainne fire, or they will have bad luck until the following Béaltaine. Young people jumped the fire for luck in finding a spouse, sojourners jumped the fire to ensure a safe journey, and pregnant women jumped the fire to assure an easy delivery. Béaltaine was also the time when divorces were granted in ancient Ireland, though the divorce laws changed throughout the years with the coming of the Church, and such was prohibited for many years. Handfasting (marriage) ceremonies are sometimes held on Béltaine. The term “honeymoon” comes from an old Béaltaine tradition. Béaltaine and Handfasting ceremonies are mostly held on nights of the full moon, and each pair of newlyweds is given a barrel of mead (honeywine). They are ushered into the woods, and are told not to come back until the barrel is empty. All of this is done with knowing grins from all.

The following is a poem translated out of the Gaelic by the Dal Riadh Celtic Trust and is said to be written by Fionn Mac Cumhail himself:

    May, clad in cloth of gold,
    Cometh this way;
    The fluting of the blackbirds
    Heralds the day.
    The dust coloured cuckoo
    Cries welcome O Queen!
    For winter has vanished,
    The thickets are green.
    Soon the trampling of cattle
    where river runs low!
    The long hair of the heather,
    The canna like snow.
    Wild waters are sleeping,
    Foam of blossom is here;
    Peace, save the panic
    In the heart of the deer.
    The wild bee is busy,
    The ant honey spills,
    The wandering kine
    Are abroad on the hills.
    The harp of the forest
    Sounds low, sounds sweet;
    Soft bloom on the heights;
    On the loch, haze of heat.
    The waterfall dreams;
    Snipe, corncakes, drum
    By the pool where the talk
    Of the rushes is come.
    The swallow is swooping;
    Song swings from each brae;
    Rich harvest of mast falls;
    The swamp shimmers gay.
    Happy the heart of man,
    Eager each maid;
    Lovely the forest,
    The wild plane, the green glade.
    Truly winter is gone,
    Come the time of delight,
    The summer truce joyous,
    May, blossom-white.
    In the heart of the meadows
    The lapwings are quiet;
    A winding stream
    Makes drowsy riot.
    Race horses, sail, run,
    Rejoice and be bold!
    See, the shaft of the sun
    Makes the water-flag gold.
    Loud, clear, the blackcap;
    The lark trills his voice
    Hail May of delicate colours
    tis May-Day – rejoice!

Besides being a celebration of the fertility of the earth and the renewed growth of crops and fertility of cattle, what we must also realize is that the cycle of planting and growth does not only pertain to the physical world, but also to our Spirituality as a whole. Béaltaine should be a time to plant the seeds of spiritual growth and development within us all.

I plant this seed.

With Love,
Áine

Cryptoamnesia and Past Life Memories

[note: This article is in no way meant to debunk past life memories, so much as it is meant to address a potential problem with remembering and offer a sane and rational way of approaching and accepting the real stuff.]

Past life material is tricky stuff to deal with. First and foremost, there is always the question: is this memory something real, or is it the product of my imagination? This question is difficult enough to deal with, but there is a psychological phenomenon known as cryptoamnesia which can make nearly all past life memories suspect.

In cryptoamnesia, an individual is exposed to certain information, forgets that this was learned information, and it reappears sometime later as a constructed memory. With memories created through cryptoamnesia, the individual will have no idea that the memory is a fabrication of their own mind and that they never actually experienced the content of the memory.

How does this work exactly? Say, for example, as a child, you saw a special on ancient Ireland on the Discovery Channel. Your little mind soaked up all of that information, even if you didn’t understand it all at the time, and stored it away in the back of your brain. Years later, you have forgotten ever watching that particular show, but the information you learned from it is still hanging around in your unconscious mind. When you start thinking back to who you may have been in a past life, your mind finds the images from the Discovery Channel special and starts feeding them back to you. However, you’ve forgotten that you saw all these on a television show. And so, as you remember details of what life was like in ancient Ireland and you see images of the land, perhaps some standing stones, or some artifacts, you assume that these memories are coming to you from the long distant past.

It is nearly impossible to differentiate memories created through cryptoamnesia from real memories. In the case of created memories just from this lifetime, such as created memories of ritual abuse or childhood molestation, the psychological repercussions can be just as severe as if the individual had actually gone through the imagined trauma. This is one reason why many psychologists are largely skeptical of “repressed” memories recalled under hypnosis. It is a generally held belief that most memories dredged up in this manner are actually imaginative content fabricated by the unconscious from learned information inspired by unintentional cues from the hypnotherapist.

Where does this leave us for legitimate past life memories? On very shaky ground, I’m afraid. From my observations and personal experiences, one is often drawn to read about a particular time period or a particular country when one has a strong past life connection to it. However, the very act of reading up on these strangely fascinating times makes the legitimacy of any past life content very suspect. There is no way to prove or to guarantee that you did not digest the information from a book or a show, imaginatively fill in a few gaps, and re-present it to yourself as a past life memory. And since very few past lifetimes are such that you can actually look up people you knew or go visit the town you once lived in, there is almost no chance of proving the validity of the memories – to yourself or to anyone else.

How then, can you ever know that what you’re remembering is real or imagined? In black and white, real-world terms, you can’t. You will never know, and you will never be able to prove it. Does this mean that past life memories are a bunch of poppycock? That is another issue entirely, and it boils down to a matter of faith.

Once you stop questioning the validity of a particular memory and stop trying to prove or disprove its legitimacy to yourself, then and only then can you objectively look at the content of the memory itself. And it’s the content that matters most anyway.

I look at past life memories like this: my mind is fixating on this image or set of images for a reason. Whether you take a metaphysical point of view and say that I’m remembering these things because there are karmic issues I still have to settle from that past life, or if you take the psychological point of view and say that my unconscious mind is trying to get me to deal with repressed personal issues that are coming through in the language of dream and symbol, the result is the same. I must look carefully over these images and try to see what they’re telling me about me. And that’s the key to past lives right there. What can they tell you about your life right now? If there isn’t something you can learn from them, then they’re just useless curiosities – they might as well be idle daydreams that you’re using to waste an afternoon.

I’ve seen far too many people get caught up in their past lives and fixate on a time so long ago that it crippled their ability to interact with the reality of here and now. They were worse than the kind of elderly folk who are so busy mourning the loss of the old days that they allow the new age to pass them by. These people got themselves stuck in a time completely removed from their current life, and they just could not get past it.

Past lives in that respect are a total waste of time. You have to always remember: you are living your life here, now. You are in this age for a reason. There is a great deal for you to do, much to experience, and much to learn. If you spend all of your time looking backward along the lost corridor of years, you will not see what’s in front of you, and you are most likely going to run into something very solid and bang your head — hard.

The use of past life memories is what they can teach you about where you are now and where you may be going. A lot of us made mistakes in the past. If we lived in the past at all, we made mistakes. Mistakes are part and parcel of living. Very often, we recall the circumstances of these past mistakes as a guidepost to help us avoid those same mistakes in the present and the future. In this respect, past lives can be very useful. They can reveal to us hidden aspects of ourselves, and provide insight into dealing with our current problems.

Past life work should therefore always be an exercise in observation. If the memories come to you, explore them as fully as you can. Analyze them. Pay attention to details, especially how you feel in those remembered moments and the circumstances which stand out to you. Later, analyze those feelings and circumstances in relation to your life as it is now. Look for parallels in your current situation, in the way you relate to the people around you, in your choices of dealing with the world at large. Even if the content is some half-imagined fantasy that your unconscious brain has cooked up for you, it will still reveal a great deal of your troubles and issues in the symbols and stories that are chosen.

Above all, do not fixate on the memories. Do not try to recreate yourself as you see you in the past. Live your life now and for the future. Learn what you can, but accept that the past is in the past. The memories might linger, but who you are can always be changed.

Michelle Belanger 23 March 2001

Grigori and the Nephilim

Some of this is from the Torah, some from rabbinical commentary, some from oral tradition, and probably a number of inaccuracies caused by my fuzzy memory on the subject (PLEASE feel free to set me straight if you know this better than me). Please bear in mind that this is not necessarily my take on the whole thing, just the story as I recall it. Here’s the gist:

Following the Morningstar’s failed coup in heaven, there was quite a bit of aftermath that lasted well into the book of genesis (the fate of the neutrals, etc). It almost seems like the power structure was not quite settled into the classic good vs. evil dichotomy that we associate with judeo-christian perspectives. During this period of vagueness, there were a number of disobediences on the part of the angels, particularly in the lower choirs. One such incident involved a number of Grigori (the watchers) who became infatuated with mortal life. They decided they wanted to go down to earth and have wives and children, AND retain their divine status. Exiting heaven and becoming mortal was not unheard of, but these grigori cheated a bit on the protocol. They impregnated the women they were set to watch, and fled from heaven afterword, fearing God’s wrath at their transgression. They settled down with their wives and raised their children, who, by virtue of their mixed parentage, had incredible physical (and some say majickal) power. At this point that first sin in existence reared its head again: pride. These half-angels were far more powerful than their human counterparts, and began to run amok, killing as they saw fit, viewing humans as inferior and thus not worthy of consideration. You see, they inherited something else from the angels: a lack of conscience. Angels did not really possess a conscience as we understand it, rather a consciousness shaped around a function. With this great power and no conscience to temper it, the angel-born made life quite difficult for their human kin. Humans began to worship the angel-born as gods, willingly offering their own born as sacrifice. The grigori were proud of their children, seeing their power, and declared that they had put on the earth a race greater than that which god had created. They believed they had, with the power of their loins, surpassed God.

It seems that God was OK with letting the angels slip out and taste the domestic life, but when their children began eating humans (as we eat species of less power than us) and the grigori chirped their pride, God intervened. He sent the Metatron and a seraphim to speak to the grigori three times, each time asking the grigori to reign their children in, that they may live at peace with humanity. Each time the grigori scoffed.

The first time metatron came accompanied by Michael, who asked that the grigori do what is just and let balance and justice be restored to the earth. The grigori replied that it was only just that their descendants eat men, as man ate lamb. Why should their children act any differently?

The second time metatron came accompanied by Raphael, who asked that the grigori do what is intelligent and reasonable, pointing out that a cooperation was better for both sides. The gigori said that it was only reasonable that their children rule man as they wished.

Since the intellect of man was insufficient to save them from the angel-born, of what value could it be?

The third time metatron came accompanied by Gabriel, who asked that the grigori show mercy to humanity and withdraw their children to a separate place. The grigori laughed and said that it was a mercy to man to strike them from the face of the earth, rather than have them live as a failure. They had been intended to steward the earth by God’s command, and they had failed. How merciful is it to leave them living, spawning generation after generation that would fail in their holy task, sending generation after generation to knock at the Morningstar’s door?

The metatron came to the grigori a fourth time, and this time the seraph that came along asked no questions. The angel that came was named Uriel (uziel), and it spoke thus “You have been asked three times to control your children. You have refused to be just, to listen to reason, or to be merciful. He who is I AM has sent me to deliver a message. Because you will not be just, reasonable, or merciful, the choice has been taken from you. God has seen his children slaughtered, and will be just. God has seen his children treated as beasts, and will act according to reason. God has heard his children’s prayers, and will be merciful. Because you have refused to intervene, your children and those that follow them will be destroyed, and what remains will be scattered. They will be Nephilim, outcast and landless. Know that you have spoken with the Angel of Justice, Thought, and Mercy. Now you speak to the Angel of Death. I will bring the only justice, thought, and mercy I can.”

At this the grigori begged that their children be spared. They wept bitter tears, and seeing this Uriel said “You cared nothing for the tears that have been shed, so it will be tears that bring what I have said to pass”.

At this time, there was a righteous man named Noah….
you know the rest.

That’s it, a few literary indulgences (dialogue. I’m a sucker for dialogue) aside. Some of the Nephilim survived by sealing the mouth of a cave and waiting till the waters abated.

Again, this is not necessarily a representation of my take on the whole thing. I’m just presenting the traditional story as best as I can recall.

The Septagram: One Celestial’s View On The Septagram

Magpie’s essay on the septagram is an incredible one. It was well thought out and researched. However, at her urging I decided to present another view of the septagram… this one intensely personal.

For those of you that have not met me online at some point an introduction is in order. I am Christopher Angelo. As for what I am, who I am – well that’s a little harder to grok sometimes. I refer to myself as Angelus. And it greatly sums up something that defies description.. an angel incarnated into a human body.

My view on the septagram is therefore biased by my own experiences, and my Heritage as angelus.

For the seven points of the septagram I use

  1. Earth
  2. Air
  3. Fire
  4. Water
  5. Above
  6. Below
  7. Within

The elements are the same… Earth – the power of centeredness, grounding, strong and steadfast. Air – the power of swiftness, communication, thoughtful and creative. Fire – the power of passion, intense and combustive. Water – the power of emotions, nuturing and cooling.

Above, Below, and Within all have meanings related to my angelic side…

Above – the power of the Heavens, the Song of Songs. Below – the power of the abyss, the Shadows. Within – the power of the Self, the Center of All, the core of Being.

I’m an intensely visual person so to better explain how these all tie together, let me offer you my Vision…

Picture yourself floating in a see of darkness… arms out to the side and legs slightly splayed… classic “pentacle position”… floating at waist level a small distance away are four glowing orbs… one green, one yellow, one red, one blue… surrounding you and spinning round you. Floating above you is an irridescent orb spinning in place, the barest hints of song emanating from it.. beneath you spins an orb of darkest shadows, the barest hint of whispers coming from it… and yet the whispers provide a counterpoint, a harmony, to the music above… and Within you, at your center lies the brightest orb of all with pure white strands connecting it to all the other orbs…

A bubble of light connects all the outer orbs and is in fact what you are surrounded in….

This then is my Vision of the septagram… the Circle of Power… the representation of Balance… the Seven Pointed Star.

The Septagram: an essay on the seven pointed star

Forget Schoolhouse Rock: three isn’t the magic number, seven is. Seven is one of the most widely recognized “lucky numbers”, and comes into play with a fair amount of things, both magical and mundane… for example:

7 archangels
7 colors in the rainbow
7 days of the week
7 deadly sins
7 distinct notes in diatonic musical scale
7 levels of heaven
7 major hindu chakras [1]
7 planes of existance [2]
7 planets in classical astrology [3]
7 sacraments
7 tenets of faith [4]
7 virtues

…And so on and so forth. The list really does go on; the more research i do, the more i realize that this could wind up being a thesis instead of an essay. Several sources listed the same meaning for each of the seven points; as far as i can tell, there is no particular order to these points. They are as follows:

The Sun. For the fire element it represents, as well as for the life-sustaining light and heat that the sun provides. Without the sun, we could not exist; lack of sunlight has been proven to have a detrimental effect on people. In my experience, cats (rumored to have solar panels in their bellies) will often become sick, ill, or restless if deprived of sunlight for long periods of time. The sun has effects on us that we cannot even begin to understand. It nourishes life (photosynthesis in plants is a perfect example), and can destroy life (radiation, cancer, heat stroke, etc).

The Wood. Many elvenkin have a strong connection with trees, forests and woods. There is also the elemental symbolism of the element of wood. For eons, people have used wood for shelter, fire, decoration; a great deal of food grows on trees, providing humans and otherkin alike with nourishment.

The Sea. Needless to say, this carries along with the elemental theme, providing us with the element of water. Working with the moon, the sea ebbs and flows; Bruce Lee reminded us (along with many other Taoist Masters) to Be Like Water; water flows, nourishes life, causes death… it can float a ship or sink it, it can eventually wear down stone.

The Moon. The moon is considered by many to be the opposite of the sun; it is our nighttime companion. On dark nights, a full moon lights our paths; the moon’s coming and going affects the ebb and flow of the tides, and therefore, our weather patterns. Countless lunatics have been similarly inspired, with the ebbing and flowing of their sanities. There are many who would consider otherkin to be insane for our beliefs. Perhaps this is why so many of us identify strongly with the moon: it holds its secrets, works its magic, and affects us in more ways that we can possibly imagine. Just as life could not exist without the sun, life as we know it could not be as it is without the moon.

The Wind. The wind provides us with the element of air; wind is air in motion. The wind helps sustain the forests when it helps to spread the seeds of the trees, plants and flowers of the world. It helps keep birds and other flying creatures afloat; it is the largest affecting aspect in our weather.

Now, the previous five points can just as easily be attributed to the pentagram – the five pointed star. The next two points are what make the septagram different; these two are what make it the otherkin star.

The Magic. Where would we be without magic? Our bodies function on a cellular level in scientific precision… The stars themselves have their reasons for twinkling in the night skies… The sun and moon, the seas, the wood and the wind all exist and can in some way or another be scientifically explained… But what about Life? What causes Life? Some people believe that Life could not exist without a higher power most commonly referred to as God. While otherkin do not inherently have a disbelief in God, it is far more common to believe that Life has can only be explained by Magic. The spirit, the soul, the conscience, Awareness: these things cannot all be explained by science, leaving Magic to be at their roots.

The Connection. For most otherkin, this is the most important point of the septagram; it serves as a reminder for us to remember the connection we have between what we once were, what we are now, and what we always will be. Those of us that are not fortunate enough to remember what that is are still lucky enough to at least have a sense of the Connection, to feel the Pull towards like minds and souls of a similar nature. The connection is what brings us together. The Magic and the Connection work in harmony with each other, acting as cause and effect, yin and yang.

——————————————————————————–

Footnotes:

1 – the base chakra (Muladhara), the sacral chakra (Svadisthana), the solar plexus chakra (Manipura), the heart chakra (Anahata), the throat chakra (Vishuddi), the brow chakra (Ajna) and the crown chakra (Sahasrara).]

2 – There is a belief that the soul grows in stages within each incarnation; these stages are listed as follows: infant, baby, youth, mature, old, transcendental, & infinite.

3 – In classical astrology, the seven planets (the ones then known) correllated to the days of the week and the Roman or Norse gods that each one represented: Sunday – Sun, Monday – Moon, Tuesday – Tui (aka Mars), Wednesday – Woden (aka Mercury), Thursday – Thor (aka Jupiter), Friday – Frygga (aka Venus) and Saturday – Saturn.

4 – At least one tradition of Wicca has the following tenets of faith: balance, tolerance, trust, reincarnation, harmony, humility and learning.

New Age vs Otherkin Community

Back in the very late 70’s and very early 80’s, when I was first getting into the New Age thing, it seemed to me at least with regard to the people I came in contact with that the spiritualist/new age movement was about working toward enlightenment. Methods for doing that inner work became very popular, such as TM, yoga, Zen… at least in S. Cal where I grew up (and lived most of my life). The focus seemed to me to be very much on the fact that you had to find your own inner way, that there were tools to help you do that but they were intended to be just that: tools, not crutches.

Along about the mid-80’s the whole new age thing began to really catch on out there in a major way, and all of a sudden there was an influx of these new ideas supposedly being represented by “channeled information”. Suddenly it seemed like everywhere you looked, someone was channeling the 4 or 8 or ten thousand year old spirit of someone else from Egypt/Atlantis/Lemuria with information that was supposed to make us all better in one rather expensive weekend. Or on a smaller scale all you had to do was look in the back of your local new age magazine or newsletter and there were hundreds of “psychic astrologers” or “psychic channelers” or what have you with All The Answers, for a fee ranging anywhere from very nominal to outrageously exorbitant. Among these there were a few who had good information, and the vast majority were in it for either the money or the ego trip of being viewed as an Ascended Master of some sort. (I’m thinking of people like JZ Knight or Lazarus, etc, who IMO are colossal charlatans).

The main problem with most of what was being offered was that it dangled the promise of achieving in a short period of time the level of wisdom, enlightenment and self-understanding that the more traditional paths told you would take years of work. (Yasssss, people, can you say Ashtar Command and ye are HEEEEEaled I say, I place my hand upon your forehead and say the magic name of Ashtar and you are HEEEEEaled….). The problem was that some paths don’t have shortcuts because the journey is the point. Cut out the journey, and you’ve cut out the reason for walking the path in the first place. But in this age of drive-thru and disposable and instant everything, anyone who offers you (generic you) the Answer To It All in a matter of days with no commitment of time and effort on your part is going to attract a certain amount of yous who want the result without doing any of the work. People like that are *always* going to have adherents, many of whom will absolutely swear by them at first.

What happens when you find out that your problems are still there, your life still sucks, you still get depressed and you still have no idea who and what you truly are inside, underneath all the layers and labels, and you find you have learned nothing to help you cope? Most folks end up searching for the next instant-enlightenment gimmick and never end up doing any of the work to discover their own internal framework. Disillusioned and angry, they turned away from what they had once embraced in droves and the new age community obtained a very bad name that some of it’s adherents don’t deserve. I now see “fluff bunny new age” being used as an insult, because when most people think of “new age” they think of “white light dingalings” drifting around offering fluffy and unrealistic solutions that people no longer believe in.

It didn’t work for Christianity in 1890, it didn’t work for psychology in 1920, it didn’t work for Buddhism in 1985. Why do people think it’s going to work for Otherkin in 2001?

This has a lot to do with why I’m so bitchy about the “spoonfeeding” and why I see it as pointless at best and dangerous at worst. What is going to happen to people who’ve fallen into the whole coddle-the-newbie trip when the coddler gets bored with the game, and hasn’t helped anyone do the real work of developing their own inner framework? It’s very easy to criticize me for my own critical comments about the spoonfeeders, but perhaps placed into this overall context you can at least understand my concern. I didn’t *have* anyone to coddle me when I Awakened, I was alone out there. But I worked my ass off to Become.

Later, I found the Silver Elves and they gave me support and friendship by showing me that I wasn’t alone and that what I felt and experienced wasn’t weird for who and what I was… but they didn’t tell me how to walk my walk and they didn’t tell me what the things I was thinking and feeling meant. They continued to encourage me to do my own exploring and understand who I was in my own unique way. That’s what newbies need, just not to feel like they’re alone and to be encouraged to find their own Song. That’s all they need, and if we really give a rat’s ass about their own journeys rather than feeding our egos at their expense, that’s all we’ll realistically offer. We can’t GIVE them answers because our answers may not be the right ones for them. We can tell them where *we* looked… I found many of my own answers among the philosophies of Zen … but we can’t tell them that they’ll find their answers in the same places we found ours because everybody got to march to their own drum. I strongly believe the only thing we should be doing is letting people know we understand and giving them a place to air out their own thoughts and get some intelligent feedback and good, solid critical but kind questioning to give them some objective perspective… and the occasional kick in the ass when they need it. There’s tons of websites out there, let people find their own truths among what’s presented there. We aren’t human, but we cannot discount the human philosophies as useless for our own journeys because some of the experiences humanity has are universal. There are fewer resources for kin than there are for humans, but who says kin cannot benefit from human experiences? The only way people will know what Sings to them is to just start reading and searching and looking. Telling them what will and won’t sing to them is something the coddlers are doing for themselves, not for the new kin.

I don’t want to sound boastful, but a large part of why I feel so strongly about this has to do with my own personal experiences of the past couple years. My experiences from that time period tore at the very fabric of who I was and what my life was. I feel very strongly that had I been spoonfed and coddled and handed this vision of my “trueform” those events would have destroyed me. As it was, they came very close to doing so anyway but by that point I had invested a great many years in doing a lot of slow, patient work to Know Myself, to understand who and what I was down to the bone and deeper. I have this solid, strong framework of self built on years of learning to understand myself, my feelings, my ideas, my beliefs, my reactions, etc… and when the day came that I felt entirely cut adrift from the paths I had believed in and the places I thought I was going, I still had that inner sense of self and strength to hold me through it. My “time in the Desert”, as I have come to think of it, has been a time of great personal growth and a valuable experience that has enriched me in many ways. I am still IN that time, actually. I do not really know where my path will lead me next or where to even start looking for it but =that’s okay=. Because whether I’m in the desert or walking a path, I am still Me. And what I’ve learned over the years has taught me that the best thing for =me= to do when I’m not sure which direction to walk in, is to find a nice warm rock in the sun and just sit and Be.

I could not have learned that by dint of someone doing the armwavedance over me in a weekend. That is the product of years of meditation, study, practice, methodology, magic and inner Journeying.

You can call me many negative things, but you can’t say I have a weak sense of self.

The Logic of Otherkin

Otherkin:

People who feel they are in some way not classifiable simply as human. Be it personality, worldview, mental characteristics, spirituality (the soul or nonphysical essence), or even physically. Often it is a combination of several or all of these things.

Those who would identify themselves as Otherkin or by names that essentially fall within the same description have, very slowly, become increasingly visible. At first, in the ‘safe’ venue of the online world, but increasingly identifiable in general society; if still quiet and private about their beliefs to most people except one another and the occasional individual who is exceptionally open minded.

Otherkin as a general concept or system of belief is often ridiculed as being inherently irrational and counterfactual. Otherkin are frequently on the receiving end of deconstructive arguments – a great many of which contain logical fallacies. Which isn’t to say that, considering where our beliefs lay, Otherkin haven’t perpetrated errors in logic as well, sometimes knowingly, and sometimes out of desperation to respond to attacks both fair and unfair.

Otherkin are people who are more different from the expected norm than even many subcultures that would be considered fringe, and inevitably, open themselves up to hostility and scorn that frequently is baseless and smacks of an agenda of prejudice for the sake of prejudice against “the different”, among other possible agendas. This essay will attempt to highlight typical fallacious arguments leveled against Otherkin, and to provide Kin themselves with a reference of how proper logical reasoning can actually support their beliefs and positions, and not merely be used to deconstruct them. However, it also will highlight fallacies as otherkin can and have used them to support their position, in order to aid those who have been sincere but constructed a poor argument to defend themselves against criticism or attack.

 

Logic as Applied to Otherkin

The beliefs of Otherkin can appear colorful, fanciful, and even outrageous by the typical standards of what people take as “possible” and “impossible”. Yet at the root, to borrow a thought from the Otherkin FAQ, being Otherkin is not about what seemingly fantastic or unheard of creature or being you may identify with, but how a person thinks and feels; how they interact with the world.

That out of the way, a key point to put forth is that being Otherkin does not equate believing anything you hear, are told, imagine, or dream up. Logic and even skepticism are as applicable to life as Otherkin as to any other identity one could have in this world. Even so, logic and skepticism are often used to “hang” Otherkin with or dismiss them without respect for their beliefs.

Before going further, something needs to be stated up front about logic. Logical reasoning should not be taken as an absolute law that rules the universe. Often, things that are reasoned out as logically impossible are taken to be impossible, period. Yet time and again in history, entirely logical and internally consistent ideas that were thought to be universal were shown to not be so, once greater understanding was available. How does this apply here? Simple. If a logical conclusion that supports a given Otherkin belief is reached, it still may be reevaluated later. And by the same coin, if logic is arrived at which seems to indicate an Otherkin belief – or Otherkin itself – is invalid, it only means that it appears illogical. It cannot be a universal statement, an absolute. A belief is a belief, and logic is not a set of rules that governs human (or if you prefer, sapient) behavior. If instinct or an indefinable feeling prods a person to believe in something that is seemingly implausible or illogical, then they may still choose to believe it. And acknowledging that a belief you hold may appear illogical does not automatically denote insanity or ignorance – especially if you are acknowledging that it is, at this point in time, something outside of logic and empirical evidence. For example, I could make the statement:

I am a dragon. This is what I feel I am, and what my own subjective proofs (and proofs that are objective that I have taken as proof of draconity, even if that connection itself cannot be ’empirically’ proven). Logically, there are many reasons why I might feel I’m a dragon that don’t require a spiritual or mystical component – including the possibility that I might simply be broken in the head. From an extreme skeptical point of view, it might be argued that I -should- take these more provable or likely-seeming reasons first, over a less provable explanation – that dragons exist and all the implications that go along with that. Yet, what if I’m right, and the fact that I’m right is simply something that cannot be “proven” with the evidence at hand? Logic alone isn’t sufficient for me to answer this; which is where belief comes in.

In the end, logic is a tool. While some choose to hold the belief system that it is the ultimate tool, it still is not the only one and like any tool, unlikely to be fit for every application. Fully going into logic is way beyond the scope of this essay, but a starting point for reading can be found here.

A problem is that Otherkin and other similar spiritual beliefs rest on proofs that are elusive and highly subjective to the individual. Often, things must be taken as true and worked from there. And criticism of Otherkin often is inspired by people who are, indeed, very loose with applying judgment to what they choose to believe. The things Otherkin believe in are typically very much set against what consensual reality and culture advises should be considered as acceptable ideas. When an Otherkin assertion is needlessly illogical and perhaps downright wonky by any standards, it can serve as ammunition for various fallacious logic attacks such as theStraw Man Gambit.

Something that I feel should be stated up front is that all examples of fallacious arguments or attacks are taken from real sources. These are not academic conjecture; while they may be phrased in a generic and sometimes slightly humorous way, the essential points in each one are entirely from actual arguments that I personally have heard, read, or been challenged with.

Logical Fallacies

Straw Man

Against Kin:

The first and possibly most common attack on Otherkin is an old standby of tilted logical debate: the Straw Man Gambit.

Wellwort Dragosi: “I believe that dragons exist outside of human mythology and legend, and their presence in so many diverse cultures is a sign that something may have been the inspiration for the stories. I myself am a dragon in spirit; perhaps through some mechanic of reincarnation. There are belief systems that support that; and in my personal case, believing that traveling spirit is a dragon, is based largely on personal intuition, though I’ll admit there’s other subjective evidence I’ve collected over the years.”

Wesker T. Skeptic: “You my friend, are suffering a delusion. Dragons are fictional creatures that are made up for things such as fantasy movies. It is obvious a fantasy movie is not real. If you’re claiming to be a character from such a movie, and are serious, you’re insane.”

Something is terribly wrong here. If the play of the debate seems unfair, that is because the Straw Man technique takes a person’s position or premises and greatly oversimplifies them in order to make them seem implausible and very easy to tear down. In this case, while it is possible that Wellwort’s beliefs about dragons outside of fiction may be incorrect, Wesker has refused to acknowledge them as the premises put forth and instead simplified the object of Wellwort’s position – dragons – to the point where Wellwort can be “proven” insane simply by holding the position.

The Straw Man is used against Kin frequently. It’s true that many Kin beliefs involve things that have been used in myth and obviously created fiction. However, rational Kin do not generally claim to be those fictions, but something like them. This crucial difference is often shoved aside by people using the Straw Man style of argument. In addition, the Straw Man argument against Otherkin is often phrased in condescending and insulting terms, often in a way that adds in the additional fallacies of Appeal to Force and Ad Hominem Attack.

Against Skeptics:

I haven’t, to be honest, seen a pure Straw Man attack used against a critic of Otherkin beliefs that often. A possible reason is that critics who are rational and logical enough to have the forethought to assemble some facts on their side have the burden of proof in their favor; it’s easy to say dragons don’t exist because nobody has ever seen one (at least, no accounts that are verified and taken by society in general as credible and factual), though this position if taken too far falls victim to Ad Ignorantiam. Still:

Wesker T. Skeptic: “All I’m saying is that it seems pretty safe to assume dragons don’t exist, as not a shred of acceptable evidence has ever been discovered. It’s not like people are blind. I know you claim to have evidence, but the kind you haven’t isn’t something you can prove objectively. So it can’t be taken into account in establishing facts.”

Wellwort Dragosi: “You just don’t want to accept it, so you say my proof doesn’t matter. I know I’m a dragon! I’ve always felt it. If I wasn’t, why would I? I can remember being a dragon even. I have instincts that don’t even match my body. That’s not proof?”

Wesker is correct that subjective proof such as intuition, feelings of spirituality or spiritual effects and forces, internal dialog and even alleged past life memories don’t offer the kind of proof that he’s talking about. Wellwort’s counter simplifies his position to make it sound as if Wellwort’s personal evidence could only be rejected due to Wesker refusing to acknowledge it.

Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam

Against Kin:

This one, Ad Ignorantiam, means in literal translation to argue from ignorance. This fallacy happens when it’s argued that something must be true just because it hasn’t been proven false. Critics often insists that Otherkin reasoning and rationalization functions this way:

Wellwort Dragosi: “Well, you know, this is a subjective belief even if I’ve found it true to my own satisfaction. After all, you can’t declare for sure that dragons don’t exist and never have existed somewhere, somehow. We just don’t know.

Wesker T. Skeptic: “Ah hah! You cannot expect me to swallow this; it’s the oldest trick in the book. You say that dragons can’t be disproved, and so everybody has to accept that you’re a dragon. By that logic, I can say that mountain Gnomes must exist because they can’t be disproved absolutely for sure. You can’t call yourself a dragon with that poor logic.”

Here, Wesker is applying a slight amount of Straw Man in combination with invoking Ad Ignorantiam. Wellwort was inferring the reverse side of Ad Ignorantiam: that you can’t declare something is false just because it hasn’t been proven true. Wesker simplified things though, ignoring this, and attacking Wellwort’s statement in the extreme light of argument from ignorance: that Wellwort has poor logic because his belief in dragons is based solely on the fact that they haven’t been formally proven to not exist. Otherkin themselves should be careful about backing into this trap however. The key concept of Ad Ignorantiam is that you can’t declare something is or isn’t true in the absolute sense just because hasn’t been proven yet either way.

Otherkin, ‘supernatural’, magical, and non-mainstream spiritual beliefs are often written off without much examination or credit given, but they can’t be simply written off by declaring Ad Ignorantiam: that they don’t exist because they haven’t been scientifically proven.

Against Skeptics:

A number of people who are skeptics and even hard Atheists have complained about the portrayal of skeptical thought in TV shows such as The X-Files. Agent Scully, they say, has become a poster girl for skepticism, but is actually frequently guilty, in a strict sense, of many errors, including Ad Ignorantiam: stating that the supernatural -does not- exist, or something to that effect, rather than saying such things haven’t been proven to the point where they could be relied on from a logical perspective to exist. Or even explaining that logical thought -suggests- that ‘supernatural’ forces are not required in the apparent operation of the universe, and so their existence can be doubted rationally.

Wesker T Skeptic: “There are a lot of factors that could contribute to you thinking you’re a dragon that are seemingly more reasonable than invoking the supernatural. A great deal of psychology has been shown to be a reliable guide to why people feel and think as they do; falling back on that before resorting to unproved and maybe unprovable supernatural or metaphysical explanations seems a lot more reasonable.”

Wellwort Dragosi: “Nobody has disproved spiritual and magical forces. They explain my draconity better than anything else.”

While spiritual and magical phenomenon might explain Wellwort’s draconity better than more concrete things, he makes the assumption that because they haven’t been actively disproved they can be taken as objective fact (proven) and put in the same league as the other possible explanations Wesker put forth, and so he can dismiss Wesker’s other possibilities out of hand.

Circular Reasoning

Against Kin and Skeptics both:

Circular Reasoning occurs when an arguement attempts to serve as it’s own proof. An example example of a circular arguement:

Wellwort Dragosi: “I assert that I am a dragon. Because of this, I have traits like feeling phantom wings and wanting piles of stuff to hoard. Of course, since I have draconic traits, that just proves I’m a dragon.”

Wesker T. Skeptic: “You can’t prove those traits are actual dragon traits. In fact, since we know nothing about real dragons, you can’t say any traits are dragon traits.”

Wellwort Dragosi: “But you can’t prove they aren’t dragon traits, either, so nyah.”

And so forth…

Here it could be said that the burden of proof lies with Wellwort for proving that dragons exist. But neither he nor Wesker can go anywhere if they both continue to start and stop with the same line of reasoning over and over. Not to mention that Wesker also can’t disprove dragons due to lack of evidence (Ad Ignorantiam).

Hasty Generalization

Against Kin:

There are a lot of people who are considered pretty wacky even within Otherkin circles. Many of these folk are perfectly harmless; the eccentrics among eccentrics. Yet there are those who do make very dicey and possibly insupportable claims, and insist on them in an irrational manner, or who use Otherkin as an excuse for attitudes such as racism against “normal” human beings (also a trend). Hasty Generalization is used to take a few cases and use them as a generalization for a much larger number of cases which may not be accurate.

Wesker T. Skeptic: “You Otherkin are all alike. Just a bunch of powergamers living out a fantasy world to make yourselves feel important. You even try to claim you’re better than “we humans” and should be the rightful rulers of the planet. Nobody is going to buy into that crap.”

Wellwort Dragosi: “Now hang on. There are some dumb sounding kids out there, yeah, but everybody isn’t like that. This isn’t a power gaming excuse to fantasize; a lot of people really feel these things.”

Hasty Generalization at work. Typically, Wesker might follow up by insisting that the minority cases he picked out to generalize with demonstrate the only principles Otherkin has going for it, and once again falling back on making a Straw Man of Dragosi’s position.

Against Skeptics:

Hasty Generalization is also another pitfall Kin themselves should avoid. It is in fact the mechanic by which some convict the entire human race of various “evils”. Otherkin have applied hasty generalization, in conjunction with overuse and abuse of the term “mundane”, as a catchall answer to any criticisms or attacks.

Wesker T. Skeptic: “Humans believe in a lot of crazy things. I haven’t seen any evidence that this isn’t another crazy thing; I mean any of it, be it dragons, magic, the astral plane. At least in that, it’s not personal Wellwort. I’d say this to anyone who insisted this supernatural stuff was real.”

Wellwort Dragosi: “Humans are all alike. You’re all narrow-minded and bland, and don’t have any imagination; just a bunch of mundanes. It’s no wonder you can’t believe in anything and write this stuff off.”

There are certainly some people who – regardless of what they identify with, be it Human, Otherkin, or Interstellar Cheese Being – dismiss everything they cannot instantly explain, poke, prod, or easily categorize with a wave of the hand and a sneer as “nonsense”. Even if they happen to be correct on a given item, their attitude of total dismissal without knowledge or investigation might be wrong – but our Wellwort (as well as a great many Otherkin, and metaphysical people period) seem to apply this as a generalization to all skeptics everywhere is one of baseless disbelief; the “not believing because you have no imagination/ability to conceive of it”. Otherkin would do well to remember that among the ranks of the highly skeptical, are people who were Otherkin at some point. Or people who, if they are honest enough, will admit they would like to believe, but cannot bring themselves to because of lack of evidence to satisfy them personally.

Just because one can understand something entirely, doesn’t mean one believes it or lacks the capacity to believe. Many people at some point had enough proof for themselves to believe in given things; that changed, and they no longer believe them.

Of course, a caveat here. People who once believed and now do not, or who would greatly wish to, but can’t swing it, once in a while become unfair and caustic critics, who themselves commit logical fallacies, or at least apply undue venom to their deconstructions and criticisms. The phrase “You fools! I woke up from the fantasy. You’re just delusional! At least I know what’s real now!” has been heard personally more than one time by someone feeling very bitter.

Ad Hominem Attack

Against Kin:

This fallacious argument is a mainstay of political debate. Ad Hominem means literally, to attack the man. Instead of criticizing a position, you attack the character of the person holding it: “Senator Gallump once filed a suspicious tax return seven years ago. Therefore, his tax proposal can’t be taken as sound. Should we trust a man on taxes who is a proven cheater?” Attack on character is a very, very common thing online when relating to Otherkin, Dragons, Weres, and Furries. Often, it is combined with Ad Numerum to paint a “fringe” person as a freak of society. Most people, it gets argued, are not like that, and therefore, the person left out in the cold – Otherkin, say – must just have something wrong with them or else they would be like everybody else.

Wesker T. Skeptic: “Normal people do NOT go around claiming to be fantasy creatures. Whatever your problem is, it obviously has made you an outcast from society. What is healthy is probably what most people agree on – that’s why it is agreed on! – so I doubt any of your “logic” would make any sense. If you were capable of logical deduction, you’d have figured out you’re selling yourself on a load of bull. I pity you dude, I really do.”

Wellwort Dragosi: “Say WHAT?”

Here we have Wesker both attacking Wellwort’s basic mental faculties to prove his premises are invalid, further “proving” that Wellwort is dysfunctional because he is not like most people, invoking Ad Numerum, or “whatever the most people believe must be correct”.

Against Skeptics:

One of the problems of an Ad Hominem attack is that, because it “breaks the rules” in a way that attempts to get personal, it can be very insulting and cause a good deal of offense and anger. Frequently, people (hardly just Otherkin) will fall prey to countering Ad Hominem with Ad Hominem – “an eye for an eye”. While some particularly low-blow attacks may even deserve some kind of response to them, in a strictly rational sense, it isn’t proper. Nobody is perfect however, and most everyone might be said to fall victim to this at one time or another (including myself).

Wesker T. Skeptic: “Yeah right, Wellwort, or whatever your name really is. You’re just a little boy trying to look big on the Internet. Or wait, I bet you’re a 40 year old loser who lives in his parent’s basement! Ha ha, I bet j00 R g@y! So all this stuff you claim is rubbish.”

Wellwort Dragosi: “So? You’re just another idiot who uses l33t speech and probably can’t hit the bowl when he takes a piss. You don’t know anything.”

Some thought goes that resorting to insult (ad hominem) causes the attacker to lose the argument instantly, regardless of how valid their points are. While this has been pointed out by some skeptics as a reason why they don’t give credit to much Otherkin reasoning – due to “attitude” Kin have regarding so-called normal humans -, it doesn’t let skeptics off the hook either. An insult is an insult. Even so, Kin do use Ad Hominem in place of a real defense (even if the defense is as simple as “so what?”) very often.

And here a caveat. Technically, all forms of Ad Hominem are logically invalid, and because of this, some schools of thought denote it as unacceptable to use period. One form though, Genetic Ad Hominem, attacks the background of the argument An example would be saying that Steve argues that Gertrude isn’t a fit candidate for a position as proof reader because Gertrude is German and Steve has a prejudice against that nationality and doesn’t want to work with Gertrude.

While Genetic Ad Hominem is invalid as far as proving or disproving the point at hand, some feel it is useful in exposing bigger and very possibly more important issues. In the case of Otherkin, cases of Genetic Ad Hominem seem to appear from skeptics with assumptions – one being the the assumption that for example, anyone with an extremely strong belief in something outside of rigid, formal logic must be wrong in the head, and so instead of debating points fairly, they will try to tilt everything to insist that Kin are simply crazy (and state as much). My general thought on this issue is that performing Genetic Ad Hominem on an attacker may be acceptable if forced as the only way to get to the -real- issue.

Wesker T. Skeptic: “Your logic doesn’t hold up. You have no proof. You’re a fool; anyone who believes in this stuff is an idiot. I know, I was stupid once too and believed.”

Wellwort Dragosi: “You’re bitter. You’re probably so offended by my beliefs because you wanted to believe in dragons so bad, and convinced yourself you can’t and that their is nothing past the end of your nose. So is that it? Can’t stand for someone to have something you can’t? Or maybe you’re just egotistical and can’t deal with people who think different and figure they must be mentally impaired, so that’s why you refute every point I make?”

This kind of exchange may be considered invalid by many, regardless of if Wellwort is entirely on target about Wesker, especially if Wellwort resorted to far more heated and baited language. Still, “the bitter skeptic” is a person who I have personally met once or thrice, and they can be frustrating to deal with.

Appeal to Force

Against Kin:

A nastier take on Wesker’s deconstruction of Wellwort in the previous example, Appeal to Force happens when one tries to use the threat of force and/or greater authority to overrule any arguments the opponent may have.

Wellwort Dragosi: “Despite everything you claim about being Otherkin, my experience has been overwhelmingly positive! I’m rational; I cross check myself and am not gullible. I’ve met many people who are able to appreciate my beliefs and respect that I believe; I’ve felt better about life since coming to understand what I am.”

Wesker T. Skeptic: “That means nothing. You’ve just been in the fantasy online world. Go out on the street and tell somebody you’re a dragon, kid. This whole WORLD will say you’re crazy, and you’ll be shipped off to the funny farm in no time flat. You need to learn which way the bread is buttered, or you’ll regret it.”

Against Skeptics:

Appeal to Force hasn’t really been directed against the skeptic position in my experience; the possible reason being that the position of Otherkin puts a person in the seat of challenging consensual reality; there really isn’t a handy source for a Kin to use and call on to win the debate for them, such as public opinion. At most, in challenging general spirituality, a Kin might be tempted to refer to other, more established spiritual and religious belief systems as circumstantial evidence for the validity of spiritual beliefs.

“Tons of people believe in God, or some other deity, and believe they have souls. If you want to disprove me, you have to disprove all of them as well, good luck!”

Ad Numerum

Against Kin:

The assertion that whatever most people believe must be true, though it also can be applied in reverse quite easily. Ad Numerum is a standby with which to entirely dismiss the argument out of hand.

Wellwort Dragosi: “Well, see, I’m a dragon and I have reasons for believing this, that I’ve thought about for a long time…”

Wesker T. Skeptic: “Eh? What? Go away, nutjob. Everybody knows dragons don’t exist.”

Against Skeptics:

Wesker T. Skeptic: “For the last time, Wellwort, I see no proof you can give me to convince me dragons exist or you could possibly, in any way, be a dragon.”

Wellwort Dragosi: “That’s because you ignore the biggest proof of all, that so many people are Otherkin! We can’t all be wrong!”

No TRUE Scotsman!

Against, well, everybody!

This one, the colorfully named No True Scotsman Fallacy, is simple.

It’s when you define an arbitrary (or unproved or unprovable or very often, stereotypical) characteristic to a definition, and then state that something doesn’t fit that definition by lack of that characteristic. The Scotsman reference comes from this example.

John says that all true Scotsmen drink whiskey, and your friend Agnus doesn’t drink. Therefore, John declares that your friend is not a true Scotsman and cannot be from Scotland.

It is however, something Kin use to unfairly deconstruct each other as much as critics might use it. At first, it might seem that a skeptic might not use this line of attack as it originates “from the inside”. Some critics are clever however, to their credit.

Elena Elfbright: “Wellwort, you’re not a real dragon. A real dragon has two horns and a crests of spines down his back. And a real dragon doesn’t dislike Elves! We’re the traditional allies of all dragons! You need to stop pretending.”

Wellwort Dragosi, muttering: “And she wonders why I’m sick of elves…”

Wesker T. Skeptic, leaning in from one side: “Actually, I’m an open minded guy! I think dragons and elves really MIGHT exist… but I know for sure they’re nothing like what you guys claim to be. You’re ALL fakes!”

Now this one is, on the whole, really very silly. But Otherkin do it to each other all the time. It’s tempting too. There are people who do act very flaky, and behave as if they’re simply ‘along for the ride’, picking up the title of elf, dragon, or what have you to join in the fun. It’s hard to resist deflating them. But once you get started down the path of using the No True Scotsman fallacy, it’s very hard to not go too far and target people who don’t deserve it. In fact, even the original people being criticized this way may in fact be entirely legitimate, but not have an honest understanding of what they are if they see everything as a big game.

Some skeptics have used this argument within a simplified mindset where they take the existence of dragons, say, as hypothetically possible, but only within the closest “facts” available. Such as for example, a dragon even if it did exist, would be a large, armor plated, hell-bent personality of a beast that relentlessly hoarded shiny objects and had a fixation for living underground despite being a flying creature (the cave thing). Then proceed to declare that no dragon Kin could possibly be real because their personality traits were not evocative enough of these criteria. Of course, this skeptical dismissal is also guilty of being a Straw Man argument because it dismisses Otherkin thought on spirituality and the interaction between a human life and personality and a person’s “other” element without even considering the ramifications on it.

Equivocation

Against Kin:

Equivocation involves changing the meaning of a word to suit one’s position. Against Kin, this has involved to a great degree, a back and forth interplay of just what it means “to be human”.

Wellwort Dragosi: “I don’t identify wholly with being human because I feel my thoughts, perspective, and feelings are different enough from those (humans) around me to suggest that something is up. I’ve met enough other Kin who just don’t fit within the conventions that go along with being ‘human’.”

Wesker T. Skeptic: “A human being is a bipedal primate; homo sapien. Unless you, or your friends, have grown wings, tails, and snouts, or maybe elf ears, or a coat of fur, you’re all human. It’s entirely insane to say you’re not human. Look in a mirror.”

It should be painfully obvious that Wellwort is using human to describe the mind and personality, and if accepted in the argument, the spirit (because debates with religious folk skeptical of Otherkin do happen). Wesker however, has shifted the focus on to the biological definition of human, which of course, makes Wellwort seem insane if he states “I am not human” while standing clad in an obviously human form. Skeptics should be aware that quite a bit of philosophizing goes on among Kin as to just what “human” means in a sense beyond the body… though regrettably, there seems to be no shortage of skeptics who will state “look in a mirror. If you see a human, you are human,” no matter how much Kin state they’re talking about what begins after biology ends.

Special note: there are, indeed, some Otherkin (largely, in my experience, elven-kin) who believe they do actually have a physical element that is not human. This is something that could be debated in an entire paper by itself – or a series – because it -is- something so hard to prove and so easy to dismiss with available evidence (the fact that such a Kin’s physical biology may not appear overly different from any other person).

Against Skeptics:

By the same token, skeptical folk have rightly complained that Otherkin will attempt to shift the usage of “human” or other terms into their own court in order to answer criticisms.

Wesker T. Skeptic: “Human is as human does. You have a body that’s just like everybody else. That body even dictates things such as your thoughts, emotions, and reactions due to chemistry; how your actual brain is wired up. This even suggests that your personality is probably human – even if a very odd human due to how you see yourself.”

Wellwort Dragosi: “Human is how one thinks and feels, and I don’t feel human.”

This is obviously entirely changing the meaning (and topic, really) from what Wesker is saying. I feel this is an understandable fault, in many cases; a good deal of my sympathy has to go to Kin in general here, no matter how utterly annoying it must be for a skeptical person to deal with this shifting. Kin believe they’re correct, but often have precious little to go on aside from instinct. The statement of “I don’t feel human” is a beginning place for many or most, and that simple assertion may be something that goes beyond any ultimate, logical deduction; no matter if the majority of available proof from a skeptical position is set far against Kin.

Still, this assertion is often used to deny other possibilities, such as biology. I myself do take biology into account; my belief in the spiritual is extremely powerful, yet even I concede that at some level, I may just be “a very wacky human”. I’d argue that if so, it was wackiness in a way that should be respected unto itself, and even then, the identity of “dragon” would not be invalid (from other perspectives), but all the same, it is possible. Otherkin would probably do well (and have better conversations with people who don’t share their beliefs) to keep this in mind, in my view.

Lack of Credibility

Against Kin:

Quite simply, Lack of Credibility is making claims of authority without the credentials to back yourself up. This is pretty common among all people, not just Otherkin. Of course, credentials alone will not prove your point; but people simply want to sound smart. Committing this fallacy is going one step too far with that. Ihave seen this come up in criticisms of Kin.

Wellwort Dragosi: “The kind of dragon I is technically quadruped, but can use the forepaws for tools since there’s an opposable thumb on each one, and can walk on two or four legs, though four is more stable. This is the idea about the species I have.”

Wesker T. Skeptic: “That’s impossible. Let me tell you the scientific fact; an animal that can walk or run on four limbs is never going to have anything like opposable thumbs or grasping digits. Your dragon just is impossible.”

Or alternately:

Sally T. Skeptic: “Wesker’s right. I’ve got four years of college and I’m studying biology. You can’t have thumbs on something that isn’t built like a human being. Never happen. Impossible.”

Here, Wesker’s fault is making bald statements as if he’s an authority of biology and evolutionary theory. But his absolute denial of the possibility seems suspect when applied to hypothetical biology (such as pondering dragons), and considering that one can look at an animal as humble and common as the raccoon to find a creature that can move on four limbs yet has dexterous grasping forepaws, very close to human-like hands. One would expect an ‘expert’ to be aware of an example as common as this.

On the other hand, Sally’s fault appears to be in resting on her laurels of education to make her point valid, even though it as well goes against readily available empirical evidence. I know personally that I’ve encountered more than one person who has dismissed my beliefs with a statement to the effect that I should educate myself on formal logic, as they are, yet in the very same dismissal has made glaring logical fallacies.

Against Skeptics:

Here, the urge that some Kin feel to provide validation for their beliefs has led them to make statements from the perspective of an ‘expert’ without the credentials, demonstration of equivalent competency, or in direct conflict with the actual knowledge of the field.

Wesker T. Skeptic: “Hmm. Well… I suppose it’s possible that a dragon with grasping forelimbs could arise if the conditions promoted it. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility, lack of proof aside.

Wellwort Dragosi: “All dragons have have grasping forelimbs. They are all allergic to high amounts of sucrose, and can drink salt water without any problem. You have to keep those things in mind as well; plus, dragons can interbreed with almost ANY animal!” (**note** This last item has been inserted by the editor at the request of Ohpleasenotagain, the Goddess of Common Sense, after seeing one too many dragon-amalgamation creatures that would make a quintuple-mix Gryphon blush. **note**)

It’s no wonder skeptics (and many Otherkin!) would be highly annoyed at Wellwort here. Not only is he making definitive statements (“really and for sure”) about a subject on which nobody could, in this life and present reality be a true, objective expert on, but his claims fly in the face of much accepted biology (the last item). Of course, it might be possible a “super breeder” species of creature exists in the universe, but it would redefine a huge amount of knowledge on how reproduction and genetics worked. Wellwort doesn’t say anything to demonstrate an authoritative grasp on just how this would ability would function to back up making such a bold statement.

Non Sequitur

Against Kin:

Non Sequitur occurs when a conclusion doesn’t logically follow from the preceding statements. It means, literally, “Does not follow”. A fallacy of Non Sequitur doesn’t necessarily mean the conclusion is false, but it hasn’t been proven correctly. A personal caveat I have with this is: very technically, an accusation of Non Sequitur seems as if it could be forced onto explanations to treat them as arguments and “disprove” them. Especially since it is honest tricky sometimes to tell the difference between an explanation and a true argument My basic explanation for why I believe I’m a dragon “I believe I’m a dragon because I identify with dragons more than with humans” doesn’t attempt to prove I’m a dragon. But it could be (and has been ) fit into Non Sequitur: “identifying with dragons doesn’t prove you’re not human, therefore, you are mistaken”.

But a true Non Sequitur:

Wellwort Dragosi: “I’m not human. I’m also not a wolf, or a hawk, or an elephant. This is how I concluded I’m a dragon.”

Wesker T. Skeptic, scratching his head: “Umm, well, great, you’re a dragon. I’m not sure how stating you’re not ‘x’ creature proves you’re ‘y’ creature though.”

Wellwort needs to put a tad more thought into this one ^.^

Against Skeptics:

Skeptics have pointed out that Kin are guilty of Non Sequitur often – and in fact I’ve been accused of it, though I feel it may be misinterpretations of explanations, or perhaps poorly phrased explanations on my part. One thing I suspect is that Kin (and people with empirically unprovable beliefs in general) tend to stretch things too far; perhaps out of desperation to get a point across, or perhaps just from a clumsy attempt to explain something that might not be logically provable.

Wesker T. Skeptic: “So there’ve been dragons on Earth in the past, despite lack of evidence to support it outside of myth. What’s the proof of it?”

Wellwort Dragosi: “Well… dragon myths show up everywhere… so a lot of people were talking about dragons… which must mean there had to be dragons around for so many people to see.”

What Wellwort might be trying to get across here, is an explanation for believing dragons existed on earth; that so many legends appear everywhere, in spite of lack of physical evidence, and the possibility that people simply found a common storytelling device, it’s also possible people may have indeed seen something. This in no way proves that they did, and the evidence could be interpreted to still be heavily against the possibility. But Wellwort has made believing in the possibility a Non Sequitur argument, as if trying to prove that dragons have existed due to the copious amounts of myths about them.

Skepticism is Not Proof

There are many more fallacious arguments that have actually been leveled against Otherkin in the past, as well as ones that -could- be brought to bear. However it should be reinforced that the point being illustrated is not that skepticism is flawed and inapplicable to subjective beliefs such as that a person might have the personality or spirit of a gryphon or a coyote. Rather, skepticism can and often is applied in an incorrect manner for the sake of disproving alone, both from outside and within the Kin community. Or alternately, skepticism may be honest and come from a basically healthy source, but lack the respect necessary to actually allow for real discussion; a mistake many skeptics appear to make with a wide variety of topics… not just Otherkin. Skepticism by itself is not proof that a position may be incorrect… it is the belief that could be is.

And something needs to be pointed out about people who are skeptical. While “Wesker” is used as an example of a person using fallacious logic to apply his skepticism, Wesker by his actions in a way invalidates himself as a true skeptic, period. Those who use false logic attacks frequently do so because they have an agenda; that of winning the argument or proving their position is correct regardless of the cost or even what the actual truth may be. A quote is very relevant here, taken from “Why People Believe Weird Things”, by Michael Shermer, who also happens to be publisher of Skeptic magazine.

What, then, you may ask, does it mean to be a skeptic? Some people believe that skepticism is the rejection of new ideas or, worse, they confuse skeptic with cynic and think that skeptics are a bunch of grumpy curmudgeons unwilling to accept any claim that challenges the status quo. This is wrong. Skepticism is a provisional approach to claims. Skepticism is a method, not a position. Ideally, skeptics do not go into an investigation closed to the possibility that a phenomenon might be real or that a claim might be true.

In point of fact, a conversation with one particular dragon Kin brought up the sentiment that he would greatly enjoy a serious, deep discussion on draconity and otherness with someone who truly understood the beliefs and respected them, but did not agree with them. A debate like that could only serve to improve understanding of both perspectives as well as increase mutual respect. Too many would-be critics however, sadly appear only interested in sniping for the sake of pushing their viewpoint without regard to any possible legitimacy of the other or even interest in what it has to say, and that’s where fallacious logic creeps in.

Some closing remarks:

Some Otherkin have expressed unease at applying skepticism and logic to beliefs such as these. A feeling some have is that these matters are so entirely in the realm of faith and pure instinct that trying to apply logic to them is impossible, and even harmful to one’s mindset as an Otherkin. Treating our beliefs this way however, only opens us up to a very valid criticism; that we’re afraid of examining the validity of our own beliefs for fear that we may find we’re mistaken. And we really don’t want to be mistaken. But, skepticism and logical deduction are our friends; we uphold our beliefs and their integrity by being skeptical and logical toward criticism of ideas that we have found to be true for us as well as using skepticism to police ourselves.

In talking on this entire subject, my sympathies are obviously going to be slanted toward the Kin perspective – because I am one, after all. I could, like some Kin, remove myself entirely from speaking on topics like this and place the subject of my draconity beyond logical deduction, treating it as a matter of pure faith. The reason I don’t is because in my beliefs, draconity is not something irrational or beyond logic or even proof – despite present circumstances not presenting an easy way to prove anything. And because I believe I have a duty to my own self to draconity to examine my own beliefs. And a lot of Kin feel the same way I do.

Of course, it’s perhaps amusing that in the very end, it’s to some degree a matter of faith. If a dragon, in the flesh, suddenly steps upon the face of this world, then the paradigm changes. But until then, this is the way of things. I’m a wacky human who believes he’s a dragon; and that’s not something I’m ashamed to be in the slightest… despite some good attempts to make me and mine feel shame for thinking different.

— Kai

Dictionary

Index


A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z





 


A


alardan A term taken from a fictional book which means a small gathering the way it is used in the community.

angel One of many types of celestial beings, often considered to be in servitude to a major deity.

angelic A incarnated being which resembles an angel in many ways.

aspected Someone who has a single mind (thought-stream, memory) but “facets” which are quite different in behavior patterns and/or emotional responses. Most people have this to a small degree (a “work” persona and a “home” persona for example), but this is a more extreme variant. Medically, in the extreme end this is classed as ESD (Ego-State Disorder).

Awakening An informal
stage in an individual’s self-actualization. From unaware, mundane and
“asleep” one is “awakened” to some basic truths about oneself, the nature of
people as a whole, or about the laws of nature. For Otherkin, “Awakening” is
almost always used in relation to one’s non-human nature. This term is used by a number of spiritually aware communities (entirely unaffiliated, offsite: Awakening into Awareness, Spiritwalk, Pleidians: Awakening, etc.). [see also
So, You’re Awake?]

D


des’tai A term in one specific remembered-language (Elenari) which means “On one’s (karmic) path.” Used as a blessing. (see offsite article Des’tai at Elenari.net)

Dreaming The world beyond the veils often reached when one is sleeping. A counter-existence to Earth.

F


Faerie The world from which they come (cf Veil and Dreaming)

G


gate Usually used in the otherkin community to describe a magical doorway which allows one to travel into another dimension, universe or reality. Also “Portal”.

glamour A minor, generally illusionary, magic.

H


host A multiple for whom one or more of the other minds in the body were not, under usual circumstances, supposed to be born there. The entities in the body may have been there at birth, or be walk-ins. The original mind may also be a split. [Note: in the DID/split community and a fair amount of the medical references “host” is frequently used to refer either to the birth mind or the “front” or main persona. That is not how it is used with regard to otherkin multiples.]

K


Kella One subrace of elvenkind, with its own language [see also the Kella Language Dictionary]

M


multiple Someone with more than one mind in a single body. Outside the otherkin community it generally refers to a Split.

mundane Simple descriptive term for those with no magickal skills and/or with no awareness of any reality beyond that commonly accepted by modern science. Also used as a pejorative term for those who adamantly deny any other realities, and attempt to belittle those who do explore beyond the boundaries of science. Also dictionary-defined as “ordinary” and “of this world”. Used in other fringe communities to mean different things.

O


otherkin (aka “other” and “kin”) Anyone assuming the identity of not being completely human, in body mind and/or soulAnyone assuming the identity of not being an ordinary (cf. “mundane“) human. Includes, in the broadest sense, aliens, humans from other worlds, furries, vampires, therianthropes (aka werewolves and shapeshifters), etc. Usually used specifically to refer to mythological phenotypes, including (but not limited to) fairies, elves, dragons, merfolk, etc. Does not necessarily include “non-mundane” humans (such as Psis, Mages, SCAdians, etc.). [see also What is an Otherkin and Otherkin FAQ] {also Fairth, Metahuman, Changeling…}

Otherkin Reiki A subset of non-traditional Reiki with a focus on
experimentation, hybridizing with other systems of energy work, individuality
in the use of the energies and implementation processes. Although there are
many people who do not practice Traditional Reiki,
this subgroup has a very heavy Otherkin influence. [For more information see the
Otherkin Reiki pages]

P


Pagan A broad term encompassing a great number of polytheistic and/or earth-based
religions. [more specific subcategories: Druidism, Wicca, Asatru/Odinism, Hellenism, possibly Church of All Worlds,
etc.]

polyamorous (aka “Poly”) Any person assuming the identity of being theoretically open to
responsible non-monogamous relationships (ie. a person likely to choose Polyamory). [see also Polyamory.org]

polyamory (aka “Poly”) The theoretical or actual practice of responsible non-monogamy
ie. where all partners are aware and accepting of their partners’ lifestyle. [see also Polyamory.org]

R


Reiki A popular energy-working system. Includes many techniques for healing both physical and non-physical complaints, and for using various
energies in ritual and distance work. Very generally speaking, one needs to
be initiated to use this system by what practitioners call a Reiki attunement.
[see also Traditional Reiki and Otherkin Reiki]

Reiki attunement (also “Attunement”) A ritualized initiation or introduction into Reiki energies.

remembering Recalling aspects of or events from the past life or lives in which the person was non-human.

S


split Someone who, for whatever reason (but usually severe trauma at an early age) shattered or split into two or more minds (two seems rare, four to six moderately common, and there are cases of over a hundred). In the case of a split, all the minds belong in the body and many choose to reintegrate when the trauma is healed (but not always). In medical parlance this would be DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as MPD) or DD-NOS (Dissociative Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified), the latter being used if the person does not fill all the criteria for DID.

T


traditional Reiki A subset of Reiki with a focus on ritual, tradition, history and purity, which excludes experimentation and innovation outside of a certain (often rigid) framework. Generally modified with the name of the tradition in question (eg. Traditional Usui Reiki). [see also
Reiki and Otherkin Reiki]

V


veil The boundary between two overlapping worlds. Dpending on the speaker and the context, may refer to the boundary between: the world of Faerie and Earth; the Dreaming and the waking world; the astral and physical worlds; or any other two places where there is a liminal between them.

W


walk-in A mind/spirit who was not born to the body they are living in, but arrived some time afterwards. At times the walk-in displaces the original spirit, or replaces it when the original has left or spiritually died. This results in a singleton (one mind, one body) who is not native to the body. At other times, the walk-in does not displace but joins the existing entity(s), thus becoming a host.

Annotation for: “What are Otherkin?”

In a comment on the parent article Petrael said: “From months of research in the Japanese culture I have never found that the Imperial line of Japan claims descent from Dragons. They claim descent from Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess.” The situation is not nearly as simple as it may sound. It’s convoluted in the extreme, but I shall do my best insofar as my knowledge. First and foremost, a minor pet peeve of mine; “dragons” and ‘long'(Chinese) or ‘ryu’ (Japan), are not a huge conglomerative lump, regardless of popular regard. Though they sometimes are used to represent some similar Elemental forces (and even this comparison differs widely upon closer examination), they are not the same creature unless you want to say that they are both mythological beings–and one would not attempt I would hope to confuse a Wyvern with a Satyr, or tell one that they are the same thing, if you catch my meaning. ‘Western’ dragons are by and large potrayed as at least appearing to be almost wholly reptilian, very much in the way that most people have become familiar with them through common fantasy fiction. ‘long/ryu’ have much more varied appearances and qualities–they can be avian, picine, mammalian, and indeterminate variants between the three. The “Eastern” part of the world that actually claims. most commonly, descent from “long” is actually several of the regional rulers (or Emperors) of ancient China (From which the ‘Long’ of the Seas are mythologically derived, amongst other things.) As I understand it, Vietnamese mythology also makes a large claim to descent from dragons, but I am much less familiar with that mythos than that of China or Japan. The descent of the Japanese imperial family from ‘long’-like beings is convoluted but there is some evidence to support it, at least in an artistic and syncretic sense. The prototypical creator and creatrix of the Ni Hon Go (Rising Sun Land) are Izanami (F) and Izanagi (M). As many of the more ‘modern’ Japanese beliefs and images are heavily influenced by or derived from Chinese mythology (Shinto basically being a huge multileveled syncretization between Old Religious Taoism and the Aboriginal Ancestor-Worship practices of the original inhabitants of the Island chain, the Ainu–told you it got complicated), many of the older images of Izanami and Izanagi syncretize them with the ancient Chinese images of the progenitors of the universe- Pan Ku (M) and Nu Wa (F)–both of whom were originally portrayed as “Naga”-like beings–that is, serpentine and/or draconian from the waist down. The concept and imagery of the “Naga” comes from the Hindu-Vedic traditions, which has spawned much of the Taoist pantheon and imagery. (Kuan Yin is in fact a female ‘aspect’ or derivation of the Hindu diety Avalokitesvara [1]–in Japan, she’s Kannon, and it pretty much continues in that vein on many fronts.) In the Vedic traditon, there is little to no distinction made between “Naga” and “Dragon/Long”, and the words are frequently used interchangeably. In fact, many scholars have postulated that the “Dragon Kings Of The Sea” of China are actually descended from the Vedic mythology of the Naga Kings, and there’s a large amount of evidence to support that. (That chunk of mythos, as well as much of that which now supports the belief structure of Feng Shui, appears to have first started appearing in Japan around the Jomon period, but it may well have been earlier, it’s hard to say.) What does this all have to do with Amaterasu and Co.? Well, if one postulates that Izanami and Izanagi are derivations of Pan Ku and Nu Wa (which seems likely as much of Japanese mythology is derived similarly) then Izanami and Izanagi would indeed be considered to be of ‘draconian’ descent, and hence so would their children, among them Amaterasu (From which the Imperial line claims their descent) and Susano (who interestingly enough has many ‘draconian’ and ‘serpentine’ associations himself.) The fact that other associations began to be made with Amaterasu later on (most commonly the Phoenix presently due to the fire association, and interestingly enough also derivative of Chinese mythology in which ‘dragon’ and ‘phoenix’ represent both opposing and sychronous forces–‘yin’ and ‘yang’ if you will, or ‘in’ and ‘yo’ in Japanese) would be a fairly recent (at least in terms of mythology and legends) development, and not wholly representative of the original symbology. Additionally, though the Japanese people as a whole may not claim ‘descent’ from dragons, many of the original ‘uji’ (clans) of Japan (notably pre “Kojiki” and “Nihongi”, both of which are frequently-mangled aggregations of older myths and legends that were highly politicised by the Yamato clan to support their rule) considered many different ‘supernatural beings’ to be their ancestors, before Shinto as it is commonly percieved today, and multiple individual ‘uji’ ritual beliefs and practices were aggregated into what it is now. If you look back far enough this information can be found.


[1] Effectively, when the sanskrit title (Avalokitesvara) is rendered into Chinese, it becomes “Kuan Shih Yin”–“The One Who Hears The Cries Of The World” ( Source: “Kuan Yin: Myths and Prophecies Of The Chinese Goddess Of Compassion”, Martin Palmer and Jay Ramsay with Man Ho Kwok)


What are Otherkin?

Otherkin is a collective noun for an assortment of people who have come to the somewhat unorthodox, and possibly quite bizarre, conclusion that they identify themselves as being something other than human. It is also the label used by a number of communities both on and off line. (The distinction between the two is not always drawn and can lead to some confusion).

There are a number of ways people reach this conclusion, and a number of possible explanations for it. On the face of it, it is a remarkably difficult conclusion to reach, not only is the evidence scant at best, but to define yourself as not human requires defining what human means – an exercise which philosophers for millennia have failed to complete.

The following is a brief overview of some of the possible explanations.

1 – Appeal to biology

There are a very few people who claim a biological difference from humans. On the face of it this should be the easiest to prove – the biological requirements for species are fairly well defined. Life is rarely that simple and the existence of a subspecies that can occasionally interbreed with humans is at least somewhat plausible. Those that claim this tend to posit an initial technical, magical or deity intervention for the initial pairing. Thus the most frequent (if such a term can be used for such a small sample) such claims are for some form of elves (generally Tuatha de Danaan or Sidhe – for which there is some support in ancient texts), angels (for which there is some biblical support) or oriental dragons (such as the royal line of Japan claims).

To date, the variations encountered (including those unsupported claims made that were not utterly impossible) have been explainable variations and mutations of homo sapiens and unprovable without extensive DNA testing. (For which, if anyone ever volunteers an appropriate lab, there are a number of volunteers).

Those claiming such tend to expect even less belief from the general populace.

2 – Appeal to spirit

By far the most common explanation from those who fit the definition (even if they don’t claim this specific label) is that whilst their physical forms may be human, their essence, soul or equivalent term is not.

Of those, the majority make their claim based on reincarnation – what they have been in a previous incarnation so strongly affects their current incarnation that they still identify with it. Obviously this requires a belief in reincarnation, and in the transmigration of souls. Both are reasonably common in a number of religions and spiritual beliefs across the world.

The less frequent explanations are “nature of soul” (where one is created as a specific entity, but failed to incarnate as such – sometimes including the “ooops! missed!” theory of incarnation), and “walk-in” (where the original spirit inhabiting a body vacated it for one reason or another – frequently near-death or severe trauma – and a separate entity took over).

Obviously this is a lot harder to prove, especially as the evidence for reincarnation itself is rather sparse (some are documented to varying degrees of veracity, such as the Dali Lama and a number of cultural mythologies). It is also more open to both intentional and unintentional abuse (see below).

People in this category sometimes (but by no means always) show signs of maladaption. The two main symptoms appear to be:

  • Problems not dissimilar to trans-gender issues – discomfort with the physical form not because of gender but because of species. This seems to be more common amongst younger people. (Many of the psychological arguments for and against transgender apply here, though for the most part the biological ones do not).
  • Phantom limbs – much as an amputee often gets sensation from the missing limb, so do some who claim species that have appendages that humans do not (wings and tails being the main ones). The conventional explanation for amputees is misfiring nerves and obviously this is implausible in this case. That such problems are psychosomatic seems possible, however some do have physically observable side effects that have to be handled (such as back muscle problems from ‘supporting’ wings).

3 – Appeal to psychology

Another explanation posited is that of using the concept of other species as a tool for self exploration. Thus one is not a member of that species, but takes on the traits of that species to learn from it. This could take the form of (at least the westernised distortion of) Totemic belief, or of Jungian Archetypes.

For the most part those using such techniques deliberately know what it is they are doing and do not claim the label. However, there are many people who have not been introduced to the concepts (or have inaccurate information if they have) and if they should find themselves in the position of having a Totem (if such can happen outside the appropriate culture) they may well mistake the effects as them being that creature rather than having an association with that archetype.

4 – Escapism and mental aberration

The vast majority of people on encountering the concept (and a fair proportion of those who subscribe to it) will favour this explanation – it’s certainly the easiest one. Anyone who has actually claimed a label that fits under the ‘otherkin’ category has seriously considered this option (or should have).

The most frequent accusation is that all otherkin are lost in fantasy, they’ve played one too many D&D games and gone over the edge. Personal study seems to indicate this is actually one of the least frequent explanations. Most roleplayers know they are roleplaying, even if they are also otherkin, and roleplaying can be a very useful tool in self exploration.

Escapism from what is seen as an increasingly hostile and unpleasant culture (especially in the United States) is somewhat more plausible and more common. The irony there is that modern society is becoming increasingly magical – in what other era could you speak instantaneously with someone a thousand miles away with a simple ten digit incantation, see images from the past or distant present or rain fiery death from the skies from half a world away? The potential for being one step further than a mythological SCA is certainly there however.

Not being “like them” is a much more common cause, whether “them” is classmates, family, coworkers or everyone you meet. For some it’s perhaps real – otherkin really *are* different. However the relationship is not reciprocal – being different does not make one otherkin. The alienation that many teenagers go through, both as part of normal human development and the social aberration that many high-schools seem to be, can easily have people looking for an explanation. For some it’s that they are the only goth in a conservative area, others have less obvious affiliation, but take a deep interest in dragons and extrapolate.

The other side of that particular coin is looking around you and seeing the many terrible things that humanity is capable of and deciding that you are not like that and thus cannot possibly be human. (ref “behaviours – differentiation by repudiation”).

There are also those for whom it is simply wish fulfillment – is being an elf not so much better than being Joe Smith who flips burgers at McDonalds?

5 – All of the above

Whilst the above explanations are presented as distinct categories, people do not necessarily fall into only one of them. There are those who claim physical differences, and past lives. There are those who are both in therapy for mental health problems and otherkin (and which is cause and which effect is debatable).

In the end, without further evidence, it comes down to a matter of personal belief. As personal beliefs go, it’s relatively harmless.

[The original version of this page is depreciated, but if you really want to read it, or the comments left on it, it can be found h ere]

So… You’re Awake?

Q.Why me?
A. There are several theories as to what the fae are, and how they came to be here. In some cases, it seems that the spirit or soul of an individual has lived many times, and at one point inhabited the body of one of the fae. Another opinion is that the fae originated Elsewhere, and arrived in this world through constructs known as Gates, which have been sealed. Memories from the fae lifetime (or lifetimes) tend to manifest in dreams or as things you “just know”.
Q. Does this mean I was switched at birth?
A. Probably not. Being fae, while it can run in families, is not something generally determined by your birth parents. I was born on a military base with all the security that entails. Depite what my parents might wish, we are genetically related.
Q. Am I delusional or am I normal?
A. Not to sound trite, but this depends on your definitions of “delusional” and “normal”. If by “normal” you mean “like everyone else”, then no, you aren’t “normal”, but do you really want to be? I prefer defining “normal” as “being able to function” and “delusional” as “being unable to function.” For example, I believe I am elven. I realize that this isn’t something I should share with the general populace, because it would require too much explanation. For the same reason, I don’t share the fact that I am Pagan with everyone, or the fact that I am a shaman with everyone. I will share it with those that I believe to be accepting. If I were to try and claim “minority benefits” for being elven, they’d probably lock me up. Likewise, if I were to go around in certain outfits on a regular basis, I’d at least get strange looks.
Q. What do you mean “Awakening”?
A. There seem to be three major ways that people Awaken that I have experienced. The first is the “gradual or independent Awakening,” in which the Sleeper feels a certain distance from others, possibly proceeding through religious experimentation, until hopefully they find a supporting circle. These people may or may not be fae themselves, and the Sleeper may in fact not fully think of themselves as “fae.” The second is the “alarm clock Awakening.” This occurs when the Sleeper is exposed to group of Awakened fae and their own nature surges to the front. This can take the form of recognizing a shared memory or even recognizing a person they’ve never met before. The third type is the “snooze alarm Awakening.” In this form, the Sleeper has seen evidence of their nature, but is choosing – conciously or unconciously – to ignore it.
Q. I have a friend that I think is ‘Kin, but sie seems to still be a Sleeper. How should I help hir Awaken?
A.Best bet is – don’t. It could be that they are worried about the reaction of others, or that it’s just too much for them to deal with at the moment. While the temptation is to beat them over the head with it until they “understand”, that really doesn’t accomplish much – especially if they are afraid that this “elf” thing is a fanatic cult. Telling them to “admit it, you’re one of us” is going to send them screaming into the night. By all means, hang around, and answer questions as best you can, but don’t be concerned if they “don’t get it.”
Q. Does this mean I’m going to develop weird allergies?
A. This is an issue that has sparked a lot of debate. Some of my friends say that they have difficulty with iron “due to their nature”. I have never had a problem with iron. I have at least one friend who is a vampire. She has no problem with running water, holy water, loves garlic, and doesn’t mind going out in the sun. It’s entirely possible that some races of fae are susceptible to iron. For those people, the purity of the iron seems to be a factor, as is whether or not it has been worked
Q. Does this mean I have to act in a certain way?
A. Probably not, if you haven’t felt the urge to. Seriously. Not all members of a group behave the same way.
Q. This person I met claims to be a ___. How should I relate to that?
A. Are you asking how you should relate to hir as a ____ or how you should relate to _____ in general? I for one don’t think that one’s heritage necessarily affects that person’s individual worth. If sie seems like a good person to you, proceed as you would with any other relationship. Just because someone is of the same fae heritage as yourself or someone you like doesn’t mean that you and that person will or have to get along. Just because you don’t like someone of a particular fae heritage doesn’t mean that all people of that heritage are “bad”. I have a few friends who can’t stand each other. I interact with them separately, and they understand that I’m not going to take sides. I personally don’t care if someone is Elenari, Draestari, Listari or Calamari as far as that goes. For one thing, I don’t know precisely what my heritage is. I have clear memories of situations, and I know what “my people’s” lifestyle was, but I don’t have a “clan name” for them. For all I know, my people and their people might be the same, or related. For another, like it or not, some of the memories seem to show that the fae came here from Elsewhere. There’s a couple possible reasons – one, we were exiled or two, we were escaping. I’m discounting rumors of world domination because of the fact that the door “back home” is locked. At any rate, there aren’t that many of us, and very few have organized into groups. Taking all that into consideration, fragmenting ourselves further doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.
Q. I don’t have any memories of a fae life. Does that mean I’m not Otherkin?
A. Absolutely not. There are many reasons why people don’t remember other lifetimes. One of the simplest is that this may be their first time around. There are plenty of folk who are either first- or only-timers. Another is that you might not be prepared for remembering. I’ve seen some people try to force themselves into remembering, or even to force others to remember, and it frequently ends up either muddying the waters or even uncovering rememberings that are painful or stressful to deal with.
Q. What about humans?
A. What about them? Seriously, though, you’ll find that there are a few different schools of thought on how fae relate to non-fae. One is that non-fae are somehow inferior. Another is that “after being Awakened for a while, you find non-fae distasteful”. This makes about as much sense as being superior based on hair color. It’s true that finding a supporting circle among non-fae may be difficult, but it is far from impossible.
Q. How do I know I’m really ‘Kin? Could I be fooling myself into believing in this?
A. The fact that you even think about this question shows a healthy attitude. I’ve seen people (both ‘Kin and non-‘Kin) twisting themselves into knots trying to be something they aren’t. One of the better approaches I’ve seen to this question is remembering that words like “elf”, “Otherkin”, “dragon”, etc. are all just labels. As long as a label works for you, then keep it. If you find yourself trying to cram yourself into fitting a label, it isn’t working, and you should probably re-examine why you are trying to keep that label.

Tolerance versus Gullibility: Judging the Validity of Magickal Claims

We all strive to be open-minded about one another’s beliefs and experiences. This is essential to our community, because we have had to keep an open mind about our own beliefs and experiences in order to accept them as valid and real. Much of what we believe and what forms the foundation of our community’s identity are claims of supernatural or psychic experiences that mainstream culture would simply debunk. Our materialist, scientific society has no room for a sixth sense, let alone a seventh or an eighth, and the empirical rule of science leads most materialists to assert that if you can’t touch it, it isn’t there. So many of the perceptions and sensations that form a vital part of our experiences are subtle and numinous in nature. They cannot be proven in a laboratory. Often, it is hard for us to “prove” them even to ourselves. We simply have to accept that we are not crazy, that these impressions are valid, and that the materialist approach to reality somehow fails to account for a large portion of human experience. Yet this creates a certain amount of credulousness within the community. Since we each have had experiences that the rest of the world would reject as lies or delusion, we are much more likely to listen with a sympathetic ear to someone else’s experiences, no matter how strange they may sound. We are painfully aware of how hard to believe many of our own experiences and beliefs are, especially because we have had to struggle to believe them in the face of a culture that tells us these beliefs *must* be the product of a crazed mind. Obviously, we don’t want to disbelieve another’s claims especially because we want to be believed ourselves. But this can lead us into a dangerous habit of accepting everything that is told to us by others without question, and the sad fact of reality is not everyone who makes an extraordinary claim is telling you the truth. There are quite a number of people who lie and make up tales about their beliefs and experiences. They do this as an attention-getting measure, to make themselves feel powerful and important, or to get you to follow them and accept further stories and orders without question. These are the poseurs and cult-daddies of the scene, and they hurt our community not only by preying upon the innocent and vulnerable, but also by giving the outside world a very negative impression of us.

Developing Sound Judgment

So how do we know when our tolerance has crossed into the realm of gullibility? Whenever someone makes a claim to you of a supernatural belief or experience, listen carefully to what they have to say. See if what they say makes sense based on your own experiences. Even magick functions on universal laws, and although we may not understand all of these laws as of yet, they still seem to hold true in most cases. If what this person has to say is radically different from your own experiences and what you’ve learned of the magickal world, that should set off warning bells in your head. You should not discount their claims just yet — it may simply be that your own experiences are limited and this person is discussing a principle that you have not encountered yet. It’s also possible that some of the beliefs and conclusions you’ve drawn from your own experiences are either wholly or partially wrong. We make as a great a mistake assuming that everything we believe is 100% accurate as when we believe that everything other people tell us is 100% accurate. After analysing what the person has to say, analyse the person himself. How does he act? How does he dress? Does he speak like someone who is reasonably intelligent and well-educated? These might sound like judgments based on superficial things, but the fact of the matter is that mentally unbalanced individuals often demonstrate their problems in their mannerisms, diction, and dress. Not everyone who has a nervous tic is insane, just as not everyone who refuses to look you in the eye is lying to you, but these are good cues to keep in mind when trying to judge someone’s credibility. There are quite a lot of people who our mainstream culture would label depressed or bipolar or delusional who have had very legitimate experiences and who have a lot of insightful and worthwhile things to say. However, you must keep in mind that people with chemical imbalances and unstable personalities cannot always determine the line between reality and imagination, and any of their stories should be especially scrutinized for this reason. After analysing the person, analyse the situation in which you are receiving this information. What could the person’s motivation for speaking with you be? What kind of level of trust has been built up between you? Chances are, the voodoo queen of Wheeling would not come right out and say who she is and what kind of army of zombies she commands to every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the street. Common sense dictates that she’d have to trust you quite a bit to reveal information as sensitive as that, and if you just met someone at a coffee house who makes similarly wild and powerful claims, chances are, they’re telling you a tall tale. If it’s pretty clear that the person making the claim has something to gain from you be very leery of it. But also keep an open mind on what you consider “gain” to be. Not everyone who’s trying to “sell” you something is out for your money. A lot of people are simply motivated by a need to be believed, or they want to get you on their “side” for some imagined conflict. If you thought you left the petty social politics and cliqueishness behind in high school, you’re in for a surprise, because as far as I’ve noticed, those silly social games keep a lot of people occupied well into their 70s. Sex is another basic motivator, and if you’re a pretty young girl (or even a pretty young boy), really keep your eyes open when people start coming up to you and trying to tell you how the universe works. All too often, they’ll wind up trying to teach you tantric sex magick or something similar — the long and the short of it is they want you in their bed.

Educating Yourself

With all these things to watch out for, how can you ever find a teacher or mentor that you can trust? Well, the best approach is to educate yourself. There are a lot more books out there than used to be the case, and with the Internet, a great deal of material is at your very fingertips. Not everything in a book or on a web page is truthful or accurate — just about everyone is trying to sell you something in this day and age. However, if you approach all information cautiously, analyse it carefully in respect to your own experiences, and try to judge the motivations of the writer, you’ll find a lot to teach yourself. Material that you read in a book or on a webpage is a little safer than having someone come up to you and spout off all their vast occult knowledge. For one thing, you can read at your leisure, and if there are claims or references in the work that set off alarm bells for you, you have the additional luxury of being able to research those claims and see what other authorities have to say about them. Also, although part of a writer’s job is to present a convincing argument so you agree with his points, still read material is not nearly as dynamic nor as potentially overwhelming as spoken conversation delivered by a real pro at the debating game. So when you’re just starting out and you’re not sure what to believe or who to believe it from, read, read read! It will give you a great background for later when you are comfortable enough and self-assured enough to tackle face to face conversations with people who may be trying to take advantage of you. For face to face conversations and study, always try to stick with informal study groups where everyone has an equal say. You’ll find that some persons within the group can be considered authorities on certain topics, but as long as they’re not always trying to dictate what others will accept and believe, then they’re the kinds of authorities that will only help you expand your own knowledge. Steer clear of groups or individuals who are “gathering members for a light and darkness war” or who are engaged in “battles on the astral plane” or other such nonsense. These psychic war dialogues are just a very common and dramatic way to pull people into the group, incite them with a purpose, and let them run around as pawns for one or more cultish-type leaders. Also, if someone comes up to you and claims to have information for you because they’ve known you in a past life, try to make certain that you get impressions that reinforce what this individual is saying. That’s another dialogue that I’ve seen misused in groups in the past, and unfortunately many a poor innocent has had her head screwed on backwards with tall tales of a long ago life in a magickal time that’s nothing more than a tale someone was spinning to gain her affection. So, back to tolerance and gullibility. There is nothing wrong with listening to what people have to say. In fact, I encourage everyone to keep an open mind, because we can never be 100% certain that our own beliefs are entirely accurate or well-founded. Even if a person you talk with has beliefs you utterly disagree with, still you’ve learned something in the very act of ordering your thoughts for conversation and comparing your beliefs against their own. Do not, however, believe everything that is told you. This does not mean that you should go around being paranoid of everyone who comes up to you and wants to chat about spiritual things, but you should let wisdom and common sense be your guides. Always analyse what the person is saying to you, analyse the person himself, and analyse the situation and what may be gained from getting you to believe the story. If any of these things set alarm bells off for you, then take what is said with a grain of salt. Feel free to challenge someone’s beliefs that you disagree with — sometimes there’s nothing better than a heated debate on theology! And if they are unwilling to debate or defend their beliefs to you, or to back up their claims with real incidents or examples, then you can probably spend your time more productively with somebody else.

That life isn’t This life

Something I have observed in a number of communities where reincarnation and conscious memories thereof are accepted is the tendency to confuse last time with this time. This seems to be particularly accute in the otherkin communities where past incarnations become the basis for identity in this one.

Whilst who you were can, and for some people does, have a significant impact on who you are now there can be serious problems with mixing the two. It doesn’t have to be anything particularly psychotic-looking (though I’ve seen a few of those too).

Many people have encountered “elven princess syndrome” wherein someone tries to carry over status from a previous incarnation into this one, but the most common one I see is relationship propogation.

It’s actually a joke in at least some pagan circles, having been overused by somewhat unscrupulous people that “we were lovers in a past life” is a classic bad pickup line. Well maybe we were, but perhaps this life the only interest I have in your genitalia is to tenderly wrap them in a wasps nest.

Part of the point of reincarnating is to be someone different. To do new things, learn new lessons, have new experiences. Not just to replace a worn out body so you can do the horizontal mamba with your dearly departed from. Sometimes that happens, but only because the people you are now are compatible in that way.

To use a personal example, there is someone I know in this lifetime that I have known in others. Yes, she and I have been lovers. We have also killed each other from opposite sides of a vicious genocidal war. Which of those roles should we bring forward into this life? Well, neither, we are not either of those people anymore.

The same can be said for any other trait. If you were a psychopath last life, it doesn’t mean you are now. Nor that you should necessarily wrack yourself with guilt over it. Learn from what you remember, make yourself into a better person. Sometimes the lessons aren’t what you think they are. That’s part of the pleasure of life.

And yes, this applies to species too. Because you were something in a previous lifetime, that does not mean you are that thing now. Maybe there are traits that you can bring forward that assist you in this lifetime too, maybe there are enough traits that you consider yourself the same sort of creature. Maybe not.

If you are going to actively draw traits from the past into the present then choose the ones that benefit you now. Also remember that whilst your affections may have been truely undying, the object of your affections may be learning this life’s lessons from being that psychopath, or simply from loving someone else.

Weres and Therians

Recently I got into a conversation and an interesting topic came up- Is there a difference between weres and therians? I have to admit it threw me off a bit because I had gone through my otherkinity without considering there to be a difference between weres and therians and then two people presented themselves to me adamantly insisting that there was a difference. At first I didn’t know what to think of it so I told them that as far as I knew there was no difference but I would look into it. That is exactly what I done and that is what this post is about. Throughout this post I will look at the official definitions of weres and therians, the history of weres/ therians, and people personal stances on the subject. I will eventually come to my own decision and hopefully you can come to one as well.

Werewolf originates from werewolf, or translated as human-wolf. Therefore when referring to it in otherkin terms of were(insert animal) it translates directly as human(insert animal). This is a pretty accurate translation to what weres/therians believe they are- humans who are whichever animal they claim to be. Whether they claim this spiritually, mentally, physically etc. they are humans who are those animals in some way. This seemed like a pretty sensible term to use in my opinion because it translates quite accurately into what these animal kin believe.

Therianthropy actually threw me when I first looked at the origins of the term. This is because therianthrope translates as part man part beast. Therian originating from the Greek therion meaning wild animal/beast. Thrope comes from anthropos meaning man but even with this therianthrope translates as wild animal/ beast man. In reality therianthropy is closely related to what our folk lore and movie ideas of werewolves are. Therianthropy can also be applied to the Egyptian Gods who had the heads of animals. Of course in otherkin terms therianthropy refers to the people in our sub-culture who relate themselves spiritually to animals. This is actually the “New-Age” definition of the term therianthropy, its also accepted but, after finding out the words translation, I started to wonder why.

What could be seen from these definitions in my opinion is that they both mean the same general thing although one term is more savage than the other and that term, to my surprise, is therianthropy. But this isn’t what was important in my research, I have found out that the definitions are similar so in that way the differences are quite vast if focusing on the original definitions. However if you look at the term were(insert animal) and the “New-Age” definition of therianthropy they are for the most part the same ideas just rephrased.

When I looked further into the history of weres/therians I found out some interesting information. The actual official start of the were/therians in the otherkin sub-culture originated around 1992 on a Usenet community called alt.horror.werewolves, when some of the users started to claim to be part animal- werewolves etc. Some of them were joking but it was revealed that quite a few were not and thus weres/therians were born. Of course it would have been a lot more gradual than this and no doubt that a lot of people knew of what they were before hand, they may have even clocked the term themselves, but this incident was the biggest that had occurred.

Anyway around about this time most of these animal kin called themselves were(insert animal), this was probably partly due to the fact that it translated well to their beliefs and partly because they had started off on a werewolf site. So when the were/ Therian community first joined the otherkin culture they were mostly going by the term were. So What changed? And why is it that now weres and Therian will sometimes consider themselves different?

After further research I stumbled onto quite a few answers and most of them seemed to make sense. These ideas came from therians and are their personal opinions on the matter so I personally consider them to be quite accurate. After a while of weres being accepted into the otherkin culture there became a problem with the term. Furries Werewolf, Werecat etc. also using the term were to define themselves. This meant that not only were true weres being mistaken for furries as soon as they said what they believed themselves to be but it also meant that they were less openly accepted into the otherkin culture because of this relation with furries. This would be understandably annoying and frustrating for weres, therefore some changed their otherkin definition to therianthrope which, as we have already discovered, are similar terms. There was also the dilemma of being associated with the traditional folk lore werewolf and the movie werewolf when Weres were declaring that they were Were(insert animal), not to mention the medical condition of lycanthropy. Although this was quite easy to overcome in the otherkin community, it made coming out of the kin closet harder. It’s a lot easier to say you’re a Therian then explain the word that your friends have never heard in your own way then say you’re a Were and allow them to have already come up with half of what you are themselves. So this is why therianthropy started being used- it was a word of basically the same definition, it was less commonly used and it was up to the same interpretation with less already assumed about it.

So if Were and Therian relate to the same type of kin then why is there a difference? Well from what I can gather it is all up to personal interpretation. When I asked my partner Grey Wolf if he thought there was a difference and what he considered himself to be he said that he thought there was a difference and he would only ever call himself a Therian and never a Were. This was because, and I quote “I’m not a bi-pedal wolf inside like a werewolf and I don’t physically shift like a werewolf, I’m just a normal wolf inside”. He had take the two words, Werewolf and Wolf-Therian, and made an interpretation of what he thought they meant and then fit himself into what category best suited him according to his personal opinion of the words definitions. There are Weres/Therians out there who will strictly only adhere to one of those labels then there are those who don’t give and damn and will slip in and out of using the labels Were and Therian when describing themselves .

In conclusion Were and Therian can only ever be different in personal opinion. This is because it all depends on how the person who is making the judgement interprets the words “Were” and “Therian” and then interprets whether or not it is important to them, whether there is an acknowledgeable difference or not. Because of this I accept that there is a difference between the terms Were and Therian and that difference is mind set.

Terminology

Most people use “up” for the same general concept, except for particle physicists for whom “up” is a type of quark (but only when discussing subatomic particles, not when taking the elevator – context is often vital). This is not strange (that’s a different type of quark) but a fairly usual occurance.

In any specialised community words tend to have slightly different meanings than they do in the rest of the world. This can lead to confusion, misunderstanding or merely complete incomprehension.

The otherkin community is no different. “I am an elf” does not generally mean that one just arrived from Middle Earth, have pointed ears and are immortal (unless eaten by orcs). However, as a nascient community, what it *does* mean is still somewhat undefined. As yet there is no equivalent for ‘spin’ to determine which way up to hold your elf…

Coming out of the Wardrobe

How do I tell someone that I’m Otherkin?

First of all, I’m not one that goes for telling everything about me to random people. True, you may find someone who happens to be a friendly ear, but on the flip side, you can end up getting not-so-friendly reactions as well. The first thing to do is figure out why you need to tell this particular person that you are ‘kin. Are they someone that you are/want to be closer to (good friend, SO, family member, potential lover), so that you feel that they have a need to know about your habits, quirks, and beliefs? Are they someone that you feel may be ‘kin?

In many ways, telling someone that you are ‘kin has parallels with admitting that you follow a non-mainstream religion, or have a different lifestyle than others. At one point the term “coming out of the wardrobe” was suggested, referencing C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series. It’s something that not everyone is going to accept, and frankly, not everyone has to know about. For the moment, I’m going to assume that the person that you wish to tell is someone familiar to you as well as of friendly disposition towards you. (Telling someone who doesn’t like you to begin with equals “giving them ammo” in my book.)

First off, pick your environment if you can. You want this to be as non-threatening as possible – you’re about to mess with their preconceptions. Generally I’d recommend someplace with a casual but not necessarily intimate atmosphere. A quiet walk in the park together, a back-of-the-diner booth, the living room after watching a good video…something along those lines. Another possibility is places where the unusual is almost expected. It can be easier to accept a strange statement in a con-suite or at a Ren-Faire than it is to accept it in the local mall. The key is to put both of you at ease.

The next thing is to test the waters – find out how open the person is to the idea of “people who are something other than 100% human”. If it’s someone that you are moderately close to already, quick scans of their bookshelves can give some insight. So can the kinds of movies that they enjoy. A few topics of conversation that also usually give a good sense of the open mind are SETI, reincarnation, possibilities of alternate timelines, the intelligence of dolphins, that sort of thing.

OK, so now the two of you are happily chatting. If the other person has proved to be open-minded about intelligences other than human, or worlds/timelines where other forms of intelligence exist, or the idea of “coming back” in another form, then you are in good shape. If not, then it is probably a Bad Idea (TM) to go further at this time. Even if they are friendly, you might end up with the label of “nice, but a bit of a nut”. The next step is to open the possibility that you personally think that you – in some part – feel that you are not entirely human.

Quick side-note here – I’m not meaning to imply that being ‘kin is the result of non-human genetic material, misrouted reincarnation, or such. Just that being ‘kin implies in itself that you are somewhat “other”. It could be in body, in spirit, or even in mindset, and doesn’t even preclude that in any of these things you may be at least partially human.

It’s generally a good idea to ease into this gradually. It also depends a lot on your particular ‘kin type. Are you someone who has memories of a past life as something other than human? Do you feel as though your soul is that of a dragon (elf, dryad, were, etc), but had to take an available body? Do you just tend to look at things in a way best described as “outsider” or “observer”? Proceed slowly, don’t give them too much to process at a time. It’s a bit of a stretch for even flexible minds. Let them get used to the idea before giving them more detail, but answer the inevitable questions as honestly as you can.

Find Your Own Truth

A while back, I changed the tagline on the splash page. I was trying to make a point. Maybe I was too subtle. (What? The font wasn’t big enough?)

Find Your Own Truth.
That means you actually have to look for it.

Seriously look for it.

I can’t tell you where it is. Nor can anyone else. I can’t tell you to read this book and it’ll give you all the answers. Books don’t have answers, not real ones. The best books have questions. I can’t tell you ‘talk to this person, they can tell you what you need to know’. They don’t know either.

Time for an uncomfortable truth.

You don’t know squat.
Worse, you probably don’t even know you don’t know. (How many of you reacted to that statement with outrage or denial?). How do I know you don’t know squat? I don’t know either. Oh, I can pontificate with the best of them. Once you realise you don’t know anything, you realise a few things that really help.

The first one is that no one else knows a damned thing either. Especially they don’t know anything about you. (Except, perhaps that like them, you don’t know squat).

This might seem very defeatist. If no one knows anything, how can you learn? Well, I can’t tell you the answer to that, because like you, I don’t know squat. However if you look at it the right way, it is very liberating. If I don’t know, and you know I don’t know, I can’t manipulate your reality by telling you what it looks like and I can’t manipulate you by telling you what you are. Because you know I don’t know squat and will laugh at me.

Being otherkin is not a religion. There are no sacred texts, there are no leaders, no initiation ceremonies and rarely even any common beliefs. However, it does have some things in common with new religions, before they become wrapped in dogma, liturgy and form, and a few older religions who have clung onto certain aspects of religion. Those forms are Mystery religions. They are mysteries, not because someone with a robe says that certain things cannot be taught to the uninitiated, that outsiders cannot read the holy book. They are mysteries because some things just cannot be taught. The only way to know is to experience it for yourself.

I can’t tell you what you are. I don’t know. I am not you. I cannot experience being you, being all you have been and all you might be. Only you can do that.

The second thing you realise after you accept that you don’t know squat is that you can learn. Everything you do teaches you something. You learn that fire is hot. Sometimes you burn yourselves a few times first. That’s part of the process. It’s alright, because you don’t know squat. Sometimes you can learn things from other people, just remember they don’t know squat either. There are people who walk across burning coals barefoot and are unharmed. They don’t know that fire always burns you, even though people have told them that.

The third thing you realise is that because no one else knows squat either, they can’t validate you. They can’t tell you you are right, because as you already know, they don’t know squat, so how would they know if you are right. This one is harder to deal with. We are raised to put value on other people’s opinions of us. Functioning in a society requires a certain amount of that. There is a difference between respecting another person and letting them define you. It is also liberating.

Which brings us to the realisation that if no one else knows anything about us because they don’t know squat, and I don’t know squat either, the chances are I don’t know anything about me either. So ask yourself, how well do you know yourself. Really. Think about it. How much of what you think, feel and believe is actually what other people think you are, or think you should be? How many of your beliefs are truths, and how many just what you would like them to be? Some of those can be very deep rooted and hard for even the most ardent seeker to see in themselves.

If you’ve gotten this far, let me tell you a story. It’s about myself. I have seen other people say and do similar things, so maybe it is also about you. I wouldn’t know though, I don’t know squat.

I am an elf. I have said that so many times. I have felt that so many times. I experience it. I am an elf.

Actually, I’m not.

I expect a few people who know me are blinking there. Maybe not. I don’t know squat after all.

Over many years I have learned that humans are unpleasent people. They think differently. They hurt each other. They abuse the world they were born into, even though it poisons them to do so. They do not learn, they just inflict their own wounds onto the next generation.

I am an elf. I am not human. NOTNOTNOTNOTNOTNOT!

I spent the last weekend in a place full of humans. They think differently. They hurt each other. Then they appologise. They abuse the world they were born into, because the culture they live in makes it so hard not to. Then they try to change the culture, change themselves. They build, think, feel, love, hate, wound, heal. They try to pass on their gains to the next generation, and the one after that, and the one after that.

They didn’t care that they were different than I. It did not make me a stranger, to be hated or feared. I was welcome to share their food, their land, their sacred spaces.

I am not human, but there is human blood in these veins. I can accept that. It’s alright now.

I am not human.

I do not know what I am.

I am human. I am fae. I am elf. I am demon. I am angel. I am elemental. I am male. I am female. I am balance. I am the inbetween. I am many. I am one. I have lived a thousand lives. I have died a million deaths. I have seen the begining of the universe. I may see the end.

I am unknown.

I am learning.

Of course I could be wrong.

You see, I don’t know squat.

Soul Loss

“Soul retrieval” is a concept brought by Sandra Ingerman to Core Shamanism as taught by the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, founded by Michael Harner. For more information, please consult The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner, Soul Retrieval by Sandra Ingerman and The Foundation for Shamanic Studies.

The modern concept of soul retrieval is based on parallels from various shamanic cultures that relate to their concepts of soul essence and soul loss. Like many concepts from other cultures, one must set aside one’s cultural beliefs long enough to grasp the different paradigms. Soul, in this case, is the way those cultures define it. The term “soul” is the closest English approximation of what they conceptualize. This is not the Christian concept of soul (a subtle body part which belongs solely to you and which will pass on into another life), although it has similarities.

Your soul, here, is your essence, a bundle of your spiritual energies. It’s how the “molecules” of your immortal spirit connect to your conscious and physical forms. That connection can be lost. Essence can be lost. Generally it’s lost through anything traumatic. This essence is conscious, and it also can choose to vacate due to difficult situations. This is the concept referred to as “soul loss”.

Repeated oppressions, abuses, brainwashing, and so forth will often result in soul loss. Soul loss often occurs through abuse to a child, for instance, or by abuse from loved ones later in life. Sometimes essence can be frightened out of you for a time by a jolt, a loud sound, an accident, etc. A portion of soul is lost when there is a trauma to the body. When a dearly loved person dies, sometimes a part of your essence tries to follow them.

When soul loss occurs, the essence generally goes out of body and finds a place and/or time in the otherworld(s) where it feels safe. Occasionally it torments itself by finding a place in the otherworld to get stuck in the very situation which made it abandon the body. It can’t get out of this time-loop, and needs help to realize that the situation is ended/over and it is safe to come home. Rarely, it tries to follow someone else around, either on this world, or into the afterlife.

If you lose all of this essence, it is thought that you die. Your immortal spirit is no longer connected to your physical form. There is no more essence of life in your body. Loss of much of your essence can lead to disease and disability (and thus possibly eventually death anyways), or to feeling like you’re not whole, like there’s a part of you that is missing and that there is something or someone out there that can fulfill you. Sometimes soul loss contributes to psychological illnesses. Often we seek out other people to fill this empty space, but sometimes it’s our own essence that was lost and is missed.

In our culture, soul loss is occurring to various people all the time. Thankfully, sometimes the parts return spontaneously after time (after illness, grief, periods of withdrawal, etc.). However, most people are walking around missing portions (sometimes very generous portions) of their essence, partially because there is a lack of persons trained to note when loss has occurred and return the essence to the body.

Shamans whose cultures use this paradigm generally recognize the symptoms, or know the events in the lives of tribemates. They know when there is a portion of essence that must be returned to the body lest illness should result. A soul retrieval in a case where loss is known to have occurred generally takes place within 3 days of the loss, to prevent development of weakness and illness due to the loss of essence.

In the Core Shamanic teachings, soul retrieval is done during a shamanic journey to the otherworlds. The shaman enters a trance state and goes out of body to hunt down portions of your essence. If you’ve experienced multiple soul losses in your life (most of us have), then the shaman may bring back more than one piece of soul. Sometimes additional soul retrieval journeys must be performed several weeks later, after the new pieces are settled in.

People who are new to this paradigm may be helped by having the entire physical process explained to them, along with the subjective experiences of the shaman during the soul retrieval.

The shaman enters the trance state using whatever method works best for them: singing, movement and dance, calling on their spirit helpers, chanting, playing drums or rattles, using a journeying tape, etc. By the time the shaman lays down next to you, generally touching at arms and legs, they are in a nonordinary state of consciousness.

In the otherworld, while the shaman’s body lays still beside you, the shaman requests the presence of a trusted guide for the journey. They ask the guide to take them to a portion of your soul which is ready to come home. “Ready” is relative to both you in the body and the soul part lost; if you or it are not ready to be reunited, that part will not be retrieved. On some occasions, the spirit guide may say “not right now, this person isn’t ready”.

The guide brings the shaman to the area, or gives directions or hints to find the piece. Sometimes the shaman must put their own essence at risk for you; it’s their job, and the lost soul part realizes how important coming home is, if someone is willing to be hurt to get them. Sometimes it takes some convincing to get the soul part to come home. Whatever the shaman can do, they will, on your behalf. It’s part of their calling as a shaman and a healer. Every soul retrieval is unique.

The retrieval itself probably takes about thirty minutes or so. All you must do is lay still, be present in your body, and truly welcome back the lost parts. It helps a lot to be ready for the unexpected.

The shaman will return your essence to your body, usually by blowing it into your heart chakra, then guiding you to sit up and blow it into your crown chakra. They will perhaps shake a rattle around you or dance around you to seal the essence in your body so that it does not get lost before it is integrated. They may hand you a crystal that they kept with them on the journey to help your returned soul essence to feel at home. They may sing to you or tell you a story afterwards, while they shaman is still in the trance state. Then the retrieval is technically over, and the shaman may come out of nonordinary reality to speak with you.

Generally the shaman will tell you some portion of their journey, asking if anything is relevant. Sometimes they see the events that lost that portion of spiritual essence. Sometimes they don’t. Whatever you are told, it’s your job to listen at that point, and to come away feeling love for the hurt part of you that tried to run away to protect itself. Generally it needs tender loving care, nurturing, and acceptance.

As your life situation improves (whether through soul retrievals or just your own work on your life, in spite of having not had soul retrievals), it might become more common for soul parts to return spontaneously as portions of your essence are convinced that your life has improved, and that they’re honestly wanted back. Some pieces still might be stuck and blind to your current circumstances, and the shaman becomes the intermediary to explain to them that it’s time to come home. Often you can’t do this for yourself, as you yourself are sometimes part of what scares the soul part.

Having friends and family around who honestly want you to be and feel more whole, who honestly love you (all of you, even parts that aren’t home right now), can be extremely helpful in a soul retrieval.

I believe that soul loss and soul retrieval are important concepts for the Otherkin community to consider, between all the awesome memories that we recover, some of us being walk-ins, hosts, multiples, splits, and so on. It is quite likely that soul retrieval may be a very viable healing modality for our community.

Soulbonds

These days, you see a lot of people looking for someone who is ‘everything they need’, and using terms like soulmate, or soulbonded. You see it in the personals section. You see it in movies. You’ve probably heard it from some of your friends.

So what is a soulbonded or soulmate, anyway?

To most of modern America, it basically is a glamorous word for Ms./Mr. Right, imbued with a strong emotional context.

To people who study metaphysics, it means something entirely different: it means someone with whom you tend to reincarnate time after time, helping each other learn lessons. In extreme cases, it can even go to the extent of having agreed to permanently share soul development.

That may sound like a romanticized version of marriage, but the reality is often far from romantic. Soul relationships are usually about personal and spiritual development, so they are often among the most trying and difficult relationships that you can have. Soul relationships aren’t always romantic or erotic, either.

People who’ve deeply studied metaphysics, magic, psi, or any other esoteric art come to realize that there are many ways in which people can be ‘connected’ to each other, and that many of those connections can create a deep sense of closeness that can easily be mistaken for a soulbond or soulmate relationship. Those connections can be very deep and fulfilling, so they can form either the basis of a strong relationship, or a deep enhancement to an existing relationship. In a “good” relationship they can be wonderful. Unfortunately, in a not-so-good relationship, they can be very unpleasant.

Below are some overview descriptions of types of connections, links. and bonds that I have observed or experienced.


Empathic

Most empaths have the ability to link to someone, and to deepen a link into a bond.When an empath is linked to someone, they can easily “reach out” and feel the one to whom they are linked, and then know how that one feels, emotionally and physically, and sometimes even perceive what they are doing. When a link deepens to a bond, the empath doesn’t even have to “reach”; it is as if the other person is constantly standing right next to the empath.

A mistake that some empaths make is bonding to someone, and thinking that it will go both ways. If the other person isn’t also an empath, or if the other person isn’t strongly attached to the empath, then they probably won’t form a bond back to the empath. Those situations can easily lead to a frustrating relationship where the empath who bonded feels everything that goes on with their partner, but the partner doesn’t feel what is going on with the empath.

Empathic connections can be removed or severed, although breaking an empathic bond can be both difficult and physically debilitating, as well as emotionally painful and possibly damaging. Breaking a link isn’t as hard, nor as traumatic. In either case, you do need to monitor yourself to make certain that the connection isn’t reforming. In either case you might want to spend time with someone you care about for a while. It has taken me a few weeks to recover from severing some deep empathic bonds.

Death/reincarnation normally severs empathic bonds. That is one factor in the trauma that some individuals experience when a loved one passes on.


Energetic

People who do chi, chakra, or Tantra work sometimes learn that one’s energy centers can be linked to those of another person. That provides a closeness and a sense of awareness of the energetic state of the other person, and an energetic interaction that can be quite ecstatic in certain situations.These types of links are often transitory, but much like empathic connections they can be extended into a quasi-permanent link, and be deepened into a bond. An energetic link that is maintained allows closeness and energetic awareness at will, and one that has been deepened to a bond allows one to be constantly aware of the other person’s energetic state, without effort.

It is possible to have a one-way connection to someone else’s energetic system. That can happen when the other person doesn’t have the proper training, if the other person has some kind of energetic or emotional blockage, or if the other person isn’t willing to make that type of connection. One-way energetic connections of this type can be energetically, emotionally, or even physically painful.

Energetic connections can be broken or severed. A link is easier to sever than a bond, and the results are less traumatic. Severing an energetic bond can destabilize your energetic system, so be prepared and careful when attempting that. Energetic links and bonds can reform, so it is a good idea to monitor one’s energetic system for several days after severing a connection, and to monitor one’s energetic system on a periodic basis.

Energetic connections are normally severed by death and reincarnation. Again, this is a factor in the trauma that some individuals experience when a loved one passes on.


Soulspace

People who do a lot of metaphysical/soul/spirit work learn to find a place inside themselves where this incarnation connects to the greater self. In the tradition where I learned this, that place is called a SoulSpace.Those who work with such places find that there can be a connection between SoulSpaces, allowing one to reach directly from one’s SoulSpace to the SoulSpace of another person. These connections completely bypass “normal” reality, because SoulSpaces don’t really quite exist in physical reality. These connections can be temporary or long-term, and can deepen significantly if both so choose.

Having a SoulSpace connection allows one a lot of the same closeness as an empathic connection, but also allows one to reach directly into the other person’s SoulSpace. It allows reaching across distance easily. In some cases, it can lead to a constant sense of the inner state of each other. That can cause disharmony and disquiet if the other person doesn’t want your presence.

I haven’t personally experienced a SoulSpace connection being severed, so I don’t know what the results would be. I would anticipate some pain and possible trauma. Like other types of connections, I would expect that SoulSpace connections could reform over time if that is not prevented.

This type of connection does survive bodily death, although one does tend to “forget” the connection and not be aware of it after reincarnating. Awareness may be prompted by meeting the other person, or may be prompted by an inner awareness that the other person has incarnated, even though you haven’t encountered them, and won’t for years.

Being incarnated while having a SoulSpace connection from a prior life sometimes leads to a sense of incompleteness, of looking for someone else. This is often mistaken for a romantic attachment – which may or may not be correct. This is one of the types of connections that is sometimes called a soulmate or soulbond connection.


SoulSpace Fragments

People who work with SoulSpaces can learn to form bonds by either fusing and/or exchanging pieces of their inner self. That often takes the form of a living “being” that normally inhabits their own SoulSpace being placed into the SoulSpace of the other person.This is not something I would recommend, in general, because of the repercussions that are possible. It is something I would only recommend if studying under a tradition where that type of thing is taught. Even if you are, it is still something which I would recommend rethinking at least twice, and checking with one’s sense of the cosmic Dance. It can be Really Bad in some cases. It can be Really Good in some cases. But it is always Really Risky.

Having this type of connection allows the same type of closeness as a SoulSpace connection, but you don’t have to reach into the other person, because a part of you is always there. You can be instantly aware of the inner state of the other person, unless they somehow block information from getting to that part of you. This can be done both ways. Only having it set up one way can be emotionally disturbing and painful.

This type of connection can be broken. The results can be quite traumatic. I had one of these which was severed after being in existence for 18 months. I lost a lot of memory of those 18 months, including magical and professional skills which I literally had to relearn as though I had never known them. I also went through severe emotional and physical trauma. My recommendation: don’t go there.

These connections also last past death, although I suspect that they are largely “forgotten” when reincarnating, as with a normal SoulSpace connection.

Incarnating with this type of connection from a prior life sometimes leads to a sense of incompleteness, of looking for someone else. This can be mistaken for a romantic attachment – which may or may not be correct. This is one of the types of connections that is sometimes called a soulmate or soulbond connection.


Twin soul

Souls can also “split” into two or more parts, and if those parts are well developed enough to continue to exist independently, they can go on as separate souls, incarnating down through the ages. That is what some people call “twin flames” or “twin souls”. Some souls do this more than once, creating more than two individual parts of the original soul.Such twin souls have the sense of connectedness and awareness available from a SoulSpace connection, but to a greater degree of depth. These connections often seem to be impossible to close down or sever. There can be a significant pull to be together, although that is not always the result.

These connections also last past death, but are, at least sometimes, “forgotten” when reincarnating. Even when “forgotten”, the individual may be aware that something or someone is missing.

This type of connection is often mistaken for a romantic attachment – which may or may not be correct. Because Twin Souls have chosen different developmental paths, they may be incompatible as romantic partners, even though they may feel an intense pull to be together romantically. This is one of the types of connections that is called a soulmate or soulbond connection.


Created Soul Bond

Initially separate souls also seem to be able to choose to be joined. Once this happens, those souls tend to incarnate together. They share soul development, and both have to learn lessons to progress. It is possible that some cases identified as “twin souls” are actually this type.These connections cause much of the same sense of connectedness and awareness common to Twin Souls, although there seems to be a greater drive to be together, to live as a partnership.

These connections seem impossible to close down or sever. The main drawback that I’ve seen is that neither person is happy unless the other person is incarnated with them.

These connections last past death, and although the connection may be forgotten, the person will feel incomplete and will be “seeking” until they find their partner.

This is one of the types of connections that is called a soulmate or soulbonded. It may be the only one that consistently leads to *successful* romantic partnerships.


Soul Mates

Souls can also be drawn together by “karma” or “destiny” – by either choices or obligations to one another, or by proximity in the greater Dance. This is not Karma in the way that some people think of “paybacks”; rather, it is about internal balance and development. It can also be a perceived or actual obligation to help someone work through something, or a need to resolve personal baggage related to interactions in other lives. It can also be a draw formed not by direct interaction with someone else, but by interaction with a pattern that also moves other individuals, so that one encounters those other individuals, even though there is no direct connection.When one of these interactions exists, someone comes into your life for a reason. That reason may be for only an event, or for a series of events, or for most or all of your life. Sometimes these individuals may be relatives or even siblings. Sometimes they may be friends, sometimes lovers. They are often assumed to be romantic, although that is not necessarily correct. The interaction is there to help one or both of you learn specific things, or deal with specific things, or because you are both moving with specific patterns.

There is nothing to sever to stop these interactions, as it isn’t a direct connection, but a flowing-together in patterns. In the case of past life baggage that needs to be cleared, clearing that baggage and moving forward will eliminate that cause for the relationship to exist. In the other cases, there may or may not be any actions that would eliminate the cause for the interaction.

These interactions are for one or more lifetimes, and the awareness of them may or may not exist until meeting the other person. Sometimes not even then.

This is the type of interaction that many metaphysicians call Soul Mates.


Species Resonance

Among non-human reincarnates, one of the more common experiences is the pull towards someone with a similar non-human nature. This does vary from species to species, so it isn’t universal. For example, it does seem more common among some of the Elf and Elf-like species, and somewhat less common among some of the Faerie and Dragon species.The pull of species resonance can feel like other types of connections, and for some species does provide a sense of closeness similar to empathic or soulmate connections. For some species, it can generate a sense of Need for the presence of others of that species (elves seem particularly prone to this, although it is stronger in some species than in others).

This type of attraction can easily be confused with romantic attraction, unless one is observant and careful. It can also serve as an enhancement to other types of attraction.

There really is no way to close down or sever species resonance, as it isn’t a connection, but rather a similarity of nature.

Species resonance can last across reincarnation, although the strength will vary with the amount of manifestation of that nature. For example, someone who has a touch of elf but isn’t manifesting it strongly this lifetime may not feel any species resonance for elves, while someone who is strongly manifesting Elf almost certainly will experience species resonance towards others who are strongly manifesting Elf. The strength of the resonance also varies with the similarity of the individuals’ non-human natures. For example, those who were elves of similar nature/origin will tend to be more strongly drawn to each other than to elves of different nature/origin.

For those who experience strong species resonance, not being able to be with others of their type can be disturbing; it can generate a constant awareness of unfulfilled need. In severe cases, unfulfilled species resonance can be a factor that affects emotional stability. Individuals who experience this should take care to maintain inner stability.


Caveats:
One caution that I would give is that anyone who is desperately seeking to create any of the above types of connections probably has some unresolved issues about needing someone else that they really should resolve before pursuing a deep relationship. I’ve seen some attempt to decide who their “soulmate” or “soulbonded” will be. That normally isn’t the kind of thing one can decide. Normally either such a connection exists, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then seeking it probably indicates a problem on the part of the seeker.My experience is that some types of connections happen naturally over time when one is in the right place at the right time. Learning to follow one’s heart (not mind, not emotions) and learning to Dance the greater Dance – those will result in being in the right place at the right time, more and more often as one progresses. That will naturally result in some of these types of connections forming, when it is right for them to do so.

Also, remember that we get handed lessons in life. Some of those lessons are really hard for us – things that we often would rather walk away from. When there is a lesson that we won’t hang around to learn any other way, there is often a “hook” added to make sure that we do stick around to learn the lesson. Quite often, that hook can take the form of a relationship. Usually, the most intense relationships are there because someone needs to learn something and won’t any other way: either us, or the other person, or both.

So be careful of wanting the hook. You can learn a lot, and it may be wonderful for some of it, but it can hurt… a lot, sometimes.

 

Considerations:
I hope that these descriptions help people – help them to be aware of what they are doing, help them to not be looking at a glamorous image that isn’t true, and help them to be able to use words/terms that accurately describe what they have found.It isn’t always easy to tell what kind of connection one has. The reason that I can see the difference between these types of connections is because I’ve experienced all but one of them, and I’ve been able to see that one in contrast to what I have experienced.

I think a lot of people call a relationship a soulmate or a soulbond because that relationship is the deepest relationship that they have experienced, and they are trying to find a way to express what they feel. That’s understandable, and hopefully these terms will provide a way for some of those relationships to be more accurately understood and described.

You don’t have to be “bonded” to have a deep and meaningful relationship with someone. If you find a really good relationship, and you both are on some type of inner growth path, then you will probably find yourself developing one of the above connections over time – possibly more than one.

Just make sure that you find a good relationship *first*, and let the rest work itself out. 🙂

What is Real — The Symbol and the Thing

Everything is real.. but people mistake their illusions for reality.

When you ask most people “Which is more real, an object or its shadow?” Most people will automatically say that the object is real and the shadow is not. Upon further inspection one will realize that the shadow really is there too, and is no less ‘real’ than the object. I speculate the confusion comes because people can see the distinction between a shadow and its related object, and see the shadow as just an ‘image’ of the ‘real’ object. They are seeing a thing and a bad copy of it (which is not the thing), and therefore “must not be real.” Either that, or they only think of material objects as being real.

For the last several years my axioms for determining if something “exists” were the following:

1. If it can be directly perceived by the five senses (smell, sight, sound, taste, etc.)

2. If it can be directly perceived by the five senses augmented by scientific instruments (microscope, telescope, particle accelerator, etc.)

3. If it affects something else that can be perceived by 1. and 2.

So basically, invisible, silent, odorless, massless things that don’t affect anything else can (for all practical purposes) be placed in the category of “does not exist.” All things in this category are indistinguishable from one another.

Now these axioms seem to be very restrictive at first, but #3 allows much room for invisible things that affect visible things. This is how I can consider emotions to be real, since they observably affect how people interact with the rest of the observable world.

Now, what do I mean by ‘illusions’? The way I’d always thought of the mind as operating was that it receives sensory input, finds patterns in it, and assigns symbols to those patterns.

Suppose you look outside your window and (hypothetically) see several cars. You call each car a “Car”. However each of these cars are probably different from one another in many ways. So how do they all have the same name “Car” when they’re all different?

If you take a car and replace one part of the car with a new replacement part, then do you still have the same car as you had before? What happens when you continue to replace one part after another, one at a time, until every single part of the original car has been replaced? Do you still have the original car?

If you take the car apart into its discrete components, it’s not a car anymore, but a pile of car parts. Where did the car go? Did it go to a car heaven?

The way I think of it is this: The ‘mind’ (let’s assume it exists for the moment) draws little dotted lines around portions of sensory input and gives them symbolic names. So by drawing the lines differently you can get “two halves of a car” or “a pile of atoms” or include the occupants of the car and the ground the car rests on as all one thing.

The thing is.. this “Car” or “pile of atoms” is an illusion. There is something real out there, but it’s not “pile of car parts”, or any of the other possible symbols.

When I say that people are looking at illusions, I mean that they are mistaking their model of reality for reality itself.

The snake eating it’s own tail….

This is something I’ve devoted considerable thought to:

Goedel’s Incompleteness Theorem states that in any formal system complex enough to include arithmetic, there are certain statements that cannot be determined to be true or false from within the rules of that system. The result is that you are able to create statements like “This statement is false.”

Generally, the statements that cause problems are self-referential, or refer to themselves indirectly though other statements.

It occurred to me that the human mind can hold thoughts such as “This statement is false” without blowing up and saying “does not compute.” Therefore, it is running on some other kind of system. I think (and “I” is an entirely different discussion) that the mind itself is a feedback loop. Whenever you think a thought, you hear the output of your last thought, and you think of something based on that, which feeds into your next thought, etc. etc. Try to shut up the voice in your head and see how hard it is.

Feedback loops form the core of many dynamic (chaotic) systems and fractal geometry. Basically the way the math works is you repeat a function over and over again on the output from the last step. The values will either get closer and closer to one number, or bounce back and forth between two values, or four.. but at a certain point they become completely chaotic – unpredictable. In the regions of chaos, you can find certain values that once again bounce between three, or six, or whatever values. So you have order leading to chaos and chaos leading to order. (but of course order and chaos are only illusions, and are the same thing in reality)

Small changes in initial conditions will also give rise to radically divergent behavior in these systems. These sets tend to be self-similar on many scales.. so a small part of the set looks like the whole, and vice versa.

When you look at the world around you, (and you’ve been doing a lot of work with fractal geometry), you’ll see that almost everything in nature is a fractal or chaotic/dynamic system.

The turbulence in circulating fluids, predator/prey population models, meteorological forecasts, the three-body problem, cell growth in plants, etc. etc., are all chaotic/dynamic systems. If you look at the EEG of a conscious person, it looks similar to a graph of the stock market, or a cross section of a mountain range. There are many repeating patterns, but it’s in general unpredictable. If you look at the EEG of someone who’s stoned, or having a seizure, the pattern is a nice orderly sine wave. Order = no thought.

When you say “I” it is the symbol that your mind calls itself. It’s another recursive feedback loop. It too is an illusion (see above) but what is left there when you take away the symbol “I”?

As an Engineer I started to drive myself crazy trying to rationalize the universe (going around and around in circles). It was very hard for me to accept it but, reality isn’t logical (A=A, etc.) It’s a snake eating it’s own tail.

Shadows: A Guide

Introduction

One thing clear from the start. “Shadow” is a broad term. An almost insanely broad term. Many people will try to claim truths about shadows that simply don’t take this into account – “truths” like no shadow can astral project, that spines and protrubrances on a shadow’s body show rank. Taken in context such claims are ridiculous. Saying “no shadow can astral project” isn’t just like saying no human can astral project . . . it’s like saying no human, elf, dragon, therian, cat, dog, or any physical entity can astral project. Trying to make claims about rank in shadows isn’t just like saying pips on a soldier’s uniform show rank . . . it’s saying that pips on a soldier’s uniform show rank not just to other soldiers, not just to other people in his country, not just to other people on his planet, but to every fleshy being on every world in every dimension. It just doesn’t make sense.

“Shadow”, as used in the otherkin, metaphysical, and spiritual communities, simply means an entity who is entirely or primarily made of darkness or dark energy. That’s all. There are certainly groups of shadows who are similar in nature, but what is true for one of them is not necessarily true for any others – just like what is true for a cat on Earth is not necessarily true for an elf on Fae. Please keep that in mind as you read through this article – if information seems vague or very generalised, that’s because it is.

Types of Shadows

Shadows come in just as many shapes and sizes as physical entities. There are tiny, semi-sentient blobs of shadow energy sometimes known as “remoras” because of their habit of following bigger shadows around. There are vast, ancient, godlike shadows it’s just about impossible to understand. And somewhere in the middle, there are the ones sometimes called “shadow people”: about the same mental and spiritual size and level as a human.

The vast, vast majority of shadows seem to exist in their natural state – that is, without physical bodies. Just as humans live in the physical, shadows tend to exist in non-physical realms. What you call these places is down to your personal belief system. I think of them as shadow realms, or pocket dimensions of the astral.

My experience of these realms is as follows, but as with most things, your mileage may vary: they are entirely black, but the darkness has texture and thickness. Moving is like a cross between swimming and ice skating. There is no sight as such, just a clear awareness of who and what is where.

Shadow Reproduction

Where do baby shadows come from? Speaking from experience, they coalesce. Shadow energy clumps together – either of its own accord or with the influence of someone else – and forms more complex units. Remoras form out of the more intense clumps. Remoras can gather energy and grow into human-sized entities, break down into smaller units, or just stay as they are. A conscious, sentient shadow could theoretically gather as much energy as possible into itself in order to become more powerful, though I don’t personally know any who did that. Human-sized shadows aren’t generally “born” as baby that would inevitably grow to be adults – they usually gradually formed out of random shadow energy.

(For those worried about being eaten by a shadow – don’t be. Humans are carbon-based lifeforms, and they need carbon and related elements to grow. Shadows are darkness-based, and that’s what they need to grow. Eating a human’s energy would be no more useful to most shadows, than eating a lump of iron is to you.)

As a direct consequence of that, the concept of racial traits does not apply very well to shadows. Physical entities have racial and species traits because they pass on characteristics to their offspring through DNA. Shadows don’t seem to reproduce like this. Rather than thinking of shadows as humans who just happen to me made of dark energy, think of shadows as hurricanes that just happen to be sentient – similar atmospheric conditions lead to similar weather patterns; it’s not that a hurricane has parents and children. Likewise, similar energetic conditions lead to similar shadow entities coming into being.

The one proviso is that the big, godlike shadows all seem to be very, very old (as much as age can be said to have a meaning on the astral). One possible explanation for this is that long ago, they absorbed most of the free shadow energy, and now there simply isn’t enough for a shadow to grow much bigger than human-sized. Another possibility is that they intervene somehow to keep other shadows small.

Characteristics of Shadow Energy

Okay, here’s the meat of this article: what shadow energy actually feels like.

The most obvious and important characteristic is that it’s dark. Very, very, very dark. Other entities, when they do energy work, tend to draw in light energy by instinct – not so with shadows. Other entities tend to have auras that glow – not shadows, who feel more like black holes.

The second characteristic of shadow energy is that it does not interact well with other kinds. You know all those guided meditations that instruct you to bring light or golden energy into yourself? If a shadow does this, usually the best that will happen is nothing – and it’s likely that the shadow will feel extremely ill. Note that few shadows do much light energy work. It’s a bit like being a teenager experimenting with alcohol – if you get very sick and hungover from just a few drinks, without the fun side effects, then you probably won’t do much drinking.

This energetic clash works both ways. Most non-shadows react even worse to shadow energy than shadows react to light – perhaps because shadows who interact with the physical are constantly exposed to conflicting energies, whereas other entities experience shadow much less often. I know of people who have given a shadow a gentle but unexpected energetic probe, only to be rewarded with an energy backlash that gave them migraines. Almost all people associate shadow energy with death, and almost all non-shadows have an intense fear reaction when they encounter shadow energy – the purer and further from physical, the worse the effect. This is another good way of identifying shadows: if you probe something, and your reaction is to want to run and hide, it’s probably a shadow. If not, it’s probably just an entity cloaking itself in darkness, or an entity you can’t see properly.

The third characteristic of shadow energy is that it’s hard to see and sense. Unless there is close contact, it does not feel like a glow or presence so much as an absence of energy – so it can be easy for shadows to be missed completely. Often when shadows are seen, it’s only for a split second – seeing a shadow causes people to look harder (as seeing anything unusual does), which in turn makes it more difficult to see the subtle.

Finally, shadow energy tends to be very strongly shielded. I am yet to meet a sentient shadow that did not have formidable shields around every aspect of its being. This has both positive and negative aspects for a shadow. On the plus side, attacks of any kind (not just energetic, but also emotional and intellectual) tend to have a very hard time getting through – shadows feel safe. On the other hand, it can be like living inside a concrete bunker, cut off from the rest of the world. It’s positive and negative for everyone else, too – shadow shields mean they aren’t spilling their energy everywhere, which would be very damaging; but they also make it difficult for physical entities to make any kind of contact with them.

Characteristics of Shadow Behaviour

I’m reluctant to discuss this, because it seems absurd to talk about the characteristic behavior of such a diverse group. That said, there are two things in particular that seem far more common in shadows than other entities.

Firstly, shadows are protective. They seem inclined to guard things, and are inclined to look at things in their lives from the perspective of guarding. On the other side of the coin, it’s shadow mentality to kill half a planet in order to “protect” the other half. Protection, being a guardian, is neither a good nor bad thing: of itself, it is entirely neutral.

Secondly, shadows do not play well with others. It’s strange, but I am yet to meet two shadows who can get along with each other for a substantial amount of time. At the extreme, shadows have been known to spend almost ridiculous amounts of time and energy taunting, torturing, or otherwise fighting with each other.

Bump In The Night

Just as physical beings can project to the astral, non-physical beings can visit the physical. Usually, when a human sees a shadow this is why. Some people like to claim vast otherworldly conspiracies of evil are the reason for shadow people sightings, but this seems unlikely to me because like I said, shadows don’t exactly work well together – and second of all, there isn’t really anything on the physical that the average shadow would want to take over. Some people claim such shadows are vampires of some kind that attack humans, but again I find this unlikely – shadow dimensions on the astral are so full of intense energy that coming to Earth for a snack would be like leaving a feast for a small portion of McDonald’s fries.

In general, I think the two main reasons why shadows visit Earth are the same two reasons why humans visit the astral – curiosity, and accident. Just as humans can drift into the astral while they sleep, shadows can drift onto the physical without really being aware of it – a shadow who doesn’t seem to be interacting at all, but rather minding its own business, possibly doesn’t even know anyone else is aware of it. As for curiosity – humans are pretty fascinating things, especially to non-physical entities made out of darkness. Following a strange human around can have that same “wow” factor to a shadow as a human trying to channel a spirit.

Given the generally frightening appearance of shadows, and given that the energy does not react well with others, an intense fear reaction is common in humans. It’s natural to assume, when faced with a strange creature that terrifies you, that you are in danger or that creature means you harm. Try to remember that usually, that is not the case. When you look over the edge of a tall building, you might be scared of falling – but the building itself does not mean to harm you. When you see a spider or snake unexpectedly, you might feel fear – but the spider or snake probably has no interest in you at all. Fear is the mind’s way of telling you to be cautious: and if you aren’t experienced with shadows, caution is wise. Fear doesn’t tell you anything about the shadow’s intent – it only tells you to play safe.

Communication With Shadows

If a shadow is around you, especially if it is bothering you, communication is almost always the best answer. Remember, chances are, unless you’re waking up screaming every night with nightmares too horrendous to properly describe, unless you’re shaking constantly from head to foot, unless it feels like there’s a darkness in the back of your head that you want to physically cut out . . . chances are the shadow isn’t actually trying to hurt you. If a shadow wants to hurt you, then either it’s weak enough that it won’t be a problem, or it’s strong enough that you’ll know about it 100% for sure 🙂

In communicating with shadows, there are several things to remember.

The first point applies generally to non-physical organisms, and that is on the whole they don’t have verbal language. There are exceptions, of course – but in my experience verbal language is usually the domain of physical beings who need to use sound to convey signals.

Some will be able to understand if you say “hello” – but if you’re trying to communicate with someone who speaks another Earthly language, then learning the basics of it makes life much easier. In France, you try for “bonjour” instead. With every shadow I have met, the basics of communication is directed, selective empathy. So, rather than saying “hello”, you focus on the concept of non-hostile greetings, and direct it towards who you want to communicate with: you use their language.

The further you get away from words the higher your chances of success. Focus on the meaning, not the way you would, on Earth, convey that meaning – same as if you are dancing, you move your feet – you don’t think of which muscle to contract.

Directing the greeting at a specific shadow is fairly easy. If you know the individual and can identify a specific feeling you associate with it, then focus on that feeling while you focus on the message. To non-physical entities who do not have verbal names, focussing hard on the way they “feel” is the equivalent of yelling their name at the top of your lungs. If the shadow is actually nearby, and you can point and say, “Yeah, it’s in that corner” then add direction to the mix. In that case, you end up focussing on a thought of: (friendly greetings) + (personal identity) + (physical place).

Closing your eyes and turning out the lights will also likely help, as shadows in general are not very fond of light of any kind.

If the shadow you are trying to communicate with is around a lot, I would say there is a good chance that it will work and it will either get freaked out and leave, or try to communicate right back at you. If it starts communicating with you, expect to be aware of unfamiliar emotions, intuitions, images, and ideas. Basically anything turning up in your head that seems alien or not yours.

From that point, you can continue in exactly the same way – you connect a concept of a message, which could be (curiosity as to your reason for being here), or could be (request that you leave), or (desire to learn more about you), or anything at all, to a concept of identity, and focus on directing the message outward.

If you get no response after a reasonable number of attempts, then you will probably want to broadcast a bit louder. That is just a case of using whatever meditation practice you prefer and repeating the above – as meditation can have the effect of moving you away from your physical body, and thus closer to non-physical levels.

I will emphasise again that for most people, shadow energy is uncomfortable and possibly dangerous. A non-shadow probably does not want to get too close to a shadow through empathic communication, at least until the shadow is known well. Unless you’re a shadow yourself or have a lot of experience working with shadows, before you try talking to any, you will want to shield as heavily as you can. You can gradually reduce the level of shielding you use, but just for the sake of caution, it’s best to start out safe.

Interaction of Shadow and Physical

Something I haven’t mentioned so far is the concept of otherkin shadows. Essentially, an otherkin shadow is a person with a shadow soul, shadow energy signature, or shadow “essence” (however you choose to understand the term) who is living in a physical body. Unlike many otherkin, they do not only claim otherness thanks to a previous life: they are shadow now. They were shadow when they were born into their current physical bodies.

As well as shadows who inhabit a physical body, there are also people who can be considered shadows by virtue of being “shadow touched” at some point in their life (whether this life or a previous one). Shadow energy can alter the energy of people around it; think of it like living in another country for so long that you pick up the local accent. Because shadows are defined by energy and not culture or homeworld, all it takes for someone to be shadow is for their energy to be shadow.

There seem to be relatively few people here on Earth who consider themselves “pure” shadows, and about the same amount again (or perhaps more) who are to some extent shadow-touched.

A Final Word of Caution

Don’t believe everything you read. Question everything. If you find a resource claiming definitive information on shadows, claiming to define all shadows, or claiming anything that doesn’t take into account the huge variety of shadow beings, take care and analyse it carefully. If the author claims special knowledge or a senior position, be double careful. If something doesn’t make sense, it almost certainly isn’t true . . . and the above applies just as much to this article, as to any other.

The Shadow of Honor

I was talking with Ashran the other night about something that is an extension of the “women are evil, men are stupid” philosophy that Graves came up with a while ago. It’s led to the realization that some people are living in the shadow of honor (which led to an interesting side discussion of the shadow of awareness).

Ashran was commenting to me that, in his experience, there’s a difference in how women and men view their own reasoning in handling decision-making. I personally am not sure that it’s a hard-and-fast line drawn between the genders, but I think that for the majority of my experience, this generalization works. The theory is that when making a decision that puts the self before others, however right wrong or sideways, women tend to realize they are making a “selfish” decision and go with that. Men, on the other hand, avoid letting themselves realize when they are doing something for themselves, painting the action as really being for someone else, or being because of <insert justification here>.

Now, of course, not all people do this intentionally or maliciously, but it does lead to a big difference in handling making a “selfish” decision. For instance, say that a person has borrowed a book from a friend and that friend wants the book back. Say that person doesn’t want to give the book back because they aren’t done with it. Going with this theory, a woman in that situation might think that simply she was not ready to give the book back (for whatever reason, maybe she’s not done with it yet). A man in that situation might make it out (to himself) to be a matter of selflessness (maybe he can’t give the book back yet because he’s not done helping someone else).

Here’s some other practical examples:

If someone wants to hold onto a relationship:
Woman: It would hurt me too much to leave
Man: It would hurt her too much if I left her

If someone wants to help someone out:
Woman: I want to help this person
Man: This person needs my help
(subtle, but different)

If someone loses their temper: Woman: I yelled at him because I was pissed off Man: I wouldn’t have yelled if she didn’t piss me off

The point of the story here is that whenever we place “responsibility” or the reason for an action on someone else, we’re not taking personal responsibility for that action. Other people may factor into the decision, but ultimately that decision is made by the person making it. By saying you’re doing something for someone else, when the reason deep down inside is because of our own wants, we potentially create the facade of nobility which overlays selfishness (again, “selfish” is not necessarily bad, just not the same as “altruistic”).

This can lead to differences in how we’re viewed when making a “selfish” decision. A person who is honest about why they are making the decision might have a better chance of being viewed as “selfish”, whereas a person who makes the decision out to be for the benefit of others might have a better chance of being viewed as “a nice, giving person” or “victim” (depending on the situation). It is pretty simple to do something for one’s own benefit and make it seem like it was for someone else’s benefit. Again, most peope don’t do this intentionally. What determines the difference between selfishness and altruism is both intention and how much that decision affects one personally. The difference between someone who is selfish or altruistic by nature is how much they are willing to give of what they have on a regular basis even if it affects them or inconveniences them.

For instance, supposing I go out to dinner with someone and I can’t finish my food. Offering that food to my friend isn’t really altruistic, I wasn’t going to eat it anyway. It’s something that benefits my friend but doesn’t really inconvenience me. On the other hand, supposing that this same friend wants to go out to dinner with me but doesn’t have the money. If I pay for hir, that’s money out of my pocket, and an inconvenience. (It gets more complicated if I do it for other reasons that are more self-serving, but I think the point is made.) If I regularly do things for others that don’t inconvenience myself, I can present the front of of altruism, however true or false. However, if I am not willing to do things for others that inconvenience myself, I’m not really altruistic. Similarly, if I am honorable only when it’s in my best interest, that’s not real honor; that is the shadow of honor. It is a facade with no substance behind it.

So, to wrap this ramble up, it’s possible to present the front of something, yet live in it’s shadow and not actually live that thing. It’s the difference between superficially doing something or paying lip service to it and really living it, really making it a part of one’s self. And it gets back to personal responsibility. If I’m honest with myself about what I’m doing and why, then I can consciously make the choice of when to be selfish, when to be selfless, whether I’m going to be honorable or not, etc. If I never examine my motives and actions, it’s much easier to fool myself and others into believing something is “me” when it’s only on the surface, and much easier to think of myself as a more selfless/honorable/whatever person than my actions would attest to.

To tie this back into the original point, it’s real easy to kid yourself and say you’re doing something for somone else’s benefit, even if you are the one that wants that thing. This isn’t really selflessness; this isn’t really honor. It’s living in the shadow of honor. I think that if one wants to live honorably and intentionally, it’s critical to know one’s motives. It’s critical to understand and accept how one’s self as well as others are affected by each action one takes, and take responsibility for the action and the intentions behind it.

The Shadow of Awareness

So then Ashran and I got talking about people who aren’t really mundane but aren’t really Awake either. Either they never fully Awoke or were Awake and growing once and slipped into sleepishness; either way, they are acting like they are Awake on the surface, but aren’t really Awake.

Newagers who pay lip service to the things they read but never really live the wonderful “revelations” they talk about are one big example. They are people who are living in the shadow of spiritual growth, talking about theories of growth but never even meditating 5 minutes a day.

Similarly, there are people who are living in other shadows, of Awakening, of living magically, living intentionally, etc. For instance, I can talk about being a magical being all day, but I’m not really a magical being if I’m not living as one, if I’m not acting and living like my intentions shape my reality. If I talk about how magical I am but I never really do anything magical, then I’m only living in the shadow of magic, and not really living the magic.

Just as a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, it seems almost worse to me to live in the shadow of something than not to live in it at all. For one thing, it’s dishonesty to one’s self and to others. Take someone that’s mundane. They are living a mundane life. It may not be my own life choice, but it’s theirs; it’s more honest, in a way, than someone who lives mundanely and sadly thinks it’s magical, or someone who thinks they are being magical or deep or Aware but is really just spewing some cool catch phrases and cliches, or doing what the rest of the Sleepers are doing but with different terminology.

A cell phone, e-mail address and bumper sticker that says “elfy chick” does not make me an elf. OK?

For instance, I’ve listened to stoner friends-of-friends go on about their latest deep discoveries and whatnot. Sometimes they make sense and sometimes they don’t and sometimes they are just full of it. A couple of them really think they are on a path of growth and development when in reality their life hasn’t gone anywhere in 2 years. They are stagnating, but really think they are growing and discovering new things. They are living in the shadow of growth.

Or what about the people who think of themeselves as magical beings whose idea of living magically consists of a few tattoos, some face glitter and talking about how many Dieities / historical figures / Great and Mystical Beings they have talked to / pissed off / been? (How to Be a Hip Mystic: spell everything abnormally and wear lots of face glitter.) Or the people who get all the right tools (day planner with moons and stars, polished brass cauldron, cool black knife, etc.) and say all the cool magyckal phrases and know all the Otherkyn places, but don’t really flow/do/participate in any magic? I knew a guy once who was fascinated by the various correlations between astrology, numerology and Hebrew letters in ceremonial magic but hadn’t ever cast a circle. They are living in the shadow of magic.

And some of them are like a kid who comes up to you with a dead cat and says “Fluffy is just sleeping”. It makes you really sad, and you hate to break it to the child that the cat isn’t sleeping, it’s ceased to be a cat. You know it will make them cry, but isn’t it better than letting that child believe that tomorrow Fluffy will be able to play again? The only problem with people living in the shadow of something is that they don’t want to see that they are stagnating, their magic is decaying, their illusions aren’t real, etc. etc., and some of them get rather nasty when you suggest maybe they look at what they are saying against the reality. Or worse, they suggest the cat really is just sleeping, and really it’s going to wake up Any Time Now or was moving when you weren’t looking.

I think it boils down to living honestly, even if living without is better and healthier in my eyes than pretending to live.

Sensing

Every so often, conversations drift to the topic of people’s energetics. Sometimes it’s in reference to interpreting trueforms, sometimes it’s in reference to recognizing a potential lover/clanmate/etc. The energetics of individual people will react differently to each observer, sometimes manifesting as “that certain something” that causes the observed individual to be identified in a particular way (friend, lover, enemy, elf, dragon, etc.).

For one reason or another, many people use the terms “to See” or “Seeing” to describe how they interpret someone’s energetics. This puts certain preconceptions on how energetics are experienced. As a result, some people get the impression that because they don’t get a quasi-visual impression of something, they aren’t able to interpret other people’s energetics, or that this whole “energetics” thing doesn’t exist. As a “mundane” example, I have a friend named Gus who’s red/green colorblind, and he denies the existence of purple. Anything that other people call purple gets mashed into being either pink or blue. As a result, he “can’t see purple” because “it doesn’t exist”.

During one such conversation, I got a flash of how sensing energetics might be just as varied as sensing physical things. (I note that some of the weres and furries describe things as having “scent”.) Maybe for one person the “certain something” translates as a particular shade of blue, but for another person the “certain something” doesn’t necessarily translate as a different shade (like yellow), but as a texture. For still another, it comes through as a sound.

None of them can necessarily explain to the others what the “something” is, because while the “seer” sees two people’s energies as being clashingly different colors, the “singer” may hear their energies as being different but harmonious melodies on the same instrument. And the “feeler” may look at the other two and say “You’re both wrong, those two people both have the exact same feel as raw silk.”

I don’t See often. Sometimes something manifests strongly enough that I can’t help but See, but usually I sense in some other way. At the moment, I can’t describe even what it’s close to resembling. A small portion of my brain is arguing that it would be like trying to describe Liszt’s “Liebestraum, Nottorno #3” to someone who was born deaf. Or purple to my friend Gus.

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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