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


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.


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.

The Perils of Remembering

First, you will know sorrow. And not just any sorrow, but the longing sorrow that comes with unfulfillment. Your soul will recall things that not even you can name, and it will want them back again. Sometimes, the old ways becomes an addiction, with all the problems an addiction brings: estrangement, loneliness, craving, even ruthlessness and double-dealing. Oh yes, double-dealing can be one of the first symptoms.

Other times, the past brings fear. Fear can be one of the worst things, in my opinion, having seen so many truly talented people stifle themselves and hide out of fear. Could they have been something great? Did they have a destiny to claim? Oh, most assuredly. We all have our destinies. The world can never know just how wonderful the fearful’s destiny was, because he chose not to claim it and he stagnated.

Most times, though, you will forget to look for joy. There are happy memories as well as sad, yet most people, myself included, seem to hover over the dark and still thoughts. The emotions connected with these are much stronger, this is true. But joy also has the power to bring forth tears. To keep perspective, one has to remember to search for such memories alongside the bad ones.

Second, you will know confusion. The human brain, for all its wonderful complexities, is also short-circuited. One watches Star Wars and they want so much to be like Luke that they fabricate memories for themselves. The human brain has this power; it is a protection device. And there are a lot of things in this crazy world to be protected from, even yourself.

It begins with the longing, the wishing, and then the deep soul-searching until “memories” spring forth. (I was there, George Lucas must be Otherkin, how else could he get the ways of the Force so accurately? I had a teacher just like Kenobi…) It is true there are a lot of creators who may “remember”. But most times they’ll take one memory, one fragment of a spark, and build their entire tale around it. In the telling, details change to become bigger and brighter and bolder. This phenomenon can be illustrated in the old gossip game where everyone sits in a circle and a statement is whispered in someone’s ear. The whisper-recipient then whispers it to another, then the statement is whispered to another, until the final player recites out loud what he was told. Rarely is the statement accurately passed around. This is what happens during the creative process.

Confusion can be just as dangerous as addiction. One should take their memories slowly, very very slowly, and watch their step. One step too far and you might topple into the abyss, into insanity, and only mighty strength can pull you back out again. Then you will know the pain of sorrow again, for you must damn what you remembered and start from scratch. You must be careful what you read and watch and think, for any of those might be false.

Third, and finally, you will know change. They say change is a good thing. Most times, your heart would argue with that. When lovers part forever, that is change and it brings pain and sadness, even if that relationship was bad and breaking up is the good way. It is so with anything else. Your baby turns one, you’re happy and sad. After all, although your child is healthy and growing up strong as he should, he is no longer your tiny infant to suckle at your breast. There has been a gradual change, and it has brought both happiness and sadness.

Remembering brings about changes in personality, perspective and environment. Once, you were timid. Then, you remembered squelching mighty armadas under your technological thumb. Something inside you clicks; you change, you revert. The next person who harrasses you suddenly experiences surprise: you punch his nose.

Perspective is affected in the same moment. You once saw yourself as bottom wolf, as the titmouse to hide from the owls. Now you know you were once an owl, the pack leader, and you are driven to command that power again. You see the world as your oyster, and you want pearls.

Environment tumbles in after. Pearls are riches. What is around you, your environment, is no longer adequate. You begin to change things to suit yourself. Sometimes it comes in small ways: the planting of a special tree or moving closer to the forest. Other times, it comes in tragic ways: you leave your spouse, you homeschool your children, you run for President.

And all the world is affected. It can be in an obvious or hidden manner. Obvious: the book you write, the people you contact through the e-list you’ve begun, those who follow you faithfully into Waco. Hidden: the influential person you support, the canvas you colored and gave to the rich plantation owner, the insane babble spouted across the board, ignored by most.

The world cannot help this. We are all in a helpless circle.

In conclusion, beware the perils of remembering. It is a blackberry-brambled path. You’re going to be nicked and are bound to bleed. You run the chance of being scarred, or your skin becoming too tough to absorb the next lesson. Learn to not skirt these dangers, but look through them and find the berries they protect. Sometimes they can be sour; many times they can be sweet. All will be earned in the right way, and it will be worth it.

Remembering – When Waking up hurts

(For Rialian, who always was a godsblasted catalyst)

I suppose I should start this off with an introduction. Hi, I’m Tirani. I’ve been Otherkin snice I was about three or so, and have walked lots of different paths in the intervining years, and learned lots of things. Until two months ago, much of my self-identity was based in a strong seelie sidhe aspect that was very active in my magikal and mundane world. Then something triggered a change – a shift in the currents that surrounded my life, to use Rialian’s turn of phrase. My astral form shifted to one I did not recognize and could not control. I lost touch with the part of me that I had known since before I could read. Nightmares that I had always had intesified and darkened. I stopped being able to sleep at night and started going just a little bit mad. I started feeling emotions and had thoughts that were nearly alien to me and my usual thought-processes. Then someone sugguested that I was re-Awakening. That’s when I started writing. It kept me sane enough to work through this. Below is the record of what I wrote and the feelings and thoughts that can sometimes come with a traumatic Awakening.

I’m no psychologist. I can’t tell you the best way to handle someone who’s been through a traumatic expreince, other than be gentle, love them, keep the lights low and don’t make any sudden moves. I can tell you that most ‘kin who have to wake up this way tend to need a little more love than most, and a gentle arm to put around their real-world shoulders when they need to talk out or work out or cry out the pain that can come. If you’re comfortable with it, encourage them to talk, or write, or rant and rave. The more it gets out of their system, the more they can start living again.

It should be noted that most Awakenings are not traumatic at all. Most of the time they’re a little scary, but more from a “who the hell am I turning into?” point of view rather than an “ohfuckohfuckohfuck” aspect. Sometimes, through, it can hurt, and it can take months or years to deal with the psychological scar tissue. This re-Awakening happened almost three months ago [as of June 2000], and only now can I bring myself to finish this and write out what happened the final night I worked through this. I still haven’t figured out all the niceities of this new form. I still haven’t figured out what it is. But I don’t twitch anymore when I think about what I remember. And I’m learning to fly again with these new wings.

What is writen below may be disturbing to some. Please keep in mind that this was a stream-of-consciousness-type writing from someone who, at the time, was going a little mad.

Bliss, Blessings and a little love,

Alyannael Shadowalker

remembering 2:51 AM 3/12/00

i don’t know what ri did last night, but it broke open something. a gate, a doorway, a wall that was holding back this. i’m almost wishing he hadn’t. these new wings, they’re heavey, a weight on me. i’m aware of them all the time, and they’re like something that’s tugging at me, forcing me to a place i couldn’t go before and I don’t want to go now. this new awakinging is somethign that i didn’t see coming, it’s something that’s either going to be really really good or really fucking bad.

my raven totem has been around constanly since last night, watching, perching, always in the corner of my eye. i wonder if SHe saw this coming and that’s why she sent me her dark messenger. i haven’t had a change to talk to him, or the others, and i don’t know what they’ll say. i can already feel Ra’rok pulling away, and it’s scaring me as he chose me, not the other way around. the brush of phantom fur assures me that ba’teth still walks at my side, but he’s silent. that scares me too. he’s my voice of sanity half the time, chasing the dreams away if he can.

i close my eyes to sleep tonight curled up with the others and all i can see is blood. blood and there’s rage, and pain and a sorrow so deep it makes me shake and I don’t know what it’s coming from. there’s a creavice somewhere in my soul now and it’s all pouring from it. this is different from the dreams, this is a memory. of what, I don’t know, of who, i don’t know. this isn’t tirani and this isn’t kitten and this isn’t ME. or at least what I thought was me until last night.

I refuse to entertian for a SECOND the idea that I might be Fallen, especially coming so soon after the big long debate on the list about them and Lulu and other’s insistance that they can’t inhabit a human body. I’d love to be able to talk to Ri’s friend that he holds authoratavive on the Fallen, because he might be able to tell me. Gods I don’t want to beleive that I was ever Yahew’s. never in the lives that I can remember did I belong to him and the ones i did i probably don’t remember for a reason, as they were probably dull and mundane and pointless. i respect christians, but I don’t have much respect for their god of death and devine suffering. I’d much rather beleive that the gods don’t wnat us to suffer unless it’s to learn. I’d much rather give my love and my joy and my pleasure as joyful open sacrifices.

two weeks then i can get away. two weeks, then I can find the answers in the forests of the peaks. two weeks and I can walk in the woods and talk to my goddess where i love her the best in the light of the sun and the smell of the trees and the brightness of spring tide come again. i don’t know if i can make it two weeks with these memories flooding at me everytime i stop and don’t think about my lovers or my job or what i need to get done now.

the worst part is i can feel part of my fae soul quieting, like it’s not quite there anymore. like it’s fading in the face of this new revalation. i can’t even force manifest the fae wings right at the moment. i can’t decide if that’s the worst of all becuase it’s something that’s been a part of me for years. something that i relied on and defined me within myself.

i do’nt fucking know and I can’t even talk to phril about it because ‘he doesn’t beleive in faeries’. the one i talk to the most, and i can’t tell him.

remembering 11:18 PM 3/12/00

napped today because i was just that exhausted. slept about an hour. then i woke up and tried to go back to sleep. then it started again.

I saw a little more. started with a falling feeling, like a free fall and then an impact. it hurt alot. lifed my head and looked around. i could see blood every where. in puddle on the ground, on the bodys of those around me, falling like rain from the sky. my wings were burning. my gods it hurt. i was physically clawing at my pillow it hurt so badly. i had a sword in my hand, it was made of something i couldn’t identify. looking up i could see others in the same form in the sky, flying, fighting burning like i was. around me were bodies of ones like me, dead and cold. they were my brothers and sisters. i raised the sword and screamed because my wings wouldn’t work and i couldn’t take off again to rejoin the fight. looking behind me i can see one is at a nasty angle, with bone poking through the flesh.

i clawed awake, scaring the hell out of phril and nearly screaming.

remembering 12:27 PM 3/14/00

observatons, so far, on this new form. The body is alot like the fae one I had. astrally it’s slim, very angular, and very very pale. the skin is so pale there’s almost a blue cast to it. the hands and arms are slender as well, with elongated fingers, four and a thumb. the legs, like the arms, are slim and slightly enlongated, and there’s a more pronounced, almost clawlike heel, with normal porportioned toes. the body has a kind of wiry strength to it. The face is like the body, very angular, but not so as to be unattractive. The cheek bones are pronounced, and the ears are upswept. the eyes are violet, so dark as to be almost purple. the hair is a silvery-moonlight grey, falling to just above the shoulders (about what I have physically now). the mouth is small, and well formed, but like the rest of the form it’s very very pale.

the most striking part is the wings. they’re angelic in form, maybe a touch more angular, and jet black. they shed consantly on the astral, but never go bald. They’re about a foot taller than the form, peaking when they’re folded against the back, and drop down until they’re about 4″ from brushing the floor. All this is subjective, given how fluid distance and size in the astral can be. Across the right (my right) wing is a scar from being broken a long time ago.

there are something like arm gaurds on the forearm in a material I can’t identify, kind of a silverly-black material. set into them are blue-green stones, kind of like laborite with a more pronounced blue flash. there’s an arm band of some kind with a design I can’t quite make out on my left arm, with three feathers dangling from it. One, the largest, is white, the middle, smallest, is black, and the last is blood red, medium sized between the other two. On my right hand is a fingerless glove of a kind, made of a mesh of the unidenitifed material. I carry my sword in my left hand. Set in the back of the glove is the same kind of symbol as the arm band, but I can’t quite make it out as before. over the right shoulder is a protector of sorts, kinda like the shoulder armour of the gaurdian chick in Heavey metal. the strap from it comes down around under the left breast and secures in the back. the material it’s made of is soft as down, but virtirually uncutable, and a blue-ish black. I have no clue what it is. Around the waist is a belt of leather and that cloth, with the sword’s sheath hanging from it. The sheath is black leatehr lined with metal, and tooled with a pattern I can’t make out. There’s another band around the right leg above the knee, tied of the same cloth material, with a pattern woven into it, and it fairly glows with energy. hell, every bit of adornment on this figure glows fairly well. Attached to the band of cloth is a sheath with about a 6″ dagger in it. The leather is black, and tooled intricately. the handle of the dagger is strickly plain, made of the same odd metal with a leather wrap. If I draw it, light casts off it bright as day. around the left ankle is a silver chain with a teardrop amythest set into it. Other than what was just described, the form is naked and most definately female.

the sword is worthy of a discription all it’s own. it’s about the general size and shape of a ‘modern’ long sword, and glows faintly blue, except in battle when it flames a blue-purple, almost faefire like effect. the cross bar is a standard cross shape, ending in two smallish eggs of the same blueflashing stone. on the hand, which is perfectly shaped for my hand, is a design much like the one on the band and glove. the pommel is a curved spike, and wickedly sharp. It could be easily used to rip out someone’s throat or scalp them. the blade is peuternatually balanced and feels very very familar. etched on the metal, which is the same silvery-black as the rest, are runes and sigils that again, I can’t make out. I don’t know if I’m not ready for them or i’m not allowed to remember them.

remembering 12:42 AM 3/15/00

talked to Ri for a while tonight. worked out some things in my head talking with him. I think the key of fully intregrating this new form is going to be getting a clear image of the sigils and etchings on the armourments of new form. Also, he concures that I am not Fallen, nor am I an angel, but there is a possiblity of some other kind of angelic. He’s going to get me some reasources to see if we can figure this out. He also says that this feels familar to him, which means I’m not utterly fucking nuts.

no matter what, this is going to take a good bit of time to work through, and until I can get this new one intergrated into me, i don’t think i’m going to be able to go back to my fae form.

remembering 11:58 AM 3/21/00

I remembered a little more over the weekend. Not much, though. This battle that I keep seeing is a battle between us, the darkwings, and them, the light (white?) wings. we are all children of the goddess. for some reason, though, the light wings have become corrupted. we’re fighting them because they attacked us and we retailated against what whe thought weren’t pure anymore. Gah, it’s very muddled in my head, and i know it will come clearer in in the future.

i can feel the story of what happened teasing in the back of my mind, and i know it’s close to coming out. soon, i hope. i hate it when my brain itches.

remembering 1:28 PM 6/4/00

(this is what happened a few nights after my last entry. Until now, I haven’t been able to bring myself to write it out. Ri came over and helped me sink into an energy trace and mesh with him (for stablity, I was anything but stable.) This is what I saw that night. I haven’t had a nightmare since then. Referenced below: “Her” is She Who Is, the Mother of all. “HER” is Guen, a demonic current that I had extensive dealings with in this life, and apparently others.)

Darkness, falling in darkness, there’s nothign, i can almost hear wind whistling by my face… then light… brigh flash of light.. i’m flying! I’m flying!!! wings spread wide on the wind… sun on my back, warm and comforting… there’s a bright blue sky.. clouds like puffs of cotton.. trees, like pines, only not… a forest at the base of a cliff… silver-grey stone, and a water fall falling over the clif, tehre’s a rainbow on the air above it… bright light.. around the pool at the base of the waterfall is a village… both sides of the bank.. smoke rising for chimmenies.. I know this is my home… no walls around this village, it’s a place of peace, of refuge, of love. my sword is by my side, like it always is… i understand it now. on one side are the warriors, the black wings, who fight for peace in her name. on the other are the white wings, the healers who heal them when tehy come home from those battles.. and who keep her peace sacred.. and rarely when a white and a black join, the grey wings who are taken into Her service in the temple behind the waterfall. she who is rules us with love and justice. we are Her children who are Her own and no one else’s. but something’s happened, something’s not right, I can feel HER here, and she doesn’t belong. why the hell does she haunt me, even back through time. i have to stop her before this starts, before light and dark fight and before we are corrupted. falling, falling, landing at the base of the cliff, the others are walking up to the temple, to see what has come, the preists have called everyone together.. i can feel HER more strongly, i know have to stop this. stop it now stop it now to keep the dreams from coming true. the dreams were a warning, then and now. there’s two me’s. the me of now that’s known her very reall in this life and the me of then that was this winged angelic warrior.. the two are merging.. i can feel the mesh completing… She is me and me is she… i walk up the path into the temple, there are banners with the symbol of She Who Is there. she’s our mother and we love her. the smell of HER is there, reeking and sour, and i can’t understand why no one else notices it, why only i am upset and angered by it. i walk into the meeeting hall, the sacred place where we all come together, and i can see HER, a cloud of black on the silver stone, behind the high preist, and tainting all the others there that follow him… we’re not human, but we’re mortal and just as prone to mortal failings… i push my way to the front, the red torches are staining the silverstone blood red.. it’s dark and the others are confused, it’s never flet like this here before… She Who is can’t be felt, and Her children are scared… I push my way to the front, anger and fury building in our meshed mind.. the preist starts talking about a better way, and a new future… and how something stronger has come to save us…. and i can hear HER laughing, mocking.. i step up and draw my sword, breaking the Law of she who is, that weapons never be bared in the place where she dwells… and I scream at HER to leave, that she is not welcome and i will not let this happen here… i will not let her corrupt me a second time… and i feel a light filling me and spilling out over my words, blasting away the darkness… SHE fights and claws and i scream, but I fight because this CAN NOT happen. SHE can not do this. and the others run away from me because I shine light that is not my own, HER preist flies at me, but is thrown back by the light… finally SHE fades away, and is gone, i can’t feel HER here anymore…. and I collapse, bloody and bruised… the last thing i remember seeing clearly is the sign of She Who Is.

I came awake, panting and nearly crying, but i didn’t feel so insane anymore. And I was fullying joined with this new aspect. I haven’t gone back since. I rather like my new wings.

How Much is Too Much?: Tolerance, Relativism, and the Slippery Slope

The Buddhist ideal is the Middle Path. Although I am not a Buddhist myself, I respect and support this approach to reality. I have found that it can be applied to just about every aspect of our lives. When we exist at extremes, we cause trouble for ourselves. This holds true for attitudes and ideals as well as behaviors. Tolerance is a good example. For the most part, we exist in a society that does not practice tolerance nearly enough. The extreme of intolerance is the rule of the day. People are judged upon superficialities like appearance, hairstyle, and what music they listen to, not to mention skin color, gender, orientation, and beliefs. Many of us, as we come from marginalized minorities, have made a concerted effort to move away from intolerance and instead to accept a person for who and what they are – whatever that may be. This is especially true when it comes to tolerance of religious and spiritual diversity. However, all too frequently, in our quest to embrace tolerance of all ideas, practices, and ways of being, we overcompensate for the oppressive intolerance we face every day. With all the best intentions in the world, we swing wildly over to the other extreme and begin accepting every quirk and behavior no matter how outrageous or illogical it may be. This is seen nowhere more clearly than on the Internet. I have a good friend who runs a rather large Pagan-oriented elist. A wise and learned individual, he holds some very heady ideals. Because his own beliefs are little unusual, and have often been judged harshly by others, he upholds the right of each and every individual on his elist to make any kinds of claims about their spiritual experiences, their abilities with magick, and their relationship with spirits and divinities. No matter how ludicrous these claims may sound, no matter how deluded a person clearly may be, my friend will argue at length against anyone daring to question these beliefs on the basis that neither he nor anyone else can truly get inside that person’s head to see exactly what they see. Given this, he argues, there is no way for anyone to make a case that any belief or claim to an experience is invalid. Anything less than this all-embracing attitude of subjective truth is decried as intolerance masquerading in the guise of common sense, logic or rationality.

Staking Wild Claims

I’m not sure how many people have experienced the amazing variety of spiritual claims that one can encounter within the Internet. For me, it gets a little mind-boggling. I have encountered people who in all seriousness have proclaimed that they can cast a spell to allow themselves actual, physical flight. I have had more people than I care to count assure me that they own a copy of the legendary Necronomicon and that it is, indeed, bound in human skin. And that’s to say nothing of the folks who have told me of summoning demons in the flesh, drinking pints of human blood a week, and being the living incarnations of their deity of the week. I’d love to say that this is a phenomenon produced by the medium of the Internet, given how easy it is to masquerade as somebody else from the other end of a screen. However, in the days before the Internet, I had encountered similar claims. As I was dealing with people one-on-one or through limited written correspondence, the wild boasters seemed farther and fewer between. But the blessing and the curse of the Internet is that it puts us in contact with vast numbers of people. In this case, I think the percentage of wild claimants is a constant, but the sheer numbers of the Internet allow them more clearly to be seen. I will say that the Internet does seem to encourage attitudes of uber-tolerance like those of my friend. In the past, I had no trouble telling someone point-blank I thought they were trying to put one over on me. On far too many elists, when I voice such an opinion now, I’m suddenly attacked from five different directions as being judgmental and simply not understanding someone’s “different” point of view. Somehow the voice of reason gets drowned in a morass of political correctness and a misguided crusade to take freedom of speech to the limits of total intellectual anarchy.

The Trap of Relativism

There is a point where tolerance, practiced at the opposite extreme from intolerance, becomes something known as relativism. In relativism, there are no absolutes. Everything is subjective and relative to the experience and choices of the individual. From a relativist standpoint, I cannot argue that red is red because there is no way for me to adequately prove that my version of red is the same “red” being perceived by someone who may in fact perceive that color as blue. Relativism caters to minority thinking in the extreme, careening perilously close to societal fragmentation and the disintegration of the fundamentals of language and communication. According to relativism, the very fact that someone might have a different experience than me makes it impossible for me to assert any experience as valid and true. And here is the trap of relativism. When definition is based upon subjective opinion, how do we determine what is real and what is not? Concepts like “truth” and “reality” lose all significance, because meaning can and does change from person to person, depending on their point of view.

Relativism and Religious Diversity

Superficially, relativism seems like a good idea, especially where spiritual and religious beliefs are concerned. Acknowledging that experiences are subjective and that each person’s interpretations of reality are relative to those subjective experiences is a basic part of accepting a diversity of religious beliefs. Religious experience is exceptionally subjective. My vision of “god” is not a Muslim’s vision of God, and even within a single sect, each person will have their own unique take on the divinity promulgated by that sect. But relativism, taken to its logical extreme, eventually allows someone to declare that “god” is in fact a dog, and no one can argue this claim. Now, before I proceed any further with this argument, let me clarify my own stance on religion and spirituality. I am what I have often described as a Universalist. I believe that there are as many names for Divinity as there are people to speak those names, and even more still. Further, there are as many paths to Divinity as there are people to walk them, and again, even more still. Our experience of “god” and the universe is ours and ours alone, and it cannot help but be subjective, unique, and intensely personal, spoken in our own soul-language. But isn’t this relativism? And with such a tolerant worldview, how can one discern legitimate beliefs from psychological delusions? To quote my good friend and fellow writer, Jason B. Crutchfield, that’s a slippery slope.

Truth Versus Delusion

In an ideal world, tolerance should not be qualified. In such a perfect and ideal world, the acceptance of every person’s different spiritual beliefs, experiences, and practices should be absolute. But we do not exist in an ideal world, and as too many experiences on the Internet have proven, some people are just lying or are deluded about their spiritual experiences. Most of us who have any experience in these matters have the ability to adequately discern a legitimate claim from a delusion or an outright lie. In most cases I’ve encountered, making this distinction is a no-brainer; we usually know on an intuitive level when someone is speaking from the heart about spiritual matters versus when they are shoveling a load of bull. However, if we uphold tolerance of individual beliefs as an absolute, there is no way we can really call these people out on their erroneous claims. There will always be that relativistic out that says, “Your experiences are not my experiences, so how can you know what’s right or wrong to me?” Usually there’s no need to wrestle with these sticky issues of right and wrong in regards to personal beliefs. However, especially on the Internet, I have seen erroneous claims do a lot of damage. When people use the widespread attitude of relativism to essentially claim that god is a dog, a lot of newcomers who have yet to develop adequate judgment get themselves really confused. In some cases, this just sets them back in their studies for a little while, as they have to backtrack from the misinformation and relearn the basics of things. In other cases, it may shatter a person’s faith in everything once they have accepted an erroneous belief and then learned that it was based upon lies or delusions. In the worst case scenario, people are misled into really dangerous territory, as in the Halle-Bopp Comet group who committed mass suicide to join alien saviors in outer space.

The Slippery Slope

I have been wrestling with these issues for many years now. Despite my efforts, I have yet to come up with any hard and fast rules for rating the validity of someone’s claims about magick or spirituality. Common sense is usually helpful, but within the Pagan and magickal communities, we are almost always dealing with uncommon experiences. I myself hold some beliefs that many would perceive as being “out there”, and from a rational-materialist perspective, anyone who believes in magick is “out there”. The best yardstick I have found is not a rigid one. It takes into account the fact that individuals do have radically different experiences and perspectives, and it further takes into account that my interpretation of reality may not be accurate or complete. Going from there, I usually judge a person’s validity based less upon their actual claims and more upon how that person presents those claims over a period of time. Credible people tend to present themselves rationally and consistently over the long run. They frequently lead up to the really wild claims, often qualifying them and acknowledging that you might not believe and are under no obligation to do so. I am far more inclined to believe the apparently delusional claims of someone who tells me, “This is what I believe,” than even the sober and reasonable claims of someone who says, “This is what you should believe.”

The Middle Path

. The very nature of spiritual experience means that much must be taken on faith. Of course in matters of faith, there is rarely an opportunity to provide cold, hard proof. When I do storm magick to end a dry spell, I have no way of proving that I was directly responsible for the ensuing thunderstorm. I just know on a level that often cannot be expressed in words. For someone coming outside of that sense of gnosis, the choice to believe is ultimately up to them – but at no time should a person feel obligated to believe simply out of a misplaced desire to respect my own beliefs. The extreme side of religious tolerance tells us that we cannot disbelieve in anyone’s experiences. The reality is that we should choose what we believe just as we choose which gods and goddesses to follow, or whether we follow any at all. Tolerating other peoples’ rights to their beliefs does not mean that we cannot make informed decisions regarding the validity of those beliefs. The Middle Path of tolerance is when we respect and encourage diversity but respect our own judgment as well.

Reflections on Waking

At about 1:30 am on the morning of April 18th, 2002, I discovered the Otherkin community. Like most of you, I felt as though I had found something that I had sought all my life. I had all but convinced myself that the sensation of phantom wings was an illusion; and my sense of being different was nothing more than the lingering effect of childhood trauma. (Public school was a singularly unpleasant experience – and a mercifully brief one, for I soon began learning at home.) Then, all of a sudden, I found that I was not alone, and for the first time in my life, I was at peace.

I am writing this article in the wee hours of the morning of April 19th. It will go through one draft, and one draft only, though I may make minor corrections before I send it off. I’m doing this because soon – in a few years, or a few months, or perhaps even a few weeks – I will be even farther along on my journey of self-discovery. I will find my place in this society, and I will forget what it is to be born again into this brave new world. Certainly I will forget the fear that follows the initial euphoria of discovery. I find myself wondering whether I will ever truly find my place; if I will find acceptance in this community; if I am deluding myself after all. These fears will pass, I think, but before they do, I must remind you – and remind my future self, lest I forget – what it’s like, and I must tell you some things that I think you should know.

I suppose I’ll begin with the story of my Awakening. I’ve always been different. I’ve always known, on some level, that I am not quite human. Some sensed this and respected, even adored me for it; others sensed it and despised me. Still others could care less – “normal” people are like that sometimes. When I was a child, I had myself convinced that I was an alien. I created an imaginary world for myself, and I was the queen, and everyone loved me.

(Interesting fact: My mortal form is male. I’ve always felt that I was meant to be female, and sure enough, my true form is. I’m straight both ways, and I don’t mean I’m bisexual. I have no desire for a sex- change operation, and I have no desire to wear women’s clothing in this form. Yes, it’s all very confusing. I’m working on an essay on the subject, and would be glad to hear from other “gender displaced” kin – whether you are, in fact, transgender or something more complex, as I am. I’ll return to the subject at hand now.)

Most importantly – I could go home any time I wished.

Except, as it turned out, I couldn’t, and after a few years in which I sent constant telepathic distress signals and received no reply…I gave up on the “alien” idea.

Time passed. I entered adolescence, and began to use magic. I’d always had a few odd talents – the occasional prophetic dream, and an uncanny sort of intuition, among others – but now my powers grew. In time, I could heal myself at an accelerated rate. I could cloud the minds of others, escaping their notice; I could also puff myself up on a psychic level, and thus appear more formidable than I truly was. I could manipulate coincidence on some level. I was soon quite sure that I was a wizard, and currently I am a practicing neopagan (eclectic Wicca, mainly). During my adolescence, my sense of “otherness” was heightened; I was magical, of course, but it was more than that. I began to feel phantom wings on my back. Occasionally I would feel a symbol burning in my brow. And once in a while, I would BE female – my perspective would shift, and though my flesh was still male, I would feel more feminine than masculine. I denied that last part until recently.

I was a Christian mystic/magician when I began to feel the wings, and the symbol – it took me a while to get onto the pagan path – and I therefore came to the conclusion that I was an angel in mortal form. But I wasn’t entirely convinced; it just didn’t feel right. Eventually I let it drop.

Again, time passed. Eventually Wicca started to fit – I’d tried the path before, but it had never really clicked. I needed to be in the right place at the right time, I suppose. This was the road that would lead me to the Otherkin.

While browsing a pagan site, I came across an article describing the online kin community. I’d put my differences with humanity aside, after a fashion, but as I read the piece in question, they came flooding back. I dropped everything and began to explore this new world at once.

Over the past twenty-four hours, I have been giving this more thought than I ever have before. For the first time in my life, I could admit that I wasn’t human, and that liberated me. I still have much to learn, and much to remember, but I have discovered more than I ever dreamed I would. The name I have taken is Casidhe Adain, and though I cannot say for certain that it is my true name in the strictest sense of the word, I can say that it is an Earth equivalent. I’m fairly certain that I am Elenari, or very closely related to those illustrious elves, through blood or friendship; certainly I am an elf of some kind. I can’t explain the wings – they don’t seem to be very common among elves, but I get the sense that they were an abberation back home. (I’m not quite sure where home is, I’m afraid; I remember bits and pieces, but most of it is still out of focus.) I also seem to have some affinity with the denizens of Faerie, as my name implies on its face. But I digress.

So. I am at least partially Awake, and in the process of discovering myself – a process that will continue for the rest of my mortal existence; I doubt that even the most experienced kin can remember everything about who they were or are. As I say, I will soon be integrated into this community, and I will forget what it was like to be a newcomer; thus, I would like to offer a newcomer’s perspective on certain issues.

First: Many of you are reluctant to tell newcomers what they are. Some of you are reluctant even to suggest what they might be. This is very kind of you, but it is misguided. This community is very diverse, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes an elf is just an elf, a dragon just a dragon. If someone comes to you and describes themselves as something that you know to be an elf, tell them they’re probably an elf. You needn’t force that view upon them, and you won’t, really; if they feel differently, they’ll find their own way sooner or later. I discovered the Elenari soon enough, but gosh, it would’ve been helpful if someone had taken me by the metaphorical shoulders and sent me in that direction. My first post to an Otherkin list was a description of my true form as I perceived it and a question – does this sound familiar? No one really responded except for a fellow newcomer. Maybe they just didn’t know, but I have to wonder if some held their tongues because they were reluctant to “force” an idea upon me. It’s ok, guys. Really. I wanted to get some input.

Second: It’s good to tell newcomers that they should try to tell the difference between memories and fabrications, but tread very carefully. That sort of statement, when phrased improperly, makes us extremely nervous. (Unfortunately, I have yet to see a proper phrasing! This may be an impossible request. My apologies if it is.) We’re already new to this, and I rather suspect that we question our sanity far more often than more experienced kin do. Self-doubt can be very painful during this period.

Third: This is going to contradict my first point, at least on the surface, but…the contradiction is already there. Look, if you really believe that kin are what they believe themselves to be, and others can’t say what they are or are not, then please practice what you preach. Don’t make lists of elven traits or draconic traits or what have you – even if you preface them with “these are just the more common traits; not everyone has them; not everyone has all of them”…look, again, it makes newcomers nervous. As I said, I think I’m Elenari, but some of the descriptions of what Elenari are scared me because I didn’t possess some of the traits described.

Newcomers are delicate flowers. It’s a tired metaphor, on many levels, but it’s true. Nurture them, and they’ll become a valuable part of the community. Force them to make their own way and…well…you’re gambling with our community’s future, in my opinion.

That’s all I can think of for now. I can only hope that other newcomers will take the time to fill the gaps I’ve undoubtedly left. Thank you and blessed be.

Addendum: I would like to apologize if I’ve misunderstood some of the information provided by certain members of the community, or if I’ve offended anyone with this article. I’m only trying to help where and however I think I can.

Questioning Sanity

I think there’s been some reluctance in the online Sayuneldi (Otherkin) community to point fingers at anyone for being self-deluded, because a) we’re all considered deluded by the average person on the street; b) we’re afraid of scaring off the newer folks on the lists or the ones just Awakening to something real in themselves; and/or c) in times past there had been cases of back-lash when someone dared mention someone might need to do some further self- exploration or seek help. I’m not excusing the reluctance, just trying to give some background. I am all for questioning one’s self; questioning one’s sanity can be fun :). I just think there needs to be a balance between acceptance and well-intentioned, mature questioning.

Sometimes someone says something that sounds utterly ridiculous to me. I’m opinionated enough that sometimes I’ll say something about it. That’s OK. If I say it’s absurd or someone else says it’s gospel, it’s just an opinion. No one is required to believe everything that gets written or said. It’s OK to agree to disagree. Question everything.

I’ve wondered internally about the people who say they are angels. What service are you performing for what god/dess? That is part of my definition of angel. Sometimes it’s seemed that angelics were the next “Otherkin fad”. We’ve had others in the past; elves, weres, vampires, hosts and unicorns have all had turns at being the hot new race of Otherkin, where a bunch of people were discovering they were that race and talking about it all at once. I don’t know that all the angelics are or are not what they think they are, but that’s for them to figure out as individuals. I’m saying it’s OK for me to question, because it doesn’t affect them being what they really are inside, and they are free to disagree with me. We are free to disagree with each other.

Someone had once asked “How can you claim to be ‘X’ and ‘Y’ if both ‘X’ and ‘Y’ are in opposition to each other?” Now, people have mentioned having past lives as opposing things, but that’s different than claiming to be two things that are in opposition. I’ve also been things in past lives that conflict with who I am now, and been a vampire I’m not real proud of in my current incarnation. I don’t call myself an elf-vampire because the two were and are in conflict for me. When I was a vampire it resulted in the elf being completely forgotten. After I died, and my soul had the blinders taken off (as happens sometimes after death), the dissonance between who I had been as a vampire and who I had been as an elf caused so much internal conflict that it caused my soul to split. The personality bits that had been associated with the vampire were flung far and wide.

A variation along those lines: I think there’s a difference between saying I was something in a past life and that I am something. For instance, suppose someone once was a unicorn. How much applicability does that have in the here and now? To my mind, a unicorn is a being that represents Truth, unyielding fierce aggressive Truth. It’s near impossible to be pure anything, much less pure Truth, in this physical realm. It’s the nature of the realm. So while I could see someone saying they had been a unicorn and had some aspects influenced by it, I’ve had a hard time swallowing someone being a unicorn in this life (and that’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart). Similarly, if I was a rock, a frog, or a stellar dust bunny in a past life, how much of that applies here in this world, in this form, with this mortal consciousness?

An excellent set of questions for anyone is “Are you better off now that you know about your other identity? Has it helped or hindered your life, balance, health and well-being?” For myself, I can say that it’s been a great thing for health, balance, and self-confidence. And ultimately it’s a question we only answer to our own satisfaction.

It can be fun to question your sanity, to explore yourself, your entire world, to experiment and grow. I speak from experience. Having the carpet of my reality yanked from under my feet got much more fun after I realized that I didn’t have to fall and flail – I could fly….

The Otherkin Problem

What’s wrong with the otherkin community?

  1. Its not about discovery anymore. Maybe people feel that they have “discovered everything” and nothing is new.
  2. There’s a gap between the “elders” and the newbies that is a million miles wide. If someone just awakened, they come looking for answers, and what happens? People tell them. It used to be even the newbies were able to discover themselves among the rest of us, though now it seems there is no time for that. Or maybe it is tedious, since its all been done before. We still have much to learn, but the newness has worn off for most of us. Been awake too long?
  3. Its not about life anymore. Its about pastlives. Or about pastlife memories. Or about current popularity. I remember when I needed the other darkfae around me for stability and functionality, and that was a focus of the group, among other things. We worked to get ourselves balanced in our new identities, so we could function in this life! Ya, we whined about “going home” just as much as the next person, but that’s wasn’t where we stopped. It was about this life, today, right now! It was about blending our aspects into a smooth whole that was able to walk around in daily life, do daily functions, and succeed while retaining our otherkin selves. It was about life.
  4. Being otherkin has never made me feel superiour to others, but aparently a lot of people feel this way. How many of these new otherkin people really are otherkin, and not just lost confused people who don’t know and are grabbing at what’s shiney and gonna make them feel better? I am not saying in any way that people are not what they say, I’m just saying the reasons for calling oneself otherkin are getting skewed. In my way of thinking, being darkfae inside puts me not only on a lower level as full humans (since its their world) but puts me at a disadvantage. I would not make myself darkfae, if I’d had the choice. Then again, I am what I am *shrugs* I know what I am. How many people can say that, in our community, and not feel a nag of doubt? How many are just here (in the community) because it is the popular thing to be, its the newest way to be a freak, or because it seems so wonderful and so special? How many really just plain don’t know, and just choose the label because its the easy way out?

I am not accusing anyone of anything at all, I am just accusing the patterns people have set themselves in. Its time we took a good hard look at ourselves, and ask ourselves exactly what we gain from calling ourselves by the labels we chose? I will rethink it myself, maybe I’ll come up with different answers than the last time. The point is, everyone needs to think, and not just grab at something. And I know there are bound to be many who do, whether that something be what they are told, or what is given to them. Its not personal truth if it comes from someone else.

A Prepaved Path?

As the community for those who feel they are not entirely human by nature grows, we see more cultural awareness and acceptance grow as well. Information and concepts that only a few years ago were virtually non-existent are now readily available. This fact has many positive and negative aspects.

From the positive side: With information more readily available, those who are searching for answers to their questions can find help much more quickly. With more people growing aware and accepting, those in the community no longer need to feel as outcast as they once might have.

From the negative side: With information more readily available, those who are searching for answers to their questions, no longer need to do as much research and find for themselves what may be their truth. With awareness of the community on the rise, those who are struggling in their own lives may feel a need to turn to a community for a sense of acceptance.

Those who once sought out and researched information, with only the longing of their spirit to guide them, now may find themselves torn between the desire to share and help those who may truly need what information they can provide, and the understanding that sometimes it is the difficulty that proves the spirit. Information that is too easy to acquire, may also be too easy to dismiss. While one who continues to search, simply because they feel a strong need to find themselves, will never forget who they truly are.

By simple fact of the nature of believing one’s self to be other than completely human, open-mindedness can be one of the backbones of the community. However, expecting one to take something at face value is not productive and potentially harmful. As with anything that is beyond general society’s views of normal, those who feel uncomfortable or think they don’t fit into most people’s preconceived notions of normal, will find themselves drawn to a community where they hope to find acceptance and validation. Far too often they may use the open-mindedness and acceptance of a community to avoid confronting issues within themselves.

While public awareness and acceptance of alternate beliefs is vital to developing a tolerant society, it is just as important to recognize that external validation should never be a replacement for understanding who and what you truly are.

The Power of The Gift

There is a reason (and often several reasons) why we often feel like we don’t fit into this society of modern mankind, and thus consider ourselves, and are considered by others, to be “not normal.” Much of it stems from a deeply rooted incompatibility on the philosophic underpinnings of modern human economic theory, which has little if anything to do with the truly magical nature of the spiritual beings we all know ourselves to be.

Bear with me as I expound on a little philosophizing here, please.

Most early non-western societies did not work on anything resembling a market economy. The idea that everything began with a barter system is, quite probably, untrue,… but there are very few who are even willing to examine the basis of the origins of this human economy that is now called the “market”. To fully understand where I am coming from, it helps if you start thinking a lot more seriously about what this “market” actually is, where it came from, and what a viable alternative to it might actually be like.

The universal assumption of free market enthusiasts, in the past as now, was that what essentially drives human beings is a desire to maximize their pleasures, comforts and material possessions (their “utility”), and that all significant human interactions can thus be analyzed in market terms. In the beginning, goes the official version, there was barter. People were forced to get what they wanted by directly trading one thing for another. Since this was inconvenient, they eventually invented money as a universal medium of exchange. The invention of further technologies of exchange (credit, banking, stock exchanges) was simply a logical extension.

The problem is, is that there is no reason to believe that a society based on barter has ever actually existed. Instead, what anthropologists studying primitive cultures have discovered is that there were societies where economic life was based on utterly different principles, and most objects moved back and forth as gifts – and almost everything we would call “economic” behavior was based on pure generosity (or a pretense of it) and a staunch **refusal** to calculate exactly who had given what to whom.

Such “gift economies” could on occasion become highly competitive, but when they did, it was in exactly the opposite way from our own modern westernized way; instead of vying to see who could accumulate the most, the winners were the ones who managed to give the most away. In some notorious cases, such as the Kwakiutl of British Columbia (or really, almost any tribe of northwestern native americans), this could lead to dramatic contests of liberality (the potlatch), where ambitious chiefs would try to outdo one another by distributing thousands of silver bracelets, Hudson Bay blankets or Singer sewing machines, and even by destroying wealth – sinking famous heirlooms in the ocean, or setting huge piles of wealth on fire and daring their rivals to do the same. The ancient Celts had similar practices, and indeed, if you are interested in studying this phenomenon, I have little doubt you would find that, rather than it being a rare thing, it was a fairly common practice.

All of this may seem very exotic. But how alien is it, really? Is there not something odd about the very idea of gift-giving, even in our own modern society? Why is it that, when one receives a gift from a friend (a drink, a dinner invitation, a compliment), one feels somehow obliged to reciprocate in kind? Why is it that a recipient of generosity often somehow feels reduced if he or she cannot reciprocate? Are these not examples of universal feelings, which are somehow discounted in modern society – but in others were actually –>the very basis

In gift economies, exchanges do not have the impersonal qualities of the capitalist marketplace; in fact, even when objects of great value change hands, what really matters is the relations between the people; the exchange is about creating friendships, or working out rivalries, or obligations, and only incidentally about moving around valuable goods. As a result, everything becomes personally charged, even property; in gift economies, the most famous objects of wealth – heirloom necklaces, weapons, feather cloaks – always seem to develop personalities of their own.

In a market economy it’s exactly the other way around. Transactions are seen simply as ways of getting one’s hands on useful things; the personal qualities of buyer and seller should ideally be completely irrelevant. As a consequence everything, even people, start being treated as if they were things too. (Consider in this light the expression “goods and services.”)

Ancient Rome still preserved something of the older ideal of aristocratic open-handedness; Roman magnates built public gardens and monuments, and vied to sponsor the most magnificent games. But Roman generosity was also quite obviously meant to wound; one favorite habit was scattering gold and jewels before the masses to watch them tussle in the mud to scoop them up. Early Christians, for obvious reasons, developed their notion of charity in direct reaction to such obnoxious practices. True charity was not based on any desire to establish superiority, or favor, or indeed any egoistic motive whatsoever. To the degree that the giver could be said to have gotten anything out of the deal, it wasn’t a real gift.

But this in turn led to endless problems, since it was very difficult to conceive of a gift that did not benefit the giver in any way. Even an entirely selfless act would win one points with the Christian God. Therein began the habit of searching every single act for the degree to which it could be said to mask some hidden selfishness, and then began the mistake in assuming that this selfishness is what’s really important.

One sees the same move reproduced so consistently in modern social theory. Economists and Christian theologians agree that if one takes pleasure in an act of generosity, it is somehow less generous. They just disagree on the moral implications. To counteract this very perverse logic, it is necessary to emphasize the “pleasure” and “joy” of giving; in traditional societies, there was not assumed to be any contradiction between what we would call self-interest (a phrase that could not even be translated into most human languages) and concern for others; the whole point of the traditional gift is that it furthers both at the same time.

Many humans, however, fail to grasp this very simple concept. This is part of what sets the Elfin/Fae apart from the humans. This is why we feel that we are not normal, because of course, if normal is defined as being of the same economic mindset as humans, then, indeed, we are not normal. On the other hand, since their societal economy is based on something that is not true, and has been perverted through the ages by the logic of economists and theologians,… perhaps it is not us that is not normal… perhaps it is them.

Physically Human?

I believe that the Otherkin body ticks a little differently on the whole, even when there is no genetic trace. I think that harbouring a non-human soul will have some effect on the body in the same way that ones’ state of mind affects the body too. For instance, the reason why stress makes people sick, and why energy healing such as reiki works, is because of the effect of non-physical occurrences on the physical body.

I used to think that everyone was really Otherkin underneath, it was just that most people hadn’t seen it. I still think that to some extent. I am constantly boggled by the number of times I meet otherkin IRL. I am fairly open about my ‘kin-ness among my friends, and the most common reaction I get is not “You’re crazy”. It’s “Oh. I’m one of those too!” If this is a typical sample, then there are a heck of a lot of otherkin on Earth. It makes sense. If the population is growing, and we are reincarnating, there is an increasig need for more and more souls. They have to come from somewhere; it makes sense that they come from people who are not human, maybe even not from Earth. I still think though, that there are people who are human through and through.

I also believe that humans in general are overlooking their potential, and that Otherkin represents just one way out of many to reach that potential.

So am I human? Physically, I assume so. My parents are human, as are their parents. There may be some trace of “fae” ancestry from long ago, from back in the days when fae walked the earth and mingled with humans. It would explain some of the odd physical things about me. But on the whole I fall within human “norms”.

Even otherkin who are kin-by-reincarnation seem to show odd traits; there are two schools of thought here. Either as already suggested, the presence of a non-human soul in the body will cause alteration of the body. Or else that the non-human soul chooses to reincarnate in a body that is “compatible”, and that maybe the most compatible bodies are ones that already carry a little of the old Fae (or whatever) blood.

Yet I do not consider myself to be human. I cannot relate to them. I am still an elf. I am not was. My body is not me. It is not us. It is merely the shell we wear at this time. It is the house that we live in. There are a few others sharing the body who claim to be human in soul, others who claim elven or angelic or sidhe.

I’m not one of those human-hating otherkin, and I don’t go in for human-bashing (except perhaps occasionally in jest). I don’t hate humans, but I do feel sad for them sometimes. So many of them are missing so much that is wonderful.

Personal Subjectiveness

“Ghod I hate being an elf! Bloody frolicking with pixies, perverted ogres, even the stupid wine is just dreamberry juice! I wish I was in Kentucky.”

I’m not sure where the little undergound magazine got that clip. It’s cute. It has a little elf princess sitting in her chair, thinking the above thoughts. And it makes me wonder, what with the “I Love Being Human” war of recent days and other sentiment, that maybe going around hating your body is merely relative.

I can only take example from my personal existence, though. I can only contemplate all the people who swear up and down that I’m not only pretty, I’m downright sexy. Well, I have a bit of trouble believing it, size 16 that I am (even if Marilyn Monroe was the same size) and I spend a lot of time hating my hips and thighs. But if I stopped to listen to so-and-so, perhaps I’d fall in love with them instead?

I love my hair. I love it so much that I spend a great deal of time trying to make it look like the hair from my first body. So I guess I don’t love my hair so much, after all. I love that other head of hair, those other eyes, that other slender waist–and my personal subjectiveness puts myself through hell because I don’t have them. I diet, and I walk and I sweat and I hate myself. I stand, looking in the mirror, saying to myself, “Gawds, how ugly I am!” And you could be friggin’ Jesus Christ on your knees, begging to kiss my pinky toe because of my supposed beauty, and I’d never believe you.

But, during the times when I’m full of light and energy, or interested in horses or any of a number of things that make me forget that I’m not, currently, in my first wee body–those are the times I love life. Those are the times my subjectiveness forgets to center on how ugly I am, and they center on how interesting the task at hand is. When I’m dancing, or painting or even just having an in-depth conversation with a friend are the times I feel truly beautiful. And I believe that’s because I’m not looking inside anymore. Those are the times I’m bothering to live.

For is it not the living that appeals to most? A living flower, a living baby, even the weeds living in the cracks on the sidewalk. They’re green, they’re vibrant, they practically glow with life force, and this makes them beautiful to the average person. Dried flowers are nice, but sought after most when they’re dried to contain the color they bore when still growing. Stuffed animals, dead as they are, are still an item when fashioned to look alive. A mulch pile is nice, too, but it also helps to give life to the new things in the garden. When you take a life, you can only take that thing because it’s there. You cannot slay something that is already dead.

So, perhaps it?s not the bodies, or the gifts we may have lost or gained, or the color of our eyes that makes us who we are. It’s how we look at things. I could go around bemoaning the loss of my wings, but why should I? Who’s to say I won’t get another, more fabulous pair later? And right now, why can’t I just enjoy what I do have? It is loss that helps to truly appreciate what we have been able to keep through the years. So I lost my wings. Okay. But I remember them, and so I treasure that memory as precious. I still can walk, and draw on good days when my hands don?t hurt, and think coherent thoughts. In other words, I’m not crippled. I’ve just changed.

And, much as I hate to admit it, change is growth. Coming to this planet, whether by accident or by force, may be just the best thing that ever happened to you. Oh, sure, you could view it as the worst thing in the multiverse and something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. However, viewing it as a learning experience may be more productive. I remember every lash on my back, and the feeling of the cat-o’nine-tails hitting my broken wing joints. This may have been one of the most traumatic experiences anyone could ever hope to face, but I think it was also one of the best things I could have known. I know pain. I not only know pain, but I know consequence, and what it is to be strong enough to stand up for what you believe in. And maybe I’ll never do it again, maybe I’ll never have the chance, but should that day ever come I pray to anything listening that I would have the strength to do so. And this knowing what may be ahead. And it seems sweeter that way.

My conclusion in this hour is that life makes things beautiful, even the twisted things like warthogs and platypi. And knowing how precious these moments we have, both good and bad, seems to make my world all the sweeter. Am I still glad to be human? In this moment, more than ever. There’s something else about humans people tend to overlook; their capacity for imagination. Their high vibrancy. Their naivete. Their passion. These elements are essential for good adventure.

Oh, and adventure is the most beautiful state of being there is.

Otherkin Behaviour Patterns

I’ve noticed several patterns that people becoming aware of their difference from others, or the existence of magic, seem to go through. Not everyone goes through all of them, but almost everyone I know has gone through some of them. Thus I think it useful to outline the patterns so hopefully at few less people have to learn things the hard way.

(For a related perspective on neo-pagans rather than otherkin, see Thoughts about Pagans by RavenBlack ).

I am going to go over the main variations I have observed. This will not cover every possibility, but should provide a baseline for comparison.


Symptoms: Fighting the “powers of darkness,” healing the world, killing off major deities, global thermomagical war.

This is one of the most common amongst newly magically aware people. The realisation that you can affect the world around you and exposure to non-physical reality seem to induce an “I can do anything” reaction. This can be very seductive, especially if the rest of your life is less then pleasant.

Some instances of this that I have seen recently are fairly dramatic: fighting off entire legions of angels (or fallen angels or chuthuloid entities from beyond the veil), being the avatar (incarnation) of a god, killing off major deities in astral battles and multigenerational witch-wars involving mystical explanations for real world deaths, combat by hurricane and the usual magic wars. (No, I am not going to tell you which of those was my personal hubris).

Falling into this one is easy, some of the most intelligent people I know have done so to some degree. It is also the one most prone to cult-like abuse. Small groups can both reinforce and escalate the perspective and the unscrupulous can manipulate others into all sorts of things before the questioning sets in.

It does have a valid basis in it’s milder forms however. Pushing the boundaries of your beliefs and abilities is perfectly normal exploration when becoming aware of magic. The same applies any other major shift in your perceptions of reality, as evidenced by the major shifts in personality undergone by many new college students. Managing to keep perspective and conscious intent is the important, and sometimes most difficult, part.

The End of the World is Nigh

Symptoms: The “big change” is coming.

“A great change” has been coming for millennia. It seems to be a very common phenomena, especially amongst the newly aware. 2012 is a favoured date in otherkin mythologies thanks to Shadowrun and it’s portrayal of magic returning and people shifting to physically non-human forms. It also crops up amongst almost every magically active subculture and a good number of religions when in their early stages.

I’ve yet to see “a great change” except within people. As far as I can tell, it’s part of a growing awareness – once you become aware of future possibilities that you weren’t before, things seem to become a lot more significant and you react to things more strongly. Sometimes it is just a matter of being aware of changes you were not aware of before. Often there really are some very drastic changes ahead. The mistake comes in interpreting a sense of impending personal change as being of similar proportion for everyone else too.

By analogy, if you have always lived by a lake, where the water rises maybe a foot or two after a particularly heavy rain, and then you visit an ocean where the tide may change the water level up to fifteen feet in the space of six hours. It would be fairly natural to watch the water rising, worry, panic and then run off screaming “flood!!”, even though it’s perfectly normal and all that water will go away as the tide ebbs.

Differentiation by repudiation

Symptoms: Vehemently putting down the group you were recently associated with.

This one is all too common in the otherkin scene, especially amongst the newly aware. It’s main symptom is “human-bashing,” decrying humans as evil destructive hateful people. It also manifests in the pagan community (generally as “Christian bashing”) and many other areas where a change of allegiance occurs. (For an illustration of the flaws in this approach, see On Dragons and Hate, it’s been gone over enough times for me not to repeat it again).

Why this happens is less obvious it seems, as many people fail to understand it. The main impetus behind the vehemence seems to be a need to confirm ones new affiliation, be it species, religion or football team, by distancing oneself from the old one. Then it becomes a relatively short step from “I am not like that” through “That path is bad for me” to “That path is bad”. Putting down the previous group is perceived to raise ones status in the new group. It doesn’t, but that seems to be the perception.

On it’s milder levels, this seems to be a perfectly normal part of major changes in mental and emotional investment. The need to reassure oneself that the change is the right one and the previous association no longer applies. The progression from “not right for me” to “not right” is the unfortunate one.

Species arrogance

Symptoms: “It’s not arrogance, I simply know better because I’m a …”

Having Awesome Cosmic Power(™), pointed ears, or a reproductive organ the size of a small frigate, does not make one better than anyone else. Especially if it’s self evident you don’t. All it does is indicate to those who have already been through this stage that you’re insecure about your identity. (There’s no shame in that, it’s just not polite to tell everyone).

Subculture intolerance

Symptoms: “We are open-minded, go away you perverts.”

One of the things that seems to be fairly common in many subcultures is the “we are open minded, but you are a nut” syndrome. Whilst this is valid in some cases (not many subcultures are tolerant of murderers for example), it often manifests in strange ways. Within the otherkin scene one sees such things as vampires claiming that elves don’t exist, and vice-versa. In other places, you see homosexuals claiming that bisexuals just refuse to admit they are gay, bdsm folks claiming poly folk are disturbed and other strangeness.

This is one where each person has to learn where to draw their own lines (and accept that sometimes reasonable people will draw their lines somewhere different).

Abdication of thought

This is a particularly detrimental problem. The usual visible effect is a statement that goes something to the effect of: “because I’m an elf, anything is possible, therefore I must accept everything as possible and not analyse other people’s claims” (or the same thing in third person, ie. “you must accept…”).

The problem with this should be obvious, but apparently is not. It leads one to not questioning anything, which results in one not actually understanding much of anything and believing things like the moon being made of green cheese.

Unfortunately there is no clear place to draw the line between what is valid and what is not, especially in an area where there is as yet little demonstrable evidence for what many people believe. Developing your own sense of truth is difficult but possible. (see http://www.kheperu.org/articles/tolerance.html for a good introduction). The important part is not to stop thinking, not to stop asking questions.

Psychological crutch

This is one I see every so often in blatant ways, and much more frequently in subtle ways. The use of a belief system as a crutch to avoid dealing with yourself and your life, rather than as a support for doing so. The distinction can be subtle sometimes, but it is essential.

The more obvious forms of this generally approximate to “I can’t help being an asshole, it’s because I’m a Foo”. Occasionally this is accurate, there are some phenotypes that have ingrained behaviour patterns that just do not work well with certain other groups. That doesn’t mean you cannot adjust your behaviour to within acceptable range, or remove yourself from those situations where your deep rooted tendencies will cause problems.

The important part here is self evaluation, being honest with yourself, and looking for the mundane reasons before assigning supernatural ones. It may be that people avoid you because you are a Troll. It’s equally possible that it’s actually because you haven’t bathed in a week. That weariness due to psychic attack could be due to drinking too much last night, or not eating the right foods.

That dull aching pain in your lower back may be an old battle wound, but it’s always better to ask your doctor first before just assuming it’s a past life thing, kidney stones tend to have the same feeling. It never hurts to look into that which is commonplace and explainable first, that way when the real unexplainable issues arrive, they’re not only easier to focus on and pin-point, but others around you aren’t referring to you as the Boy Who Cried Magic.

Resonance is not attraction

Symptom: Ooo! Something like me! Must fuck it.

This is one I see over and over in the otherkin scene, and it’s one that really is not obvious to most people until they have experience.

There is a certain pull between folks of the same phenotype (at least there is with elves, and I’ve seen similar behaviour patterns in other types so it extrapolates at least somewhat). Whether it is phermones, energetic resonance, some sort of species sensitivity, or something else entirely, it is a noticeable effect. There is an attraction, an desire to get closer to the “person like me”.

Especially if you haven’t encountered another of your type before, this can be quite unexpected, and very easy to mistake for physical or sexual attraction. Even more so with (at least some) elves as they tend to by highly sensual and tactile. If you throw in the sense of excitement of finally meeting others of your type, it can compound the sensory illusion.

That is not to say that attraction is never there, but it is certainly easy to mistake the species resonance with attraction.

There is apparently a known phenomenon called genetic sexual attraction that’s observed in adoptees on meeting their blood relatives. The similarities are strong and possible causes have actually been investigated.

Attraction is not Resonance

Symptom: Ooo! Want to fuck it, must be something like me!

This is a collary to the above, just because one is attracted to someone, does not mean they are whatever you are, no matter how much you may want them to be. People are incredibly able to convince themselves they are something they are not, because it’s what the person they are attracted to or emotionally attached to want them to be, which makes this one particularly dangerous.

That can work both ways, convincing yourself that you must have dragon in you because your flame-of-the-week is a dragon, is equally unhealthy.

This life is not that life

Symptom: Insisting on carrying over interests, relationships or causes from previous incarnations, even though everyone or everything involved has changed.

This I already wrote up as a rant.

Thanks to Raven, Aine, and Tessa for their contributions to this that have been incorporated.

I am not a Werewolf

I am not a werewolf. I am a therianthrope, an animal person, someone who identifies as a wolf. But I’m not a werewolf.

What is the distinction? After all, plenty of therians also like using were(insert animal here) as a descriptor for themselves. And most therianthropes experience shapeshifts, albeit nonphysical ones, which makes a connection to lycanthropic lore and legend.

However, the idea of a werewolf is a person who turns into a wolf – sometimes. Particularly in popular culture, the change is involuntary, triggered by the light of the full moon. It is something that is out of the control of the hapless werewolf, who must succumb to the raging beast inside. Even in calmer stories, the person is still only a wolf part of the time.

One point that is made frequently about therianthropy is that a therian is the animal all the time, whether spiritually, psychologically, etc. Obviously, this isn’t on a physical level. But when a therian shifts, they are not becoming anything they were not already. The animal was always there; the shift is in the balance of perception and behavior between what is categorized as “human” and what is labelled “animal”. When the shift is done, the therian doesn’t just put away the animal in a box somewhere; it”s not a persona to be donned and removed at will.

A lot of therians concentrate on the lycanthropic and other shapeshifter lore, and yet often miss the experience of simply being the animal. Some think they have to go feral at the full moon, and have the most aggressive shifts, and bloodlust, and have the urge to go and hunt down a deer or whatever, in order to be considered legitimate.

And yet, that often blocks us from understanding what it is to be the animal. If you’re so busy trying to be a werewolf, then where does being just a wolf come in?

For me, at least, therianthropy isn’t about how often I shift, or how intense the shifting is. It’s not about whether I physically resemble a wolf, or if I crave venison, though my body is lean-muscled and I walk digitigrade, and I do love the taste of deer meat. It’s about being a wolf, and recognizing that I am a wolf, and integrating that into my life at all times. It’s more important, to me, to read books about wolves and wolf behavior, than it is to read books about werewolves, though those have their place, too. The archetype of the werewolf doesn’t really resonate with me, particularly since I began accepting my therianthropy and, consequently, experienced far fewer shifts. I am not a person who turns into a wolf. I am a person who is also a wolf.

I am a wolf in human flesh. When I think of myself, yes, I do think of the body I have, and the human identity. But I also think of myself as wolf, so much that sometimes I expect to look down at my hands and see white paws ending in short, stubby claws worn down by miles of walking. I accept that I have a very particular way of viewing the world that combines human socialization and lupine instinct. There are things that I identify as being a product of being a wolf – certain social behaviors, preference for rural areas, reliance on instincts. But these alone do not make me a wolf; they are only possible symptoms. And the more I accept them as they are, the more easily they weave into the rest of who I am.

I’ve never really determined whether my therianthropy is just psychological conditioning, a neurobiological quirk, an internalization of a totemic bond, a past/alternate life; in a way, I accept all of these as truth at once. In the end it doesn’t matter to me. Inside, I am a wolf – but I am not a werewolf.

The Shadow of Myth

This is something I have been thinking about for quite a while now. Why do we choose the labels we do?

Otherkin pick some pretty large labels for themselves – elf, dragon, werewolf, sidhe, faerie, angel.

They all have a lot of myth behind them, and myth is powerful. Even these days, when most people dismiss elves as faerietales (that’s if they can manage to refrain from making Keebler jokes). When dragons are the realm of fantasy novels, roleplaying games or cute movies, not fearsome creatures that destroy villages and need the bravest of heros to defeat (with the not-quite-so-brave, or not-quite-so-lucky, all becoming dragon-snacks). When your nearest werewolf hangs out with the local teenage witch and the only eating going on does not involve the consumption of flesh.

Syleniel wrote about the Shadow of Awareness. Perhaps we are also the Shadow of Myth.

What got me started on this particular topic was digging up an old quote for someone on the subject of soulbonds:

Something that seems not uncommon is the “this is more than I’ve ever felt before, it must be a soulbond”. Which is something like growing up in the dark, then someone lights a candle and going “wow! so much light! that must be the sun!” Then someone turns a light on and you go “wow! so much light! that must be the sun!” Then you go outside and go “ArgH! Help! I’m blinded! My eyes hurt! What is this horrible thing! *thud* Ouch! I just walked into a tree! Make this stop!” and you cover your eyes and discover that it’s still bright… eventually you go “so that’s what the sun is like, why didn’t anyone tell me it -hurt-”

This led me to thoughts on the newly awakened. I see it especially among new pagans who have just discovered that magic really does exist. Next thing you know, they are out to save the world from monsters from the deep that threaten to destroy everything. Or they discover you really can talk to deities, you blink and they are suddenly the Avatar of Athena.

I am not making fun of the newcomers, I am hardly in a position to do so. Though I am not going to relate my own partially embarrassing stories here. Suffice to say, I’ve been there and done that, and eventually I got perspective on it and started to learn the difference between the inside and the outside of my own head.

Which leads me back to otherkin…

I see a lot of “I mew at my cat, I must be cat-kin,” “I like owning things, it must be a dragon horde” and so on. Not that self examination and exploration is a bad thing, but assigning a mythological creature to each and every quirk of your psyche seems to lead to the elf-dragon-vampire-angel-gerbil-marshmallow syndrome.

What do the labels really mean? Think carefully before you choose a label that has Power. Yes, they do, despite the way people treat them. Names have power, they influence how you think of yourself. Why do you think so many kin, pagans and other magically aware types take on a “usename” that reflects more of how they see themselves?

So before you say “I am an elf”. Think about it. What do you really mean by ‘elf’. If you say ‘elf’ people are going to think Tolkien’s tall, old and wise forest dwellers, or D&D’s long lived humans with innate archery skills, or small gnome like things that make cookies.

So before you say “just a human body”. Think about it. Why ‘just’. What’s wrong with having a human body? Are you sure your’s is? Every culture has stories of they mythological beings mating with them, wether it be sidhe in Ireland, angels in the middle east, or dragons in the orient.

So what does this have to do with the Shadow of Myth?

Read the myths sometime. The real ones. Not the sanitised “fit for a coddled american ten year old” versions. The real ones. Where the sidhe are as likely to torment you for some insult you didn’t know you made as save an unwanted child. Where you ward your house with iron and garlic, not because it’s a quaint custom but because the monsters really are out there. Where the first words out of an angel’s mouth are invariably “fear not”, why? because the person they just appeared to is defecating in their underwear. Where they are called the Shining Host, the celestials, monsters and demons, and are inexplicable and incomprehensible to the humans they interact with. Where it takes the best and boldest heros to deal with them, and most of them never come back.

Remember these are myths. The best stories told around the campfire. Embellished for dramatic effect.
Don’t forget they are myths, and words and names have power.

Then look at yourself.

Are you myth? Legend? Bright as the sun? Or are you waving your candle in the dark, hoping no one finds the light switch?

The term Otherkin claims a direct relationship to that which myths are made from. What gives you the right to claim that term? What makes you Other? Or are you just the barest echo lost in a sea of noise?

Choose your labels carefully.

Do you really want to be a myth?

Otherkin &; Society: Waiter! There’s an Otherkin in my Medieval Soup!

[Originally created for “Water Under the Bridge”, newsletter of the Incipient Canton of the Broken Bridge (Brooklyn, NY S.C.A. chapter), never published.]

There are two problems which occur when you bring otherkin into the Society for Creative Anachronism [which may well apply to other medieval reenactment groups, but we’ll use the blanket term S.C.A. and SCAdian herein because then I don’t have to rewrite the entire article — Crisses]. They depend on your point of view. From the standard SCAdian point of view, there should not be elves, vampires or werewolves walking the streets of the Pennsic Marketplace. Everyone is “supposed” to be a persona from the Middle Ages, someone who really “could have been” and the S.C.A. space should not be used for someone else’s foreign agenda. From the view of the otherkin, they have finally found a safe space to “be themselves”, and they are treated rudely, ostracized, or downright condemned for their actions. Such strong reactions make this a very difficult subject to bring up with either group. It is a source of contention between the S.C.A. and otherkin society. This essay is an attempt to work it out.

What is an otherkin?

Like so many other terms introduced on the Internet, the term “otherkin” is new and still evolving. It is used to describe a person who believes their spirit (at the very least) is a different species than human. This can be very confusing, since technically people who claim to be otherkin have apparantly human parents and human DNA. There are many common types of otherkin which are addressed in the otherkin FAQ.

Many otherkin experience homesickness and feel like outcasts within normal human society. For some, finding other people like themselves is difficult, frustrating, and often painful. Some try to accept their lot and cope with their hardships, while others fight it with an out-loud-and-proud attitude. It is this in-your-face attitude, and the strife it sometimes causes, which inspires my discussion today.

Otherkin in the S.C.A.

Otherkin are in the S.C.A.. There are some in the goth “vampire” crowd who really believe they are (or were once) vampires. There are some folks who believe they are elves and other kinds of beings too numerous to list. Some wear the ears and tails and horns and wings when they can…some don’t.

Otherkin are scattered across the globe. The lucky ones have found people like themselves, and are forming their own small groups in attempts to cope with their feelings, their past lives, and the discomfort of their current life. The situations most likely to attract an appearance of otherkin are ones which help them feel more at ease or allows them some degree of authentic personal expression, such as Role-Playing Games (live, online, and table), Ren Faires, Sci-Fi & Comic conventions, and the re-creation groups (S.C.A., Civil War, fantasy groups etc.). Some otherkin use these mediums just to find kinship and then leave the larger group and maintain contact with their newfound friends, others like the atmospheres and stick around for a long time.

The S.C.A., and it’s largest events are most likely to attract these independant and roving bands of otherkin. There are two problems at these events: some otherkin are there in all their glamour, and the medievalists are trying to ignore such an openly anachronistic scene.

The problem of a disruptive otherkin has been brought up at a chatelaine’s meetings. The problem of the S.C.A. being unwelcoming to otherkin has been brought up on otherkin e-mail lists. Both are issues that should be dealt with good feelings on all sides and with some compromise if possible.

To the SCAdians

The S.C.A. is non-profit. We have an obligation to accept people who try to play by our rules and who are not endangering people’s safety. The only requirement we profess to people to attend our events (that I’m aware of at this time) is “an attempt at a medieval costume”. Of course, pointy ears and fluffy tails may not fit that image. But that is no excuse to be nasty! I would like to point out that contrary to popular opinion, not all otherkin choose to dress the part. In fact, a good number of them would rather submit to the Inquisition than wear plastic pointy ears and such.

There are other choices than trying to come up with rules to ban otherkin from events: A) remind yourself “I’m from the middle ages, and I don’t see tree spirits and elves, even if they exist, except maybe out of the corner of my eye.” And act accordingly. B) These are the Middle Ages as we would have liked them to be, and maybe the romantic qualities of having the elves and fairies around is just as nice as having flush toilets, pennicilin, and no plague! C) Be patient: While otherkin are very uncomfortable in contemporary society and they can sometimes let down their guard in safe spaces created by the S.C.A., otherkin are now gathering on their own. Perhaps they wont need to “take away” from the Current Middle Ages to carve out their otherkin-friendly safe-spaces in the future. . D) Take an offensive person aside, and explain to them what I am about to say to them below, in a very civil manner. Pretend you’re a benevolent chatelaine and you want these people to remain members in good standing.

To the otherkin

There was an otherkin gathering during which a group of (I assume) Wicca practitioners came to their private dancing and drumming circle. The Wiccans began to sing and dance and their energy was overwhelming. Many of the otherkin fled the area. Back at their private campsite, there was murmurs and complaints of “the humans” coming into their semi-private space and taking it over from them.

Reverse the roles, and you have the problem of out-loud-n-proud otherkin being in the middle of the Middle Ages! Next time an occurrence like this happens, it might be another otherkin convention being crashed by humanity, taking away from your peace of mind. There are more appropriate ways to be an otherkin at an S.C.A. event: A) If you really were an elf (or vampire, werewolf, or whatever) in the Middle Ages, you would probably disguise yourself as human in some way in order to survive and not cause panics and stirs. That rare flash of pointed ear under your hair, hat or hood is enough to cause whispers which will become the legends of the future….be tastefully understated, and see just how well you can “play human” to the SCAdians–try leaving off the pointy ears and pretending you’re enchanted by illusion, Seeming or glamour. B) Keep your out- and loud-nesses to your private camp, to times when you are “out of persona” or times when the marketplace vendors are less likely to overhear you and call the town guardsmen to arrest the heretics. C) Come up with a token or symbol so that otherkin can “know” each other in a crowd. D) During night parties or campfire bardic circles, sing a song or tell a tale (in a Medieval style) of the species to whom you belong without ever quite giving yourself away….

Living in Balance

It is my hope that otherkin can also be SCAdians, and that both groups can carve out their personal niches in the world without taking away from each other. Perhaps one day, SCAdians will be giving referrals to otherkin groups to aid them in getting sites for their gatherings, or direct newly awakening kin to otherkin groups for resources and aid, while perhaps otherkin will pretend to be humans from the Middle Ages so well that they will become SCAdians in good standing, with many awards and medallions to rest on their breasts besides their otherkin symbol.

Alyessa Oaktree is a persona loosely based on the personality and proclivities of a tree-spirit resident in The Crisses’ body. While the persona is a medieval human gypsy (Romane) of undetermined place and time, the person who creates and re-creates the persona is otherkin.

Some thoughts on Mediakin

It seems like no matter what subculture you’re a part of, there’s always somebody who’s supposedly stranger. Lots of folks think Otherkin are pretty weird – but even some Otherkin think that Mediakin (a.k.a. Otakukin or Otakin) are beyond unusual.

Mediakin are people who identify as/with characters from modern fiction, particularly (though not limited to) anime/manga and video games. Just as someone who is Otherkin may believe they were an elf or a dragon, wolf or angel, in another life, so Mediakin believe that a past/alternate life was spent as a person popularized through modern pop culture. They may see something quite familiar about the storyline in an anime or manga, but will also generally provide history beyond that. Mediakin may identify with a specific character, or simply the setting presented.

I’m sure some of you are thinking “Oh, lovely-they’re all insane!” right about now. Believe me, you’re not alone. After all, isn’t pop culture purely the creation of a human mind? Isn’t it impossible to have a past life as a character that was created after your birth?

I tend to give more leeway to the possibility of Mediakin. (Then again, I’ve been known to think in unconventional directions!) I don’t think the idea is wholly impossible, though I don’t think it’s necessarily a matter of linear reincarnation. Let me start with two beliefs.

Lupa’s Belief #1: Pop culture entities can exist independent of their “creators”. In older cultures, fiction and mythology were kept separate; however, I believe that the processes for recording both are the same, though the intent differs. Pop culture is modern mythology; since mainstream America in particular lacks a cohesive cultural mythology, pop culture is about the closest we have. Belief = power, and all entities–gods, spirits, pop culture beings, etc.–rely to an extent on belief in order to have any connection to this realm of existence. It doesn’t mean they have to have that belief to exist, but the belief is the core of connection between them and us. I have worked successfully with San from Mononoke Hime as a huntress goddess in a similar manner to that which I’ve used working with Artemis in the Greek pantheon. From my own perspective and experience, San is no less real than Artemis, though I don’t see them as one and the same. In fact, in some ways San is more relevant to me because her story is contemporary to this life, rather than having been recorded by a culture thousands of years ago, with a very different set of values.

Lupa’s Belief #2: It is *possible* that people who talk about Otherkin and/or Mediakin in terms of reincarnation, soulbonding, psychology, and/or metaphor are all talking about the same phenomenon but interpreting it in different ways. This is why I don’t assume that we all “became” Otherkin in the same manner. I think it’s very possible that people experiencing past lives, and people experiencing very vivid journeys through the Collective Unconscious/personal unconscious/whathaveyou, are going through the same thing, except that the former group explains it *externally*, while the latter explains it *internally*. Because the experience is very vivid, the first assumption may be that it’s reincarnation, and that the person literally experienced those events and sensations at a different literal point in space/time. The question is whether space/time stops where the brain begins, or whether the microcosm and macrocosm are much more intimately linked than often assumed.

To elaborate further:

Three people experience a vision of being a wolf. Both can “feel” the sensations of having a lupine body, right down to noticing the different center of gravity, and seeing the muzzles before their faces. The experience is every bit as “real” in their minds as something that they experience in waking, physical reality. Subsequent meditations bring further episodes, including hunting deer, whelping pups, and other lupine activities.

Person #1 says this is proof of reincarnation and that they were a wolf in a previous life. S/he points to the subsequent memories as revealing a more complete picture of that life.

Person #2 says that they drew on the memories of a spirit/soul that was once (or may currently be) a wolf that are a part of a version of the Collective Unconscious that isn’t limited to humans. Later connections to that particular set of memories give a more complete view of tht wolf’s life.

Person #3 says that they got in touch with their own unconscious mind and brought certain parts of their psyche to the surface. The imagery that this part of their mind chose to reveal itself as was lupine in nature, because the person’s previous experiences with wolves and depictions thereof closely matched this part of themselves.

So who’s most right? Personally, I consider all three of the above explanations to be quite possible for my own therianthropy, and have evidence for and against each. I think, though, that we can also apply the same basic ideas to any Otherkin or Mediakin–how do you prove whether your experiences and memories were external or internal?

In my own case, I’m not Mediakin. *However*, I resonate very strongly with San. If I were to meditate on the parts of her life that I do know about via Miyazaki’s movie, and came up with more of the story experienced through a first person perspective, would that mean that I was experiencing my own memories? Or that I was channelling San? Or that I have a very fertile imagination and should start writing fan fic?

But the same also goes for that within me which is lupine in nature. When I meditate on my wolf-self and get first-hand visions, do I chalk it up to past life memory, connection to my primary totem (which, to me, embodies archetypal wolf energy), or simply that part of my psychology is wired more lupine than human?

Maybe we’re all talking about the same thing using different words. Maybe not. Maybe the Multiverse works in strange ways, offers multiple avenues for reaching the same destination, and has a sense of humor. *This* is why it’s so important to question yourself, no matter what you believe, because there’s never just one possibility–and the Multiverse is such that it generally offers up evidence for any possibility to be supported.

Also, in order to be Otherkin one must actively identify as Other. I know of pagans who claim to have had past lives as nonhuman animals, but who do not identify as Otherkin. The nonhuman lives have no actual effect on who they are now. Part of being Otherkin, IMO, is acknowledging the influence that the Other has on you, and making it a part of this life (without letting it overwhelm who you are in this life). Perhaps the only difference between me being someone who resonates strongly with San, and someone who *is* San via the concept of Mediakin, is that I do not actively identify myself *as* San.

My suggestion, if you want more information on Mediakin besides this article, is to check out From Fiction by saevitia snape . The author has outlined a lot of the basic why’s and how’s of Mediakin in an understandable, nonflaky manner.

Lord of the Rings movie review

I was in wonder watching the Lord of the Rings last night. I had gone with my fiancee and a mutual friend. *sigh* It was just….wonderful. Rather than critique the movie, I will highlight my opinion on how the elves were portrayed, from the perspective of a reincarnate elf. Overall, I think the movie was really well done in all aspects (save the missing Tom Bombadil, minor point).

I was very pleased by the portrayal of the elves. They looked, walked, acted and even spoke like elves. They were very remniscent of what I remember. In full elven form can look that unearthly (especially as in Lothlorien). That’s part of who we are. My view overall is very positive and awe-filled Even when speaking English the elves had an elvish accent. Rivendell, while very pretty and inviting looking for me did not move me as did Lothlorien. There’s a place that could have easily existed on Sel’ar, the way it was depicted. *sigh*. I found Eowyn’s voice to be very elvish in timbre. I was moved by her Voice when speaking the words at the river and her mannerisms. I have to give the cast credit for studying elvish with aid from Tolkien societies to strive for correct pronunciation.

You’ll probably note that I have mentioned a lot of things I am pleased with and the lack of comments about things like Legolas’ hair color. Perhaps when there are more movies with elves in them, and when they all have the same quality in their portrayal of the elves, I will have the heart to be more ruthless in my critique of elven portrayals in the cinema. The critiquing also just does not sit well with my feeling of peaceful joy when thinking on the movie, and seems petty to me by that light (no offense to those who enjoy critiquing it). My experience of the movie was wonderful, I care to focus on the wonder of the movie rather than detract from that wonder by focusing on the not-quite-perfect bits.

So overall, a very enjoyable movie. Bring kleenex not only for when the “sad” scenes happen, but for the breathtaking beauty. Prepare to be moved.

Shedding Light On The Darkness

It’s been questioned, fought over, and clichĂ©d to the point of making me nauseous, so here are my not-so-definitive thoughts on the nature of “light” and “dark” and their place in the grand scheme.

I’m dark. That’s easy enough to say but doesn’t mean much right off. Most people either just go “oh cool” or break out the good book and write me off as yet another of Satan’s Minions. Granted, I’m guilty of playing a lot for the sake of fundamentalists and others easily offended, but none of that has anything to do with the “light” or “dark” I’m referring to. I’m not a Goth, and actually not a terribly nasty person. Just different.

A lot of my own confusion, which even now I still have trouble with, has come from mixing up the terms “good” and “evil” as though they applied. They don’t, and have nothing to do with light and dark. To my view, nobody is good or evil. We make choices, for better or worse, and our actions can become and be called good or evil, but terms like that don’t fit conscious beings that can shape their own path.

For me, light and dark refer mostly to our natures and the types of beings we are. It refers to what our overall role was meant to be here, or ethereally. Creation and destruction, making and unmaking, giving and taking, birth and death, hunter and prey. All opposites, and all should be equally valued and respected for their own beauty and purpose. For me light and dark are the nature of survival, growth, and how we achieve it.

Life here can’t continue without death. Overpopulation creates suffering in this world, and certainly doesn’t avoid death. If anything it causes far more pain and suffering. With the Creator wanting to take a lengthy and much needed vacation, sie created lions and wolves to help keep the zebras and sheep in check. Creation can’t happen until the old or failing are destroyed to make way for the new. Otherwise catastrophe and starvation take hold, and more suffering than was ever intended happens. “Something” somewhere is called upon to clear the way.

Strange as it seems, from this vampyre’s view, chi, prana, or life essence also must be removed to make way for new creation. Beings of “light” thrive on its creation, it courses out from them to sustain their lives. Beings of “dark” thrive on its destruction, we draw it into ourselves to sustain our lives. Both types of entities use it to span distances to reach and be one with others, to feel, to touch, and of course they make use of it through magick. It is the essence that bonds them together in the astral and gives them form and flight.

There is no difference between us except that one group creates that life, and the other must always seek it out and feed on it to survive. That’s just one example of a dark being, but there are many others.

We’re not liked or appreciated most of the time. Fear, prejudice, misconceptions, and general disgust and hatred are all part of a deal none of us asked for. We’re thought of as self-serving, evil thieves, and especially unenlightened for being in our “current” situation. Obviously we’re evil, and obviously we’ve done something somewhere to deserve to be such a thing.

In actuality, we are the ones forced to clean up after beings of “light” leave messes everywhere with ambient energies from emotional catastrophes or exuberance. And when there are no messes to clean up, and we can find no beings that give off more life than they need, we’re forced through pain and suffering to seek it out and take it as nature intended.

Sometimes this is at the expense of others and causes harm in doing so. It’s either that or succumb to our own nature, which in my case means to die slowly and cruelly. I’ve yet to meet any others that have gone that far in abstinence or self-inflicted torture. Even among the rare, I’m strange.

It’s how we were created though, and not “evil.” I may not always agree with it, and certainly don’t always enjoy it when I see what it does to others and think in society’s terms. Whether we accept it or not, some of us are not allowed the choice to be any other way. As much as I like to complain, we’re given gifts to make up for the enslavement of the job, so even in that there is balance. It’s just a matter of accepting ourselves.

Another way light and dark manifest themselves is simply in the more mundane natures of beings. For instance, usually I thoroughly enjoy being contradictory, negative, and combative. Others, whom I would call light and “fluffy” (somewhat derogatory, but good-naturedly so), only prefer peace, harmony, and the communal sense of oneness and friendship. Even in that we serve our purpose.

Both paths, light and dark, are means of enlightenment, both offer their own challenges and rewards, and both are equal in all respects. To bring together disparate groups, to bring a sense of “oneness” to a group, and to heal and help, are all difficult in the extreme. In a like manner, to tear apart like-minded groups, to bring about a sense of individuality {in the midst of} a group, and even to try to be adversarial and break down the egos of the self-centered are also difficult in the extreme. Fighting for such things causes us to really examine and learn more about others, ourselves, and the various natures within creation. In doing so we learn more about existence itself if we can recognize it.

Let me clarify further that, in my beliefs, presenting others with challenges benefits those challenged just as much as it benefits challenger. Those challenged must give pause and become introspective in their search for answers to the challenge. To defy such an “attack” requires a community to become introspective as a whole, to question the bonds that tie them together, and the values they espouse.

If that sense of self is never questioned, sometimes lies become truths, falsehoods become the accepted standards, and self-centered indulgence in “community” can lead to far more harm than good. Again, we dark ones serve a purpose in what we are. In cases where society has gone too far and has become corrupt and decayed, we can break up communities and establishments so that newer, healthier relations can be formed in their place.

A bit outside the light/dark theme, but relevant nonetheless — “Revolutionaries” are often thought of as evil criminals by the old establishment until the new one comes into being. Only then are they properly given the respect and title they deserve. In the end, history rewrites them to give understanding to the good deeds they’d done at a very personal cost. Sometimes at the cost of their lives.

I can’t stress enough that neither dark nor light is good or evil, especially in their purest forms. They are merely a different part of the cycle of creation and recreation. There are dark beings that go beyond their purpose and cause serious harm to others, doing things that would be called outright evil. Likewise there are just as many, if not more, light beings that go beyond their purpose and cause harm as well in their enthusiasm for sharing their light and truths. The Crusades come to mind as a nice {example of} that. Witch hunts as well. Good and evil do not apply.

I’m fairly certain that if any roll-call and head count were made for light and dark creatures, we would be in the minority and probably on the endangered species list. Sadly, suicide seems to be a very common theme in the “dark” community, and understandably so from the judgements passed by others upon us, and by us upon ourselves.

In light and dark, we are the mirror given to each other by the Creator in hir infinite mercy so that we can learn and grow. Hopefully, when balance returns again to this place, we’ll all be able to respect each other for what we really are. Kin, and each other’s reflections.

I read somewhere that someday the wolf would lie down with the lamb. It’s something to hope for.


Just Be

Otherkin is a lie. An effective, tidy, comfortable lie, but a lie nonetheless.

In the growing tradition (alright two rants) of starting these rants with an objectionable and blunt statement, then spending far too long trying to explain what I mean, along with the synthesis of the idea and somewhat connected concepts, here goes…

“Otherkin” is a label. Sometimes labels are useful, more often they become nice little boxes to put things in.

Over the last year I have seen many discussions, debates, heated debates and outright flamewars about what the term “otherkin” really means. A noticeable number of people have decided to stop using the term because its perceived common usage does not match the concept they used the word for. I’ve been in several of these exchanges myself (often on at least three sides of the question).

“You are missing the point dear”.

Which I finally understood.

One of the objections to the term otherkin is that it is a definition by negation. It says we are not human (at least in one interpretation) rather than we are something. For a long time I shared this reservation but used it because no one could think of a better one. Maybe there isn’t a better one, because this one is right. People are just missing the full implications.

It is not that we are other than human. It is that we are Other. (Or at least related to such). Not that we are in a different box, with a different label. We aren’t in a box at all. In fact the very concept of box is alien.

This is why we struggle with labels. Not that labels are always bad, but that in this culture they are tied to the concept of box. To label something is to put bounds on it. Which is all wrong. Labels just mark a conceptual point for easy reference, a point, not a box, and only loosely at that because things change, but it’s close enough you can find the general area again.

To illustrate – there’s a pole at the North Pole. It makes it useful to locate the general area. The concept of having a north pole is useful, it makes navigation easier and helps you get the map the same way up each time. However the precise position of the pole is usually irrelevant. And wrong. The ice under the pole floats, so the pole moves. As far as I know they don’t bother moving the physical pole, it’s close enough.

To get back to an approximation of the point…

Otherkin is a lie. It’s a lie because it implies “this thing can be labeled.” It can be marked, described and characterized. It can be filed away in nice little boxes, so you can fit it comfortably into your worldview. You can write a PhD thesis on it.


I’ve said elsewhere that Otherkin has some characteristics of mystery religions – that there are some things that can’t be described but have to be experienced.

What does any of this have to do with evolution, you ask? Well, probably you don’t ask as you either didn’t notice the subtitle or forgot about in the long ramble since. I’ll explain anyway. Yes, this is connected, be patient.

One of the concepts that gets discussed every so often is the idea that Otherkin are perhaps one of the next steps in human evolution. That can sound arrogant, but that is not how it is meant – not as a “we are better” but “where do we go from here?”. I think it could be a manifestation of social evolution.

Back when the Village Voice piece came out, people objected to the characterization of otherkin as people dissatisfied with their current lives in a technological society. Maybe he had something of a point. He got close, but he missed the real reason.

It is not the technology that is the problem – there are too many geek elves around for that. It is the boxes. The rules. The labels. The living.

It is not just an otherkin thing. I see the shift in many of the aware humans that I know. To get back to themselves. To experience life in full, rather than in the abstract of thought (or lack thereof) or the safety of socially defined rules. It can be scary. You have to let go of a lot of comforting lies and be honest with yourself. That’s hard. I still often fail at it myself.

But the change needs to happen or humanity will drive itself into extinction, and take a good portion of this world with it.

Labels become boxes. Boxes become rigid. Ideas become beliefs. Beliefs become absolutes. Change becomes perceived as death.


Change is life. Making stronger boxes, more rules, does not make you less insecure but more – because sooner or later something will not fit in the box. Stress induced illness is one of the major killers in technological societies. Stress from things not meeting expectations, from not fitting in the box.

We are change. We are embodiments of the Wyld, the Unknown. We don’t fit in the box. Not even those we make ourselves. Sometimes we don’t even see the box. Sometimes we don’t know boxes exist. Sometimes they don’t.

Maybe that is what the world needs. Examples of boxlessness. People who not only don’t fit, but can’t fit. People who can fit, but choose not to. People who are happy and healthy that way. Signposts for social evolution. People who experience life rather than labels.

Which means being honest with yourself because if you aren’t honest with yourself, you can’t really be aware of yourself or of anything else. That little box labeled “things I don’t want to know about myself” distorts your view of the world.

Over and over again I see newly awakened people asking others to tell them what they are, to give them a new box because the old one doesn’t fit. They get upset when someone says “I can’t do that”. The problem is how to help someone explore themselves without ending up just shifting which box they are using. I don’t have an answer to that one yet. It is important to know who and what you are, but it should be self-awareness, not a list of labels or a pile of neatly marked boxes.

Facing yourself is probably going to hurt. A lot. It is also going to be joyous, heart-wounding, giddy and solemn, hilarious and somber. We will love each other, hate each other, scream in anger, cry in sorrow, never speak to one another again, become lovers and friends.

Sometimes the biggest lies are the truths that ‘everyone knows’. Sometimes the truth is the lie no one understands.

The point of all this? There’s a reason I titled this piece the way I did. It’s the single piece of advice that all the others tie into, sometimes it is the hardest things to do, sometimes the easiest, it is however, the whole point…

Just Be.

Beyond Identitykin

One of the biggest criticisms of the Otherkin community, both within and without, is the proliferation of what my friend Rialian refers to as “identitykin”. These are people for whom being Otherkin revolves primarily around the identity itself, rather than the application of that identity (and numerous other factors) to everyday life. Identitykin are one of the reasons why the phenomenon of being Other is often mistaken as just another attempt to “be special”.

To be fair, a lot of Otherkin go through a similar phase, especially when newly Awakened. After all, we’ve been introduced to the idea that yes, Virginia, there is sentient life beyond humanity, and that we’re not alone in our feelings of being Other. Hell, I still catch myself getting a little too wrapped up in my identity as a wolf, though I’ve done a lot to integrate it into the rest of my being in the decade or so since I was first introduced to the concept of therianthropy.

One particularly useful tip I have learned through observing others and talking shop, especially with people I really admire within the community, is that sometimes it’s good to incorporate a little (neo)Zen as a balance to that whole identity-woohoo! thing. By this I mean living in the moment, and simply being Other rather than thinking about it, or talking about it, or other conscious acts upon it; the key verb here is “to be”.

Identitykin may assume that this is what they’re already doing. After all, aren’t they wrapping everything in their life around being Other, and living life as a (insert kin type here) would? This also ties into the tendency for some Otherkin to say “Well, I exhibit this behavior, so I must be that type of Otherkin” and, conversely, to say “I am this type of Otherkin, so I must act like this”. Everything gets pointed back to being Otherkin, even when it’s something that “ordinary” humans also commonly embody.

I used to be very identity-focused for a long time, because I really didn’t know how else to be. I spent entirely too much time trying too hard to be more wolfish (and ended up doing some really dumb things as a result). I was dissatisfied because I was stuck in a human body and didn’t have the amazing physical capabilities of Canis lupus, such as the ability to run 25 miles an hour for long periods of time, or keep myself warm with fur that ice wouldn’t stick to. In short, I spent entirely too much time trying to be something and someone else.

That was until I started working with more experienced members of both the pagan and Otherkin communities. The first way I started weaning myself off of the identity fixation was to view myself as a whole being, not just a therian. While many of my traits, preferences and identities are interconnected, they don’t necessarily cause each other. For example, I am a totemist and a pagan, and animal magic is central to my practice. Granted, totemism and therianthropy weave very closely in my life, and there may be some connection there, but I don’t think I am a totemist solely because I am a therian. (I also don’t think that my therianthropy sprang directly from my totemism either, for the record.) There are also certain physical traits that resemble wolfish ones; my body is lean and compact, and I have always walked on the balls of my feet as long as I’ve had the balance to do so.

However, there are plenty of things that have absolutely nothing to do with being a therian. I love salad, salmon, and ice cream. I am a voracious reader, and I prefer nonfiction to fiction. I like long, flowing hippie dresses, and baggy bondage pants with lots of straps and chains (boy-cut, not girl-cut, thanks – I like not having my hips constricted). I have a short temper that I’m working on, and (I like to think) a well-developed sense of humor. None of these things has any direct bearing on my therianthropy, and vice versa. These days I don’t think “Well, I am inquisitive and intelligent because I am a wolf”; rather, I say “I am an inquisitive and intelligent person who just happens to be a wolf (and a pagan, and a kinky person, and a late twenty-something, etc.”.

Eventually I learned to integrate the therianthropy in with the rest of myself. A large part of it involved acceptance of who I am, and then being able to make changes starting from that point, rather than trying to make huge leaps and bounds to becoming someone else entirely. A lot of the identitykin phenomenon is wrapped up in escapism; people use being Other as a way to escape the mundane, boring, unsatisfactory aspects of their human lives. It’s like the newcomers to magic who get so incredibly wrapped up in their personal mythologies that they lose touch with physical reality, and forget that not everyone shares in their mythos. Once I simply allowed myself to be Lupa (who is a therian, and a pagan, and a whole bunch of other things), identity ceased to be all-important. Sure, it’s still a part of who I am, but it’s not everything. And by coming to terms with who, what and where I am right now in this moment, I have a much more realistic view on what parts of myself I can improve upon. I know that physical shapeshifting is impossible in this reality, and that’s okay. I only rarely ever experience species dysphoria anymore; in fact, I very rarely even shift at all, other than feeling like I’m sliding up and down a continuum between Wolf-mind and Human-mind (both of which are me).

And I allow myself to simply be. I don’t worry overmuch about whether or not I’m wolfish enough, or if I have past lives to back up my claims. I don’t regret the phases I went through when these things were a lot more important, but I’m a lot happier and healthier now that they’ve faded into the background, become just a few more threads in the complex tapestry that is Lupa.

Otherkin Identity: Is it more than just a label?

The other day I read an online comic, Theri There, about Otherkin. In it, the artist depicted different types of otherkin doing various activities that reflected their nature. An angelkin worked in a soup kitchen, a bird therian flew a hangglider, etc. In the last panel the artist showed two therians, who said that once in a while they growled when no one was around. That entire comic depicted what I perceive to be a problem of identity for Otherkin.

I notice with alarming regularity that when the subject of Otherkin comes up it’s always about identity, namely how you determine if you’re really Otherkin or not. There is inevitably a focus on which labels can be correctly applied to a person in order to determine the status of identity. It gets to the point that identity seems to be an obsession for some Otherkin. What seems to be rarely asked, however, is what other functions, purposes, or goals, beyond identity, being Otherkin serves. For instance, do you feel your existence is validated by being Otherkin? Does being Otherkin provide you a calling? What is it to you besides a label?

The quest for self-discovery is a life long adventure and a worthy goal, provided it’s balanced with other goals. Identity should never wholly define a person, especially because it is a very fluid phenomenon. Who you claim to be can change quickly under the right circumstances, with the right stress and pressure. Unexpected news can turn a good day into a bad day and a happy person into a sad person, changing some of the nuances of identity. Your identity is not constructed in isolation of everything else, but instead relies upon the network of connections you forge between yourself and other people. It also exists in an even larger context of culture. Western culture (which incidentally seems to have the majority of Otherkin) has lots of images and stories centered around dragons, elves, and various other mythological creatures that Otherkin identify with. Recently anime has made an impact in Western Culture and suddenly we have mediakin as a result. Even therians aren’t exempt from this cultural impact. Switch on the TV and turn to the Animal Planet channel and you have an opportunity to get exposure to a variety of shows on different animals in their habitat. Or watch a cartoon show about Bugs Bunny or some other character and you see animals anthropomorphized.

Curiously Otherkin and therians seemed to have primarily shown up in the last fifteen to twenty years, which is around the time the internet first started being used, and people were exposed to even more forms of media distilling cultural information. Even in the rare case where someone identified as Otherkin before that time, there was still a lot of access to cultural material, such as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. My point is that culture has an impact on a person’s sense of identity. A desire to feel special about yourself for instance, can be affected by access to books on elves and dragons. The escapism such books offer, also offer a person a chance to feel special and validated because if they identify with those beings then they is perhaps not in such a horrible situation.

But what about memories? Many Otherkin claimed to have memories of past lives where they were clearly not human. I won’t rule out the possibility that I or anyone else had a past life as something other than human. This universe is too vast to assume that the only sentient inhabitants are humans. Who can really say what happens to a soul after the death of a physical body? But with that said, I’d also say that memories are tricky. For instance, think of your latest argument with someone. Try and remember it in detail and then ask the person what s/he remembers. Chances are some details are different. Part of this is simply perception, but there’s also a chance that you or the other person (or both!) have conveniently remembered something differently or that didn’t happen at all to justify who was right or wrong. Memories can be manufactured by the brain. We can remember events, in this life alone, that we never actually experienced. Memory is so changeable that it’s fairly unreliable as the sole means of determining identity.

We also have to consider the impact culture has on memory and on our imagination. It seems to me that the imagination is vividly tied into memory. The ability to remember a past event is similar to the ability to fantasize or daydream. When you include the impact of culture, in terms of shows viewed, or book read, then you have to consider how much the symbolism and imagery affects the memories you have. Memory alone shouldn’t be used to determine identity. It can act as an aide, providing contextual clues, but it should be carefully verified and tested. This can occur by meeting people you share these memories with, but even in that case, if you find that the memories of the group change frequently, or if people accept a memory immediately just because it sounds good, you might want to question whether they really share memories with you. Another way to verify these memories involves trying to learn a language. If you feel certain you spoke Japanese in a past life, you could test this by trying to learn Japanese in this life. It’s possible that the memories would aide you in relearning the language. Even when you can verify memories, remember that your past life is past. It can offer you the knowledge you accumulated in the past, but you’re living this life for a reason as well.

In humans, (I’ll talk more in a moment about this label) there is a biological need for certainty. Labels are a form of certainty. They provide us structure, definitions, and explanations for why we make the choices we make. Sometimes they even allow people to avoid taking responsibility for their choices. For instance, how many times have you seen a person at a workplace duck out of doing a task by saying that it doesn’t fit hir job description? Sometimes people use labels to explain behavior away: I’m a therian and I can’t help growling, howling, snarling at people when I’m mad, etc. Being therian could be a reason for those mannerisms, but it shouldn’t be as an excuse to justify behavior. In other words, if you’re growling at a person, don’t just say it’s your therian identity making you do it. Admit the reasons why you’re growling (i.e. I don’t like this person or they did something that caused me to react or I want to seem more legitimately animal).

Labels provide boundaries: “If I’m this then I’m not this”, or “If I can label and define this I can control it”. The boundaries are derived from naming something, and thus giving it presence, but also controlling the nature of that presence. When we label something we have control over it (supposedly). Control is another biological need, because people who don’t have control seek it out as a way of establishing a sense of structure and self in an uncertain universe. Being able to identify yourself as Otherkin is a way of controlling your internal and external environments. It establishes a sense of self that is different from others. It can also be a reaction to the people around you. If you’ve been picked on or harassed, it’s nice to escape that situation by identifying yourself as something different and unique. Then when those people pick on you, you can console yourself by thinking at least I’m this or that being, which these mere humans aren’t. If that seems rather melodramatic, remember that no one likes to be picked on and just about everyone wants to be special, especially in a cultural that encourages mediocrity. The choice to identify as someone else can be a reaction to situations that a person feels s/he can’t handle. By imagining that s/he is someone else, s/he can draw on the characteristics of that identity to give hir strength to deal with the situation. But there’s something that people forget about identity.

Identity is never a static phenomenon. People try to establish identity as a reality by relying on labels and definitions. These are usually used (incorrectly) to indicate essence, i.e. what something is. What people forget about labels and definitions is that they aren’t really describing what something is, but what someone feels something OUGHT to be. The choice to identify as Other, as opposed to human, carries with it values that you associate with what is Other, and therefore has an agenda to it. That agenda could be a need to feel special, especially if your personal circumstances are bad. It could be because you genuinely feel that there is something “different” about you as compared to everyone else, and by identifying as Other you validate that feeling. Regardless of what the agenda is, it’s important to acknowledge it to yourself when deciding that you identify as this or that kind of ‘kin. Questioning why you choose particular labels to describe yourself is a good way of understanding the conscious and/or subconscious choices you’ve made to come to those conclusions. People use words very easily, without considering the impact those words have on themselves and others. Recognizing that impact is important, because when you choose labels to describe and define yourself, you also define the world around you and your interactions with people. A lot of persecution that some Otherkin claim to experience could easily be avoided by being discrete and realizing that being Otherkin isn’t the entirety of their existence. They might even find, as I have, that it’s not that important in everyday life to be an elf, a dragon, or whatever else. Being Otherkin is just one facet, but there are other facets that are worth exploring and knowing as well, and not just for identity purposes. Do you feel a calling to do charity work? Are you as writer, a painter, etc.? What do those labels mean to you and how do they impact your life and others’? When you weigh being Otherkin against the other facets of your life you will quickly realize it contributes to the whole, but doesn’t and shouldn’t define the whole. Not everything that you are is a result of being Otherkin; we are a result of nurturing as well as innate nature.

When you choose a particular label to center your sense of identity on, you are identifying yourself for you and the world. This wouldn’t be a big deal, but when I see people who feel a need to proclaim their Otherkinness to the point that they use it to define themselves as a whole, it seems like they are limiting themselves. I don’t feel the need to tell everyone the various labels I associate with myself. Its part of me…I enjoy exploring it and meshing it into my life, and I don’t deny that, but I don’t need to proclaim it either. It’s enough that I know this is a part of me and when I need it I can draw on it. I keep my identity fluid because I can be so many other things than just Otherkin or a magician or whatever else I label myself as. Labels can define you, but they also restrict you, and can create dogmatism and elitism in your attitude and approach to other people. Choosing to be fluid about your labels can help you understand other people and be more adaptive to situations that arise in your life.

Don’t forget as well that you are biologically human, even if you do claim some nonhuman genetic material. You are also socialized as a human in a human world. Ignoring that aspect of yourself is flawed, because it ignores to some degree the reality of your situation. Being human has its own joys, tribulations, and special quality. It’s not something that can wholly define you, just as being Otherkin can’t, but it is an experience in its own right, to be savored and enjoyed while you have it. Ignoring it is missing out on the journey and meaning of being human.

So you’re an elf, or a dragon, or a therian. That’s nice, but what’s it doing for you? What will you do with it? How does this identity impact how you think of other parts of your life? How does it impact how you think and interact with people around you? What does being Otherkin help you do that you couldn’t do before? These are some questions that you can ask yourself as you explore your Otherkin identity. It’s not enough to just validate yourself by saying I’m this or that kind of being. While it’s nice to know that you identify as a dragon, if all you ever do is establish that you are a dragon, you haven’t really touched the surface of what that identity really means.

By finding meaning and purpose in your identity you can begin to define what you want to do with that identity. For instance, if you identify as angelkin and you feel compelled to act as a helper or healer to people that could be a result of identifying as angelkin and seeing angels as beings who help people. Remember that identity is backed up by action. If you feel called to serve people then go to a local soup kitchen or other volunteer service. Or if you identify as a therian get involved in environmental activism involving your phenotype’s species, or at the least promote environmental awareness in people around you. Let your identity be defined by more than just a feeling that you’re different. While feeling special is nice, doing nothing but feeling special helps neither yourself, nor anyone else or the world that you currently live in. Let your actions speak to and of that identity and let those actions involve more than just posturing about what kind of Otherkin you are.

Identifying Your Otherkin Species: Ten Tips for the Terminally Tantalised

Feel like you’re non-human, but having a hard time putting the "kin" in Otherkin? Exhaust these avenues.

1. Rule out Earthly associations and totems.

Something that many often overlook is that there’s no reason you can’t be Otherkin and still have a totem animal, or a race you admire or are particularly fond of. Any species can have a connection to another species without being that species – it might suggest trade links or treaties/peace pacts in your old world, maybe you had a lover of that race or admired one from afar, maybe you have an astral protector or companion of that species….. or maybe you just, yanno, like them. It’s not unheard of.

By “Earthly associations” I mean sources of thoughts and images that are buried in your semi-subconscious. Are you perhaps attracted to a certain race or creature because of that movie you saw when you were 7, that pet or cuddly toy you owned, or all that time you spent wandering in the forests tracking rabbits? If you can eliminate such sources, you’ll have a much clearer view of the things that you’re drawn to that can’t be explained by your Earthly life.

2. Repeated occurrences of images in your life or ideas in your thinking suggest a strong connection.

Are you automatically drawn to, or have to own, something that represents a particular species (models, t-shirts, books, movies etc.)? Do you repeatedly draw images of that creature or write about it? Do you repeatedly want to be that creature or imagine what it would be like to be it? Did you ever express a desire as a child to be a particular creature, or say you weren’t human? (As a child I constantly changed the name I wanted to go by because nothing fit me, saw humans as “them”, and remember telling my family that I liked “doggies, not dollies” – my way of saying I wanted to have plush animal toys rather than dolls and other things that looked human). All of these can be strong pointers to your nature.

3. Research existing Otherkin cultures and communities.

Go into various communities and see if they “fit”. You don’t have to post; just look around and get a feel for it. Are these people like you? Lamers, trolls and obvious fakers aside, do you want to be with them? For dragons, try Draconic or the newsgroup alt.fan.dragons (if your ISP doesn’t carry it, access it via Google Groups). Look up specific groups and cultures that have bonded together online and documented their pre-Earthly history – elenari.net houses one. If the site has a dictionary of remembered words, see if any of them feel familiar. Words are powerful, and if they don’t trigger you, you’re probably not of this particular subrace.

4. Don’t be put off by existing mythology that conflicts with your feelings.

You can be an elf without fitting the Tolkien stereotype or without being Elenari, and you can be a dragon without having scales. Just because you were passed over by the myths or you don’t fit into an existing groups that your species resembles doesn’t mean your experiences and instincts aren’t real – there are many entities on many worlds that can be named or associated with ideas of “elf”, “fae” or “dragon”.

5. How does it feel, this form of yours?

Reach out (or in) to it and try and get a grasp on what it feels like, both to possess this form and to touch it. Is your hearing be sharper (or duller), your sense of smell more (or less) acute, your sense of taste more (or less) sensitive? Is your eyesight altered? Are your eyes differently shaped, picking up colours in different ways (or not picking them up at all)? Do you feel you should you have senses beyond the scope of normal humans, such as perceiving infrared or ultraviolet? Any kind of “sixth sense” or instinct? How does it feel to move in this body? Cumbersome yet strong? Agile and wiry? Effortless? Should you have more limbs than you currently do, or have limbs at all? Does the fact of being contained within any physical form itself feel uncomfortable and restricting, or does the size of it feel too small or too large? Now try touching from the outside. Does your outer form have a texture? Fur, feather, skin, hide, scales? Rough or smooth, sensitive or tough, ethereal? If you can’t feel anything specific, don’t worry. Maybe you just don’t sense your form this way. At least give it a go before moving onto other steps, though. You may be surprised at what you feel.

Kerowyn Silverdrake describes a similar method that you may find useful.

Also, try to recall any “phantom” sensations you’ve had, no matter how small. Wings and tails are well-documented, but think about other body parts. Do you occasionally forget that your ears aren’t actually on the top of your head, or feel a twitching sensation there? What about phantom feet (strange as it sounds) – feet that should be smaller, larger, hairier, or differently shaped? A phantom face, perhaps – a muzzle or differently-shaped bone structure, smaller or larger teeth, a differently-set jaw, a flatter or rounder head? Again, try and rule out Earthly stimuli such as a bad back (for example, from hunching over your computer checking Otherkin forums), but pay specific attention to sensations that occur frequently or are particularly strong. And again, don’t worry if you don’t have them at all. Many people don’t get phantoms, even if their physical form is very incongruous with their spiritual form.

6. For the love of the Goddess, read.

Reading is one of the best ways to discover your identity. And I don’t just mean online, I mean real, physical, published books. Go to the library and browse until you find something, anything that interests you – doesn’t matter whether it directly seems to relate to Otherkin or not. If you’ve narrowed it down to a few species, do some reading that involves them – search Google for lists of books involving that creature or themes of people becoming them or claiming to be them, whether fact or fiction (for animal or pseudoanimal ‘Kin, searching on “werewolf”, “werecat” etc. will bring up some interesting stuff). Grab the biggest, most comprehensive encyclopedia of mythology you can find, sit down and read it cover to cover, make notes of everything you find interesting or that triggers a reaction in you in some way.

Failing that, even a frickin’ D&D Monster Manual or Guide To The Creatures Of The Eleventy-Fourth Astral Chaos WeyrPlane is better than nothing, as a tool for deciding what images do or don’t “feel” right. You don’t have to read typical Tolkienesque/Pernese fantasy if you don’t feel drawn to it. Read dark or alternative fantasy fiction if it appeals, like Neil Gaiman’s works (The Sandman is a particular favourite that takes an interesting and often deeply inspiring twist on many issues of spirituality, the gods and the universe). While it doesn’t have that many non-human images, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is a good non-traditional fantasy that may spur some images. Read about the realm of Faerie if fae images appeal to you – again, Neil Gaiman gives us a thoroughly delightful, yet suitably adult, fairytale on this subject by the name of Stardust (it’s the book that finally triggered my own true Awakening, so don’t pass it up).

Don’t be afraid to spend time in the children’s section of the bookstore. Many enchanting little tales and images are offered only to the young, on the principle that adult lives must be devoid of these fantasies and reduced to a 256-colour palette of greys. “How To Be A….”-type books can be of particular interest to Otherkin. While the kits and whimsical images associated with playing fae or mermaid may prove too mainstream and insubstantial for your tastes, even the sappiest, fluffiest effort can spark your mind if it inspires you to criticize what it is about this portrayal that doesn’t fit. It can also start you off in an attempt to draft out ideas of your own “fantasy” culture or race (see #8 below); as a child, I owned a particularly fascinating book entitled “The Secret Lives of the Gnomes” which spurred me on quite a bit in my own world- and race-building endeavours. Bombarding yourself with images can lead to a “what’s me and what’s not?” overload sometimes, where a lot of things could fit but you’re not sure what belongs; see #10 if you’re having trouble with this. If reading doesn’t help, watch movies or even anime with themes involving non-human races. Good ones with serious plots and well-developed characters are “Haibane Renmei” (an earthbound pseudo-angelic race) and “Princess Mononoke” (forest creatures and spirits).

7. Don’t be afraid of identifying with a race that exists in fiction.

This is kind of the flip-side of #4. Healthy skepticism is a vital tool in sifting the spiritual wheat from the chaff when it comes to your true form, but don’t dismiss possibilities from fiction just on the basis of their being “fictional”. Otakukin get a bad reputation for being “souls of cart00n characters in human bodies omg!!11 wtf lol”, and I’ve heard self-proclaimed Angels of the Almighty proclaim stiffly to an unfortunate newcomer that “there’s no such thing as a hobbit”, but you shouldn’t be afraid to look outside “traditional” or mythological/fantasy definitions if they don’t feel right. Why should modern fictions have any less connection to the spiritual than the ancient myths? We take legends of elves and dragons as if they were literal accounts, yet there’s a possibility that they were no more or less fiction than a dimestore comic-book. If it’s in the latter that an Otherkin finds a truth that sings to them and brings them happiness, what place is it of ours to deny it? It’s kind of like the Otherkin variant of Dead Poets’ syndrome – the idea that only time makes fiction into literature (or myth), and by virtue of its age this literature (or myth) possesses some greater significance than its modern-day equivalent. This is stuff and nonsense, of course. If something has relevance and truth, age does not increase that relevance and truth, only gauge whether it has enough to stand the test of time.

8. Writing (or drawing) for yourself can be a vital tool.

It doesn’t have to be a novel. It doesn’t have to be based on anything you remember (in fact, if you do have memories, it’s better to try to create something independent of them – you may find your creation returns on its own to the concepts and images you already remember). It doesn’t even have to be coherent. Create a culture, a race, a species. Don’t think about it, just write down the first images and ideas that occur. Consider in what kind of world, in what kind of climate and dwellings these beings live. Think about their language, their games, and the food they eat. If you can, look back at childhood doodles and writings, and see if anything recurs. Afterwards, if you like, look at what you’ve created and try Kerowyn’s method from #5 with this race in mind.

9. If all else fails, ask friends.

Ask friends, family and people around you what kind of traits you have, what you’d be if you were a fantasy creature or an animal. Do you have any particular traits or mannerisms that suggest a certain being? What do they see or feel when they look in into your eyes – a trickster and troublemaker, a sparkling and effervescent soul, a dark soul, a primal soul, a childlike soul, a very old soul? Unless your friends already know about your Otherkin searching, though, it’s probably best not to ask too many questions of the same friend – they may start to look at you funny. This also isn’t something to try first off, because others’ judgements may sway you, or even be wholly inaccurate (particularly if they’re not spiritual people). Don’t take what others tell you too literally. Only you can know if you are or aren’t something. If you find yourself reeling at being told you’re something you’re not, or that you aren’t something you feel you are, trust your instincts. (I’ve been defined by various friends as a tiger, cottontail rabbit, horse, deer, weasel-like thing, “a wise bird that isn’t an owl”, canary, and puma. My soul was clearly having an identity crisis that week.)

10. Finally, be honest with yourself and true to yourself.

Many people find that only the past lives and incarnations relevant to them in this life bubble up to the surface. After all, if you believe in reincarnation, then statistically most people have probably reincarnated, but comparatively few remember it, and that’s likely to be because they don’t need to. Some people, however, even after all this sifting and self-validating, still find that several different ideas or impressions remain. You may have been all these things in the past, or they may just be things that you incidentally recall. The question is, which of them are relevant to you now? Of which of them can you say, with conviction, “I am” or “I feel like I am”? I have quite strong connections to draconity, and these may reflect the fact that, possibly, I was a dragon once. I even believed it myself for some time, but ultimately, draconity didn’t “fit” me. I didn’t “feel” like a dragon. When I frequented draconic communities, I felt like an outsider. I didn’t have the impulses and sensations that dragons should have. I simply don’t know, or at best have forgotten, what it’s like to be a winged pseudoreptilian being. Eventually I decided that “dragon”, the label, wasn’t for me. It’s something I connect to, it’s something that’s like me. It’s not who I am, and so I let it go.

The process of self-discovery means you have to be prepared and unafraid to let labels go. Most people don’t have the courage of their convictions right from the bat, but jump into this label and that description because they feel some vague connection to it. “Trying on” different labels and spiritual identities is all part of the Awakening process for many people, but you have to be unafraid and unashamed to say, when it turns out something isn’t right for you, “Okay, that didn’t work. I tried, but it wasn’t me. Let’s try again.” Don’t cling to old, ill-fitting labels because you’re ashamed of seeming a turncoat or weak in your beliefs. It’s better to be briefly seen as weak and have a chance at gaining something you can truly, strongly believe in, than to cling to a skin that will never truly be your own. Eventually, you’ll find something that works for you. The process will be easier if you don’t go around saying “I AM!” straightaway, but rather say “I might be…” or “I think…”, even though the temptation to shout “Hallelujah!” when you think you’ve found something that might fit can be overwhelming.

Above all, don’t take life too seriously. Find time to live, to appreciate, to enjoy, to play, to contemplate and to celebrate. Knowing what you are won’t help one iota if the rest of your life goes to Hades in a handbasket in the meantime. Be yourself, regardless of what species your self may be. Relax, and have fun. The more your identity as a being, irrespective of species, is strengthened and kept healthy, the easier it’ll be for the rest to fall into place.

Sprite Rêvenchatte
International Cat of Mystery, Cake and Bunnyslippers

How Do I Know if I am Dragon

This is a challenge for me. I do not consider myself much of a writer. I am dragon. How is that for a great start? How does it feel? Awkward sometimes. It is a feeling of connectedness with the flows. The flows are energy fields that surround everything. For example, the Force in Star Wars. I can feel the form of a great serpent – in fact there are even times I can see it. I find my actions reflect that of having greater size or bulk. When I “put on the dragon” (a term I use for being draconic) I feel very old. Not as in years, but in time. My head will swing around on a long neck as I turn to look at something. It will feel very large and long. My eyes will feel as though the bridge of my nose has grown and I am looking down the length of it to see. My chest expands and the lungs are audible and loud in my ears. There have been a few times I have grumbled and the chest rumbled, vibrating right up to my ears.

There are many varieties of dragons. Books are filled with them. Unfortunately there are no books on becoming one of them, but for me it is a knowing inside. I do not have two wings, four legs and a tail, but there are times I can feel them. I mean really feel them. The body is human, yet just beneath the surface I can feel parts that shouldn’t be there. It is a very real and scary feeling when the dragon tries to take form and my car suddenly starts getting tighter and smaller. The chest feels larger and deeper, the collar bones grow outward well past shoulders that are no longer there. It becomes a great hollow space in my chest and the lungs sound so very loud in my ears. It is such a realistic experience that the body aches as it tries to conform. The bones feel as if they will spring forth while the body explodes from the effort. My back literally disappears in my mind’s eye. I am not sure yet why this is so. I feel great wings that make the shoulder blades burn and itch. During these times I cannot lie on my back at all. I get uncomfortable sitting, (Tails are not made for sitting upon.) so I wander around until things settle down again.

I cannot tell you what sort of dragon I am in breed (for lack of a better term) as I am looking from the inside out most of the time. A good friend once drew me as he saw the dragon. The drawing is a wonderful gift that I cherish. I am a firedragon. Does it mean I like fire? I suppose it must, although I do not do long periods in the sun very well. This body is fair complected and burns easily. I don’t take the heat well because I have become nocturnal after many years of working nights. I love being around water. I find it invigorating unless I become waterlogged. A water logged firedragon is not a happy camper. I digress – so back to being the dragon. My healing factor has increased, and it is a good thing since this body is not as young as it used to be. My night vision is good unless my eyes have a flashlight pointed at them.

Well, on to other things. I am tempermental (just ask anyone). I am a little stranger than most other dragons as I prefer my meat well done. (Although I do recall one or two veggie dragons, too.) I don’t like confinement. I start to feel too large for the room and start wishing for folks to stop breathing. There are many other things about me, but I don’t think they are particulary dragonish as much as just otherkin-ness. I am protective of my friends and take it personally when they are hurt. I will jump in front of anyone that cannot defend themselves sometimes without thinking. I believe in honor, but I have my own code of ethics that I follow. I have a long memory. These could be about anyone not just being dragon.

The bottom line is only you know what you are..It is a feeling a knowing, something worth exploring until you know for sure. I can tell you that I see you as an ant but if you do not feel it then what I say matters little. Otherkin go through many changes as they awaken, so the forms may change as they explore the possiblities. The lucky ones know who they are and even have memories while the rest of us have to remember a piece at a time. These are only my experiences. Nothing is set in stone.

Here and Now

In terms of the online otherkin community I am pretty old. I was around ten years ago when R’ykandar posted to alt.pagan about the Elfinkind Digest, the very first and for a long time, the only mailing list for elves and associated people. I remember when the term “otherkin” was coined, because it was obvious that there were more than just elfkin around. I state this for context, not to claim any sort of seniority.

This is a rant. I mean a real rant. As in I’m actually seriously annoyed here, not just poking around with a potentially controversial thought to see where it goes and what I can get out of it.

“We are all in human bodies now”
I have heard that, or a variation of it, one too many times recently. From people who are claiming to be otherkin. Hearing it from humans who don’t understand I can deal with. Hearing it from people who supposedly know better over and over again is getting to me. There are times I have to restrain myself from yelling at people. Sometimes I don’t succeed in doing so.

What part of the word Otherkin did you not understand?!?

 Other (adj):      Different from that or those implied or specified.      Of a different character or quality kin:      One's relatives; family; kinfolk.      A kinsman or kinswoman.

In other words, being related to that which is different from human. Note that “kin” refers to blood relationship (and occasionally adopted members).

Here. Now. Not a millenia ago. Not in a galaxy far, far away. Here. Now.

Yes, I’m serious. Yes, I really mean that. Yes, I am quite aware that it is near impossible to prove, that it sounds insane and I really don’t expect most people to believe me.

I don’t object particularly to the use of the term otherkin by reincarnationals, if your past lives sing so strongly to you here and now that it has a noticeable effect on you, fine. However, if you are refering to yourself using the term, the least you can do is stop telling me, and those like me, that I don’t exist.

I’ve seen something similar with branches on the neo-pagan community, and I don’t know if it’s related. The yearning for acceptance both inside and outside the community becomes so strong that people start to whitewash their beliefs, to the point that they believe it themselves, or worse, teach it to the next generation.

Thus you get book wiccan’s who are almost indistinguishable from christians except for the name they give their deity. You get neopagans who claim to worship nature, but get upset when the hawk tears the rabbit apart, piece by bloody piece, whilst it’s still twitching. You get dilution and obliteration of beliefs to make them more acceptable to the mainstream.

It drives me nuts.

There is a difference between adapting to your environment and gutting yourself for the sake of acceptance.

I am not going to fit in, be accepted, be understood, by this society. By the humans around me. I am Other, literally. I belong here just as much as they do, but I am not them.

I do not have problems with humans*. I live in a mostly human world. I hold down a decent job. I pay my rent, feed the cat, have friends and a life of my own. However it is very very obvious that I am not one of them. I have human friends who are intelligent, creative, compassionate and understand their effects on the world around them. They are good people, but at times very alien to me.

(*I have problems with idiots, most of the idiots I know are human because most of the people I know are human. I try not to confuse the two).

If you are human, great, wonderful. If you are human with a past life as an elf, good for you. I am not. I am a human-elven crossbreed. Here. Now.

Deal with it.

From the Heart Out

Ed: Every so often when talking about becoming aware, someone expresses the opinion that things have become, in some ways, too easy for newcomers to the otherkin scene. At which point someone asks, why should they be hard, what’s wrong with helping others…

It’s not so much that I think things have to be hard. On the contrary, I don’t think they have to be hard at all. What I do think is that some things have to be done for oneself, that they cannot possibly have the same degree of meaning for you if you allow someone else to do them for you.

When I was going through my Awakening, I was the only person I knew who was Sidhe. I had two choices: Decide I was nuts, or reach out. So I reached out, and while I didn’t find anyone “like me”, I found people in the pagan community who were willing to listen and be supportive of my search for my own answers.

They did not, however, blindly accept me without question simply because I said so. They challenged me to think about what I felt, to become aware, to experience myself. They asked me hard questions: Why do you think you are Sidhe? What makes you believe you are something other than human in spirit, and not just using it as an excuse to feel superior?

Why indeed. Naturally I threw the kind of little hissy tempertantrums that many are so very familiar with these days – how dare you question my beliefs, you’re so insensitive, I’m trying to cope with what I am and you just want to tear me down, my truth is my truth for me, yada yada. And then one day one of my friends said to me, “Look, asshole, I’m not trying to tell you I don’t believe. I’m trying to make you think about why you believe, because if you are what you believe you are then you have a whole new perspective to work with and don’t you think you’ll work with it better if you understand it from the inside out?”


Yeah. That changed my perspective radically. I quit trying to be so damned defensive and instead tried to understand it from the heart out instead of from the skin in. Instead of trying to remember who I was, I tried being who I was – and found that remembering came naturally with that. Instead of trying to fit myself into a label that “defined” what I was, I explored what I was and didn’t worry about the labels – and found that there was a resonance with one thing in particular (Sidhe) and a couple of other things more peripherally. That led me to explore the mythologies. But at the same time, the mythologies didn’t define me because the hard questions my friends taught me to ask myself had already helped me define myself. What the mythologies did was enrich the experience and give me a cultural perspective.

I know that not everyone feels the “cultural perspective” thing is relevant or important. And it may not be for some people but it is for me to a degree that makes it hard for me to understand how the cultural perspective thing can be unimportant to someone – because it gives me some overall context for understanding the very way I think and react. Speaking here of incarnate otherkin rather than bloodline otherkin – I tend to believe that the soul has no “race”, and that by this token we are either all “other”, or none of us are. I don’t think there are very many souls who have only incarnated as a single race every time. What I believe sets those of us who identify as “other” off from those who don’t is not that we were once in another lifetime something other than human, but rather that the lifetime(s) we spent as other races so strongly impressed us at the soul level that even with the passage of cycles we still identify with those races more than we do the one we were culturally born into.

I find it difficult to understand how someone can claim to know they are a thing without any effort made to understand themselves from the heart out. If you look at a list of “you may be otherkin if…” and you try to match up what you are to what is on that list, you are trying to understand yourself from the skin in. This is useful only to an extent – it could possibly be a reasonable starting point. But if you want to understand who you are – not who your race is, not who your grandfather is – but who you are regardless of race or origin – you need to understand from the heart out. When you understand who you are from the heart out then the challenges to what you believe don’t threaten you. They become food for thought. And opportunities to understand yourself even better. And then it’s not “hard”, because it’s fresh and fascinating and enjoyable.

I believe the drive to understand oneself is an integral part of being aware of one’s Otherness. One of the things that seems to spark Awakening is the realization that one is not like others, and the desire to understand why. I have run across a few who call themselves Other who say they feel no need to understand ThemSelves, but I question if they are truly feeling the pull of Otherness or simply adopting the cloak because it’s shiny and pretty. How can you even wonder if your soul is Other without a drive to understand what that Otherness is? How can you claim a thing when you do not even want to know what that thing truly is? Being Other is not like being Goth, it’s Not Like you can just decide tomorrow you don’t want to wear this or that color all the time and presto, you aren’ t Other anymore. If that is all being Other is to you, then you aren’t Other. And so when someone comes on a list and says, “I think I’m (fill in the blank), what do you think?” I say to them, “Why do you think that? What makes you believe this? Why do you define yourself as this as opposed to human?” And when I am met with “how dare you question my reality?”, my response is, “I dare because I’m not trying to tell you I *don’t* believe, I’m trying to challenge you to understand why you believe.” So that you can learn who you are from the heart out. Every Otherkin I have met who truly *scans* Otherkin has such a burning hunger to understand why they feel and believe they way they do. That you can be so different and not burn to know why escapes me.

When someone else comes along and says, “naughty, naughty bad Tiernan being so mean and nasty to the poor widdle newbie – here, widdle newbie, you have X color eyes and phantom wings and Y memories, ergo you must be Z, wasn’t that easy?” I wonder how much of that reaction is a true desire to help, and how much is a desire to control, to be thought of admiringly, to be looked up to as a mentor type. It’s like Impressing hatchlings – you can convince yourself you’re very powerful if you have a whole crop of ‘kin who think and believe and perceive exactly the way you do – but how valuable is that experience going to be if someone has spoonfed it to you? And then it’s “go here to this website, go there to that website”. Websites are nice starting points but a true mentor doesn’t ment by pointing someone at a website and saying “go read this list and come back and tell me which one you think applies to you” – that’s goddamn lazy and if you’re too lazy to take the time to listen to what someone says, you have no business trying to mentor them. A true mentor says, “Tell me what you think. Tell me why you think that. Tell me where you heard that….”

A true mentor learns as much as sie teaches, and uses the tools appropriately. You cannot cannot cannot tell someone else what they are – if you do, you are lying to them. Oh, you may be correct – but you are still lying to them because your intent is false. If someone had told me I was Sidhe before I Understood it from the heart out, how much would it have meant? Would I have grown? Would I have learned? No, because I wouldn’t have done the footwork to try and understand why I felt/thought/experienced the way I did. I wouldn’t have come to Understand the culture that so impressed my soul that it continues to resonate thousands of years later, above and beyond any other I lived in. From the heart out.

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