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?