Hearth welcome

A hearth for those of mythic heart
Fae-born, Elf-souled, from Otherworld,
Of dragons’ power, angels’ grace,
Chimaeric beasts of eld,
Shifting folk of fur and tail,
Spirits of the living Green,
Of shadows or celestial light,
Tribe of Danu, Aes Sidhe–

A hearth:
For those who walk ‘midst humankind
Oft times unseen, sometimes ill used,
Who know they are of Other kind;
And for such friends as they may choose–

A hearth:
Where may enchanted mead be drunk
In sparkling light of Under-Hill
And peace beneath the stars be found
For those who enter with good will.

Shine forth the ancient Dreaming of the Earth!
Be lit the hearth!

A Simple Introduction to Otherkin and Therianthropes

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

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

 

What are otherkin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are therianthropes?

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

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

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

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

Do they have a mental illness?

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

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

In short

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

 

ENDNOTES

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

A Revised Otherkin FAQ

Originally posted on Dreamhart.org.

Why This Document?

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

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

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

What Are Otherkin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do I know if I’m Otherkin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where do I find other Otherkin?

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

Mailing Lists

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

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

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

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

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

Forums

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

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

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

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

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

A more comprehensive list can be found here.

Community Journals

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

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

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

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

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

A more comprehensive list can be found here.

IRC Channels

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

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

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

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

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

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

A more comprehensive list can be found here.

Non-IRC Chats

GratuitousNonhumanty: DeviantArt otherkin group with a reasonably active chat.

Kinmunity: Web-based chatroom for the Kinmunity website.

Otherkin-Deviants: DeviantArt otherkin group with chat.

A more comprehensive list can be found here.

Meetups

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

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

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

Gathers

A Gathering Echo: Annual Texas Based Gather in September.

Summer Gateways: Annual Texas Based Gather in May.

A more comprehensive listing may be found here.

Face to Face

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

Any advice for someone new to the community?

Use discretion when discussing your Otherness.

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

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

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

You’re still allowed to apply critical thinking.

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

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

Don’t share everything you know about yourself.

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

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

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

Don’t forget about safety.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t let it go to your head.

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

It’s worth it.

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

Additional Resources

Community History

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

A History of Multiples & Otherkin Together

A History of Plantkin In the Otherkin Community

The Elf Queen’s Daughters and the Silver Elves

Foundation’s Edge: The History of the Online Werecommunity

Unofficial Alt.Horror.Werewolves Archive

A History of the Fictionkin Community

A History of the Therian Community – 1993

A History of the Therian Community – 1994

A History of the Therian Community – 1995

A History of the Therian Community – 1996

A History of the Therian Community – 1997

A History of the Therian Community – 1998

A History of the Therian Community – 1999

A History of the Therian Community – 2000

A History of the Draconic Community – 1993 to 2000

A History of the Draconic Community – 2001 – present

A History of the Unicorn Community

The Real Vampire Community’s Early Days

The Online Vampire Community Takes Off

The “Psivamp Revolution” and Its Aftermath

The Beginning To The Present Time (Vampire Community)

Terminology

The Otherkin Lexicon

Jargon on AnOtherWiki

FAQs

General Otherkin

An FAQ on Otherkin for the Perplexed Observer

A Simple Introduction to Otherkin and Therianthropes

Otherkin FAQ v 4.0.1

Otherkin and Awakening FAQ v 3.0 Beta

Feathertail’s Otherkin FAQ

So… You’re Awake?

Dragonkin

Draconity FAQ

Draconic FAQ

Elfkin

Elenari FAQ

Otherkin Hosts/Multiples

Otherkin Multiple FAQ Beta

Positively Plural FAQ version 1.1

Therians

Alt.Horror.Werewolves FAQ

Therianthropy FAQ

Contherianthropy FAQ

Vampires

Sphynxcat’s Real Vampire FAQs

Further Reading

The Otherkin Bibliography

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

Real Vampire Community Resource & Link Directory

Resource Sites

Dreamhart.org

AnOtherWiki

Otherkin.net

Starlight Infinities

Sanguinarius.org

SphynxCat’s Real Vampires Support Page

Werelist.net

Draconic.com

Draconity.org

Questions

Mommy,
did you hide my wings?
can I have them back?
so I can fly up high.
why can’t I reach the sky?
Daddy,
why are my paws not grey?
can’t we please go hunting today?
my hands can’t handle this.
they won’t obey
Grandpa
when you were little,
did the dragons soar?
did they whirl and dive?
why don’t they come anymore?
Grandma,
have you ever seen a faerie?
or maybe a nymph in the rain?
Grandma,
I want to see my old friends again.

Watch-fires

There is no solace on Earth for us, for such as we
Who seek a hidden city we may never come to see
Only the moon, the stars, the wind and the rain
The watch-fires under the universe, then the open road again

For where in ages past our hearts and souls did dwell
In secret glades of which no human tongue can tell
And now our souls untethered, upon that lonely road we roam
To seek with yearning in us, for that place we once called home

What tears may fall like rivers swift unto the sea do flow
What sorrows deep as ocean tides that only we may know
What hidden longing calls us from where the watch-fires burn
To journey on in hope of finding that for which we yearn

And yet through dreams from time to time, a glimpse beyond the veil
Or still in waking, a memory of some long forgotten tale
Stirs in us the faintest glow of hope within the heart
That Home, and we, may not be so many miles apart

And there shall come a fateful day, for all we gathered here.
When we may come to find again all that which we hold dear.
Where once again the watch-fires burn, and we no longer roam
And hand in hand, together we shall at last come home.

Where Have They Gone?

Where have all the faeries gone?
This I cannot say
But the woods are empty now
Where once they used to play
When I walk among the trees
I listen for their song
But the glades are silent now
Where have they all gone?

Where have all the dragons gone?
This I do not know
But their caves are empty now
Where did the dragons go?
When I walk among the hills
I look into the sky
But I see no dragons there
Where only birds now fly.

Where are all the unicorns?
Please tell me where they hid
Why did they run away from us?
Was it something that we did?
And tell me too, what of the elves
So magickal and fair?
Trooped away under their hills
Or vanished in the air?

Do not fear, my little one
Those unicorns and elves
And faeries bright and dragons brave
They have not hid themselves
They’re walking still among us
If you have eyes to see
In every town and country
That’s where those fair folk be

You see them everywhere you look
In every school and street
In every park and place of work
Among the folk you meet
If you look closely at me
You’ll see that I’m one too
And listen to your inner voice
My child, for so are you.

You might be otherkin if…

A lot of these might also apply to anyone [kin or otherwise] of a general magical or pagan persuasion as well. YMMV. Look to the *s for Eshari’s humble opinion of which “count” more, as they’re less explicable by other things.

A. Physical Characteristics and Remnants of Former Bodies/Lives

  1. * You feel a lot older than your grandmother and cannot explain why. *
  2. * You miss a place, yet cannot explain where it is. *
  3. You find it very frustrating that you can’t breathe under water or fly.
  4. * You have “phantom” body parts that you can feel move, and that sometimes become really annoying with clothes (fur, wings, claws…). *
  5. You modify (or wear special) clothing or sit/stand/walk differently to accomodate physical characteristics your waking body doesn’t have – or you don’t even realize you’re making such accomodations until someone else points out that you are.
  6. * From time to time you have a REALLY bad night’s sleep because you slept on your wings wrong. *
  7. Your doctor can’t figure out how you damaged your back to start with, but you don’t really want to tell hir it’s a battle injury from a previous life.
  8. You have the occasional really annoying itch on your back, right where your wings would be at.
  9. * Transsexuals often want sex-change operations. You want SPECIES-change operations. *
  10. You are always the first one to hear something in the distance (ie: approaching car, person, storm…).
  11. * You have either more allergies than normal folks, possibly including odd ones like metals (iron and alloys, silver, gold, copper); stones (hematite, malachite, pyrite); certain herbs; or other substances not commonly considered allergenic, or you have a dragon’s constitution and have less allergies than normal folks, and are not prone to disease (you never had the flu, etc.). *
  12. You have naturally dilated pupils, or see very well in the dark.
  13. You have bright green or violet eyes, or eyes with multiple colours in them, or that change color.
  14. * Some part of your body changes shape and/or color. *
  15. You look radically different from day to day.
  16. * The “you” you see in the mirror and the physical shell experienced by other people are entirely different entities. *
  17. You resent being forced to pick a sex, and earnestly wish you were both or neither.
  18. You find yourself unable to develop an addiction – after a certain point, certain substances stop affecting you entirely. This is most bothersome when it’s much-needed prescription medication.

 

B. Personality Characteristics, Perceptions and Habits

  1. * You don’t consider yourself really human. *
  2. Your creativity (of whatever persuasion) consumes you to the point of eccentricity.
  3. You know, see, and feel a deeper depth of existence than the visible world around us.
  4. * The woods, glens, etc. speak to you and call you to come join them. *
  5. You have a deeper understanding and viewpoint of the cycle of life and death than many people do.
  6. * Most people find their inner children. You found your inner puppy or hatchling. *
  7. You remember your dreams with more detail, clarity and relevance than your waking moments.
  8. * Dance, music, art, beauty are not luxuries, peripheral experiences or mere entertainment, but physical needs. *
  9. Linear thought is a problem, and linear time an even greater one.
  10. * The books that speak the greatest Truths to you are found in the Fantasy/SF section. *
  11. * Your best friends are nymphs, pixies, and fairies. *
  12. You think trees or holes in the ground are a great places to live.
  13. * You catch yourself referring to David Bowie as “cousin.” *
  14. You find it hard to explain to mundanes that there really IS a dragon sitting on your pencil case and she’s been talking to you all through math and English.
  15. You can sleep on the floor, ground or a wood bed, but not a metal frame bed.
  16. You collect little ‘oddities’ that don’t match anything else you own. Going to an antique store is like going to an adoption agency. You actually own more knick-knacks and stuff than the antique store down the street.
  17. * No religion seems to fit you, no matter which one you try. *
  18. You are the definition of “weird”.
  19. You love to hide in natural places when emotionally or otherwise upset.
  20. * You can actually speak Tolkien Elvish, and it feels like your mother tongue. *
  21. * You don’t match your “real” age in looks, thoughts, words, wisdom, etc. *
  22. The weather and your moods have more than a coincidental link.
  23. You write such good stories cause they aren’t stories… it’s all real.
  24. You feel you’d have done much better a few hundred years back. Living History not only describes your favorite activity, it describes you.
  25. You have an obesession with honor most people just don’t understand.
  26. You’ve been in or almost caused a car accident because you were distracted by the sunset, sunrise, rainbow, moon, stars, lightning, and/or interesting cloud formations.
  27. You bore very easily.
  28. You get downright pissed when people harm animals or plants or destroy the environment.
  29. As a child you always knew where to find the berries in the woods.
  30. You are fascinated with language, linguistics, theology, anthropology, slang, subculture and the madness of crowds.
  31. Weddings make you depressed and funerals elate you.
  32. You see through spiritual charlatans like they were made of glass.
  33. Your personality changes outright depending on the clothing you wear. That includes a mixed personality if you mix two kinds of clothing.
  34. * You always go for things in silver rather than gold, bronze, etc. *

 

C. Interactions With the “Mundanes”

  1. * Human language just isn’t enough to FULLY convey what you are trying to say. You feel telepathy, empathy, and visual sendings make up most of your languge and you often tend to use these more than spoken words, much to the dismay of those around you. *
  2. Your friends and family have always thought of you as “different”.
  3. You never quite see things from the same point of view as your mundane friends.
  4. Your mundane friends never quite get your sense of humor.
  5. Mundanes think you are eccentric, very intelligent or crazy, but you think that you are normal and they are the ones who are odd.
  6. * You have actually answered elf, dragon, fae, pixie, werewolf, etc. under the “Race” section of surveys or when asked by telemarketers. *
  7. You are frequently offered “Santa’s Helper” jobs at Christmas without an interview.
  8. Your friend’s cat, who hates EVERYONE including your friend, loves you.
  9. People either love you or hate you and you cannot figure out why.
  10. Animals and trees are better friends to you than most mundanes.
  11. * You feel horrible if you have to act human, and weird things happen to you when you try. *
  12. * When you haven’t slept for a few nights running, haven’t eaten, don’t feel pain, etc., the standard explanation from your friends is “but we all know you’re not human…”
    …before you’ve even told them what you really are. *
  13. You attract the strangest people. They seem to congregate around you as if attracted by some pheremone only they can perceive.
  14. You almost never play a human character in role-playing games. (Bonus points if you refuse to play a human in the SCA, but rather play a vampire, elf or faerie.)
  15. People’s professed personalities and beliefs cause you to break out in peals of laughter at socially inappropriate times.
  16. People often ask you if you are on drugs.
  17. * Hospitals, most schools, government buildings, and large, impersonal corporations either depress you to the point of tears or trigger panic attacks. *
  18. * Small children come up to you and hug you for no apparent reason. *

 

D. Magic, Psi and Strange Occurrences

  1. You think nothing of adjusting your energy to a Peace signature to calm down someone who’s agitated. (Fun with glamour, folks!)
  2. When you don’t want to be noticed, you can be wearing three-inch spikes and a mohawk, and people walk past you, oblivious.
  3. Your dreams bleed over into mundane reality.
  4. * You catch glimpses of an alternate reality superimposed or side-by-side with mundane reality. When you’re half asleep and half awake, the worlds tend to blur and you can see numerous realities existing at once. *
  5. Your wishes affect mundane reality in a tangible way.
  6. There are too many synchronicities happening to pass them all off as coincidence.
  7. Small children run up to you and point out the nice lady with pointy ears or the big furry man or the dragon.
  8. * Grown people run up to you and nervously ask you if you’ve ever thought of yourself as “elf-like” or “dragon-like,” or just get positively freaked out being near you.
  9. You start “bleeding over” in pictures. *
  10. You dream prophetically.
  11. * When really stressed/relaxed/magickal you speak in a foreign unknown language, make animal noises, or start speaking in what sounds like gibberish to other people. *
  12. People are spooked when you walked up behind them and they never heard you coming. You move so silently that you can even sneak up on a police dog without it noticing you.
  13. Energy work seems so natural for you that even as a beginner you baffle most veteran magic users.
  14. You’ve met someone you instantly knew from dreams you’ve been having since you were five.
  15. From time to time really strange things happen, like you get cut and your blood falls on a white rose and it turns red, and within a month the entire rose bush has deep red flowers.
  16. You sense spirits residing within rocks, trees, waters, buildings, mechanical objects, etc., and you converse with them regularly.
  17. You didn’t know that not everyone did lucid dreaming (astral projection, hands-on healing, aura sight, telepathy, precognition…) until you read about it.
  18. * You “smell” what kind of mood the people around you are in. *
  19. Computers often malfunction, act up, and do lots of unusual things in your presence, causing your coworkers to ask you to “stand over there, please” and causing your company’s resident computer tech many hours of heartache.
  20. Sometimes when you see or meet a stranger you see a flash of their True Nature without even trying.
  21. You can alter time, manipulate the weather, conjure things or teleport by accident, etc. without ever having learned how nor understanding how these are possible.
  22. * When they unearth an ancient earth artifact that “no one” knows about you not only find that you recognize it, but also that you had been telling your friends about it for the last few years. *
  23. Energy is one of your favorite toys.
  24. You don’t just dream, you go planet-hopping.
  25. Time always does weird things around you.
  26. Your friends use you as the resident antenna for the radio, for it always receives better sound when you stand in front of it.
  27. You cannot wear watches or other timepieces on your person. If you do, they are rendered completely useless within days and become blithering idiots that have no idea what time it really is anymore.
  28. You can hear the stars singing.
  29. You can’t understand why people need all those props to do anything magical, when it’s so much simpler to just reach and change something. You’re unable to grasp that there are people who can’t feel magical flows, no matter how often you hear otherwise.
  30. * All of your best friends/lovers/etc. awaken to their Otherkin natures within a few months of meeting you. *
  31. You can’t ever remember the color of someone’s eyes, but you can describe their aura/astral form in detail.

Versions

Version 1.0 3/9/99 if it’s useless and does nothing, call it version 1.0!
Version 1.1 3/15/99 added some from Adara and deleted a few
Version 1.2 3/20/99 added some from Thistle and made other various changes
Version 1.21 3/26/99 fixed some odd formatting
Version 1.22 11/3/99 added one to section A and *-ed those that are, in the editor’s humble opinion, “more telling” than others
Version 1.3 11/15/99 added a few new contributions
Version 1.4 9/17/00 HTML markup added
Version 2.0 01/28/01 deleted some that are overly silly, irrelevant, misleading, in-joke-ish or incomprehensible, edited others to be clearer, and generally tried to bring it up to more “public consumption” standards

Credits

Eshari Starling edited and spell-checked this thing and organized it and stuck it all together.
The following people, in no particular order, have offered up their souls to help compose this list: Adara, Thistle Kachunk, Willow, Miracle, Lindsay, Ruadh, Fer, Aine, Illuviel, Jen/Blue/Spirati, Ki’taye and hir sidekick, Lelya, Kerr/Robin, Aerienne, Skiewing, the Lollipop Trollop, and Eshari.
Kerr/Robin’s were ripped from the ancient and musty TNO archives without them knowing it, but Esh figures those people will never see this anyway. 🙂

You May Be Wight

(to the tune of “You may be right” by Billy Joel, obviously).

Friday night I crashed your gather
Saturday I said I’m sorry
Sunday came and raised you up again.
I was only having fun
Wasn’t biting anyone
And we all enjoyed the barrows for a change

I’ve been stranded in the twilight zone
I fell through Zandru’s Hell alone
Even rode an elvensteed to the moon.
And you told me not to fly
But I managed to survive
So you said that only proves that I’m a fey.

You may be right,
I might be Faery….
But it just might be an otherkin you’re looking for.
Turn out the light
Don’t try to save me
You may be one for all I know
But you may be wight

Remember how I found you you there
Alone in that faery cairn.
I’d have asked you for a smoke, but you were wyld.
You were lonely for a man
I said take me as I am
‘Cause there wont be any of those here for a while.

Now think of all the weres you tried to
Find some wolf to satisfy you
I might be as crazy as you say
If I’m crazy then it’s true
That it’s all because of you
And you wouldn’t want me any other fey

You may be right,
I might be Faery….
But it just might be an otherkin you’re looking for.

It’s too late for flight
It’s too late for changelings
You may be one for all I know
But you may be wight

You may be right,
I might be Faery….
But it just might be an otherkin you’re looking for.

Turn out the light
Don’t try to save me
You may be one for all I know
But you may be wight
You may be one but you may be wight
You may be one but you may be wight

Human on the Outside

I might look the same, but I’m not quite like you
I’m at least a little fey; can you see right through?
I’m still made of flesh, I’m still made of bone
But I’ve had you fooled enough to leave me alone

Human plus more (and perhaps more than one)
I might confess it, but please don’t make fun
I’ll explain at least some

There’s elf in these veins and my wings cause me pain
I’m only human on the outside
And though looks may deceive, make it hard to believe
I’m only human on the outside

On the outside

Should I just come through, should I just come clean
Show you something you might never have seen?
Or would that be extreme? Would it go too far?
Would it break your brain or would it break your heart?
Yeah your brain or heart…

It’s not something I choose; I assure you it’s true
I’m only human on the outside
And though looks may deceive, make it hard to believe
I’m only human on the outside
Well, it gave me a turn the day that I learned
I’m only human on the outside
A seeming, that’s all; baby, under it all
I’m only human on the outside

On the outside

Yes, I’m Otherkin, hon…

No, I’m not insane, there’s just fae in my veins
I’m only human on the outside
And though looks may deceive, make it hard to believe
I’m only human on the outside
I’m a dragon, you see, that’s the full, real me;
I’m only human on the outside
A seeming, that’s all; baby under it all
I’m only human on the outside

On the outside
On the outside…

The Logic of Otherkin

Otherkin:

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

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

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

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

 

Logic as Applied to Otherkin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Logical Fallacies

Straw Man

Against Kin:

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

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

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

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

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

Against Skeptics:

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

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

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

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

Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam

Against Kin:

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

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

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

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

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

Against Skeptics:

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

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

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

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

Circular Reasoning

Against Kin and Skeptics both:

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

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

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

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

And so forth…

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

Hasty Generalization

Against Kin:

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

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

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

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

Against Skeptics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ad Hominem Attack

Against Kin:

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

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

Wellwort Dragosi: “Say WHAT?”

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

Against Skeptics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Appeal to Force

Against Kin:

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

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

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

Against Skeptics:

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

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

Ad Numerum

Against Kin:

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

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

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

Against Skeptics:

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

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

No TRUE Scotsman!

Against, well, everybody!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Equivocation

Against Kin:

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

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

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

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

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

Against Skeptics:

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

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

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

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

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

Lack of Credibility

Against Kin:

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

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

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

Or alternately:

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

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

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

Against Skeptics:

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

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

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

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

Non Sequitur

Against Kin:

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

But a true Non Sequitur:

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

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

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

Against Skeptics:

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

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

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

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

Skepticism is Not Proof

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

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

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

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

Some closing remarks:

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

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

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

— Kai

What are Otherkin?

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

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

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

1 – Appeal to biology

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

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

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

2 – Appeal to spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 – Appeal to psychology

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

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

4 – Escapism and mental aberration

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 – All of the above

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

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

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

So… You’re Awake?

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

That life isn’t This life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coming out of the Wardrobe

How do I tell someone that I’m Otherkin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find Your Own Truth

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

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

Seriously look for it.

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

Time for an uncomfortable truth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actually, I’m not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am not human.

I do not know what I am.

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

I am unknown.

I am learning.

Of course I could be wrong.

You see, I don’t know squat.

The Shadow of Awareness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sensing

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

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

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

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

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

Experimental Role Playing as a Means of Self Discovery

I got into a discussion a while back with someone who was wondering about ways to see if his feelings of being a Dragon were correct or if he was just fooling himself. This eventually lead to conversations about “role-playing” as a means of “trying it on for size.” This person wasn’t sure if he understood the definition of role-playing in the context under discussion and so asked if I could give an example of what I meant. This is what I came up with:

In this case, I guess you could look at it as a very intense round of “let’s pretend.” Like you were in a play where you “really” get into the mind of your character. You study everything you can about who your character is, where he comes from, what his background is, what his beliefs are. That way you can base your actions accordingly, you actually “become” the character for the duration of the play. “Method acting” is a form of this type of role-playing. This is also used in some forms of religious ritual drama where one takes on the characteristics of a deity or epic hero. In modern Pagan circles, one of the most common examples of this would be the rite of “Drawing Down the Moon.” If done correctly this can, and should, eventually lead to the priestess actually taking on the characteristics and some of the abilities of her Goddess for a period of time… becoming in effect an Avatar. (cf. Law of Identification )

Using role-playing in the context of OtherKin-ness it can help a person to determine if their suspicions about being a Dragon (or a Gryphon, or an Elf, or whatever) are correct. It might go something like this…

He studies the various myths and legends of Dragons from as many sources as he can find and he talks to people who are convinced about the truth of their own draconity. (With the advent of the internet, this isn’t as difficult as it may sound… check places online such as draconic.com various newsgroups such as alt.fan.dragons, and the myriad of email lists on Yahoo and other such hosting services) ) He looks for common themes, beliefs and patterns of behavior. Asks people what being a Dragon means to them and how they view the world, etc. He checks out people’s web sites for what they list as Draconic characteristics. Once he gets to a point where he feels he has enough information to have a pretty accurate sense of the most common aspects which define what a Dragon is as far as mental, spiritual, and psychological characteristics go, he can then compare those to what he knows of himself. (Remember we are looking for “similarities,” not necessarily exact matches.)

Okay, now he looks at those characteristics that he couldn’t find a comparison to within his own mental make up. Something like, let’s say, feeling the urge to hunt by taking to the air. Why didn’t he find a similar urge in his own characteristics? It could be several possible reasons such as:

  1. He didn’t find it because he simply doesn’t have that urge (maybe he’s an aquatic Dragon), or
  2. It’s not something he ever tried to fully understand or identify before, or
  3. He’s not a Dragon after all.

The question now is which one of those possibilities may be correct. This is where role-playing comes in, and there are several ways to do it. My favorite way is to write a “first-person” story about it… something like:

“I awoke as the warmth of the morning sun fell across my face. I wasn’t ready to get up, preferring to lounge a while longer, but the sudden rumbling of my stomach reminded me it had been several days since I had last eaten. So I rose slowly to my haunches and stretched my wings to their fullest, giving them a few gentle flaps to get the circulation going. As I wandered down to the stream to quench my thirst, I became aware of the bellowing of wild bulls challenging one another over position within the herd. Once again my stomach grumbled it’s desire to be filled. It had been a long time since I had hunted wild cattle, and the thought of a herd so close made my mouth water. In eager anticipation I spread my wings and took to the sky…”

He would then describe in as great detail as possible the events of the hunt, feeling every nuance as if it were an accurate accounting of a past hunt, as if it were a memory. He shouldn’t worry if the words or style of the story is “pretty,” just if the feelings of the story seem real, or if they were simply words on a page. Can he actually “feel” the wind under his wings? Can he feel the muscles of his back and chest respond to the movement of his wings? Can he feel the moment of impact when he catches his prey, taste the salty warmth of the flesh as he satisfies his hunger? Basically, does he get a sense of “writing from experience,” or does it just seem like something he’s making up? To better understand the difference between the two, first he might write an account of a real life experience that affected him strongly, paying attention to what it feels like to “relive” that experience through writing about it. *Then* write the hunting story and see if he gets the same sense of reliving the experience or not.

Now, is this kind of role-playing a foolproof means of discovering the truth about whether or not someone is a Dragon? No, it’s not. It’s just a tool one can try to help gain some insight, maybe help him/her at least determine if s/he is on the right track. But it does follow some of the modern interpretations/theories on how magic has been observed to operate. (cf. Laws of Magic )

Role-playing can also help you to better understand what your “true form” looks like. I’m going to be talking about Dragons here, but this can be just as effective for other types of ‘Kin as well.

To try and nail down what your physical characteristics might be, look at as many different pictures of Dragons as you can find and “try on” different variations of what you feel your basic shape to be. Start at the top of your head and work your way down. Maybe do something like this: Add horns you your head… does that “feel” right, almost but not quite, does it feel too heavy, or just plain wrong? If it feels right, the your form has horns. If it’s close but not quite, try changing the shape, number and/or placement until it does feel right. If it feels “too heavy,” make them smaller or thinner. If they just feel wrong, the you probably don’t have horns. A lot if Dragons don’t. How about head fins like this? Or a protective head plate like this. In your mind, “try on” one or the other or both. See is either one or the other or both click.

Do you have visible ears that you can move? Try wiggling them. Can’t do it? Then you either don’t have visible ears or you don’t have ears you can move. If you can, try and get a feel for their shape. Reach up and “touch” them do they feel like a horse’s ears? A cat? Are they on top of your head on the side? Do they seem as if they would look like this?

You get the idea… It can take time for you to get the “feel” of each body part, but it’s a lot easier and will usually yield quicker results to work on one part at a time than to try and uncover the feel of your entire body at once, which can prove distracting. As you progress, trying I.D. more about one part of your form may trigger a memory of something else. If that happens, go with it and come back to the other part later. I suggested starting at the top of you head and working down because it’s a nice logical place *to* start, but follow you instincts and go where they tell you.

You can do the same thing for figuring out what sort of environment you lived in. Many times that will be reflected in what type of environment you feel drawn to in your present life. You have a yen for the desert even though you’ve never been to one? Do you look at polar ice flows and feel a vague sense of nostalgia? Does the idea of stalking deer through dense forests make you go “Oh yeah!”? How about diving under water an chasing fish for supper?

The thing with all of this, though is to be patient with yourself and don’t push too hard. If it seems you are having trouble leave off for a while and concentrate on something else. You can always come back to it later… it’s not like it’s going to go anywhere :}

Role-playing is scoffed at by many today in the OtherKin communities who see it solely as “outsiders” poking fun of something they take very seriously. I think this is wrong… and unfortunate. Role-playing as a means of spiritual exploration has been around far longer than role-playing as a means of entertainment as used in such “old fashioned” games as Dungeons and Dragons or its modern online equivalents such as EverQuest, Diablo II, Dark Age of Camelot, or what have you.

Rather than being decried, I think role-playing should be embraced by the OtherKin communities as a means of helping the newly Awakened to discover more about themselves and their spiritual heritage. It should be reclaimed as the valuable working tool it started out as. But that’s just one Dragon’s opinion… and everyone is free to take it for what it’s worth.

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 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.

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.

UberElf

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.

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.

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.

Bollocks.

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.

Wrong!

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

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