- What is spiritual therianthropy?
- So this is some kind of new age religion?
- What are these collected ideas then?
- So what does it mean to identify with an animal?
- Therianthropy and shapeshifting
- Final Thoughts
What is spiritual therianthropy?
So this is some kind of new age religion?
Therianthropy is not a religion, it’s a collection of beliefs and understandings, but not an entire worldview or moral guide. There is no ‘Bible of Therianthropy’, and even if there were, it would be more of a ‘Hitchhikers guide to being a werewolf’ than a religious text.
Therianthropy could be described as the sum of all those who believe in it – the collective knowledge of all those people, which has over time – and largely thanks to the Internet, formed into collections of accepted ideas and beliefs.
What are these collected ideas then?
There are several key areas to therianthropy, the first is probably the only universal one and is the only one I personally would feel comfortable as calling the keystone: An animal, or several animals which an individual identifies with. We tend to call this animal (or animals) our phenotype(s). This identifies us as being connected with a particular species, for example my phenotype is wolf.
So what does it mean to identify with an animal?
I used deliberately vague language there because ‘identify’ can mean a lot of different things. For most therians it means a spiritual connection. This is quite commonly something long felt but not understood until realising there are others out there feeling the same way. I’ve often heard stories from people who say they have felt connected to a certain animal ever since they were a child, but never really knew exactly what this meant until they found out about therianthropy.
This connection is sometimes not realised until another person points it out, for example therians often subconsciously (or not) copy the mannerisms of their phenotype. Be it the way they yawn right down to making animalistic noises.
Others might find they dream of being a certain animal, sometimes even transforming into the animal then perhaps hunting (if a predator), flying (in the case of avians) and so on. This brings us on to the next topic nicely, a controversial area…
Therianthropy and shapeshifting
Shapeshifting (or just shifting as we refer to it) is something you may have heard of from a fantasy novel or sci-fi TV show. It basically means to transform from one thing into another. In this context it means to transform from being a human into being an animal. But, and this is a really big but, it doesn’t mean physically transforming. While I’d say the jury is out on whether physical shifting (p-shifting) is even possible, there are other less tangible kinds of transformations that many therians experience.
Probably the most common of these are sense and mental shifting. Sense shifting is a sudden apparent increase or focus of one’s senses – for example hearing and seeing. A mental shift is where the normally dominant human persona of a therian takes a back seat allowing the animal part to take control, either partially or completely. This can result in a person acting like an animal, following instinctual urges, changes in mood, increased confidence and so on.
Yes, shifting could be used as a catch all term to describe any mood change a therian experiences, but generally people are smart enough to know what’s the real deal and what is just the human body ticking over.
Not all therianthropes shift however, at least not while awake. Others shift in their dreams or enter their dreams already in animal form. So what about those who don’t shift at all, awake or asleep? One theory of mine is that as time goes on the animal ‘parts’ of us become more and more assimilated into our general being and as a result of this there is not the profound change experienced by those going from one extreme to another.
The on-line community that has built up since the early 1990s, from a single newsgroup (alt.horror.werewolves) has blossomed into countless websites, IRC servers, web forums and real life groups of friends who meet up, or in some cases live together.
Because of the nature of therianthropy, the community is vital – we share resources and information with each other (like I’m doing here), in the hope of keeping everything running. It’s a dynamic organisation of people, always changing always moving – but so far at least, always there too. As one site shuts down another pops up in its place and so the community continues to life and thrive. There is also quite a high rate of drift in the community, many of the early therians (who probably wouldn’t recognise that term), have long since moved on, but still there are those that remain because they enjoy being part of the community. The continual flow of new people into the community keeps things fresh, and their are enough resources like this one to make sure that our knowledge and experience is passed on to each new generation as it stumbles on-line.
We are not without our problems though, what I lovingly refer to as ‘were politics’ is forever raging in the background. Whether it’s feuds over who controls what server or fears over being swamped with wannabe’s who think it’s cool to be a ‘werewolf’. But still we survive, and people can normally find a place where they can be happy.
Unlike many communities, and human organisations in general – there is no hierarchy. The only things that really gain one a higher status are respect and by what you put into the community. The names we remember today are of the people that have had the greatest impact on shaping the community, and as a result therianthropy. Be it’s Sabrelion who has been running Were.net for many years, BearX who used to run Lycanthrope.org, Jakkal/Pinky for her work on Were.net and later Crossroads etc, Utlah’s WEREweb and WEREmail, or perhaps even me with Were Radio.
Anyway, I hope this has given you a little bit of an insight into what therianthropy is about. If you think you’re maybe a therianthrope too then I encourage you to read as many sites like this as you can find, talk to other therians and see if perhaps this can help you understand a part of your life – a part of you that perhaps you never really understood – or even knew existed until now.