Otherkin: Otherworldly Souls

One day, we hope, the dictionary will read: Otherkin – a soul or body of non-human origins. For now, however, it is still a topic that causes people to scratch their head in confusion. For otherkin, this can be both a blessing and a curse. While it would be wonderful to be accepted by all for who we are, it is unrealistic to think that in today’s society such a welcome would be forthcoming. More often than not, those who do run into otherkin – usually through one of the many web pages – begin with a spiel of, “You’re crazy”, “Snap out of fantasy-world”, and the ever-popular, “You give D&D players a bad name”. Faced with such a barrage of negativity, it’s hardly surprising that otherkin generally choose to remain enigmatic. On the other hand, some people take to the concept surprisingly well, remarking that it makes sense even though they’d never considered it before. Two questions usually stand at the center of the otherkin belief:

  • Do you believe in life on other planets, or sentient non-human life? 
  • Do you believe in reincarnation?

Many people, when asked, will respond with a “Yes” to both, and from there it is a simple matter to put two and two together. Otherkin, in the majority of cases, are people who have had past lives as non-humans. And for most, it has affected them enough for them to now consider their soul, their essence, other than human. “Other than human”, of course, can have many different meanings, and it is because of this that the otherkin community (if such it can be called) is so diverse. First, consider this quote from Raymond E. Fiest, “In an infinite universe, all things are not only possible, but no matter how improbable, certain to exist somewhere.” So, essentially, everything we can imagine – and a good deal more – exists somewhere. And, given that reincarnation knows no bounds of distance or space, it is reasonable to assume that many humans are of less than pure pedigree, so to speak. Often, otherkin only have the words in our current language to describe things that they may remember or feel, this is understandably incredibly inhibiting. Therefore, it’s not unusual to hear otherkin describe themselves as elves or dragons, but breaking through the instinctive thought of “that’s just fantasy”, all it really means is: taller than human, fine boned, and delicate features, or: large reptilian creature that is often winged. All words carry a stigma attached to them, fantasy-associated words more than most. But, until something better comes along, it’s all we have to work with.

Fantasy creatures are by no means the only type of otherkin, but there does seem to be a high percentage who identify themselves as such, simply because it is the area that most closely describes what feels right. Such terms are hardly going to be found in, say, a business journal. Different types of otherkin include “onworlders” (as opposed to offworlders), who have originated on Earth as non-humans, these are comprised mainly of various types of animals, or creatures from history – including mythologies, such as of the Tutha de Dannan. Of the offworlders, those that have originated elsewhere, the groups are too varied to possibly list, from angelics to zeitgeists and everything in between. So there are no misunderstandings, I must state that the clear majority of otherkin are currently human. That is, we were born into human bodies (irrespective of our past), and live out human lives. There are a small number of otherkin who claim to be, at least in part, other than human in body as well as soul. This ranges everything from “immortal creature of the night” to “distant fae relative”. Although I try to remain impartial, given that either could (theoretically) be true, I know which one I would tend to put more stock in. There is, after all, records kept by the Romans of elfin or fae-like creatures having children by Celtic and Gaulish people. And until this is disproven, I see little reason to discount it. This is by no means an uncommon thing; a few teenagers playing at fantasy games that has gone too far. It is a worldwide phenomena that encompasses thousands of people. In this age, for the first time in centuries, it is acceptable to say “I feel different”, and be able to explore that while including all possible causes. It is not merely a case of feeling different though, as this is a malady that affects a good number of people at one time or other. It is a difference that often sparks a yearning towards other, unexplainable things, a fascination with things beyond the norm. Quite often, otherkin have been drawn to magic or energy workings, as well as naturalistic settings and crafty hobbies. Depending on the type of otherkin of course, these can be focused down more specifically, and while no otherkin variety can be categorised into neat little boxes, there are some traits that seem to breed true: Archery for elves, flying (as in, handgliding, skydiving, etc.) for dragons and other winged creatures, and hunting for predatory animals. As well as being a satisfying pastime, it’s often the case that otherkin excel in such “familiar” activities. It can also serve as a comforting reminder for what many otherkin consider Home.

Since, by very definition, otherkin are greatly influenced by their non-human side, many of their actions or personalities are coloured in kind. For example, dragons can be hot-tempered, elves are often woodsy, and fae are usually excitable and humorous. It’s more than just surface behaviour, it is who we are.

While saying all this, keep in mind that the great diversity of otherkin makes it near nigh impossible for any sort of universal categorising or labelling. But, as with all restrictions, we do the best we can to make it as uncomplicated as possible.

Unfortunately, “otherkin” has occasionally been an attractive label for those who use it to feel more important (colloquially referred to as “wannabe’s”). From what I hear, this is more prevalent in the vampire, especially sanguinary, groups. This is an unfortunate reality for all communities that might appeal to those who have little or no knowledge of the truth behind them. To risk sounding like I should be standing on a soap box, I’ll suffice to say that being otherkin is neither a game nor a convenient escape from reality. One think I can say for it though, it certainly does make life interesting.

As mentioned before, some otherkin have highly developed abilities in areas that may be considered magical. Without delving too deeply into this subject, as it’s a separate topic in its own right, there is one aspect of this that I consider fitting to mention here. That is, seeing “True Form”. What has been called True Form is an image of the soul or relevant aspect superimposed on the physical body. For someone who had only ever been human, the True Form would be virtually indistinguishable from their body. For an otherkin, however, whose most dominant form may be of a species vastly different in appearance from a human’s, it would be immediately noticeable. As it is akin to seeing auras, it has been suggested that an otherkin get a photo done through Kirlian photography, which shows the shape and colours of the aura. This apparently had been done, with accurate results.

Otherkin aren’t all that different, to use an old cliché, they could be the person who passes you on the street. It’s nothing to be wary or uncertain of, rather, something to explore and learn from. An otherkin’s perspective on life and the world may differ from what is usual, but that arises from experience, which anyone can gain.

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