Warning – Views expressed are personal and may not reflect popular opinion or even contemporary views. Read at your own risk. This article is mainly here due to the historic function of this site as a therianthropy resource.
Therianthropy is a spirituality that has roots in very old traditions. It is,in it’s simplest form, a spiritual belief that one has some form of spiritual connection with an animal. The nature of this connection varies widely from person to person and as such, Therianthropy is not easily defined. Many have tried, but the basic beliefs behind the emergence of the phenomina resist very strongly a true ‘definition’. For the sake of simplicity, and for the easier understanding of my writings herein, I have defined therianthropy as the following:
A person born with a deep, spiritual connection to one or more ( terran ) animal(s) to the point that he or she can become ( shift into) or ‘be’ the animal(s) in question.
Therianthropy can be alikened to shamanism in many ways, but differs on several key points. In shamanism the shaman has a number of totems, who are animal spirits from which the shaman may draw ‘medicine’ from. The totem can also act as a guide for enlightenment and warn the shaman of danger. The totems are seperate entities from the shaman, they meerly lend the shaman their power or ‘force’ they govern. The Shaman may seek to understand his totem or his totems words by ‘shapeshifting’ though ritual and dance to achieve a state where he tries to achieve the mentality of the animal he seeks to better commune with. Therianthropy is not a belief about external forces. It is a belief about one’s self and one’s spirit. Therianthropes do not believe the animal spirit is a seperate entity, it is a part of them. Like shamanism, ‘shapeshifting’ is often a large part of a therianthrope’s life, however it tends to come much easier and naturally to a therianthrope than a shaman. Frequently it comes unbidden, and randomly, sometimes causing distress or discomfort.
Therianthropes refer to their animal relation as a ‘bond’. You may see the word ‘Phenotype’ used sometimes, but this is incorrect and a misuse of the word. Therianthropes usually have one strong bond ( Primary ), but sometimes have more than one ( secondarys). The Primary bond is the strongest bond and the most dominant of in the Therianthropes life. Bond animals tend to be preditors or scavengers, but any animal can be found in a therianthrope’s bond. This has included animals thought to be extinct, such as the Thylacine or even dinosaurs. The most common seen is, of course, the wolf. This is speculated to be because of the popularity of hollywood werewolf mythos and games such as Werewolf: The Apocalypse by Whitewolf games. Many young individuals often mistake the ‘werecommunity’ to be an roleplaying venue, when it is not. Also there are some individuals who believe that wolf bonds are the only ‘real’ bond one can have. This is not true. Following the canine families, felines are the second most common bond one finds.
Therianthropes generally experience something refered to loosely as ‘awakening’. This is the period between the time when a young seeker realises that they are more than just curious about therianthropy, beginning to feel that it may apply to them and when they work out the foundation of their spiritual ideas in a solid form. This period usually lasts for quite some time, years in fact, and can begin at any point in life. True therianthropes are always somewhat in a constant state of ‘awakening’, learning about themselves, their spirituality, the world and their life. Each individual therianthrope has a responcibility to forge their own spirit’s path in life. Many youngins try to ‘fit’ into the ‘rules’ they see around online, spewing jargon and posturing. This not only pisses older weres off, but eventually leads to self destruction as enevitably the novelty of pretending to be something that you are not gets old and the person realizes that they were lying to both their friends and themselves. It is never wise to enter a spiritual path with false intentions as it only results in melodramatic farewells and hard feelings from both friends and the individuals. It is better to be unsure and open to new experiences than closed and rulebound. To change is to live, to stop changing is to die.
Therianthropy came into existance online en force in about 1995 with the newsgroup alt.horror.werewolves. This was the first online ‘werecommunity’ to emerge on the internet. I personally came around upon it in 1997, just prior to it’s demise. Many of the terms you will see thrown around originated from that group, which still does exist, but is now nothing but a flaming carcass of what it once was. Today there are literally hundreds of webpages dealing with wereism and therianthropy on the web and many online ‘werecommunities’. This has caused several major versions of Therianthropy. Many ‘elitists’ have tried to make restrictive ‘rules’ in therianthropy to suit their views and exclude as many people as possible. On a general level, the very nature of therianthropy resists such attempts at ‘guidelining’, but they have succeeded in making moulds that young people try to fit into in order to be a part of something they view as cool or an in thing. This is partly to blame for the large number of young ‘wolf’ types running around. This also creates a feeling that if one does not fit the ‘mould’ then a person is no longer welcome in the community. While this may be true in some communities, it certainly isn’t in others.
Recently, I’ve had a lot of people inquiring as to why I do not put otherkin types in with therianthropy. For those of you not familiar with otherkin, I am refering to mythic beings such as dragons, gryphons, fae and the like. They feel they are spiritual shifters and should be included in the therianthropy description. Personally, I do not think this is so. I feel it confuses matters and renders the term therianthropy a blanket term much like otherkin. I don’t think two words are needed for this purpose. ‘were’ could be dumped under otherkin if that makes you feel better. I prefer to deal with mythics as a completely seperate topic as a lot of mundane people have difficulty with the concept of people believing they are creatures that ‘never existed’ and require special treatment to explain. I try not to lump too much infomation into one section at a time.