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.
Werebeast and therianthropy are two words that often get interchanged yet carry very different context in terms of their actual meaning and what people think when they hear them. Although the two concepts are pretty different, the words have a history together that many people just running into the term don’t know. And to further complicate matters, there are other words and titles that get thrown into the mix to describe therians, and this just hinders rather than helps.
In the beginning, the therian movement emerged out of a newsgroup on usenet called alt.horror.werewolves. Originally this group was intended for people who were fans of werewolf movies, but after a while, a voice in the either expressed an certain identification with the idea of the werewolf, the beast within, of having an animal inside oneself. This incited many echoes from the digitial darkness, and soon the group became not so much about horror movies, but about the spiritually of having an animal within. At this time, the group refered to members as “Weres”. Eventually the newsgroup was assaulted and all but destroyed by internet trolls and ‘meowers’, as well as some infighting, but as the newsgroup died, new websites emerged to provide sanctuary and information for those who had come together from AHWW, as well as help new folk who felt as they did. In this time, the term ‘therianthropy’ was coined for this emerging spiritualty, to discard the old ‘were’ terms as it was too closely associated with the hollywood legend and too many of the new and young seekers took the spirituality in the wrong direction on account of this association.
The actual ‘werebeast’, a more generic term for ‘werewolf’ since not all were creatures are wolves, even in legend, is still just a legend. The fantastic legends and movies of skinwalkers, werewolves, and men physically transforming into beasts is still as fictional as it ever was. However, thanks to their legends, therianthropy and other animal spirituality is touching a new generation of those who carry within them the breath of the wild, the spirit of the animal within. While the myth shares some aspects with the reality, the reality is far less fantastic than the legend. Many therians do ‘shift’, but its a shift of conciousness rather than shapeshifting into a huge monsterous beast. This ‘shifting’ behavior in therians can manifest in several ways, including in dreams, ‘spirit shifts’, and altered perception. Not all of it has been explained, even by those who have experienced it, but it continues to happen to new and old therians as they continue their spiritual journey.
Much of therian spiritual ‘soul searching’ (of which, any therian will tell you to do.. many times.) concerns a process of introspection. An examination and process to come to a greater understanding of not only the self, but also the world around the self, including the many influences on it, from environment to interpertional relationships to the relations of the soul and the body. Most therians tend to ‘awaken’ to their animal self in their early to late teens. I’ve personally seen individuals as young as 12 begin their journey on this path, however, most tend to make the biggest strides in their later teens (16-18) provided they do not let their imagination run away with them. A time of great change, it is important at this time for teen therians to really begin to learn how to listen to not only the world around them at large, but how to listen to their inner self and inner animal. Many young therians report being angry and often wrongly attribute this to their animal self as the cause. This is not usually the case, as the animal within is only expressing that which the individual already feels. The source of the anger is almost never one’s inner animal, it is normally external (school, parents, living, job, bullies, frusteration, exhaustion, etc) and it is up to the therian to discover the source of the irritation and determine how to deal with it. The early period in therianthropy is generally fraught with impatience, a need to fit in, a want to be a part of something greater than oneself, and a need for spirituality that goes beyond simply repeating the words in a book. The therian, even at such a young stage is aware there is more, and seeks it. Many therians maintain a more conventional faith while also recognizing their therian spirit, leading them to a greater depth of their faith in understanding their place in the eyes of their chosen deity and religion. However, it is very difficult at this stage, particularly when one is still living in accomidations that may not tolerate religious/faith deviation, to express therianthropy. Also, in their enthusiasm, many young therians are often ill-informed to make intelligent arguments to adults or authority figures (even relatives), that are both persuasive, no threating, and sound. Young therians need to spend a lot of time knowledge gathering, not only about therianthropy, but also animal behavior, but also their own faith, environment, and communcation, as well as learning about themselves, particularly how to listen and trust the inner voice of the beast within that whispers both advice and warning.
So in closing, there is much to know about therianthropy, and many resources to explore aside from this one. Many essays on specific topics have been provided but it is best to talk to others in the forums, or visit as many sites as you can with an open mind. There is a lot of bull out there, but there is also a lot of diamonds if one can sift through the dung.