houseofchimeras: (Z - Harpy and Owl)
Date First Written: January 2013


Being in the closet about being multiple takes on many forms. Some people are out to no one at all, some are only ‘out’ to a few very select people, others are out to a number of  people in there lives, and perhaps a few are even out to much of the public around them. For ourselves, we are mostly only out to a few very select people in our close social circles and even fewer in our family though we are almost completely out to everyone online. However a fair number of people in our lives do not know we are a we at all and we have chosen to take this route for a verity of personal reasons and slowly come out to certain people when we feel it is proper or wanted. Its all about personal privacy, being comfortable, and being able to come out to any number of people if that is what has been chosen. No one has to come out at all, though at times some multiples have chosen to do so. It’s a very personal matter.

Being out to some people, but not others have its pros and cons of course. Like coming out about any kind of personal information about your life - sometimes its just not anyone’s business or concern but other times coming out seems much more needed to the personal situation. For us personally, just as there are some people we know casually that don’t even know our last name or anything of the sort we feel zero reason for them to know any other amount of personal information. If we only know them casually and they don’t know a lot about us to begin with plus they will likely never know a lot about us - the fact of us actually being multiple is beyond consideration for information they need to know. We are a group of people in one body and we are family, not a fun and curious factoid of the day. Our family and family matters just aren’t anyone’s and everyone’s business most of the time.

However there are some people in our lives who we are closer too and that we do consider people who should know us and we should be honest too. They are either actually part of our family or they have become rather close friends or confidents. It is in these people that we come to even begin to consider possibly coming out to as being multiple. At this time, we are not out to much of our family due to either knowing that they would not take our being multiple well, or because we do not think at this point in time is the best time to come out. However, we are out to a few people in our lives and so far those coming out experiences have been positive to neutral.

Being multiple, or just being plural in general, is not something readily known to the general population. This can cause all sorts of troubles when thinking of even the prospect of coming out to anyone. Plus, due to the stigma of Dissociative Identity Disorder (once called Multiple Personality Disorder), there can be issues with coming out as a non-disordered or healthy plural system. The fact that DID has become so sensationalized in media, it can easily complicate things if coming out becomes a topic of consideration. Trying to possibly come out to people who might have head of DID/MPD and try to come out as an individual system rather than a media stereotype and oversimplification can be possibly daunting. Especially if you are a natural and healthy multiple trying to basically go against the stereotypes laid down by media portrayals yet alone the dictions between being a functioning system cared to a non-functioning one. Further there is the natural skepticism and confusion over the idea of either multiple souls sharing a single body and/or a brain being able to handle more then one identity and sense of self (depending on how each system considers their group to be set-up and caused). Most people don’t think about that being possible. On the one hand, that makes people figuring out someone is multiple unlikely usually as they aren’t trying to peg someone as such, yet on the other hand it can make coming out and accepted as a multiple much more difficult.

For us, we’ve come to find the hardest and most difficult part of being not out as multiple when it comes to our close friends and family is not hearing our names being called. It’s a rather simple thing - the sound that has been designated as a label for an individual but it makes a lot of difference to us. We’ve never been the kind of people that thinks we need to be out to anyone and everyone, however we would love to be able to be known by our own family and close friends. We do wish at times that we could be out and accepted by our family and have them call us out by name and acknowledge us rather then always collectively have to pretend to be the same person.

Over the years we have gained a lot of practice at keeping our multiplicity hidden when we want too. Each of us has our own tone and style of voice as well as physical mannerisms and ways of holding ourselves among us. That is not to forget to mention our own individual opinions on certain matters as well as certain preferences and dislikes. Just like any group of people we act like we are different people because we are different people. However being in a multiple system that is not out to most of the world has made our keeping our multiplicity from being really noticeable an art. While fronting around people who do not know of us being multiple - we keep to around a certain tone and to certain options and likes/dislike which we have weaved over the years to be what people think this one ‘person.’

Being multiple and not out to everyone can create some confusion on how to talk to be people. In our own case, because of our wide verity of (for example) gender identification, sexual orientation, and religious stances - those became an issue for us on how to outwardly present or label ourselves. In our case, we have ended up deciding to go for sticking with umbrellas that can explain most of our most notable behaviors to avoid confusion for those we are not out too. For example, if people who we are not out to ask our religious beliefs we might state that ‘we’ (though they hear ‘I’) and simply say pagan. If asked further we would state ‘we’ are an “eclectic pagan of a mix of various pagan or neopagan religious.” This wording allows for a lot of what people could potentially read or infer from us. If for example one day Lunatani makes mention of things which are Wiccan-based but another day Pantairin makes mention of more Buddhist practices - people thinking we are an “eclectic pagan” will make the most sense to them and allow us more freedom on what we might say to people without fear of stepping to much off their social labels on us. Not breaching labels or ideas people have set up for us, because they think and see one person whereas in fact we are many, can lessen a lot of confusion. To keep things simple and to not breach what image we have created for us in our everyday life.

Of course, we make mistakes and at times one of us might say ‘we’ rather then ‘I’ on accident or slip into their natural voice rather then our mask tone of voice. It happens on occasion and perhaps more then we even realize. However thankfully usually people don’t notice our mistakes, or if they do notice they make no mention of it. It seems when our mistakes our noticed most people will happy and quickly let it slide off their mind as something not really our of place for being ‘normal’ and will likely never think ‘multiple.’ Actually of all the years, only on a few occasions have people called us out on it, but that happens very rarely and usually these events are laughed off as slips of the tongue.

This is some of the nature of not being out as a multiple system to some people but not others.

- Zedjeb
houseofchimeras: (Lunatani - Self)
Date First Written: January 2012

Being humanoid in form doesn’t make someone anymore ‘human’ than other otherkin. Visual similarities aside there is often, for some kintypes, little resemblance otherwise between ‘human’ and a creature that is ‘humanoid but still nonhuman’ once you think about it. An angel might stereotypically look like just a human with wings, but that doesn’t make them so nor is a faun just like a human because they happen to look human from the waist-up more or less. The same is true for elves, mermaids, fae, and other possible kintypes that look human-like either just a little bit or lot more. They are still not human, and the otherkin who identity as any of them are not any less of an otherkin for it. Similar doesn’t make same as.

Even otherkin that are rather humanoid can have their own experiences with phantom limbs that don‘t fit a human template, natural instincts and longings not ‘normal’ for humans, mental dissonance from human behavior or society, a desire for nature in some form or another, and basically everything else more bestial otherkin and therians can and do experience. That feeling/sense of not being human, of not being in the right body, the sense of being ‘other,’ experiences ‘normal’ humans don’t seem to have - is still there. Just because someone’s kintype is more humanoid doesn’t automatically mean their otherkinness is necessarily any easier than someone whose kintype is not as humanoid in the least.
 
These more humanoid in kintype otherkin are often seemingly seen as more ‘human-like’ not only in appearance but also behavior then other otherkin sometimes. But a person can’t look at a person’s kintype and assume how their nonhuman identity effects them personally let alone what experiences such an identity does to them. Just because a person’s kintype looks humanoid doesn’t mean their kintype acts human or have instincts or mindsets not exactly or at all like something human. Some otherkin like mermaids, harpies, or fauns might even have experiences one might except from the animals their kintype has apparent traits of (phantom limbs, desires and longs for the outdoors, certain instincts and drives, and so on); while otherkin like dryads might experience things unlike any terrestrial animal (including humans). For other otherkin the difference has a lot more to do with the world around them then their physical body. A stereotype of this might be the elves, who pick-up on cultural and society differences more, or at that’s what I’ve seen from my perceptive. Then again, some humanoid otherkin might not. Some otherkin might not deal with or experience anything as dramatically or strikingly as others might, but even people of the same kintype can have very different experiences.

I’ve personally seen various forms of humanoid otherkin criticism or magnetization from other otherkin and also from a number of therians as well. It comes in shades from just not thinking they have as much to contribute or can’t understand the problems ‘less human’ otherkin face to outright criticism that they are of varying degrees of posers or people wrapped up in fantasies.

I’m not human. My body might be fairly humanoid from the waist up but the similarities end there. The lower half of me is most definitely not human. Humans don’t have sharp teeth, big animal-like pointed ears, and certainly not a furry tail or legs like a dog. That certainly isn’t human at all. That is just my nonhuman appearance, not to mention my nonhuman experiences. The siren’s call away from human society and into any place more fitting for the word ’wilderness’ telling in me. Some of my behavioral quirks are to want to whine, growl, hiss, snarl, yip, and all sorts of other noises that want to slip out if would let them. When fronting, I almost always get phantom legs over our physical human ones, plus my phantom ears and little tail are hard to miss. I also get my own brand of a kind of mental shift but they seem to be a bit different from how most therians seem experience them. They have a similar in animistic instinctive drive and reaction but I don’t loose the complex thinking of something more human-like even when they are very intense.

In the end, the biggest and most important similarity and connection a humanoid otherkin and a bestial otherkin have in common is that neither of them identity as being human or look at the world like a human does necessarily. Kintype appearances run all over the place and experiences even with the ’same kintype’ can have huge differences. That is why otherkin have come together in one for or another over the past few decades - to share experiences and stories, talk about the amusing things in life, share coping mechanisms, and then some. We identity as nonhuman and that is some commonality that can be certainly talked about.

- Lunatani
houseofchimeras: (Earth Listener)
Date First Written: January 2009; Date Last Updated: February 2014

The story of how we found the therian community is a bit of an odd tale. By at the latest of the age of 7, we already had a general grasp on our nonhuman identities. Our finding the online community and coming into awareness of the community’s existence was more of a gradual series of events that drew us even closer to its final conclusion.

To begin, it should be noted that our general and rough understanding of being nonhuman in identity occurred while we were still children. Our early childhood memories are vague in places, but we know for sure that we had some idea that we didn’t identify as human in some way by at least the age of 6 or 7.

The first hint to us that we are not alone in our experiences and identities came to us while we were still in our childhood. At the age of 9 in 1999 we met someone who identified as a fox. We ended up confiding and sharing our thoughts and feelings to one another from then on. We talked about our feelings of wanting to act out animal behaviors which we were having to teach ourselves to control. We also discussed feelings of limbs and such which were not there on our bodies as well. So on and so forth on whatever we experienced at that time in our lives. Our friendship gave our multiple system an early boost in confidence in our identity thought it did not put an end to our childhood doubt completely.

Then in the August of 2003, the hour documentary Animal Imitators aired on the television channel TLC. We had managed to catch a preview stating what it was about and so managed to record the whole documentary on VHS. We did so due to finding something about the preview we had seen oddly familiar and the actual documentary did not disappoint us.

The documentary went over the lives of various people. Some were more interested in the body modification, some of the people were more of the furry persuasion (and called themselves furries), others were more therian in persuasion (one of which even directly calling himself a “were”), and a few were a mix of one or more. Furries meaning a person who is a fan of anthropomorphic animals in media, and a certain percentage creating and wearing costumes of an animal. While were is another term for therian which was primarily used during the 90s and early 2000s before almost fully falling out of favor to “therian” until the early to mid 2000s.

One of those interviewed was Stalking Cat, a man who had had numerous tattoos and body modifications done to look more like a tiger. At one point he stated, “I’ve been a cat my entire life. I’ve always related to cats, I’ve always had a close relationship with cats.” We sympathized and felt similar to him in some sense. Not so much for the desire to take surgical action on our body, but the sense of some dysphoria to our body regardless.[1]

 Another person’s interviewed who really stuck out and whom we couldn’t help but feel similar to was a man named Coyote Osborne. The narrator of the documentary, introduced Coyote by stating, “Not all […] feel a need to transform their bodies. Some just accept they are an animal trapped in a human skin.” Coyote Osborne talked about having past life memories and dreams about being a coyote as well talked about how he felt he wasn’t human even though his body was physically human. The first time watching the documentary, we couldn’t help but identity with so much on what Coyote said. Of having dreams, of feeling like a creation animal, of drawing how we felt we should look like, and more.[2]

There were a number of things the documentary brought up that we didn’t fully grasp or not notice at all until later. However, what we did grasp meant a lot to us. Those of us who identified as Earthly animals or werebeast took comfort in the greater knowledge that we were not alone even more than what we had previously thought.  Everyone else in the system even, while the documentary didn’t pertain to them so much directly, found the idea of there being more people who didn’t identify as human left open a possibility that soothed them as well. We faintly remember watching that documentary many more times in the months and years to come.

Sometime in the summer of 2004 a documentary also aired called Humanimals aired. (It was not the Weird, True, & Freaky half-hour episode titled the same name as that aired December 16th 2008.[3]) We know and remember the hour long documentary aired during the summer of 2004 because it too was recorded by us on VHS. We have never found any information online referencing this old documentary however. The documentary almost exclusively focused on people who had modified there bodies to look more animalistic or whatnot. Some of them stated outright they didn’t identify with an animal at all, while a few stated they did in some way or another identify with an animal. This documentary didn’t strike us as strongly as the other commentary, but still some things seemed familiar to us. It still added to our sense of not being alone in our feelings.

The nudge referencing otherkin and similar communities occurred again in the winter of 2004 when a school friend of ours in junior high and high school mentioned that there were people who were nonhuman spirituality. She had an interest in witchcraft as her father was practicing witchcraft, paganism, and/or the occult (we never fully learned exactly what it was he practiced). They had heard of people who were actually werebeasts, vampires, elves, and dragons. (We remember her specifically mentioned those four.) She didn’t call them by any term nor knew anything more than that really, sadly.

Then, some time in the fall of 2005 while searching through the books at our local library on werewolves Cavern-Risen came across a book called, The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shapeshifting Beings by Bard Steiger. The book included one section which interested us the most (enough that we got photocopies of the pages in question back then) called “Spiritual Shape-Shifting.” The section discussed the topic of shamanic and other spiritual practices where a person took on the power or some other quality of an animal. It also touched on the idea of people merely connecting with or identifying with/as a certain animal, as well as mention that some people had dreams, visions, and so on of becoming or being an animal for spiritual reasons. The section also included a mediation exercise to spiritually shapeshift into a wolf.[4] Again, we were left with a feeling of our experiences being a part of some phenomena that other people had been and were experiences elsewhere, but still had no idea where or to what extent there was to it.  

Our lack of direct knowledge of the online otherkin communities changed though in March of 2006. We can’t quite recall the exact date outside that it was in March or early April. Even after all these years we still remember the sequence of events that infolded as we discovered the community online.

Cavern-Risen had been searching and using search engines heavily. She was looking up information on myths and stories of werewolves just out of interest and cursorily while looking for information on real-life werebeasts was more out of wondering what could be online. We all  remembered those documentary interviews of people who were like us and everything else we had come upon over the years, though Cavern-Risen wasn’t directly thinking of them at the time. We were still extremely new to what the internet could be used for so the idea of using it for socializing and networking didn’t even come to mind at all.

We don’t recall what she had thrown into the search engine or how deep into the page results she found the link, but what we ended up finding was the webpage called The Therianthropy Resource. It was the first website about therianthropy we had ever come across. The website was little more than a single webpage with much of the information there apparently taken from other websites with each section credited to the original author. Looking back we can recognize some of the information’s origins, some parts are from Alt.Horror.Werewolves and/or Were.net for sure.

At first, Cavern-Risen honestly thought it was just another werewolf website or something like; however, as she went down the page it became more and more apparent that wasn‘t the case. The webpage began describing something called “therianthropy” and how such people were, in a way, the real kind of werewolves and so on in the world. Several sections went over some personal experiences from their authors and the final section was over shifting and other things. As she read through the text something in the our brain kept feeling a sense of déjà vu on our own experiences as well as vaguely remembering back to those documentaries and so on we had once seen, read, or had been told. Fascinated and wanting to know more about the topic and wanting to be sure of what was being said wasn’t just isolated talk, Cavern-Risen took a few of the terms used and took a search engine to them. From there, we found even more websites and information.

Another website was quickly found called, The Shadow Wulfs Den. The site was old having not been updated in years on that day Cavern-Risen first found it. The website talked about various kinds of experiences more in-depth. Looking back, we can tell that a number of the things in the website are what we (and the greater therian community) would now called ‘fluffy’ in the sense of mixing fact with fiction (mixing in myths of werewolves into how therians actually are) as well as making real world claims (such as physical shifting being real and such). However, the website did give us more insight and ideas to bounce off of with to find and learn more about this topic.

Cavern-Risen kept searching and reading both that day and some more days to come. Over that span of time we came across even more websites, some of which we can no longer remember the name of or they are no longer online all these years later. Some of those websites we found and remember by name included The WereWeb, The Werewolf and Shapeshifter Codex, The Werebeast Support Page, Werelist, Therianthropy.org, Unicorns United, The Draconity FAQ, Eristic.net, and others.

At first, Cavern-Risen was skeptical to if this really did fit what she experienced (and the rest of us did in our own way), but as she read through both these websites and others of which we can’t remember the names of anymore, it kept feeling like complete déjà vu. A feeling of “I know this” and “I experienced that” kept washing over us all in some sense or another. We kept doing research and became more and more convinced that we fit into the words we were reading about and that our experiences fit into these communities.

After that point, we began to lurk in the community. Occasionally coming across a website we hadn’t seen before to look through as well as finding websites to keep going back to. Cavern-Risen held back on joining any forums, and instead we merely lurked forums that we could look at without joining. Forums like Werelist and a few other forums that we don‘t remember the name of anymore.

By summer of 2007 we began to consider joining the community. After a year of lurking, we felt a draw to begin joining in on the interaction and dissuasion. Given, Werelist was one of the visible forums we had been lurking and so had an idea of its atmosphere and content, we felt most comfortable joining it as our first step. However sometime during the fall of 2007, Werelist crashed causing us told back for a little bit longer.

It would not be until November 2007 that I [Earth Listener], who had taken over the front primarily at that point in time, would finally actively take part in the therian community. It was during the fall that we had created a Facebook account and discovered there were several groups on there for otherkin, including ones specifically for therians. So we began joining several of the groups that were active, and the first one we joined was one of the largest ones for therians called Wild At Heart. We also immediately after that joined one simply called Otherkin which was for all kinds of otherkin. After that we began posting and discussing along with the group.

Once we learned that Werelist was back up after having a major crash over a year ago, I [Earth Listener] joined the forum for the first time in January 2008. After that, we joined other forums such as The Awareness Forums in May 2008 and other otherkin forums. Thus, we’ve been around the otherkin communities ever sense somewhere or another. 

- Earth Listener


Bibliography

[1] Pemberton, Justin. Animal Imitators. TLC. 2003.

[2] Pemberton, Justin. Animal Imitators. TLC. 2003.

[3] “Weird, True, & Freaky: Humanimals,” IMDB, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1370125/ (accessed February 11 2014)

[4] Steiger, Brad, The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shapeshifting Beings. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1999.

July 2014

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