“If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve the man but deteriorate the cat.” – Mark Twain
I am not the biggest fan of anthro, furry, were or whatever the hell you want to call art that blends human and animal element in a half-and-half way. That’s not to say I never enjoy it. I often do. There is some beautiful, funny, and thoughtful stuff out there. Also, many such artists are animal lovers so I often find myself in sympathy with some of the messages and/or fantasies they create.
Some therians find the anthro form to be the best way to depict how they feel as an animal-person. I’ve read many essays and posts from such folk and understand their views. It makes sense for them. It does *not* make sense for me. If I had to chose some metaphoric way to represent myself it wouldn’t be a being that had mixtures of both in its physiology. It would be a being that had access to *both* a human and (dire) wolf body. The same being, two different bodies. Because two different bodies are natural to it.
That’s me. Whatever I might have been in the past, I’m kinda certain that I’m supposed to be human now. I know that the entity I am now would not exist without human components, those components being my body, brain, and culture. Then there are the dire wolf components. The behaviors, desires, quirks, and bafflement at my own body and environment that have stuck with me since childhood despite all attempts to make them go away.
I wouldn’t be me if I were fully dire wolf. I wouldn’t be me if I were fully human.
And if I had to artistically show my “true self” it couldn’t be a half-and-half creature. It would have to be a creature that felt as natural on four legs as it did two. That spoke from a human mouth and howled from a lupine muzzle. That is as equally tempted by the idea of ripping into a freshly killed cervid as chatting over sushi and tea with friends.
Why does something in my brain insist wolf is a natural form? Of course it could always be psychological which is a benign way of saying I’m nutty. Or maybe I was a dire wolf in a past life. Or maybe I’m mythologizing my psyche, using the species as an archtype to represent myself. Or maybe I truely am a child of Dire Wolf in soul/spirit/energy as I believe.
Whatever. I’m human in body and brain now. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find it fun and interesting at least half of the time. Sure, I can make a long list of all the things I don’t like about being human. I can also make and equally long list of all the things I do like about it.
Looooong before I read my first werewolf novel or saw my first werewolf movie the question that arose from the bewildering sense that “wolf” was in some ways more normal for me than “human” wasn’t “Why am I stuck in a human body?” but “Why can’t I be both?”
Maybe I just wanted to have my cake and eat it too. But I feel that even in my younger years, I was slowly coming to an understanding that somehow, some way, I simply wasn’t me if I had to give up either “side”.
I spent a while fantasizing about being a “real” animal, most often a wolf. Once I started reading and watching werewolf books and movies I was hooked for life. I don’t think I ever had a moment when I thought I was or could be a Hollywood style werewolf no matter how much I wished it could be so. However I felt that there was *something* in it all. Some clue or understanding to be gained in the novels and folklore and myths.
When I was a child most werewolf novels and art showed them to take on fully wolf or nearly fully wolf forms after transformation. The idea of the anthro werewolf didn’t really come into notice until the eighties when “The Howling” showed such a creature and it was much later when “Werewolf: the Apocalypse” with its Crinos form would solidly influence both movie studios and internet artists to nearly always imagine werewolves as beings who turned into massive bipedal canines. For internet art, I think it’s kinda cool though often cliche but as I’ve said, there is much I do like. For movies. Ugh. Movies have done a crappy job with werewolves in the past decade and, anyway, making half-and-halves move on screen tends to betray to flaws of the form. It can work but so far it hasn’t been done, and personally I crave a return to full wolf or mostly wolf forms in werewolf flicks. “Blood and Chocolate” would have thrilled me if it wasn’t such formulaic teeny drek that butchered the characters and story from the book. Man I’m getting off topic. I’ll just say when it comes to Crinos or anthro werewolves in fiction I ultimately agree with what Mark Twain had to say about crossing man and cats. Except with wolves instead of cats. :-)
So when I was a girl werewolves turned into real wolves. That immediately stirred something in me. Yes much of werewolf pop culture is about sex and/or violence, but that wasn’t the point for me. Later on I would find amusement in and use for the sex and/or violence threads in the werewolf mythos, but as a child the *only* thing that was important was that in these stories there was a depicted a possibility to fully experience humanity and lupinity. In some of these stories being wolf and being human were one and the same. To know what both were like was as natural as breathing. Being able to run as a wolf and still have humanity and walk as a human and still have wolfishness. From the first werewolf tales old and new found ways to make me think and rethink on where the line between human and animal was exactly in general and in myself. They illustrate what societies think and believe about animalness. Is animal the opposite of human? Lesser? Greater? The same? Is animalness dangerous? Natural? Sexy? Sinful? Holy? Werebeast mythos explores this and much more.
So yeah, I found a ***whole*** lot of fodder for philisophical and spiritual musings. I started seeing the werewolf as the best archetype out there to identify as in a spiritual and metaphoric way. I still do.
The term “werewolf” is to therians what the term “witch” is to Wiccans. Controversial. Some see the terms as empowering and the best and easiest way to cut to the chase when explaining to others what they feel inside. Others see them as unpleasant conterproductive terms which confuse outsiders and newbies. Every the contrary one, I am in both camps. Werewolf is an important term for me but I also believe that therianthropy should be mostly focusing on just being the animal. Werewolf is an archtype that carries some extra baggage beyond animalness that not all therians embrace nor should the be made to do so.
For me the archetype of Werewolf is a *tool* that I often use explore and understand my therianthropy. It is the psychological and spiritual *use* of that tool that makes me identify as werewolf, not exactly therianthropy. Therianthropy led me to werewolves and werewolves led me to therianthropy if that makes sense. To me the difference between being a therian and being a spiritual werebeast is that with one you believe you are somehow animal in mind and or spirit and in the other you are consciously using a mythological archtype for shapeshifting and other spiritual pursuits. Being one doesn’t make you the other but some people the two fit together rather nicely. Therianthropes and modern werewolves *are* different things with different focuses, on that fact I’ll be very insistant. I’ll also be very insistant on the right of mature, sane therians to use werebeast mythos and practice as a valid way to understand their animalness.
If I could artisticaly depict how I really and truely feel inside in real life it would be a being that is itself no matter which form, animal or beast, it took. In myth that is called a werebeast. In real life that is me. I just lack access to a lupine body.
Even if I didn’t want to claim the werewolf title, I don’t think I have a choice. It is often *given* to me by folks who know I’m not the sort to believe I sprout real fur on full moons and bite people.
When I come out of the closet as a therians to folks I trust to at least not lose respect for me because of it I am so, soooooo careful to avoid any references to werewolves and such. Most I come out to know of totemism and my practice of it so I normally use that as an opening angle and anchor for explaining everything.
After listening to my carefully constructed werewolf-free explaination of therianthropy, these folks who I have told specifically because I consider them smart and sane look me in the eye and say basically the same thing. “So you’re a werewolf.” or “I always knew you were a werewolf or something”.
I could choose to get frustrated and fussy over terminology. Or I could say what is in my heart. So I reply, “Yes, I guess I am”.
And yes, I immediately explain that not all therians identify as werebeasts as well.
But I do.
It is important to me.