This article revolves around soulsearching, finding one’s animal, etc. It’s not the ultimate guide or the only true way, [insert the usual disclaimers] yadda yadda. Seeing how often people are asked to soulsearch and/or don’t know how to, I wrote this based on my own experience and observations; I can’t garantee it’ll work for everybody. [Note: I cut this essay in a couple of pages because it is longer than my usual writings, and added navigation links at the bottom/top.]
First and foremost, what is soulsearching about? Many people advise that you soulsearch if you’re confused, but they rarely tell you why and how, or vaguely mention meditation as if it was the ultimate answer to your ponderings. Truth is, everybody soulsearch in his/her own way – which does not mean they all give the same results. That also does not mean that if you find something that works, you shouldn’t try out new ways to soulsearch; I’ll get back to that later. I think soulsearching could be defined as searching answers in oneself. That means nobody else can reach your answers for you as they’re inside you, and that also means the core of soulsearching isn’t about seeking external information, be it in books, websites or anywhere else. In other words you will not find answers in people’s words – but they may help you to think and find your very own answers that rest somewhere inside you. Soulsearching is a process to self-knowledge. It’s not just about therianthropy and you can soulsearching about anything identity-related. Soulsearching encompass several introspective tools (tools that will help you looking into your self). I will say more about the main tools I can think of, but the list is not exhaustive. Each tool has its flaws, which is also why soulsearching in different ways without neglecting a specific tool is important to avoid mistakes.
I will focus on finding one’s animal, and then will talk about going deeper in one’s therianthropy. You don’t need a “werename” to know what you are. You don’t need to find your totems/guides to know what you are. Hell, you may even discover them by finding out what you are not. This is all the “fluff” you shouldn’t think about for the moment. Sit and relax. Don’t worry about names, terms and all that because they’re very good at confusing you and keeping you from your unique, personal truth. You must know that soulsearching can take many months or years and you can’t fast-forward it. It’s okay, it’s really worth it. So to avoid further confusion and troubles, take your time and proceed step by step.
In your search for information about therianthropy, make sure you actually know what it’s all about. It has been debated over and over again since the “werecommunity” appeared; everybody has his/her own explanations. Basically, being a therianthrope is being and therefore feeling animal inside. You have to be animal, as in an essential component of your innerself. It is not because you feel “animal” that you are a non-human animal; but if you are animal inside then is had probably manifested in some ways and that may lead you to think you’re an animal-person. Whatever bullshit is said on the subject, remember: it’s about being a non-human animal and the animal is you.
Researching on animals is very important so you know of all the possibilities. It’s not for you to pick and choose according to superficial similarities, or the species you’re most comfortable and familiar with, or what you admire the most. You may sound like your animal, or admire the animal you are, or feel more comfortable about said animal, but you may also be something you didn’t expect, something you wouldn’t think as possible at first, and something you’d have to learn to be proud of. Be very wary of what you relate to your therianthropy and what’s unrelated – what’s a human-thing or anything else. Humans share a ton in common with other animals (mammals especially), including the so-called “instincts”. Be analytical. If you want to look at behaviors, try to see how said animal behavior can translate in one’s life. That’s why you need to learn on animals and get rid of the stereotypes. Ravens aren’t about sorrow or depression. They’re carrion-eaters and opportunists, and this is a trait of mine I identify with raven more specifically – in behavior but also in my philosophy, the way I deal with life, things, people.
It could be different; interpretation is up to each person, and while it’s not to be neglected try when possible to rely on the most concrete things. I know for sure my attirance for roadkill is not human, and my long, thick feline phantom tail is a good indicator for clouded leopard. So unless you know about the specific species, you may miss what you really are. If you feel you’re a feline, look into small felines as well. If you feel you’re canine, pay attention to less known subspecies too. Try to find reliable sources and read a lot on animals. The high number of white siberian tigers out there in the community is scary considering white variants comes from bengal tigers. If those people haven’t looked up on their animal and others, they just can’t know for sure and could be mistaking. How can they be certain of their identity if they haven’t really looked into it?
I wish people could not whine about how much they want to learn, when they never look things up by themselves. I have a dozen of links to other personal sites like mine under “Horizons”. From there you’ll find even more links on each of these websites, and so on and so forth. Several of these places can be found in the main boards links pages, and in their owner’s signatures or profiles if they post on boards. It’s damn easy to access their essays. So what do serious animal people think when others on forums ask a question that has been answered twenty times in ten different, fairly well-known homepages? “This person has never researched, can’t do it properly, is too lazy to do it, or is plainly stupid. They can’t be serious about therianthropy.” And they walk away from such individuals when the newcomers insist on being spoon-fed – because they come to the boards and ask naturally, like it’s people’s job to educate them and they’re in a fast-food. Consumerist mentality.
Soulsearching takes time. Soulsearching is not easy. Soulsearching can be annoying. Soulsearching can be painful. And guess what: soulsearching requieres you spend time looking up for things and learning by yourself. I should have said it before but I didn’t because everybody repeats it: don’t expect shortcuts, don’t expect an easy walk (though it could be, who knows). You’ll be lost and confused, and in the end it should work out not matter how long it takes. Be prepared for unpleasant moments coping with flaws of you you’d rather ignore, as an example. Be prepared to find out you may not be what you expected and accept the truth still. As I said soulsearching isn’t about finding one’s animal specifically, it’s about introspection no matter if you’re a therian or not. To help in this task, the first and main tool is questioning.
[Go on to: Questioning.]