I identify as a bat, but being human is an integral part of that (for myself, not so for all otherkin). There’s no religious or really even spiritual dimension to that for me. Parts of it are metaphor, some are not, but it’s not spiritual.
Being a bat contains intersections between (for simplicity’s sake) function, form, and symbolism.
Function is behavioural and unromantic. The ways in which I think, sense of place, areas of comfort, actual behavioural patterns, that intersect with or look like bat.
Form is the body. Dysphoria, and feelings of physical body structure that doesn’t exist, comfort in certain motion, etc.
Symbolism is the metaphoric and conceptual understanding of bat, intersects also with ‘home’ and sense of place, includes symbolic personal, and mythological interpretations of the species, because I am an intersection of human and animal, and being human framing some of my experiences through myth becomes meaningful, despite not being spiritual.
All three come together with ‘identify with’ (as opposed to ‘identify as’), where I feel less alienated when interacting with that species than I sometimes do with human people, or reading about that species. (Not all bats, of course, it’s an order not a species, but trying to keep it simple here.) All these boil up into self concept, not in a forced way, this is just how I naturally happen to be, a woman who feels more at home, more honest, more natural as something between woman and bat.
I’ve always said at the end of the day you can look at otherkin or bat as a label for a collection of experiences and that is valid. Likewise I look at being an artist and a woman as labels for a collection of experiences and as descriptors of certain traits. However, calling myself a painter or a woman are meaningful things. When I say those things they should have weight. When I say I am a bat, it should have weight. It is a word that hints at deeper, heavier experiences and state of being, at another part of me that (currently) tends to be masked and I only have an opportunity to share or express in a limited way.
Yes, it sounds initially pretty stupid, people saying they are faeries or bats or whatever. The idea of a word like ‘otherkin’ is so that we can find others who we can drop masks with, or share with if we aren’t using a mask to begin with, etc. My hope is one day more people will be aware of the deeper nuances of what being otherkin actually means, because it sounds a lot less stupid, personally, when people actually understand what is behind our saying we are other-than-human and why that is meaningful for us.