Soulsearch – Keep Walking

[Go Back to: Meditating, Discussing, Labeling.]

 Keep Walking

We’re almost done. People often say (even without knowing what it means): “the journey never ends”. That’s the case: all individuals evolve, they grow, learn, change, develop their own insight on things and come to a deeper understanding of themselves. You’ll never been done with self-exploration. People don’t stay stuck a certain state forever, it’s not different with therianthropy. That means the way you view or interpret your animality will probably evolve, will get subtler. Well… in theory. Most of people stop soulsearching once they find out their “species” and a few labels to cling onto. Perhaps they don’t know what to do then, as nobody can teach them about it. Or they’re caught in the illusion that a name and a few terms are the end of all. That’s not the case: labels are optional, and knowledge matters more. Maybe you’ll get the feeling that finding your animal-self actually was much easier. Perhaps it also is why so few people write about “then”. What comes after is even more personal than the beginning. It’s about cherishing and developing that “you” you found and started understanding. It’s pretty hard to put in words – I would say, pure experience can’t be put in words – and there can be no guidelines for that. Were you searching for a guide on “what to do then” here? You’ll find none. That’s up to you and, fuck, I don’t know how you should proceed because what I or someone else thought and pondered about probably won’t be the same for you as it’s so personal. I can just talk about my own experience.
I would say there are “steps” of discovery, and this one is the most interesting, personal and hardest to put in words. I’m not sure if I can say “steps”; what I mean is that, for myself at least and for many other animal-people, point of views, knowledge and priorities vary along introspection. When people first learn about the T-word and feel they’re a “therian”, what they want is finding out what they are and where they fit in terms of words and people. They research on general knowledge and many need validation. Information on animals, terminology; they look up to others’ words (posts, essays). They don’t know about politics and all that shit, and may lack a critical mind. There is this pressure, from both outside and inside, to settle on something specific and just.. settle as a real, existing animal person. On boards, or on their own. They also don’t have much to say because most of time they’d never thought about their animality much before. This state can last quite a while. Eventually people find some answers.
Then comes the big slap in the face. Oops. Whether it is about species, labels, opinions/behaviors or anything else, a mistake was made somewhere. This is all about trials and errors, and everybody make them. You realize how stupid you’ve been, you got it wrong, you should have known, yadda yadda. Some people go really emo on this. They feel lost, and although at some point I only wanted to encourage them, now I tend to shrug more than anything else. It’s not the end of the world, jeez. You don’t have to post an over-dramatic topic about how you were wrong and how sorry you feel. Really, do yourself a favor: don’t write too much about it. You are under the impression you’ll get it right this time, and it’s strongly possible it’s not the case. That’s life.
Searching for definite answers. After people mistook one big time and felt sorry about it, made their mea culpa and showed to the whole world how worried they were about what others may think of them, they settle on something else thinking this time everything will be fine; in other words they get overly confident. Not only about themselves, but also on how others should soulsearch, what is Wrong or Right, and also what’s going on in the community – because, sure, they learned things since they hang around… but not so, really. This is the age of illusion, the illusion of stability and self-knowledge while they still are inexperienced. I can think of plenty people like that. They may know what they are, and where they stand to some degree, but the perspectives, the priorities differ. And the behavior, the self-confidence; bashing others’, showing the wold how serious and real they are, mimicking more experienced people and misinterpreting them. Some people never get out of this.
Seeking self-knowledge. Phases of self-doubt between illusions of self-knowledge may alternate for a long time. Little by little, after much trial and errors, clearing up of misconceptions, changes in perception and changes in interpretation, … things get better (hopefully). Deeper, subtler, and more stable. Animal people in this state know who and what they are, where they stand, and what they want. What they write about their experiences and discovery is generally a lot more interesting and meaningful than what people in the previous step may have written out of bangwagoning or thinking they knew what they were talking about. I’m not saying that before this people did not make sense at all, but more likely there wasn’t anything really personal and thought-provoking in it. As an example, before, “therians” would tell newcomers about “what therianthropy is not”. Now, more experienced animal people know what being an animal person really is (from their perspective), hence the easiness to write on the subject. They may also lose interest in what is discussed on forums. And now they have a better understanding of their animalself, they can put everything together, ponder over other aspects and how those aspects interact with each other.
Realizations, balance and new perspectives. From this point, people may successively come to different realizations and develop their own perspective on the world that surrounds them – a personal worldview. It’s about global perspectives. Those things vary as we grow, and often animal people may feel they do not gain anymore from reading forums, and they leave. This can happen in previous steps as well. Some people never joined. Some people also stop having any interest in introspecting at that point. Forums are about theories and terminology, and when you’ve reached a certain point in your life you tend to favour experiencing and being, not theorizing. You might write about your experiences, but you may also very well just be satisfied in understanding what you experience and/or being without necessarily sharing, because sharing means translating a vivid, unique experience into a common language, and you may lose something in the process. And people, especially newcomers, may not understand a word of it. When things become too personal, there is no language for them.
I’ve been tired of writing such sort of guides. I tried to not make it very personal to stay neutral, but not only this style doesn’t suit me, I also am not interested in “helpful” essays anymore. I’m just archiving this thing to go on to my own way. I want to focus on other things now, I’ve been wanting to do so for so long. This is a change in priorities. I am satisfied about writing about my experience from time to time and reading from others’ experience, others who have walked their path for a little while too. I know nobody can fully understand what I personally am going through, just like I can’t know what exactly they’re going through. I have to stay humble and try to be articulate. Some people know enough on themselves, animality and life in general to get what I mean, and that’s fine enough for me.
I think I summed up what can be summed up. Your actual experience of the animal, your personal growth, nobody can do anything about it instead of you. Take what makes sense to you, learn what can be learned, and be patient as evolving takes time and sometimes pain (and joy). I’ll stop there as I can’t write about the personal, specific experiences that are ahead of you. Just keep walking.

Soulsearch – Meditating, Discussing, Labeling

[Go Back to: Questioning.]


Sometimes people will advice that you meditate when you are confused and looking for answers. Indeed meditation is there to help you clear your mind, but it’s unlikely that you get clear visions of anything meaningful. I may be breaking some people’s hopes, but we are by nature very visual, imaginative beings and there are 95% of chances that with random visualizations excercizes will trigger something “fake” (it won’t give you the right answers). Also, meditating does not equal soulsearching – meditation isn’t soulsearch, but it can be a tool to help introspecting. I’m not a master of meditation so this section will be short and I won’t enter into details. I simply want to clear some things up.
Meditation is a medium to achieve inner peace. It does not equal getting magical visions of your grand-poobah spirit guide, that you’ll astral travel or will talk to the gods. Reaching a state of inner peace is there to help you getting rid of parasiting thoughts that get in the way of your questioning process. Often people think meditation is there to enter an altered state of consciousness where answers will be handed to them. Don’t expect that to happen; don’t expect anything because you will trigger it, something fake. I’ve see many people mistaking “visions” and day-dreaming. Just drop the idea, what matter is that you relax and don’t let any worries influence you, so you can look at concrete facts and feelings, and deal with reality in the most honest way possible. Meditation is not about thinking of nothing. It’s about not paying attention to the parasiting flow of thoughts wandering in your mind, in order to distance yourself from them and find inner-peace. Again, the purpose is that you clear your mind and reach the perfect state to question yourself.
I’ve used a similar form of meditation to Keller’s chakra meditation guide. Her article is more comprehensive than anything I could write on the subject so I’ll direct you to it instead of babbling incoherently.
I don’t recommend visualization as a main tool for therians because it’s prone to let fantasies go wild no matter how far from reality it is. This is problematic, you can never trust what you think you saw – if you saw anything – let alone any interpretation of it. Often meditation will make you visualize what you expect the most or what would please you the most. It can be hard to stay unbiased and keep one’s mind critical when questioning oneself even with a clear mind, but fortunately you have more possibilities, including discussing.


Questioning’s biggest difficulty is that it works only when you stay honest and the most unbiased possible – and it can be pretty hard to make sure you are. I would advise that, later on in your researches, you discuss with other animal people about your soulsearch in order to get feedback, especially if you’re unsure of how sincere you are to yourself. The point in getting people’s opinions is not about validating your therianthropy, but pointing to flaws in your reasoning and also point to other possibilities you wouldn’t think of in the first place. “Discussing your therianthropy” is not about saying “here is what I experience” to ask your friends about what you are. It’s about explaining to people who have critical mind “here is the way I’ve proceeded to soulsearch, how I analyzed my experiences, and the conclusions I came to” to ask if it sounds logical, if you forgot any step or aspect of the thing. Remember you must try to explain “why” you believe so or so. Anybody can say that they soulsearched and they’re a gryphon; but when they can not tell you why a gryphon and not a mixture of two or more animals, or how they came to such conclusion, you realize they haven’t put any thought into it. If you have no idea of how you came to your conclusions, you can’t be sure about them.
Before you rush on forums to post anything or e-mail anyone: what you want is useful input. You will most likely get good, interesting, more reliable feedback from experienced animal people (I mean people who have walked their path and are farther on their road than you are; I do not mean people who’ve seemingly been there for longer than you). They should have an idea of what you’re going through, and maybe a little idea of what’s ahead of you. You may find some of them on and out of boards (but most of people on forums are newcomers and won’t help you much). Some are okay people and will lend you a paw; but some others will try to format your mind the way they want you to think, and they often are the loudest ones (thus, those newbies will turn to). They may have a valuable experience, but they like to make sure you won’t annoy them with topics or people they dislike, or they will try to use your respect to get more authority in the community. I would simply say, be extremely wary of who you think as “knowledgeable”. Take everything you read with a grain of salt. I can think of a few “respected therians” who don’t even know what they talk about, spread erroneous information, and above all are always involved in power-struggles. Listen to any advice, but be careful and don’t think everybody has the same motives and is a true altruist. Most of the non-reliable people I’ve met are in the public social networks, but you can find them in more private circles too.
Some people may say good stuff at some point, and bullshit later on. Things aren’t black or white. Also, some people often aren’t the same in private, especially due to the social pressure and conventions on boards that keeps them from being sincere. Sometimes they will seek privacy to flame or grill you. Basically, stay careful. Good people are rare, this is a thing I’ve learned with time; a good chunk of them aren’t involved in discussions and aren’t even watching. Some people are not interested in talking with you. Some wouldn’t mind. Some may reply bluntly, which doesn’t mean their advice is pointless or that they have an issue with you as a person. I think in private social networks of animal-people you are most likely to get a sincere answer, and also more likely to get interesting, good-quality feedback. On the other hand on forums where people are questioned, you will probably get more replies, though you can get grilled easily if you don’t fit the community’s standards and talk about anything taboo.
Sometimes on forums to get someone’s opinion you’d better ask in private than in public. Or you can both post and ask privately to see how the replies vary. And make comparisons between people’s replies, too. I’ll stop rambling to let you find the way to get interesting insights. In any case, don’t forget this is about feedback, becoming aware of mistakes you may have done, and being pointed to other possibilities. It may be blunt but it’s not about being belittled, and it’s certainly not about being flamed and insulted. I would say you can only count on yourself in the end. You’re the one it’s all about, right? Don’t let others lead you on.


You know how I planned to entitle this essay “Soulsearching and Labeling oneself”? I changed my mind because you already have that Labels essay to refer to if you need. Always remember: labels are never necessary. As I said elsewhere, with time I realized that I didn’t need to use any label to communicate with other animal people in a clear and concise way. In fact, labels keep us from discussing the way we personally experience our animality, as they are umbrella-terms. I’ve been using “animal-person”, “animal-folk” and “animal-self” when I need shortcuts; and guess what. It works.
In the end, “I am a [insert your animal here] is the most simple way to say it!
[Go on to: Keep Walking.]

Soulsearch – Questioning

[Go Back to: Soulsearching.]


Questioning oneself is not about simply going “does this feel right? – oh yeah – fine, then it must be true!”. You have to ponder over why it feels or doesn’t feel right. You have to know why you think and feel a certain way. Questioning is more than asking a question and picking your favourite answer. It’s tearing your guts out, looking what’s in no matter the pain, and putting it back once you got an answer – and it may leave scars: you may not stay the same as you’ll have grown from that. Questioning one’s self is about blunt, sometimes painful honesty. [Note: people on boards may question you, especially if you haven’t before – it sometimes degenerates into grilling more than helping.] Though sometimes a kick in the butt is necessary, no matter if it’s others’, yours or life’s boot. Remember: be frank. Be honest. Be blunt. Don’t take the easy way, admit your weaknesses, and try to look into the aspects you don’t want to hear about. Try to admit the things you don’t want to see.
So. You somehow found out about the concept of “therianthropy” and this animal-thing sounds familiar to you. You feel you are an animal, you think you may be an animal, or you don’t know at all for the moment, and you want to explore the possibility. This should be one of the first thing you should ponder about: do you think you may be an animal because you’ve experienced certain animal things for years, or do you think you may be an animal because some of those “therians” sound like you? Warning: if you haven’t felt animal before finding out about the T-word, chances are that you aren’t one. One does not start being animal inside that way one day or it most likely is wishful thinking and mimicking. Even though you’ve just discovered the word “therianthropy”, you should already have years (if not your whole life) of experience on feeling animal inside. Probably you had no word for it but that’s not different: you are the same before and after you discover about the concept of “therianthropy”. If you start experiencing all kinds of shifts and visions, you should more seriously question yourself and the validity of what you feel, and find out why all of this never happened before. Usually things calm down once you’ve come to an understanding of what you are, not the other way around.
What is being animal inside? “Feeling animalish” is not enough, nor is “having primal instincts”. We all have those as humans, and you’re human-bodied too. Humans are animals and they’re not different when it comes to most things. Fear, hunger, the need to socialize or lack of thereof are perfectly normal feelings that humans experience just like other animals. Being a social misfit or having a certain diet does not make you animal. Look at what sounds like clues of your animalness and try to see if non-therians also experience such things. Don’t like crowds? Wanna eat meat? Wanna run or exercise or fly? There are various reasons for why a non-therian could experience such things. You feel animal and you are sure it’s unrelated to normal, human instincts? Well, there still are many other possibilities. You can have a bond to certain animals without being one. Such connection might result in you integrating certain traits of X animal – but that does not mean it’s therianthropic. It’s not better or worse, but it’s just not therianthropy. You may have a totem and integrate some of its aspects the same way; that’s still not therianthropy if the animal isn’t a constant and integral part of you. There is no thing such as a list of “symptoms” of therianthropy, so you’ll have to dig for the answers yourself.
If you feel animal inside, then it has manifested itself before. The way it does may indicate what animal you are – even if it’s a mere feeling inside. Since most of us aren’t legged encyclopedias, you have to *gasp* research on different species, again, so you don’t miss anything due to an unfortunate ignorance. Warning: researching on animal species does not mean going on boards, describing your behavior, and asking out what could you possibly be. Nor it is just trying to see which animal “matches” you the best like with clothing, this is very superficial. Speaking of that, I can think of several types of interpretations: the “physical” one (“I’m big and hairy so I must be a bear”) is completely silly as therianthropy has nothing to do with what you look like; period. The stereotypical one is based on, well, stereotypes humans associate with animals (“lions are noble and brave, wolves are loyal and friendly, felines are mysterious and arrogant”, etc). Of course you can be fox and sly, but you can also be sly and deer, or non-therian and sly. That’s unrelated, plus those stereotypes often are far from the reality of said animal, not to mention that applying human concepts such as courage (or many others) to animals – anthropomorphizing – makes no sense and does not work. Then you have erroneous or innacurate interpretations such as “wolves are friendly” and “raven people are bookish”. Well, from what I know wolves aren’t that friendly to anyone outside their own pack; and maybe ravens are curious, and this translate to being knowledge-thirsty or “bookish” for certain raven people, but they can also be pretty neophobic. Being wise does not make you raven just like being solitary and blunt does not make you feline.
You not only have to think about the things you relate to your animal(s), you also then have to see what makes it different (or similar) to other species. Why tiger and not sand cat? Why wolf and not dhole? Why deer and not springbok, hippopotamus, octopus or butterfly? If you can’t tell why you feel you are said animal, how can you be so sure? If you don’t question yourself you will never know that what you thought, felt was your guts, was in fact wishful feelings or confusion. You may very well be missing your true animalself – if you’re an animal person, as this isn’t sure. People often relate therianthropy to all kinds of things that don’t connect with it. Feeling different and/or lonely does not make you a therian, not your taste for meat or climbing trees or tendency to relate to your friends in a “pack” way. Some traits alone do not suffice, if people have nothing else of their “animal experience”, they most likely are non-therians.
To sum up a few questions you can ponder about, here is a non-exhaustive list I had originally posted on the 2003-2005 pre-crash version of the Werelist:

  • What is being an animal person about? What makes you an animal person? How does this differs from others’ experience?
  • What evidence do you have that you’re animal inside as opposed to having a spirit guide/totem or another kind of connection to that animal?
  • Why do you believe this, what are the logical arguments that make it possible/impossible?
  • What if you deny it? Is there anything that would invalidate it?
  • How can you make sure you stay skeptical and unbiased no matter how such things sound pleasing to you?
  • What are the things you relate to your animalness? Can such things be related to something else, is it something non-therians can experience?
  • What is being your animal, what is it like?
  • What makes you this specific animal, over some other species? What’s the difference?
  • How important the matter is to you? Which place does therianthropy take in your life?

I would prefer not having to post such lists, because many people will go over the questions and points I adressed in the whole questioning section, and will only stick to that list, which is a bad idea. However, since I also think some people need to have things pointed to them that clearly, it’s there.
So, you really think you are [insert your animalself here]? As we’ve seen earlier, if you’re an animal, you have been at least most of your life (unless something happened after a traumatic experience but that wouldn’t be most cases). Now you have put some thoughts into it, you probably have things to say on the subject. What is being your animal? What makes it different from other animals? How do you see life and things from this point of view? If you can’t answers any of those questions then you may want to put more thoughts into your “therianthropy”. I have yet to encounter a real cat who does not know what “cat” is like and feels like. Okay, all the serious kitties I can think of are self-aware to varying degrees, but knowing your animalself is not a superkitty ability; you should know. If you don’t it’s okay, but it will be useful to you to introspect and ponder on that.
Sometimes people will tell you right after this step to stop questioning and “let be”. Right, taking a break is necessary, sometimes. However, sitting around and doing nothing rarely makes deeper insights magically appear. Taking a break and “letting be” aren’t the same. The former is about breathing between two sessions of questioning so you keep your mind clear. The latter is just about “being”, often hoping something occurs to help you finding out, and often nothing special happens. What is important is to sometimes step back from analyzing, from trying to make sense of details, and just experience the animal naturally so you can look at it and analyze it better later. But everyone needs bits of self-questioning later on their path. If you try to make an interpretation of something while you’re confused, you’ll mistake and will end up even more confused. So when nothing else works, go out for a walk or lay down and relax; and stop thinking. Just be. Don’t let any confusion distract you and stay away from therian boards.
“Staying away from the community and its influences” should also be done while self-questioning. You’re supposed to have researched on therianthropy before, you don’t need hordes of newbies babbling pointless theories and terminology rubbish things to find out what you are. Staying away from all of this means cutting you off completely from forums, sites, and anything that’s currently debated and could influence your judgment when you’re in a “doubt crisis”, lost and confused. Withdraw a few weeks or months, and come back later. Alternate questioning sessions with little breaks the way you prefer so you get answers without being too overwhelmed by therian-related ponderings and social networks. In order to keep your mind clear, meditation can be an useful tool.
[Go on to: Meditating, Discussing, Labeling.]

Soulsearch (and keep walking)

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.]

The Cat-Nots

I never cease being impressed by the number of pseudo-cats out there. Felines are popular, trendy, almost as much as wolves. There are, however, few people I recognize as true felines. I don’t give a shit for that “you can’t know what animal someone is” rule; when someone isn’t a cat and claims to be, it sounds off. I know a bunch of different cat people – different felines, different concepts of felinity – who strike me as very feline in very different ways. I have a fairly good idea of what Cat can be like – and what it’s not, not when it differs from my own concept of felinity or way of being kitty, but because it lacks what we felines have in common. It’s not like I’m the only cat who get that feeling, either; I’m not special.
I never stop being amazed by the number of white tigers and “panthers” out there. Not half of them sound feline and real to my mind. Obviously “tiger” seems appealing; big and scary and pretty stripes. And people see panthers as sexy, mysterious and powerful. They don’t even know if they’re a melanistic jaguar or leopard or whatever, no. They are panthers. Dark and dangerous, shadow and silk and feline; that’s how they speak of being panthers. If they don’t seem to know what felinity is about, they’re probably mistaken. “I feel I’m a cat”. Why, in the first place? What is cat? Is it claws, muscles, tail and fur, sexy and subtle and predatory? Why a cat? Is it what you are deep down, or what seems appealing to you? Felinity… There are other feline-like animals. Genets, civets. Or fossas. Fox, even, from what I’ve heard. Even non-therians can be feline-like.
If you feel you really are a therian, go “soulsearching” better. Read up on felines, damnit. I’m tired of “cat-people” who can’t tell the difference between a jaguar and a leopard, who think snow leopards are leopard subspecies, who think panthers are its own species, and who never heard of ocelots, jaguarundis, servals, caracals or kodkods. You can’t tell which cat you are if you don’t know of them, like what makes a sand cat different from a pampas cat. Seriously, I wonder how the hell some wannabe-kitty came to their conclusions while ignoring pretty much everything on felines. It’s a shame. A wild cat isn’t a stray cat, a snowpard isn’t a white pard, a caracal isn’t a tawny lynx. Panthera pardus isn’t “regular leopard”; leopards are leopards, clouded leopards are clouded leopards. Unrelated. Also, felines aren’t what most of people think of them as. Get rid of the pretty images in your head.
Cats aren’t “sexy”. Human people can be. Cats aren’t mysterious. People can be – or pretend to be. Cats aren’t scary; cats are wild animals and predators, no more, no less. Cats are cats. Small or big. Small ones can be fierce (think of the black-footed cat). Big ones can be shy (ounces, clouded leopards). Cats can be pretty “bad” hunters in terms of success rate (I’m thinking of cheetahs right here). Most cats usually don’t live in “packs” (there’s the exception of lions, and some cheetah coalitions). A streak of tigers? What the hell. Cat people aren’t necessarily loners or grumpy, misanthropic, cold-hearted and sharp-tongued individuals. All cat people aren’t arrogant, narcissic or elitist. Or overly subtle. Individuals may be. Felinity isn’t more feminine than masculine. Being a feline isn’t about having fangs and claws and muscles and a pretty coloured fur. It has fangs and claws and muscles, but a feline isn’t just that. How to explain that to the hordes of winged white tigers and vampiric panthers?
Cat is simple because it’s down to earth and doesn’t bother with the useless. Cat is straightforward – unless it doesn’t want to be. Cats don’t swallow up bullshit; they can think for themselves. Cat is territorial, especially towards other cats. Cat can be nervous or coward (according to what that means to humans anyway). Cats know they’re cats and don’t need to broadcast about it. Cats aren’t cute fuzzy fur balls bouncing happily after mice in flowery fields. Cats aren’t dark feline-eared feline-tailed emo-ninjas with ice-coloured glowy eyes. Cat is the opposite of attention-seeking, cat is self-aware and self-satisfied as a cat. Cat is not superficial. “Vague” isn’t satisfying for a cat. Cat is firm and decided. Cat does not talk more than needed; cat does not fill up the blanks with pointless words. Cat is more than words. Above all, cat is and knows it.
The core of being a wild animal isn’t about lyrism on forests and the hunt and the night. Predators aren’t heroes in a movie with some happy-ending. Being a wild animal is about survival and meat and shit. Being a feline isn’t about hate just like being a raven isn’t about sorrow. A predator isn’t an all-mighty creature. Predators can be shy and nervous and fearing bigger predators, or fearing for their offspring. Being a predator doesn’t give you strength, but being a predator demands being strong (in different ways) to survive. Drop the pretty gloryfying images of cats you have in your head. Glorious animals? What is glory for animals? What is courage for animals? What is subtility for animals? What is originality for animals? What makes an animal archetype? Are you able to tell the difference between felinity and what non-feline people think of felinity?
And stop wondering what and how a cat would do. If you’re a cat you know, and if you’re a cat you behave so already.
Note: Made a “therian” site with barely any content to get respect in the therian community? Have the need to be accepted among “serious therians” to make your therianthropy feel more valid? Get panicked whenever someone questions you or direct some criticism at your words? In a general way, if you feel concerned about any of this, you should ponder for awhile about it. Find your own answers – and stop annoying the shit out of people like me. I’ve never enjoyed having people coming to me tail between legs, or whining elsewhere about how mean the big bad corvicat is because they can’t deal with (polite!) bluntness. Behaving puppy-like, tail-wagging as if I could and should guide them, teach them. Don’t try to please me, don’t try to flatter me, don’t think of me as someone I’m not. I’m just a blunt, no-bullshit, otherwise friendly individual who likes interesting discussions with interesting individuals – not with puppies. Not with kitty stereotypes. Not with wannabe-[insert your favorite feline species here].
No, “it’s ranty so it must be wrong anyway” does not work. It’s not because you don’t like my words that the ideas behind them aren’t worth consideration. I did not write this page to hurt anyone, I’m not getting any pleasure from that; I do, however, get happier when I come accross people who’ve put thoughts into what they are. If you’ve felt concerned by my rants, take them as opportunities for you to introspect and learn more about yourself.

"Different" isn't "Insane"

I was discussing with Shen Tirag recently about her personal therianthropy theory, mental therianthropy, and the theories related to atypical neurobiology and neuropsychology in a general way. Those seems to be pretty popular lately, seeing the number of topics on the subject as well as the numerous comments suggesting that many therianthropes may have atypical brain functionning and the like. At the same time, the idea that therianthropy could find its cause (partially or entirely) in “atypical” neurobiology seems widely misunderstood by a good number of people.
Let’s not start the “spiritual VS mental” therianthropy debate – this isn’t a real debate. There is no opposition to me, and anyway this writing is not about how one of these theories is better than the other. I am not a specialist of brain chemistry, I simply am someone with a critical mind who can’t shut up when seeing something wrong or inacurate. This essay is about clearing up a misconception on the “neurobiological therianthropy” take and it may interest everybody.
What pushed me to write this is that many time I saw people arguing “If therianthropy was caused by abnormal brain functionning, I would be in a psychiatric hospital” or “If I was brainfucked I would be seeking professional help” (I’m quoting them, those aren’t my words). Obviously if one follows that way of thinking it’s because they don’t understand what “atypical” means in the first place. I guess it’s not so hard to jump from “atypical brain” to “in need of professional help” when the theory has often been presented drawing comparisons with autism. While autistic people can be highly functional, our ableist society has difficulties understanding them as anything but mentally ill or dysfunctional, and they see “insanity” under a very negative light. However most therianthropes are able to funtion normally in society (I will go back to this later).
Another important point is: the idea that therianthropy may be caused by atypical-anything can be scary. It is terrifying to some, even, and the concept is quickly dissmissed and replaced by a theory that would be more flattering to the individual. Why is it scary? Because nobody likes being considered as “nuts”. As animal-people, we often have struggled with the idea of being animal inside, fearing for our sanity, wondering if we were freaks, if people would think of us as freaks. So when the idea that the cause of therianthropy could be something differing from the norm in our mind, people associate “different” with “bad”, “crazy”, “dangerous” and they go “Hell no!”. They want to distance themselves from “insanity” as much as possible (using the term in a very derogatory way and forgetting that some of us also are mentally ill). However this isn’t what the neurobiology/neuropsychology theory is about.
Atypical doesn’t mean our brain and mind aren’t fine. Atypical, here, means our brains work differently. As in, another way to function, not to dysfunction; it isn’t worse than any other. There are other types of atypical brain functioning that make perfectly functional individuals. Synesthesia (Greek, syn: together + aisthesis: perception) is one of them. Synesthetes perceive their environement in an special way, associating sounds with colours, or projecting colours onto graphems (letters, numbers, etc), or having other unusual perception associations. This is a well-known phenomenon. They require no professional help and synesthesia does not keep them from having a normal life. This condition is not a disease or mental illness. Synesthesia is “abnormal” only in being statistically rare. Can you see the parallel? Synesthetes perceive things that are real to them but that other can’t see. This is exactly what your supernumerary phantom limbs are about. You are not imagining them, you feel them naturally and they are a valid, real experience, but others can’t see ’em.
So I think it is time some people look into the concept of atypical neurobiology and understand it does not make animal-folk dysfunctional people or fake therianthropes. To me, this theory doesn’t even condemn spiritual people. As an example, since what you are isn’t the product of your imagination and that you really are animal inside; if it is who and what you are. Why wouldn’t your soul, the core of you, be animal? Why should it be mental or spiritual if you feel both apply to you? Why would it be impossible to think both concepts can coexist? If you believe in some kind of reincarnation, what keeps you from thinking you were a deer in a past life and this part of you is revealed through your “atypical” neurobiology in this current life? When someone asks if you are a mental or spiritual therianthrope, don’t let them put you into neat boxes if you feel both labels apply.
In the end, debating over causes we can’t even prove for sure is a waste of time. Arguing over what caused therianthropy is pointless and may keep some people from enjoying life as the animal person they are. This is worth for both science-obsessed and spirituality-obsessed therians. Focus on the way you experience your animality, not why you were born an animal person. I see a lot of fluffesque theorizing – fluff as in people mistake this as the whole point and give it too much importance – but I see way less accounts of what is being your animal, what is your perspective, and what makes you you. Some people create general theories on therianthropy before even thinking and knowing about their personal one. Some people are so obsessed with theories and words that they have forgotten what being an animal feels like.
Maybe they should go for a walk in the woods.

The Contherian FAQ

Over the last years, numerous topics related to contherianthropy have been brought up on boards. The various “debates” developed around the definition of “contherianthropy” have proven that misunderstandings and misusages largely spread since the term was first used. After more than one year of writing, rewriting, ranting and (above all) pondering over the “contherianthrope” label, I have decided to write this FAQ, which I hope will clarify what contherianthropy is. Please also check out Liesk’s essay on the subject if you still aren’t sure.
If you are wondering whether or not you are a contherian, you must first know exactly how to describe your therianthropy, shifting experiences (or lack of thereof), perception of your animal-self, and such. You won’t find a label that fits (if there is any) if you don’t know what you are and aren’t able to define yourself in your own words. Until then, you don’t need labels. Faileas put this simply in his “Simple language and the were/therian community” essay: “No one is forced to feel that he or she NEEDS to stick to the definitions as set out by someone else… and if you can’t even say what you are simply, what use is jargon then?”. Once you are able to describe your personal therianthropy, and not before, you can then try to see if an existing term fits.
The term “contherianthropy” was created by J. Lion Templin in the AHWw times to describe his own type of therianthropy. Therefore, the label’s definition was never meant to be broad and inclusive. You can read Lion’s short view on modern contherianthropy (1997) and his other articles on the subject, in addition to this FAQ. Now, in order to make sure we understand the same thing when using certain words, I have to define some terms as I will use them here:
Therianthropy: therion (Greek for “beast”) + anthropos (“human being”, “man”); beast-man, thus an animal-person. Therianthropy is a state of being and way experiencing the world that leads a person to feel and believe they are partially or completely animal inside (in a mental, emotional and/or spiritual way). Among animal people, this term is used in a general way and can apply to all types of therianthropes; however, therianthropy usually is assimilated with dichotomic therianthropy, “where the therian ranges between humanity and animality on some level” (source: Shifters.Org).
Shifting: any change from humanity to animality and vice versa. This includes drastic changes, subtle changes, as well as the “shift in percentages” changes described as eclipsing by some. To make it simple, when (more) shifted into their animal-self, therianthropes may experience this one deeper (“I feel more wolfish”, “my tail/ears/fur became present”), may have other urges than their usual self (“I started feeling like pouncing/howling”), and such as; the experience (and therefore, the definition) of shifting varies from therian to therian. As a side note, shifting isn’t required to be an animal person, and non-therians can experience some kinds of shifting as well.
Contherianthropy: constans (Latin for “unchanging”) + therianthropy (see above). Contherianthropy is a variation of therianthropy where the therian’s human and animal(s) selves are one single constant and unchanging aspect of the person. In other words, the intensity of their animality cannot vary over time, they never feel more or less animal in any way. There is no opposition between their “humanity” and their “otherness”, they are merged together, thus making any change from side to side impossible, as sides are non-existent; this is why contherians are shiftless.
Again, if you don’t fit in, don’t panic, you don’t need a label (in fact, labels bring more problems than they solve) because “therianthrope” includes all types of animal people. If you aren’t sure about what you are or are struggling about labels, you can have a look at my “Soulsearching (and what then)” and “Labels” essays. Now on to the FAQ.

As contherians are both human and animal simultaneously, can I say they are constantly shifted? Why aren’t they howling on all four right now, then?

  • Contherians aren’t “constantly shifted”. In order to shift, it is necessary to first experience something (such as, feeling human-like) and then change to something else (feeling more of their animal); there must have been an original state or side. For contherians, the issue of shifting or coming back to a more human mental state doesn’t exist as there are no actual sides. There isn’t a “human way” and an “animal way” of feeling and being, but simply an infinite number of possible actions that all emanate from the individual “as a whole”; which may result in more human or more animal attitudes, but that is only in the eye of the viewer. A contherianthrope would receive both human and animal urges constantly and there is no opposition or takeover; acting according to these urges is just a matter of individual choice.

So, contherians are constantly animal inside? That’s like saying other therians are less animal than them.

  • Not at all! The only difference is that a contherian’s self is static while a therian’s self is fluid. A therian’s animality or their human thought process may range between the foreground and the background, making them feel sometimes more animal or more human. A friend of mine actually described his experience of shifting by saying that it is less about becoming more animal, and more about un-shifting from the human state of mind that he has to adopt to interact in society. Shifters are animals who have learned to make space for “being human”, shifting is just reverting back to their natural state. In contherians however, the human “thought process” is integrated into their animality, so they are one and the same. Therianthropy and contherianthropy are just different patterns or way of functioning, none is “more animal” than the other.

 “I am always wolf, the only thing that changes is how wolfish I am in comparison to my human aspect. I feel my wolf-self can fluctuate, but I am always “me”, my wolf side is not a distinct thing.

  • Contherians don’t shift into their theriotype, period. Any fluctuation from “more wolfish” to “less wolfish” is a type of shift. Shifting includes all kinds of changes, and fluctuations are simply more subtle changes than others. It’s not because you experience a shift into your animal-self that it means it’s not you! Your animal-self may not be entierely compatible with your human ways of being, but it’s still you as long as it’s not an external animal connection, such as a totem talking to you. It’s kind of like totemists have to borrow animal jars from totems or archetypes to tap into different sorts of animality. For shifters, shifting is tapping into the different jars they own, they don’t have to borrow.

 “Do contherian shift in percentage then? I have seen it’s called eclipsing.

  • No, again contherians don’t shift at all. Eclipsing is just another term for fluctuations, it’s a kind of shift since it is a change to more animal or more human. A contherian wouldn’t experience any change from human to animal or vice versa.

 “A contherian told me that sometimes he may feel slighty more wolfish, but not in the way of a shift, and mentioned “mood swings”. What does this mean?

  • It is not contherianthropy, because if this person does feel “more wolfish” at some point, then it’s a change again from an original or other state, thus a shift. A contherian wouldn’t feel more animal or less animal at any given time. He would sometimes act a way or another, but he would always feel the same. While a contherian may mean he is more behaving in one way, he would never feel more animal or human in any way, contrary to other therianthropes.

 “When you say contherians don’t shift, do you mean phantom and dream shifts as well, in addition to mental shifts? I don’t really experience true shifts, only dream and phantom ones.

  • “No shifting” includes all types of shifting. A contherian would have no mental shifts, and he would either have constant supernumerary phantom limbs, or no phantom limbs at all; but not phantom shifts. Dream shifts mean very little: non-therians could dream they shift into an animal as well, that doesn’t mean they are this animal. Therefore, any dream shift wouldn’t be a therianthropic one.

 “What about cameo-shifts? I’ve heard about contherians who can shift into their totems/guides.

  • Cameo-shifts or totemic shifts aren’t therianthropic shifts, as shamans and other non-therians can experience them. Contherians can’t shift into what they are because it’s their whole self, so there is no room to shift from an aspect to another. That doesn’t mean they can’t shift into something else. So yes, as any other person (therianthrope, non-therian, whatever), contherians can experience cameo-shifts or the influence of their totem, since this is shifting into a creature that isn’t you.

 “When I am balanced with my animal side in terms of shifting, is it the same as contherianthropy?

  • No it isn’t, because contherianthropy is not about being balanced: in order to be balanced, you need a side to balance with another side. A contherian has no real side(s), he just is, exactly in the same way as a non-therian. A balanced wolf therianthrope would have something similar to a 50/50 mindset. This is dissimilar to a contherian’s inner self, which would be 100% humanwolf, not 50% humanwolf and 50% nothing, nor 50% this and 50% that.

 “How many sides can contherians have? How do they switch from one to another if they don’t shift?

  • A contherian can identify as various animals just like a therian, and it would be a simultaneous experience with no shift. This means they wouldn’t switch from one animal to another and would experience all his types of animality constantly, like with humanity and animality in “standard” contherians. Why would it be different? Humanity is as much a side as any other; there is no reason to categorize having a human side as being different from having an animal side.

 “A non-therian has simply a human side, while a therian has a human side and an animal side. What about a contherian?

  • Like non-therians, a contherian would have one side, which would be both animal and human simultaneously, or a creature that would be something else entirely (an hybrid that would thus be something on its own). As there would be just one side, it’s a little silly to call it “side”, so it’s not a real side, just the contherianthrope’s wholeness.

 “How comes that contherians still talk about “sides” or “animal self” if they have no side?

  • Although they do not have real sides, contherians can tell which aspect this or that urge comes from. It may be a little confusing for non-contherians, but for contherians it’s easier to refer to their aspects as sides (although they are not distinct from each other) than saying “that wolf aspect that is a merged/integrated part of my wholeness”. It is just a commodity. Personally, I’ve used “aspect” to avoid misunderstandings.

 “So, an animal person who doesn’t shift at all is a contherian?

  • I wouldn’t say that for certain. I have seen therianthropes on boards who said they couldn’t shift anymore, but just because they are shiftless doesn’t mean that they necessarily became contherians. Maybe they just have a kind of mental block that keeps them from shifting from a side to the other, which is not akin to contherianthropy – it would be more like, a shifter’s human-to-animal ratio being frozen in a given state.

 “Can one become a contherian? I’ve heard of certain therians whose sides would merge into each others and who stopped shifting.

  • I’ve seen some. I believe it could be possible that one’s animalself merges in with their human side completely, becoming fully integrated. The thing is, you will also see many people in the community who pretend they became something else, because they were mistaking at first, or because they simply were a little confused and perceived things differently. So while some of the people claiming to have integrated their sides may say the truth, there are others who simply won’t admit that they mistook at some point. I’ve seen a lot of newcomers being so excited about finding the concept of therianthropy that they started experiencing a lot of daily shifts, until everything settled down when they didn’t obsess as much about their animal identity. This isn’t to say that what they experienced was necessarily “false”, I wouldn’t really know. But what is known is that one’s state of mind and how one view themselves can alter the way they experience their identity. I feel this is very true for animality.

If you have more questions to add, please contact me. I would also like to thank Quil and Liesk, among other friends, for correcting my English and for giving their input.

Growing and Learning

If you’ve been around in the community for what feels like some times for now, perhaps a year or even two, you can make the difference between the mass of newbies and you. You are probably familiar enough with the terminology, and when you are involved in forums you tend to post more thoughtful topics than newcomers. And, of course, you try to help others when you can. You give advices. And you tell people when they get things wrong.
Just listen a moment. I am not going to scold or mock you in a “I am an elder/ancient/greymuzzle®/what you want, because I am not, and that’s silly and useless. What I have to say is: I am not much more experienced than you, but I see you going through something I had gone through. I want to warn you so you don’t look like an idiot doing mistakes as I possibly did. My message is: you aren’t really a newbie anymore, but that doesn’t mean you get the bigger picture – and I guess it is the same for me. I’ve seen people who haven’t been around for very long, but who begin to spread their “experience” and “wisdom” in a manner that doesn’t just slightly irritate me, but which shocks me. You may be one of them, or maybe not, but what I can say may still be useful to you.
I am more shocked than irritated, because those people act as “know-it-all” or spread stupidities, and because they don’t realize it at all. Fine, you have been around enough to help people about basic and less basic stuff, and you know what you are – or if you’re still searching, as least you know how to soulsearch and you do it on your own instead of asking others what sort of therian you are. Okay. Does that mean you really are experienced? Does that mean you know everything? Does that mean you can start a revolution about labels just because? No. Does that mean you can post snarky comments about how wrong “other people” are? Please no.
Nobody should allow oneself to be harsh, to mock others, or to make them look like idiots. Nobody should make others feel they’re “just” newbies who should only listen to your judgments, by writing comments full of “good! good! GOOD!” or “Nooo! Bad!” (those are real quotes commenting someone’s intro details). Nobody should start giving advices about soulsearching when themselves can’t seem to follow their own advices. Nobody should explain things they don’t understand themselves. Nobody should turn a term that has sense into a label that has none just because they don’t understand it. The list goes on.
It worries me when I see people who want to help so much that they confuse their peers. An example I’ve seen recently is welcoming people who are unsure about the animal they are, and immediately starting suggesting they may be polyweres. Wow, slow down. Do you want these newcomers to jump on labels without thinking about it? We know it’s good to reassure them, to let them know it’s a possibility, but they will learn it on their own, and hopefully they will take their time to think about it. It’s the same for every label. Just don’t throw all these new terms to their face, you’re not going to help them at all, although they may swallow happily what you said – for those who didn’t get it: that’s what you want to avoid. Always be careful about what you say on forums, especially to confused people, you’re not always helpful to them.
That’s why you must be careful when posting in people’s introductions. Newcomers can be impressed or eager to be accepted, they may pay much attention to what they are told. It’s not just a matter of labels and advices, it is also a matter of the way you say things. Don’t talk to them as you would to a naive child who can’t see what is “right” from what is “wrong”. Sure, they may be confused. That doesn’t mean they are idiots. You shouldn’t allow yourself to make judgments on their therianthropy. It is ok to say things like “I don’t want to offend you, but I’m afraid this or that sounds more like roleplay than therianthropy to me”, or “I think many things you mentioned don’t sound like therianthropy” or “it seems to me you may be confusing totemism and therianthropy”. It is ok to tell people they have a good, interesting introduction, or that it’s short and besides the point. It is not OK to stroke people’s head and say “GOOD” when they act as good woofies, or to do the opposite when you think they did something silly. It is not OK to make definite judgments on them, not simply because you haven’t seen more from these newcomers than the intro they posted, but also because you may be unfair and make wrong judgments, because after all you aren’t so much more experienced.
And I don’t want to sound as a “know-it-all’ myself, but I have to say it; it makes everyone uncomfortable. Being in the community for some months doesn’t mean you are veteran or a fair one. I was involved on boards since October 2003, and I’m still discovering new things about the community and its people. And that’s why I can tell you you don’t know everything either so don’t be so sure of yourself.
Most people agree on the fact they are still learning, but they don’t really think about what it means, they don’t realize that their understanding of the werecommuntiy or of their therianthropy may be poor. They try to help others while they are still struggling themselves, and they sometimes build websites. When you are confused about your own therianthropy, do you think you are in the best position to mentor others? Sure, you can share a half-complete werecard and your personal therianthropy (although some may not have understood that it doesn’t consist in a simple biography with the list of shifts they experienced). But what then. This isn’t teaching, since people won’t learn much from it. Hell, I don’t even think I’m teaching anything here, and I’m not sure I want to. I simply think that when you haven’t constructive, personal things to say, sharing your views on therianthropy on boards is enough. Don’t take me wrong, I love websites, I love reading essays and personal experiences. The important word is personal.
I see many people who simply repeat over and over again what have been said by more experienced therians, and who just don’t fucking know what they’re talking about, because they never stopped to think about it and how it can (or cannot) relate to their own experience. “Nobody can tell you what you are!”, “we all experience therianthropy in a different way!”, “be yourself!”… How many times have you seen people saying this? Repeating “be yourself” like magic words won’t make you be yourself at all. Repeating wise words from other therians won’t make you wiser. Repeating others’ experiences won’t make you experience and understand these things. That doesn’t mean you can’t mention it, but it means if you have some experience, you should have more to say than that. If you do, please feel free to share, put it on your website and more. If you don’t, stop pretending you do. You, others. Most of people. When you realize you were spreading bullshit, you really look like an idiot. But that’s too late, and now you have taught two dozen of noobs what contherianthropy is not, or how you must be a shifter to be a therian, or how spiritual therianthropy is the only way, and that’s not easy to go back and say “wait! I was mistaking!”.
No matter how much you are convinced you are helping, you must thoroughly think about what you are “preaching”. You must be aware of the fact you are still learning and that one day you may very possibly learn that you were wrong.
That’s what is experiencing and learning and evolving. We all do. Try to stay humble, because we’re all humans, and we all do mistakes. I once tried to make everybody understand how much I knew what I was, whereas in fact I was mistaking. There is a moment when you have to say “sorry, I was wrong” instead of searching for excuses. An example of bad excuse is the whole “my therioside is changing” thing. While it may be possible, I’ve seen therianthropes claiming it happened withing weeks only, and I strongly doubt what you are can change so fast, unless you experience some drastic and serious event/issue IRL. Be honest. Animal sides don’t appear or disappear like that. Accept that you may be wrong sometimes, and accept that others can make mistakes too. No need to make them feel ridiculous about that, it happens to everyone.
Always keep in mind you may be mistaking about whatever you’re saying on forums and whatever you feel is related to therianthropy. You may not be a real newbie anymore, and your therianthropic experiences started far before you joined the community, but it doesn’t mean you are never wrong. It happens to everybody.

Norms within the Werecommunity

Old essay, old thoughts. I’d take it down seeing its low-quality, but I find it interesting to look back at this with more perspective.
I know some people still argue about whether or not the term “community” can be applied. I personally think it might fit in a certain way, as we, therianthropes of the Net, are a set of people – a group – who interact with each other and we share common points (share elements with).
Last September, after one reading, I started thinking about norms within the online therian community – and with “community”, I don’t only mean the therian boards, I also mean animal-people at large who know about the concept of therianthropy and know about the community, but aren’t involved in any public space (forums, chats, …). Obviously, the norms may differ a little outside boards and chats, whether it is because some people don’t fit in and stay apart, because they don’t like norms or the “boards mentality”, or other reasons. I am not a sociologist, I simply make statements made of common sense, from my experiences and observations. This is an attempt at listing traits that are considered as the “norm” and what is “out of the norm” in the werecommunity. By doing so, I am not listing what you must be to be a therianthrope, if such a list could exist; I am only specifying what is common, accepted, or rejected from the community as I am writing this.
As the concept of therianthropy was born in an English-speaking community, and spread first among the English-speaking side of the Internet, most of therianthropes are English-speaker and most of websites about therianthropy are in English. That means animal-people who aren’t at ease with English and don’t read English-speaking websites have less chances to find any information on therianthropy, join the community and know they are not alone. It would have been the case for me, and I know a few French-speaking animal-people who wouldn’t have found the term “therianthropy” to put on their experiences if they hadn’t been able to read English well enough, or hadn’t found someone who could tell them about the community. I can’t say if the fact the community is mostly English-speaking has any influence, but that may be the case regarding cultural references.
Obviously, being animal inside and showing an animal-like behavior (howling, mewing, …) is considered as normal. Outside the community (ie. offline) it is not. Within the community we expect others to understand and accept us as they experience something similar, whereas we expect most of non-therians, especially those who tend to be more conservatives, to reject us, deny the concept of therianthropy, and possibly think of us as freaks. Also, accepting otherkins and vampires as having legitimate, valid identities is close to a norm – or at least it is a more widespread attitude than outside the community, where they would be considered deviant or eccentric people.
The community seems to be more accepting towards unusual beliefs, ways of life, and such as. We could say that therianthropes seem to be more liberal than conservative, although this might be because conservative people don’t express themselves much in the community because of the liberal ones. Faiths like shamanic beliefs and paganism are much more common among therians than in their real life environment; people claiming to follow a pagan/shamanic path won’t be pointed out, whereas outside the community, they may. Same goes for other types of sexuality or gender identities (homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, transgendered people and such as): they appear to be numerous within the community, but those outside the community may simply be less willing to disclose anything about their sexuality/lifestyle for fear of rejection. As a side note, it seems that zoophilia is real taboo inside the community too and isn’t discussed; few are the therian essays dealing with zoophilia.
Shifting is considered as a norm within the community. Indeed, at the first glance it seems that most of people do experience shifts, and many therianthropes still consider shifting as the second “feature” of therianthropy after being an animal inside – whereas shifting isn’t necessary to be a therianthrope. Contherians are often misunderstood and forgotten in the various existing definitions of therianthropy. As a result it regulary happens that newcomers doubt their therianthropy if they don’t experience shifts, as they don’t know they don’t have to experience shifts to be animal-people. Last but not least, non-shifting therians may be questionned about the legitimacy of their animality.
Having one animal side ( one theriotype) is still considered the norm. The more theriotypes someone has, the more out of the norm the person is, and the less this person is seriously considered. Therianthropes with two animal sides are much more accepted than they were years ago, but because of confused people and “pokemorphs” posers (people who “collect” or switch animals every other week), who tend to claim a greater number of theriotypes, polyweres and hybrids are in turn considered as more suspect. As a side note, it has appeared a few times that people tended to unconsciously consider a tiger/wolf therianthrope as less “wolf” or “tiger” than a wolf therianthrope and a tiger therianthrope. The experience of those who have a single theriotype seems considered as “more valid” than the experience of people who have several theriotypes, as if identifying as more than one animal would make each of their animal side less “authentic” or less… “pure” (sounds like racism doesn’t it?). Polyweres’s experiences of their animals are often overlooked because of this, and needless to say the issue isn’t discussed much.
Theriotype-wise, as I am writing this article, mammal predators (especially canines and felines) are the norm. Mustelids and bears aren’t too uncommon; avians, cetaceans, reptiles and herbiweres (such as ungulates) are uncommon. Rodent, fish and especially insect therians would be considered as really unusual. Topics about “why are wolves more common” are often discussed in the community, with many valid or less valid hypothesis (from scientific to spiritual). Part of wolves could be posers influenced by tales and hollywoodesque movies about werewolves, they could as well be confused weres who identify better with wolves because of their importance in (Western) folklore and it would be harder to them to identify with something else. It is possible that some therianthropes unconsciously feel some sort of “pressure” that  forces them to fit in to the “wolf” or “tiger” popular molds rather than other lesser known species. They may also deny their true animal identity if their actual theriotype isn’t considered “big” and “magnificent” (which is sad since no specie is actually better than another). The explanation may be a mixture of various hypothesis.
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive. I can’t explore every possibility since each of us has a limited point of view. I hope this can still help people to start pondering about norms and their attitude towards them, and perhaps it can make them think some more about the animal(s) they are.


Therians who have been around for many years already know the issues I’m pointing out, but this should be useful to others.
What you must always remember about labels is that they are terms supposed to make things easier. They are words summing up a concept and they should be understood by everybody. A label that people won’t use, that everybody misunderstand, or that complicates the matter has no sense. Also, a label is only a label. It makes things simple, but it also is less accurate than reality. As an example the term “therianthropy” is about being animal inside, but no therian experiences therianthropy in the exact same way. You can’t assume that every therian, contherian, hybrid, etc is the same as others therians, contherians, hybrids and so on. You have to remember that because of this, words don’t exactly mean the same for everybody. To avoid misunderstanding, be very careful when using labels and make sure of what the person you’re talking with means. A simple example is the fact that while animal-people use “were” and “therianthrope” for the same thing, many furries in the furry fandom use “were” to refer to werewolves in art, movies and such as, or concerning anthropomorphic characters that have a more feral look (this is one of the reason the term has been used less and less among therianthropes). Sometimes people take over a word and use it in their own way, creating a different meaning – and possible confusion.
It may sound arbitrary, but… please don’t use poser-ish labels. Don’t use White Wolf terms to then complain about people who assume you are a roleplayer. Perhaps you think some of these words perfectly express what you are, but a label has to be understood by everybody, and while you may think “this is what I am, I can’t say it in another way”, most of people will think “this guy is talking about roleplay, he’s not animal”, period. Don’t use titles such as lord, master, alpha; the terrible combination “I’m Lord Darkmoonwolf and I’m the alpha of a real pack of garous” won’t make people respect you, it will make them shake their heads, laugh or become hostile. Avoid using the words “lycanthrope” and “lycan” when you can use “therianthrope”, because lycanthropy is used as a clinical term and lycan has become an Underworld (=fiction) reference. In certain contexts it might work, but most of the time these terms will make others consider your therianthropy as fiction, like the term you used to describe it, and not as a valid identity. Therianthropy is reality, it’s a real thing, not roleplay. While some forums might accept these terms, I know no serious therian who would call themselves alpha, lord, or garou. Also, please, don’t capitalize therian-related words, it’s not holy or whatever.
Ultimately it’s a good thing to avoid using labels when you can. What matter is to make sense, not to cut short. While m-shift or even p-shift may be known by most of the community, it’s not always the case for newcomers, and I’m not even talking about the numerous obscure types of shifts listed on certain websites. Frankly, you don’t need one term per sub-category of shift. They actually are all mental as they happen “in your head” (where your senses are processed). You may want to make a distinction between mental, dream and phantom shift, but most types (such as “perception”) fall under the “mental” category and other labels are pompous and confusing. Using so many labels doesn’t make anyone seem smarter, it only makes them sound obsessed with jargon.
As a side note: not all therians are shifters. Refering to shifts as something necessary to be a therian can be oppressing for others; similarly, refering to animal-people as “shifters” render non-shifting therians invisible. In the same vein: some people use the word “contherianthropy” if their experience of animality is unchanging (they are totally shiftless). If you experience variations in the intensity of your animality but feel like using the word because half of the definition fits… no. Please don’t. You’re going to make the word meaningless because you shouldn’t use it unless the whole definition fits. See the Contherianthropy FAQ for more informations. Think about what implies a term before using it, ponder about the meaning of “shift”, “contherian” and any word you use. Any change in animality, in one’s animality intensity, is a shift, you can’t both have an unchanging animality and experience variation in its intensity, because that’s pretty much the opposite. Think about what you experience, and if you find no label that fits, it’s not important. Don’t appropriate words that don’t fit.
There always is a logic behind a word, there should be some thought put into it. As an example many people consider hybrids are polyweres, and that it’s all about having several weresides. It’s not exactly the case. A polywere does have multiple theriosides, such as a therian whose sides are wolf and leopard; he may shift into a wolf, or into a leopard, or perhaps both at once. However they are distinct from each other. The situation is totally different for a wolf/leopard hybrid, because an hybrid has only one side: the result of wolf and leopard mixed up together. It is one single creature which has the characteristics of both animals. One single side. Therefore an hybrid doesn’t have multiple animal sides, although for the sake of simplicity you can say he has several sides to mean he has several components. But they aren’t distinct theriotypes. An hybrid’s inner self is a blend, you would consider the wolf/leopard mix as one single creature.
Do not use “therianism”, “therianthropism” and any other kind of “isms” instead of “therianthropy”. “Therianthropism” and “therianism” are incorrect and it gets on many therians’ nerves to see it because it is misleading about what therianthropy is: “isms” are used to convey an idea of ideology or belief, while therianthropy is not a religion or doctrine you can adopt and practice. Therianthropy is not a belief, it is a non-temporary state of being (if you stop believing in therianthropes, the animal experience and sensations are still there) so it isn’t etymologically right. Therianthropy is not a cult, doctrine or set of tenets. Don’t misuse words, the term “therianthrope” describes what you are, not what you believe in.
A recent issue brought on forums concerns the words “wereside” and “phenotype” [2004]. Indeed, a few newcomers pointed out the fact that the “were” root means “human”, which would mean “wereside” has no sense; on top of that “phenotype” has a very different meaning from its original one (in scientific fields) and is just as misleading. They suggested a better word concerning one’s animal side and then “theriotype” came out.
Some new labels may be useful. However more often than not, they don’t exist for their linguistic usefulness but for their social value. For exemple, one day some people got insecure over the “contherianthropy” discussions as the latter was getting more and more accepted, so they created a word for all the therianthropes who always feel animal inside while experiencing changes in intensity from more animalish to less animalish. Thus “syntherianthropy” came out (it has been misspelled as “suntherianthropy”, whereas the greek “u” turns into a “y” in our languages, such as in “synthesis”) [Discussions: late 2004 – early 2005]. So what they did was creating a label for… the majority, since the specific experience they described was that of most therians at the time. The reason behind the creation of the word was not to improve communication, but about satisfying some people’s need of having a fancy term, seemingly validating better their experience at the time it was becoming less of a prescribed norm and more of one of the many variations of therianthropy. This is regretable.
This leads to an important point: creating more labels requires that the “positive repercussions” really justify the “negative side effects”. Ultimately we don’t need more labels; we don’t need more confusion. What we need for the moment is to clear up things concerning the existing labels. The “let’s create labels!!” trend is a dangerous one, and while newcomers may have the feeling that some new words are necessary, as everybody they should pay attention to all the consequences, and should be aware of all the issues raised before taking any decision. Anyway people are free to use the terms they want, and if the suggestions they make are good, it will spread in the community easily (though confusion may still happen). In case it isn’t clear enough, what I explain in this essay comes from my experience and various discussions we’ve had in the community, I am not forcing people to agree. What I want is that people think about it, especially if they haven’t spent yet more than a few years on forums (and the “werecommunity” does not consist in a single site or two).
The “pick’n’choose” attitude is a common trap for many newcomers when they arrive in the community and learn about its terminology. It’s hard to put words on what we experience and feel, and therianthropes (more especially newbies) may feel the need to find and use every word they can apply to their therianthropy in order to make people understand what they are – and possibly to “fit in”, or because it is relieving to finally find terms to describe what you are. Many will apply to them terms that doesn’t really fit because they find nothing else and they are convinced they need these labels (to be understood, accepted, and more “were”). They may rush, they read one definition about a word and think it is the ultimate Truth – whereas some definitions they read are wrong or inaccurate. Perhaps it’s because of the fact I have a “literary” scholar background, that I had “too much” philosophy, French and languages courses, but I’m finicky when it comes to words. My English is not perfect and I work on that. If everybody could make the effort to use terms correctly, it would fix a lot of misunderstandings in the werecommunity. Don’t overuse labels. Explore what you are, soulsearch, think about it, and think about meaning, so you can then use some of these terms to sum up what you are if there is no other way for people to understand it. It doesn’t matter if you have no labels to refer to what you are at first, and it actually doesn’t matter at all.
Remember that we don’t really need labels. Labels don’t define our self. Trying to fit into the mold of a word won’t help you. A label is not your identity itself; it’s just a sign above your head to indicate briefly something relevant to your identity. If people criticize the spelling on your sign, or if they believe your sign is confusing or unwarranted, it is an opinion about the sign, not people attacking your identity. Last but not least, you must remember that therianthropes aren’t therianthropes from the moment they found this label. They had been animal-people all along; finding a word to describe this did not induce their experience of animality. You are an animal-person because you are animal inside, not because you found a community made of people similar to you who use fancy words. Going deeper into your personal therianthropy (and self-discovery process in general) isn’t about collecting labels, but about learning more about who and what you are – and understanding it.