What Exists

By Kusani
Who I am is not to be judged. I am not to be caged, or bound, or restrained. I am not to be labeled, scoffed at, laughed off, mocked, belittled, or looked down upon.
I, along with every other living creature in this world, have every right to be who I am in my entirety.
There are some sacred truths I hold. That is one of them. Who I am changes, and will always change. Not just fluctuate, not just shimmer a different shade of the same color – but change. I am coming to realize how many things that were once so intrinsic to my Self have been lost.
It has been a summer of healing and of learning, as I had hoped – a summer of shed skins and spilt blood. The summer dwindles and the darkness lengthens, its grasp on this land tightening. Soon, snow will be squeezed out onto white knuckles and the heat flee like feeling past a stranglehold.
I am lioness, yet the winter smells like home.
So many things I want to write about. Reading always gets the muse whetted, honed and sharp, ready to carve meaning from these simple text words. It is up to the fingers and, nominally, the mind, to choose how to wield that blade of inspiration, the fire that pours forth and threatens to drown.
I’m waiting and listening to the tendrils of muse-music-life pour down my bare shoulders and seep past my lips, and I wonder if I shouldn’t be doing something Important And Concrete, like packing. I move in three days. I wonder if maybe I should just experience. Maybe I should be on World of Warcraft, offering my time and energies to my guildmates, most of whom are close friends, all of whom are a strange sort of family. Maybe I should be posting on animal_quills, because I have been aching for a place like that. Maybe I should be working on my website, or writing something other than WoWfic.
Or maybe I should be right here, doing what I’m doing, being what I’m being.
So tell me what is. Not what it is. What is. What exists.
What is? Lioness is. Human is. Woman is.
I have watched from afar a small handful of feline therians. If they are not outright transgendered, female-to-male, most are androgynous. I’m not. Lioness is not lion, lioness is as she is – but is she. I am the Warrior and a guardian, I am a singer and dancer, I am an empath and a nurterer, and some of this is classed as “masculine” and some as “feminine,” but guess what. Human society holds an awkward grasp at best on the meanings and implications of gender – be it soul-gender or biological gender. I am a female. I am feminine, in the lioness meaning. I am the huntress and I am the mother. I still play. I still feed. I am impatient and curious and demanding and (sometimes) practical. I am smug, nestled into myself, enwrapped in my own strengths and quirks.
I have my pride. My pride, and my Den – those make Home. And when I say Den, I don’t mean, literally, a den – a nest, or a hole in the earth, a cave or burrow. I mean Den is where I belong, Den is Territory, Den is Home. Den is mine and if you touch it you’d best be part of the pride, because otherwise you will see the business end of the lioness very quickly.
Mist, is what some music feels like. Cool and damp, roiling, feather-light touch.
I suppose this is a shift? If you can call it that – I’m not sure. A “shift” is generally a noticeable, nonpermanent bias towards an animal nature – can be voluntary, can be unexpected. I haven’t “shifted” like that in .. ages. More, this is an explosion – of me, of all that I am rising to the surface and begging expression all at once. When the water begins to boil and the steam rises and coils.
I have a thousand things that I want to write. Therianthropy. Spirituality. Gods. Self. Death…
There is something untouchably sacred about winter. The snow piled against the doors and windows, holing you in, and a warmth at the center of what is Home. A fireplace, or a steaming mug of cocoa, or candles and incense. A friendly voice in the ear, be it a familiar and well-loved movie, or pleasant music, or a person there or on the phone – or on the screen. Being enclosed by the wild world outside, and being able to step outside and touch it, feel the wind whip ice against your cheek, smile and wince simultaneously – but being able to retreat into a warm, safe, secluded haven. Time stops when the sun goes down beyond snowclouds, and the night is forever – and you have time to dig, nestle more securely into your own fur and skin, reach out and touch what is icy cold. Time to write, and dream – time to live.
Summer is different. Summer is boundless freedom and no cage that fits properly, no snow-banked doors and windows. Summer is plains and plains and plains and then more, open and brown-green-yellow, open and boundless, open and inviting. Time to hunt that which feeds, stalk it under the sweltering sun, then doze in the insufficient shade. Summer is the ability to move as much as you want and need, no chains, no ties – all physical exertion, sweat and shedding, thirst and heat. Pushing the body to the limits it was made to meet and exceed, and smile for the burn of exhaustion in aching muscles.
Spring is explosion, like tonight, winter-into-summer. Spring is green things and colorful things, uncoiling and slithering towards the sun with tiny leaves and even tinier buds. The rich, almost pungent scent of flowers and thawing sap and moist earth – scent of rain, icy then refreshingly cool, scent of the winds that still nip with winter’s fangs. Spring is life, is birth, is rebirth continual and endless – spring is reawakened curiosity and mobility, as snow melts and feeds the streams, as the animals emerge from their hidey-holes and look around with renewed wonder at the world unfurling around them. Tentative steps, remembering old dances and old trails, and joyful song.
Fall is death. The winding, slow, meandering death of a stream that dries out amongst the rocks – the withering death of a green leaf turning brown and cracked. Fall is the dark rain that falls as night lengthens but does not yet bring the white relief of snow – fall is the cold winds that drive the rain to rattle the roof and windowpanes. Fall spits the rain in the eyes, a warning to hole up and prepare for winter, making sodden all the fallen leaves and the mulch, darkening the rocks. Fall warns, and if you don’t listen, fall rips your throat out with the first snows and lets your blood be a decoration on the virgin whiteness. Fall warns, but if you listen, you watch from those windows as the rain sheets down and floods the world, soon to ice over.
Hm. Am calming a little – the words coming less readily. I eased the press against the dam, I suppose, and I’ll be content with that. I cannot afford to knock everything down and let the river rage – not yet, not when I have to deal with wood and metal, paperwork and legalese.
But soon, I’ll have Den, and will break the dam down.

That Pack Thing

By Paleo
I’d like to talk about pack-desire among canine therians. For the purposes of this essay, I will be using the term “canine” to mean the dogs only. I am not considering foxes in this writing as foxes are quite different from their larger cousins, and it is debatable as to whether the social structures they form could fairly be called a pack.
As an individual, I feel I have at least some authority when talking about packs as the vast majority of my life has been spent reading and researching animal behavior with a heavy focus on Order Carnivora and focusing even further on Family Canidea. I have worked with and cared for grey wolves, and among that work I did a three month study on inter- and intra-sex dominance/submission displays among a socialized, captive wolf pack consisting of seven individuals. I am more knowledgeable than most about these things, but I am far from claiming the title of expert.
As a therian, I feel I must admit I am only a good candidate for discussing this by virtue of being canine. However, according to scientific guesses and my own internal feelings, dire wolves were not as tightly pack-bound as the more familiar (not to mention extant) grey wolf. In truth, it is African wild dogs who have mastered the pack structure, followed closely by grey wolves. Even domestic dogs are better “teachers” of what pack-mind is.
Speaking of domestic dogs, my advice to non-canine therians who are curious about pack-mind is to befriend a dog or visit a dog park. Try to lift any biases you might have about dogs and attempt to see yourself and others through their eyes. A dog is an individual and still has personal boundaries, but the identity of a dog is intimately tied to those it considers its pack. A dog is able to operate alone as a Self, but place it in a group and it shines. Dogs prefer to operate as We, as Us. This is the basic lesson of pack-desire. Different species have differing pack behaviors, but it all comes down to forming a fluid, working We/Us mindset while still retaining a sense of Self.
While emotionally, the difference between wolf pack-desire and human troop/tribe-desire is crystal clear, it is hard to sort it out in logical language. I can certainly admit that when you look at the Animal Kingdom as a whole, wolves and humans are strikingly similar by virtue of being intelligent, social mammals with innate hierarchal structures and a bonding instinct. When one focuses solely on humans and wolves, though, the differences are striking.
Walking as a dire wolf among humans has been confusing and frustrating to say the least. Emotionally, I don’t understand why modern humans make things so goddamn complicated. On one hand, they spew their sociality all over the place, and on the other, they insist on being so damned closed and self-centered that they cut themselves off from forming any meaningful bonds.
I find myself constantly having to remind myself to mimic the “social” behaviors that humans try to foist on me. A pack is a closed structure, and beyond those few that I feel packish towards, I would prefer not to interact with any others. I often feel my ears pin back and my hackles rise when a stranger gets in my face and starts talking like we are friends. After puppyhood, wild canines are very slow to develop bonds with new individuals. I do my best to remain friendly with new folks, but it is rare for me to start considering someone a friend until after months of watching them and “getting a feel” for them. And even then, it is a small chance that I would consider them true friends. Pack-desire may lead me to greatly desire the company of others, but it certainly doesn’t lead me to rush out and search for companions. Such an attempt would only cause me great anxiety. I also think that many humans I face pick up on the fact that I am at least slightly suspicious of them and they take it as a huge insult. I don’t understand this. Why should I trust a stranger? Why should they trust me? Those that aren’t pack are more likely to be my competitors, rivals, and enemies. I will *not* drop my guards until I get a better feel for someone and those feelings tell me that the person isn’t a threat. I find all the pressures to be an open, friendly, cheerful human woman to be insulting and even insane. Stupid humans, take care of you and your own, and let me take care of me and my own in peace.
Also, those who seek to put me in a one-sided relationship and attempt to call that a “friendship” are going to find themselves dealing with one pissed off dire wolf who will seek to drive them away. As a pack animal, cooperation is *very* natural to me, but if that cooperation doesn’t go both ways, you are just weighing me down and aren’t my friend, much less my packmate.
As a pack animal, I do tend to view others in a sort of hierarchal way. I am deeply aware of who is stronger and who is weaker than me. Now it is a myth that all wolves are driven to be top dog. Some wolves do have a very strong alpha-drive that keeps them striving for the leader position. I’d imagine that a wolf-therian with such an alpha-drive would have an entirely different view of hierarchy. I myself have only a slight alpha-drive. I tend to think of myself as good beta material, and it shows in how I view my relationships towards others. I have no problems differing to stronger individuals and can be very much at peace with my role as follower or supporter. However, I can’t stand being made to follow a weaker individual. In that case, my tail shoots up, and I greatly desire to knock them from their position. Thus, most of the time, I am quite happy to lend support to my “alphas” and am known for being a great “right hand man”, using my strengths to help those in charge. Of course, I’m also known to be the first to start growling and yipping and demanding the overthrow of bad or weak leaders. My first instinct is to get the “pack” to do the overthrowing and to prop up the person I feel is the best leader. However, sometimes I *am* the best leader, and while I get little pleasure from leadership roles (it makes me feel like such a target), my instinct drives me to take the role at times.
It should be pointed out that in this time and place, “strength” and “weakness” is not limited to physical traits and raw cunning. My human-mind is quite capable of determining which strength a leader needs for different groups. Because of this, I take into consideration experience, knowledge, people-skills, and the like. If the group is best lead by a driven people person, then I can accept a leader highly skilled in that area even if s/he may be my “weaker” intellectually or otherwise. I often find myself viewing others as being stronger than me in some ways and weaker in other ways, and I am very fluid in how I deal with specific individuals, groups, and situations. It must be said that for me, “stronger” and “weaker” aren’t judgment calls. It is simply fact. It is only logical that the stronger lead as that leads to the greatest chances of group-success. I don’t think this makes me slavish. I am not an insect or a Borg. A tyrant wolf is often overthrown by the pack despite being the strongest, and the same thing is found among primates. Submitting to my betters is natural, but so is the drive to keep testing and watching for signs that *I* am the better. Some wolves can be quite antagonistic about it, but I prefer to save my snarls and snaps for the things I find most detrimental to myself and my pack. I am an easy-going yet very cunning and political beta-type.
Pack is close-knit and closed-off to outsiders. Pack is hierarchal and fluid. Yet I have yet to get to the meat of what Pack actually is. For me Pack is simply family, folks who band together and help each other survive. Pack isn’t always loving or gentle. Pack isn’t a feel-good club with artificial ranks and duties. Pack isn’t even a group of friends who gather for entertainment and then go back into their lives only thinking about their friends when they feel like some fun.
Because humans are also social animals, it is possible for me to ease some of that pack-desire by interacting with my dearest friends who I know are truly “there” for me and who know I am truly “there” for them. Alas, modern humanity has severely limited any chances of forming a true pack. Modern humanity has even limited any chances of forming a *tribe* which is as important to the human psyche as packs are to wolves. Would being in a human tribe totally eliminate my longing for a pack? I don’t think so, but it would certainly ease that longing. I feel that tribes are far more natural and sane than the stupid, highly ineffective, and artificial constructs we use today. I have no idea if it is the primitive human instincts or the dire wolf instincts that cause me to see things this way. Probably both.
Speaking of artificial human bullshit, I feel that it is a sad thing that modern humans are mostly only comfortable with physical contact when it is sexual. In fact, they seem to feel that *all* intimate touch has a sexual context. I often desire to rest my head on my friends’ shoulders or back, to rub my cheek against theirs, to rest my hand (paw) on their leg. I wish we could all curl up near each other (or even with each other) and sleep peacefully. Canines are sensual, comfort-seeking beasts. Why can’t I give and receive physical comfort without being seen as weird or sexual? Why can’t I cuddle, rub against, or “pet” my friends without worrying that they think I want to fuck them? I’m afraid that even my most open-minded and tolerant of friends would be uncomfortable with this. Intellectually, I understand. Emotionally… it makes me whimper in confusion and sorrow. At least I have a mate who is very allowing and understanding of my wolfish affections. That helps somewhat.
As a last note, I think Kipling hit the Spirit of the Pack dead-on when he wrote, “The Strength of the Wolf is the Pack, and the Strength of the Pack is the Wolf”. Without a pack, I feel weak and incomplete. Sure, there are individuals I feel packish towards, but it really isn’t the same. Sure, I can form human bonds which add much to my life, but still my soul aches to run, to romp, to hunt, to howl as a member of this beautiful, natural, sometimes-peaceful, sometimes-savage entity called Pack.

On Being Extinct

By Paleo
Being extinct is…challenging. Frustrating. Sometimes heart-breaking on multiple levels.
Honestly, I’d rather not be a walking fossil. Many days I wish I was a “plain ole” grey wolf for the simple reason that they’re still around. I’ve been able to see, hear, touch, smell, and (thanks to an over-enthusiastic greeting) taste them. My life’s passion is animal behavior, and it aggravates…no it *wounds* me that I cannot *know* the the beast that lurks in my soul. Not with objective certainty, that is. I’ll never see it’s gait, hear its howls, chronicle its interactions with its fellows, prey, and enemies.
All I have are bones and “memories”. Thoughts, feelings, knowledge that seems to come from my mind, gut, and soul all at ones.
Bones give some clues, and important ones at that. Paired with knowledge of general trends among today’s canine species, they give a rough sketch, just enough to get to know the beast. Just seeing those teeth, those stocky legs, that huge Sagittal crest …it was enough to end seven years of questions and confusion.
Memories, well, those are more tricky. Heck, I don’t even know if “memories” is the correct term for these thoughts and feelings, but until I find out otherwise, it will have to suffice. Dire-wolf-mind doesn’t work like human-mind, doesn’t focus on the same things. It is hard to translate one to the other. And of course, I must always be wary of typical human wishing, delusion, and misunderstanding.
But what else can I do? Dire wolves and there world are gone. Forever. I have to do more than howl longingly over old bones if I am to know myself. To understand why on Earth some part of Dire Wolf lives on in me.
Thus the memories. These memories aren’t concrete. They are often a feeling of “the way things should be”. A form of pattern recognition. A sense of knowing. I can’t explain it. They just are.
I was lead to Dire Wolf through these memories. I learned how to “ask” the beast in my soul questions, like “What would you do if your prey climbed up a tree?” (Answer: just stare up the tree and leave after a while). While viewing things in life and watching nature documentaries, I could sense things that seemed more “right” than others. Certain landscapes, types of prey.
As an example, I have sort of an inner listing of prey potentiality:
Large, slow but heavily armored beasts rank at the top (water buffalo, bison, musk ox, even rhinos and elephants are worth checking out for weakness and wounds, though best to hang around and wait for them to die on their own)
Large but swifter animals rank next (moose, elk, zebra).
Smaller swifter things like deer and caribou are worth checking out but I “feel” little hope of catching them.
Rodents and small birds are rarely worth it, but sometimes you get lucky. Ground birds like turkey or birds that have a slow take off time like vultures are certainly worth the attempt.
Reptiles never register.
Piggy-prey does.
Fish don’t, except for salmon which does seem very important. Perhaps dires benefited from the scraps of bears and trapped fish during salmon runs.
I wish I had finely detailed memories of things, but I don’t. I just know what “should be”. The land should be similar to the alpine belt that cuts through North America, Asia, and Europe. There should be little to no humans around. There should be teaming herds of prey animals, similar to those found in modern Africa.
I should be canine, yet I should also have prey-drives and hunting/scavenging tactic similar to the spotted hyena. Which no modern day canid does.
And it all keeps leading to the same conclusion:
My “should be” place is in a bygone era. My “should be” self is an extinct critter.
And my “should be” behavior is practically unverifiable.
Sure, I feel like I should be using ambush tactics and using muddy, snowy, or wet terrain to my advantage. But did dire wolves actually do that?
I feel like I should be following vultures to carrion, eating salmon scraps at a river, nipping at and tearing hunks out of huge, weakened prey in the hopes that they bleed to death or fall to their knees so I can begin breaking bones. But is this an accurate portrayal of dire wolf eating habits?
I feel that my kind was less socially cohesive than grey wolves, and while there were often snapping-and-snarling fits, dominance displays were fewer and less “political”. But is that the truth?
I can make good guesses, but it doesn’t satisfy my human brain, my ego-need to *know*. To say “yes, that is true” or “no, that is false”.
To be human is to question and ask.
But to be dire wolf is to just be. Perhaps I should learn from that.
Still what does it mean to “Be” and to “be extinct” at the same time?
Somehow, I’m the answer even as that answer keep eluding me.
They say extinction is forever, and yet for some reason, my soul seems to disagree, at least in part.
What does that mean? Hell if I know. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.
Until then, I’m back to studying bones and sifting through memories.

Dire Wolf Is

By Paleo
Dire Wolf is intuitive. Dire walks through the world paying little thought to many of the worries of humans. She won’t remember what brand of clothes your wear, and she wouldn’t even know how to judge their “style”. She *will* know if you are truly comfortable in those clothes or if you hide behind them. She notices how relaxed your muscles are, if your smile reaches your eyes, your tone of voice, and all the subtle movements you make with your eyes, hands, and feet. She’ll also notice the cardinal singing outside the window and the breeze of the air conditioner that turned on in the middle of your meeting. Dire notices, but doesn’t always think. When she does choose to think, she is capable of a sort of canine cleverness, but mostly she trusts her hunches and her instincts to get her by in life.
Dire Wolf is restless. She tends to notice smells, sounds, and movements that, to her astonishment, most humans don’t take note of. Some things *must* be investigated through all senses possible. Dire is as nosey and mouthy as any canine, and most things are investigated by putting them as close to her nose and mouth as possible. Dire sniffs almost everything of interest, and she would like to chew and lick things as well, but these days she must settle for just touching things to her lips. She likes moving around, looking for interesting opportunities. She wishes other would follow her to investigate what the turkey vultures are circling over. She will break off from a group to follow an interesting scent and then gets annoyed at their annoyance. Such things look scatter-brained to the humans she keeps company with, but in fact Dire is very, very focused. Some humans misinterpret lack of thinking about human things as lack of thinking at all.
Dire Wolf loves to rest. Dire is a creature of the moment. When awake, she restlessly pursues what interests her. But when she feels lazy or tired, she deeply resents anyone or anything that detracts from the goal of a good sleep. Everyone that has tried to wake the sleeping Dire knows that much snarling and snapping is inevitable.
Dire Wolf is blunt. Canine communication is very direct and no-nonsense. Sounds, scents, facial expressions, and body language paint an exact picture of canine emotions and intent. Dire expects it to be the same way among humans. She has no patience for those who do not speak their mind or those who try to manipulate with their words or tone of voice. Dire gets very, very annoyed if she is reading mixed messages from a person, *especially* if it is intentional. Dire in her most natural state does not hide what she is feeling. She does not mince words, nor does she care to get involved in verbal politics. She gets little from insulting or belittling others, but if she thinks you are an idiot, it *will* show. Dire is capable of manners and deceit in the human way and abides by them when she must. But no matter how hard she tries, she often lacks in tact and the ability to sugar-coat things.
Dire Wolf is aggressive and territorial. Dire is not comfortable among most people. She has a select few who she sees almost as being “pack”, and everyone else is not welcome to be around her. Dire wolves were mega-predators with other mega-predators as rivals, including other dire wolves. Dire sees most others as potential threats. She is confident in her size, power, and bone-crushing jaws. She also knows she is not nearly the biggest or most dangerous thing in her world. Thus, she puts up an impressive front but knows when to run as well. Yes, her bark (or snarl) is often worse than her bite. However, if pushed, she does not hesitate to use any figurative or literally lethal tools she possesses depending on the situation.
Dire Wolf is social to a select few. Dire is highly antisocial to most of the world. She loves and guards her space and rarely seeks social interaction with others. She is a pack creature, though, if not nearly as pack-bound as grey wolves. Dire needs contact with the select few she trusts on a semi-regular basis. Like other wolves, Dire just needs to rally with them from time to time in a fit of joy and emotion. She is overjoyed when she meets a friend she hasn’t seen in a while. Dire wants to romp and play and bump sides and wrestle… and then Dire has had enough, and probably so have they. Then Dire wants to rest and wants her space. Dire is happy enough knowing her pack mates are within howling distance (which translates into a long way now that she uses telephones). Dire is also aware of “ranks”, who is the leader, who supports, who follows. It matters less to Dire than it does to grey wolves, but it still is important. Dire has no true desire to be alpha, but can’t tolerate weak leadership. Dire has no problem submitting to others who are “stronger” than her in some way and often prefers to play beta to some of these people. However, Dire has a hard time bowing to leaders she feels are weak or incompetent. It is not a matter of pride; it is a matter of pack. Weak leaders are bad for groups and Dire seems to instinctively feel driven to challenge weakness.
Dire Wolf is deeply primitive. Dire is a beast of another time and another place. She feels this in her bones. She longs for an era that can never return. For reasons she doesn’t understand, she connected to places, creatures, and even peoples that vanished long ago. She no longer hunts and scavenges for the flesh of prehistoric beasts. Now she hunts and scavenges for answers, for meaning. She does this not with the speed and coordination of Grey Wolf or the adaptability and cunning of Coyote, but with the stamina and stubbornness of Dire Wolf. Even at her most human, Dire is primitive in her values and worldview. Such a thing is confusing and frustrating, and the tracks and trails to answers are so very old and faint, if not gone totally. Dire Wolf wants to sit on her tail and howl in confusion and sorrow at times, but then she remembers: Extinction is for wimps.
Dire Wolf is extinct and living.
Dire Wolf is primitive and modern.
Dire Wolf is spiritual and physical.
Dire Wolf is canine and human.
Dire Wolf is Paleo.
Dire Wolf Is.

Dogs Days of Summer

By Noctifer
There is a phrase around the South, mentioning the “Dog Days” of summer, based on the erroneous belief that the dog star Sirius is closer to the Earth in midsummer, adding to the sun’s heat. I know it’s not true, but I’m tempted to believe it, as hot as it is. The pavement is almost hot enough to crack, and wearing clothes is misery-inducing. As is phantom fur.
All the people out and about look hot and drained, and their weary dogs pant and droop their ears, and I with them. But my ears aren’t there, and even though I don’t sweat, as a human I have the potential to do so, making panting unnecessary. I find a cool, shady spot to wait for the library doors to open, and without the typical human inhibitions about sitting on the ground, I take a seat, in one smooth canine-feeling motion. It has always bothered me that this body is so ill-built for comfort without human furniture; the ground is so far away, it takes so many stages of movement to reach it, and then getting back up is awkward. If I walked on all fours, laying down would be so much simpler…
I sit among the growing, standing crowd, people-watching out of the corner of my eyes, or following their reflections in the door-glass in front of me. Everything is arranged so I can see myself, right up to my face, which somehow is obscured. I like it this way; my face has never felt like me, and I’m happier not seeing it. It’s one of many reasons I dislike mirrors. I see my usual, rather hunched posture, and my muscular forearms. Human forearms aren’t much different than a dog’s, and this has always made them more pleasant for me to look at. My hair is as wild as ever, and it wings out to the side a bit from my face. It looks faintly like ears-to-the-side, in a canine expression that defies human words. It seems utterly normal to see something like that in my reflection, and I don’t even question it. On the way home, I see a dog with my hair color, and my fur-feelings intensify enough to make me feel hotter.
Maybe there is some truth to the dog-days myth; maybe today is a gift from my bright-breasted patron. I don’t know, and in typical dog fashion I don’t really care. Still, I enjoyed it, heat and all.


By Meirya
Let me tell you about bird. About feathers itching beneath skin, rustling atop skin, beak replacing nose-mouth-teeth, scale-crust legs. Let me share flight, soaring. Hunting, diving, watching. Always watching. Let me tell you of the shift, the change.
First there is hollowness, in the mouth. Upper palate expanding, stretching, elonganting. Tongue is a stubby calloused thing, useless for speech, even when thoughts manage to form words. Lips, what are lips? Hardened and retracted, a thin membrane across the upper of bone-teeth-beak. Nose is nothing but nostrils, faint scents, more wind-sensors than anything else.
The arms are next. Wings. Arms resisting forward movement, fingers stretching to unbending length. Shoulder socket rotating back, limb-lengths all wrong, all disportionate. I am off balance, disoriented. The arm-wing-limbs stretch back, behind me some, and now out a bit at the sides for balance. Confused, and aching, shoulder click-click-clicking as body and mind disagree on what’s what and where and how.
Or sometimes it starts with feathers. Itching beneath the skin, all over, like needles trying to poke their sharpened heads through the surface of arms-sides-back-neck. Claw at it, like molting, like shedding; in the oddest times, the most detached, when bird-mind clicks over and human-mind stills, logic fades, rationale simmers into nothing – then I bite, claw; the mind that is not bird and not human and yet both in a confused dissociated manner says ‘open up the skin, let it out; there is something beneath my skin that wants-needs-must come out!’ but it won’t, I know this, I have tried, for other reasons and in other times. There is only red beneath the surface, and that is the same for bird and girl.
Sometimes the legs join in, too, making walking difficult, awkward. On the toes now, because the foot is shaped wrong; balls of the feet is right is natural is normal, and it’s not the balls I’m walking on because this is the foot’s sole, what do you mean I’m on tip-toe? Legs like the arm-wings, disproportionate, turned wrong, they’re supposed to fold this way, and it’s not supposed to be so long from this joint to that, and it’s supposed to be longer from that joint to this. Toes curl, become claws; agitation rakes the earth, or the insides of wrong-fitting shoes, clenches as if to grasp tree limb or skittering mouse.
But the mouth-to-beak, that is always there. Not always the feathers, or the legs, or the wings, but always the hollowing palate, so easily summoned, or coming unasked for, or unwanted. It’s easy to pull on the change, just a closing of the eyes, a remembering. Beak, feathers, flight… bird. The essence of hawk/owl/falcon/I’m-not-sure-what. In my mind-sense it is this: a shrieking cry, rustled feathers, light body and ruffled warmth; sharp gaze, sharp sight, senses on alert; a soaring, a silence, a knowing of movement, hypersensitivity to motion – watching, watchfulness, always watching. Sunshadow or moonshadow, ghost on the wind.
It doesn’t always come from willing it, this change. Often it’s for no reason, or any reason, unbidden; a sudden awkwardness as limbs change, and I have to grasp tight to the human in me, mind-thought grappling with a slippery elusive core, that rationale, a logic-reason-emotion that is only human. Tight to the feeling of human: arms and bare skin, mobile mouth, talkative tongue, words words words, terms and names and thinking always thinking so much thinking, push away the instincts because I don’t need them can’t afford them not now, not here.
Sometimes I don’t succeed; the bird wins out and I am perching, on couch or stone or chair, and if I’m lucky I’m outside, and there aren’t many people around or only people who know, and there’s no ceiling-walls-cage, and the bird-panic and fright-flight that comes from crowds-enclosure-entrapment-chaos doesn’t send me into the wide-eyed gaping-beaked gasping incoherancy of needing to flee to fly but unable to because these wings don’t work, are only arms, and I must get out
Those are the bad shifts, the panicky shifts. Of sudden claustraphobia where human has no problem with it, or the choice between fight-or-flight, too often turning to flight because bird is not a fighter, only a hunter, and the prize here is not high enough, not valuable enough, or there is no prize; it’s not my territory. But corner me, or go after what I consider mine – friends, possessions sometimes but usually people – and fight wins out, and claws spread. Bird is territorial, possessive: “this is mine, this will not be taken, this is mine!”
But there are good shifts too. Out in forest, cliffside, ridgetop, seventh floor balcony: the wind rustles in hair-feathers-wings, pushing up, so easy to spread wings and reach out, jump out, soar; so hard to resist, sometimes, as the sky calls and the longing that is rooted in human because only human can long thus, but it’s inspired by bird and flight-memory, the longing aches as deep as the drop below. Or at ritual, the energy workings drawing bird out to see, experience, be – and those are the best of all, full contentment, settled with chestfeathers fluffed, watching still but this time without wariness or predatory interest; just being. Contentment, so rare, so precious.
And there is flight; how could I not mention flight? Bird takes no wonder in flight; this is normal, this is survival, this is hunting. Riding the wind, watching the earth, alert. But this is new to human, or if not new then still marvelous, treasured even if it comes only in dreams and meditation. Flight is bliss, feathers rustling, perfect control with the slightest movements; circling, soaring, wings spread. And then, ever-alert gaze spotting movement and wings follow, fold, dive – wind screaming, eyes squinting, claws clenching, and the wings snap open at the last moment, thunderclap simultaneous with rabbit-squeal, talons digging and grasping and the glide ending at last, and wings mantle, hood the warm still body, mine, and as the beak tears in precise quick neat bites, the eyes still watch, ever vigilant, ever alert.
This is bird, in shifts and dreams and thought. This is me, human and feathered, bird and skin, thought and action, all in a morpheous entity with too many names. Meirya. Kyanti. Dani. Me.

Evolution of a lone wolf

By Twilight Stray
There will be no ranting, no revocation of my moderator status accompanying a long angry essay advocating the downfall of the community, and declaring myself hereafter gone from the world of these frivolous forums full of useless diatribes. That’s been done so many times that it has become a hallmark of the forums- the angry person on the other side of a screen somewhere, who has become so much of a troo were that they no longer need the community and all of its problems. Often , they want to be entreated to come back- they think if they return triumphantly to meet the encore of the masses then they will ascend in the ranks to something truly worthwhile and popular.
I’ve been around for a few years- which admittedly isn’t a lot, but it has been enough in my own evolution. My art brought me to the forums, where every page struck me like a lightening bolt, where my days were full of epiphanies, serious soul-searching, and the drama of such a revelation as “there are other. By god, there is a name for this thing. And now there is so much to learn.” There was a time when I wanted nothing more to be a respected member of the community, someone who knew what they were talking about, who didn’t anxiously worry that they were in fact posing or didn’t meet the criteria required of whatever label was popular then. I became active when the community was embroiled in the Were symbol debate, and was active in those discussions. My Deviantart gallery still has the largest numbers concerning my ideas regarding the symbol. I cared about numbers, I cared about being real, and I cared about being a Respected Member of the Community. I had a lot to learn then. These are things I still care about to a degree, and I don’t consider myself to be naïve back then. I just had a lot to learn.
I’ll never say I’m done soul-searching. I’ll never declare myself some guru or greymuzzle. But I don’t think the community has as much to offer me as it used to. Not because the community is deficient, though some aspects of it arguably are, but just because I’ve pretty much learned what I can from it. The community was good to me- I got past the basics to learn more not only about myself, but how to debate well and make sure I could back up my arguments. I learned to introspect, and consider other arguments, and above all, to get over myself. The day I learned that it was not the end of the world if someone “knew,” was a big day. Most importantly, the community taught me that everything of real importance can’t be learned from the forums. All the real experience and knowledge about living as an animal-person in the world doesn’t come from reading. It comes from doing. It comes from writing. It’s a process of working from in to out, not learning what’s out there and looking in. I’ve done that- and I’ll always do that to a degree. But now it’s time to really take a look at what’s in there and see what it says about what’s out there, now that I have the experience to do so.
So now I find myself shifting to the other spectrum of Weres on the web- towards the realm of the solitary creatures, perhaps jaded by the community, but who maintain there own repositories of experiences expounding on what all this is for them. We all know the names- those who were once “respected members of the community,” who are no longer really a part of it. Sometimes they are those who were disillusioned with the popularity contest overrun by newbies that they may see the boards as. We have all stumbled across their sites- works of art and individual introspection, typed by those who are confident enough to go without the usual definitions. There is a theme throughout their work, one of evolution, individual awareness, and peace.
I haven’t had a major shift in a very long time now- not since the beginning tumultuous months. I think it’s something like eating- when you go for a long time without food, you become ravenous, but when you steadily keep yourself nourished, you’re fine and can concentrate on being whole. There is still hat dichotomy there, but I’ve become so much more integrated over the years. I’m a wolf-girl all at once, not bottling up this familiar foreign feeling until it haunts my dreams, leaving paw prints across my vision. With looking at all possible sides and arguments, I’m able to find a much better place to balance. And to quote Ozen, one such confident individual, “And now that I start exploring the base of my humanity, I find that there’s a wolf there.” The more I try to find out what’s me, what part is wolf and what is girl, the more I find how it’s all tangled up in this web of Self. Each thread insubstantial, and ineffectual- except where it touches other threads. Wolf on its own isn’t much without creativity, humanity, and so many other threads that overlap and intertwine and dance about until they create a vast net, poised to catch every price of experience or knowledge thrown at it.
I’m not leaving the forums. I’m not really staying though. I’m just doing what I’ve been doing more and more now- responding when it is necessary, and concentrating more on being a wolf living in the world and a girl living in the world. Yes, things will happen, opinions will change. Evolution, adaptations are inherent of the species. I just feel like I’ve been weaned from the puppy playpen of the forums. I have my own little den, and I’m big enough to talk to the big dogs one on one. Being popular, worrying about my own veracity matters less and less, and the drama of arguing on the internet holds nothing new for me- nothing to help me grow. The real stuff has started- and the less dramatic stuff has started. It’s been in the works for some time now; I just may not have seen it. So here I am, moving along the web, towards independence.

Musings on dead things and fake things

By Twilight Stray
We piled into the back seat of my Dad’s car, the air conditioner and friendship fighting off any claustrophobia that threatened. They would offer grapes and lean against me while we zoomed around turns, games for children. We hadn’t known each other when it was time for those kinds of things, so we make up for it now.
The herds of cars were parked like shining cows, all facing the same direction on he field, crushing grass underfoot as their engines lowed and rumbled. Walking in, my nostrils flared as I scented the small horses at the pony rides- one diminutive pony, a bit larger that a miniature horse was trotting in a circle with an equally small boy on his back flicking at the reigns. His steed was nonplussed. There were booths- blinding white tents and the promise of veracity.
The first thing to hit me was the smell of tanned leather, feathers, bone. It was heady in the summer heat- my sunglasses weren’t helping much so I ducked into the first tent. An emaciated woman in aviator glasses held a young grackle that was missing feathers from around its eyes. It clutched to her sinewy wrist and fluttered like a burnt handkerchief. I wanted to reach out to it, hold it, set it free- anything really, but it didn’t look at me, and nether did the woman. She chewed tobacco and watched the soccer moms barter over necklaces and rings they wouldn’t end up buying.
Each booth was similar- the same dreamcatchers on every pole, the same images of horses and eagles and wolves and crying native women tattooed on the sun burnt arms of patrons and sellers alike, mirroring the images on the tie-dye t-shits hung on the racks, some of which displayed stolen art. All the dreamcatchers looked the same to me.
The smell of burning sage was overwhelming in the heat- a cleansing holocaust in the summer sun. It was different from the sage I know- my small wands burnt on the deck out back on cool fall evenings. My long hair sticks to my back, tangled and damp, but protection none the less. I’ve always hid behind my hair.
There was a black man wearing boots and a cowboy hat, an empty medicine pouch against his collared shirt. Small children were breathily fluting random notes on bamboo pipes decorated in bright yarn, mixing with the sounds of tape-recorded birds singing. We found a lone bison in a small corral backed up to the truck that had brought him there, signs proclaiming the great respect held for the sacred bison- not buffalo, but bison, and declaring that he did not need shade as bison were hardier then their domestic cousins. I peered through the square bars of the fence to read further about how the thin rope around the fence should not be crossed- this was a wild bison, not a pet, and was not used to humans. I couldn’t smell him over the sage and sweat and dry dead things.
Moving on, I passed more coyote faces staring out from the opaque sides of Tupperware bins, and fox faces ranging from white-gray to a charcoal black like old clothing. Bobcat faces hung in bunches, six dollars each, a metal ring stretching through their eye sockets. I winter a larger tent, rows and rows of badgers and every colored fox in ling strips, like socks hanging from their crushed noses. This tent has far more furs than the ones before it, and I turn to my right where inevitably, wolf pelts hang like larger foxes, larger empty socks like Christmas stockings waiting to be filled. These would never be filled again.
Most are white and “arctic wolf”, slightly larger than their southern cousins, longer nose and different eyes- remember “Never Cry Wolf?” runs through my head. I hold a paw, comfort, for me or it I don’t know. I know that they are much bigger on real wolves. I know how they look when splayed to walk on snow. Here they are dried down small to the size most people image them to be- no different than a golden retriever or husky. These are white though, except between the toes where they are the old red color of berries. Blood, dirt, or something else- it’s hard to know.
The pelts are again long and shapeless, but their fur is thick. I think of how I draw those kinds of pelts, how I’m learning the fur patterns and the direction the hair moves. Something I can feel sometimes, but need to learn to draw. I look to the pot-bellied man smoking a cigarette behind the table. I ask where the wolves came from, but I already know the answer. “Alaska,” he says, not unkindly. “Arial hunting” shoots through my mind like visions of snow and exploding rib cages and frenzied running. The chase without the dance, without the predator-prey communication. Killing with ease from far away.
I’m quiet, shifty, smelling everything around me, as I walk hotly through the tents, taking off and putting on my sunglasses. I’m not angry- calm in fact. My friend tells me I look like a hot, sad doggie, and I say I’m fine and laugh a bit, saying at least I’m not skinned and hanging from my nose on a hook. It’s the kind of acrid statement I would have made in the past, that I should be too mature for, but I don’t feel it at the moment.
I still imagine different scenarios- the man asking me if I’m a wolf-lover between puffs on his bent cigarette. I see myself looking at him and he pausing, as I intone softly, laughing around the corner of my mouth, saying he says it like a curse or insult. He repeats it, and I smile sadly, and say I’m not a wolf-lover. I’m just a wolf. But the thoughts are fleeting, overdramatic, and I’m distracted by a jewelry tent, the sound of drumming and voices singing.
It’s a few Spanish men and boys, one thirteen year-old drumming a bit, trying out different rhythms while the men sing a few bars, mainly to themselves. My fiends
and I walk some more, stopping beneath a tree to eat lime snow-cones. I’m not hungry- there is a deep cramp below my belly, and I don’t want anything. I don’t normally get menstrual cramps, but these hurt badly- not causing me so much pain as slight bewilderment at them being there at all.
I look in my purse at the few pictures I bought from some of the vendors- pieces of art that can’t be faked. One is a woman summoning a red smokestack of animals. The other is the silhouette of wolves, three running against a blue sky. The last is a white wolf looking out on a clearing, and it makes me think of Home, even if I could have drawn the wolf better myself. I look at the tree I’m leaning against, where a cicada shell sits next to a chrysalis which sits next to a white moth, all in a line like a science-classroom illustration, ants creating a moving backdrop against the dark scarred bark of the tree. We walk some more, passing the same shops and lingering a bit longer to make final purchases, and make our way out. I take one last look at the coyote faces in the Tupperware bin, and I do not buy one.
I’ve always had an interesting relationship with dead things. When I was younger, I always had a good sense of righteous indignation towards my mothers friends who wore fur collars, and a sense of grief and sickness over the fur coat that hung in the downstairs closet. Then as time went on there was a sense of reclamation, where parts of pelts, wings, feathers all gave me a sense of authenticity. I always looked at road kill. I wanted to be desensitized to this- I wanted to be able to take what I could use from dead things that no longer needed them. Not trophies, but something I could use as reference, art, or just to be near me. And it still leaves me torn. Part of me wants a collection of animal parts, a menagerie of my own like the natural history museums I love so much. Desensitize, I say as I take the wings of a dead bird. I’m making use of what would be wasted, I tell myself. And it’s true.
But I think it more comes down to wanting animals near me. A sense of grief, tempered with a need for contact. Perhaps I gather echoes around me- the closest thing I can get to knowing something. Perhaps I try to desensitize because I didn’t know them- they weren’t beloved pets or neighborhood animals I watched grow. But perhaps the need to gather, and my former anger all come from the same place. A place where I need to mourn that I never knew them, that I couldn’t do something for them in life. Perhaps I just need animals around me, in a perfect world living ones. But it’s not a perfect world. For now, having run the gambit of seeking dead things and shunning them, I can take and hold what comes to me, and bury what I can.
I had found a dead swallow a few weeks ago, and had scavenged the wings from it. I messed up when it came to the tail, scattering feathers like any common house cat kill. After burying its body in the fenced-in backyard of my Dad’s townhouse, I figured I’d come back for the skull later, after the bugs and weather had done their work. I’d thought about it since- how I didn’t really need a small sparrow skull, and dead things not only should be buried, but buried with honor. Today I went out with the intention of digging it up and relocating it to the woods out back, outside of fences. All I found was the brain case, waiting for me on top of the clay-like soil, still damp from morning and recent rains. That’s all I needed. We are or brains. So I took it out back, and plunged my thumb into the wet loam, planting the small skull like a seed. Dead things are better when buried.

There is a wolf that lives in the right side of my brain

By Twilight Stray
I have spent the last week perusing Betty Edwards’s book, “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”, which does a great job of applying neuroscience and general brain-ology to art and artists. While reading this book, I noticed many very interesting connections that could be drawn between the brain, art, and therianthropy. In a lot of the places where she takes about creating art, I found that it described some aspect of what the Shifting mentality is for me. Keep in mind- I don’t know that this works for everyone, but it certainly was an “Ah-ha” moment for me personally and the way my head works. The general brain dichotomy is something that philosophers, poets, and rocket scientists have notices since Socrates was in diapers, but I find that it explain my own predicament just as well.
I know that for many animal-people, the need to express ourselves artistically is as ingrained in us as much as our animal natures, and often that creativity is used to express that part of ourselves. But perhaps it is the right side of our brain that is expressing itself through art, and perhaps ultimately an identification with animalistic thinking and worldview. Perhaps therianthropy is a result of people having a more profound dichotomy between the right and left brain, and as art is a right-brain activity, it has a lot in common with shifting. Edwards talks a lot about how learning to draw is a matter of shifting your way of seeing the world. This is what happens in art, and in therianthropy.
Now, the first thing to do is look at what qualities are inherent of the right brain and left brain, understanding the basics about how the brain works. It would really help you if you had a copy of this book, or at least knew a little about brains here, as I can’t recap everything. What I’m going to do is quote Edwards on a few things that she said about how the right brain works when applied to art, and point out how it applies to animal people as well.
Learning about the brain is about learning about two ways of knowing. I will say right off the bat- this has always been a quality of mine. I have read prodigiously from a very young age, and find that I adapt very easily to different mindsets- be it characters in a book or philosophies, and I’m able to snap out of them just as quickly. I don’t want to say empathetic, as I’m not, I just know that perhaps as a byproduct of having an overactive imagination, I can adopt different worldviews, which comes in handy when discussing philosophy or religion or other such Liberal Arts College matters. I know that I have always been a very torn individual- I can look at those lists of personal qualities and say that both polar descriptions seem to be about me. There’s a reason I call myself Twilight- I’m fickle as hell and generally torn on many matters, seeing both sides but trying to dance somewhere around the middle. Some would say bipolar, I just say a little more torn than most people.
So first off, lets look at a very annotated list of Left Brain Qualities. This looks a lot nicer in the book, I assure you. Verbal, Analytic, Symbolic, Abstract, Temporal, Rational, Digital, Logical, and Linear. I would say that these qualities exemplify how I am when writing a paper, when engaged in debate. When I get going, it is as if I’m solving a giant math problem and know that the pieces are fitting into place, I have the right words and arguments in a linear pattern that proves something. My vocabulary increases tenfold, and the muses start singing. This happens when I become tipsy as well, but when I’m in philosophy class, or writing a paper, or in math, my brain goes to “Intelligence Defcon One” and I’m off. This is Left-brain Ashley. Once again, this is something I’ve noticed about myself my whole life but never knew there was an examined, tangible reason for.
And now, the lovely Right Brain. Nonverbal, Synthetic, Actual, Analogic, Nontemporal, Nonrational, Spatial, Intuitive, and Holistic. This is my creative side, the side that doesn’t need proof or a logical argument. This is where fantasy and magic became ingrained in me since the days of reading about Narnia in the boxwoods of my lower school playground. This is where time does not exist, where a cloud is a whale is a butterfly is a spaceship, and not a “A visible body of very fine water droplets or ice particles suspended in the atmosphere at altitudes ranging up to several miles above sea level.” This part of me is about taking little pieces of things and creating a vast horizon, instead of taking something apart into letters and mathematical components. Intuition reigns- this is where my instincts and hunches are listened too by reflex, where body language is more potent communication than linguistics. Past, Present, and Future are all in the now. These are known, documented qualities of the right brain. This is how I feel when I create are. These are qualities of a Shift.
Later in the book, Edwards describes how to shift into R-Mode, or using your right brain, in order to do art. She says that you may become “unaware of the passage of time.” This happens when I draw, and when I shift. She asks about if people were talking to you, “You couldn’t have listened to what they said- in fact, you didn’t want to hear?” When I’m drawing, I tune everything out, and when I’m feeling “Wolfy,” I’m liable to just tilt my head at useless murmuring. It just doesn’t matter. She asks if you feel “Alert, but relaxed, one with the work, in a focused, alert state of consciousness that can last for hours.” Yes, I say. This sounds like shifting.
“Shifting to R-mode releases you for a time from the verbal, symbolic domination of L-mode, and that’s a welcome relief. The pleasure may come from resting the left hemisphere, stopping its chatter, keeping quiet for a change. This yearning to be quiet may partially explain centuries-old practices such as meditation and self-induced altered states of consciousness.” Yes people. The animal bit is an altered state. A lot of us even meditate to go there. Does it come as a surprise that the right brain is considered the animalistic side, which animals today rely on more then we humans in our left-brain dominated society?
“If someone speaks to you, it seems as though it would take a great effort to cross back, think again in words, and answer. Furthermore, whatever you are doing seems immensely interesting. You are attentive and concentrated and feel ‘at one’ with the thing you are concentrating on.” How many of us have had to come out of a shift like wading through taffy, trying to form words but having trouble because thereisabugonthatstick or somethingsmellslikeanimal.
Shifting is truly another way of seeing, and Edwards writes about how visual data is processed differently depending on which dies of the brain is processing the raw data. “Learning perception through drawing seems to change the process and allow a different, more direct kind of seeing. The brain’s editing is put on hold, thereby permitting one to see more fully and more realistically.” We see this all the time- when shifted, I know I notice movement, color, and shapes in a completely different way than I normally do. This is similar to how I see when drawing. Things live in a world of rich, specific detail, which remaining holistic at the same time.
So personally, I know that I approach situations by looking at both sides. I always thought this was just a quirk of what it was to be me, to have the fantastical, nonliteral side of me screaming to do one thing and then the analytical mathematical side demanding to do another. I know that most people function this way- that it’s not really a big weird thing, but it would seem that my inner dichotomy is more pronounced. I’m more aware of the shift between the two states of mind- which I now know actually exists. Is it that Weres in general have a greater mind dualism, and a more acute perception of it? That shifts are more rapid and recognized? Perhaps this would explain why many of us have shifts that are less dramatic as time goes on- the mindsets are recognized and therefore integrated.
I just know that for me, a lot of this explains why I am always of two minds about everything, be it writer and artist, atheistic and spiritual, or even girl and wolf.

Thoughts on Senses

By Twilight Stray
I wake up in the morning and the thick ruff of hair behind my ears doesn’t feel quite the way it should. Thick enough, of course, but far too long and not rooted in the right places. Being a wolf is something about flesh, something about being made of dirt and sinew and just enough starlight to put a glitter in your eyes.
Wolves don’t care about all the accoutrements- my collar and the pictures that adorn my walls are all wolf in translation- wolf coming through a human sieve. There is a dusty bookshelf I frequent on the top floor of our haunted library, somewhere between eating disorders and ecology. It’s where lupine behaviorism is lettered and numbered like an undisplayed specimen in the forgotten maze of a natural history museum. But that isn’t where I find wolf. Wolf is in my body- the way my shoulder blades push against the skin of my back as if they want to break through.
Sometimes it’s the way I notice the movement of a squirrel leaping in arcs across a field hundreds of yards away, tail trailing behind like the ribbon of some hyperactive interpretive dancer. But I don’t notice the large SUV whose way I’m impeding until it’s honking at me and I find myself in a crouch, lips pulled tight in a snarl at the bug-stained grill that takes up most of my vision. In situations like that, I always end up standing quickly and asserting a neutral expression, my cheeks reddening in embarassment. Snarls and other normal expresson tend to look goofy on a human face, so I control them. Some thing are embarassing when put through a human filter. Some things that begin in the human core don’t translate well through a wolf filter. In any event, I don’t trust roads, and stay away from them- the dirt and noise are enough to spook me, but when I’m on them it’s a different story- I’m looking to grass.
Wolf isn’t in the past, or in the three hours from now- nonlinear time is something rooted deep in me, and watches are only for being an annoyance around my wrist and a way to placate my surface human mind. The urge I have to dissect, to chop time and language and mannerisms into peices and put them in neatly labeled boxes is all too human. It’s very immediate to be a wolf.
Yes, I do know you by your scent, and I like it that way. The toxic smell of too much deodorant or perfume will make me shy from you more than sweat will. I pay attention to my nose more- my eyes have never been good, even with contact lenses, and there is so much you miss if you ignore scent. My hearing is geared towards the squabbling chickadees in a nearby tree, or the subtle scratching of the ever present squirrels- I still can’t decide if that are my nemesis or not.
I remember an old squirrel who came up to sniff both my shoes in turn and then sat back on his haunches to look up at my face, as if confused about the information he was getting. He sat like an old man taking in the sunlight, crouched by my left foot, taking in the air. I think I like squirrels for that. I remember the one squirrel I buried. I found it stiff below a tree, blood crusted around her mouth. Some boys threw her in a trashcan, but I fished her out later and buried her by the science center. Wolves know that things are better when you bury them.
Sometimes I think in pictures and don’t feel the need to puzzle together words and phrases. Organic thoughts can’t be written in lines- language is not a sense, and that’s how the memories on the lupine side of my brain manifest. And the wolf in me knows that the more I see the wolf, the more I see the human, and they are one and the same. My instincts are all wolf, and all human-who-is-a-wolf. Beyond the forums and the essays and the soul-searching between classes, there is a girl who is a wolf, and she keeps things simple. Simple as rainwater and spider webs, simple as scratching that itch where your ears should be. Simple as nosing around at bones and howling because it works. It’s something as ancient as pictures on cave walls and drumming around fires. It’s smoke and soot between my paws, between my fingers, and often that’s the same thing.