Category Archives: Community

Find information on various communities, as well as how to enter a new community with as little stress as possible, attending howls and gatherings, and various other tips on getting the most out of the therian community as a whole.

So You Want to Join or Form a Pack

What is your definition of a pack? How much real life commitment and emotional attachment is implied in being a member of a pack? There is no single correct answer here, because a group of people calling themselves a pack may range from a very casual online roleplaying group to a totally committed extended family who share a house and a bank account and are co-raising children.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to join either of these types of packs, or something in between. Maybe you just want some casual online friends to talk to, and that’s fine. Or maybe you need or want a commitment that is a lot more serious than that. What is critically important is that you need to communicate clearly and honestly to everyone else in the group about what you want to get from being a member of a pack and what you are willing to give in return.

Unfortunately there is a lot of room for mismatched expectations and emotional problems when everyone in the group has a different idea of what the commitment level is. If one person expects and needs the emotional commitment of a real life pack, an online pack might fail to live up to those expectations because the rest of the folks in it are just casually roleplaying. So your definition of pack needs to be clear right up front, and it needs to match everyone else’s definition of pack. Otherwise the relationship is not going to work and somebody is likely to get hurt.

There are some potential problems and downsides to attempting to join or form a pack, especially online. In some situations, a less than mentally stable person may try to set themselves up as a pack leader and get others to be emotionally dependent on them. They crave this kind of power and control over others, but they don’t have the maturity or responsibility or real life resources to be a good pack leader. If the “alpha” of a pack is not a fully mature, responsible and ethical adult, even if he or she means well and wants to offer good quality emotional support and leadership, people can get hurt.

There are some bad “alphas” out there who want the feeling of power and ego they get from leading a pack, but they are totally unsuited to give anything back to the pack members in return for the ego stroking. Or they’re exploitative predators who don’t care about the people in their pack other than to get personal or even sexual gratification from them. These are not healthy situations.

Some people like playing dominance and submission games within a pack. I think that is fine as long as they confine their play to the consenting adults who are comfortable with these roles. But trying to force people to play those kinds of games when they don’t consent is not being an alpha or a dominant, it’s being an asshole. If you are not comfortable with dominance and submission roles, look carefully at the pack you are proposing to join and make sure that they don’t try to push these kinds of interactions on people who are not comfortable with a strictly enforced heirarchy. In particular, it is a major red flag if an “alpha” demands sex or cybersex or overt submissive behavior from pack members who are not interested or not okay with this.

The more casual packs may be easy to get invited to join. “Hi, I’m DarkWolf, what’s your screen name, wanna join our wolf pack chat room on AOL?” If that’s all you want in a pack, you won’t need to invest much time and effort getting to know people first and making sure that you can function well together in the boundaries of a serious committed relationship. On the other hand, if you want a real life pack to live with and sleep with and raise children with, an instant online commitment can’t (and shouldn’t) happen. The higher the degree of intimacy and support and commitment you need from a pack relationship, the longer it is going to take to build that level of trust.

At one extreme end, a “pack” is just a chat room. At the other extreme end, it’s a group marriage, whether or not it involves sex. Some packs are also ethical polyamorous relationships that involve a relationship between two or more members or couples or triads in various configurations. Some aren’t. It depends on the individuals and their different relationships with one another. Most packs, especially online ones, are somewhere in between a casual chat room and a total real life household commitment. As long as everyone is on the same page about what is expected, there really is no right or wrong way to be a pack.

Wanting to be part of a pack is not automatically a bad thing. Being careful about joining a healthy and functional pack with clear and honest communication about what everybody expects to get from pack membership is an even better thing.

The Need to Belong

In the time I’ve spent in the online communities, which all things considered, isn’t really all that long, I’ve noticed that the majority of therians and Otherkin have this deep-seated need to belong. They form meet-ups or howls, search for people with the same or similar ‘kin types as themselves and they enjoy talking to others who share similar experiences.

With the internet, this is relatively easy as it connects us worldwide with people we’d probably never come into contact with without it. However, I’ve noticed that people tend to gravitate to others of their same ‘kin type and I’ve begun to wonder why. Isn’t it enough that, besides the fact that we’re all human on the outside and have various likes/dislikes, we’re also something “other than human” on the inside? You’d think this basic idea, that everyone in the therian and Otherkin communities identifies as some non-human creature, would help connect us. It seems that people are never satisfied with just finding someone else online who shares the therian or Otherkin label with them. They need to be the same; share the same theriotype or ‘kin type so as best to understand each other and to satisfy that belonging urge inside all of us.

But where does this need to belong come from? I believe that it comes from that ingrained instinct where there’s simply safety in numbers. Herd and pack animals alike understand that not only is it easier to attain food with help, but it’s also safer and comforting to have others just like you nearby. Humans are, after all, animals and their instincts are to gravitate to groups that share similarities. Think about the last time you went to a movie, you probably went with friends that also wanted to see the film because you all share a similar interest in that particular movie genre. Or what about at work; people tend to make friends at work with people who share like interests with them. It helps them to feel more comfortable, not only with themselves, but it also gives them some common ground with the group at large.

The therian and Otherkin communities are no different. The question often arises as to why there are so many wolf therians. Perhaps it’s because not only are humans more comfortable in groups where they share interests, but wolves too are pack animals and are really only successful (although not always the case) when they work together. It would stand to reason that because of their human and lupine nature, a wolf therian would gravitate more to a community because they would feel the community pull from both sides of his/her nature. But why there are so many wolf therians is not the topic here. The need for people to belong is.

People feel the need to belong, and it’s because of a very simple reason, because then they don’t feel so alone in this wide world. We’re all aware of how different one person can be from the next and it can get frustrating when the people around you in your everyday life don’t agree with your opinions or don’t “understand” you. Seeking solace in an online community is a good way of soothing that anxiety and communicating with other people of a like mind. And it only makes sense to join communities where you will find people with similar interests. Obviously we’re all different and we’re all going to have a different favorite color, etc. but it’s still nice to find people who believe that inside they’re something other than human. It helps in dealing with your own everyday life if you can share your experiences on shifting or past life memories with people who are aware of and accept the concepts. It makes it easier to talk about it. There will always be one person who nitpicks or disagrees with you and your opinions, but most people find that an online community relating to their interests is generally accepting and helpful.

The issue comes up as to why do people feel the need to seek out others with their exact therio or ‘kin type online. The answer is much the same, because of the deep-seated desire to find someone else just like you. If you can share your experiences with someone who shares an understanding of the concept, that’s great. However, if you can find someone who’s had the same experience or same sort of experience, because you’re of the same ‘kin type, all the better, right? I disagree. I think that no matter what the ‘kin type, what matters is that you’re sharing your experiences with other people who understand. The focus shouldn’t be on ‘kin type. To me, it doesn’t make a difference if I’m reading about a rabbit therian who experiences mental shifts when faced with a salad or a demon who sometimes feels like a kleptomaniac. What matters is that we all identify as something other than human and we’re all going to have different experiences based on external and internal circumstances. The most important point is sharing what you experience with the community.

Would I love to meet another wolf therian in real life? Of course I would, but then I’d be just as happy (and thrilled) to meet a bandicoot therian, or a dragon, or an elf. To me, it’s about meeting someone who A) believes and accepts therians and Otherkin and B) simply meeting a therian or Otherkin in person. A meeting between two therians or ‘kin types shouldn’t leave the people involved focusing on their differences. Rather, they should leave the experience happy to have met someone else who feels “other” and is open to discussions relating to therians and Otherkin. What we should take away from the experience itself is that while we’re different, we also share common ground and are open-minded individuals.

The need to belong can create a very strong pull to join a specific group or community. And while the community at large can provide a place to connect with others, it comes down to the members that make it what it is. So while it may be nice to sometimes seek out others exactly like yourself, keep in mind that we all identify as one thing or another. The most important thing is to share the sense of community with all of those who can see to it that our questions keep each other honest, our differences make the community diverse, and our likenesses – whether we identify as therian, dragon, celestial, fae, demon, etc. – keep the community strong. It’s that connection, the connection of being different, that brings us together as a community.

Labels

So many people cling to the need to label themselves and to identify what’s inside of them. Yet we each claim a unique individuality that cannot help but label us. Words, by their very nature, define us. That’s what words do, it is their purpose. So claiming to be something, however simple, is still a label. And every human society on Earth labels things. Even the Native Americans had names for the things around them. Is it possible that animals label things? I have no idea. But I would assume a bear would have a way of recognizing a specific tree or a den site. Or that a shark could remember a specific rock outcropping and give it a name. Or that an eagle could identify the best place to catch fish. But who knows?

And what is wrong with labels? In my opinion, nothing so long as they’re kept simple. Since everyone is different, we each need to have our own uniqueness that sets us apart from everyone else. This is where labels come from; the desire to be set apart from the rest of society. Granted, getting too specific with naming what you are will get confusing to others (not to mention yourself!), but having general labels is good in that it helps to clearly define who you are. At first glance, people can gather the basic knowledge as to what you are and therefore better understand you. At least to some general degree that is. Obviously it takes time to truly get to know someone, but getting basic information is a good place to start in talking to other people.

And everyone needs a sense of self or a name for what they are so that they can try to better understand it and themselves. Do animals give themselves names to show uniqueness? I have no idea. But as humans, our society has thrived on giving names to everything. So why should therians or Otherkin be any different?

Does my wolf side thrive on identity? Of course not but then neither does my human side. I know what and who I am and I’m comfortable with the different labels I’ve collected over the years. But the wolf in me recognizes a unique physical appearance and also connects with a specific name for itself which are different than my human side’s physical appearance and name. Does my wolf side care if it’s original home was Alaska or Tennessee? Of course not. But the human side of me realizes that knowing where the wolf came from is important in better understanding it. Does it define me? Partly. It gives me names to explain myself to others and to get a better handle on what’s inside of me. Sure, I could just call myself a wolf therian, but there is so much more to learn and I would feel like I had cheated myself if I stopped trying to learn anything else.

Each of us has the capacity to better understand ourselves through words. For some people it might be enough to just have a general label for themselves, something that just barely scratches the surface. But I need to know more to better understand who and what I am inside. It makes it easier when talking to other people, but labeling yourself is more to better understand who and what youare.

I wouldn’t be satisfied with just being of a Caucasian background, so I’ve researched my family history to better understand where I came from. Why should it be any different for my therianthropy? I know that I am a wolf, yet I seek to better understand that aspect of myself by trying to discover where the wolf came from, what it looks like, what subspecies it might be, what types of shifting I experience, why I’m different from other therians and so on. It’s all in an effort to clarify for myself what I am.

Learning one term for yourself only gets the ball rolling. It opens the door to learning things about yourself that no one else can tell you or teach you. We are constantly changing beings, always learning new things. Would you stop trying to learn from books after reading one specific fact? I doubt it. I would hope that after learning something new, you would seek to verify it in other places and would not be satisfied until other sources claimed the same facts.

Humans crave knowledge and with knowledge comes a large vocabulary. In labeling yourself, you’re only adding to the vast knowledge of what makes up you as an individual.

So my advice to people seeking to label themselves; keep it simple and stay true to yourself. It doesn’t matter if other people accept the names you use for yourself or not. What matters is what you know about yourself.

Becoming a Therian

This essay is not intended to convince people that they should believe therians “aren’t born” or that even some of them seriously ‘become’ therians later in life.  My aim is to help increase better respect for varying opinions and beliefs among therians, and to realize that one is fine to disagree with the very notion that someone can “become” a therian (regardless of how) rather than be born one.  But that we should realize the facts are not set in our knowledge yet about many aspects of therianthropy–the beginning of therianthropy during a person’s life, being one of them.  Further, this is about recognizing that there maybe people who develop therianthropy (become a therian) later on in life, at whatever point, but this does not mean I am providing evidence that any therians are such factually, just as I am not trying to factually refute the idea that any or most therians maybe ones born as such.

It’s our responsibility to realize when we are expressing information and observed (even if through anecdotes) parts of therianthropy or defining terms that need defining, and doing such for educational or helpful reasons. And in contrast, we need to realize when we are instead stating things that are beliefs and opinions about the experience or state of therianthropy in general, and using them to shun, shame, or “win over” people into our own particular views of what we believe the “facts” of therianthropy’s requirements are.

Many therians have expressed a more explanatory view of the born-as-a-therian hypothesis to describe why therians often express only noticing their therianthropy (as an experience and part of self) at a later point in life than early childhood (particularly adolescence).  This explanation follows that the therianthropy is (1) “dormant” until a certain time in life for the individual, (2) active but to a lower level of self-perception (thus an occurrence of “awakening” to this part of oneself), or (3) that the therianthropy has the potential to develop (such as through a psychological means).  These are fine explanations and I personally agree that each one of them likely occurs, though amongst what percentage of therians I will make no guess.

However, the flaw does not so much come into the hypotheses themselves, but instead comes in the form of how these hypotheses are often delivered to other therians, mainly those who make statements or inquiring questions about why s/he hasn’t recognized therianthropy being an active part of him/herself before that later point of realization, beyond early childhood.  People are too often quick to silence these statements or inquiries with supposed ‘facts’ of how therianthropy is necessarily a state or occurrence beginning at or before the individual is physically born.  This is also a response that is delivered normally by multiple people, to help support and further back up the information as factual necessity of the therianthropic state.  Consequently resulting in further inquiring or statements regarding the notion of therianthropy developing and, essentially, coming into existence for an individual years after birth, being dropped and not further explored, at least in a public/near-public discussion format.

I, as well, have had difficulty up to this point in getting deeper discussion out of this subject through my few efforts of trying to carry the discussion much further beyond “therians are born, even if it only comes to the person’s attention much later in life”.  Though I will admit, I am glad to have gotten the levels of discussion on this topic that I did, even if they weren’t as satisfying and in depth as I prefer.  Yet the social taboo of the becoming-a-therian topic has remained blatantly obvious to me.  Even if it’s not outright stated clearly, it is apparent that talking about the concept as one either believing it actually occurs or curiously exploring the possibility of if it may occur for some therians–this is sought to be silenced, particularly in a quick, and often group mannered, way.  A lot of times, people are seemingly “corrected” on it near immediately.

The further problem of this lies in the reality that we don’t have the means (at least not even remotely at this time) to honestly and objectively find out that a therian, any therian, is factually born as such before or when they exit the human womb.  How many therians can truthfully trace their therianthropy back to birth, specifically?  However, I understand what the hypothesis is meant to denote: that many therians (whether the majority active at some point online or not) have described seemingly therianthropic experiences, behaviors, instincts, and so forth from so early of an age (such as 2 to 4 years old) that non-innate factors are rather unlikely to have caused the person to ‘become’ a therian starting then, rather than it being part of him/her from at or before birth.  Yet, what of the numerous other therians who cannot find those such experiences and personal evidence that early back (or even within years more after those points) in their memories and accounts explained by other people in their lives then, as observers?  I being one of those myself.

As documented in my “Upbringing, Imprintation, and Self-Development” essay, every time I look to my childhood to find evidence of my therianthropy then, prior to about 10-11 years old, I find nothing other than a pretty much typical childhood interest in animals (especially certain types), roleplaying as whatever type of animal (playing pretend), and such things.  How would that be indicative of therianthropy for me?  Simply put, it’s not.  I hold the belief that my therianthropy is primarily, though maybe not necessarily entirely, caused by post-birth factors of a wide range.  Thus I don’t rule out the possibility that I could completely be wrong about that, or more particularly, that there was some pre-birth factor that may have contributed to the increased potential for me becoming a therian nearly a decade after my birth.  But, to me, potential for having therianthropy does not equal the actual state of therianthropy, dormant or otherwise.

Another alternative take on the concept of being “born” a therian is that for some it may not be from literal physical birth, but instead through the ‘birth’, per se, of one’s identity, self, and core personality.  And this form of ‘birth’ generally occurs within the first few years or so of a person’s life.  Such a core of self usually stays fairly the same throughout an individual’s life.  However, it’s difficult to say exactly what is and is not part of that early “core self”, and there’s also the matter that people tend to change as individuals in personality, behaviors, etc. over the course of key parts of their development, and these changes may or may not influence one’s therianthropy.  Life-changing experiences, whether traumatic or not, could possibly have some affect on whatever parts of oneself in which his/her therianthropy resides, or for some therians those areas may remain untouchable by those major experiences.

But can therianthropy actually develop later in childhood or some other time in one’s life besides early childhood, even after the ‘core self’ has been “born”?  Personally, I believe it can, though the specific factors, experiences, and array of influences that would lead to such appear to place these situations in the minority amongst therians, however not limiting them to only being outside of the realm of therianthropy.  One thing that should be kept in mind when dealing with the concept of people becoming therians is that the mind and self are more malleable in early life, even near or in adolescence, than we often like to think.  Various factors, environmental (physical surroundings), social, totemic, interests, media (of numerous forms), and so forth could potentially play into affecting a person’s self and identity, particularly during key stages of mental, social, and body development, and therianthropy maybe something that in some cases results from these complex interactions of influences.  This is, though, not to come as any type of refuting of spiritual, reincarnation, soul-based, or similar such explanations of therianthropy, which I believe have validity to them and maybe the cause for some people’s therianthropy.

On a somewhat similar note, I will briefly mention that the affects within a person’s life could also possibly lead to loss of his/her theriotype(s), either through losing his/her therianthropy entirely (which would likely result in or result from a notable change in his/her personality and self in some ways), or through the changing of a theriotype into a different animal, or in losing one or more theriotypes for someone who has multiple ones.  This thus ties into the matter of the mind and self not being completely solid, unchanging things from the time of physical birth or even necessarily after early childhood.

Our lives, selves, and minds are not completely stagnant things over the course of decades of life, and as I mention in my essay noted earlier, why must therianthropy be excluded from that changing and development? Why is it that any person can never ‘become’ a therian? Even if what they experience correlates to therianthropy extensively but just lacks the “existent from birth” aspect (which is not a matter of proof itself any more than therianthropy is, but is personal opinion and perspective). Maybe in some ways the concept has the potential of opening up those horrible doors of “well, if a person can become a therian, then…” with the possibility of people jumping on it as an excuse to claim they are a therian without real reason behind the statement. People claim such anyway, yet I wonder if there is an implied atmosphere sometimes about what kind of bad issues could be released by “fluffies” and “roleplayers” if therianthropy was accepted as being valid sometimes through people becoming therians notably after birth (years and years later).

With it being each person’s decision as to whether they are a therian and what their theriotype(s) is/are, I believe it’s also up to individuals to figure out what explanations seem to ‘fit’ for them regarding the cause(s) of their therianthropy. It’s not right for people to say “you aren’t a therian because you weren’t born one” any more then it’s okay for people to say in general that a person certainly isn’t a therian, especially based off of information that correlates to therianthropy in many ways except some differences from ‘community standards’ about therianthropy (in this case, the initial time of therianthropic occurrence). Our understanding of therianthropy in a more generalized sense comes from individuals sharing their experiences, and without people saying things like “I wasn’t always a therian from physical birth” then the overall community’s understanding of therianthropy will tend toward being exclusive from such experiences and beliefs. The typical trend has been “I have always felt this way from as far back as I can remember” which became accepted widely as more than just a trend but as people trying to define it as a necessity of therianthropy.  And if someone did not fit that aspect then they were often considered and encouraged to view themselves as not a therian, or for the person to change his/her opinion about not being born a therian.  A person can sit here and say “yes, I have been a therian since birth” without evidence or reasoning for it with him/her feeling s/he didn’t manifest therianthropy during childhood, and yet they don’t have any more evidence for such then a person with similar feelings of his/her childhood who says “I believe I developed therianthropy later in my life”.

Other people have the right to believe someone’s therianthropy was there since or before birth if the individual believes it developed later, like others have the right to believe it’s a spiritual or a psychological thing even if the individual believes it has a different cause(s) than the other person/people. Yet I would like to see people being respectful to each other and not stating disagreements in opinions over the cause or time of occurrence of therianthropy as being factual without enough factual evidence. We don’t know for sure who is right and who is wrong, though we can speculate and debate about it, or believe someone else’s view isn’t correct.  But until there is actually enough viable and substantial proof regarding the origins of therianthropy, we can’t claim much of that as factual, let alone to the point of excluding people of a different line of thought or opinion who have reason to believe they are also therians. And even if we did have such an extensive level of proof, that does not mean that exceptions to the ‘rule’ or trend couldn’t occur regarding the born vs. becoming a therian matter.

Also, in relation to those who would fret over what supposed damage could be done to the online therian community by opening up the doors of acceptance and respect regarding people who sincerely believe they ‘became’ a therian, just because of “roleplayers”, I have a response to that as well.  Just because it may make separating ‘sincere’ therians from ‘roleplayer’ or ‘misled’ therians somewhat more difficult, that doesn’t mean that someone who does sound sincere and serious about their therianthropy but just lacks the “I was always [or born] one” belief should be thrown in with the people who are either outright lying about being a therian or are otherwise notably misled. In the community’s attempts to “keep out the fluffs and RPers” I’d prefer that we also not lose sight of sincere and serious experiences that would result in building up walls to keep out the liars and end up keeping out some other real and serious therians along with them (even if the latter aren’t but few being kept out). And the roleplayer types are usually pretty obvious anyway without it coming down to a single saying of “I became a therian” or “I wasn’t always a therian”–surely, at least I can hope, there would be much more reason to call someone on being a roleplayer than just that one aspect or type of statement, otherwise people probably shouldn’t be calling roleplayer on them.

Thus people should separate the serious ‘I became a therian’s from the roleplayer types in a similar way it should be done for people saying they have always been a therian–like I mentioned, if that’s all a person really needed to say in order to be “accepted as a real/serious therian” we’d have a rather difficult time separating RPers from serious ones (because all they’d have to do is throw in that line that they were born one). Yet that’s obviously not how we, in general, approach such matters and people.  We should be taking the whole concept of “sincere therian or not?” on a case-by-case basis anyway, not relying on some “textbook example” of what a therian is or is not.

Therian Elitism

Therian elitism is something which I have noticed going on in the therian community for years. I use this term loosely, and don’t claim it to be a set term for the concept. However, I feel that it’s an issue that needs to be addressed, and it’s something which really bothers me.

How many of us have walked into a therian chat and regardless of whether or not we’ve been in the therian community for years – have been immediately shot down by people who treat us like we don’t fit into their “club,” or who degrade us for saying that we’re a therian in the first place? How many of us have been to a forum or website only to be shot down for our ideas? How many people who actually are new to therianthropy are pushed away from the community because they appear to be noobish?

Ladies and gentlemen, this needs to stop. We need to start being a bit more careful how we treat others, and we need to stop acting as if therianthropy is a clique or high-school club that people have to fit into and follow the trends to be a part of.

I completely understand that there are a certain number of people who misunderstand that therians are real, and think that it’s just one big roleplaying game. To all of us, that kind of thing can be very frustrating, especially if we run into it a lot. But what I’ve found in general is that people like that are quite obvious, and that they make it quite clear right away that they aren’t serious about the topic of therianthropy. So, why the suspicion upon meeting members we perceive to be new to the therianthropy community? Ignorance speaks for itself.

Honestly, no one should feel they have to “prove” anything to anyone. Beyond the stereotypical roleplayer who doesn’t take therianthropy seriously, why do the rest of us have to “prove” that we’re therian? The last time I checked, therianthropy was something which could not be proven. You cannot prove that you’re an animal spirit, that you were a certain creature in a past life, or that you have a connection to a certain animal. That is something that comes from self-exploration, from looking into yourself. What person can look into yourself but yourself? No one can. Therefore, it’s not possible to prove yourself to anyone, and the people who seem to think it is necessary are highly mistaken, for they don’t seem to realize that no one can prove that they are or aren’t therian. Likewise, without divulging personal information, how can you “prove” something over the internet, anyway? Should you give out your name, age and personal information to prove something? No, you should not give any information that you don’t feel comfortable giving. That is your right.

While noobish talk and bad grammar and spelling are things which drive me completely bonkers, we often treat possible new therians or those who are exploring themselves or interested in the topic, as if they are dumb. Yes, we’ve seen some of these things over and over. Yes, rules are often in place to ensure that people at least do their best and try to write legibly. But why are a new person’s questions often treated with disrespect? Regardless of whether we have answered the same questions time and time again, we should continue to answer them. How many people are we driving away and confusing because we refuse to take them seriously? Though those questions might seem a little beginner-ish to a seasoned therian, that is one reason why we seasoned therians are in the community – to help others in knowing themselves by sharing what we know or have found out through experience.

Now, I will address assumptions. Just because you may not have met someone yet – that does not automatically mean that the new person you are meeting is new to therianthropy, or that you should walk all over them. They are not there to be talked down to or disrespected. They are not to be treated as if they don’t fit into your “club.” They are simply someone you don’t know, and quite frankly, you learn far more if you keep your mind open and don’t assume things about this person of whom you have never met up until now. Likewise, you should never expect such a person to try to fit into your “pack,” or treat them disrespectfully until they prove themselves to you. You are not some all-powerful being that we all need to prove ourselves to.

Therianthropy is not a clique. It is not a club. It is not something you should have to “fit into.” The opinions on the definitions of therianthropy are quite varied, but I’m pretty sure that “the club that the cool people who feel they are animals fit into” is not one of the accepted definitions. Generally, a therian is described as someone who feels they are somehow a non-human animal on the inside, or that a part of them is a non-human animal – in addition to being human.

It is not our place to tell people that they are or are not therian. It’s not our place to treat someone poorly until they prove they are cool enough for our club. It’s not our place to tell people who they have to be to fit in. It’s our place to educate people, to help possible therians discover themselves. Of course, you do not have to do this – no one does – but if you can’t say something productive or helpful, then please, you are free to not say anything.

Another thing – you, as a therian, are not superior to any non-therian out there. Being an animal spirit or whatever you consider therianthropy to be does not mean that you are better than anyone else. Insulting another person, whether therian or not, by acting like they aren’t therian and therefore aren’t someone worth treating with respect is wrong. In life, I have met good and bad non-therians. Some are complete jerks, but some are really great people that are worth knowing. Likewise, I have known therians who are great people, as well as therians who act like jerks. Generally, in most walks of life and in most groupings of people, there are those who are good people as well as those who aren’t. Therianthropy is no exception, and being therian does not give anyone license to act as if they are superior to anyone else. Do something productive with what you know. Don’t just use it as an excuse to think you’re better than anyone. Chances are that if you think you’re better than people, you’re not.

Therianthropy 101

First off class, welcome to Therianthropy 101. Before we get started with the really tough questions, I wanted to give you a bit of an introduction on what to expect from the community since you’re all new to this.

I’m going to assume that you’ve already read over the course syllabus including terms and common definitions. However, if you overslept and missed that part, I’d like to refer you to several online resources that might help clear your head: Project Shift and the Werelist are good places to get started.

This course is designed to give you a basic understanding of what to expect from the online therian community. So pay attention and no falling asleep! And welcome to Therianthropy 101.

If you’re interested in joining an online community, that’s good and it can be very beneficial, not only for establishing a bond with like-minded individuals, but also as a means to exploring and learning more about yourself too. However, there is etiquette and certain protocols that are followed that you should be aware of.

Once you have decided to join an online community, it is always important to read and understand any forum’s rules before joining in the topics. For example, most forums have rules that require you to post an introduction.

Posting an introduction is helpful not only to get your own feet wet in a new environment, but it also allows the other members to meet you in a comfortable setting. When writing your introduction it’s important to remember to be honest and to keep in mind that not everyone is going to agree with your views. Some members like to question new members, however keep in mind that their asking questions is not meant as a personal attack on you, but rather is simply them trying to understand your perspective better.

When posting an introduction, keep in mind that the other members have never met you and therefore know nothing about you. It is recommended that you include a name/nickname which you would like to be known as online in the community, some of your likes and interests, including your age range and a general location are also acceptable. Please remember that this is the internet so sharing any private information like your home address is not wise.

Another key fact that you should include in your introduction is what type of animal(s) you identify with, how you came to that conclusion and how it affects you. Including any research you may have done, how you found the term “therianthropy”, why you believe it applies to you and if you experience any type of shifting is also beneficial information. Sharing this type of information will give the other members a better understanding of you and what you believe.

If you do not know your theriotype do not worry. It can take months, even years, to discover what animal or animals you most identify with. And if you learn that you are not a therian, that’s alright too as the online community can be useful and fun to everyone; therian or not.

Keep in mind that members are going to question you if you have an uncommon belief. Do not take it as a personal attack but rather try explaining why you believe and feel the way you do. Also remember that no everyone is going to agree with you.

Once you’ve posted an introduction, peruse the forum. Get comfortable navigating the controls and reading the various topics. If you have questions, about anything at all, email or send a private message to a staff person. The staff is there to guide you and to help you with any problems you might encounter. Never be afraid to ask a question, no matter how ridiculous it may seem.

Most forums also have articles or essays written by experienced members that may prove useful to you. Read up on the common terms that are used within the community.

There are few topics within the therian community that can get touchy. One of the more sensitive subjects is that of physical shifting. Many members believe that physically transforming into your theriotype is impossible. However, there are those whole do believe it’s possible if as yet unproven. Because it is such a controversial subject, many forums warn against such discussion accept in certain circumstances or in certain threads. Please be aware that this particular topic, along with a few others, has often been regarded as taboo so tread carefully when discussing them.

It is always important to conduct yourself in a mature and intelligent fashion. There are going to be topics which can become heated and might upset you; however it’s important to stay calm and work through issues you might have with the topic itself as well as members whose opinions you do not agree with.

At the end of the day, keeping a clear and level head as well as an open mind will benefit all members in an online community. Remember to treat others as you would have them treat you and try your best to be understanding of others beliefs. Also keep in mind that no one can tell you what to believe and no one can tell you what you are; only you can answer those questions with time, searching and patience.

If there are no further questions, I’ll see you all back here again tomorrow. Class dismissed.