I'm doing this thing I did. (Warning: I did this pretty in-depth. It's long.)
What is your kintype? (Just include the one you're focusing on.)
Eurasian wolf; not entirely sure on specific subspecies, either Canis lupus lupus or Canis lupus albus.
Do you identify for spiritual or psychological reasons?
Spiritual mainly, but psychological aspects may play into it.
When was your awakening (if you had one)?
Hmm... I suppose I'll go with mid-2012, though it's hard to pick a specific point in time.
If you had one, do you believe something specific triggered your awakening?
I'm not entirely sure. I awakened during a time of significant personal turmoil; it could have been stress that triggered it. Or it could have just been a natural realisation that coincided with that hardship. It's hard to say. I can think of a few specific things that could have played their part in it - the main one being that I had just lost my first dog, who was like a pack-mate to me (he didn't die, we just couldn't keep him). That seemed to hurt me so much more than it should have, and it led me to question why I felt so much closer to my dog than I had ever felt to any people besides my family.
If you had one, how long did your awakening last? Was it a sudden realisation, or did it take time?
Both. There was a long time building up to the realisation that I don't identify as human - two or so years of this niggling feeling of "not right"-ness that culminated in what I tend to view as my awakening.
If you had one, what did you feel during your awakening?
There was a time when it scared me, because I didn't know about otherkin at the time and didn't buy into the spiritual stuff that could explain it - I thought I was going insane. But after I found out about otherkin (and therianthropy in particular) all those negative feelings went away. I was still young at the time, so I suppose I was mostly just excited.
Did you experience shifts and/or feelings of being non-human prior to your awakening?
No shifts relevant to this kintype (I had phantom cameos when I was young, but never wolf ones). As for the nonhuman feelings - it's hard to isolate them, because I've always felt out-of-place for many reasons. My gender, my upbringing, my personality in general... hell, even my sexuality seemed to play into it, even when I was a kid. I've had plenty of reasons to not feel like everyone else. It's hard to say whether any part of that was because of my therianthropy, or whether the connection I feel for past-life-me is because of that isolation.
I did have a strong desire, even when I was young, to be an animal - one that seemed to go beyond the usual for a child. It wasn't just that I liked to act like an animal; I'd spend a long time thinking about it too, even past the age where children usually grow out of that mindset. It reached a point where it wasn't even about pretending... I wanted to know what it was really like to be an animal, and I think I felt a little dissatisfied with being a human even back then. And I always had an interest in shapeshifters and werecreatures - the idea of someone being a human and an animal was something I felt an affinity for even when I was young.
Did you know about otherkin/therians prior to your awakening? If yes, do you think learning about otherkin/therians played a part in triggering your awakening?
No. And, by extension, no.
If you didn't know about otherkin/therians prior to your awakening, how did you come across the community?
Haha... *cringes* Okay, so I was young at the time. I had been researching some obscure mythical creatures to draw, and stumbled onto a mythological creatures wiki. And on there, there was a page about - yep, werewolves. Now, I think I was a pretty mature kid, and I remember seeing that and telling myself "no, they're not real, don't click", but my self-control failed me and I clicked. Read it, came to the assumption that I was a werewolf. Saw that there was a forum associated with the page, clicked on that, and stumbled head-first into the crazy side of the internet, where people were openly discussing methods of "becoming a werewolf" and trying to teach "werewolves" how to physically shift. Spent a few weeks trying to physically turn into a wolf. Obviously I didn't get anywhere with that, but it did cause me to have my first strong mental shifts, and my only phantom shift for months (full-body too). Which all seemed to reinforce in my head that I was a werewolf.
After a little while with no success, I got frustrated and realised it was all a dumb... trick? Prank? Pit of delusion? I don't know, but I was smart enough to know that it wasn't healthy. I left, still feeling isolated and confused. And then I saw a thread about otherkin and therians on a forum I used to frequent. I'd seen the two words in passing on that werewolf forum, and out of curiosity I clicked it. Read a little, then went and researched what it meant, found out I wasn't actually alone or insane, and joined a forum (Therian Guide, iirc). And that's how that happened.
Did you automatically know your species/race when you awakened?
Pretty much. I had a few days where I thought I was a dog, but it didn't take me long to realise that didn't add up. A little bit of thought later, I managed to join the dots between the weird dreams I'd been having and my feelings of being canine - then considered I might be wolf, and felt that was probably right. I guess for most people it wouldn't require that much thought (wolves are pretty much the norm, right?) but I had just never had an interest in wolves at all. I literally didn't know a thing about them. It just wasn't the sort of conclusion I'd jump to.
If yes, did you make any attempts to verify this identification? If no, how did you discover your species/race (if you have)?
Yes. I spent a long time after that researching wolf behaviour and learning about the various subspecies. It didn't feel right for me to identify as something I knew absolutely nothing about. I specifically remember feeling a little creeped out by the fact that everything that had happened in my wolf-related dreams was factually accurate. Right down to the habitat and the climate and the prey we hunted. I knew nothing about wolves, yet apparently I somehow did? This was a long time before I delved into the spirituality stuff. Back then, I was just completely bewildered by it.
Have you ever misidentified your species/race? If so, what did you mistake yourself for, and why do you think this was?
No. I mean, I considered in passing that I might be wrong about my identity, but none of the other options seemed right. Closest I've come to misidentifying myself is the indecision between whether I'm a tundra or forest wolf, and honestly the differences between those two subspecies are so minute that it doesn't even matter.
Do you experience involuntary mental shifts? If so, what are they like? How often do you have them? Are they triggered by anything in particular?
In a way. I'm a suntherian, so I'm always shifted. Sometimes I'll feel more shifted, sometimes less - it's not something I've ever had any control over. I suppose one form of involuntary "mental shift" I experience would be the natural suntherian slides; pretty much just a mental shift in slow motion, that lasts a lot longer. I have been in what most therians would consider a "shifted state" for days or even weeks straight. During those days, my thoughts tend to be a little more "fuzzy". There's a blurred quality to them, as if they're constantly mixing with other thoughts; there's less clarity. Complex thought patterns, and activities that required them (such as my school work) were near impossible. Even basic concepts like, say, maths and numbers, were so hard for me to wrap my head around. My memory also goes to hell, along with my ability to communicate properly. Though I tend to feel better overall. Wolves live in the present, after all. Suddenly I don't have so much of a concept of the future or past, and that's where most of my stress lies.
I do also have things more like a typical "mental shift", usually triggered by fear or occasionally other wonderful stuff such as prey drive. Those sorts of mental shifts are... awkward. The fear-induced ones are horrible. I just feel suddenly overwhelmed by the wordless terror, usually towards something benign (like the noise of a car, or being out in the open, or tall buildings). Everything seems so big and confusing and frightening. I get the sort of "deer in the headlights" feeling, where I want to run away but just can't. The shifts triggered by prey drive aren't much better - being overwhelmed by the intense desire to chase, bite and eat things is not great when you're trying to be a human.
Do you experience voluntary mental shifts? If so, what are they like, and how do you control them?
I don't, and I can't. I've tried to, but I've yet to find a way to control them.
Do you experience involuntary phantom shifts? If so, what are they like? How often do you have them? Are they triggered by anything in particular?
Yes, but most of the time I only get involuntary ones from specific triggers. Most common for me lately are the teeth, or occasionally the whole jaw structure, which tends to be caused by anger, anxiety or sometimes hunger. I get phantom wolf ears sometimes when I'm listening out for something, or when I'm communicating with someone while feeling mentally wolfish. I used to get a lot of phantom shifts while in the car too, just staring out the window - mainly full head shifts, along with the urge to stick my head out the window and feel the wind on my face.
Do you experience voluntary phantom shifts? If so, what are they like, and how do you control them?
Yes. They're the same as my involuntary shifts, but generally tend to be "weaker". Back when I first started teaching myself to voluntarily phantom shift, I had to be in a meditative state, and it usually took quite a lot of visualisation. It was also a lot harder while I had my eyes open or was moving. Now though, it's a lot easier. For wolf shifts, I mostly just have to remind myself that this stuff should be there. Just writing this, I now have fur, paws, claws, all that (damn this is making it hard to write). I can't get rid of ph-shifts so easily, but usually just rubbing whatever body part it is against something helps.
Do you experience dream shifts? If so, how often? Are there any recurring themes? Are your dream shift settings/experiences the same as in normal dreams, or are there notable differences?
I've had two different types of dream shift. One is the more spiritual, meaningful sort, that I mainly experienced during and immediately after my awakening. In those dreams, I was a wolf with my pack, and we did wolf things - it was a very natural and realistic environment, completely different both in tone and in setting from my normal dreams. However, a while after I awakened, I stopped having those dreams. Now, I still get dream shifts, but they're something that happens within my normal, nonsensical dreams. I can switch freely between my wolf and human forms, and do so quite frequently. It's just a natural thing for me; I don't even tend to notice I'm doing it.
Do you experience any other kind of shift? If so, elaborate.
I've had sensory shifts before, and still get them on occasion. I don't attribute them to anything supernatural; they tend to coincide with strong mental shifts, so I imagine it's just a change in where my brain is focusing its attention. The difference is pretty significant. My sense of smell is usually crap, but when I have a sensory shift I can smell everyone's individual scent, smell all the different objects around me, the general stink of humanity (and damn, we smell bad) - if I'm in a supermarket, then I can smell all the individual foods too, which is fun.
I've also had what I consider to be "aura shifts", but those are a little harder to explain. It felt in some ways like a mental shift, and in some ways like a phantom shift, but wasn't entirely either... it was more like an acute awareness of my identity, along with a feeling of being exactly what I should be, but not in relation to my physical body. Like the complete opposite of species dysphoria - it's how I imagine I would feel if everyone could see me as my theriotype. But it didn't happen in relation to anything else. It was just this random fuzzy feeling I'd get. I don't feel that so much anymore, though.
What experiences and feelings led you to identify as your kintype rather than with it?
That's simple. I don't identify with wolves on any level. I don't even like them. I don't relate to them. I've never even cared about them, or had any interest in them at all. And I can't stand human's personification of them. I knew absolutely nothing about them until I awakened - and even when I did, I never particularly liked my species, I just felt like I was one. To me, they're like all those distant family members that you don't know very well, don't particularly get along with and find generally kind of annoying... they're still family, and you care about them as family, but you sure as hell wouldn't associate with them if they weren't.
To what extent do you see yourself as (non-physically) nonhuman? Do you identify as human as well as your kintype?
I'm a wolf. I'm just a wolf. I don't see myself as human at all - not my mind, not my soul, nothing. I'm just an animal in a human body, constantly trying to keep up this mask of being like everyone else. Human life, human emotions, human values and thoughts... that's all a part of me, because of my biology and my upbringing, but none of it feels natural to me. I don't feel like any part of me belongs here, or feels comfortable with living this way. I'm not sure how much of that is directly because of my theriotype, and how much is a side-affect of past trauma I've had in this life - but it's something I feel via my theriotype, and it's something that is intrinsically connected to my nonhuman identity for whatever reason.
What led you to believe that your identity is spiritual or psychological in nature? Have you ever believed the other was true, or seriously considered that it may be?
Like I've already mentioned, I didn't buy into any of the spiritual stuff when I first awakened. I didn't outright believe it was psychological either - I just didn't really feel the why of it had any significance. I was so caught up in finally belonging somewhere that those lines of thought seemed irrelevant. Once I'd settled into the community a bit more, and had seen other people talking about it, I did start to think a little about why I am what I am. I thought the idea of reincarnation sounded nice, so I went along with that for a while, though I don't think I ever actually believed it. It just sounded like the best option. Then later I started to question myself, and reluctantly came to the conclusion that it was probably psychological. And I do mean reluctantly - accepting that it was probably just faulty brain wiring rather than some grand spiritual thing was hard for 15-year-old me. Then, when I'd finally come to terms with that, I was hit in the face with a bunch of past life memories. And then had to re-accept the spiritual side of things, but wholeheartedly this time. It took me a long time to come to terms with it.
Do you have any past life memories (if your beliefs are spiritual) or artificial memories/flashbacks (if your beliefs are psychological)? If so, describe them.
I won't go into a huge amount of detail, because I have a lot, and there's a lot I could write about them. Most of my memories are brief flashbacks - the feeling of paws in the snow, or being curled up with my pack, or eating, or playing - which consist of some vaguely remembered physical sensations, along with some very strong emotions. Wolves are very feeling animals, from what I remember - the emotions stand out the most, because they seem so much stronger and more overwhelming than those I feel as human. They're not dulled down by logic or introspection. When a wolf feels something, it feels with its entire being; no doubt, no questioning.
There are some specific scenes I remember. Lying with my pack next to a reindeer carcass, feeling immensely satisfied and content. We were next to an open expanse of land which I assumed at first was a lake, but could also have been a deforested area covered with snow. I remember the place where we used to sleep most often - a small rocky outcrop with a few weedy birch trees growing between the cracks, surrounded by pine and spruce. I remember playing with my nephews (I was quite playful, I think), and trying to irritate my brother into playing with me too. And picking on his mate. I didn't like her much. She was slightly smaller and leaner than me, and I always won when we fought.
Do you ever feel homesick for the location your kintype lives/lived in? If so, how do you deal with those feelings?
Yes, a lot. I live in Britain right now, and I just... I hate the lack of proper forests here. It's way too open and tame. All that farmland. All the people, everywhere. There's no wilderness, and it's so crowded that the towns keep spreading further and further. Seems like one day this whole island is just going to be ugly buildings and farms. And it doesn't feel right that there's no wolves here, either. It just feels so empty, and lonely. Yeah, I don't like this place much. I haven't figured out any real way to deal with those feelings, but sometimes going on Google maps street view and wandering down roads in the Canadian or Scandinavian wilderness helps, and looking at images that remind me of "home". Or sometimes I'll play video games like Skyrim and just explore the forest a little.
Are there any locations that make you feel closer to your kintype? Any locations that make you feel disconnected from it?
Forests in general make me feel more wolfish, and places with a "wild" kind of feel to them. Cities, big towns, loud places, anywhere with a lot of artificial light or a lack of plants... anywhere with a tame or artificial feel to it - that makes me feel trapped. It generally doesn't make me feel disconnected from my theriotype, but it does mess with my mood a lot.
Do you experience species dysphoria? If so, how often? To what extent? Do you have any methods of coping with it?
Yes. It tends to come in waves - sometimes I'll feel perfectly fine with my body being the species it is, other times I'll feel on the brink of breaking down just because I know that when people look at me, they're not seeing the real me. I'll have days where I wake up, look in the mirror and feel confused because I genuinely don't recognise my own reflection. It's just... not me. That's not how I should look. I've not found anything that completely relieves that feeling, but forcing phantom shifts and playing with my dogs can help a little.
Do you have any behaviours or quirks that you attribute to your kintype?
Yes. Most common one is that I'm quite growly. I growl when I'm frustrated, when I'm annoyed, when I'm angry... of course, I only do it when I'm on my own and nobody can hear, but for me that's most of the time. It's not something I do intentionally, but I usually have good control over it. I've got a lot of similar quirks - head tilting, trying to smell the air when I go someplace new, trying to shake off my "fur" when I'm soggy... some things I do without really thinking, others I do intentionally to connect more with my wolf self.
Do you have any nonstandard thought processes or instinctual reactions that you attribute to your kintype?
Depends on how shifted I am. If I'm at a low wolf mindset, I imagine I think just like everyone else does, and while I am still aware of my wolf instincts, I feel no need or desire to act on them. However, if when I'm in a more wolf mindset, those things become increasingly harder to ignore; like I said before when I was talking about mental shifts, my thoughts become less 'solid', and I find it hard to concentrate and wrap my head around some human concepts (numbers, language... even time). I tend to think more in emotions, images and just pure thought. My instincts become stronger and are more likely to influence how I behave. I suppose I could describe it as my thought processes gradually devolving into something simpler and more straightforward. Usually, the difference between that mindset and my "human" one is pretty subtle - it's only a slight change, unless I have a full-blown mental shift.
Do you have any personality traits that you attribute to your kintype?
I used to attribute some traits to it... I don't so much anymore. There are some traits I have now that I had (in some form) back when I was a wolf, but they don't translate so well between such different mindsets and lifestyles, so it's hard to think that they actually influenced how I am now. I suppose the isolation I feel because of my identity could have indirectly affected my personality, but even then the connection feels pretty tenuous. In general, I'd say no. It feels safer to just say my personality is because of my upbringing and brain chemistry rather than trying to draw some link between it and my past life as a wolf.
Do you have any nonstandard beliefs, ethics or morals that you attribute to your kintype?
Closest thing I can think of in this regard is a complete lack thereof. The wolf part of my mindset is a simple thing. Eat, survive, protect the pack. Far as I remember, I didn't have any beliefs or "greater" thoughts along those lines as a wolf, because I just didn't have the presence of mind to question the world to that extent. When it comes to religion, politics, society, anything along those lines, the only thing I feel from a wolf's perspective is a kind of dull, confused bemusement. What are these silly humans doing? Why do they make it so complicated? Why can't they just let us have our territory and hunt our food and live simple?
Why do you believe the above behaviours/traits/etc. are related to your kintype?
Because I can't think of any other rational explanation for them. The thought processes alone could come from some sort of neurodivergence - if they didn't come and go. I can't imagine something like that would just stop and start. As for the instincts and behaviours? I just don't see it being something human. I've never seen any evidence that non-kin experience those kinds of things, but I've seen lots of instances of therians feeling that way. I have no proof that it's actually related to my therianthropy, and I could accept it if someone proved otherwise, but until that happens I've got only one reasonable option - that I feel that way, think that way, act that way, because of my nonhuman identity.
Do you feel that having a nonhuman identity has been a positive, negative or neutral experience? Have you ever tried to deny your nonhuman identity?
My wolf identity has always been a neutral thing for me. Even when the shifts were inconvenient, I didn't dislike being that way because I can't imagine the alternative. If I wasn't a wolf, I don't know what I'd be - I just don't think I'd be myself anymore. This is such a core part of my being. It's who I am. I can't even comprehend being without it. I did briefly try to just "stop" being a wolf, but that whole idea fell through when I realised I didn't even know what the "normal" I was aiming for actually was.
My experience within the community itself has been, I think, mostly a positive thing. The community isn't perfect, but I'd rather hang out with a group of imperfect people who understand me than try to get by without that support net. And I've disagreed with the general mindset of otherkin communities before - especially back when they were more close-minded, and people with more "out there" identities were shunned on that fact alone. But in general, it's been a good thing for me, and I've met a lot of interesting people through it. It's gave me the means to understand myself and why I feel the way I do, and that is certainly a positive thing.
Do you ever wish you could change your kintype? If so, what would you rather be?
No. This comes down to the same thing I mentioned earlier - I don't know what I'd be if I wasn't a wolf. It's all I know. And there's no real downsides to my theriotype that make me dislike it enough that I'd want to change myself. It's fun to imagine being a dinosaur or a shark or a bird, but in the end that's just not who I am.
Do you think this is enough questions for now? I sure hope so!
Yes, me. That's more than enough questions.
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