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    Kinmunity's library contains a vast amount of articles related to otherkin, therianthropy, fictionkin, real vampires, plural systems, and the otherhearted. Library articles are submitted by members of Kinmunity and are approved and/or edited for clarity by staff members.

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    Definition
    On our community, to avoid any confusion, we use a very specific definition when referring to otherkin. While there are many different definitions of what qualifies as otherkin, we apply the following definition:
     
    Otherkin as an umbrella term
    On Kinmunity, we generally use the term 'otherkin' as an umbrella term which applies to otherkin, therianthropes, and fictionkin. We do not use the term to apply to the otherhearted, totems, or other similar concepts. This is because we desire to be a welcoming and all-inclusive community. It is generally considered okay, for example, for a wolf therian to call themselves a "wolfkin", but it is not generally considered appropriate for one to call themselves an "elf therian". There are some grey areas, for example Dragons may refer to themselves as "Dragon Therians" or "Dragon Otherkin" and so forth. Generally speaking, proper use of such terminology is simply learned by participating in the community. Don't worry too much about it!
     
    In our community...
    It is not appropriate to use the term "otherkin" to refer to an identification used solely as a coping mechanism for mental illness. The term "copinglink" is used in this case, and yes, copinglinkers are welcome on Kinmunity!  It is not appropriate nor healthy to base your otherkin identity off experiences you had while under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. Fictionkin are generally welcomed and accepted into our community with open-arms. We feel it is possible to identify as a fictional character that has distinct characteristics, personality traits, and behavior. It is not acceptable to make claims that you are physically your kintype, that you can physically shift, or that being otherkin gives you special abilities. It is not acceptable to claim an individual or currently living being as a kintype. A healthy dose of skepticism is welcomed and even encouraged. You should expect questions on introduction threads, and so forth. It helps people grow to be challenged and questioned.

    A Guide To Shifts

    By AshenFall , in Otherkin,

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    Shifting is an integral part of being otherkin/fictionkin to a large portion of the communities. Though certainly not essential to consider oneself otherkin or fictionkin, you’d be hard pressed to find a place where it isn’t mentioned or discussed in some form.

    In this article I will attempt to go into detail about the various types of shifts often spoken about in the community, in a bid to educate and inform. Of those listed below, some are widely accepted, others are debatable or even outright denied.
    Note: Throughout the article you will see some terms with letters in brackets (e.g. (M)ental Shifting). This signifies the shorthand form of the term, in the case of Mental Shifting, this is M-Shifting.
     
    Methods of Shifting
    Voluntary Shifting: Some otherkin/fictionkin are able to voluntarily evoke shifts at will. Often used when one wishes to feel more like their kintype(s) be it in a certain scenario or just because they want to. 
    Involuntary Shifting: The opposite to the above, involuntary shifts can occur for any number of reasons. Some are triggered by certain stimuli or emotions (.e.g a loud noise, a particular aroma, stress, elation), others have no clear cause and just occur out of the blue.
    Non-Shifting: Not a method of shifting, but most applicable for this section. As briefly mentioned in the introduction, though uncommon, there are a number of otherkin/fictionkin who do not experience shifts of any kind (not including those who consider themselves contherian, discussed later in this article). This doesn’t make them any less worthy of the otherkin/fictionkin labels than those who do shift in the slightest. It’s part and parcel of the many different ways that a non-human identity can manifest itself. There have been instances of those who once frequently shifted but one day find themselves not experiencing them anymore. Though perhaps disconcerting for the person involved, this doesn’t at all make someone “less otherkin”.

    Types of Shifting

    (M)ental Shifting: Perhaps one of the first shifts newcomers to the community will see mentioned, it is one of the more common types of shifting in the community. These occur when one takes on the mentality of their kintype(s)/fictotype(s). For example, someone with a canine kintype could feel more inclined to react by growling or barking than a human reaction, or become more preoccupied with chasing/hunting perceived prey. A character specific fictionkin will likely find themselves presenting behaviours and mannerisms far more in line with their fictotype than themselves. For example, wording, movements, reactions. Someone with an avian kintype may feel the urge to take flight when startled, even though they rationally know this is not possible. The actions are usually subconscious and not willed on (unless one who has the ability to voluntarily shifts) and not to be confused with merely "acting". They may not always be voluntary, but they are still normally fully controllable and manageable. 

    (Ph)antom Shifting: Along with mental shifting, phantom shifts are by far the most frequently mentioned in community spaces. They can often tie in with other types of shifting (particularly mental shifts) or even provoke them. Much like the medical term of supernumerary phantom limbs, it is the feeling/sensation of having a limb or other (usually movable) body part which is not physically there or is different to the existing counterpart. Most individuals (bar character specific human fictionkin) have kintypes that do not closely resemble the anatomy of a human body and so it isn't surprising they can feel parts of them that are "no longer there”/are absent but expected. This can happen in two different ways. Sometimes these phantom limbs will overlap parts of the existing body, but feel and "move" much more like the limbs of your kintype(s)/fictotype(s). It may also be uncomfortable if the feeling interferes with other parts of the body. An example of such a case frequently mentioned is when this occurs with the jaw and teeth.
    In the case of phantom limbs such as wings or a tail, they naturally don't overlap parts of the existing body. They are completely separate from any physical part of your body, but this does not make them feel any weaker or less real when experienced. A common misconception I have seen is that one can actually 'see' their phantom limbs. This is not true outside of anecdotal rare cases of extremely strong phantom shifts (only the shifter would be able to see this much like a controlled hallucination). This goes the same for those who claim others have interacted with, felt or seen their phantom limbs, it is most likely untrue. They are not physical in any way.
    Side Note: In some parts of the community, particularly Tumblr, the phantom sensations experienced in Phantom Shifting are referred to as astral limbs instead of phantom limbs. This is not to be confused with Astral Shifting, which will be discussed below.

    (D)ream Shifting: This occurs when one takes on the form of their kintype(s) or fictotype(s) within their dreams (this may be from the beginning of the dream or entail a physical transformation). Though widely accepted as a form of shifting, it is vital to bear in mind that alone dream shifts are not "proof" of one's identity, as from a scientific perspective, dreams are but a product of the mind. Whilst some people do believe dreams have a more spiritual cause, even in these cases caution should be taken and dreams shouldn’t be the sole reasoning. After all someone could dream of being a flying rhinoceros, but that does not make said person a flying rhinoceros-kin no matter how much they dream it if they have no other "evidence" to base it on. Dream shifts should be held with heavy skepticism if still in the phase of discovery, lest one be misled.

    (Se)nsory Shifting: Heading into lesser mentioned shifts now, sensory shifts may not sound the most extraordinary of claims out there, but there has been debate over them. It occurs when an individual gains the sensory perceptions of their kintype(s)/fictotype(s). For example, someone whose kintype is canine may find themselves to have a better sense of smell than usual. On the contrary, someone whose kintype is a mole may find themselves with reduced eyesight. Bear in mind that sensory shifting can only occur within what is physically possible of the human body and it is far more likely that sensory shifting is due to subconscious focus on the senses in question than it is to be indicative of a supernatural power or a physical anomaly.  

    (Au)ra Shifting: Seldom mentioned in the community, this occurs when one's aura takes on the shape of their kintype(s) or fictotype(s). Due to the nature of auras, this form of shifting depends on personal beliefs. Those who hold spiritual beliefs will be more likely to state they experience aura shifting, but even then it all depends in whether one personally believes in auras or not. For those who believe in auras, it is likely that those who can see or read auras would be able to notice the change and comment upon it.

    (As)tral Shifting: Like Aura Shifting, this is again dependent on one's belief in the astral plane. Quite self explanatory, this happens when one either voluntarily or involuntarily shifts into their kintype(s) or fictotype(s) in the astral plane, their non-physical astral body taking the shape. Much like Dream Shifting this will most likely be a visible change to the individual and/or others on the astral plane, as it takes place within those realms and is not a product of the physical body changing in any way.

    (Bi)-Location Shifting: Again, another of the types of shifting dependent on one's belief. The basic idea of Bi-Location shifting is that the spirit leaves the body and travels elsewhere to roam in the form of the individual's kintype(s)/fictotype(s). In that sense, it is most likely a form of OBE experienced, with the exception that the spirit body appears in its nonhuman form and that this takes place in the physical world as opposed to the astral plane. Bear in mind that this type of shifting does not mean one would appear visible to others in the area where their other body is roaming. Although some have claimed that indeed, their bi-located body is also physical and visible to others, no proof has been found of this and such claims should be treated with healthy skepticism.
    (S)piritual Shifting: Occurs when the spirit/soul shifts into the form of the individual’s kintype(s) or fictotype(s). Again dependent on one’s belief system. For some people, this may be a constant thing, or temporary. Has also been used in some circles as a blanket term for some of the above shifts (Aura, Astral, Bi-Location), which involve at least some aspect of the spirit or soul changing form.

    (C)ameo Shifting: This kind of shifting can manifest itself in any of the above ways. The key difference is that the individual experiences a shift that is not of their own kintype(s)/fictotype(s) and instead is of another non-human being. These can occur just once, or several times. Some people may experience hundreds of cameo shifts of different species and beings, others may experience cameos of a select few species, some may just experience one or two in their lives, if any. If one infrequently shifts into a particular being, but doesn’t feel they qualify as identifying as said being, then it could easily be a cameo shift. On the contrary, if someone is experiencing extremely frequent cameo shifts, then it may be wise to look deeper into things to see if it is a kintype or in fact is just a common cameo.
    (B)erserker Shifting: The name originating from the Norse Berserkers, this is perhaps, minus physical shifting, the most contested in this article. Berserker shifting in the context of the otherkin community is considered to be when an individual mentally shifts into their kintype(s), but to a much more extreme level. In such a shift the individual has little to no control over themselves and may do things harmful to themselves or others as a result. There are many people who propose that the term shouldn’t be used and that doing such inadvertently encourages others to behave recklessly or not seek professional help for dangerous behaviours. The general consensus is that if someone is experiencing what they perceive to be a Berserker Shift, then all other potential causes should be ruled out first to ensure there isn't an underlying reason. 

    (P)hysical Shifting: In the vast majority of otherkin and fictionkin circles, anyone claiming they can physically shift will not get a welcoming reception. Physical shifting entails the individual physically changing into their kintype(s)/fictotype(s), much like the werewolves and other shapeshifters of myth. This is impossible for a number of reasons. To physically change into another being would mean the body would have to rewrite genes, change bone structure, move around vital organs (or even create/get rid of some) at an extremely rapid pace. Something that would be unsurvivable biologically, and certainly not possible by the laws of physics. Even if it were magically possible, it would likely be truly agonizing and life threatening to go through the change. With this in mind, always be wary of people who claim to be able to physically shift and stick to the belief that it is not possible until proven otherwise with reliable evidence. There have been plenty of cases of people building up small followings of gullible people to boost their own egos or leech from others. There is no special gene or magical book that can turn you into another creature.
     
    Non-Shifting Categories
    Non-Shifting: See above. 

    (Contherian)thropy: The name derives from the community where the term was first used, but now is used in other areas of the otherkin and fictionkin community outside of therian groups. An individual is a contherian when they do not experience shifts, but instead are in a constant state of shifting for lack of a better term. The levels of non-human/human experiences stay constant and do not fluctuate.
    (Suntherian)thropy: Also known as Vacillant Therianthropy. Like the former, suntherians are also in a state of being "constantly shifted" but unlike the contherian, experience fluctuations in the strength and severity of these experiences. These may be very slight in difference to drastically different from day to day depending on the individual. It has been described similar to a sliding scale. 
     
    Originally Written: January 2016. Latest Update: October 2018.

    Guest

    ~Deletion Request~

    By Guest, in Fictionkin,

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    ~Deletion Request~
    I do not appreciate even the thought that is now becomes site property despite the licensing, even more for personal reasons I won’t name here.
    So I’m just going to type this here, for all to see.

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    While it is by no means an exhaustive listing, this article provides a list of terminology that is commonly used in the otherkin community, as well as definitions for said terms.

    Otherkin - People who identify either partially or wholly as one or more non-human beings, entities, or concepts in a psychological or spiritual manner.
    Kintype - The term "kintype" refers to the type of being a particular otherkin identifies as. For example, "I am otherkin and I identify a a robot. My kintype is Robot." Transspecies - The term "transspecies" has been used to describe individuals who identify as otherkin or therians. This term is considered offensive to some in the LGBTQ+ community, and therefore controversial within the community. Polymorph - A polymorph is an energy being with no set form. Instead, the polymorph can take on multiple forms. Wishkin -  Wishkin is a derogatory term referring to an individual who wishes they were otherkin, or who pretends to be otherkin. The term is primarily used on Tumblr. Copinglinker/C'Linker - An individual who consciously takes on a non-human identity in order to help cope with various aspects of life. This could be to cope with mental illness, trauma, stress or other difficulties. Conceptkin/Objectkin - The term conceptkin refers to an individual who identifies as a concept rather than a being. For example, one who identifies as a thunderstorm. There is a lot of debate in the community if this is a valid identification. Tumblrkin - Tumblrkin is a derogatory term that refers to people who identify as otherkin, but base the identification on information obtained solely from Tumblr. Therianthrope/Therianthropy - A therianthrope is a person who is, feels, or believes they are, in part or whole, (non-physically) one or more currently alive or once-living non-human animals on an integral, personal level.
    Theriotype - The term "theriotype" refers to species a particular therian identifies as. For example, "Shiro is a therian and identifies as a wolf and fox. His theriotypes are wolf and fox." Cladotherianthropy - A cladotherian does not have a specific theriotype. They instead identify as a family or group of animals instead of a specific species. An example of this would be identifying as “canid” instead of “wolf”. Contherianthropy - A contherian is a therianthrope that does not experience shifting, but instead has their theriotype fully integrated with their base personality. Vacillant (sun/syn-) Therianthropy - A vacillant therian is a therianthrope that is constantly in a shifted state, to varying degrees. Informally, the terms "suntherian" and "syntherian" may be used instead. Polytherian/Polywere - A polywere is an individual with multiple theriotypes. Theriomythic - This term refers to someone who identifies as an animal from myth. Example: Gryphons. Gear - This term refers to items owned or worn that relate to a person's theriotype. For example, a faux tail and ears that one wears. Shifting - The term "shifting" is primarily used in reference to therianthropy (but also applies to otherkin) and describes when an individual 'becomes' more like their theriotype/kintype in a non-physical manner. (M)ental Shift - A shift in which a shifter takes on the mentality of their theriotype(s)/kintype(s). (D)ream Shift - A shift in which a shifter shifts into their theriotype or kintype while dreaming. (Ph)antom Shift - A shift in which a shifter feels a “phantom limb” sensation."; For example, the shifter may feel ears and a tail, or paws instead of hands. (C)ameo Shift - A shift into a being that is not the shifter's theriotype or kintype. (S)pirtual Shift - This is a rather vague term to describe any sort of shift with a spiritual undertone. It most frequently refers to when a shifer's Aura, Astral body, or spiritual self takes the shape of their theriotype or kintype. (Se)nsory Shift - A shift in which the shifter experiences a state of perceived heightened or reduced sense of awareness often in-line with their theriotype or kintype; eg. wolves may claim better sense of smell, etc. This type of shifting relies on perception of information, as it is not possible to smell, see, hear, and so forth beyond what is humanly possible. (A)ura Shift - A shift where a shifter's Aura (specifically) takes the shape of their theriotype or kintype. (Bi)location Shift - A shift in which the shifter's theriotype or kintype leaves their “human” body and materializes elsewhere; It is very similar to an “out of body experience”, but instead of the “spirit body” being the human body, it is the body of the theriotype or kintype of the shifter. (As)tral Shift - A shift that takes place in the astral plane. It is commonly used to refer to shifting which takes place during Astral projection. (Be)serker Shift - A shift in which the shifter loses control of themselves and begins to act more like their kintype than human. This type of shift could be an extreme mental shift, or any shift combined with a manifestation of mental illness. The general community consensus is that these types of shifts are extremely unhealthy. (P)hysical Shift - When one physically shifts into their theriotype or kintype. It is scientifically impossible to P-Shift. Fictionkin - The term fictionkin refers to an individual who's kintype is a character or being from a work of fiction.
    Fictotype - Similar to "kintype". The term "fictotype" refers to the particular type of being a fictionkin identifies as. This term is especially used for fictionkin who identify as human characters, as the term "kintype" does not apply; otherkin must be non-human identities. Factkin - The term factkin refers to an individual who's kintype is a specific named being (usually a person) who is either alive or was once alive. For example, a factkin may choose to identify as President John F. Kennedy. This type of identification is widely considered to be controversial in the otherkin community.
    Factotype - Similar to "kintype". The term "factotype" refers to the particular being that a factkin identifies as. This term is especially used for factkin who identify as human beings, as the term "kintype" does not apply; otherkin must be non-human identities. Other-Hearted - A person who is other-hearted identifies WITH one or more non-human beings, rather than AS.
    Animal-Hearted - A person who is animal-hearted identifies WITH one or more non-human animals, rather than AS. Heart-type - The type of animal or being the individual identifies with. Kith/Kithtype - Alternate terms for other-hearted and heart-type. Awakening - The term “awakening” refers to the process of discovering that you are otherkin and/or therian and the process of discovering your kintypes or theriotypes. Although it's an extremely common experience, not all otherkin go through an awakening.
    Plurality - Plurality is the state in which a person shares their body with another being/soul/headmate etc.
    Multiple System - Greymuzzle - The term "greymuzzle" is a term used almost exclusively in the therianthropy, otherkin, and furry communities to refer to people who have been in the community for an extended period of time. Greymuzzles are generally older folks (above 30) with significant community history.
    Howl/Hiss - A howl or hiss is a gathering or meetup of therians and/or otherkin.
    Furry - A person who participates in the Furry Fandom. Furries create non-human characters (which they call fursonas) and often like consuming and creating anthropomorphic artwork. Sometimes, furries will dress up as their fursona - this is called fursuiting. The furry fandom and the otherkin community are distinctly different communities; each with its own history and culture. An otherkin can choose to be a furry, a furry cannot choose to be otherkin.

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    Otherkin are people who identify as nonhuman on an integral and personal level. What otherkin specifically identify as can vary greatly, though animal-identified people (called specifically therians for Earth animals or animalkin for animals in general) are some of the most common. Less common, but still off and on seen in the otherkin communities are plant-identified people. They are people who identify as a living organism that gains energy through photosynthesis which exists or once existed on Earth, or as they are simply referred to in everyday life, a plant.

    Now to define what and who such plant-identified people are a little more thoroughly, they can be defined as people who feel they are (non-physically) some kind of plant on an integral level. They are people who are, feel, and/or believe they are a plant or something plant-like on an integral and personal level. This identification is a long term feeling of being nonhuman somehow. It's something which persists even after evaluating one’s experiences and trying to come to other possible conclusions. They are people that, regardless of their human body, identify as some species of plant.Like other kinds of otherkin, some possible experiences plant-identified people are things along the lines of phantom sensations of nonhuman characteristics (in their case likely roots, bark, stems/branches, etc), mindsets and viewpoints that are attributed to certain nonhuman species(in their case thoughts one might associate with being plant-like), dysphoria over some or all aspects of the human body and feeling some or all aspects of another species to being more appropriate, possibly having dreams about being or related closely to their nonhuman identity, a persistent feeling of being a nonhuman species, etc. The only real differences between plant-identified people and nonhuman-identified people in general is the plant focus rather than another kind of human creature. Yet still, just as there are otherkin of same nonhuman identity who experience some things differently, so to can plat-identified people. Different people of the same or different kintypes can easily have similar or different experiences. The core feature in the end us just that a person honestly identifies as something nonhuman in an integral, personal, etc way.

    The number of people who have been noted as plant-identified people or such people have been mentioned are very few and far between. As far as a few mentions that I am personally aware of, they are sadly limited. On Alt.horror.werewolves in the 1995 someone claimed to have met three plant-identified people though none such people appeared to have ever posted on the usergroup personally. In 2004 a small website was created over the topic of plant-identified people. In 2004 and 2006 two different groups on Livejournal were created for plant-identified people. Also in 2006, a forum was created in an attempt to give plant-identified people a place to discuss their experiences among themselves. In Lupa’s Field Guide to Otherkin published in 2007 one of the people who responded to Lupa’s survey and whose experiences were talked about in the book had had a past life as a species of flower. To name a few instances over the years.

    Due to their being so few (at least active online in the community) plant-identified people over the years, there is also very little information or shared experiences of such people out there online. Because of this various terms have been used over just within two decades to describe plant-identified people due to the lack of plant-identified people to help set down a sable term within the communities. However since roughly the mid 2000s to present, the term plantkin is the most accepted and most commonly used term to refer to people who identify as a plant. Plantkin is a portmanteau of “plant” and “otherkin” and thus is constructed the same way as many other subsets of otherkin such as angelkin and faekin have been coined. (The word otherkin itself is a portmanteau of the words “other” and “kin[d].”) The term plantkin came about back in 2003 (along with term “greenkin” to mean the same thing). Phytanthropy comes from the Greek word phyton meaning “plant” and the Greek word anthropoe meaning “human/man.” The term is not an old one as far as I am aware. I coined the term for myself in February 2013 on the therian forum, Werelist. It is a term constructed similar to the term therianthropy which comes from the Greek words for beast and human. Other terms which I have heard other plant-identified people use over the years include weretree (once used in the early therian community), greenkin (once used mostly during the mid-2000s), and woodkin (also once used during the mid-2000s though not as often as greenkin).

    Plant-identified people are certainly not common otherkin, at least based on the number who are active or were once active online in some part of the otherkin community. There are all sorts of animal-identified people, but there simply aren’t that many people who identify as plants at all. So, why are plant-identified people so uncommon to the point of being almost unheard of? Well, that goes into the eternal question of why any kintype is more common or less common than others. There are a lot of ideas running around on many levels depending on who, how, when, where, and why you ask. However, when thinking about why plant-identified person are so rare, it seems easy to see no matter how one views what causes being nonhuman in identity, that identifying as a plant in a human body is just an extremely alien idea to find an understanding of such a thing. At least for a number of nonhuman animals, they are not nearly as alien as any plant in comparison to a human. A large number of therians are mammals of some kind, which are not as alien as other animals such as insects or fish (which are rarer as theriotypes). At least with most animals, they share many biological functions if not even some level of behavioral traits in common with humans given that humans are animals as well. However, compare that to plants and they are even more alien.

    Broader still to other kinds of otherkin, creatures such as dragons, angels, and elves are familiar to many people both in form and by nature through stories and art. Plants are familiar by form (obviously) but not too often or at all really do we have a chance to see things from a plant’s (anthropomorphized obviously) perceptive. In stories wolves and dragons, for example, are characterized and anthropomorphized giving some form of view into how they might think and feel. Also, any education into plants rarely if ever goes much beyond how they obtain energy, compared to the wealth of information given on animals in some form or another. Whether one sees being otherkin as spiritual or not, if one knows nothing about something it's hard to know if one identifies as such. After all, it's hard to begin to label what one might identify as without having an idea on what and how other creatures might act in real-life let alone how that might be mimicked in some fashion in the mind of a human being. Yet, even if they are uncommon, there still are people who identify as plants regardless. It might be hard, it seems, for people to identify as a plant, but it is not impossible.

    So, thought they are uncommon, plant-identified people do exist and have appeared around in the otherkin community over the years nevertheless. We are indeed out there though and have been around the otherkin community for years. Therians are not the only otherkin who identify with something nonhuman which actually exist. There are also people who identify as a plant. Plant-identified people, whether they are called plantkin or phytanthropes, are simply not that common.

    - Darahagh (male, southern live oak)
     

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    In my time in the community I have seen many common misconceptions younger and newer members have fallen into through confusion and uncertainty. I could perhaps write a huge article on so many of these, but I've decided to settle on just one for this small piece and that is a misconception that has cropped up pretty often. 

    Many people, especially (but certainly not exclusively) those coming from social media communities such as Tumblr often are seen using the term "astral limbs". Which at first glance makes sense. There is such a thing as astral shifting after all. However, it becomes confusing when you realize that in actuality they are not talking about limbs they experience in astral shifting, but referring to the limbs they feel when experiencing a phantom shift.

    And in fact the correct term is "phantom limbs" which really makes sense considering the name for that particular type of shifting is phantom shifting. "Astral limbs" would really only make sense if you were referring to an astral shift where you felt those limbs on your astral body.

    Of course, not all individuals caught using the term do so because they genuinely have the terms confused. In fact, more often than not it appears to be because somewhere along the lines they have been told it is wrong to call them "phantom limbs". This is supposedly offensive or a mockery towards amputees and sometimes even stretched to say it cannot be a phantom limb unless you have actually once had that limb on your body. Where this point of view originally came from is unclear, but this is false. A phantom limb is a term that covers any body part one feels that isn't physically there; whether it has once existed there or not. It is true that most commonly in everyday settings it is used in reference to phantom limb syndrome experienced by amputees so understandable where the misconception arose. But this is just one usage. 

    This causes much frustration for older members of the community who have perhaps heard this numerous times before and have to go through the processes of explaining the differences once again to limit confusion and misunderstandings. This isn't the fault of the individual using the terms wrongly at all, just comes out of misinformation from different parts of the online community. But it certainly would be nice if the confusion and worry about using the correct terms dwindled.

    So if you are one of those people who does confuse the terms, or uses it because of what you've been told elsewhere: no matter what anyone says it is not wrong or offensive to use the term "phantom limbs" to describe your experience and no group exclusively owns the term. Although perhaps the fully correct term would be "supernumerary phantom limb", shortening it doesn't make it any less correct. So far there has been little to no research that I am aware of so far that had explored the phenomenon of phantom limb syndrome in relation to otherkin, but if the shoe fits then it fits. As long as people aren't claiming to be on the same level as an amputee or suffer the same struggles, there is no issue. 

    "Phantom limb" for limbs felt when in a phantom shift, "astral limb" for limbs felt in an astral shift or related shift/experience.
     
    Originally Written in 2016. Briefly revised January 2019. 

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    Diverse range and beliefs of dragonkin

    Dragonkin are a very diverse group of individuals each having their own beliefs and experiences relevant to their own draconity. No one dragon will have the same experiences as another, all have some similarity to each other as to be expected but dragons cannot just be meshed into one group there's just so many and there just too different from each other, categorization beyond anything but basic body plans/colors is impossible. When it comes down to it nearly every dragonkin seems to be of their own species some really small, some completely huge, some scaled, some feathered/ have fur (although from what I’ve seen many fall predominantly under the western body plan) each having there own customs/behaviors which I find really interesting many say they're from different planets few say they're from earth I just find that it highlights the sheer diversity that we have and that modern media and mythology doesn't really do a good job at describing the majority besides some generalizations. I myself fit well into one of the dragons described in modern fantasy so it's not all bad some stereotypes I find ridiculous though and I’ll go into that later on in this article. So if your a newly awakened dragon and your not sure what kind of dragon you are I hope the below mythology is helpful. Obviously there are some limits here even with mythological creatures but generally speaking each dragon seems to be different in some way and the chance of you meeting a dragon the same as you if you're not like any specific species described in myths or fantasy is, from what I’ve seen, very uncommon. The point here is, every dragon is different, but all dragons seem to follow the body plans of what is seen in mythology.

    Basic Mythology

    In mythology and folklore very broadly speaking dragons are most commonly viewed in three body plans, the western dragons, eastern dragons and the wyverns although there is more than this which I'll list some of. I'll briefly go through some common mythology of these three.

    Western dragons- also called European dragons due to the origins of the myths are generally speaking described as four legged, having two leathery/bat like wings and a long tail. Most commonly associated with fire-breathing but have been depicted as breathing other things, hoarding riches and living in caves. European dragons are largely depicted as malevolent in legends and mythology most notable would be the legend of St' George and the dragon, although there are some exceptions to this such as the dragon in welsh legends and ouroboros.

    Eastern dragons- also known as and include Loong, Asian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese dragons, they are dragons from eastern cultures generally seen as serpentine with no wings and 4 legs and represent nature usually more strongly associated with water and are largely revered as benevolent beings of wisdom. There are differences between the cultures in regard to appearance, with Chinese/Korean dragons having four toes, Japanese having three toes and then Imperial dragons been the only ones with five toes.


    Wyverns- Wyverns are dragons most commonly confused with western as they are similar in appearance, however a wyvern is generally smaller, has only two legs and there front legs are instead replaced with wings with have claws on the end which they use to move around on. The are very often depicted as having a venomous barbed stinger on the end of their tail and been unable to breathe fire like westerns. They may also have a venomous bite also and are most commonly displayed in medieval heraldry. There are considered to be less intelligent than western dragons and often viewed as vicious and malicious creatures.

    Other dragons/draconic beings-

    Wyrms- serpentine dragons with no legs or wings, the lambton worm is a common story in English history.

    Lindworms- A serpent like dragon with two legs and no wings, usually depicted with a venomous bite.

    Amphipteres- A serpentine dragon with no legs but two wings that are usually depicted as feathery. The Quetzalcoatl is the most famous one from Mexican history.

    Sea serpents- Serpentine dragons that inhabit the sea, usually depicted with no limbs but sometimes have two or four limbs and fins.

    Ouroboros- a dragon or snake biting its own tail, symbolizing eternity and the cyclic nature of existence.

    Hydra- A serpentine dragon seen in Greek and Roman mythology with multiple heads and no wings each time a head was cut off two more would take its place. Hercules was sent to slay the hydra and succeeded.

    Portrayal in the media and misconceptions

    Common Stereotypes-

    Ah stereotypes , everything seem to have them and dragons are no exception I'll just list the most common ones here and go into more detail about some of them further down this article. These include hoarding shiny things usually gold/gems, breathing fire, generally considered stupid and/or evil. Fire breathe is a common one and while not wrong there are a lot of dragons that used other things as breathe weapons such as ice, acid, electricity, water, etc. I didn't use fire myself I used acid though usually you only see breathe weapons other than fire only in modern fantasy or some games rather than the actual media itself. Most shows or movies usually involves some “brave knight” willing to risk there life to kill the dangerous beast and become a “hero” when really you basically just killing an animal to inflate your own ego so I do question who the villain is here myself, and then you have the classic preferring to eat maidens or some nonsense like that (although red dragons do have this listed in there mythology occasionally, over-exaggerated nowadays though). Yes I'm aware this isn't always the case but it is the majority.

    Intelligence-

    When it comes to dragon intelligence in the media I’ve noticed that there doesn't seem to that much of a differential from stupid/animalistic and relying solely on instinct to ancient and wise with seemingly human level intelligence I'm talking about western dragons and wyverns here eastern from my knowledge rarely appear in the media as much as these two but are generally depicted as great beings of wisdom and seldom unintelligent. Really dragons in my experience I think fit in-between the two I and I’m sure many others won't claim to be of human level intelligence but I wasn't like an animal nowadays either. I was capable of logical reasoning/thought and problem solving and had my own morals (albeit bad ones) and was aware of choosing everything I wanted to do rather than only following instincts . I also had my own preferences for certain things and behaviors that instinctively did nothing to benefit my survival. I understand the extremes of either end can and do exist though but it's not the general consensus that the media puts out.

    Malevolence/Benevolence-

    When it comes to dragons in the media especially in films/TV there are almost always seen as malevolent beings or shown to be “evil” just because there following there natural instincts this bring me back onto intelligence and if there viewed as having the mental capacity to understand good from evil (even if both can be considered subjective anyway) then they are usually on the villainous side or if not depicted as intelligent then just made to look like they are when really they just want to be left alone. Been a malevolent dragon myself I just don't like the way the media handles these things in general it's just too stereotyped especially in regards to how good always triumphs over evil because that's what they think the general population wants to see. I respect that it's not all as clear cut as this and that some are shown to be benevolent (the movie dragonheart was a great example of showing a polar opposite side to the usual western dragons you see) or a mix of both. Modern fantasy games such as dungeons and dragons does a good job of balancing between malevolent and benevolent dragons with the whole chromatic and metallic categorization, the media at large though just warps everything into something it shouldn’t be. This brings me onto the biggest misconceptions that I’ve found.

    Mainly wyvern body plans-

    Now this is one of the biggest gripes I have when in comes to modern media and games. They basically shove the body plan of a wyvern onto the qualities of a western dragon and create this fire-breathing non venomous two legged lizard with forearm wings that in reality doesn't really exist in mythology. Popular franchises like the hobbit, harry potter, game of thrones and games like skyrim all use this misrepresentation. Wyverns are dragons yes but a different kind of dragon as you would have read above but whenever the general public thinks of dragons there really thinking of wyverns that have the fire breathing capabilities of western dragons rather than them been separate animals. Personally I think this is just due to the fact that the wyverns body plan can be made to look a lot more menacing than the standard western one and that for cgi/animation purposes it's a lot easier to animate a wyvern as its anatomy resembles that of a bat or other flying animal and so more details can be put into how it moves and flies. Fire-breathing was then just added for good measure and a more public wow factor and then this kind of dragon just sort of stuck. Don't get me wrong I do like these dragons a lot, but it doesn't help the general population get an idea what what dragons actually are and just adds to the confusion of categorizing western dragons and wyverns separately.

    Granted everything I’ve personally said here can't really be proven and it's just as valid as how the media portrays use and what is in mythology as nothing is scientifically proven so there's always going to be fluctuations in people’s beliefs. I just hope that this has helped any dragons new or old and anyone that's interested in us to realize were very diverse and not really like how the modern world wants you to think.
     

    Common Biases

    By Cipher , in Otherkin,

    Creative Commons License BY
    This is meant to touch on some common biases I see crop up a lot on tumblr, new otherkin, etc. Note that 'bias' doesn't necessarily mean a heavily slanted extreme opinion, but often just an illogical opinion that an argument should not be based on if it wishes to stand firm. Bias is building the house on sand, so to speak.

    Definitions taken from Wikipedia, but these are quite common definitions you should find in any psychology textbook or scientific research manual. My additional comments are added in [bracketed italics], and any sections I find particularly relevant are underlined.

    Confirmation bias - the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions. In addition, individuals may discredit information that does not support their views. [I feel like this is a major problem for the otherkin community.]

    Self-serving bias - The tendency to claim more responsibility for successes than failures. It may also manifest itself as a tendency for people to evaluate ambiguous information in a way beneficial to their interests.

    Anchoring - The tendency to rely too heavily, or "anchor", on one trait or piece of information when making decisions (usually the first piece of information that we acquire on that subject).

    Anthropomorphism - The tendency to characterize animals, objects, and abstract concepts as possessing human-like traits, emotions, and intentions. [One of the most common biases I see in the community, for obvious reasons. Do animals experience emotion? Yes, but we cannot call it by human terms or claim that animal personalities are similar to our own, because we do not have a window into their minds that tells us exactly what they are thinking.]

    Bandwagon effect - The tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same.

    Curse of knowledge - When better-informed people find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed people. [I'm including this because I do see a lot of older folks being very aggressive in their correction of misinformation. I understand that having been in the community for such a long time, it is aggravating to see history repeat itself and definitions become more and more twisted plus humans are just plain stubborn all the time, but I don't know, maybe because I'm newer I still have an idealist idea of a gentle approach? ALSO please don't take this to mean I'm talking about anyone specifically, just that this is something I do see in general.]

    Focusing effect - The tendency to place too much importance on one aspect of an event. [Dreams are a good example. I may be a dragon in one part of a dream, but the same dream may also contain me riding a rainbow through the castle.]

    Stereotyping - Expecting a member of a group to have certain characteristics without having actual information about that individual. [Anti-kin obviously do this a lot, but it can also apply to stereotyping certain creatures based on assumed traits, such as "all angels are sweet and good" or "all demons are violent and angry".]

    Subjective validation - Perception that something is true if a subject's belief demands it to be true. Also assigns perceived connections between coincidences.
     

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    One of the first things I tell people when I join an otherkin forum is that I've been part of the online kin community for a long time; in Internet terms, that means about 15 years. This isn't just to stroke my ego; I want to make sure people know that I speak from experience. I've been in many positions on many forums, and certain things always remain the same. That's where this guide comes in; it's my way of helping to prepare you for what you'll encounter here. There are all sorts of guides out there to help newly awakened kin in general, so I wanted to do something a bit different and write a guide to specifically help those new to kin forums. The good news is that Kinmunity is one of the best kin forums I've ever seen, so you're off to a good start. With all of that said, these are some important things to know when you join.

    1. We question because we care. For newly-awakened kin, there's always a drive to figure out your kin type, and we're here to help with that. For experienced kin, it's natural to describe what you are to the forum. Whether you consider what you're presenting to be a theory or a sure thing, we're going to ask you why you believe what you do. We may question your reasons, and we may suggest that maybe you aren't what you think you are. If you've come this far, I don't have to tell you that you shouldn't take it personally. But it's also worth noting that only you know what you are. It's up to you how much you want to listen to us. It can be discouraging when you're trying to figure things out, so make sure you don't let the answer pass you by because other people disagree. It's a fine balancing act, which you'll find to be a pattern here.

    2. The battle against fluff is difficult and will have casualties. Let's be honest, people: our beliefs can be kind of ridiculous from an outside perspective. Talking about not being fully human and the like has earned us some understandable mockery. What becomes a real problem for us, though, is when we have to deal with trolls. On any Otherkin forum, you'll encounter members who make outrageous claims. These range from people claiming to know exactly what they are without any significant soul searching, to people claiming to have ridiculous kin types, to people claiming to physically shift. The last one is obviously from trolls only, but the first two present a challenge: is this person a troll, or just severely misguided? Only the person knows for sure, so it's up to the community and the staff to tell the difference. This is difficult, because you'll have some people who immediately condemn anyone who makes bizarre claims, and on the other side you have people who are way too forgiving (that's usually where I fall.) The best thing that you, a member, can do? If you aren't sure how genuine someone is, ask them questions. The answers will hopefully make it more clear, as discussed above. If you do think they're trolling, tell the staff. But if you think they're legitimate, don't be ashamed to help the person out. We were all new once, and we've all jumped to extreme conclusions at some point or another. You might be the one person who keeps this new member on the right path.

    3. We often don't share each other's beliefs. The kin label is so wide that you're going to find as wide a variety of beliefs and opinions as you will kintypes. This can lead to conflict, and far too often it does, so it's helpful to know some of these ahead of time. The "legitimacy" of (at least certain types of) fiction kin is a big one; there are a lot of debates here alone about that topic. Similarly, there's debate about whether mythical creature otherkin like myself fall into the fiction kin category. Outside of that, we may have different beliefs about the effectiveness of some activities, such as tarot reading. The bottom line is this: as long as you're keeping an eye out for fluff, you should respect the beliefs of your fellow members. After all, like I said up in number 2, by definition we all have some pretty crazy beliefs.

    4. We are all human. This is another topic that's going to come up, and it's going to cause some level of controversy. To be clear, this isn't to say that we have human bodies (that's obvious) or that we all have human souls  (that wouldn't make sense). It means that being human is part of who we are, even if our souls are something else entirely. Just remember: no matter what your kin type is, and no matter what other unusual traits you might have, every single one of us has been affected by our environment and upbringing. I'm making a point of this because far too often we see people on forums saying things like "I hate humans" or "I hate human society." In extreme cases we might even see someone saying "I think all humans should drop dead" or something like that. Not only is this kind of thing offensive, it virtually never leads to any sort of positive conversation. I'll admit that this is a tip not everyone will agree with me about, but I think it's important to remember.

    5. Only you know what you are. We've discussed the questions other people will ask about your identity, and we've discussed the questions you'll ask other people about their identities. Now, let's talk about the questions you'll ask others about your identity. Obviously it's difficult to figure out your kin type, or even whether you're kin at all. Even some veterans of the forums aren't 100% sure. That's a large part of why we're here: to bounce ideas off each other and work together to interpret the signs. However, as we will always remind people, only you can ultimately figure out what you are. Believe me, I know how much that sucks. The search for identity is long and difficult, and it would be nice if there was some way to get an answer externally. But as I'm sure you know, it doesn't really work that way. The good news is that you can discuss any troubles you're having with us; chances are, at least one fellow forum member will know how you feel.

    Five seems like as good a number as any. While it may seem like some of these tips are just common sense, I've seen the trouble caused by people not following them. The forums allow us to enrich each other's experiences and help each other out, but they only work if we all know what's expected of us.
     

    Creative Commons License BY
    There are nearly an infinite number of personal spiritual beliefs that are held worldwide to this day. Although personal spiritual beliefs are highly subjective and personal, the rules are hardly “anything goes” when it comes to spiritual Otherkinity.

    Otherkinity is characterized by identifying as non-human on a deeply personal and integral level in a non-physical sense. Most Otherkin generally share the same kinds of basic experiences. It is not so much the “what” of our experiences that makes all Otherkin different, but the “why”. For spiritual Otherkin, this “why” is answered by one’s personal spiritual beliefs.

    Otherkinity and Religion

    Personal spiritual beliefs may be a part of one’s personal religion or they may not be. Otherkinity in itself is not a religious belief. There is no religion that specifically mentions identifying as non-human in one’s current life as a physical human being. This is not to be confused with the widespread beliefs about reincarnation, as one can still believe in reincarnation and experience past lives, including non-human past lives, without identifying as non-human now.

    Otherkinity, Spirit Animals, and Totems

    It is important to make a distinction between these three ideas. Although similar, they are all fundamentally different, but similar enough to be confusing for many.

    Otherkinity, as stated above, is characterized by identifying as non-human. This identity is an integral part of the individual, and therefore cannot be seen as separate from the individual.

    A Spirit Animal or Spiritual Guide is a spiritual entity that is typically seen as one’s personal guide in life or spiritual matters. This entity is seen as a separate entity from the individual. Therefore, a spirit animal or spiritual guide is not one’s kintype.

    A Totem is a non-human creature that is used to represent an individual or a group of individuals, such as a family or clan. For example, the country of Wales uses a red dragon to represent their nation. A totem animal is not an integral part of one’s identity, and is therefore not a kintype.


    Finding Reliable and Relevant Resources

    There are tons and tons of resources and ideas regarding personal spiritual beliefs and practices that are available on the web today. Not all of these guides and practices are plausible, healthy, or safe, and many of them are either not relevant or may even be misleading when it comes to spiritual Otherkinity. Here are some tips on what to be wary of when looking at spiritual resources, and what to avoid.


    Avoid resources that claim the impossible. Many spiritual guides claim to be able to teach you to achieve feats that may be considered miraculous or outside of the realm of human possibility. But if it sounds too good to be true, then avoid it. Namely, avoid resources that claim to be able to teach you or guide you in physical shifting. Physical shifting is highly implausible given what we know about physics and the human body. Even magic wouldn’t be able to make it possible.

    Avoid resources that claim to be able to teach you how to “become Otherkin”. Otherkinity is an integral part of one’s identity, and therefore one can never “become Otherkin” through magical means.

    Be wary of resources that claim to be able to cause you to awaken. Remember that awakening is just the slow gradual process of discovering that you identify as non-human and discovering your kintype. The same goes for guides or techniques that claim to be able to “find your kintype”. Finding your specific kintype is normally a slow process of gradual self-discovery and research. There are no magical means for speeding up the process.

    Finally, be wary of groups or individuals who claim to be able to “read” your kintype or who try to tell you what your kintype should be. Otherkinity is a part of who you are. No-one, not even other people who are Otherkin, can tell you whether you are ‘kin or not or what your kintype is. Only you know what your internal experiences feel like, therefore only you can decide for yourself whether you are Otherkin or not, or what your kintype is.


    Lucid Dreaming, Astral Projection, and Meditation

    What these three techniques have in common is that they are all altered states of mind commonly used by Otherkin as tools for self-discovery and exploration. While practicing these techniques it is important to remember to keep a level head about what one experiences through them because they are states in which the mind is altered, and therefore heavily subject to the user’s thoughts and desires. This is especially true with lucid dreaming and astral projection, since the user has control over the dream or the astral plane.

    These practices are often used by Otherkin to aid their experience, whether it is for self-discovery or just for relaxation or the joy of the experience. However, because these experiences are heavily influenced by the subconscious thoughts and desires of the user, they are not a solid foundation to base one’s identity upon. Dreaming that you are a fox is not enough to make you a fox therian, and so on. Granted, Otherkin do certainly experiences dreams in which they are their kintype, but it is not the entire basis of their identity. Dreams in and of themselves are just a result of the brain processing memories while one is asleep. Dreams are highly symbolic representations of the dreamer’s subconscious thoughts. Therefore, always take things experienced in dreams with heavy skepticism.
     

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