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What better way to begin my new blog than to write a more organised and comprehensive entry about my awakening, identity and introduction to the community? I did create one of these before and my first consideration was to copy-paste into my new blog but the disorganised layout and outdated information in some parts led me to scrap it and start from scratch. So without further ado, I'll get straight to business. Introduction For those who don't know me, I suppose I'll begin with a quick introduction. Within the community I always go by AshenFall, I tend not to switch around my username for simplicity and because I've grown attached to it. We don't constantly change our names in real life, so why do so on the internet? More informally I go by the names: Ash, Ashen or Floof, although any reasonable derivation of my username I'm perfectly fine with. I am a 19 year old trans man from the edge of the Lake District, a national park situated in one of the northernmost regions of England. Surprisingly, I do have a life outside of the internet, although the amount of time I spend on it would have one believe otherwise! I'm currently studying psychology at university, hoping one day to find a job in the realm of forensic psychology but I try not to be too specific due to the unpredictable nature of life and health issues. I have a pet birb, a Green Cheeked Conure named Darwin. But I also have a more fiery bird companion living in my head, Arca. I do have a daemon too, Arabella is the name she currently goes by, although as of yet she does not have a settled form. So I suppose you could say we're a system of three but not in the traditional sense, I almost always control the body. I've been an active part of the otherkin community for nearly two years now, although I have identified as such (without knowing the term) for several years longer. I have three kintypes, snow leopard, western dragon and Rhys of the Borderlands universe. I most certainly didn't discover them at the same time, it was far more of a staggered process, in order from left to right. I won't deny I had my fair share of mistakes happen on the journey of self-discovery and I'll go into that below. Initial Awakening Thinking back to when I first felt the signs of being non-human a lot is pretty blurry. I never had an awakening in the traditional sense, but at the same time it wasn't a feeling that was "always there and I knew it". As a child I'd always had a strong draw toward animals, I saw them more as brethren than as another species as cheesy as that sounds. But hey I was a kid, kids are pretty damn cheesy. Felids had always stuck out to me above the rest in terms of living creatures, and in mythology I was always attracted to dragons and felid-like creatures. I pretty much always played the cat, the tiger, the dragon. I didn't like playing as a human character all too much because it just felt wrong to me in a way I can't explain or quite put my finger on. Looking back on that maybe it was a sign of my non-human identity and something that as a kid I couldn't really understand. Or maybe it was just some of the building blocks that led to a psychological occurrence forming my identities. I still don't know whether I view a more spiritual or psychological approach on being otherkin after all, so for now it's kind of a strong mixture of the two. Either way I try not to put too much stock into it because kids naturally play pretend and sentimentalism can skew things greatly. As I grew up of course the days of playing pretend and running around on all fours ceased. Weirdly enough and much to my dismay however, I just didn't feel right like I was yearning to be able to express myself in such a way again. I didn't for very obvious reasons but some days it got stronger than others and it confused me. I was confused enough as it could get anyways without that, we're talking around 2008/09 if I recall correctly, I was reaching the years of cringy teen angst and puberty. Again, sometimes I'm not quite sure if this was just a normal transitioning behaviour from child to teen, or if it was another sign. I always listed that time as the beginning my awakening because of the surfacing feelings and unease. But I'd be lying if I said it was the climax. It wasn't until I was 15 years old that it got to a level I couldn't deny or try to rationalise it as my imagination any more. Coincidentally enough this occurred not long after a time of great trauma in my life and the subsequent unstable months that followed. Around this time phantom limbs began to surface noticeably and I won't deny it scared me a bit, feeling appendages that weren't there. I think I may have had them before that time but my memory is sketchy. This was before my discovery of the otherkin community so I had no idea what phantom limbs were and I certainly didn't make the link to the syndromes of a similar name. I'd had what I assume were mental shifts before then so I'd experienced a couple weird things but this was a whole new level for me. I always tried to rationalise it. It had to just be my imagination and some kind of fantasy or escapism from the trauma, right? Shifts became that bit more frequent and noticeable in both forms, phantom and mental. Not knowing the terms I just called them "moments" to myself and although I did feel they were linked to animals (I began experiencing what I'd later understand to be species dysphoria) it wasn't quite that simple. I didn't know otherkin existed, to me I was either getting caught up in my imagination or going insane. But I'd soon discover it and things were about to start making sense to me. Finding the Community I was 16 at the time, had been in a long distance relationship for a good few months with my now ex. She first introduced me to the terms otherkin and therian. She was a therian herself, a self-proclaimed wolf therian. I feel sheepish admitting for a few months I genuinely thought therians were roleplayers thanks to my ex being that therian. The wolfaboo kind who makes a pack, howls at the moon and wears tails and collars in public to express their therianthropy and "get in touch" with the animal within. So it was a case of thinking: "oh cool I guess I can be a therian too" although I didn't go to the wolfaboo extent, just online roleplaying with my ex and some other people. At a later date I do remember her explaining to me better what a therian was. That it was an identity and more than just some roleplaying game. That's when I began googling the terms and came across a page on Therian-Guide. I never made a forum account there, just browsed through the information pages and I admit it really helped me make sense of what the terms really meant. It also hit me that these feelings I'd had earlier on in my life fit with some of the terminology being used and the definitions. That's when I seriously began to question if I was otherkin, although at the back of my mind I was worried I was being a "wannabe" and taking things at face value. So I didn't start using the term right away, I just kept it in mind and started searching for advice on how to find your kintype. I don't recall where I searched, there were several sites, most abandoned or outdated. And there was a heck of a lot of conflicting and confusing information so I believe I stepped back from it all for awhile, feeling overwhelmed. It wasn't many months after that when me and my ex broke ties, went our separate ways I guess you could say. There'd been a bit of turmoil and a few situations but it didn't end badly. So with that and everything else I decided to stop the self-discovery and focus on more pressing things in my life, returning when I felt better equipped. The shifts never went away of course, but I tried not to worry about them too much. I did try each time to figure out what they were. Sometimes I felt phantom wings, but more often I felt fur and wide paws and a tail and ears. Mental shifts were harder to figure out. July of 2015 I decided to dive into the community again and get some advice and discover my kintype or kintypes. That's when I joined Kinmunity, finding it through a link on a Google+ therianthropy group page. After a few minutes of nervous consideration I signed up and made this very account, albeit anxious. I hadn't participated much on forums before and being socially anxious the worries exacerbated. I never joined the chat to begin with, for my first few weeks I don't think I ever dared click on the chat link out of fear, watching the little red number fluctuate in size. I did make an introduction (very cringy one in retrospect) and I felt so much relief to find myself being welcomed by so many people. Everyone seemed nice. It still took me a little while before I began posting frequently in the forums though, and asking for advice every now and then. Heh I still remember kiror telling me to look into bony fish after a red herring (pun not intended) meditation session. And speaking of red herrings, I've had plenty of them. I did look into the fish, but quickly found out that was just some sensation completely unrelated to shifts. I looked into canids for ages, it seems everyone begins drawn to the wolves. Some things fit, but a lot didn't so I gave up looking there. I felt feline mostly when I thought about it, but... there was something else too. I still had that draw to canines so I looked into hyenas, being feliformes with canine traits. The Striped Hyena I looked into for a bit but that didn't fit. Then I looked into the felidae. Tigers were my initial go-to. I'd been obsessed with tigers since I was a little kid (funnily enough they are the closest cousins of the snow leopard, a species which I didn't know about as a kid) so it felt natural to check 'em out. But nah, too big. I snooped through many different felids but it was a case of: "nope, no, no, no maybe... oh maybe not, no" before I hit the clouded leopard. There was a week where I thought I'd nailed it but something felt off about it still, especially climate-wise. After much introspection, meditation, writing otherkin journals and keeping tabs on odd behaviours I finally came to the conclusion I was a snow leopard. It was far from simple, that I can remember as clear as day. But I'd gotten there and that was what mattered to me most right then. Second Kintype I was so happy I'd found my kintype I completely disregarded the other feelings I'd been getting. I think at the time I just kept passing them off as cameo shifts, especially the whole wing scenario. After finding my kintype I'd gained that bit more confidence, not feeling like some kid out of the loop with no knowledge of what I was. I participated a lot more on the site, joined a few chat groups, made some great friends and life was good. But there came a time when I couldn't pass off these shifts as just cameos. They were happening far too frequently and, not aligning with my snow leopard kintype I had to acknowledge maybe I did have a second kintype. At the time I was skeptical, I knew there were many people with more than one kintype but I feel like I was always scared I was getting too ahead of myself hence the repression for so long. It took a long time before I settled on dragon actually, I tried to avoid that path because I thought much like the wolf situation with many therians, that I would be fluffy for thinking I was. But looking through birds, mythological birds and even dinosaurs, nothing fully clicked. My last step was looking into dragons and there it was I found my answer. Funnily enough I realised I also somewhat resemble one of Pathfinder's Gold Dragons. I don't believe I am one though and that part is more coincidence than anything else. I mean I won't disregard the possibility of course, but there are enough differences to make me shrug off that part. Like discovering my snow leopard kintype, I used similar tactics albeit more comfortably this time as I was getting the hang of the whole introspection thing. Again I did use meditation, but the memories I uncovered while doing so I was more sceptical and critical of, than I was back when I first found the community. There was enough to make me realise I was a desert dwelling dragon, but that is the most damning evidence I have uncovered since then. It was around this time also that I began questioning whether I saw my identity as spiritual or psychological in nature. Initially I had come into the community strongly believing it was a spiritual thing, but as I spent more time the psychological possibilities began making sense to me also. And being unsure about my stance on the existence of dragons in this universe it definitely brought rise to many doubts and uncertainties. I won't deny that even now I'm unsure which explanation makes the most sense to me, although I do believe there is a strong psychological aspect. I've never ruled out spiritual explanations either, especially regarding my snow leopard kintype, that I still feel is a strong mix of both. Multiplicity Some time around the months when I was discovering my second kintype I stumbled upon the tulpa community. We're talking late 2015, I'd heard the term mentioned a few times on Kinmunity and I was intrigued. I'd actually heard the term before then, but in that one creepypasta called the Tulpa Effect and I highly doubted they were the same thing. I looked about on tulpa.info, read some guides and started to build up a picture of what to expect from creating a tulpa and the best ways to go about it. I remember at the same time Mirath was also making a tulpa, so we kinda worked together through a lot of the process with our respective planned tulpae. I think it took around four to five months of forcing, concentration and meditation (and a few changes in form) before me and Arca could communicate to a point I could call him a headmate. Since then we've been extremely close and although he doesn't speak much on the site and admits he's more of an observer, he's a good companion. It's been well over a year now since we first "met" and honestly sometimes it's hard to remember what life was like without him around, sharing the headspace. Since that time we've had a couple walk-ins (never staying long) and within the last few months I also began work on a daemon who I briefly mentioned above. As I said there, we're still in the early stages but she's communicative just not yet settled on a form. That's something we'll dedicate more time on when I'm not so busy with university I think. Despite technically being a plural system, we've never really bothered to call ourselves such. We all feel at our core we're a strongly tied median system, yes we're separate from each other but all interconnected deeply enough we don't actually feel separate in that sense. Terminology tends to confuse me though, so honestly we don't care what we're called (within reason). Mistaken Identity and Being Fictionkin Before the daemonism situation I had quite the confusing time. First I began questioning fictionkin mid-2016, but not the kintype I currently identify as. I made a huge mistake that I'm still kind of embarrassed about to this day, because I jumped the gun and ignored my own advice I so often preach. It wasn't that I hadn't spent a good long look and think about it all! No, it was just at the time I encountered such a strong feeling and fuelled with cameo shifts I found myself led astray. I'd been binge watching American Horror Story again at the time and I think my love for the show interfered very strongly in that regard. But a month or so later after the Netflix binge I realised I had been too quick to conclude when any "identity" I had in that brief period completely ceased and safe to say hasn't resurfaced since. I still don't know if it was a cameo shift scenario or a fictionhearted connection but I do my best not to dwell on it too much because in the end it doesn't really matter. The gods know I lost a lot of confidence in my ability to tell what was what after my mistake. So after I'd played Tales from the Borderlands for the very first time and had it stir up emotions and recognition beyond what I could ever have expected I was crazy doubtful. I tried for a short while to repress it, but it was actually making me depressed and the homesickness hit extreme levels to where at some points I just didn't want to talk to anybody, even Arca. I decided at that point I couldn't pretend this wasn't a thing, so I plucked up my courage and decided it was time to do some good old introspection and research. I'd known about the Borderlands series for a while, but beyond the name I didn't know a single thing about it. So when I first played the games I had gone in blind and yet felt a familiarity that really struck me as off. And that was only the beginning. I do feel I had shifts relating to my identity as Rhys before then, but I'm wary of saying such, since it could be my mind playing tricks on me for that part. And of course I'm still very sceptical on my stance of being fictionkin in a past life. Since then I have definitely had a fair share of mental shifts and phantom shifts, like with my other kintypes. While in the questioning process I kept my distance from the games for a while, or anything that reminded me of them. Like my mistaken identity I didn't want to jump the gun. But unlike last time the homesickness just kept cropping up even when I hadn't been thinking about it, and the shifts didn't stop after a couple months. I got memories too, every now and then, brief flashes of things that happened between what was documented in the canon, and things that did happen in canon, albeit with a few differences. In terms of processes, similar to my previous two kintypes. Introspection, research, journals, distancing to ensure there was no confirmation bias or confusion going on. It did take me a while, but by the end of 2016 I felt comfortable enough in myself to know that this time I'd hit a kintype and not made a mistake. In terms of how close to canon I feel I am... pretty close. Most things I recall being similar or the same, nothing major happened differently anyways. Fini So by the time 2017 rolled in I was comfortable in saying I had three kintypes and now, heading into mid-year I most certainly still am. Since then I haven't had any other possible kintypes surfacing so I feel confident that I probably don't have any more. I've had cameo shifts every now and then, but very brief and since my mistake I tend to pay little heed to them, especially since so far none have persisted beyond a month at a time. With all of that said, I suppose I'll conclude this entry, my fingers are losing fuel here, heh. If anyone actually read this far, props to you because I am terrible for rambling on too long. And on that note I'm happy to answer questions here on this blog post or elaborate on anything.