A Guide To Shifts
In this guide I will be going into detail about the various types of shifts often spoken about in the community in a bid to educate. Of those listed below, some are accepted, others are debatable or denied.
Types Of Shifting:
Non Shifting - Quite a rare occurrence in the therian community but this is when for one reason or another an individual is incapable of shifting. Sometimes they have never been able to experience shifts, other times have lost the "ability" to shift for reasons unknown. This can be temporary or permanent but it is good to bear in mind you don't necessarily need to shift to consider yourself a therian.
Mental Shifting - One of the most common types of shifting in the community. These occur when one takes on the mentality of their kintype. This can present itself in ways such as uttering sounds (e.g. growling, roaring, barking, hissing), being overpowered by non-human instincts (a predator may begin to crave meat or feel the urge to hunt or chase) or visibly acting like your kintype(s). The actions are not necessarily voluntary and not to be confused with merely just "acting". And on that note: it is frowned upon to visibly mental shift in public as this could cause consequences for both yourself and for those around you. Though sometimes it is unavoidable, the best course of action if you feel a shift coming on is to move someplace private, especially if you feel you cannot keep yourself under a decent amount of control.
Phantom Shifting - Another very common form of shifting is a phantom shift. They can often tie in with other types of shifting or even provoke them. Much like the medical term of phantom limbs, it is the feeling/sensation of having a limb or other (usually movable) body part which is not physically there. Most individuals have kintypes that do not 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. 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). It may also be uncomfortable if the feeling interferes with other parts of the body (jaws, hands, knees, feet). In the case of phantom limbs such as wings or a tail, they don't overlap parts of the existing body for obvious reasons. They are completely separate from any physical part of your body, but this does not make them feel any weaker or less real. A common misconception I have seen is that one can actually 'see' their phantom limbs. This is not true outside of rare cases of extremely strong phantom shifts (unproven, but if they are true only the shifter will be able to see this). This goes the same for those who claim others have interacted with or felt their phantom limbs, it is most likely untrue.
Dream Shifting - This occurs when one takes on the form of their kintype within their dreams. 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 kintype, as dreams are but a product of the mind. They should not be taken for granted because after all someone could dream of being a flying rhinoceros, but that does not make said person flying rhinokin 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 and never relied on.
Sensory Shifting - Onto the less spoken types of shifting now, sensory shifts have been very debatable. It occurs when an individual gains the sensory perceptions of their kintype(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 extremely likely that it is all in the mind, or a product of paying attention to that specific sense more than usual.
Aura Shifting - This is a type of shifting where one's aura takes on the shape of their kintype(s), essentially shifting. Of course, this kind of shifting is debatable, especially as not all therians believe in the existence of aura.
Astral Shifting - Like Aura Shifting, this is again a debatable type of shifting dependent on one's belief in the astral plane. Quite self explanatory, this happens when one shifts into their kintype(s) in the astral plane, their "astral body" changing to take this shape. This can often be seen by the individual, as it takes place within the astral plane and is not a product of the physical body changing. Astral shifting is likely to incorporate some of the other forms of shifting, such as mental shifting.
Bi-Location Shifting - This is 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). In that sense, it is most likely a form of OBE experienced, with the exception that the spirit body appears in its nonhuman form. Again, bear in mind that this type of shifting is questionable and does not mean you would appear visible to others in the area where you were "roaming" if you believe the bi-location shift takes place in the real world.
Cameo 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 kintype(s) and instead is of another creature. These can happen a few times or just once, but often do not stay for long. If they do keep recurring then it is unlikely they are a cameo shift and may actually be another kintype surfacing.
Physical Shifting - This is the one type of shifting that the majority of the community agrees is completely impossible. Physical shifting entails the individual physically changing into their kintype(s), much like the werewolves of myth. This is impossible for a number of reasons, the main being that it is not physically possible and would mean the body would have to rewrite genes, change bone structure and placement of organs and the like. Even if it were possible in some way it would likely be agonizing or life threatening to go through the change. With this in mind, always be wary of people who claim to be able to physical shift and you should stick to the belief that it is not possible until proven otherwise with reliable evidence.
Contherian/kin - Though not exactly a type of shifting, it is still applicable to this article. An individual is contherian/kin if they are constantly in a state of shifting. Thus it should not really be called a shift but for the sake of simplicity often is. Some may feel this very strongly, others may only have a very mild case but any of the types of shifting above can be part of this, only instead of being temporary, are permanent. For example, a catkin may constantly feel phantom ears and a tail that never leave.
Tags: Awakenings, Newcomers, Terminology & Definitions, Shifting