These Ancient Eyes: Q & A # 1: Misanthropy And Therianthropy

Monday, August 15, 2011

Since I’ve been having trouble lately coming up with blog posts regularly, I decided to try something new. This post is an open forum in which I will be answering the questions I’ve collected in the last few days across platforms such as LiveJournal, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, DeviantArt, and Blogger. I’ve decided that this is going to be a monthly feature on my blog – so feel free to submit more questions in comments for use in future Q & A’s!

And now, on to the questions!

Angela Mauro from Google+ asks: “Do you think it is common for therians to be misanthropes? Many, but not all, therians I meet seem to have a particular hate of humans.”

Well, Angela, it turns out that misanthropy is a bit of a side effect to therianthropy, especially with people who are “new to the faith,” so to speak. It’s easy for a therian to become so obsessed with their animal side that they begin to not only discount their human sides, but start to actually hate it.

I have some personal experience with this line of thinking, as much as I’m loathe to admit it now. It’s fairly embarrassing and something like being caught with your spiritual pants down to admit that I was once one of “those” therians as well. The first, dramatic instance that I remember when I realized I disliked (being polite with the terminology) humanity as a whole was when I was in the car with my mother back in Texas. We were leaving the bank’s parking lot, and a truck in front of us hit a songbird and killed it. There had been two birds, one chasing the other, and the truck hit the second bird. My mom gasped, and I just started SHOUTING. I don’t even remember what I called the person driving that truck, but I know it wasn’t very nice. To make it more heartbreaking, the first bird came back and landed next to the body of the other bird and just sat there. It was heartbreaking.

My mom explained to me that there was no way that truck could’ve stopped without endangering the other people in traffic, even if he had time to have seen the bird before it was too late, but I was too furious. I said he should have put the other people in danger – that’s the risk people take when they drive cars. The birds don’t know any different – they’re just sweet little birds, and now that one is all alone. What if they mated for life? What if it’s like my mom’s pigeons and now that other one is going to be so lost it’ll go off and drown itself? (A really heartbreaking story there as well, but I won’t get into that as I’m fairly certain that’s one of my mom’s anecdotes to tell – if you want to comment and fill in the story, mom, feel free!)

To put it mildly, I was being a complete and total jerk to a person I had never and would never meet, over something they probably couldn’t have helped if they’d tried… And in my head, I extended it to this huge, horrible rant about how humans are unfeeling creatures who don’t give a flying flip about the creatures with which they’re supposed to share the planet and instead take every opportunity to just take and take and take and don’t care who they hurt in the process- I really just kept going. I think my mind was stuck on that for days afterwards and I still remember it vividly.

All those things I’ve thought, and worse, I’ve seen expressed in the opinions of misanthrope therians across the board. It doesn’t matter their theriotype, it doesn’t matter where in the world they’re from or what experiences they’ve had in their lives – the bigotry is the same, and it’s always there.

Perhaps bigotry is too strong a word – but in all honesty, let’s replace the species we’re talking about with ethnicities or genders or sexual preferences, and there is no doubt that’s what we would label that kind of hatred. Those white people don’t care a thing about the land, stealing our land and our food, imprisoning us and treating us as savages…. Flip that: Those humans don’t care a thing about us – they invade our territories, shove us in to smaller and smaller areas until they don’t like that we “encroach” on them again, and then they imprison us or simply kill us. Whether it’s the native Americans talking about the English, or a wolf therian talking about humans, ultimately it’s still just bigotry. And that brings me to my theory as to why misanthropy is so prevalent in therians across the board.

The well-known blogger, 2 – The Ranting Gryphon, wrote a story back in 2003 that has recently been brought back into the spotlight by none other than Therithere, the therianthrope-centric comic strip that has had some of their strips featured during my Shift Happens series. And it illustrates very well one of the primary spiritual theories behind therianthropy existing at all, as well as why misanthropy is just one of the challenges we are faced with – and if we do not overcome them, we may never fulfill our destiny on this planet.

Summarizing the story, there is a bear therian who spends his entire life wishing and praying and longing to be a bear in body, never really doing anything with his human life. He “hate[d] humans… and hate[d] himself for being one.” An apt description of misanthropy, though admittedly quite a few therians take the route of superiority, believing their animal sides make them “better” than other humans, and so while they hate humans, they don’t reach the point where they hate themselves. Though there are some therians who do hate themselves for being human physically as well. In the story, one day, he gets his wish. He wakes up in the wild as a bear. He’s incredibly excited and cavorts around happily until he meets Bear, the totemic spirit. He thanks the spirit for granting him his life’s wish – and only then does he find out that he was made a human that the bears might have a voice within the human world, and by spending his human life doing nothing but hating humans and wishing he were a bear, he proved himself to be useless to Bear, and therefore the spirit simply brought him home. As the story ends,  “the bear who was once a human lived to see his fellow bears hunted and killed, his forest home demolished, his rivers polluted and his fish taken, and could never again do anything to stop it. And when he slept at night, he dreamed of being human again.”

My point in bringing up this story is that in the last two years, I have fought my own battle with misanthropy. It took my fiancée to point out to me the level of my own bigotry, and a drastic experiment in which I eschewed everything animal for six months and forced myself to live as a complete human (as much as I could – I admit, I failed quite a few times… but the POINT got through my head in the end, and that’s what was important). I’ve known Wolf!Me for pretty much my entire life, though I didn’t know my particular sub species of wolf until about thirteen years ago or so, but thanks to this experiment, I got to know Human!Me for the first time. And when the experiment was over, I found myself becoming a much more balanced person. My wolf and human sides were no longer at war – in fact, I was more contherian (a therian who has a steady balance between animal and human) than I had ever been before.

It was only at this point in my life and my development that I started to realize that I had been gifted this spiritual duality for a reason. I had always been interested in paleontology, but I thought I would go into it to work with dinosaurs – suddenly I realized that wasn’t what I needed to do with my life at ALL. I needed to work where I would be exposed to the environment and animals that lived contemporarily with the beast that lurks in my soul – I needed to become a Pleistocene Paleontologist and specialize in dire wolves… To learn, to bring information to other humans, and to share the world that once was with the humans of today with an understanding that would go beyond perhaps any other paleontologist that had ever lived. And I needed to live my human life to its fullest as well – to experience all the things I couldn’t as a wolf, because this life, this existence, and this very soul is a gift.

To return to the original question, I do believe that misanthropy is something that “comes with” therianthropy, but rather than being a hindrance, I believe that it is something that each individual therian needs to come to terms with, within themselves. To reach a point where you understand that you are both animal and human, and there is a reason for that – that not all humans are bad people, and that there is a reason for you to be who you are and what you are, born in this very time and place. Misanthropy is a challenge to the therian individual to come to terms with why they feel that way, and what it is that they can do to make this world a better place – not just for animals, but for humans as well.

Well, this blog has now gone on for five pages answering one question! Heh…  So that’s it for the blog this week. I have two questions left in the backlog for future Q & A sessions – I’m also taking suggestions as to what I should name this new feature of my blog. I’m leaning toward “Rallying Howl,” what do you all think? Any suggestions? More questions? I welcome them all!