First off, I’m going to say that my experiences are just that – my experiences. They are not your experiences, and yours are not mine. We may or may not have anything in common, but everything stated in this article is based off of my personal experience. If you feel that you are therian but don’t agree with something that I have to say, or feel that something is different from you, then that’s absolutely fine. It does not mean you are not a therian.
It’s not up to anyone else to tell you if whether you are, or are not, a therian. There are some people who claim to be therian who seem to think it’s all this big roleplaying game, but it isn’t. Such people may very well be fake and if they are slinging “facts” around which are not true facts, but which seem to be based off of some type of game, then they are people who don’t seem to understand. Who knows? Perhaps deep down they are therian, but they are new to the whole thing and don’t understand, and feel that roleplaying is a way to figure things out. However, there’s a time and place for everything, and those people don’t belong in places where serious discussion is going on about Therianthropy. They belong at sites specified for role-playing. I realize I just went on a tangent here, but it was to say this: no one has the right to tell you what you are and are not. You are what you are, regardless of what that is. But be aware that there are people who spread misinformation about Therianthropy and if they are making unrealistic claims and acting as if they are fact, then they are most likely, not being entirely truthful.
Figuring out whether you’re a therian or not can require a lot of thought and meditation. Either way, if you are reading this and find out you’re therian, that’s absolutely fine. But if you eventually figure out that you’re not therian, then that’s okay, too. You are who you are. It’s okay to be new to the concept of Therianthropy, and it’s okay to ask questions – that is a part of self-discovery.
Every therian’s experience is different, which means that while there may be some things which are common among therians, if your experience is a little different, then that’s fine. It’s not set in stone.
What is a Therianthrope/Therian?
There is often debate as to the technical definition of the term. Some feel that it’s a close spiritual tie to an animal in which the person feels that in some way, they are that animal, or were in a past life. Some feel that it’s merely psychological, that there’s some way that science can explain the feelings of being an animal other than a human. But, in general, being a Therianthrope is being a human who feels that in some way, they are part animal. We don’t feel that we’re physically part animal, because that’s not scientifically possible as of yet. We merely feel that some part of our spirit, being, essence, or our mind – is that of a non-human animal. Even though we are all humans that live human lives, there is always that part of us that has a tendency to act or react as a certain animal. It’s pretty much hard-wired into our minds – it isn’t something we decide to be. Many therians like being a therian, but there are those who do not, since it isn’t always an easy thing to be.
By the way, word “Therian” is just a shorter version of “Therianthrope.”
What is an Otherkin?
I’ll put this one here, because while I personally am a Therianthrope, I run into Otherkin a lot, and it’s a very similar concept. An Otherkin is much like a therian, in the sense that they feel they are something other than human, in addition to physically being human. Instead of an animal that physical exists or did exist in our world, Otherkin feel that they are other creatures – such as Fae, Elves, Unicorns, Phoenixes, Dragons and Vampires – as well as many others. Otherkin has often been considered an umbrella term, of which Therians are a part. There are some who feel that they are two different classes entirely, as well. Either way, that’s how I define the two. And, while the Title of this article is How to Tell if You’re a Therian, some of the things in this article probably apply to ‘Kin, as well. I just can’t say for certain, since I personally am specifically Therian.
Therians usually identify as a specific animal or animals. I personally identify as two different birds of prey. Some, though, identify as a class or group of animals, instead. There are many different types of therians, but I won’t go into that here, since it would make this article even longer and more complicated.
Therianthropes often experience various types of shifts. This is not actual physical shifting of the body, as in werewolf lore and horror movies. We cannot physically change into wolves or hawks or jaguars or what-have-you. But, we often have different kinds of shifts. Some have dream-shifts, in which they become their animal in dreams. Others have phantom-shifts, in which they feel some of the body parts of their animal there, even though they physically aren’t there (such as beaks for birds, tails for mammals, etc.). Many have mental shifts, in which they act more like their animal side than usual. Again, I won’t go into all of the various types of shifts here, because there are many of them. But shifting (or shape-shifting), in general, is going from your normal human side to being more non-human animal than you usually feel. It can and does happen in many ways – just not physically, since that’s scientifically impossible.
Sometimes you may run into therians who claim to be able to physically shift but the truth is, they can’t. The people who claim they can have yet to offer any real proof that they can. Sometimes I think that the people who honestly believe they can are perhaps having some kind of shift in how they are perceiving themselves, and see something that other people do not – that isn’t actually physically there. I just thought I’d throw this in here, because people do claim this a lot, and it can be misleading to someone who is just discovering Therianthropy. Physically shifting is not something therians can actually do, so don’t ever feel that it’s something you need to be able to do.
Aside from shifting, there are other things which therians commonly experience. Many are drawn to either a specific animal, or to animals in general. Many also get along really well with animals. Please note, I do say “many,” not “all.” Some have a liking for a specific type of animal, even if they’re not sure why. Some also start feeling as if they identify AS that animal.
There are many signs which may reflect to you that you’re a therian, but if you’re really wondering, you need to dig a little deeper into your mind and think about it. Study it, learn about it, read about other people’s experiences in being therianthropes. If you are drawn to a specific type of animal, learn as much about that animal as you can. Another thing which can help is to ask yourself how you feel about that animal? Do you just like it a lot, or do you identify with it? Do you feel that that animal actually IS yourself, in some way?
Sometimes meditation can help for some people, as well. Calming your mind while reflecting on the question of what you feel you are on the inside can help. If you go this route, pay attention to any feelings that you get about yourself. Do you see the image of an animal in your mind? Do you feel any form of shift? Do you feel that you can think like that animal? And also, do you feel that youmay be something other than just human on the inside?
As I said before, only you can figure out if you’re therian, but you’re not alone in this, and asking yourself questions about how you feel can be helpful. You do not have to experience things as I do or as anyone else does, but it does help to dig deeper and to find other Therians to talk to about the matter. There are also plenty of therianthropy-related websites online, if you use a search engine to look up Therianthropy. Whatever you may be, I hope your journey is a good one.
-RedFeather FalconHawk ©2012