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Animals Occupying Human Bodies

"You are not a body with a soul, you are a soul with a body."

By Pagan VeganPublished 3 years ago 6 min read

No, not shapeshifters. What I'm talking about could be you, someone in your family, or half of the people with whom you work.

Some of you may know the terms "therian", "otherkin", or even "furry", but these are not interchangeable identifications.

First I'd like to talk about the age-old spiritual belief of an animal soul residing within a human body, then I'll talk about the psychological aspect of a human with the mentality of an animal that is supported by science.

Over the centuries, populations with the strongest connections to the Earth, such as northern, central, and southern Native Americans have acknowledged those who connect better with non-human animals than their own species, and take easier to the behaviours of those species than their own. They're believed to have the soul of an animal. There are many tribes and communities who acknowledge and respect those believed to have the soul of an animal despite being born into the human species. They may be given special care to accommodate their animal urges and help them control the behaviours that hinder them from functioning amongst other humans. They may even be regarded as sacred beings.

Some would say these people are simply blessed with the soul of an animal to give them a healthier perspective of the world around them since most humans are indoctrinated into some hypocritical or harmful way of thinking.

Others believe in reincarnation, which is probably the easiest way to explain the phenomenon of any species being born into the body of another. They may believe you can be reincarnated an infinite amount of times and reborn as more than a few species, so it's only natural for most humans to have a few animalistic qualities completely unrelated to our less evolved, primitive ancestors. At some point, you may have heard someone say something to someone akin to "You must've been a [specific animal] in another life" due to some animalistic characteristic or skill and this is where that saying comes from.

The scientific side of this coin lies within a clinical diagnosis of "lycanthropy". Horror fans will likely associate this word with werewolves. Lykos is the Greek word for "wolf" and anthropos means "man" or "human being". Because of television and cinema, we associate this word with the science fiction-based affliction of a human who physically transforms into some kind of blood-thirsty wolf humanoid during a full moon. Despite the usage of the word, clinical lycanthropy, therianthropy, or whatever you see fit to call it, is nothing quite so interesting, does not involve physical shapeshifting of any kind, and isn't specific to wolves, though they do seem to be the most common animal with which people identify. There are a few theories on why this is, the most common being that wolves just resonate with people on a deeper level than other animals, either because of spiritual symbolism or the feeling of strength they want to possess.

The condition of clinical lycanthropy has previously been, and is currently still considered a mental disorder exhibiting symptoms of predominant animalistic behaviour, in some cases the cause could be as obvious as someone being raised in a barn with pigs or having only a few dog to turn to for love in a bare or hostile household. In contrast to centuries ago when a person could easily be discarded by their family into the wild or into a free mental facility to stay, be studied, and/or used for experimentation, this era requires a more concerned, hands-on approach to mental abnormalities, starting with the parents of the mentally afflicted. Whether a parent embraces this aspect of their child while preparing them to function well in human society, or tells their child it's all in their head and they should try harder to be like other kids, it isn't likely to find a clinical lycanthrope with no control over their condition.

Whether you believe it to be a spiritual phenomenon, a mental condition, or both, one inevitable truth is this occurrence has created an ever-evolving community of people who see themselves more as animals than humans. Of course they acknowledge that they are physically and biologically human, just as they acknowledge that they can't physically "shift" into the animal with which they identify, though there are "shifts" that they experience internally which causes the notable behavioural changes that set them apart from the average person.

Mental shifts are the thoughts and urges that cause a person to behave as the animal with which they identify. In early usage of the diagnosis of clinical lycanthropy, patients residing within mental facilities could be reported scratching at the floors and door to get out and making animal noises, though, as stated above, people today have more control over these urges and may choose to make time to express themselves away from the public eye or simply go for a run depending on the animal with which they identify.

Phantom shifts are instances when the person's body feels to them like the body of the animal. They may have an entire body shift or just periodically feel that certain parts of their body are that of an animal, such as wings, paws, or a tail. This can be caused by a mental shift or vise versa.

Dream shifts are exactly as they sound, dreams in which you are the animal with which you identify. You could be soaring through the sky, basking in the sun of a savannah, or running through a thick forest. You could be alone or with others of your kind.

There are various other types of shifts that are mentioned within the community, and older members of the community can often be found trying to correct the misinformation of the younger members, even if it leads to the realization that the younger person isn't actually a therian, but a furry, which is simply a human who enjoys roleplaying as an animal.

The older generations may be called "gatekeepers" for establishing the differences to the flailing youth, simply because the recent generation are more invested in tumblr blogs than the information they can get from people who've known of this phenomenon and experienced it longer than tumblr bloggers have been alive. This concept has been around as long as humans,

"Otherkin" is a term used for anyone who identifies as anything other than human. Because of this broad definition, "therians" can easily be categorized under the term, though not all therians like to be categorized anywhere near it, as therians identify with a specific existing animal [or animals] they've observed and found to be like themselves, whereas otherkin believe you can identify as literally anything [animal, angel, demon, star, etc.] and there's no criteria to meet or limit to the amount of things you can tack on to your identity. Imagine being twelve different animals, a few planets, plants, and a Divine Being! How would one get anything done? I have trouble juggling work with appointments and I only identify as two animals! Three if you count the human body I've come to know as mine. I suppose if I can learn to exist as one I ought to include it with my identity, which is fine. I make a pretty great human when I try.

Many therians believe it to be harmful to the understanding of their community to be grouped in with people whose views can seem more like fantasy than the concept they've grown to understand as an easy truth, and there are plenty of other communities who also struggle with their image because of others using the same label, but insist upon views that are so different from what they believe to be easy truths, but to be clear, the distinction is important to be made. No one has to believe anything, but there are big differences in communities, cultures, and societies that should be acknowledged when referring to them.

This experience should be further studied to be better understood and validated with more definitive information, but even as the diagnosis stands, it shouldn't be worrying, ridiculed, or associated with being delusional. Whatever the reason we identify more with non-human animals, we're doing our best to adhere to the expectations of human society without completely stifling ourselves. We deserve the freedom to be who we feel we are just like anyone.


About the Creator

Pagan Vegan

My screenname is a solid descriptor for me. During my time on this site I'm going to open up about my beliefs, experiences, and conscious thoughts. I don't know where this will lead me, but surely someone out there will enjoy my stories.

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    Pagan VeganWritten by Pagan Vegan

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