Shifting

From Otherkin Wiki

Shifting is the experience of nonphysically 'becoming' more like one's kintype, theriotype, or other identity.[1] Sometimes it is referred to as kinshifting or therioshifting.[Citation needed] It is considered one of the most common otherkin and therian experiences; in a small 2020 study, phantom shifts were reported by "almost all participants",[2] and Naia Okami's 2016 otherkin community survery showed that 87% of respondents experienced shifts.[3] However, it is not universal.[4][5] It is also possible for other types of alterhuman, such as otherhearted people, to experience shifts.[6]

Mental and phantom shifts are the two types of shifts that are discussed the most often. However, there are many types of shifts, and it is common for a person to only experience only one or a few types of shifts. The types of shifts are often abbreviated to one or two letters, such as referring to mental shifts as m-shifts.

Experience[edit | edit source]

Shifts cause a person's animal side to be expressed more fully than normal.[7] They can be voluntary or involuntary: some people find that they happen randomly or are brought on by strong emotions,[2][7] some can enter shifts deliberately, and some need to perform specific rituals in order to induce them.[7][8]

Some people experience being constantly shifted in one way or another, most commonly with phantom shifts. People who experience this may still have periods of stronger and more dramatic shifts in these traits.[7]

Some people see their human and nonhuman perspectives as occurring simultaneously. This experience can be called contherianthropy or suntherianthropy in the therian community.[4][7]

Many people who experience shifts report having had them their whole life, but only coming to understand what they were after awakening or learning about nonhuman identity.[2]

Coping with shifts[edit | edit source]

Some people may find shifts overwhelming or uncontrollable, especially if they are young or newly awakened.[9] As a result, guides and discussions on coping with shifts are common in otherkin and particularly therian spaces. Common recommendations for things to do during shifts include exercise, using stim toys or pet toys, and expressing one's animal side through art or other creative outlets.[8][9] It is also commonly suggested to manage stress to avoid triggering inopportune shifts, and to let close people know about shifting so they can be a source of support.[9]

Types of Shifts[edit | edit source]

Many different websites have compiled lists of types of shift.[10] The types of shift that appear on most if not all of these lists are as follows:

Mental Shift (M)[edit | edit source]

A mental shift is a shift in which one's mental state changes to reflect that of their kintype. A person experiencing a mental shift may act and respond to their surroundings "as though [they] were that animal or creature".[2] This may include animalistic urges, a change in desires or focus of attention, for example the urge to make animal noises or the desire to walk on all fours.[2]

Phantom Shift (Ph)[edit | edit source]

See also: Phantom limbs


Phantom shifts are shifts that cause the experience of phantom supernumerary limbs. These shifts come with the sensation of feeling a limb or body part that one was never born with, such as wings, tails, horns, long ears, or muzzles. In Naia's 2016 survey, they were reported by 90% of participants who experienced shifts, making them the most common type of shift reported.[3]

Astral Shift (Al)[edit | edit source]

For otherkin who experience astral projection, an astral shift is experienced when one shifts during astral projection or when one's astral form takes on the appearance of one's kintype.[11] Most descriptions of astral shifts are primarily by spiritual otherkin, but some psychological otherkin do experience them as well.

Aura Shift (A)[edit | edit source]

Similar to astral shifts, experiences of aura shifts are mostly sourced from spiritual otherkin. Aura shifts occur when an otherkin's aura takes on the shape or form of their kintype.

Berserker Shift (Be)[edit | edit source]

A berserker shift causes the shifter to lose control of themselves and begin to act more like their kintype than human. This type of shift could be considered an extreme mental shift. The term 'berserker' originated from Norse mythology by warriors who would purposefully "possess" themselves with a beast to gain strength, fearlessness, and fury.[12] The general community consensus is that this type of shift is extremely unhealthy, and may lead to the harm of others and/or the shifter.[1]

Bilocation Shift (Bi)[edit | edit source]

A supposed shift type where one's kintype leaves their body and physically manifests somewhere else.[11] Many consider this to be as controversial as physical shifting.

Cameo Shift (C)[edit | edit source]

A cameo shift is a shift to something other than a person's phenotype.[10][13][14][15] A cameo shift can be any type of shift, but most commonly phantom shifts are described.[14][16] The length of time they last can vary, and a shift to a specific phenotype can be once-off or recurring.[14][15][16][17] However, even persistent cameo shifts of the same type may not be enough to constitute an actual phenotype if they do not come with any other alternormal experiences, or simply do not feel integral enough.[13][15]

Cameo shifts are frequently triggered by specific stimulus. A person may experience one after interacting with media featuring the animal in question.[14][16][17] Plurans may experience cameo shifts based on their headmates' phenotypes.[14][16] Some people state that they experience cameo shifts due to the presence of an animal guide or other external animal spirit.[15][17] Cameo shifts can also occur randomly, with no obvious trigger.[14][16]

A person who experiences cameo shifts may struggle to tell the difference between this and evidence of a true identity.[13][17] This can be especially true for younger or newer community members.[13][14] Some writers have sought to raise awareness of cameo shifts, observing that many people unfamiliar with the concept assume phenotypes based on one-off experiences.[13][18] Page Shepard voices the concern that cameo shifts see little discussion because they are considered less meaningful than more permanent experiences.[16]

Dream Shift (D)[edit | edit source]

A dream shift is a shift where one is or becomes their kintype during their dream. Some people recall past life memories this way.[2]

Envisage Shift[edit | edit source]

An envisage shift is a shift where one has a mental image or awareness of non-existant body parts or traits. Envisage shifts differ from, e.g., phantom shifts in that the envisage shift does not cause one to feel one's shifted body parts. Envisage shifts can include mental images of acting like, or performing tasks as, one's kintype. It has been described as a "phantom body shift but within the mind’s eye."[19]

Flicker Shift[edit | edit source]

A flicker shift is a group of shifts that cause the shifter to experience multiple strong, separate shifts in rapid succession. It's not to be confused with otherflicker.

Integrated Shift[edit | edit source]

An integrated shift is any type of shift that has fully "integrated" into the shifter's everyday life in which they constantly experience to some degree.

Somatic Shift (Pe)[edit | edit source]

A somatic shift is a shift that causes physiological effects for the shifter. This includes but is not limited to: erythema, edema, fasciculations, paresis, paresthesia, or metabolic effects. It is the most realistic form of physical shifting, and can be proven to exist.

Sensory Shift (Se)[edit | edit source]

A sensory shift is a shift type where one experiences a change in their sensory perception that mimics their kintype. This is often experienced as an acute focus on one particular sense, such as hearing or smell. They often co-occur with mental shifts.[2]

Spiritual Shift (S)[edit | edit source]

A spiritual shift is a shift where one's astral self, aura, or spiritual self changes into that of their kintype.

Shadow Shift (Sw)[edit | edit source]

A shadow shift is a type of shift where the shifter does not change physically, but in which witnesses claim to see the shifter's appearance change.[11] This shift is often seen as an illusion or a trick of the light, and due to this, it is debated whether shadow shifts are a real form of shifting.

Physical Shift (P)[edit | edit source]

Physical shifts are a supposed shift type where one may change their physical form and become their kintype in a literal sense. This type of shifting is nearly universally disregarded as complete fantasy.[4][7] Physical shifting is not possible, and several groups have been formed over the years around grooming and abusing otherkin through promises of teaching them how to physically shift.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Naia Ōkami. (July 17, 2020) "Terminology & Lexicon" (Archived version)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Clive Baldwin. (August 7th, 2020) "Exploring Other-Than-Human Identity: A Narrative Approach to Otherkin, Therianthropes, and Vampires" Qualitative Sociology Review.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Naia Okami. (2016) "2016 Otherkin Community Survey"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Ashenfall. (July 17, 2020) "A guide to shifts" (Archived version)
  5. Othermagic. (June 22, 2016) "An Expanded List of Shifts, or what the heck I’m trying to tell you when I talk about them"
  6. Atlas of Mossland. (January 26th, 2018) "Common Themes in the Early Animal-hearted Scene" (Archived version)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Lupa. (March 1st, 2007) "A Field Guide to Otherkin" Megalithica Books.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Swiftpaw. "An Introduction to Shifting for Newbies" (Archived version)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 RagdollTherian. (June 2011) "Coping with and Control of Therianthropy"
  10. 10.0 10.1 Lupa. (2007) "A Field Guide to Otherkin" Megalithica Books.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Pinky. (December 24, 1999) "Shifting and Awereness Terms"
  12. Daniel McCoy. "Berserkers and Other Shamanic Warriors"
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Rani (a-dragons-journal). (October 8th, 2020) "I feel like the term “cameo shift” is falling out of use and it’s something that probably bears a PSA."
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 House of Chimeras. (February 2021) "Our Experiences With Cameo Shifting"
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Strill. (2008) "On Cameo Shifting by Strill"
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 Page Shepard. (November 18th, 2021) "Our Thoughts and Experiences with Cameo Shifts & Fictionflickers"
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Shannon Jackson (theriannation). (August 19th, 2016) "Anonymous asked: How do I tell the difference between a cameo shift and a legitimate shift?"
  18. Mokele. "Is it a new wereside?" (Archived version)
  19. Short Horse. (February 19th, 2021) "OK so I’m convinced."