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Therianthropes, also known as therians, are individuals who identify either as an animal species that exists or has existed on Earth, or as a nonhuman species which experiences particularly animalistic instincts or urges.[1] People may explain their therianthropy through reincarnation, neurodivergence, or any other number of reasons. The object of a therianthrope's identity is called their theriotype. Most commonly, therianthropy is involuntary.

The Theta-Delta, a common symbol of therianthropy.

Experiences[edit | edit source]

Shifting[edit | edit source]

A word used for therianthropes in the past has been "shifter," from the word "shapeshifter." The concept of "shifting" as an action or experience originated in the early therianthrope community, where people would talk about "mental shapeshifting."[2]

In the context of therianthropy, a shift is an experience where one perceives themself to be more like their theriotype. Otherkin often experience shifts as well. Some of the most commonly named categories of shifts include:

  • Mental shift: one's mindset changes to be closer to that of their theriotype.
  • Phantom shift: an experience similar to that of a phantom limb, where one experiences a body part that is not there.
  • Astral shift: for those who astral project, their body many change form on the astral plane.
  • Dream shift: one's body takes on a different form within their dream.
  • Physical shift: one's body physically changes shape. Many therianthropes discuss this shift, but the consensus is that it is not possible.
  • Cameo shift: one experiences a shift associated with something other than their theriotype.[3]

A therianthrope whose human and animal side are integrated such that they do not shift is called a contherian. A therianthrope whose human and animal side are integrated such that their shifting is along a sliding scale is called a vacilliant therian.[4]

History[edit | edit source]

The therian community first began on the Usenet group alt.horror.werewolves. While originally intended to be a space to discuss werewolves in the horror genre of media, in the mid 1990's it turned towards discussions of a more philosophical nature of the personal, spiritual, magical, and metaphysical dimensions of what werebeasts were to the users.[2] Initially, members who identified as animals were called "weres" in reference to werewolves. "Therianthrope" would later be coined in 1994 and become the preferred community term.[5]

During this time period the community would see its first Howls, its first surveys, and its first community-created zine. Resource websites and personal websites began to appear towards the late 1990's.[2]

There have long been a few who have attempted to scam therianthropes with promises of "physical shifting" or "p-shifting," the ability to physically transform one's body. In 1995, a con artist visited alt.horror.werewolves and was able to scam money from multiple therianthropes while there. It is concern stemming from these encounters that drives therianthropes to be wary of discussions or claims of physical shifting or physical therianthropic identity.[2][6]

Therianthropes have been in contact with furries since at least 1995 and otherkin since at least since 1996. Since then, the therianthrope and otherkin communities have been in close contact.[2] In the 2010s, the definition of fictionkin was eroded by a combination of cyberbullying and innocent misunderstanding. Many people came to the misconception that to be kin was a choice one made, often to cope or just for fun, that had direct ethical implications, and that involved relating to rather than identifying as. Since then, some fictionkin and otherkin have fought back against this by asserting that being kin can never be a choice at all.[7] Even before this shake-up of neighboring communities, there have been therianthropes who asserted that all therianthropes were born as such, even while some were not.[8]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Daski of the River System. (July 20, 2022) "Therian: Dispelling the Earthen Animal Myth"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 House of Chimeras. (March 21, 2021) "A Timeline of the Therianthrope Community"
  3. Sonne. (2008/2009) "Types of Shifts" Project Shift. (Archived version)
  4. Jakkal (bitchcraft). (March 14, 2006) "Contherianthropy, Suntherianthropy, BStherianthropy, Apatherianthropy..."
  5. Orion Scribner. (January 21, 2013) "Otherkin Lexicon: A Multi-Lingual Dictionary of Jargon Used in the Communities of Otherkin, Therianthropes, and Other Similar Peoples"
  6. Orion Scribner. (September 8, 2012) "Otherkin timeline: The recent history of elfin, fae, and animal people, v. 2.0"
  7. The Dragonheart Collective. (November 8, 2022) "The Dragonheart Collective’s Testimony on the KFF Phenomenon"
  8. Sonne. (2008/2009) "Question & Answer" Project Shift. (Archived version)