Content warnings: For this post, as well as for the podcast itself: much about spirituality. Mild ableism. Questions about how being otherkin compares with being transgender. Some additional content warnings for the podcast only: Brief mild adult humor. Brief mentions of drugs. Brief mentions of alcohol.Summary: A furry podcast interviewed a therian wolf who claims to practice an ancient animal-based faith, and an otherkin dragon who expresses himself through fur-suiting.
August 25: Fur What It’s Worth
, a podcast series that is “an introduction and immersion into the furry fandom,” interviewed a therianthrope and an otherkin. In the "Therians & Otherkin" episode
, the hosts say they are completely unfamiliar with therianthropy, but somewhat familiar with otherkin. The hosts’ attitudes are respectful, easygoing, interested, and friendly. There’s no transcript, so I’ll summarize the relevant parts of the podcast, using direct quotes whenever possible.
The interview with an therianthrope starts at 8:00 and concludes at 31:41. The therianthrope is Wolf (which is his legal name), 51, is very active in the furry fandom. He attends furry conventions, and is a published author of furry fiction.
Wolf calls himself a therian deist, which he says is an ancient pre-Babylonian (and therefore prehistoric) spiritual faith. He says that in that “faith,” humans are considered the highest animals, and try to learn from animals how to be better humans, by mimicking the virtues of animals. He claims that Catholics called practitioners of this spiritual tradition “lycans.” Wolf says that the biggest misconception about therians is that they are shape-shifters, which he says is a belief of Catholic origin. He says some therians have spiritual connections to animal totems. He says he and a group of other therians are in the process of gathering supplies to build a spiritual retreat for therians “of like faith.” He denies that it’s a temple. He says the faith is based around “breaking the three animal rules: 1) Me first. 2) Pack (family) second. 3) Everyone else.” In therian deism, one tries to “become a better human,” and “better than the animals,” by reversing the order of these rules. He looks at this in context with worship of animal gods and guides around the world.
Wolf mentions that some therians think of themselves as animals in spirit, but otherwise he doesn’t refer to therianthropy as an identity at all, but as a “faith.” The therian faith he describes is not something that I have seen in the therian community. He doesn’t seem to be talking about the same thing as they are at all. I haven’t heard the phrase “therian deist” before, and Googling it (with quotes) only brings up eight results, where it’s used by this same Wolf. Despite Wolf’s claims, it appears that this “ancient faith” is something he invented. The slang “lycans” is a sign that influence from pop fiction is involved. Inventing one’s own spirituality is fine, even with pop culture influences, but when people claim that new spiritualities are ancient, I consider it my duty as a historian to question those claims.
The interview with an otherkin starts at 36:44 and concludes at 1:02:40. This interview is with YuuRyuu, a dragon otherkin. This is YuuRyuu’s second interview on Fur What It’s Worth. YuuRyuu speaks of his dragon self as a “character,” and says he developed his own species of dragon. He’s been very active in the furry fandom for four years.
YuuRyuu gives the usual definitions for otherkin and its difference from therianthropes. When asked to define what otherkin means to him, YuuRyuu said there’s a lot of variety in how people define it. For himself, he explained that when he was a small child, he consciously knew that his reflection in the mirror was him, but subconsciously felt it was wrong. He’d prefer to see a dragon. Wearing a fur-suit (animal costume) of his dragon character makes that possible, which gives him a sense of mental release from the tension of feeling that his reflection is wrong. He’s not aware of any other specific otherkin who use fur-suits that way. For him, being otherkin is “just a quirk in my brain,” not something he can explain. He grew up having “a disconnect between what I looked like and what my brain wanted to see.” He says he’s experienced phantom limbs only after wearing the fur-suit for a while.
The host asks, “Are you a human who has a spirit of a dragon, or are you a dragon?” YuuRyuu replies, “I am a dragon. It is totally mental. I don’t believe in spirits or anything like that.” As such, he hasn’t personally experienced some of the paranormal phenomena that the hosts had heard of as linked with otherkin. He says he’d initially been hesitant to call himself otherkin, saying he was “borderline otherkin. … I don’t want people to think I’m crazy, but I want to be honest with myself.” After deciding to simply call himself otherkin, he hasn’t had any troubling reactions from people about it. He and the hosts agree that one of the good things about the furry community is that it’s so accepting. People in the furry fandom don’t get upset over hearing of one another’s unusual personal quirks.
The hosts ask YuuRyuu how being otherkin compares to being transgender. YuuRyuu says he’s been timid to consider the similarities, not wanting to offend anyone, but he does think the mirror experience is similar. He says he feels more confident about the analogy after reading some points made by a transgender furry interviewee. I recognize his description of Kotaku’s interview with illustrator Egypt Urnash, which I summarized in an earlier Otherkin News article
Both interviews were conducted gracefully, and their contents were insightful and interesting. Wolf described a unique animal-based faith, and YuuRyuu gave an example of why an otherkin enjoys activities associated with the furry fandom. Sources
Roo and Tugs, “S3 Episode 6 – Therian & Otherkin.” Fur What It’s Worth
(blog) 2013-08-25. http://www.furwhatitsworth.com/?p=2029
Roo and Tugs, “Therians & Otherkin.” Fur What It’s Worth
(podcast audio) 2013-08-25 (series 3, episode 6). Accessed 2013-08-31.