Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!


Since I am in the curious position of writing a blog about “otherkin” (and I am not quite certain whether or not that applies to me), I thought I should read what others are writing.  I read a rather nice piece tonight about Akashic records.

An old friend of mine routinely referenced those, and (curiously) she had worked much of her adult life as a librarian (the conventional Earth-based type that takes your card when you check out books and then takes your money when you return them late).  She tended to annoy me with the commentary because, when she was losing an argument, she would shout out “but I know I am right!  I am accessing the Akashic records.”  (See, also: the work of Karl Popper.)  But I am aware enough to realize that maybe not all others abuse the term or concept thus, and I did find the article I read tonight interesting.

But I have gone astray. What really got my attention was an article about otherkin whose author who was talking about totems and power animals and the like.

Somewhere along my journey I had the opportunity to study with a medicine man, a shaman, and it is not something I mention much anymore because some view it as being a bit like being an astrologer.  Best to leave such things unsaid in most cases.  Even worse, many people who are making such claims are bragging.  (Ick, and NOT OK in the tradition I was taught.)  I only raise the topic because it is relevant, indeed central, to my commentary.  While I am not willing to disclose the name of my teacher, I will say that his teacher was Willard Fool Bull.

After about a year, he cast a medicine shield for me using a method similar to drawing lots (that is how HE did it although others may vary). The theory goes that males are too “strong” (meaning biased meaning tending to access the “akashic records” to “prove” that they really are “strong as ten bears”) to decide upon their own shields.  Some have disputed his process, but I think it was quite brilliant because it took HIS ego out of the process also.

From his process, I have what others would call a “totem animal” (my “center,” actually, as the shield is based on directions as the Choctaw see them: East, South, West, North, Up, Down, Left, Right, and Center along with “extras” sometimes) and arguably I really have a group of totem animals. I will not say precisely what that animal is since I have learned that, sometimes, such information can be misused by some.  But I have observed my totem animals for decades now.  (For those paying attention, I know that Willard was Sioux, but MY teacher was Choctaw.)

I found the article interesting because the author wrote with a voice that indicated they were an authority on the specifics of the topic. For example, they wrote regarding the term “therianthropy” that “[t]his is an identity. Individuals who identify as a non-human [Earthly] animal are considered Therians.”  Other sources, however, differ.  For example, the Wikipedia entry for the term states “Therianthropy is the mythological ability of human beings to metamorphose into other animals by means of shapeshifting.”   Wikipedia ia presenting the term as an attribute, such as green eyes or smooth skin.

While I do not consider Wikipedia to be a final authority on anything (except maybe itself), other sites have similar commentary.  Wikifur notes “One way the term therianthropy has been used, as early as 1901, is in reference to transformation folklore of Asia and Europe.  Therianthropy was also used to describe spiritual belief in animal transformation….”  That is an anthropological approach. offers “Modern Therianthropy is an identity phenomenon categorized by a deep integral or personal belief that an individual is in some way and to some degree, a non-human animal. Physically, Therianthropes are human and understand that they have human bodies.”  This sounds anthropological, also.  However, it did beg the question “what is an identity phenomenon?”  Search the internet, and you will probably find the same absence of clear answers that I did.  As far as I can tell, it is not a term of art from any of the social sciences.  However, I might steal it and re-purpose it in other settings.  (e.g. “Colin Kaepernick started an identity phenomenon by kneeling at sports events during the Star-Spangled Banner.”)

Perhaps “therianthropy” is a term in flux, and no single definition can capture a multitude of usages.

My vantage point is that “truth” in these (highly speculative) matters is at least somewhat dependent on the individual and the teachers they have had along the way.  If they are part of some community, then the community norms may shape their thinking (unless they are dissenters, as I frequently am).

Speaking of dissent, a few other ideas on this topic come to mind. If others speak of their totems being lions or tigers or bears (Oh, my!), maybe you should consider the source and wonder if ANYthing coming out of their mouth (or computer keyboard) has any validity whatsoever.   People like that sound suspiciously like the “akashic records” person who could never be proved “wrong.”

It is kind of like the old joke about the reincarnation seminar: “We had 13 Napoleons and 27 Cleopatras.”  (I did not really think it was funny, either.  Try this.)

The teachers I have had along the way, with the exception of the medicine man, who have spoken of entities (such as “walk-ins” and “wanderers” and “starseeds” who some say fit under the umbrella term “otherkin”) have always spoken of them in terms of “energy” if they mentioned form at all.  (The lady who read my palm, as discussed in an earlier entry, did not mention even that much.  She only spoke of “souls” that chose to enter or exit.)

Exactly what “energy” means remains open, and I think other variations are possible (such as entities that propogate within networks, what have sometimes been called “temes.”) And, unless I am specifically referencing the medicine man or related work (or temes), that is almost always what I will be talking about: “energy” or energetically based entities that reside within, or co-exist with, a physical body.

One last thing: I do have some “furries” in my household.  (And, as an aside, we have quite fluent communication.)