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Therianthropy- An Overview

     Therianthropy, in itself, is very broad and unexplainable.  It's core definition is  Beast (Gr. Therios) Human (Gr Anthropos).    According to Webster's Dictionary, Therianthropy is 1. the state of being part animal and part human, 2. The worship of such creatures.  As we, therianthropes, grow as a culture and community, so do our definitions and personal interpretations of "therianthropy".  Unfortunately, this "growing" is causing much confusion and ignorance to be spread throughout the general therianthropic community.

Therianthropic itself refers to being part animal and part human.  While this connotes "Physical" it is not the case with the vast majority of those that call themselves "Therianthropes".  Spiritual and Mental therianthropy are by far the the most common types for  those that do consider themselves part animal.  Spiritual therianthropy simply means the soul or spirit of the person is not totally human.  The spirit could be wholly animal (and they are human in body), or said person has both a human and animal spirit.  This could also refer to those that have animal spirit guides, but that is not considered true "therianthropy" because the animal counterpart is not really a part of the person, in body, mind or spirit.

Mental therianthropy is somewhat harder to explain.  It has many of the same attributes as Spiritual therianthropy, leading many to believe they are one in the same (which could very well be true).  But for this essay's sake, they are not the same, and we will try to make it less confusing as possible.   Mental therianthropy is when the person takes on mental characteristics, if not the entire mindset, of an animal.   This may occur in "shifts", whereas the person almost totally acts like an animal mentally and physically in their movements.  Contherianthropes (Non-shifters) are included in this subset, and are both human and animal as one within the mind.

The other kind of Therianthropy is not well known, or believed.  Physical therianthropes, or  physical shifters/shapechangers, etc, are those that have the ability to either change into animals on the physical plane, or those that are in a constant 'anthropomorphic state'.  It is easy to see why many people including therianthropes don't believe this type of therianthropy exists.

Well, let me get back to the original point of this essay.  This is being written to help clarify the confusion that is therianthropy.  Now that you understand the basics (At least for this essay) we can get to the deeper side of Spiritual Therianthropy.   Because we are discussing things of a /spiritual/ nature, many times you'll just have to nod and take my word for it.  Spiritual therianthropy will never be the same from "were" to "were".  It is unique for us all, ergo propter hoc, much confusion has been spread.

There are no rules governing what therianthropy is, and what it should be.  This isn't a club with set criteria or guidelines.  Spiritual therianthropy is something deeply rooted within those that believe in it and it /is/ different for everyone (I cannot stress that enough).   Sure, anyone can claim to be a therianthrope, but who are they really kidding?  Many people say they are werecreatures, for all kinds of reasons, but if they are lying, the only people they are hurting are themselves.  So for this next part of the essay, I will go over what Spiritual Therianthropy is and what it isn't (for the most part anyway, your mileage may vary).

Spiritual Therianthropy is both a gift and a curse.  We take the good with the bad.  Unlike the furry community, we are /always/ the animal within, computer on or off.  Sometimes our personal therianthropy can make life difficult, however, because your life is difficult does NOT mean you're a therianthrope.

It is a part of our innermost being, not an overnight fad, or something we do because it's "Trendy".  It's not easily discovered for most therianthropes, and it's certainly not an excuse to exclude yourself from humanity.  Many new therianthropes these days don't have the inner connection with the animal, they simply wish not to be a part of their "oppressors" aka, humanity.   If this is how you feel about your therianthropy, it doesn't mean you're /not/ a therianthrope, it means you need to do some serious soul searching.

Therianthropy is also not the simple love or desire to be an animal.  Many humans have fantasized about being an animal at one time in their lives.  Many children "Play pretend" and be wolves or lions, or even dogs and cats.  And the gods know that many other humans turn animalistic while practicing acts of a sexual nature.  Now please keep in mind that most weres do indeed wish to be animals, this is a part of our nature AS therianthropes.   The desire alone, however, will not make you a spiritual therianthrope.  If you simply have the desire to be an animal, you might find areas such as FurryMUCK or other "role playing" arenas to be highly enjoyable.

What are the typical animals for therianthropes?  Well, unfortunately, there seem to be a high number of confused individuals, who simply assume they are "wolf" (The most popular base species) or sometimes another large predator.  In order to be a therianthrope, you Do NOT choose your wereside.  You just /are/ who you are.  The high numbers of  "Tough Predatory" types would make it seem that many are indeed choosing their animalistic species.  Remember, when you lie about your therianthropy, you're only hurting yourself.  You don't need to be a glorious hunter to be a were.  You can be anything from a Bear, to a bat, to a wolf, housecat, spider,  kangaroo, lemming... /anything/.   Polyweres are those that have more than one animal species for their wereside.  This means they could have (for example) a complete canine mindset, and complete feline mindset or they could have a "spirit" that has taken the form of a hybrid creature (for example, a wolfcat).

If you've been cruising around the therianthropic community, you'll also note a high amount of "Mythical" weresides such as dragons, gryphons and unicorns.  Again, it's none of my business to say what is, and what is not truly "were".  Mythical weresides are true weresides as far as I'm concerned.   Many mythical weresides are actually just polyweresides all rolled into one creature.  Many polyweres have a hard time expressing to others what they are, so they use the "term" that fits them the closest.  For example,  a "Gryphon" were could be one that feels a calling towards both feline and avian.  A dragon could be any mix of large animal + winged animal, or larger reptiles.  Just because a were calls them self "Gryphon" or "Dragon" doesn't necessarily mean they are truly that species, but that is how they can best portray themselves to others.  This however does not mean to imply that those people that /do/ consider themselves mythical weres are confused, or a simple mixture of animals.

I mentioned spirit guides earlier, and I think I should mention them again.  Spirit guides, also animal guides, totem animals, are indeed spirit animals that "guide" us through life.  I need to make it clear that weresides and spirit guide animals are NOT one in the same.  Many non-weres have spirit guides, and they should not be confused for one in the same.  You can choose your spirit guide, as in call upon the qualities and traits of certain animals.  Your wereside is not something you choose or "figure out" based on characteristics or "traits" found in totem guide references.  For example, because you are courageous does not make you a Lion.  Because you consider yourself to be a good leader doesn't make you a wolf.

Let me get back to some of the other misguided points about therianthropy.  Therianthropes are human.  By very definition of the word, every therianthrope is part human, whether body, mind, or spirit.  One of the biggest misconceptions in the were community are from those that either believe they are better than humans, those that believe we are not true humans, and those that believe they have superhuman traits/characteristics.  Many times this has been referred to as "Awereness Disease" or "Were's Disease"  (Much like Shifter's Disease of the Shifting FAQ).  In this case, therianthropes assume they are not human or their normal human "traits" are typically more animalistic than a "normal human".   I cannot tell you how many times I've seen weres talk about their super hearing ability because they can "Hear things others can't, " or because they can hear dog whistles.   The truth be known that many people not just weres can hear well beyond the "typical human range" of hearing.  Good hearing does not make you a were, and good hearing doesn't come from being a were.  This goes for any and all characteristics.  If you have good hearing, eyesight, etc, it's not a "were" thing, it's just a "you" thing.

So, why do therianthropes exist?  Do we have a greater purpose in life?  Well no one can answer these questions.  We all control our destiny.  I don't believe Weres in general are here for a specific goal, but I do believe we, as individuals, are here, as theriathropes or not, for some reason.   Maybe we are here to help save a dying planet.  Maybe we're here because our souls were animals that died traumatically, which followed us to our next life.   Maybe at some point our spirits decided they wanted to be something we're not in body.  Maybe our spirits were infused with an animal at some point.  Maybe we were supposed to be born as animals but ended us as humans... No one can guess why therianthropes exist.  Each of us can try to understand why we as individuals are here.  But please bear in mind, that we are here, together.  We all feel the same inner animal.  It doesn't matter /why/ we are here, as much as it matters that we ARE here.

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