What is a Therianthrope?
Generally accepted Definition: A person who experiences being and identifies as a non-human animal on an integral, personal level.
A therianthrope (or therian) is someone who experiences animalistic traits. There are some therianthropes who identify as something animalistic which may not have existed on earth. Theriomythics (mythical beasts such as dragons) are among these and it is an individual choice if they consider themselves to be therianthropes or otherkin.
There are many theories as to why therianthropy is experienced. Some believe their therianthropy to be caused through reincarnation or misplaced souls, while others attribute it to scientific or psychological reasons such as imprinting, an innate predisposition, abnormalities in neurological wiring, or any of a number of various other theories.
Please keep in mind that these definitions are provided to help people who are new to Therianthropy, to understand roughly what it is. There is a lot more to the experience of therianthropy than simply complying with definitions. See this correspondence for more information.
Can I be a Therianthrope?
There is no ritual or initiation that is involved in becoming a therian- therianthropy is not a religion or religious practice. If you are a therian, you just are.
If you are a Therianthrope, you will know it. There is a familiar feeling with the animal, and a feeling of “this is what I am” some describe it as a certain feeling you get in your chest, an uplifting feeling of relief when you see your theriotype. Do not confuse this with is bestiality, therianthropy is in no way related to the sexual contact with animals.
The best way to learn whether or not you are a Therian, is to discuss your experiences with the others in our community. If you'd prefer to just read about it first, here's a publicly accessible board with essays on the subject just for you.
Please note that the Therian Community is not a social club. It exists to help us understand and live with our Therian experiences. For those of you who share our experiences, I am sure you will see the value, of having the chance to talk to other people who understand what you are going through. That said, we are not looking to be popular or inclusive of all social groups, we are just people with therian experiences.
Religion has no significance to therianthropy; they are two completely different subjects. But do not be alarmed if you find therians who gladly incorporate therianthropy into their religions or spirituality.
As some religions reject the notion of animals having souls, some therians who are religious, yet feel a strong connection to their animal identity, simply modify their beliefs to be less exclusive on the subject. We cannot help but to be what we are, yet the notion that we should not be respected as equally as everyone else is as offensive to us, as it would be to you.
Awakening: The process of realizing and accepting that you are a therian or otherkin, possibly including the discovery of one's kintype. Not everyone experiences an awakening.
Shifting: A general term for the perceived changes in one's mental state, astral/aural, or otherwise from human to animal.
Were: Synonymous with therianthrope.
Theriotype/Kintype: The animal or creature one identifies as. "My kintype is ____" or "I am ___kin" is acceptable, where the underscores is the animal or creature one identifies as.
Please note that given what therianthropy is, many therians question the purpose of pigeonholing therian experiences into "types". However, these are commonly used to help distinguish between very different ways in which therianthropy is experienced:
"Standard" Therian / Shifter: Someone who identifies as a single earthly animal, and can have various experiences around this type, including mental or phantom shifts.
Polytherian: A therian possessing multiple types at the same time, and can experience anything possible for each of them. Some of these types may appear more important than others, but it's not always the case.
Nonshifting Therian: A therian who does not experience shifts under any condition, but still identifies as non-human through other means.
Contherian: A kind of nonshifting therian that has similar experiences as other therians but who do not shift- rather, they are constantly shifted into an animal state, with no variation. This state can be any one of the shifting types listed below.
Suntherian / Vacillant: A kind of therian who, similarly to the contherian, constantly experiences his nonhuman side and do not experience mental shifts; however, they can experience changes on a sliding scale, or combinations between human and animal mindsets, but generally in a manner that is not as extreme as with shifters. Also called "vacillant" in the case of otherkin.
Cladotherian: A therian who's theriotype is not one specific sub-species. For example, rather than a tiger specifically, they encompass all felines, or a "clade". It is not a temporary or placeholder label for those who are uncertain or haven't yet narrowed down their species. A cladotherian does not think such a narrowing of species is possible or applicable for themselves.
Now, just to clarify some things, let's walk you through some transformations.
Mental Shifting: Mental Shifting takes place when a person's mind reverts to their animal form. They begin to feel like the animal and react like the animal. (Yipping, Whining, And Howling). The senses are often heightened with this Shift as well as many others.
Phantom Shifting: Phantom Shifting occurs when the person begins to see or feel limbs of their inner animal (they may see a tail on their body, or feel like their hands are paws). Again, only they are able to see the phantom limbs, other Therians may sense the phantom limbs. Most people think that this is an actual Physical Shift, because sometimes it just gets that good.
Dream Shifting: Dream Shifting occurs when the inner animal stimulates the brain while a person is sleeping and allows them to become their inner animal in their dreams.
Cameo Shifting: A type of shift where the person may experience the shifts of another animal that isn't their own theriotype. These can last or occur any number of times, anywhere from once to quite a few times; this varies from person to person, however.
Astral Shifting: This is when a person travels to a non-physical plane of existence aided by deep meditation, lucid dreams, or trance-like states. Once in the astral plane, a person can see the shape of their astral body or shift the astral body to that of the theriotype/kintype. While this may be similar to a Shamanic journey, it is thought that Shamanic journeys require one to be much more involved and dedicated to attain.
Sensory Shift: When your senses appear to match those of your inner animal.
Bi-location Shifting: Bi-location Shifting is when the body supposedly makes a carbon copy of the animal inside the body and travels the lands; sometimes as a spirit and sometimes, others may believe, as a somewhat physical image of their inner animal. (Not Likely)
Aura Shifting: Aura Shifting occurs when the auric field changes to their inner animal, this often happens subconsciously or when provoked. Many believe that your inner animal is always in your aura so therefore you are always giving off your Therian aura. I notice animals and young children can sometimes see these changes, as with other Shifts.
Physically Shifting: A visible, physical change toward one's Kin/Type. Widely belived to be impossible, to the point of the concept being considered complete nonsense both by psychological and spiritual therians/otherkin. Doing so would require ignoring too many of the laws of physics, and no evidence of someone actually succeeding exists outside of stories or hearsay, which are all but reliable sources. Worst, a lot of the "methods" you can find about how to do it are actually dangerous on top of being ineffective, so stay away! Click here to read more about this.
The Idea of Physically Shifting
This is a very difficult topic to discuss because it is a very touchy subject in therian communities. In no way, shape, or form will you be able to physically shape shift. A therian knows very well that this subject is out of hand. We know what exists to us, no matter how real it may feel we know very well that it is utterly impossible to change physical shape and become an animal. There are therian communities that promote this crazy idea of physical shape shifting. I personally find that these communities are dangerous especially for younger individuals. Please take caution when dealing with therians who claim to do this. Physically shifting is straying much too far from reality and practicality. These ideas are very harmful because they can instantly damage realistic views for certain individuals and cause frustration. In no way will I promote this very unrealistic view of therianthropy. In your case, I cannot tell you what to believe. All I can do is state my opinion in this matter.
If this idea of physically shifting spreads, we will become even less acknowledged and respected than most of us are already. Not only will it have friends, family, and possibly doctors questioning us but it can create frustration and anger within the individual as well. I’ve see tons of cases where a young individual falls prey to this absurd idea of physically shape shifting. They lose faith within themselves and become extremely upset when they find out that they cannot physically shape shift. This idea can possibly provoke people in a case where mental illness it is already prominent. I truly think that this idea can cause people to lose their sense of reality to the point where it becomes dangerous.
There are so many ways you can trigger shift to happen, but one that is always useful for beginners is mental or phantom shifting through the help of meditation. The concept is to tap into your subconscious (or collective conscious) and bring back the back the feelings of your therio-type. There are many levels of shifting, you can have your mind fully shifted, partly shifted, and barely shifted. After meditating you can try several things listed that help provoke a shift.
So what’s the difference between the levels of shifting?
When you are in a full shift you often think like the animal, which means thinking in emotion, not sentences. When you are partly shifted you think in half human half animal, and when you are barely shifted you are aware that you are human, but some thoughts are animal like. The scale goes as far as you let it, but those are the three main stages that, personally, I am familiar with.Things that induce Shifting
Not being able to shift
Don’t worry if you have trouble shifting, sometimes there is a reason why you should wait before trying to shift. If you strongly feel that shifting isn't working for you, then you’re probably a non-shifting therian. But again, don’t worry, sometimes it just takes time and practice, and other times it just happens suddenly and uncontrollably.
Controlling involuntary shifts in public areas
It’s good to be open to your close friends and families, but sometimes it is just required to hold back. Normally extreme emotions cause shifts, like being excited or nervous. In cases like a job interview, I’m pretty sure if you start acting up like an animal you’re not going to get the job. Controlling a shift is actually pretty simple.
Start off by reminding yourself that physically you are human, and focus on thinking like a person. Make yourself feel professional, civilized, and human-like. To prevent shifting is the same thing as educing shifting through meditation, only opposite. Be aware of what you are, but physically not spiritually. Hold those animal feelings inside, count to ten in your head, take deep breaths. When whatever activity you are doing is finished, be sure that when you get home you relieve the animal-like emotions; otherwise it could affect you later.
A Voluntary Shift occurs when the person purposely shifts or allows themselves to change into their therio-types mindset. This occurs normally when the person is alone or when they are around someone they can trust and feel comfortable around. At a young age children seems to express their shifting experiences more openly, but as time passes they seem to keep it more of a secret; normally because they get picked on or just feel that it isn't something that everyone should know.
Involuntary Shifts occur when the person is shocked or something triggers them into a Shift. This normally happens when the person gets hurt, in the canine case they will run around whimpering in pain or howling. A friend of mine leaps like a cat and hisses when something startles her, it is quite silly to watch but interesting at the same time; that is an example of an involuntary shift. Children normally begin to feel involuntary shifts when they are first discovering there therio-type, as they get older they normally have more control over their shifts.