Otherkin – a person whose spirit or essence belongs to a species other than human, to include mythical beasts, elves, and alien races.
Therian – an Otherkin person whose spirit or essence specifically belongs to a non-human species that exists or has existed on Earth
Reasons and theories on why Otherkins and Therians occur:
– Species dismorphia, where one disassociates with one’s true species (human) and associates with another
– Totemism taken too far, where the person over-connects to their totem animal and begins to have unconscious shifts (mental and spiritual) as they occassionally merge
– a Higher Power choses to mix in spirits from other realms and species in order to add new lessons and guidance from those people
– a spirit that has lived recently as an animal is now a human (reincarnation) and the past life is sticking to its essence, making minor mental and spiritual shifts occur
– two spirits (one human and one other) are sharing a body, causing mental and spiritual shifts between the two
– two spirits melded before entering a person’s body, like yin and yang, so occassionally aspects of one or the other will present themselves in shifts
My theory, broken into (hopefully) easily-digested pieces:
The human species is expanding rapidly each year, far beyond any previous popullation numbers. Where do all these new human souls come from? The Divine is infinite, but even with reincarnation you have the problem of there being more humans than the previous number of souls available. The Divine could be making new souls… but!
Meanwhile, in the animal kingdom… many species are endangered or extinct. These souls would be shelved, if they were only allowed to be that one species, because if there are no new bodies to house them, they can’t be reborn.
Many of those species are common among the therian community.
My personal reincarnation belief is that we aren’t reborn as a bug one life, a human the next; I believe we’re generally moving up in awareness, with humans being the most conscious of creatures on this planet. While I agree that animals are smarter and more connected/aware of the Earth and balance than us in many cases, they aren’t at the same level of mental development (most species don’t make art, invent complex things, etc.).
That said, I think the gods have a smart recycling plan. Those spirits that were animals and can’t be reborn as such again are being born human. They have lessons learned as animals that can be taught to mankind.
Maybe enough therian spirits, self-aware or not, can lead to an environmental change through their intense understanding of the need to protect our home, Earth. Maybe there are thousands, or millions, more therians than you find online… maybe they sit around unaware of their unique nature.
I think the therians who do claim their therian side are just more aware. Many of them practice or have practiced some form of self-enlightening spirituality. I believe there are many unaware therians running around, probably many of the people drawn to environmental movements, earth-based spirituality, and the like. And I believe that some species (say, the bee) may not have been aware enough as the animal to carry over shifts or personality quirks from their life as such.
Imagine, though. A bee or an ant, born human. Most bees are worker bees. Most people are worker people, doing the smaller tasks that keep the bigger things running. Example, a night stocker at Walmart restocks the shelves, a truck driver transports those items to the store from a warehouse, a warehouse worker prepares an order for a store, a manager oversees the requisition orders for various stores, and so on.
I got off topic. Overall, though, my theory is that many of us Earth-loving people are being born with spirits who have never lived as a human before. Some of us are more aware than others, through spiritual sensitivity and species; others are less aware, due to lack of sensitivity or to a species that has little mental awareness as individuals with personalities (i.e. bees, ants).
I also believe that all of the other theories are valid. For Otherkin elves and dragons and such, perhaps those spiritual beings are being born human to bring their knowledge and energies into the Earth living experience. Otherkin are more complicated, as a vampire Otherkin isn’t so much a spirit trapped in a different body as a person with non-human needs and abilities.
NOTE: I stumbled onto therianthropy by accident in 2009. I was researching some strange feelings and energies I’d been experiencing off and on; during my searches I found someone describing a mental shift as a therian, and it matched some of what I’d been through. I resisted accepting that, because it was even beyond the average pagan weirdness. Last year, in studying totem animals with my coven, I found myself redrawn to the therian research I’d done. In meditation and random spiritual daydreaming (my favorite way to get “ah ha!” moments), I discovered I’m a snow leopard therian. I’m now wise enough to accept that, weird or not, as a part of my spiritual self. Accepting it has been a beautiful and interesting lesson so far…