This guide is intended to anyone who has just encountered the term "therianthropy" in the way we use it, as well as anyone who wants to read up on a little history about the whole thing. I've first learned of therianthropy over 10 years ago, on an Internet community Where It All Began, so to speak, and I feel it is important to stick to some of the original understanding of therianthropy, rather than start confusing it with other unrelated things... but I am glad some things about it have changed, so it's a ballance.
This thread may be a work in progress, so bare with me while I update it, with my latest attempts at explanation, over time.
So how did it all begin? Well, a long long time ago (haha actually just 20 years), the Internet communities were not made up of websites, but rather by a vast global network of public email boxes called USENET. This network was divided into groups named after different subjects and one of them, was called alt.horror.werewolves, or AHWw in short. Here is how this groups Frequently Asked Questions page (http://www.firelion.org/raven/ahwwfaq/ahwwfaq01.html
) describes it:
Quote:AHWW was originally grouped November 16, 1992, as a logical extension of the alt.horror heirarchy. As such, it was intended for discussion of horror-genre movies and books dealing with werewolves. It received very little traffic; on the order of 2 or 3 posts a day, if that.
It began to attract folks with an intense interest in werewolves and shapechangers in general. Gradually, the conversations shifted to discuss what werewolves meant to these people personally, and how they entered into their worldview. Some of the original posters resented the change and left... which is unfortunate, because we have had many detailed discussions about werewolf flicks in the past three years [editor's note: This FAQ had been written in 1995].
As the discussions grew more and more philosophical, a concept known as spiritual therianthropy was formed. (more on this later) More and more folks joined in, and soon AHWW was enjoying almost a hundred posts a day.
And so it began, a lot like you began here. People feeling they have a connection with an animal, or share it's likeness, have come together on a subject that seemed relevant, found eachother -- and found an atmosphere in which they could begin to explore this Thing about themselves.
If you're asking yourself why is this an Internet phenomena... Well, perhaps it's not, but most therians I know do not know any other therian where they live and forming communities is pretty much impossible if you're the only one you know. Online, this proximity limitation falls away and voila, plenty of therian communities here! But no, not all therians are computer nerds, in fact, far from it.
When I first discovered my own therianthropy, I was just browsing trough the Internet for something about different kinds of animals, when I had encountered the FAQ linked above, I read it and was intrigued. I visited the group, talked to a few people and it was exhilarating! I had found all these people with the exact same animal experience. So many insights to learn about, I had to read it all!
There were many people on the group, but just a few wolves my age and like myself. We talked about things, and became very good friends. Wolves are naturally social animals and so finding a group for me was particularly special. It changed me to have known them and I had affected them as well, as we explored our animal aspects in more and more detail. We dared trying them out in nature and perhaps more importantly, dared to let go to the animal within and enjoy the ride.
The thing about therianthropy is that, because it is not really a matter of choice, but rather something that just happens to be true for some people, therian communities were always communities of very many different kinds of people, all in the same group trying to help eachother live with and understand their therianthropy. We formed some community values, many of which you will find to be identical on these boards as on the group from 1992, because they have to do with how therianthropy feels, or are required to keep things civil within such a varied group.
But as a newcomer, you have no way to know this, so have some Q & A:
* What is therianthropy really? The saying from AHWw is that: If you ask 10 different therians that question, you will get 11 different answers (I had tried this out and it was true). At the core, it is about being a human with a mind of an animal, usually a specific animal and a one that actually exists, but the experience itself varies from person to person, so if you want to know, just ask away.
* Is therianthropy like role-playing? Or like furries? Or like the otherkin? Or like ________? The roleplaying, furry, otherkin, etc communities have developed separately from therianthropy and while some therians are furries, some roleplayers, some otherkin, etc, this is not to be implied. These boards are intended for discussion of therianthropy and for the sole purpose of avoiding confusion, keep the other subjects out or in their respective boards.
* Is thinking you are a therian crazy? Do we really believe that we have something in common with animals? Well, everyone's experience of therianthropy is different and so I suppose you will find a range of possible answers, but most of us are just regular Joes and Janes which happen to share this experience and -- we don't want to sound crazy or believe the incredible, we just have to live with therianthropy.
* Is therianthropy a curse? Aren't werewolves mindless murderous beasts? Or something like the stuff from werewolf movies? Well, no not really, the fiction doesn't really have anything to do with therianthropy as we see it. We just feel drawn to the subjects because they talk of humans being or becoming animals -- something we feel (or want, in the case of transformations) for ourselves, because of our therianthropy. Besides, most movies are not very insightful into the minds of actual animals, much less potential therians.
* Can therians learn to physically transform? No, that's impossible. But if it were possible somehow, we'd love to.