Confessions of a Former Otherkin

Confessions of a Former Otherkin

Author:   BellaDonna Saberhagen   

I’ve been contemplating this article for a while, but someone’s response to The Chicken or the Egg prompted its necessity. I was going to make it a less personal piece, however, I think it comes off as less judgmental when explaining my own experiences rather than appearing to tear into others’ beliefs.

Karl Marx stated that ‘religion is the opiate of the masses’. I love being Pagan, I love the gods, and I love being me. Sometimes however, Pagans become deluded; their brand of Paganism seems to have become a wild LSD trip. They refuse to face facts or accept reality at all. These are, unfortunately, the ones who yell the loudest and get the most media attention (making people unfamiliar with our religions assume we’re all wackos) . Those Pagans who speak out against these claims (such as myself on some forums) are called closed-minded and bigoted. But must we be so open-minded that our brains fall out?

Want to know a secret? I used to be one of them. SHHH! Don’t tell anyone! I’m going to take you back to when I was a fairly new Pagan. When the world was all shiny, my friends weren’t just witches and shamans…they were werewolves and dragons and angels and gods. What was I? I was a fairy.

I say I was fairly new because I hardly count my high school days of having two Cunningham books hidden away and being active in my parents Church (and still wishy-washy about which way I wanted to go) as being an active Pagan or Witch. I still hid when I was at home on break, but my closet was non-existent on campus. Sometimes I was too ‘out and proud’ for some of my friends.

The culmination of my personal ‘delusion’ really was the fall semester of 2001. That semester, our group believed we were being psychically attacked by a blind lizard druid (a side note: this guy was actually dangerous; he choked one of my friends) . My boyfriend (at the time) believed we’d always been together in past lives (and that we were the real-life inspiration for Gomez and Morticia Addams in a past life) …he also stalked me when I broke up with him (and I almost beat him upside the head with a Sobe tea bottle. We’ll call him Stalker Boy) . Before I broke up with Stalker Boy, my roommate (henceforth called Dragon) , another friend (henceforth called Angel) , and a third person decided to implant the idea in my head to tell Stalker Boy I loved him by waking me up and pretending to be the Fates. Since when I’m woken up, I’m actually AWAKE, it didn’t work.

Dragon really thought she was a dragon. When her aura got too dirty (as it did from time to time as she was dealing with a bad break-up and the rest of that semester’s insanity; September 11th certainly didn’t help) , it got scaly and had to be cleansed. When it got scaly, she supposedly could not physically move. After the crazy events of 2001, she either stopped being Pagan or stopped practicing as those same events scared her from delving any further. Our friendship ended in May of 2003.

Cleansing was done by our shaman friend (who set himself up as our leader long before this, and either thought he was a werewolf, or was so intimately connected to his totem that his aura could shift against his will) . This was before the term ‘therian’ was used (or at least, if it was, our group remained ignorant of it while we were together) . I’ll call him Wolf. Wolf and I had an odd connection. He set himself up as my teacher, and honestly, I rue the day I saw him as such. The relationship I had with him kept me in my little bubble much longer than I probably would have been otherwise. Whenever I doubted my fey-ness, he would be there to re-affirm it and keep me in the fold. Luckily, I escaped his influence in May of 2004.

Angel is more like me. We have remained friends and laugh about those old days. She still feels a strong connection to heaven, but I don’t think she believes she’s an angel anymore (at least not as far as I am led to believe) .

I can’t say I really knew anyone who professed to be a god from myth reborn in human form. However, in our state, my friends and I saw certain gods in acquaintances. We were wise enough not to tell them, though. We confirmed their godhood through pendulum use (which is a very subjective form of divination, but it was our favorite at the time) . Stalker Boy’s pendulum was a glow stick on a string, which, looking back, hung crookedly, so it couldn’t be properly balanced to work as such. However, I will take this chance to state that this is the most harmful form. Look at cult leaders who tell their followers they’re Jesus Christ. Yes, it’s the same kind of thing. Even if the person claiming to be a god fails to have the charisma to be a cult leader, they (at the very least) have delusions of grandeur and are being extremely rude to those that worship that god.

I’m not saying that a god could not choose to become incarnate for a human lifetime, but I am dubious as to any real reasons why they would choose to do so. Why would they abandon those who believe in them by limiting their perceptions to those of a human being? It just makes no sense to me. Even if they could somehow get the actions of the faithful (prayers, circle castings, and I’m not even sure how invocation would work) fed into their limited human brain, they would not be able to manage… have you ever seen Bruce Almighty? It would be like that but without a computer to help manage it.

In one of the most profound visionary experiences I ever had, I shared some portion of my consciousness with Cernunnos, and it was overwhelming just to feel the forest directly surrounding me in all of its processes for even just a moment. I refuse to believe that such consciousness is maintainable as a human and that therefore being a human would be a viable option for a god.

What does all of this have to do with anything? Well, I outgrew my personal delusions once I left a crowd that fed them. By refusing to allow others like me to call someone on some of these behaviors, we make it impossible for them to escape that cycle and face reality. We create a community that consistently feeds and reaffirms the beliefs of such people. Sadly, the Internet can be blamed for a good bit of the inability to escape that cycle. Even when I was involved, otherkin forums began appearing, though, as with ‘therian’, the word did not seem to exist then.

So how crazy was I? I believed that I not only had fey blood, but a fey soul. I believed I had wings that simply could not manifest due to there not being enough ‘magick’ in the world. I believed that Stalker Boy, Dragon, Wolf, and myself were the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, that we were to tear open the ley line intersections at places such as Stonehenge on December 21, 2012 to bring about the new age of magick into the world. I was crazy. I was deluded. I was insane. Now, I am not.

I’m not saying that to be Pagan, you have to believe exactly as I do, but there is a line of sanity. Some Pagans cross that line.

And guess what? You don’t have to be a god to be an effective magician. You don’t have to be a fairy to work with them or be a powerful Witch. You don’t have to be a dragon to have a hoarding problem. You don’t have to be a therian (wolf or otherwise) to be a wonderful shaman. You are MAGICKAL ENOUGH without giving into delusions.

So why do you need to be more ‘other’ than Pagan? Being Pagan automatically puts you into society’s ‘other’ category.

I felt different from most of society because spiritually, I was different. I wanted something different to feed my soul than what I saw as the obvious options. Maybe that was why I felt so disjointed and jumped to the ‘I must not be human’ thought; maybe that’s why most of those who see themselves as such do this as well. I can’t speak for anyone else. I can speak for me. I can say that having moved beyond that particular period that there were rocky times; there were times when I felt disconnected and lost my faith. I think I purged too much of the ‘good’ of my faith when I purged the ‘bad’ and am now fighting to get some of that back. But it does not mean I really am a fairy in denial and that that denial caused the rockiness of more recent years. I think I am afraid, knowing my propensity for becoming deluded, and I second-guess my spiritual findings too much. That is my own lesson to learn.

At the very least, otherkin claims should be understood to be Unverifiable Personal Gnosis. Not everyone will believe you, or has to believe you because you’re Pagan and they’re Pagan. It doesn’t necessarily have to be part of your religious experience at all. You can have had a vision that King Arthur is really a dragon god and it could be really meaningful to you. That does not mean that everyone (or anyone) else has to accept that vision as well. It is yours and yours alone.

So, if you think you’re (insert otherkin here) , it might be wise to keep it to yourself until you’ve vetted the group you’re entering. They might not want to encourage you and you shouldn’t feel they have to. I would highly recommend that if you do think you’re otherkin to really examine why. If spirits came to you and told you such, examine those spirits; see if they had your best interest at heart (often many like to mess with the human mind, and some definitely do not have our best interest at heart) . If a sensitive told you, examine how accurate he/she has been about other things… and how flighty or grounded he/she is in his/her own life. If you just feel ‘other’ somehow and don’t know why, check for any variations on your sexual orientation or for any forms of gender dysphoria. I couldn’t accept my own bi-sexuality until I acknowledged and accepted my humanity.

Even if being otherkin isn’t a ‘delusion’, there are reasons not to focus on it. You may have been a fairy or a dragon in a past life; but for whatever reason, your soul chose to be born as human now. There are some lessons that are best learned by being human and you cannot truly be human if you’re constantly trying to recapture the magick of your past incarnations. You’ll stagnate and be stuck in a form your soul is not entirely comfortable with… over and over and over again, until you learn to be human.

There might be trace amounts of holdover DNA, however, just as I doubt you could find any of the Cherokee or Italian markers in me that are supposedly a part of my family’s genetic heritage, you will never be able to verify it through science. And I would have to think, just as there’s a ratio cap on your bloodline for being able to call yourself a member of a specific tribe or nation (my 1/64th Cherokee doesn’t get me in) , that fairies and dragons would think similarly and laugh at you for calling yourself ‘Fairy” or ‘Dragon” like you’re a full-blooded member of their camp.

So if you find yourself caught between needing to learn this life’s lessons and being so infinitesimally related by blood that being recognized by full-blooded members of those species is unlikely, you might want to just give it up and be human.

Humans are magickal and that should be enough for any of us.

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The Reincarnation Theory Of Otherkin

The Reincarnation Theory Of Otherkin

Author:   Lupa   

Otherkin are a pretty controversial group of people, even within the relatively tolerant realms of NeoPaganism. While we live within the same world as everyone else, working and/or going to school, building and maintaining a variety of relationships, paying the bills, and otherwise leading completely mundane existences, we have other aspects to our personal realities that aren’t quite so everyday. We know/believe that there’s something not quite human about us and we can spend this entire lifetime figuring out just who we’ve been and who we are now.

Some identify as nonhuman, relatively humanoid species such as elves and faeries; others believe there is something of the dragon, gryphon or sea serpent about them; and still others identify strongly with animals native to this plane, well beyond the totemic bond. Yes, it can be a bit of a brain-breaker to try to resolve the conflict between what’s commonly divided into “fantasy” and “reality.” That’s why most `kin spend time trying to figure out just why it is we feel that we’re different in a such a….er…different manner.

One of the most common explanations for being Otherkin is reincarnation. This necessitates a belief in a soul, of course, and the belief that the soul is not species-specific. While some people say that once a(n) (insert species here), always a(n) (insert species here), others maintain that the soul is itself neutral and can be incarnated into any body possible.

Neutral as the soul may be, it still tends to carry material with it from life to life, depending on how strongly the experiences of each life imprinted on it. Some souls are better at keeping their egos intact through each death-birth process than others; this is perhaps why some people have thorough recollections of their previous existences while others have just a few tidbits here and there. It just so happens that for a few people the memories that imprint strongly don’t come from this particular Earth-reality.

It’s debatable whether these lives occurred on alternate Earths or physically different planets entirely. Some Otherkin seem to have a really good idea of where they come from, even being able to pinpoint galaxies or individual stars that correlate to our Sol. I’ve also heard people claim the idea that our world and numerous others inhabit the same basic place, but are layered according to energy resonance (think physical vs. astral plane).

It’d be easy to accuse Otherkin of simply being entirely too imaginative. After all, aren’t elves and such meant to be in the realms of fantasy fiction or, at best, the spirit plane? This is where belief comes into play. Even the most solid cases of reincarnation can’t be thoroughly proven, and sometimes we do have to go on faith to an extent. Consistency seems to be the key to a more likely story. Repeated past life regressions that continually bring up the same people, places, themes and identities are a lot easier to argue for than a single wishful thought that the bearer is afraid to test for fear of being wrong. Some Otherkin, particularly among elves, report shared memories with others, including incidents where the two (or more) parties had not previously communicated with each other on the subject.

The truly skeptical can argue against this all day long—what if one or more people were just saying “Yeah, I remember that,” to go along with the crowd? What if it’s a group delusion? What if? What if?

It’s important to stringently question ourselves and not blindly accept whatever comes our way that looks pretty. Yet if we chase away belief entirely we shut ourselves off from a lot of potentially positive developments in our lives. After all, belief is the basis of spirituality and magic, and Gods know that enough Pagans, Otherkin and otherwise, desire or even need these things in our lives. So while we’ll acknowledge the words of the skeptics and keep close watch on ourselves to make sure we don’t convince ourselves that pixie ‘kin really can fly, we will allow ourselves some belief to explore our possible pasts.

As to why we ended up here, there are a number of possibilities:

Because we needed to learn something about being human. Many reincarnationists believe that we enter into the lives that we do in order to learn a specific lesson. There are quite possibly lessons that only the unique experience of being human can teach. Perhaps some `kin are here to better understand humanity so that they can therefore adopt certain human behaviors. Maybe Earth today has a balance of creation and destruction, Nature and technology, that is unique in the Multiverse. Perhaps some of us came here from someplace better as punishment/rehabilitation for some wrongdoing; or maybe from somewhere worse so we can get a breather (after all, this place certainly isn’t all bad!) Just as a soul may be born as a cougar to learn to be more aggressive or a way to learn patience, the experience of being human might be how some souls learn what to do—or not do—with modern technology, or our particular blend of sex and love, or whatever else it is that makes us human.

Because this world needs our help. Let’s face it—to a lot of folk in the magical and Otherkin subcultures, this place is in trouble. The environment is constantly under siege, millions of humans live in poverty-stricken, war-torn areas, disease is rampant and some days it just seems like the whole biosystem is about to collapse under the pressure. There are Otherkin who feel they came here with the purpose of alleviating some of the pain. There’s the theory that other sentient places in the Multiverse are well aware of us and want to try to help us, if for no other reason than to keep us from destroying everything around us. So souls come from these places in order to help out what is seen as a state of emergency. Take the concept of thinking globally, and expand it across the Multiverse. Predictably many of the Otherkin under this heading dedicate themselves to social, political, spiritual and related causes meant to make a positive impact.

Because we walked in. Walk-ins are a unique group among Otherkin; they’re not really so much a category as another explanation. A walk-in is a soul that enters a body well after birth. In some cases this happens at a point when the original soul abandons it (often at a time of great physical/emotional/etc. trauma, though this is not always the case). Other times the walk-in soul shares the body with the original soul. The souls involved may all have had nothing but human lives, but they show up in the `kin community commonly because it’s a safe haven for them to be open about who and what they are. Walk-ins may come in with a purpose, or simply with a curious desire to have a body again but not wanting or being able to enter a newborn body.

Oops. Species dysphoria does occasionally occur among Otherkin. This means that there are those who fully believe they were born into the completely wrong body. I’ve seen this most commonly among therianthropes—those who identify as nonhuman, Earth-native animals—but it happens in other groups as well. Stories vary as to why the soul ended up in the wrong body, ranging from “Well, I thought I was headed into a fox kit, but I guess I missed” to “I’m here against my will because of something I did in another life” (see the first theory listed above).

I dunno. You tell me. There are plenty of Otherkin who have absolutely no idea how they got here. While some do search for answers, many just shrug, chalk it up to unknown forces and go on with their lives.

Again, it’s entirely possible that we’re all just over-imaginative or even delusional; but then again, the same could arguably be said for anyone who claims to believe in reincarnation, spirits or magic. No doubt there are probably plenty who claim the Otherkin label who probably do need to do a lot more seeking before they come to this conclusion; after all, when you don’t feel you fit into this world, escapism can become an extreme behavior in a tiny fraction of individuals. Needless to say, there are thousands of people in this world who are Otherkin, who identify as such and who live perfectly functional, happy lives with no ill effects from their identities. The theory of reincarnation offers many of us a way to explain this feeling of being Other, so we can find peace with ourselves in our entirety.

Rowan (Jan 22 – Feb 18)

ROWAN LORE

  • 2nd Moon of the Celtic Year – (Jan 22 – Feb 18)
  • Latin name: Rowan/American Mountain Ash – sorbus americana; Rowan/European Mountain Ash – sorbus aucuparia
  • Celtic name: Luis (pronounced: loush)
  • Folk or Common names: Mountain Ash, Ran Tree, Witchwood Tree, Quickbeam, The Witch or Witch Wand Tree, Whispering Tree, Sorb-Apple, Service Tree
  • Parts Used: Wood, berries. Caution: do not eat the seeds
  • Herbal usage: Rowan bark has astringent qualities and can be used as a decoction for helping cure irritable bowels. Rowan berries can be made into a  juice which can be used as a laxative. The berries are also an important food for grouse, cedar waxwings, grosbeaks and other hungry birds.
  • Magical History & Associations: The bird associated with the month of Rowan is the duck. The Druid Dhubh (Blackbird) also has an association with the  Rowan tree since Blackbirds are fond of Rowan berries. Since each Rowan berry carries a minute pentagram, eating these berries is said to give the blackbird  the ability to connect us with his healing song to the balancing and regenerative powers of the Otherworld and the Unconscious. The Celtic symbol of the  month of Rowan is the Green Dragon. The color is red, and the gemstone is yellow chrysolite or the ruby. The Rowan is a Masculine herb that is associated  with the element of fire, and is a tree of the sun and the planet Uranus. The tree is sacred to the deities of Rowan, Thor and Brighid (triple goddess of  inspiration, healing and smithcraft). Rowan is also sacred to Oeagrus (father of Orpheus, who belonged to the sorb-apple cult) and to the White Goddess  Aphrodite; Akka/Mader-Akka/Rauni (Finnish goddess of the harvest and of female sexuality); and the river goddess Halys/Alys/Elis (Queen of the Eleusine  Islands). Irish Druids held Rowan trees sacred like Oaks and sometimes called it the ‘Tree of Life’. Rowan wood is one of the nine traditional  firewoods to be added to the Belfire that is burned at Beltane. In folklore the Rowan is regarded as the godmother of milk cows. When a calf is due to be  named, the farmer goes to the wood before daybreak to cut a Rowan branch with a piece of copper just as the sun rises. He smacks the calf on the back with it  and calls it by its name. After that he tethers it to the cowshed door, decorated with white ribbons and eggshells, and the calf stays safe and well. The  Rowan is a favorite tree of the Otherkin. A Slavic tree spirit known as Musail, the forest tsar, king of the forest spirits, is associated with the Rowan  tree. Rowan also has a vampiric association since it is, along with Garlic and Hawthorn, one of the most popular herbal vampire repellents.
  • Magickal usage: The month of Rowan is a good time to do initiations, especially during Imbolc. The Rowan has applications in magick done for divination,  astral work, strength, protection, initiation, healing, psychic energies, working with spirits of the dead, psychic powers, personal power, and success. Uses  of Rowan in protective magick include carrying Rowan twigs on sea voyages to protect the ship from storms. A Rowan can be planted near a new house to protect  it from lightning and evil influences. Walking sticks made of Rowan will protect there user from harm. A charm made of two small twigs of Rowan wood tied  together to form a cross using red thread or yarn can be carried to protect against bad spirits. Its branches were used by Norsemen as rune-staves upon which  to carve runes of protection. The Celts believed that no witches or evil spirits could cross a door over which a branch of Rowan had been nailed. In some  legends, the Rowan has also been called the whispering tree because it has secrets to tell to those who will listen. Rowans also can be planted on graves to  prevent the haunting of the place by the dead. In Ireland, a Rowan stake was sometimes hammered through a corpse to immobilize the spirit. In ancient  Ireland, the Druids of opposing forces would kindle a fire of Rowan and say an incantation over it to summon spirits to take part in the battle. Should you  happen upon a flourishing Rowan which is most bountifully hung with cluster upon cluster of delicate red berries, then you may be sure that some saintly soul  lies buried close by. Rowan is often called The Wizard Tree or The Witch Tree, partly because Rowan berries have a small pentagram at the point where they  are joined to the stalk. Indeed, Rowan berries were often regarded as magickal and were the food of the Tuatha De Danaan. As attractive as Rowan is to the  Fey, Rowan wood is often used in butter churns so that the butter would not be overlooked by evil Faeries. In Scotland, fires made from rowan wood were used  to protect the cattle against those same type of evil fairy spirits, and it is said that ‘Bewitched’ horses may be controlled by a Rowan whip.  Witch-wands for divining metal are often made of Rowan wood, and Rowan branches may be used to dowse for water or can be made into wands. The best time to  harvest a Rowan branch for a wand or staff is at Beltane. Remember to ask the tree if it will allow you to take a branch and be sure to leave the tree an  offering of thanks when you are done.