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.