My responses are in bold because Tumblr is being annoying and I can’t figure out how to make it break the quotes the way I used to do it… so… BLAH.
Fixing this for you.
So one can only be otherkin now if you can “bring something to the table”, preferably only unskeptical magical belief systems?
Try not making straw men, salfarro. I think you’re quite well aware that spiritual beliefs need not be unskeptical. If not, you should be.
In the same way that you have seemed to only experience psychological otherkin being the cause of “stop criticizing others’ identities!” I experienced the exact opposite. In the forums and mailing lists I frequented, it was the magic-based “otherkin” who constantly whined and cried when anyone questioned their identity and demanded everyone to stop doing it to others. I found that most (not all, but most) magic-based otherkin found it difficult to question others because it put their own beliefs on the table to be questioned, much like how fictionkin make many otherkin uncomfortable and how one can ask what is the difference between otherkin and furry?
I don’t find that to have been the case, and frankly find it difficult to believe that was your experience. We may not have been on every forum together, but even just your experience on LJ’s otherkin community should have shown you a different picture than that. Is it possible your early days in Permanent may have biased you, since you and your friends spent so much time trolling the community in an attempt to enforce your idea of logic? Or the fact that you started the “anti-fluff dragonkin” group which described itself in part as:
Are you tired of the kids under 18 (hell, and even some older!) whose biggest problems are normal HS-related crap? Looking for a place with adult conversation?
By the time I was invited into Permanent, I was pretty much not involved in any otherkin forms. From time to time I popped into one but, I got pretty busy getting pregnant and having a kid. I don’t recall ever doing much with Permanent. I became associated with them because in a forum blowout, a bunch of people assumed I was *with* one of the members and that person apparently found me interesting or awesome because of it and invited me. I joined because I was curious about it. But ”joining” for me was just being in their private chat group. Sometimes if they were talking about a thread or something on OK I checked it out but mostly the threads were going on for pages and pages so I never bothered to read them and I almost never involved myself in what they were doing in forums or IRC. There was really only a couple times I got deeply involved later in a particular drama but that was more about real-life concerns (i.e. a creeper trying to attract a teen to emigrate and move in with him), nothing to do with cynicism or skepticism or trolling.
Permanent’s chat’s itself did involve a fair amount of talk about magic-based otherkin identities. Other than the, I think, 2 members who weren’t otherkin in any sense and one who was straightening out his identity, I was the only member who criticized them for being “fluffy”.. or perhaps I should say, I pointed out that for them and certain other people who believe in magic and criticize other believers in magic that “fluff” seems to only be defined by how much someone talks about their beliefs publicly.
I assure you that when I started that “anti-fluff” group when I was a kid, it did not cause me to bias my experiences, it was a result of the way I felt at the time. There were many cases of folks with very little introspection and lots of whining whenever they were criticized, whining by them and whining by many established members of the community. This is when I first started seeing people tell others to just accept the identities of others, by magic-based otherkin (unless it was a without-question overblown Elven Princess Syndrome).
It was also part of my youthful “joyous” process of growing up and trying to discover myself, wanting to be important (back then, I thought “running a website” or “moderating a forum” or “running a mailing list” made someone important)… trying to identify the source of these confusing feelings and sensations. Eventually I had a little bit of a breakdown when I was both experiencing extreme stress from study abroad and having hit a wall in my draconity and left the community for a bit to try to straighten myself out. I think fairly close to when I made that comm, TrueWyrm had also made itself a splitoff group.
I can’t remember when I got active in the otherkin LJ group. I was mostly unremarkable to me. What I recall most was a point where there was a lively collection of trolls and some possible not trolls and ones who weren’t trolls but were under suspicion of being trolls. I enjoyed their posts because they tended to be the “make you think” kind of posters. But eventually they widdled down to one or two trolls who were banned. Once they were gone the otherkin LJ community was pretty much dead, since a lot of members had already been driven away.
Or.. are you an athiest or agnostic and getting a bit put out because everyone else is some sort of neopagan?
Fluffiness is not allowed here. If you need to know what fluffiness is, check out Why Wiccans Suck.
I was very clearly asking what the two groups get from associating with one another, from using the same terminology, to describe two very different experiences. Can you answer that?
I don’t find the experiences very different. It’s just a different lens.
I’d say having memories vs experiencing “mental shifts” and uncontrollable behaviors is a fairly different experience, not just a different lens.
Obviously, if a bunch of otherkin want to get into an in-depth discussion of magical beliefs they hold literally true there is going to be a problem. But so can the same be said of Christian otherkin talking to pagan or atheist, or even a dragon speaking to an elf. Even naturalist otherkin can experience the sensations of memories and such, but they are interpreting the origin of those feelings differently.
Ok, let’s say for the sake of argument that was the case - you don’t see that interpretation as setting up a barrier to discussion? Because if one group is talking about memories and seeking shared information and understanding because they believe those memories to be real, and another group doesn’t expect anything in their memories to match because they believe it’s just in their head, what’s the use of the two groups even discussing what they remember together? Hell, why would the latter group ever discuss memories period even if they have them? They’re just fantasies or delusions, right? Confabulations? With no actual significance.
I’m not actually sure what you mean by “that was the case.” But I have seen conversions. I’ve seen magical otherkin become “psychological”, I’ve seen “psychological” become magical. The whole point of discussions, of community, is looking at these things and hashing them out. Some are less interested than others, and many of those move on on either interpretation. Some don’t ever change their minds. And that’s fine (if you can believe me saying that, I am not the kid I was when I made “anti-fluff dragonkin”, back in the day when I thought atheism and naturalism were the same thing).
Let me ask you a question. Do you believe all “psychological” otherkin are furries in denial or do you believe at least some of them are actually otherkin in denial of the supernatural?
In my experience, that would take some fairly strong denial. Ignoring/discounting one’s own memories, ignoring/discounting any similar memories you hear of that might verify them as having some objective validity, ignoring external validations of things you couldn’t possibly have known if the memories weren’t real, etc. I don’t see that being effectively maintained over a long time, though I suppose it’s theoretically possible to some extent. I would say certainly psychological therians who do experience memories are likely in denial of the existence of past lives. Whether such are accurately described as “supernatural” is another subject.
Many psychological otherkin don’t ignore their memories, but they struggle to find a naturalistic explanation for them. I think the difference between you and I, is, I few our experiences of being otherkin as being similar, if not identical. But I believe that different groups are interpreting the source differently, like laying a different kind of blanket over the same kid. Sure, one blanket might be wooly and scratchy, one might be soft, one too warm, but it’s the same kid underneath. You, on the other hand seem to view that one group has a kid, and the other has a doll. I don’t usually speak of this opinion because I have long since lost interest for the most part in worrying about if others are interpreting their experiences “correctly.” Whether or not either group can “add” to the discussion is a self-correcting problem.
I’ve struggled for many years with my identity. When I had my breakdown it was after trying to completely deny it. I had a similar thought 8 years ago… what if I was just a dressed-up furry? Or just fooling myself? Could I just “stop” believing and walk away. It was one of the most mentally painful things I had done, and at probably the worst time. I won’t bore you with my clumsy attempts to explain what it felt like.
When I stopped trying to deny it, I felt a lot better except for one thing. I still had not settled my personal explanation of my experiences. I still felt like I didn’t know “who” I was or “why” I felt this way. I had experimented a bit and had visions. But in the same way that I can not “drop” my draconity, I could not “drop” my naturalism (and believe me, I have wanted to for years. Being able to either drop my draconity or drop my naturalism would be such a blessing). So, instead of confronting this I ignored it to avoid the pain. A few years ago I read an essay about cladotherianthropy which inspired me to start over. I made a resolution to not worry if people thought I was roleplaying as I tried to sort myself out, in identity and in world-view and to explore the furry angle again. But, I have ended up just… putting it aside again. Most of my explorations have been private instead of online, for fear of someone looking at something I wrote years ago and saying something like “Well, you wrote this years ago so it obviously has TOTAL bearing on your here and now” or accusing me of being a hypocrite or whatever. And I really just can’t get into the furry thing. In a local fur group, someone who was more familiar with my online presence thought that my avatar was a fursona of some sort. It actually freaked me out pretty badly, I had a very negative reaction to my identity being used that way. I ended up creating a fursona just to avoid the problem in the future. But like all RPG characters, no matter how funny or interesting or intricate, it is a “dead” thing. It has no meaning to me.
I find, just like my experience in Permanent, that a lot of “psychological” otherkin are simply more cautious about slapping a definitive supernatural narrative out there. Many do have very private, very personal supernatural beliefs that they recognize as unfalsifiable. Not all, of course.
Honestly I don’t think the stuff you’re seeing is due to the “ris ae of psychological otherkin” (most of whom in my experience frequently criticized other otherkin’s beliefs to the point that spiritual otherkin were leaving communities and bitching about it in droves).
Then why are the same patterns visible in the therian community since psychological therianthropy took over from spiritual? The reduction in discussions of spirituality and past lives, the increase in discusion of shifting, of non-human behaviors, of so-called “species dysphoria”, etc?
They are not islands from each other.
No, they’re not. But the therian community showed this pattern years prior to the otherkin community, coinciding with the takeover of psychological therianthropy from spiritual therianthropy. Now psychological otherkin are becoming more prevalent, and we’re seeing the same things on the rise here. I don’t believe that to be a coincidence.
I think what you are seeing is simply the rise of popularity of otherkin and therians. An influx of new with their own ideas. A lot of the more critical and skeptical otherkin have since left. You know, the ones who would have asked “why do you think you are otherkin.”
Except, you just told us that the skeptical, psychological otherkin criticized other otherkin’s beliefs to the point that spiritual otherkin were leaving communities in droves. So wouldn’t they be the ones left behind, in the communities, to ask such things? But experience shows that they don’t, that it’s not being asked as much now as it was when the otherkin community was pretty much 100% spiritual.
It was not meant to be interpreted as a simultaneous occurrence. I am speaking of things that occurred over a 10+ year period. First the one, then the other. But I also don’t think we overlapped much on the forums we were on.
And to clarify again, not all forums of course shifted at the same time, some held out longer than others as members bounced around trying to find the haven they agreed with.
So what you’re saying is that the skeptical otherkin came on, forced the spiritual otherkin off, themselves left for some reason and were replaced by new younger spiritual otherkin, and these are the source of the new credulity? Do I have that right now? Because that still doesn’t match what I’m seeing. I see more self-described psychological otherkin than ever, and less questioning of the “identities” of newcomers than ever.
It’s so hard to describe what was going on because it wasn’t some linear transition that just hit every group, everywhere at the same time. In the way that you suppose I am biased from my point of view (presumably by that you mean, that I focused more on the instances of magic-based otherkin being credulous.. I could think the same may be true of you). I would not say that psychological otherkin are not on the rise, but I don’t believe psychological otherkin themselves are the explanation for credulity. Both can have some pretty dang credulous members, but I think it is the rise of otherkin and therian in general that causes the least questioning problem.
When I describe these changes in the groups I was part of, with the skeptical (not necessarily nonmagical, but the more critical of the community) driving off a lot of magic-based newbie otherkin (and in some cases unknown otherkin because they didn’t stick around long enough, and eventually the least thick-skinned of the magic-based otherkin) what I saw happen was, first off, of course, was the elders in the comms leaving because the conversations ceased to be interesting and because all of the fluffy newb members were driven off before they even had a chance to mature. When I got a little older and wiser, myself, I regretted a lot of the way I had behaved.
Dragons and elves, I think, have vastly different experiences in their communities. At least when I was most active, there was really no such thing as dragons discovering others that shared their memories. It was so exceedingly rare (although much wished for), I think I can only think of once instance of a thread where I actually saw a pair of lovers who briefly joined a forum I was on, and quickly left. There may have been a few brief flashes here or there of people claiming such but never of any of the core members of the communities. If it has changed it’s been a recent thing.