Incoming wall of text. I am very sorry, followers :(
I have “past life memories”, and I have experiences in the present. The latter is much more interesting to me, and mostly what I want to discuss on forums. My memories, although much more than just running around, are in the past. They’re also static, for the most part. A memory of running is a memory of running. Woo. Exciting. I think I’ll discuss it over and over in thread upon thread for the next few decades. Or, you know, not.
See, I don’t find my memories to be “static”. I’m always finding new pieces, building up a better picture of what happened in the past. It’s like putting together an incredibly complicated jigsaw puzzle, with time as an factor. A random flash of memory from years before, just a few seconds long, might one day become the start of something much larger and more complex. And even still, I’m limited to my t perspective in each life - they need to be placed together with the memories of others to get a better idea of what was going on from a wider standpoint - the “big picture” so to speak. That’s one of the things that was useful about otherkin lists in the past - finding others who remembered the same people, places, events you did. Putting things together to understand the cultural contexts, the history, the larger picture. Even memories of entirely different species who encountered one another.
I Whereas current experiences are something that people often want to know how to deal with, and they are a living, evolving thing. They may feel like getting new ideas for how to indulge their urges constructively. They may be interested in whether other people want to try a group idea they’ve had. It’s not vastly more interesting, but it’s an ongoing thing.
I don’t really see that. Instead I see things like “what music brings out your inner animal” or “how do you handle car rides, good or bad?” or “how do you EXPRESS your therioside”? That last one I really hate the most - not everything which is part of your personal identity needs to be “expressed”. Being bi is part of my identity but I don’t go around “expressing” it. Most people don’t know unless the subject of relationships/significant others comes up. Which, frankly, is about a bazillion times more likely than a spontaneous discussion of the nature of your souls OR your psyches.
Unless someone’s memories are traumatic or they’re continually remembering new material, there isn’t a huge amount to talk about.
In my experience, most people with memories are continually remembering new material. Not necessarily just from the same life, either. I know of a couple exceptions, people I’ve been told have run into a mental block concerning their memories, but for the most part the people I knew 14 years ago who were discussing their memories back then are still discussing new stuff now.
There’s also no remote guarantee that anyone will have anything to say about your memories, or empathise with them in the slightest.
My experience of the community has not shown this to be true. The majority of people with memories did find others who remembered the same people and events. I can think of a very small number of people who were the only one of their kind, back in the day. Off the top of my head, only one really springs to memory - Tocasar. He’s no longer around, he was a walk-in who moved on to his next incarnation, but since then I’ve run into someone who seems to remember similar people and events. Without having knowledge of Tocosar.
When applied to shifting and present day things, this is why I tweak my discussions of my experiences to fit into a framework some therians are more likely to “get”. But I feel “Guys I’m having a day where I really want to hunt something” is easier for people to relate to than talking about specific old-life memories.
Easier, perhaps. But which has more depth? Talking about having a day where you really want to hunt something, or talking about memories of hunting something specific - the tactics you used, the tactics the prey used, the feeling as you moved, the landscape around you, the way you finally made the kill or the prey finally escaped? I’d rather hear about the latter, personally, than about vague feelings of wanting to hunt. The latter would also offer more opportunities to check what you remember - if your theriotype can be found in an area matching that description, if the prey animal is also found there, if they’re common or even occasional prey for your kintype in nature, if those are actually the tactics your kintype would use, etc.
Otherkin shouldn’t be on otherkin forums because they don’t have past life memories. … Okay, that’s a new one. Out of curiosity, do you apply this to all otherkin? Because I’m interested to know what memories and what input to memory discussions you feel a spider should have. And whether you think them not having a detailed memory about how fun it was to spin webs means they shouldn’t be on forums and should instead be told their experience is like LARPing or creating a fursona.
Yes, I do. Frankly, I find the emphasis on so called mental shifts or phantom shifts to be detrimental to the therian community. I’d rather hear their memories of being a spider than to hear how they’re just SO therian that they can’t control the instinct to eat flies. And if we’re about to talk about the size of spider brains and how long they’re likely to retain memories, I trust you’ll realize that we’re already talking about non-biological means of memory storage and retrieval if we’re discussing past lives?
Being otherkin is more like being something than being from somewhere.
Except, for psychological otherkin, there is no “there” to be from.
Mostly because a lot of what makes someone “French” is the culture of France. A lot of what makes someone otherkin is what they are now. There are people with past lives who don’t identify as Whatever They Were because that isn’t what they are now. People in recent times have tried to engage in essay collection about what being otherkin means, as opposed to having been otherkin. What does it feel like to be X, what does it truly mean in one’s day to day life, how does it feel different from not being otherkin, as opposed to discussions about memories. The day I stop feeling like otherkin I will, memories or no memories, cease to be otherkin. The past does not make me otherkin. The present does.
That’s another area where we differ. I don’t believe there’s a point where I could “cease to be otherkin”. It’s not something that can be turned on or off for me - it’s something I am. Full stop. If I suddenly developed amnesia and lost all of the memories I have recovered I would still be otherkin, whether or not I was involved with the community, just one that would need to reawaken.
As bad as the comparison you’ve chosen is, otherkin to me is more like signing up to chat about being a French person who is now naturalised in another country. Where are you from, what do you miss, what was your childhood like, these are important discussions. But so are questions about how you feel being bilingual, what restaurants do you like here, are there any foods from this new country that remind you of home, how do you express your sense of identity in this environment, how do you feel about the climate and how do you deal with it, do you find it harder to make friends than others and if so how have you gone about finding folks you like. That, to me, is what otherkin is more about, and that’s why there’s plenty for otherkin to discuss even if they don’t have a long list of detailed memories (whether due to not having them or due to those memories simply not ever being likely to exist thanks to their ‘kintype). It’s why a long list of memories is, IMO, not a requirement to be otherkin.
Except everything you just described is predicated on there actually being a real objective past to remember. From what you miss there and what your childhood was like there, to knowing what it feels like to be bilingual in the present or knowing how the climate compares.
I feel I have gained a lot from talking to people with little to no memories, and people who do not share anything like my kintype, and I have gained this without sharing my own memories to any great extent. Not everyone will enjoy such discussions, but plenty of people (clearly) do. I do not participate in sub-forums for memory discussion, but I appreciate the fact that they are there, as for some people talking about their memories is far more of interest than other subjects.
I don’t feel like I’ve gained much from talking to those with little to no memories. At best, they’re up front about not really having much to add. At worst, they’ll hold up their particular imaginary and often two-dimensional archetype of a particular kintype as the objective standard for real x-nonhuman-critter in the here-and-now and talk in great depth about what it means to live according to that archetype.
Correlation does not equal causation.
If psychological otherkin were the only example, no, but I’ve seen the same trends take over the therian community when spiritual therianthropy was replaced by psychological therianthropy. History is repeating in the two communities.
The majority of people I’ve seen who latch onto bizarrely formed lists or use their being kin as an excuse to act out have been young and/or new, and either leave or mature out of it. I accept that there are bad apples, I just don’t see that they’re worth judging an entire group over. The problem is the person, not the label they’re using.
I’ve seen people my age (32) and older doing it, and who have been in the community for quite some time, not just the kids or the newbies. I believe it’s the mindset itself that is detrimental.
The main difference between ‘kin and LARPers/furries is the fact that otherkin do not “adopt” it. They are, and then they recognise what they are.
A lot of people would describe “discovering their fursona” in the same way.
The “original” of my system always was the way she is, and one day found that other people were the same way, and that this was called being otherkin. She identifies as psychological kin for the most part. There was no point at her life where she sat down and thought “You know, I think I’ll invent a new species and then identify as it for the forseeable future”.
*nods* Does she experience the same type of flashbacks you do?
In the same way, as I stated previously, I have had unexpected kinesthetic flashbacks. These were of memories, memories I had never, ever, considered that I might have, let alone should have. Because there was no audio or visual element to what I experienced, it took me a while to recognise, or rather accept, what the flashback even was. I identify mostly as psychological kin. I simply believe that my mind is capable of doing these kinds of things, of fabricating memories, fears, and even mental disorders, sometimes on the spot and without any concious consideration. I admire and respect the power that the mind has, and accept that my experiences likely originate within it. Someone recently mentioned the term “confabulation”, which is essentially false or distorted memories that come about without any intent to lie. LARPers and furries create with intention. Psychological otherkin, for the most part, do not.
Except, in actual confabulation - and there have been studies of this - one doesn’t just wake up spontaneously with outlandish memories. Generally, false memories are of relatively familiar places and events, just mixed up together. That’s why it’s easy to get someone to remember being lost in a mall - particularly when the described experience includes personal details from family and friends who knew them as a child - or seeing Bugs Bunny at Disneyland but hard to get someone to remember an embarrassing and painful enema that never happened. Much less memories of an entirely different life as something other than human. If confabulation were the source of such memories, it wouldn’t be occurring by itself in otherwise healthy individuals - for confabulation of that degree to take place, you’d expect to see disorders on the level of Alzheimers as the cause. And that would not be an “identity” or the basis for one, it would be a mental disorder.
Similar to my experience was the original’s experience of sudden phantom legs. I do not feel too bad about calling this phantom limbs, because this was not by any stretch her simply imagining something. Something in our body’s brain glitches, and she would have fallen if she weren’t next to a handrail to grab. At no point did she consider that this was supposed to happen, or that she wanted it to happen. It simply did, and it thankfully has not repeated itself.
So a one-time event becomes the basis for an identity? Or did the identity exist first and the glitch happen later? Because there are studies of supernumerary phantom limbs which have been created using techniques as simple as a mirror to reflect an additional arm. Visualization has a very powerful effect on the mind.
Another difference could be considered that unlike furries and LARPers, otherkin do not always consider their identity to be fun, and neither think on it nor “work” on it, as it were. I don’t feel that this is as large of a difference as the previous two stated, though.
I see an awful lot of people in the community who do consider their identities fun, and both think on it and “work” on it. I’ve even run into people who act like they’re having problems with their otherkin forms and ask for help, who later call the whole thing “thought experiments”. Aka roleplaying. Though you are right that’s not restricted to just psychological kin. They have been much more prevalent since the rise of psychological kin, though, and challenges to their behavior are more often met now with “how dare you question someone’s identity??” than during the era of spiritual otherkin.
As an aside, I consider myself a furry. I find myself unable to mistake what it’s like to be a furry and what it’s like to be otherkin. The two experiences have been very dissimilar for me.
*nods* But at least part of that difference, for you, has been the existence of memories - whether you attribute those memories to past lives or confabulation, no?
I’m afraid that if after considering the idea that psychological otherkin have sudden, unwanted, and unwilled experiences, and the fact that there are kintypes which may find it impossible to have any memories at all even if they identify as spiritual, you still feel that psychological otherkin are not otherkin and that memories are a requirement to be useful participants in ther otherkin community, there’s not much else people can likely do. I hope that I have helped to answer some of your questions about psychological otherkin, at the very least.
I use too many commas to break up horrendous run-on sentences. I know. I apologise.
I can accept that they have sudden, unwanted, and unwilled experiences. I’m just not convinced that describing those experiences in terms of particular animals or mythological creatures - absent memories of actually being those things, or even belief in their existence in many cases - is at all useful, nor that it is useful for them to join under the umbrella of “otherkin” with the existing spiritual otherkin.
What does someone who experiences mental shifts that they describe as a dragon bring to the table for a discussion with someone who has memories of being a dragon? What can they take away from such discussion, if they believe the latter is deluding themselves? Where is there actual common ground to build on? I don’t see it.
Likewise, without memories - even if one believes their “soul is a dragon” - what can one bring to the table of an otherkin discussion? Vague feelings of alienation? What teenager hasn’t felt that?
So one can only be otherkin now if you can “bring something to the table”, preferably only unskeptical magical belief systems?
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).
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.”