Alleee and Franc's

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Oh, boy.

What are Otherkin? Perhaps it would be best to let them tell you:

Otherkin is a collective noun for an assortment of people who have come to the somewhat unorthodox, and possibly quite bizarre, conclusion that they identify themselves as being something other than human. It is also the lable used by a number of communities both on and off line. (The distinction between the two is not always drawn and can lead to some confusion).

Quite bizarre, indeed. Yes, despite having human parents, and having the same language and biology as the humans around them, some people come to the conclusion that they're not humans. So, who the hell are they?

The Otherkin are those people who believe themselves to be spiritually and/or physically other than human. While mythological species (elves, satyrs, fairies, dragons, and so on) are widely accepted as being included under the term "Otherkin", many people in the community prefer to include aliens, vampires, furries, extraterrestrial humans, and other nonhuman races. A mythological or literary equivalent is not necessary to be included under "Otherkin"; there are types of otherkin that have not shown up in known legends or fiction (star-dragons, Elenari, etc.).

Oh, joy. You know, I've met trans-sexuals - guys or girls who believe they were born the wrong gender and want to get a sex-change operation to fix that - and granted, that's fucked up, but at least their "true self" is something that actually exists in the real world.

Whereas these people...I can only guess. What would make someone wake up one morning and think "Wow...all this time, I've really been a dragon/alien/giant squirrel/whatever!"? How much would my life have to suck before I'd start believing I have a soul from...well, you know, I don't even know where these non-human souls supposedly come from, but it's apparently a patchwork of every crappy fantasy novel ever written.

Mind you, this isn't just a silly role-playing game. They believe this for real. They actually have anxiety over how to tell their friends and relatives that they're really elves or angels or unicorns or whatever.

By far the most common explanation from those who fit the definition (even if they don't claim this specific lable) is that whilst their physical forms may be human, their essence, soul or equivalent term is not.

Of those, the majority make their claim based on reincarnation - what they have been in a previous incarnation so strongly affects their current incarnation that they still identify with it. Obviously this requires a belief in reincarnation, and in the transmigration of souls. Both are reasonably common in a number of religions and spiritual beliefs across the world.

Reincarnation and/or the concept that the soul and body are separate things do figure into many religions, but I don't know of any religions where the souls come from make-believe creatures.

And that still leaves the mystery of where the fantasy souls come from. In reincarnation religions, an important question is "The human population increases each generation, so where do all the 'new' souls come from?", but Otherkin-ism adds the mess of souls originating from things that never existed on Earth in the first place. Where did they come from? Why do they come to Earth? Don't expect too many solid answers - if you're prepared to believe you've got a non-human soul, then "Well, a lot of those 'crappy' fantasy novels have a basis in truth!" is probably a good enough explanation for you.

Yet more ridiculously, a few Otherkin go as far as believing that they're not just fantasy souls trapped in a human body, they're physically different, too.

Some people in the otherkin community believe that they inherited genes influenced by non-human genetic material. It occasionally manifests to a greater or lesser degree in some otherkin.

Some Otherkin who appear to have genetic traits from non-human stock seem to have a natural magickal protection which is either an illusion or minor shapeshifting which is called a "Seeming" in the community. ie: they Seem human.

Wow! I wonder why genetic researchers and DNA-testing forensics labs have never discovered any of this. I mean, if some humans had "genetic material" from totally non-human sources, you'd think scientists would notice that and start looking into it. Contrary to what conspiracy theorists will bleat at you, scientists like discovering things, and they like publicizing those discoveries even more. And there's really no way to shut them up, as there's too many of them, spread across too many nations, for a conspiracy to "get to" all of them. Non-human genetic material would have been discovered and shouted about so long ago it's unreal.

Oh, right. That natural "seeming" magic would hide it from everyone!

Of course, the problem with that kind of magical thinking is that people who resort to it never carry it to its logical conclusions. Sure, a genetically-different-but-illusionarily-human Otherkin could be whatever kind of being they want to believe they are. But they could just as easily be a talking condom or Aquaman or a retarded spirit who happens to be a gestalt of every terrible role John Travolta did. Until the "illusion" goes down, who knows?

And don't tell me "Oh, but I'm allergic to iron! That proves I'm an elf, because elves are vulnerable to iron!". I bet. You might also be a crap elemental who was cursed a billion lifetimes ago to be weak against iron. Hell, you're more likely to be an illusionary crap elemental than any other kind of fantastic creature - I'd bet anything that you produce excretement more often than you look in the mirror and notice pointed ears.

But don't worry! If you're vulnerable to iron or sunlight or anything else because of your fantastic soul, you just need to look up "psychosomatic" in the dictionary.

Unfortunately, we have the same problem with magical thinking even if we forget about the I-only-look-human-because-I'm-illusionary/shape-shifting thing.

See, we can't prove souls exist, so we don't know that human sentience requires anything more than neurochemical reactions. Really, if that were different - if we could perceive souls at all - then the ancient Egyptians wouldn't have believed the soul has two parts, the Christians wouldn't believe souls come stained with the sins of the first two humans (who had absolutely nothing to do with you. Go fairness!), and the Scientologists wouldn't stupidly believe humans are stuck with the souls of dead aliens from 75 million years ago. Instead, they'd have had actual facts to examine and there would be points of agreement between their views beyond "Oh, wow! Souls exist!". As you can see, in the absence of real data, humans have obviously made up whatever bullshit they can get their followers to believe. You might say you're a cool vampire soul, but since no one can see it, you could have a lame Aquaman soul and it would still fit all the facts.

Oh, what's that? Having a vampire soul "resonates" for you? Okay, lots of Otherkin and alien visitation sites will tell you to believe whatever resonates or "feels right" to you, so I'll go ahead and tell you the big secret.

Whatever resonates for you will be whatever you want to believe.

Don't think Christianity or Hinduism or UFO cults or any of the ten zillion forms of paganism have the "truth"? That's funny - those resonate for many of their believers. How else would they have been able to spread? The followers see things they like in those systems, and they'll keep seeing them, while forgetting about the bullshit and unanswered questions.

But they can't all be right, and they aren't, any more than Otherkin-ism is. If you think "realizing" that you have a non-human soul is what you'd been looking for all along, that it helps you cope or have more confidence - it isn't. What you really needed was to look at your existence from something other than your same old fucking perspective. That's all.

And that's what's so deeply sad about all this. A lot of people could gain from having an open mind and taking new perspectives on things. But they can do that without having accepting such ridiculous beliefs.

review written by Jason Sartin, 10/2003.

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