Several years back, in October of 2005, I completed a survey conducted by Lupa as part of research for her book A Field Guide to Otherkin. In addition to emailing that survey to her, I posted it in a friends-locked entry in my livejournal, here: http://jarandhel.livejournal.com/191494.html
I’ve decided to make that entry public, and to republish my survey answers here. They have not been updated, these are my answers as they were six years ago, though I have modified the links of any resources referred to in order to point to their present locations. At some point, when I have time, I may write a second entry representing how I would respond to this survey if I took it again today.
1. Jarandhel Dreamsinger. Jarin, if you prefer the shorthand. 24 years old at the moment, I’ll be 25 in February 2006. Currently living in Arlington, VA near Ballston Commons Mall. Physically male. Don’t really identify with a specific gender, view gender as more fluid than that. Don’t really understand the question “Do you keep track of these things for any other life/existence/aspect?” but would happily answer it if clarified.
2. I identify as quite a few different types of nonhuman beings, to the point where listing information about each of them would be difficult. The primary one that I am public about is elven, from a world known as Alorya. Some refer to our type of elves as Eldari, though I don’t care for that term myself. We’re pretty much your typical tolkienesque elves. I believe this does manifest in my current body, in particular my eyes. I am entirely of european heritage to my knowledge, but have been mistaken by others as anything from chinese to native american; most recently I’ve been told I could pass for hispanic. Depending on the form I identify with most strongly at any given moment, I do sometimes experience phantom limb syndrome, and also at times a phantom sensation of clothing specific to a particular life other than my present one.
3. I generally work with my otherkin sides from the premise that they are past lives. This seems to fit, as I have explicit memories associated with them. However, I’ve also explored the possibility that the memories may be allegorical, or concurrent or even future incarnations. So far, the past life interpretation makes the most sense to me though.
3a. Yes, I remember things about most (I think all, but hesitate to be quite that certain when I haven’t gone through and catalogued them all) of my otherkin past lives. My culture varied by quite a bit depending on the life we’re referring to, as did what I was like. I remember being everything from a warrior to a young child training to be a healer, and I’d describe my personalities as markedly different, though there are recurring trends in different lives. The quality of the memories varies depending on the life, some are quite spotty while others have gotten very detailed over time. They almost always start out spotty at first. I’m not sure I understand what you mean by how consistent are the memories, could you clarify? The main means I’ve used to determine they’re not just products of my subconscious is if others remember the same thing. Among the kin I associate with, the tendency is to share partial information about a memory while holding things back and see if others mention remembering any of the things you’ve held back without prompting. I’ve had shared memories with quite a few people over the years.
4. What was my awakening like? You’re in luck, I’ve written a whole essay about that, plus it has a link to the essay I originally wrote when I entered the community, you can compare the differences in perspective for yourself. http://wanderingpaths.heliwood.org/articles/jarinawakening.html A lot has changed in my perspectives since my awakening, but I haven’t really doubted myself since sharing memories with others, and that happened fairly early on.
5. I’m not really sure how much being otherkin affects my everyday life. In the end, I think the question may be somewhat like how has being male or female affected your daily life. Unless you’ve had the experience of not being otherkin, how do you answer that? And not being awakened, in my book, is not the same as not being otherkin for purposes of this question, since even before I had memories of other lives I notice certain themes showing up in my poetry that at the time I was not even conscious of. Things that are clear references to some of my otherkin sides in retrospect. I feel fairly comfortable in the body I was born in, though I could do without the male pattern baldness and the slow metabolism. The environment is another story; I don’t feel that I will ever be truly comfortable in this culture. Though I’m not sure if that’s because I’m otherkin, or just sane in my approach to the world. Consumerism really doesn’t appeal to me that much; I do like buying things now and again but I’ve never seen shopping as something to do for its own sake. I don’t like seeing the world covered over in pavement and buildings to the degree it is. Things like that. Though, again, this is hardly a trait specific to otherkin and many humans share these same objections to modern society. It really doesn’t affect my choice of career or home so far as I know; I live in a normal house and am going to start school for a career in computer networking and security soon. As for the people I associate with? That’s harder to answer. I do have friends outside of the community, but my closest and most enduring friendships have been with otherkin, and the majority of my friends are members of the otherkin community. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m otherkin, or just because I found a large concentration of people I like there, even if I had to hunt them out among a lot of others who weren’t even close to the same quality. Some people seem to sense something different about me; not animals, though, at least as far as I’ve noticed, though I’ve heard some stories from when I was very young that may show they have reacted to me oddly in the past. Apparently, when I was quite young (still in a stroller) and my mother took me for walks with her in the woods around our property, our cats would follow along with me and not stray away. People’s reactions have been more interesting… young children often seem to see something odd about me. I’ve had children in stores point at me and go “Mommy, look at those people!” (I’m a multiple, hosting one other person presently, though at the time I think I may have been hosting one or two more.) I’ve also had some interesting experiences with more spiritually aware individuals, though the most recent (and most interesting) of these was someone claiming to be a shaman whom I have never met who approached my mother in Minnesota and apparently made references to things about me and even referred to me by name though my mother claims not to have mentioned my name before he did. I’m still not entirely sure what to make of some of the things he reportedly told her about me and about herself.
6. I’m really not sure how being otherkin has affected my spirituality or religion. Both my religious beliefs and my spiritual practices have evolved since my awakening, but I do not think that is because of the awakening itself. And though I have been influenced by individuals within the otherkin community, that has more to do with agreeing with their thoughts than them being otherkin. I do practice magic, but I can’t really say whether or not being otherkin is a factor in that beyond sometimes using past-life memories of techniques as inspiration, which humans with past-life memories of magical work could also do.
6a. I have participated in glamourbombing, though not for many years (the last time I glamourbombed was October 31, 1999). I think the best tools I used were gold and silver ink to write certain phrases and certain Reiki symbols related to true forms, clarity of sight, and so forth on bits of paper left in books in libraries and such.
7. Have you ever questioned your sanity? Of course. I believe that wondering if you’re crazy is a sign of sanity. The really crazy people are positive they’re sane. Has anyone else ever questioned your sanity? Yes, but I’m not sure it counts if done by obvious trolls on internet forums. How do you deal with either/both situations? For the former, usually I take a moment and remember that I’ve verified most of my memories with others who have independently had memories of the same events and places. For the latter, I simply ignore it, but then I’ve never had my sanity questioned by anyone who’s input on the subject I would actually value. Have you ever received therapy, voluntary or involuntary, due to being Otherkin? No. I’ve never felt that I’ve needed it.
8. I’m fairly open about being Otherkin. Most of my friends know, my parents know, my boyfriend knows; though I don’t go out of my way to advertise it to casual acquaintances or in forums where there is no reason to bring it up. The main people I’ve told that needed to react were my parents, most of the others were kin themselves, and it’s hard to tell how my parents reacted to it because I also dropped being bi, pagan, and poly on their heads all at the same time. They seem fine with it now though.
9. I know many otherkin, both in person and online. At this point in my life, the majority of my friends are members of the otherkin community. My impression of the otherkin community varies. The local one I’m quite impressed with, a number of very high quality people have managed to gather in this area. On a whole, though, I think the majority of people in the otherkin community are idiots, same as any other large group of people. In the otherkin community, I primarily blame that on the tendency for newly awakened kin to be relegated to certain lists that are separate from the main lists where a handful of more experienced (in some cases only slightly so) kin try to act as gurus. It’s one of the reasons that on Wanderingpaths I have encouraged newbies to participate and ask any questions they want, though the focus of the list is not specifically on Awakening. I’ve been to many otherkin gatherings. I’ve been to WtT 2 through 8 (1999-2005), as well as several mini-gatherings hosted by different people and of course Ri’s biweekly Open Study.
10. What advice do you have to people who suspect they may be Otherkin—or, for that matter, may aid me in making this a better book? I’m not even sure where to begin. I’ve learned a lot in the time I’ve been part of the otherkin community, and I’m still processing a lot of it and trying to put it into words and into practice. If there was just one thing I could say to them, though, I think it would be this: Awakening is a process, not an event. Realizing you’re not human, even finding memories, is just the beginning. Exploring your relationship with that which makes you Other can take a lifetime, or more. Don’t stagnate, don’t convince yourself you’ve already got it all figured out, and never stop working towards personal refinement. Or you might as well never have started to Awaken at all. Do you recommend any particular resources—books, websites, etc.? Otherkin.net is alright for a very basic overview, I guess. I prefer Rialian.com, generally. And of course, I’m working on my own website, http://wanderingpaths.heliwood.org Static websites in general, though, don’t have a lot. Mailing lists are a bit better; elven-realities on both yahoo and google groups is a very high quality list, and I think my own list Wanderingpaths@googlegroups.com is good as well. But they’re really best for meeting people you can talk with elsewhere, I think. AIM, Livejournal, private email, and of course gathers and minigathers. Ultimately, I think I’d end up referring newbies who struck me as honest seekers to specific people more than specific resources, though I might mention the general sites and lists as well if they weren’t already familiar with them.
11. Do you have anything else you’d like to add? Nothing I haven’t already shared with you on AIM or LJ. 🙂
12. (Clarification of a portion of Question #1) As in, do you know the sex/gender/etc of other lives/existences/aspects/etc.
Yes, I do. My elven life, which as I mentioned before is the main one I’m public about, was male. That’s actually the life I’ve taken the name Jarandhel from, and it still seems to fit me rather nicely. Dreamsinger, however, is not from that life; it’s more descriptive. I’d estimate my age in that life somewhere between 16 and 20, I think probably around 17 or 18. (Speaking, of course, in equivalent human age and judging by apparent physical maturity as I’m not sure how days and years there match up to days and years here) Though that is presently just the age it was at the last point that I recall; I may have grown up there afterwards, or something may have happened to me, I’m just not sure. I had thought once before that I died at a certain point in my memories where they seemed to just abruptly stop, but I’ve had memories since then that seem to be after that point and have been corroborated by others who were there, so that interpretation seems to have been in error.
I believe I was bisexual in that life, as I recall being attracted to Arhuaine from a young age (elves of my culture do not seem to have the incest taboo), but as far as I currently recall my only actual romantic encounters in that life involved other males. Probably had a fluid view of gender in that life as well, as I specifically recall shifting into a female form at times. (My particular family had an inherited gift for shapeshifting.)