I want to talk a bit about my experience of Stag.
Despite the way this might sound, this is not an essay about therianthropy, at least not as the word is commonly used.
A little under two years ago, I began having memories of a non-human life on another world. This is not the first set of otherkin memories I’ve uncovered, so that didn’t surprise me too much, but there were aspects of this life that were very, very different from any of the others I’ve remembered.
In this life I was an animal person. By this, I do not mean a therian as we know them, nor an anthropomorphic animal as in the furry fandom. I was a shapeshifter, able to physically transform between humanoid and animal. Or perhaps I should say between animal and humanoid, as despite being fully sentient in either form I though of myself not as a man who could take the form of a stag but rather as a stag who could walk on two legs when I chose.
In my humanoid form, I was quite tall. Taller than nearly all of the humans or elves I remember in that life. You might even say a “giant”, albeit a rather lanky one. Due to that, some distinct similarities between the cultures remembered on that world and Norse culture on this one, and a bit of Shared Personal Gnosis with others who remember the same world and events, I have been referring to my species in this life as “Jötnar”.
Just to be clear, my two-legged form was entirely humanoid… no hooves, no antlers, no animal traits of any kind. I didn’t have a “hybrid” or “intermediate” form of any type, only the humanoid and the stag.
When I first began to remember this life, I kept flashing back to the sensation of myself shifting forms from humanoid to stag. It replayed over and over again in my mind, practically in slow motion. Very disconcerting.
There was a slight sensation of liquidity, but much more than that there was a sensation I can only describe as “unfolding”. Like I’d been folded up like an origami bird to fit into the humanoid body, and was being unfolded back into my true form. It also felt somehow mathematical, reminiscent of a fractal. I don’t quite have words for it, these are my best analogies.
There was also another sensation, separate but part of the experience, I think fueling it… a connection with the earth. It was almost the opposite of grounding, or like the earth was grounding itself in me rather than the other way around. It made me think a little of reverse lightning, where it shoots from the ground to the clouds rather than the other way around. It was very forceful and it just kept building and building, raw strength pouring into me, fueling the change. It also reminded me strongly of the Greek myth of Antaeus, the giant son of the earth goddess Gaia, who could not be defeated as long as he was in contact with the earth.
In my humanoid form I could speak, but generally did not choose to. Whole seasons would pass where I wouldn’t speak more than a handful of words. Instead I communicated by a mix of gesture, body language, and what I can only describe as tactile empathy – I could touch someone and pass on emotions and images to them. For instance, the image of a chittering squirrel and the emotion of lighthearted teasing to call an equally taciturn friend a chatterbox.
I also didn’t seem to care much about the social convention of clothing. I rarely, if ever, wore any in my humanoid form. It just didn’t seem to matter to me, or to those I lived with. I also seemed to be much less susceptible to the elements in my humanoid form, so perhaps I simply did not need them. I have a clear memory of standing naked, on two legs, in a snow drift and feeling no real discomfort. In a storm I likely would have shifted into my stag form for further protection from the elements, but I probably wouldn’t have resorted to clothing unless pressed by a companion. I would however make a “nest” of furs to sleep in, in my humanoid form. I believe that was more for the quality of softness than warmth, though.
I also seemed fairly strong in my human form, even for my size, able to carry large loads with relative ease. I believe my sense of smell was also somewhat more acute than humans or elves, though less so than in my stag form.
In my stag form, I looked a bit like this. Probably a bit younger than that specimen. I’m not saying I was that species of deer, I’m not sure I was even a species of deer that exists on Earth, but of known species of deer that’s about the closest I can find to what I remember looking like.
I’m not sure exactly how old I was. I am of the impression that my species was extremely long-lived, even compared to the elves on that world and certainly to the humans. But if I were to try to estimate a human-equivalent age I would guess 16 or 17. Late adolescence, near adulthood. I was fairly obsessed with the idea of starting my own herd, and the “does” I would need for this.
I put does in quotation marks because while the concept in my mind was definitely associated with female deer-people of my species it wasn’t limited to them either. While I did want to have children, the descriptor seemed less about reproduction and more about dominance and submission in the herd hierarchy. As such, sentient females of my own or other races would count as does, but so would submissive males. Not necessarily sexually submissive, either, though that could be a component. I definitely had nothing against male partners, and might be described as bisexual (or pansexual) though somehow neither of those terms really feel like they fit. I’m not yet sure why, though. There’s an alien-ness to my sexual orientation in that life that I haven’t fully understood in this one yet. I suspect there may not be english-language terms to accurately and completely describe how I thought and felt about sex in that life. Not simple ones, anyway… I think it would come out closer to a dissertation. Some of it, I think, is that physical and mental arousal were far more divorced from one another in that life.
My physical attractions didn’t seem to limit themselves to other sentients, however. In addition to pursuing a herd of sentient “does”, I also seemed to collect a… harem, I suppose would be the best way to put it, of feral does. And I had no compunctions about mating with them, even producing offspring. The fawns I sired seem to have been feral themselves, though with perhaps a slightly higher constitution, intelligence, and lifespan. They could not initiate empathic communication, though, nor shape-shift. For me, in that life, I saw nothing wrong with this – I was a stag, and they were does, it was the natural order of things. I considered us the same. Though I also considered other Jötnar, who were not stags but wolves or bears, to be “the same” as me – just in a different manner. I would also point out that this was not just a case of a horny adolescent screwing anything that moved; while I obviously experienced physical arousal and pleasure from the act, my mental attitude towards it was much more of someone performing a job or fulfilling a duty/obligation. And while I was fond of my feral mates and offspring, it was something of the fondness of a master towards his pets or a farmer towards his livestock.
Despite all this, I seem to have had no compunctions about eating meat in my humanoid form. Even deer-meat, which was one of the most readily available kinds. My attitude towards this seems to have been twofold: first, it was pragmatic. My humanoid form could eat meat, its teeth and digestive system were made for eating meat, and I saw no reason to deny myself meat – particularly in the winter when other food was scarce but meat could be dried and saved. Second, from what I can tell Jötnar of all varieties practiced ritual cannibalism to dispose of their dead. I did try to avoid hunting the feral herd I guarded, limiting my predation to competing herds, though I would consume any who died of natural causes. And I would defend my herd against other predators, though I might allow them to take the very old or sick. I viewed my role towards them somewhat like a shepherd, in some ways, managing them for their best long-term survival and benefiting from them in return.
To go a bit more into the cultural aspects of the cannibalism I remember, there were several associated beliefs. One was the belief that in consuming another, their strength was added to your own. Another was that consuming the fallen would give them the chance to be reincarnated within your bloodline, as one of your children or grandchildren, etc. Because of these two beliefs, it was common practice among Jötnar to consume defeated warriors if they fought well and honorably. It added their strength to that of the victor, and essentially “adopted” them into your bloodline, ensuring their rebirth. This did pose some problems when the warrior so consumed was human or elven, as those cultures neither shared those beliefs nor really understood them. A third aspect to these beliefs was that the gravest insult to a dead warrior or Jötnar was to leave their bodies to rot. Far better to eat the meat, use the hide if they died in animal-form, even make tools from the bones. The more that could be used, the better. But the meat, and especially the heart, should be consumed. Always.
There was also a related ritual of adoption for the living, which was very much like the stereotypical “blood brothers” ceremony performed by so many children, though instead of mingling the blood each would drink from the other. The incision was also made on a different part of the arm than our ceremony, being made diagonally across the inner bicep. I am not 100% sure if this ritual was for adopting a brother, a herdmate, or even a lifemate – the person I remember doing it with was in many ways all three to me, though our relationship was physically platonic. As with eating the flesh, it was believed that this ritual shared the strength of those performing it.
I think those are the major points of what I presently remember of the experience of being a stag Jötnar. At least the physical, mental, and cultural aspects. I’m leaving a lot of information about specific people, places, and events that I remember out of this telling. I might make another post about those, at some point, but for now I just wanted to focus on what it was like to be, think, and perceive as something completely inhuman. I hope others found it interesting, and informative.