Why This Document?
Frankly, this document exists because I am generally dissatisfied with the other otherkin FAQs currently in existence. Many have not been updated in any meaningful sense for years, others strike me as woefully incomplete. Worst, most seem to have a penchant for addressing the wrong questions. And I’m not too fond of many of the answers given either. This FAQ is my attempt to address these problems.
While there is overlap between the otherkin community and other communities such as vampires, therians, and starseeds (among others) the details of those additional communities are outside the scope of this FAQ.
This FAQ was last updated on Tuesday, 24th July, 2018. Please feel free to suggest any additions, corrections, or changes in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
What Are Otherkin?
That right there is probably the question most people who read this FAQ would like addressed. What are otherkin? I’m sorry to say that you’re probably not going to find a straight answer on this one. That’s not because people don’t want to give you one, but because no one has ever been able to get the members of the otherkin community to agree on a single definition. Oh, many have been proposed over the years but they always seem to leave someone out or else include members of other groups.
One of my favorites is this, from the old Otherkin Resource Center webpage (now defunct):
Main entry: oth•er•kin
1 : one who identifies with various mythological archetype as vehicles of spiritual evolution and self-expression, similar to Native totemism only with a stronger level of self-identification.
2 : someone who believes in reincarnation, and that not all of their reincarnations were as a human.
Another method of defining the term otherkin is to look at the word literally: otherkin are “kin to the other”. I’ve written an extensive essay on that interpretation of the term, which may be found here.
There are many more definitions, of course. Most of the popular ones can be found in the other FAQs referenced in the Additional Resources section of this FAQ.
Ultimately, however, otherkin are the people who choose to be members of the online otherkin community, the wider otherkin subculture, and/or self-identify as otherkin. That’s the only 100% accurate definition of the word otherkin.
How do I know if I’m Otherkin?
A lot has already been written on this subject in the community, and the related question “What kind of kin am I?” But, quite frankly, I think most of it is bullshit. At best, you’ll be told to do some soul-searching. At the very worst, you’ll be told to look at a checklist of supposedly otherkin traits and see how many you match up against or to get someone to take a look at you on the astral. None of the answers given to this question are all that useful, in my opinion.
My advice? Explore the community. Meet as many otherkin of various types as you can. Get a feel for the ones that seem genuine and clueful. Read what they have to say about themselves, their experiences, their memories. See if anything strikes a chord for you, if anything “resonates”.
If not? No harm, no foul. There’s nothing shameful in not being otherkin, and frankly it may make your life easier if you’re not one. But if something does strike a chord? Ah, that’s where things start getting interesting.
First off, don’t jump to conclusions. Resonance means there’s an affinity there, but it doesn’t tell you a thing about the nature of that affinity. And you can resonate with elements of fiction just as easily as you can resonate with genuine accounts of nonhuman experiences or memories. I resonate strongly with the Minbari of Babylon 5, with the Taelons of Earth Final Conflict, and with the Tayledras of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series. All three of these groups are fictional, and I do not believe that I was or am any of them. But each of them has qualities that remind me of my elven life. They resonate with that in me which is elven.
If you find something you resonate with, explore it. Find out more about the group described by that source, and see how much of what you learn continues to resonate. It may be that certain specific things resonate with you, while others do not. For instance, while there are elements of the history, language, and culture of Tulari elves which resonate with me there are many other aspects which feel completely alien. This is to be expected, as my own elven life was not among the Tulari. It was among another group of elves that might be considered a cousin to them on a world called Alorya. Use those feelings to guide you in your own search: resonance to steer you towards things you should look into more deeply, and the feeling of alienness to warn you not to go too far off course.
That’s how you’ll figure out if you’re otherkin, and if so what kind(s) of kin you are. Because when you find the right ones, there won’t be the feeling of alienness. Just more and deeper layers of resonance for you to explore.
That’s my opinion, anyway. If you’d like other perspectives on how to know if you’re otherkin, and how to find out what kind of otherkin you are, there’s a whole section on the subject in the Directory of Otherkin Writings linked to from the Additional Resources section at the bottom of this FAQ.
Where do I find other Otherkin?
If you’re new to the community, this is probably one of your biggest questions. The short answer is: online! The internet is, hands down, the best place to find otherkin. Even if you’re looking for a real-life, face-to-face meeting the internet is probably the best place to arrange it. Below is a non-comprehensive listing of major places to meet otherkin online. More can be found here and here.
KinFrontiers: Originally the “advanced” discussion section for a trio of otherkin-themed lists, this list hosts general otherkin discussions at this point.
Lostkin Project: A mailing list for otherkin who have no memories of nonhuman lives, but who don’t believe this life was their first. Searching for reliable and repeatable methods of Awakening their true selves.
NewKin: The “basic” list from the aforementioned trio. If you’re new to the otherkin community, this is probably where you want to start out. The intermediate/general discussion list is now defunct and KinFrontiers has taken over that role in addition to advanced discussions.
WanderingPaths: My own list, for general otherkin discussions from the very basic to the advanced.
Unfortunately the selection of otherkin mailing lists is not what it once was. At this time, these are the only active general otherkin mailing lists I can recommend. More lists, generally species or region specific, can be found here.
Draconity.org: A long-lived community for otherkin dragons, dating back to 2008.
Dreamhart.org Forums: My own forums, dealing with otherkin and the esoteric. Everyone’s welcome.
Embracing Mystery: Another otherkin and esoteric forum. Fairly long-standing, it’s been around since 2005.
Kinmunity: A new otherkin and therian forum replacing the older WulfHowl forum.
Stars on the Still Waters: A relatively young forum focusing on elven otherkin.
A more comprehensive list can be found here.
Otherkin Dreamwidth Community The main otherkin community on Dreamwidth.org.
Otherkin Livejournal Community The main otherkin community on Livejournal.com.
Otherkin Haven Dreamwidth Community A Dreamwidth community for otherkin which attempts to provide its members with a safe haven, free of drama.
Otherkin News Livejournal Community A Livejournal community which posts regular updates about developments in the community and news which may be of interest to otherkin.
Otherkin Writings Dreamwidth Community A Dreamwidth community hosting writings about otherkin “as an experience and identity”.
A more comprehensive list can be found here.
#Draconity on Draconity An IRC channel affiliated with Draconity.org.
#GryphonGuild on FurNet An IRC channel for those who love gryphons, or are gryphons at heart. Similar to AFD but for gryphon-lovers and gryphon-kin rather than dragon-lovers and dragon-kin.
#Dreamhart on MibbitNet The IRC channel affiliated with Dreamhart.org. Obviously, I’m the channel founder on this one. There’s also a web interface available here. Currently, a scheduled chat takes place every Tuesday from 8pm ET to whenever things break up (generally between 2am and 4am ET), but the channel is available for use at any time and there’s usually at least a few people in it.
#Draconic on SquickMe A fork of the #draconic IRC channel.
#Crossroads on Therian.org General discussion channel for therians.
A more comprehensive list can be found here.
GratuitousNonhumanty: DeviantArt otherkin group with a reasonably active chat.
Otherkin-Deviants: DeviantArt otherkin group with chat.
A more comprehensive list can be found here.
These change frequently. Here is the list of all the public ones I currently know of, but I highly recommend checking Meetup.com yourself for others, as well as the regional mailing lists and community journals. Maybe even consider starting your own.
If you go that route, you may find the advice here and here helpful. Though they’re written for the BDSM community rather than from an otherkin perspective, many of the same concerns apply. These two articles might also be useful for those considering going to a meetup for the first time. Again, they’re written for the BDSM community rather than from an otherkin perspective, but many of the answers would remain the same. And I’ve written my own guide for members of the otherkin, therian, and real-vampire communities, which attempts to cover both perspectives.
If you’d like others in your local area to find you, you may also want to create a profile in Dreamhart.org’s Otherkin Directory.
A Gathering Echo: Annual Texas Based Gather in September.
Summer Gateways: Annual Texas Based Gather in May.
A more comprehensive listing may be found here.
Face to Face
This section is here as a caution. Just because someone is otherkin doesn’t mean they are nice. Just because you remember them from past lives doesn’t mean you know what they’re like in this one. If you decide to meet with an otherkin you met online, or even at a public meetup or gather, please plan for your safety. To the best of my knowledge there are no otherkin-specific articles that have yet been written on this subject but I highly recommend two articles from the BDSM community on the subject of safety when meeting people offline that can be found here and here. The vampire community has also written a good guide here.
Any advice for someone new to the community?
Use discretion when discussing your Otherness.
Basically, don’t shout that you’re otherkin from the rooftops. Your mundane family, and you, may be a lot happier if they don’t know you’re a dragon than if they do. Your coworkers? They probably don’t want to hear about your past life as an elven princess. Same with your classmates, teachers, friends, etc… they don’t necessarily need to know about this aspect of your life. Pick and choose who you tell carefully. Be sure it’s someone who will react well, and be sure you have a solid reason for telling them.
In the same vein, don’t run around online announcing your otherness in non-otherkin venues. The nice people over on wicca.com would probably like to talk about Wicca and not about how you’re one of the Tuatha de Danaan. And people in places like GaiaOnline would probably like to just play their game and not be bothered with other members spiritual beliefs. Would you like to hear the Christian players proselytizing? It’s not nice to non-consensually involve bystanders in your spirituality.
Last, steer clear of the media. I can’t emphasize this enough, steer clear of the media. I don’t care how sympathetic and understanding the reporter sounds, or how big a chance it is to finally get our side of the story told, it *never* actually works out that way. You will get manipulated, you will get misquoted, and the otherkin community will be treated in a manner that is sensationalist rather than serious. Just say no when it comes to participating in any form of media on the basis of your Otherness. And that goes triple for “Reality TV” of any kind. That said, if you absolutely positively cannot avoid giving an interview, here’s some advice on do’s and dont’s from the vampire community, the pagan community, and even the furry community.
You’re still allowed to apply critical thinking.
Finding out you’re otherkin is a pretty jarring experience for one’s worldview. If you never believed in the existence of dragons, it can be a shock to learn that you are one. Because of this, many otherkin completely abandon what they consider to be a mundane worldview in favor of a new, magical one. And sadly, this often means leaving science and rationality at the door.
Because of this, and exacerbated by a general tendency towards being accepting of everyone’s beliefs, there’s a high level of bullshit floating around the otherkin community. I could spend a lot of time listing what I consider to be examples of this but frankly that’s outside the scope of this FAQ. Instead, I’ll just suggest that you not be afraid to apply reason and critical thinking to your own beliefs. See if what you believe or remember is both internally consistent and reasonably consistent with what we know about external reality. Also don’t be afraid to challenge people on the claims they make. Extraordinary claims, such as physical shapeshifting or being an undead/immortal vampire, require extraordinary evidence. Being otherkin doesn’t mean you have to be so open-minded your brains fall out.
Don’t share everything you know about yourself.
Holding some information back is a great way to verify what other people tell you. If you’re comparing past-life memories with someone, hold a few details back. Specific things that you will never share in a public setting. Then, when talking with others who claim to remember the same things, see if they volunteer any of the things you’ve held back without prompting.
Similarly, hold some information back about what you know of your astral form. Then, if someone else takes a look to “verify” things, you can see if they mention the parts you’ve held back and have a much clearer idea of whether they’re really looking at you astrally, or just telling you what you want to hear.
This technique is useful for external verification in many esoteric/spiritual contexts.
Don’t forget about safety.
The community isn’t all fun and games. Like any online community, there are those who are out to manipulate you. To use you. To hurt you. It’s up to you to make sure they don’t get that chance. Mostly, common sense is all you need here but some specific advice can be found in my own articles Warning Signs and Abusive Situations, as well as a vampire community article titled Social Predators, and a vampire community article titled Sociopaths. If you’re planning to join an organization you may also want to evaluate it with the Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame, though the frame is subjective and with many cults you may not have the information to effectively evaluate it until you’re already a member. Another good article on joining groups can be found here.
There were also a few articles linked to in the Face to Face section of this FAQ, on the specific safety concerns that apply when meeting someone from online face to face so you may want to go back and read them if you haven’t already.
It’s also important to stay safe in terms of your health. If you’re having unusual physical symptoms, check with a doctor first before deciding it has a spiritual or metaphysical cause. Not everything is connected with being otherkin. SphynxCat has a very good overview of various health issues and medical concerns for members of the vampire community here, and she also has a good section on safety when feeding on blood here. And links to more information which can be found elsewhere.
Don’t set out to change the world (or the community).
It’s natural to want to contribute, to make a difference. I think everyone feels that way. But if you’re just starting out in the community, you’re probably not in a position to do much to help others. If you have existing areas of expertise, feel free to use them, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’ve become an instant expert on otherkin because you happen to be one. Don’t start out trying to create massive community projects, organizations, or the like. Get involved with the ones that are already out there. See what you can add to them by just providing a fresh perspective and another set of eyes. You’ll be a lot more effective that way, and you’ll build credibility with those who are paying attention. And when the time comes for you to give back to the community, and start your own projects and groups, they’ll be much more likely to support you in turn.
Another essay of mine which deals with this topic can be found here.
Don’t let it go to your head.
You’re not immortal. You’re not royalty in this life. You’re not even special, just because you’re otherkin. You’re just different. So don’t let it go to your head. Don’t fall into fantasies about some future date when the veil will fall, magic will become real, and there will be a war between humans and otherkin. Don’t fall into delusions of constant astral battles. Don’t mistake fantasy and wish-fulfillment for resonance. In short? Otherkin are just as human as everyone else. Hold onto that, it keeps you grounded.
It’s worth it.
There are many things about being otherkin, and about being part of the otherkin community, that will drive you crazy. There’ll be days when you wake up and you’ll wish you’d never heard of otherkin, wish you were normal, wish you could just forget about it all. But if you are otherkin, and you hang in there and find those you resonate deeply with, those who really understand you, those you may have known in other lives. If you can find those you can consider your spiritual family, in this life. Then, I promise, it’ll all have been worth it. I know it has been for me.