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Signs of the Times
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Jarandhel Dreamsinger
Arlington, VA

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Wednesday, 4th August, 2010 - 10:04 am
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Some posts I just saw on a major otherkin forum really drove home to me how much the community has changed in the time I've been here.  A moderator there said that he doesn't believe in anything metaphysical.  Not souls, not reincarnation, nothing.  He believes past lives to be your mind playing tricks on you. He sees otherkin as purely psychological, and does not consider himself one.  He just considers otherkinity to be a psychological phenomenon where people do not identify with their own species, but instead identify with another one… in the case of mythicals, a “fictional” species.

I don't think I've ever seen skepticism taken to that degree by the moderator of any otherkin forum.  I can't even fathom what would draw someone to moderate an otherkin forum if that's what they believe… that otherkinness is at best a coping mechanism and at worse outright mental illness.  Morbid curiosity?  The chance to observe an entire community of case studies in abnormal psych?  I don't get it.

And what really gets me is that the statements weren't even received by the other members of the forum as especially controversial…

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Jarandhel Dreamsinger
Arlington, VA

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Thursday, 5th August, 2010 - 8:46 am
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Could be. *shrugs* Personally, I'm extremely opinionated, but if someone disagrees with me and has a valid argument I want to hear it.

It doesn't look like a short phase, though… he's been expressing this opinion pretty consistently since at least March 2009.  That's as far back as the board logs currently go, apparently they had a forum reset for technical reasons around that time, but he's been a mod there for a number of years.  

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Jarandhel Dreamsinger
Arlington, VA

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Thursday, 5th August, 2010 - 3:20 pm
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Oh, no, it definitely doesn't reflect what everyone believes.  It's just illustrative of a rather dramatic shift in the community when forum mods hold such beliefs, don't even consider themselves otherkin, and nobody bats an eye at it.  I don't know that it needs fighting, it's really no skin off my back what he believes, but I wonder how it affects the overall dialog taking place on those forums when that's the headspace that at least one of the mods is coming from.  There have always been otherkin, even some prominent moderators, who explore the possibility of otherkin being psychologically based… but normally they at least consider themselves otherkin too.

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Archer
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Thursday, 5th August, 2010 - 10:22 pm
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If you're thinking of the same person as I am, he used to consider himself otherkin, but eventually came to the conclusion that his experiences could be better explained with psychological models.

 

The community in general has taken a massive step away from credulity over the seven years that I've been active. When I started, it seemed like absolutely everything that anyone experienced could and should be explained in otherkin means, that the most dramatic possible explanation was always the correct one, and that (my personal favourite) a world-ending war with shadow people was starting any time now.

 

I'd say this is just the current downswing.

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Jarandhel Dreamsinger
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Saturday, 7th August, 2010 - 12:29 pm
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*shrugs* Not sure if it's the same person you're thinking of or not.  But he's definitely not the only one I've seen expressing the sentiment.  On a dragon forum recently, I've seen the admin state that there's no such thing as otherkin, it's a made up concept, and she doesn't know how she could have ever been so blind as to believe she had the soul of something that never existed; we're humans and that's all.  Another comod echoed the sentiment that the concept of otherkin is deluded and destructive, though he believed that dragons exist or existed.

I don't thing this is just a downswing or a step away from credulity.  It seems to be less about skepticism and more about cynicism.  At one point, when discussion of “Awakening” was still common in the community, threads like these would have been seen as indicative of people “going back to sleep”.  And it seems to be more and more common.

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Arethinn
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Saturday, 7th August, 2010 - 4:35 pm
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Obviously I’m not going to tell anyone what they can or can’t think about what kind of phenomenon “otherkinism” really is, but I find the position/attitude you describe in the top post just boggling. My experience of being otherkin is so tied up with magic and myth and whatnot that I find myself feeling a bit out of place in today’s community. It used to be something we could all be pretty much sure we shared – whatever our individual origins or theories, most of us were into being majik (an affected spelling I still prefer to denote this particular kind of fey/glamour/wonderment/weaving that somehow even made sense for types you wouldn’t normally pin those terms on, like dragons).

This has been kind of a difficulty for me at MythiCalia – my experiences with Thresholds involved a kind of common ground of mystical experience (even with personal differences) and the few folks who where at MythiCalia last year were essentially non-energy-workers. Also I’m the only humanoid besides Cel, whereas Thresholds and Dancing were full of elven and fae types is my recollection: Shiari is a shinoar which is vaguely like a dragon, but not; and then there was another actual dragon and two therians, a wolf and a leopard or something I think. I have no problem with therians attending, but I can’t cater to their interests, and they seem usually to come from a much different worldview than otherkin “proper”.

So anyway, one thing and another rather puts a damper on my attempts and assumptions that magical activities are the best thing to do. It’s what I want to do myself, even yearn to – but it falls flat when no one else knows or has personal experience or desire of the kinds of things I am talking about. I start to sympathize with the FAE folks who wanted another term for themselves besides “otherkin” because they felt that if otherkin could cover non-magical/mythical paradigms and etc. other things that bothered them, then they would cease to use the term.

I’ve idly considered trying to make a community somewhere which does specify itself as a place for the majikally-minded, but I’m not sure it would fly. New communities have a hard time getting off the ground and I doubt I could attract many of the “old crowd” who seemingly have all grown disillusioned and in some cases seem to have abandoned the idea altogether, or at least gone far underground/private with their interactions.

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Jarandhel Dreamsinger
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Saturday, 7th August, 2010 - 6:18 pm
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Arethinn said:

Obviously I'm not going to tell anyone what they can or can't think about what kind of phenomenon “otherkinism” really is, but I find the position/attitude you describe in the top post just boggling. My experience of being otherkin is so tied up with magic and myth and whatnot that I find myself feeling a bit out of place in today's community. It used to be something we could all be pretty much sure we shared – whatever our individual origins or theories, most of us were into being majik (an affected spelling I still prefer to denote this particular kind of fey/glamour/wonderment/weaving that somehow even made sense for types you wouldn't normally pin those terms on, like dragons).

I'm sort of in the same place about it.  But then, I also boggle at the people who either don't have or don't care about past life memories in connection with being otherkin.  For me, exploring the history and culture that we can remember is central to being otherkin.  It's what lets me know that I was/am Aloryan, for instance, rather than Generic-Brand Elf, and lets me understand what that means.  Without that, I feel like it's very easy to fall into just working with elf as an archetype… or worse, a stereotype… which seems more like a totemic relationship than what it means to be Other.

This has been kind of a difficulty for me at MythiCalia – my experiences with Thresholds involved a kind of common ground of mystical experience (even with personal differences) and the few folks who where at MythiCalia last year were essentially non-energy-workers. Also I'm the only humanoid besides Cel, whereas Thresholds and Dancing were full of elven and fae types is my recollection: Shiari is a shinoar which is vaguely like a dragon, but not; and then there was another actual dragon and two therians, a wolf and a leopard or something I think. I have no problem with therians attending, but I can't cater to their interests, and they seem usually to come from a much different worldview than otherkin “proper”.

Less so, these days.  If anything, I'd say the mindset in the otherkin community is shifting to be more like that of the therian community.  It's fairly common there to consider it all mental, from what I understand.  

So anyway, one thing and another rather puts a damper on my attempts and assumptions that magical activities are the best thing to do. It's what I want to do myself, even yearn to – but it falls flat when no one else knows or has personal experience or desire of the kinds of things I am talking about. I start to sympathize with the FAE folks who wanted another term for themselves besides “otherkin” because they felt that if otherkin could cover non-magical/mythical paradigms and etc. other things that bothered them, then they would cease to use the term.

Yeah, I think FAE proved that trying to come up with a new term and get people in the community to use it never ever works.  

I've idly considered trying to make a community somewhere which does specify itself as a place for the majikally-minded, but I'm not sure it would fly. New communities have a hard time getting off the ground and I doubt I could attract many of the “old crowd” who seemingly have all grown disillusioned and in some cases seem to have abandoned the idea altogether, or at least gone far underground/private with their interactions.

Well, I'm hoping to attract a bunch of the old guard here myself… it might not be exclusively for the magically-minded, but there's definitely a strong focus on magic here and I don't see that changing as long as I'm the admin.  And so far, for a new forum, I don't think it's doing too bad.  It's already attracted you, Casteylan, and Archer.  If you include the mailing lists, we've got a number of old-guard there too… Aine's still lurking on Wanderingpaths, Syl and Dan are on Vor'jenhunting (though her email account is bouncing so I'm not sure if she's still active), and Crisses just joined Candle Light.  Forget if there are any others at the moment.  I think fewer people have left the community for good than it sometimes seems like.  Sometimes they just need the right forum to present itself to speak up again.  And/or a good poke. wink

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Archer
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Saturday, 7th August, 2010 - 7:49 pm
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I don't consider the “this is all psychological, magic isn't real, past lives don't matter” crowd as negative in any way. In fact I think it's fairly vital to at least be aware of that position and why its held.

 

One of the first things I say to new people, when I speak to them, is that things that can easilly be explained by simple this-life causes probably should be. If someone has discovered after the appropriate amount of investigation that a psychological model is the most helpful for them, that's cool. And if that someone thinks that they can either learn from or teach people who have a different model for their experiences, that's cool too.

 

Boggling at people who have a psychological model doesn't make their point less valid; I think it's vital to engage it. (By which I mean, don't go and pick a fight with every person who thinks that . . . rather be aware of it as a valid explanation that could be useful to other people and yourself.)

 

What does irk me somewhat is the current “mix in” of people with psychological and spiritual explanations/models for their situation. “Otherkin”, as the term is currently used, pretty much refers to people who on some level consider themselves in some significant way to be non-human. That's fine, but I think there is a substantial difference between people who believe in (for want of a better word) a spiritual explanation for their non-human state, and people who believe in a spiritual one. Just as I believe there is a fundamental difference between people who are multiples because more than one person moved into their body, and people who are multiples because they experienced a trauma and their psyche split to protect itself.

 

As an analogy, encephalitis and a puck in the face with both give you a really bad headache, but they require different treatments.

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Jarandhel Dreamsinger
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Saturday, 7th August, 2010 - 8:25 pm
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Archer said:

I don't consider the “this is all psychological, magic isn't real, past lives don't matter” crowd as negative in any way. In fact I think it's fairly vital to at least be aware of that position and why its held.

That's the thing, though… the all psychological, magic isn't real, past lives don't matter crowd don't usually explain their position and why it's held any further than that.  They just state it as a fact, from what I've seen.  If they used to hold contradictory beliefs, they chalk it up to having grown out of their delusions.  I've never seen any discussion of the exploration that led them to that conclusion.

Even the non-psychological, magic is real, but past lives don't matter crowd doesn't really get into explaining their position beyond “we should be focusing on THIS life now” and occasional references to the pitfalls of discussing memories publicly: namely that someone else could take your memories and run with them to create a fake story.

Every once in a while, in both groups, you'll get someone trying to be scientifically minded who will start spouting off about the science of memory, how all memory is reconstructive, and pointing out the recovered memories/false memories phenomena that is credited with creating the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare of the 1980s-1990s.  They always leave out the fact, though, that the studies they cite refer to minor alterations in memory… claiming to have seen daffy duck at Disneyland, for instance… rather than wholesale fabricated events like remembering being to Disneyland when you've never been to Disneyland before.  Most also involve having been prompted to remember certain things, ie: “Do you remember seeing Daffy Duck at Disneyland?” rather than “What characters do you remember having seen at Disneyland”?  They also conveniently gloss over the fact that, while human memory is apparently reconstructive, in most cases that reconstruction functions pretty damned well.  Anyone who can remember their childhood with any degree of accuracy should realize that.  I still have poems memorized that I learned in fifth grade, and songs that I memorized even earlier.  

One of the first things I say to new people, when I speak to them, is that things that can easilly be explained by simple this-life causes probably should be. If someone has discovered after the appropriate amount of investigation that a psychological model is the most helpful for them, that's cool. And if that someone thinks that they can either learn from or teach people who have a different model for their experiences, that's cool too.

I agree with the first and second statements, completely.  I'm not sure about the last one though… in a number of cases, it seems like all they want to teach others who have a different model is that their model is wrong and the psychological model is right.

Boggling at people who have a psychological model doesn't make their point less valid; I think it's vital to engage it. (By which I mean, don't go and pick a fight with every person who thinks that . . . rather be aware of it as a valid explanation that could be useful to other people and yourself.)

I think most otherkin have been aware of the psychological explanation, but until recently most have rejected it because it simply doesn't fit their experiences adequately.  The shift, with mods and admins of various communities embracing it, is fairly new.  

What does irk me somewhat is the current “mix in” of people with psychological and spiritual explanations/models for their situation. “Otherkin”, as the term is currently used, pretty much refers to people who on some level consider themselves in some significant way to be non-human. That's fine, but I think there is a substantial difference between people who believe in (for want of a better word) a spiritual explanation for their non-human state, and people who believe in a spiritual one.

I agree, there's definitely a fundamental difference between people who believe in a psychological explanation and a spiritual one.  And it can be frustrating to try to maintain community forums with material relevant to both groups.  Add in the third group that thinks there's a biological/genetic explanation and it gets even harder.

Just as I believe there is a fundamental difference between people who are multiples because more than one person moved into their body, and people who are multiples because they experienced a trauma and their psyche split to protect itself.

While I'm sure there are differences between trauma-splits and non-trauma based multiple systems, I'd actually think they'd have more in common than psychological otherkin would have with spiritual otherkin.  I'd see the analogous comparison more between multiples and those who believe their soulbonds are just imaginary friends they've created.  It's a whole different model of what's happening, not just a different model of the initial cause.

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Arethinn
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Wednesday, 11th August, 2010 - 8:51 pm
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Jarandhel Dreamsinger said:

I'm sort of in the same place about it.  But then, I also boggle at the people who either don't have or don't care about past life memories in connection with being otherkin.

Don’t have, I can understand. They may be there, but unrecovered. Someone could be a “new” faery spirit (for example) which somehow got into a human body, so no other lives as such. (“Past” is not always the right term I think, although it’s convenient and easy to relate to with our current brains and time-perception habits.) Or as you mention, those who find it mental/psychological for them: for some reason their brain/psyche wants to have this form and operate in this way, without needing recourse to past lives. Have and don’t care about, well, I’d find that an odd combination (except in the sense that I “don’t care about” some of the inklings of memories I have that don’t seem to be strong enough to extract much meaning from, in other words, things I don’t identify with).

 For me, exploring the history and culture that we can remember is central to being otherkin. It's what lets me know that I was/am Aloryan, for instance, rather than Generic-Brand Elf, and lets me understand what that means.

*nods* I can understand that. But I can also understand can’t remember, or don’t particularly feel the need to devote much effort to remembering. The disassociation from magic/glamour/woo-woo stuff is more perplexing to me than disinterest in past life memories.

Yeah, I think FAE proved that trying to come up with a new term and get people in the community to use it never ever works.

I don’t really have a desire to disown “otherkin” – it seems to best express what I mean about myself, and it has history – but I do feel I now understand where those FAE folks were coming from.

Well, I'm hoping to attract a bunch of the old guard here myself…

I was pondering livejournal, but even the main otherkin community there doesn’t get a lot of action. In the case of that community, though, we(flarecarrot and I, the mods)’ve allowed it to be very catch-all, including not only non-magicals but non-otherkin, whoever: if you don’t make an ass of yourself, you can be a member. As such it is emphatically not “safe space” and I worry sometimes about things getting taken from there and put on any of the “stupid” or “stfu” or “snark” or “wank” communities there are around, and I can understand where Adnarel and Cassiel were coming from when they got upset at the way Cassiel was questioned when he joined, and they left in a bad mood. I’d rather have a place where something like that was less likely to happen.

Aine's still lurking on Wanderingpaths

Sidhelist still exists, but nothing’s happened there in a long time…

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Jarandhel Dreamsinger
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Arethinn said:

Don't have, I can understand. They may be there, but unrecovered. Someone could be a “new” faery spirit (for example) which somehow got into a human body, so no other lives as such. (“Past” is not always the right term I think, although it's convenient and easy to relate to with our current brains and time-perception habits.)

I can understand unrecovered.  The new faery spirit in a human body doesn't parse with my understanding of souls, personally… I'm not one of those who thinks that souls have a species as such.  My model of otherkin is more that specific lives we've lived have left an imprint in our souls.  

Or as you mention, those who find it mental/psychological for them: for some reason their brain/psyche wants to have this form and operate in this way, without needing recourse to past lives.

While I'm familiar with that model, it's not really one I understand… I don't think I could be part of a community if I really believed that the beliefs expressed by the community were indicative of mental illness.  

Have and don't care about, well, I'd find that an odd combination (except in the sense that I “don't care about” some of the inklings of memories I have that don't seem to be strong enough to extract much meaning from, in other words, things I don't identify with).

Generally the ones I hear this from claim that past lives don't matter, the lives we have here and now matter, and they're focusing on being Other now.  Personally, I think they've taken the idea of being functional in one's day to day life rather than focusing solely on past lives to the extreme, and have effectively cut out past lives altogether as a method of understanding their kinness (although some claim to still explore them in private in small groups they have known for years, generally after a great deal of drinking).  At the very least, this approach doesn't seem to give newly awakening otherkin much to connect with anymore.

*nods* I can understand that. But I can also understand can't remember, or don't particularly feel the need to devote much effort to remembering. The disassociation from magic/glamour/woo-woo stuff is more perplexing to me than disinterest in past life memories.

Can't remember, I kind of get (though I'm not sure I understand what would lead one to believe they're otherkin in the absence of any memories).  The disinterest just makes me boggle. From my perspective, it's more like they're approaching their otherkin nature as an archetype… again, the generic Elf… and relating to it totemically rather than truly identifying as being this particular elf of this-and-such culture from this-and-such world in this-and-such time period.  The dissociation from magic and other woo-woo stuff only makes me raise an eyebrow when we're talking about otherkin from traditionally magical cultures and worlds.  I wouldn't necessarily expect someone who was wolf-kin, from Earth, to automatically have any interest in or experience with magic.  Nor someone who came from a high-tech, low-magic world. Or even someone who came from a high-magic world but was not themselves a magic-user, either through lack of ability or lack of available training.

I was pondering livejournal, but even the main otherkin community there doesn't get a lot of action. In the case of that community, though, we(flarecarrot and I, the mods)'ve allowed it to be very catch-all, including not only non-magicals but non-otherkin, whoever: if you don't make an ass of yourself, you can be a member. As such it is emphatically not “safe space” and I worry sometimes about things getting taken from there and put on any of the “stupid” or “stfu” or “snark” or “wank” communities there are around, and I can understand where Adnarel and Cassiel were coming from when they got upset at the way Cassiel was questioned when he joined, and they left in a bad mood. I'd rather have a place where something like that was less likely to happen.

I don't think I know any of the Adnarel and Cassiel stuff.  I just joined Otherkin on LJ fairly recently… was glad to see you as one of the mods there these days.  I had a bad experience once with the former owner of that group and had stayed away from it.  (Nothing major, and sie may have just been having a bad day or something, just left me with a bad taste.)

Aine's still lurking on Wanderingpaths

Sidhelist still exists, but nothing's happened there in a long time…

Yeah… I think the Tuatha list has seen moderately more activity, if memory serves, though that's quiet at the moment too.  Trying to get Rhianna over here one of these days as well, but she's a bit busy these days.

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