My question is very hard for me to phrase and hard to ask as well. I want to preface this by saying that I don't want to offend you Papabear, or anyone else who may read this. I don't know if I am a furry or not. I don't have any desire to dress like an animal, but there is a very definite part of me that wishes I was anything but human. I want to be something else. I'm drawn to certain animals as well. Does that make me a furry?
Anonymous (age 19)
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I am not at all offended and not really sure why you think I would be, but I’m not, and I doubt anyone else is.
You do not have to “dress like an animal” to be a furry. That’s just fursuiting, and only 1 in 5 furries does it. The center of your question, then, is really “what is a furry and am I one?” Well, furry is a lot of things, but essentially it is someone who enjoys anthropomorphized animals in fiction, movies, comics, and sometimes performance arts.
What you are describing is the feeling that you don’t really belong among humans and are, inside, perhaps another animal. This falls more under the description of “Therian,” or “Therianthrope,” than furry. Now, a lot of Therians participate in the furry fandom, but being a Therian is different from being strictly a furry.
There is some debate at times as to the strict definition of Therian. Some take it to the extent of the belief in things like lycanthropy in which the body can actually physically change into an animal, but most Therians I’ve come across simply believe that they harbor the spirit of an animal of some kind within them. Many Therians, therefore, believe they can experience either an astral-shift in form (their astral bodies become their inner animal spirit; this might also be called a dream-shift) or an aural-shift in which their auras become those of an animal (you’d have to be able to perceive auras to see this shift). There is also what is known as a phantom-shift. This is when you feel like part of you or all of you is an animal but you can see that physically there is no shift (sort of analogous to the phantom pain that some amputees feel in which they feel like they still have a limb that has been removed.)
Note that Therians should be distinguished from Otherkin, who are people that feel they are in some way associated with beings we would consider mythical but that might be from parallel worlds, such as dragons, faeries, elves, demons, and the like.
There are also people like me who, while I don’t believe I shift in any physical or spiritual way, feel a strong spiritual connection to an animal (in my case, bear) and believe that this animal becomes a spirit guide and influences our lives.
Many Native Americans and other cultures that follow shamanistic beliefs feel that animals have a very important influence in our lives. My teacher, Blackbear, has introduced me to the concept of the Medicine Wheel, and how my bear spirit dominates the Western part of that wheel (I have not yet discovered the other spirit animals that may be influencing me).
You say that you are drawn toward certain animals. This is something you should try to explore in order to find your spirit animal (either guide or inner spirit) or animals. You can learn more at sites such as http://therianthropes.com/therians.htm and http://www.werespace.net/. I also found this rather good introduction to Therianthropy: http://www.tygerwolfe.com/writing/essays/how-to-tell-if-youre-a-therian-by-redfeather-falconhawk/. And this is a short introduction to power animals on the Medicine Wheel: http://www.pathofthefeather.com./index.html.
So, long answer short, I would say you are a Therian. You may certainly feel free to participate in the furry fandom as many Therians do, but it would be worth your while to find out more about Therianthropy and your spiritual connection to animals.
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