Note: I’m going away for the long weekend, so here’s something nice and contentious to tide you over until I return. Feel free to comment, I’ll reply when I get back.
I have to admit, this is a topic I’ve never really had cause to consider. To me, shapeshifting is a shamanic practice associated with alternate states of consciousness, and more to do with aspecting than actual physical transformation. And most of the “otherkin” that I’ve ever encountered have been attention-seeking at best, histrionic and delusional at worst.
However, I’ve been giving it some thought lately, and I’ve come to a conclusion; I find the whole thing kind of irrelevant.
To me, to be able to decide that you’re different to everyone else because you’re spiritually/in part a non-human animal, you have to establish a dichotomy between the soul/spirit of non-human and human animals. That is, you believe that humans have “human” souls, and all other animals (wolf, horse, whatever) have “non-human” or “animal” souls. I find this idea preposterous, and based largely on social conditioning, which insists on separating the two.
I’m willing to acknowledge this is largely based on my “all animals – human and non-human – are created equal” vegan view. But from a spiritual perspective, it seems rather absurd to constrain the soul to one set species. So, what, if you are a “human” soul, you can never be incarnated as anything else? That seems pretty limiting. It also seems to me that it contributes to the idea that humans are the only ones with “real” souls, that is, sentient and evolving ones. Which is, as anyone who shares a close bond with any animal knows, rather absurd.
Personally, I think that a soul is a soul is a soul. I don’t think your core essence, your very spiritual being, has a defined species. I think it’s so far beyond that limited comprehension that the very idea is laughable. Placing human constraints on such an intangible, ephemeral concept is like trying to put the time/space continuum in a shoebox.
Which brings me to wonder why people try and make this definition. Honestly, I’m still fairly convinced that people who wander around saying they’re a wolf-soul in a human body are either very inarticulate (do you mean to say that you have many inherent characteristics that are associated with the wolf’s mystical stereotype?), or just looking for attention and a way to be special little flowers. Also, the whole “I’m a vampire/dragon/unicorn” thing is rather… interesting. Is it an attempt at being extra-“special”? If they took a realistic “they were real creatures that are now extinct” line, I’d perhaps be more willing to entertain the idea, but when their conception is based entirely on Eragon/Twilight, I’m just going to laugh. A lot of people also try and use it as some kind of exclusive little club, to prove their “superiority”, which is both annoying and pathetic.
As to the idea of “otherkin” as being people descended from the Fae, I’m more willing to entertain this idea; I think it’s potentially possible. It’d be interesting if they ever actually proved any of the powers they claim to hold (interestingly, I know a lot more people with freaky abilities who don’t claim to be anything more than human), or had any evidence whatsoever of this lineage. Old family stories (not “My dead grandmother told me this, but no-one else ever heard the rumour, only ME.”), interesting family genealogies, hell, anything more than “My ancestors were totally Celts, therefore I’m part Fae” would be nice. I’m yet to see it happen.
No doubt this view is contentious, but if you have any evidence to the contrary, please let me know, I’d love to hear it.