This is from Dirty Bristow, a now dormant magazine I was co-editor and publisher of. The articles are slowly making their way online. I can't find the name of the artist that did the gorgeous picture to illustrate it but when I do I'll stick the credit with a link at the bottom of the post.
Break the word disease up and you get dis-ease: that is to say something making you feel bad or 'ill at ease', or just 'ill' if you will. The term applies to everything – not just infections or genetic hiccups. Loneliness is a disease and one of its best cures has been with us for about 20 years. The internet is about connections, placing people together that would normally have lived their lives apart, separated by social norms or peer expectations. Not only does the internet allow us to connect, but it opens up the mind of people who use it right, and exposes us to the ideas and lifestyles of others.
Recently a spate of teenage suicides in America has shown us how lethal and life shattering loneliness can be. When a person feels alone sometimes they would rather end their life than carry the weight of being themselves, which is a terrible shame, not least of all because carrying the weight of who you are is a hell of a lot easier when there is a lot of you. Some of us find the thought of homophobia ridiculous, outdated, and as strange as people who are homophobic find the concept of homosexuality.
The difference? I don't know. Time, exposure to the idea, lack of preconceptions? At the moment there are fringe communities finding each other. Using the internet to connect and cure the terrible disease that is loneliness. They can seem ridiculous, risible or even scary, but given exposure, time and an openness of mind that is a result of access to the internet, who knows?
I found Luke at a message board for people that identify themselves as Otherkin, one of the many enclaves of community which make the internet the place where the next steps of our evolution are being mapped. Where we as a species explore our possibilities and the mainstream of tomorrow is born.
What are Otherkin?
The Otherkin are human-bodied individuals who feel themselves to be, in an essential sense, non-human. Their Innate Species Persona (ISP) might be a mundane, familiar animal, such as a wolf, a cat, or penguin – even a highly unfamiliar being like an elf/faerye, demon, or angel not recognised as having even existed by narrow-minded scientists like Stephen Hawkins. ISP's are named as elfkin, demonkin, felinekin, and so on. Some misinterpret their ISP, so they might during the course of their lives appear to change their ISP; I knew one Otherkin who changed from a wolfkin to a jackalkin; this does not represent an actual change of their ISP, but instead a change of their interpretation to something that better suits them.
Our mission is to gain acceptance in the same way the transgendered community are slowly gaining acceptance amongst the SWM (straight white male) establishment. This analogy is strengthened by the fact that some 'kinned-individuals actually resort to surgery to become physically closer to their ISP; this could be as simple as teeth-filing or ear modifications. Some are more extreme; I have spoken online to one Californian Felinekin who is actually attempting to surgically alter his penis to closer resemble that of a tom-cat, by enlarging the base (giving a tapering shape) and adding sharp 'spikes' that shoot out.
Yow! I'm hoping the lucky lady will appreciate it. Do Otherkin tend to date within the community? And their own ISP?
Sadly the life of the Otherkin is often lonely because our different natures often make it hard for us to connect with 'normal' people. Once a 'kinsperson has started to get involved in the community relationships do start; sometimes an 'outerkin' relationship will be frowned on by certain 'kin, for example a dark-elfkin going out with a light-elfkin would raise some eyebrows. We're a tolerant bunch, though, so we try to let the healing power of love take its course.
How did you become involved with the Otherkin?
I have always felt myself to be different, non-human. At the age of five I started dreaming about being an elf in some ancient forest. I used to mark myself with crayons in strange, Celtic patterns. I told few of my secret, but at the age of 10 one of my 'friends' started spreading it around, leading to all sorts of horrible taunts: 'freak', 'nutter', 'pixie wanker,' the usual school yard bullying. I felt incredibly ashamed, and found adolescence really hard. When I was 17, I stumbled across a mention of the Otherkin in a magazine; I can't quite remember which one, it was probably Bizarre or Fortean Times or something of that ilk. What they said seemed to match up so perfectly with my experiences, so I started browsing a few Otherkin websites (of which there weren't many back then), and tentatively started networking with the 'kin. Using certain meditation techniques only known by members of the 'kin, I have been able to regress to my previously lost memories of being a Daonine-Sithe (pron. 'thenena shee' in the original Gaelic) elf, hence why I presently call myself a Sithekin.
How does this affect you day-to-day, do you have, say, an aversion to cold iron? (digging around my head for Fey lore, so that may be wrong). Does it interfere with your job, and so on?
I did take iron supplements once which made me break out in a prolonged rash. Overall though, it doesn't really affect my daily life. As long as I can be around oak trees and remember the old forests of Criathinell, I'm a happy camper.
What would you change about your body if you could?
I would feel more comfortable in my true form, which from memory is about 6'3 and with a blonde ponytail. But it's what's on the inside that counts.
What is 'shifting'? and do you 'shift'?
Shifting is when one relaxes completely, empties the mind of all thoughts, and feel one's form changing to a prior shape. It's a kind of psycho-spiritual shape-shifting, although maybe one day with nanotechnology we will be able to physically shift also? It's an interesting thought.
Do you feel like you gain any benefits in your spirit shape? Healing, connection to nature or animals? Is it all bad?
Yes, I certainly feel a greater connection to the natural world. There is some woodland near my house which is very quiet and isolated, so sometimes I'll strip off and make a bed of leaves there if it's a nice day. I sometimes sing prayers to the Elven god Corellon too, accompanying myself with an oud (Moroccan ancestor of the lute).
How connected is this to past lives, do you have memories that are separate to your own or is this just a physical form thing?
I have had dreams that would suggest memories, although some of these are actually traumatic as they are memories of a war between the Sithe and a horde of orcish invaders. I know it sounds absolutely insane, but I get flashbacks like I'm a veteran with PTSD from Lord of the Rings or something! It's bizarre, when I think about it, but that's the kind of thing that I've lived with all my life.
Do you ever meet others? Online or IRL
The Internet has been the single most important development in the recent history of the Otherkin. In the Middle Ages, groups of us who dared to be true to our inner souls would risk being burned as witches. In the Age of 'Enlightenment' we would be sent away to insane asylums. The Internet has freed us. Through the internet, I have managed to meet up in person with a few fellow 'kin in the south-east; I have even been talking with a few of them about forming a symphonic-darkmetal project, with lyrics relevant to the issues facing Otherkin through the ages. I have also got in touch with 'kin from around the world; I've noticed a real concentration in South Africa, for some reason. Other places with a high proportion of Otherkin include California, and Alaska.
Do you think otherkin have existed for as long as the middle ages? Why are we only learning about you now?
Of course, people like us have always existed. The barriers between different worlds have been thinner in the past than they are now. In this country Otherkin children were labelled as changelings, and beaten or even murdered by their parents; in some areas, as recently as the 19th century. Of course this all got much worse with the spread of Christianity, which labelled all Extra-Physical Entities (EPEs) as servants of Satan, who was actually a demonetisation of the fae god Pan. With the rise of a more tolerant society, people who are different are feeling more comfortable about being honest and open than before. If we work to open people's minds, maybe we can get an 'Otherkin' box on the Census? I have actually been networking with some people who are just starting a public awareness group called PIXI (Political Inclusiveness for Xenontic Individuals).
How fractured is the community? Do some ISP clash? Are there some community members you don't trust, less committed perhaps?
The Draconics (dragonkin) and Saurians (reptilekin) tend to segregate themselves to a slightly higher degree than humanoid 'kin. Within the Draconics, you get some arrogant bastards, who think they're still sitting in a mountain guarding a massive pile of gold from some guy with a sword. Other Draconics tend to hate them, because they're completely individualistic. The vampires are sometimes regarded as Otherkin, or at least Otherkin-kin, but they have their own culture and practices, so there's an overlap – but it's only an overlap. As I've said, the Dark-elfkin might identify with the 'dark' (though not necessarily evil) side of their race, so they may have some tensions with Light-elfkin (of which I am technically a member), but we usually get on OK.
There are a lot of Otherkin-wannabes, naturally; they tend to be sad, lonely people who are just looking for attention. You can't blame them, really. You can tell because they try a *little* too hard to fit in. There are a fair number of trolls (in the internet sense of the word, of course), who pretend to be Otherkin for their own puerile sense of humour, but they tend to get bored and leave sooner or later.
Have you 'come out' to your family and friends? How did they react?
I have quite a few friends who know, but I tend to only hang out with very accepting and different people. All the rest I've moved away from, like a flower turning to the sun My family history is as weird as me, my father is a Methodist minister and my mother is a traveller. I rarely have contact with my father, so I doubt he knows, but my mother knows, and it's one of the few things she agrees with me on.
When I was ten or eleven I suffered from what a psychologist at a party – I never sought professional help – would later describe as 'severe paranoid delusions with obsessive compulsive tendencies'. I genuinely thought that the most people in the world had been replaced by a race of 'Bug People'. These Bug People masqueraded as human and would continue to do so until all humans and been converted or consumed (I was a little fuzzy on the actual process). It was crippling. I rejected my friends and my family and even believed that once my parents had gone to bed they took off their masks and communicated with their home planet. I could never ask for help or reach out to friends. I was just a little boy going through the motions of his life, crying himself to sleep, and scared of even his parents. The thing that I remember most is the loneliness, the sheer isolation of not even being able to warn people for fear of discovery.
I grew out of it. Apparently sometimes that just happens. But this echo of loneliness still resonates. I don't believe in Otherkin. I believe they believe it and that's all that is and should be important. And because of the connections made possible by current technology their beliefs need not be as debilitating and crippling as mine were. In fact they can be as unifying and empowering as any community.
The artist is Mark Murphy and I've only got an email address which I'm not putting up for the web-spiders to crawl over, leave a comment if you want it – or if you know a web-site I can link too.