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December 9th, 2006

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02:54 pm - Otherkin and other personal paths
This post originally appeared as a response to this article about being otherkin by teriel, but I was sufficiently impressed with it that I decided to post it here in a slightly revised form.

The otherkin community is a community defined almost exclusively by personal identity - to be otherkin, you need to have a certain identity, so the focus on identity makes sense for the community as a whole. However, it is also limiting, in the sense that no one has yet defined what you do with being otherkin. Then again, this is the exact same problem faced by all manner non-religiously focused magically oriented personal paths, where the answer of what does one do with magic can also loom large. Regardless of whether one is a ceremonial magician, a neo-shaman, a solitary Buddhist or yoga practitioner seeking personal enlightenment through meditation, or whatever, the goal of all these personal paths is very similar, and perhaps identical to that of being otherkin gaining self-knowledge and ultimately wisdom. For many, being otherkin stops at the declaration of identity and never goes any further. However, there are plenty of ceremonial magicians, Buddhists, and people on many similar paths who find themselves in exactly the same place - their personal journey to self-discovery results in them walking in aimless and pointless circles. However, I have also met both neo-shamans, ceremonial magicians, and otherkin who have gained serious wisdom and self-understanding from their journey.

However, even for such people there remains a more complex problem with all such endeavors. What does one do with enlightenment, self-knowledge (or however one wishes to term the goal) once it has been obtained? Ceremonial magicians perform various rituals to climb the tree of life and gain wisdom and enlightenment, neo-shamans take grand astral journeys to gain access to meet spirits and learn the secret truths of their realm, Buddhists meditate and seek various forms of enlightenment, and someone who is otherkin learns to understand their identity and (if they have them) to access their memories of their other existence. However, with all of these paths, there remains the burning question of what next.

The Buddhist answer to this same question is simple - live your life with greater understanding and mindfulness. Perhaps that's the only good answer, I don't know. However, it certainly feels rather unsatisfactory to most Westerners, which is clearly one of the reason that so many novices in all of these paths end up giving into what I can only describe as self-delusion, and imagining grand supernatural wars or conspiracies, in which they are destined to play a pivotal roll. Most of us Westerners want our understanding to mean something, to have it be for something, and this lack is often frustrating.

However, being otherkin has one other problem. It is quite new compared to ceremonial magic, neo-shamanism, and the various other personal paths I know of. As a result, the road to self-knowledge is often considerably less clear. That path to self-understanding as a ceremonial magician, neo-shaman, or whatever similar form of magical practitioner one is, is often at least somewhat obvious, if also typically very far from easy. The practitioner must perform a variety of often-difficult rituals to attain various sorts of wisdom and then use this knowledge to gain further insight - working one's way up the Kabbalistic tree of life is one of the most obvious examples of this type of practice. In contrast, the road is far less well marked for otherkin. Here, instead of various rituals or journeys, one if left with (at best) vague and unsatisfying instructions about accessing one's memories, or (at worst) ludicrous series of checklists or on-line quizzes to supposedly "help" one determine what sort of non-human being one is.

I was exceptionally fortunate, in that the early stages of my becoming otherkin was part of a formal magical path, which included definitive rituals and culminated in an exceptionally powerful initiation. However, after that initial bonding, I was also left rather at sea. In any case, I have no idea what we should do with self-discovery (if anything) but it does seem like the otherkin community could greatly benefit from something resembling a more clear, and also a more demanding set of techniques for gaining self-knowledge.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

(3 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2006 11:54 pm (UTC)
Sometimes maybe people like the familiarity of their well-worn circle... pointlessness and progress are relative terms. To each her own.

I don't really get otherkin-ness for myself... I can understand the appeal to other people, maybe.
[User Picture]
Date:December 10th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC)
I think that, for me, the purpose of any such identity or path is knowing one's place, and to a large extent, the exploration is a subjective, personal experience that goes hand in hand with a social experience, with growing up, as it were. The points of attachment and meaning, I think, are the same for both spiritual and social growth--connection, to one's self and one's environment or community, however you define either space, be it a familiar circle and subculture or a wider space. Or even the internet. :) (Yes, this sounds general, but, it is that general, I think.)

When you know yourself, get "enlightened" (heh, however that happens), you know your relationship to yourself and your external systems, and then you can choose your place or purpose. I do think that "purpose", however, is a form of priesthood, a form of connection and service. Now, I am not talking about martyrdom, or being some sort of activist--though that may be how it manifests--but that you find whatever it is you do that gives you connection to people, to others in the communities around you.

We're all connected on many levels. Coming into oneself and power is both learning and chosing the means of connection, how one betters it/uses it, etc. I think that anyone who claims "enlightenment" and is not aware or fostering the connections around them to others is sitting on their bums, as it were, and I question the good or even truth of whatever "wisdom" they claim to have. I am, again, not mocking personal gnosis--but, and this may be what Taylor was getting at--how does it work for you, for your identity? What do you find for yourself and the connections around you?

For me, I have found this also comes back to connections of the heart--what do you do for the hearts, for the people around you? What good, even if it's only caring for your lovers, do you do?

That's my .02, and probably not articulated as clearly as I'd wish, so sorry for crazy generalist confusion.
[User Picture]
Date:December 10th, 2006 09:13 am (UTC)
You have made many good points about the otherkin community. However, if you were to look closely at the angelkin community. You will find many kin with not only a well established otherkin/angelkin identity, but a purpose and an application of that to their present and future. To use myself as an example, I am a christian angel who is in direct contact with my deity (the christian God). He has explained to me what kind of angel I am ( a guide) and why I was sent back from heaven. What my purpose is on this earth. And In many instnaces, how to do my "job". So this "angelkin thing" is not just a hobby or a fun thing to think about or a new dimension to add to my ever-evolving identity. It is an active part of my life. It brings me wisdom, keowlege, awareness, faith, etc. So my angelkin self is active in my life every day. I have charges I'm resposible for guiding and protecting. I have duties and responsibillities.

So, there otherkin out there who HAVE found their otherkin self to be active in their life today. You just need to know hwere to look in order to find them.

Violin Goddess

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