Therianthropy FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is a were (therian)?
Spiritual therianthropy is a term used to describe the animal inside. Spiritual therianthropes, or weres (as in werebeast) for short, are not completely human. No, we cannot physically shift in the light of the full moon, but we do undergo a sort of "shift" which some refer to as an eclipse. We can feel the soul or spirit of an animal inside of us. It is not a separate being, but rather another fragment of our essence, what makes us whole. Most weresides have a name of their own, and for the purposes of explaining things are often said as being a different being, using "her" or "him" instead of "me." In my case, my wereside's name is Aurora, which also serves as my online handle. She(me) is what I think of as my true form, as in what I would look like if I were my wereside, or could physically shift. She is always there; she's my better half. She's the instinct and the drive for things I probably wouldn't care as much for if I were not a therianthrope. Some think of it as like having one soul, but it's split in two halves. She IS me. Some also think of it as having two souls in one body. Therianthropy is very personal, and there is no set definition.
Were is the classic term to describe therianthropy, but it is misleading. In the word werewolf (or werebeast) the prefix "were" actually means human. So technically all of us weres are calling ourselves humans, contradicting ourselves...unless you view it how I do. The word were has simply evolved into a different meaning. Besides, it's easier to say "I'm a were" than "I'm a spiritual therianthrope," though I usually shorten it and say "therian." It works, and serves it's purpose.
What is a phenotype?
What animal you are. I am a wolf phenotype, sadly the most common of all phenotypes. Wolves are by far not the only kind of therian. There are weres of almost every specie imaginable. Most of them just tend to be the canine variety (wolves, coyotes, foxes) or the feline variety (tigers, lions, leopards) etc. There are also weres whose phenotype (what animal they are) is not of this earth, like dragons, and gryphons, though some say these are not weres, but Otherkin.
What is a polywere?
Polyweres are something different indeed. These are people who have more than one phenotype. Many believe that most people who think them self to be a polywere actually have a very strong totem that feels like a wereside. Strong totems sometimes will incorporate themselves into your essence so much so that it's easily mistakable for another wereside. Anyone can have a totem, which also leads me to believe that maybe some people who claim to be weres are actually only feeling a totem in their body, mind, and soul. Perhaps that's why some are puzzled when they don't feel "wereish" anymore or for a long period of time. Totems tend to come when you need them, and leave when their work with you is done, but some stay for life. They are similar to spirit guides, but not the same. They like to have you experience the world from their point of view. Any animal can be a totem, just like any animal can be a therian's phenotype. There are some true polyweres out there, though I think they are rarer than most people think. They may or may not know who they are.
What makes therians different from normal people?
We ARE human, and I've run into so many therians online who are fooling themselves, it isn't healthy. We eat, sleep, crap, and die just like everyone else. Actually, it's what we feel inside that separates us from the rest of the world. We feel a wildness in our heart that can't really be explained without being cheapened by simple human words.
What makes someone therian?
Please see "Am I a therian? How to Tell" (coming soon)
What is eclipsing?
Eclipsing is another part of being a therian, to most anyway. Eclipsing is when your animal side and your human side shift in percentages. When I'm doing something where I need human judgment to make decisions, in school for example, my human percentage would be much greater than my wolf percentage. When I'm tracking or hunting in the forest, my wolf side comes forward and goes on the more instinctual level. I can never be 100% human or 100% wolf. I just wouldn't be a therian then would I? There are times when I've been in the 90%+ area while shifting. Many times you can create a shift just by letting your wereside forward; releasing it. It's usually easy to control, unless there is an instance where your animal side feels very threatened or protective about something dear to it (like if your mate or pup was in danger). Then it would be hard to keep the eclipse from happening. In many of those instances it is better to let instinct take over. Your wereside knows best, and will not bring harm to anyone. You're human side can always step in and take control when the need arises. There is no such thing as an uncontrolled shift, so don't let people scare you by telling you that their wereside was out of control, they're lying to you.
What is a dreamshift?
A dreamshift is simply a dream where you shift into your phenotype, or any number of animals not restricted to your phenotype. I've only had one dream where I actually shifted, but many where I started as the wolf. I consider these dreamshifts even if I didn't start as human. Dreamshifting is a good way to get closer to your other side.
What is a mental shift, spiritual shift, etc?
Mental shifting is the same thing as eclipsing. Spiritual shifting is shifting while in meditation. (please see "Meditation") Any other terms you might encounter could go under the three categories of Eclipse, Dream, or Spiritual.
What is about physical shifting?
There are therians out there who claim to be able to reach a point where physical shifting is possible. There is no proof, however. I'm a skeptic at heart, and until I see some real proof, I say it isn't possible, at least not to the average Joe.
What is a Howl?
A Howl is a gathering of weres, simple as that. Many weres from across the world come together at Howls to share stories and just have fun with others like themselves.
What is the Were Community?
There is now an online community of weres growing rapidly. It's easy to get answers to questions now, where in the past therianthropes wandered the world without really knowing what they were or if there were any others like them. For wolves especially, the want of a pack is strong. The online communities are a way to get a small taste of that companionship. It is also how most Howls are organized.