To Shift Or Not To Shift?
A conversation I had the other day with Sonne got me thinking about shifts being a mandatory part of being a therian or not. And today, someone on the Werelist replied to a topic mentioning all their shifts that they experience.
So I thought it was time I addressed what I’d always thought was kind of obvious, that not shifting does not equal not being a therian (3 negatives equal a positive!). Yes, many therians experience various types of shifting. (And for the purposes of this essay and for simplicity’s sake, I’m referring to mental shifting.) But shifting is not the be-all and end-all of being a therian. And it’s certainly not a requirement either!
Each therian experience their own animality differently and that’s part of the reason why we’re so damn hard to clearly define. An individual is going to feel differently when mentally shifted than someone else. It’s part of being a unique individual, whether or not that individual is human or ‘other’.
However, it seems as if “therian” is automatically associated with “shifting”. More than likely, it’s due to the popular werewolf shapeshifting stories where a human changes into an animal. But let me stress that not experiencing mental shifts does not make someone any less of a therian.
Therianthropy is what an individual makes of it. And while I think that terms within the community are helpful in clarifying someone’s experiences, they should not limit someone’s experiences either. And just because one therian experiences daily mental shifts does not make them any more or less of a therian than someone who does not experience shifting of any kind (contherian is the usual term used).
Being a therian isn’t solely dependent on mental shifting. It’s not dependent on shifting at all. Being a therian is about a close connection to the animal within and each individual takes from that and adds to it their own flavor making therianthropy a completely unique adventure.
To shift or not to shift: is that is the question? No, it’s not. The question is, are you a therian and how do you define that?
Originally written May 6, 2009