What is Therianthropy?

Ashen-Fox's avatar
By Ashen-Fox   |   
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The saying goes that if you ask eleven Therians what this thing called Therianthropy is, that you’ll get twelve different definitions. This long and somewhat daunting word stems from the Greek word therion, translating to ‘beast’, and the word for a human or a man, anthropos. So then, by the sheer translation, someone could indeed infer that we’re a community of beast-people wandering the streets in plain sight of humanity as some deformed mix of animal and human ravaging on human flesh in the night. While the beast-human, part is true in a sense—the thing about us wandering the streets, eating people and whatnot, is distinctly false. There is a fine line between a Therian (or ‘were’, a term most use to describe themselves instead of typing out some long winded word) and someone with Clinical Lycanthropy, which is the belief that you’re a real-life werewolf with fur and such.

Therianthropy is, to me at the very least, a constant state of self-awareness and the belief that while our bodies are 100% human—the souls that we’re born with are entirely different. This is the primary difference between the reality of being a Therian, and fantasy of a clinical disorder. We’re human. It’s a simple fact that we both accept and understand with surprising clarity for people with beliefs as ‘out there’ as ours. Humanity though, only extends to a certain part of our being and that’s where the beliefs start. Our bodies are human, but our minds, souls, et cetera, aren’t. They’re entirely different—entirely something more primal—something more animal. It’s the fact itself that you are that makes us, you, different.

The question of ‘How did you/we arrive to such an odd conclusion?’ is soomething that circulates the community as a whole like a huge air current. It’s always going and always there. I personally didn’t wake up and think to myself, “Hey! I’m some sort of fox thing!”. It’s not that simple.

Like the definition itself, the arrival to the conclusion is one that entertains many theories on ‘how’, ‘why’, ‘who’ and other questions that all fall back unto themselves like a wobbly child in the dirt. Even if you’ve studied everything and know all there is to know about every little detail of the subject with full and complete understanding—that doesn’t mean you’ve affirmed your status as a ‘were’. Being a Therian revolves around, completely and wholly, real-life experiences—not theories or knowledge of the subject. Experiences that, at the time, are perfectly normal; however, it is only when the feelings die down and you’re left standing there do you think: “Wait a minute...” Experiences that make you question, bit by gradual bit, who you are—what you are.

It is these nagging questions that drive most to search themselves for the answers to these questions. Day bay day these questions pop up in the seemingly most random of times and every time a little part of you thinks that, “Normal people don’t do that…”. It says that you shouldn’t feel a burning, raging sense of separation when a wolf calls and its pack answers. Shouldn’t feel some imaginary set of hackles rise when a dog growls and snarls at you; the part of you that looks back at your childhood and thinks, “Should a child really be thinking that?” The part of you that takes those uncertain steps back and looks at your life under some imaginary microscope is the part of you that thinks, “Hey. I’m different”. Yet you do. You question.

Being a Therian isn’t just about those off times when you feel different. If you’re not having some strange feeling of abandonment, some sense that you’re more than human—that doesn’t mean you stop being Therian. Just because you feel normal and regular—like every other human—that doesn’t mean you stop being what you are and start up another time like a video game. It’s a constant and unyielding thing. It doesn’t go up and leave like an unfaithful lover or a random idea.  Even if you, in a spurge of denial and disillusionment, tell yourself that you’re not—if you truly are Therian—it doesn’t stop being true just because you tell it to.

This is who we are. It’s about having these experiences that make us question, this knowledge that makes us think, yet still fitting into the mold of human for the simple reason that we are human. We’re about finding the balance between animal souls and minds with human bodies; different and yet somehow the same. It’s not all pretty and joyful though. Sometimes it’s frustrating, others it’s really boring. It’s life. It’s not all special. But you know what? It’s who we are.

If you’re still interested after all this rambling and musing, keep an eye out. I might write a few more essays. I’ll try to answer any questions I can, just post them here or if you want to be more private about it—send me a note. I’ll get back to you—though seeing as I’m a busy little fox I might not get back to you right away. Thanks for reading!

February 2009
© 2009 - 2020 Ashen-Fox
On a more serous note, I attempted to explain what Therianthropy is in my own definitions through my own experiences last month.

There are lots more out there more experienced than I about the many technicalities, but I'll answer any questions to the best of my ability.
anonymous's avatar
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RedRidingWolf1365's avatar
RedRidingWolf1365Hobbyist General Artist
If I just so happen to discover I'm a therian, my animal soul might be a dormouse. Those things sleep for years, only getting up to eat. I'd do that if I could. XD

Plus, it's not wolf or dragon, so there's that too.
Halfthesun's avatar
HalfthesunHobbyist General Artist
I loved this one, too!
avionusmaximus's avatar
when it comes to the werewolf though fictional entirely in its existance i see the werewolf as being representative of a person when itcomes to their sex drive  but also when it comes to that persons ruthless nature in his desire to be protective of their friends and  family and  surrogate family and loved ones in sheltering them from the day to day violence of the world by whatever means that prove neccesary lawful or otherwise.

but at the same time i see the werewolf as being in its way representative of that persons inner darkness and rage when it is brought about in their day to day life in being made a unwilling witness to the tragic suffering and death of a friend family relative or loved one as that  person is forced to witness the events play out and end in tragedy suffering and death in the person becoming consumed by their much more wild primal primitive animal like nature. the werewolf representing the side of that person they keep reighned in on a tight shoet leash in his day to day life

that side of a person whos savage nature and passion is at war with the much more civilised side of the  person in their mind mentally speaking where the personss feelings ovr the matter to personally avenge the death of their friend family relative or loved one through personally hunting down and killing the victims murderer where the persons  feelings versus common sense and morality come into play in the matter in question

also i see in the werewolf a person  who shuns society as a person who is much closer to animals over humans in that person who is perosnally close and sociable with those few persons in their life who they knows as friends family and surrogate family who are their loved ones though that person otherwise wants nothing to do with people or society in general 

i believe that one could look at the historical spartans as being in their way the true man animal manwolves of their time asa people what wiht how much they took after the wolf in their way 
avionusmaximus's avatar
i happen to be a very open minded person when it comes to anything regarding the afterlife and the supernatural as all things of a spiritual nature go

to be honest i happen to identify as therian when it comes to my person

i have always been more of a animal minded person in the sense that i identify more with animals over humans 

in my case it happens to be with canines in particuler

as for what being a therian is

its short for therianthropy 

as i have come to understnad it over time for myself 

throughout the distant eras of the long forgotten past and well into the present day there have existed and continue to exis a number of native human socities that subscribe to the belief

a belief that one can be born into life being human in their mind and in thier body but with that persons soul ,its very spiritual natue being that of a particuler animal

it being in its way in equal parts a case of trans speciesl spiritual migration and reincarnation as well

in a word a person in their present lifetime having the spiritual nature of a certain kind of animal due to that person having lived a previous lifetime as that animal.

in doing so that persons soul developed and took on the animals personel spiritual nature 

when the animal died its soul still retained the link to its aniaml like nature even as its soul was eventually reincarnated in human form asa huamn man or woman

but with that person in their next and current lifetime still possessing the animal like nature to their soul/spirit

in its way being therian is the very thing thatm akes it possible for that person to thoroughly understand and relate to that animal on a personel level in such a way that few people would be able to understand and do for theirself

in equal part the bond is both one of a spiritual and emotional nature whichthat person has with the aniaml whos spiritual nature the therian shares with the animal 

in my case i happen to be a canine type therian because of the fact that i happen to have a very extremly deeply ingrained canine like sense of loyalty to my person where friends and family are concerned in my life.

this is just the simplest way i can think of to describe it in a nutshell but think of a therianthrope as a person who was born  in human form when it comes to their body and their mind in some part but with that persons soul being that of a actual animal reincarnated in human form 
Sonnenkatze346's avatar
Sonnenkatze346Hobbyist General Artist
This is a realy interesting essay. I was always interested sometimes a little and sometimes very much in theriantropy, shapeshifting and all that. Does that make me a therian? I don't know. But it is definitively interesting.
I am practising shamanic journeys and sometimes in this journeys I am becoming one with my totems. Does that make me being a therian? I don't know. Shrug
Sometimes there is a dispute I am ju st a human interested in theriantropy or definitvely a therian or just a sometimes very crazy human. I can not say that. :shrug: rvmp  But it would be an interesting thought. :D (Big Grin) 
O f course everyone has an inner animal and humans are animals too ( I guess not every human likes that but if you read some text about evoulution it is definitively so).
But maybe I am wrong and theriantropy goes very much deeper then all that and I only scratched at the surface.
I don't know what you think about that what I have written here but I can clearly say that your text is a very interesting one gives a good inside into a world that is very unknown to many humans. ;) (Wink) 
jacobmosovich's avatar
jacobmosovichHobbyist Traditional Artist
I don't really get it still I'm confused between conflicting opinions of this being spiritual and being insane. What do Therianthropics do¿ And how do you tell if you are one¿ I've been regarded as strange because I tend to be very stealthy and I hiss sometimes especially like a rattlesnake and I've never told anyone but I stand on ditigrade feat sometimes but nobody ever notices because my shoes hide it sorta.
MonolithHyena's avatar
Insanity would actually believing your physically part animal. Therians generally do experience Mental shifts or M shifts of which they may start acting like a animal. Example I am a Ploytherian meaning more than one theriotype but lets look at my wolf theriotype. Sometimes I growl when I am mad or howl when I want to claim territory or I am enthusiastic as wolf howls have different meanings. Or I run on all fours sometimes. Some therians feel phantom parts. Parts of a animal that aren't there such as tails,ears, muzzles, wings, hooves ect
jacobmosovich's avatar
jacobmosovichHobbyist Traditional Artist
interesting. i can run fast on all fours but i dont do it often. most commonly i just click my teeth together like when im hungry or for emphasis after a sentence. my family asks why i dont do that but i tell them because i do. what i dont tell them is that i like feeling more animalistic. it makes me ..whats the word.... "stronger" you would say, feeling like an animal sometimes. its almost like a confidence thing to me, being something others are not and being better. i do like the feeling of having a tail but until some crazy scifi cyborg substitute is made ill stick with dreams of an absolution. oh and a nice cotton tail off Ebay lol. i hope you dont think im making fun of you because of my.... confusion? i would say.
MonolithHyena's avatar
No no your not making fun of me :) Has any questions just ask me :)
jacobmosovich's avatar
jacobmosovichHobbyist Traditional Artist
Awesome. I saw a video on YouTube comparing therions to furries. I didn't watch it but now I think I should have. I'm running out of intellectual stuff to say lol
MonolithHyena's avatar

Furry: fan of anthropormorphic animal art

Therian: identifies as an animal on a spiritual or psychological level 
jacobmosovich's avatar
jacobmosovichHobbyist Traditional Artist
I know I shall ask the expert. Oh butler tell him how awesome it is to be a Therion furry.
"It's awesome" see he just said it.
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Ashen-Fox's avatar
Thank you everyone for the supportive comments. It's great to know that my Essay is well accepted! I'm going to be workiing on an Essay detailing the much-confused aspect of Contherianthropy next.
littlestwings's avatar
littlestwingsProfessional General Artist
Ooh therianthropy, the poor neglected
child of the supernatural community. I've struggled
with my own therian-ness for the past 9 or so
years now and I still don't know what to do with

I hate to see that the topic still causes such controversy
though. Why? Sure its advertised by unfortunately
unpleasant and not so sure-footed (or pawed, or clawed
or taloned..) people but its not the quiet, well-behaved
persons from any community that are going to draw the
attention to themselves. *shakes head*

Lovely little essay though; brief, but you made some good
points. Especially on the separation of body and soul. c:
Elaari's avatar
This is wonderful! You've done an excellent job on this, really. :-)
Totem-pole's avatar
Totem-poleProfessional Traditional Artist
Beautifully written, and exceptionally accurate! I have only recently discovered my own therianthropy, and it makes me happy to find fellow therians who know their identity well, can explain it wonderfully, and can defend it against ignorant trolls that seem to be so common among our community. Bravo!
Tkb4's avatar
This totally defines Therianthropes from what other people think in a clear note of words. Exceptionally well done, my fellow Kin! ^_^
inspiredcreativity's avatar
inspiredcreativityProfessional Digital Artist
Like in all things human, there are few absolutes. We are all a mix. Like in human sexuality, we are all a mix of sexuality, like 90/10 mix, 50/50, 70/30.

What you describe exists in us all, but for you, it like me knowing I was gay. I had no idea what the word meant, or it I was along in world, all I knew was that I felt about boys the way I was supposed to feel about girls.

When we become a certain amount over the norm, awareness in us arrises. For me, this awareness surfaced at age 11. My point is that the same is true of you. If you are different enough, you pass a threshold of awareness that you are somehow different.

I believe we all have animal affinities. I have an affinity towards Crow, Deer, Bear, Cougar, and secondary: Dolphin, Woodpecker, Raven, Turkey, Otter.
SEE List of Animal Totems: [link]

Native American tradition provides that each individual is connected with nine different animals that will accompany each person through life, acting as guides. Different animal guides come in and out of our lives depending on the direction that we are headed and the tasks that need to be completed along our journey.
Native beliefs further explain that a totem animal is one that is with you for life, both in the physical and spiritual world. Though people may identify with different animal guides throughout their lifetimes, it is this one totem animal that acts as the main guardian spirit.

With this one animal a connection is shared, either through interest in the animal, characteristics, dreams, or other interaction.

There was a time when we were very much in tune with the natural world, and people like you were not so unusual.

We all wonder about experience we have that don't seem normal. Like when I meet some people, the hair on my neck stand up straight and my skin crawls. I am a very empathic person, to the point that it has my life more difficult. Why is it that people meet me and suddenly find themselves telling me things they have keep secret all their lives.

I don't really know why, and I suppose it is not to important to me to know. There is a lot of mystery out there.

I personally do not believe in gods, heavens and hells. But i am spiritual in my own way. Greg and I do some native American rituals, like Smudging, because they are a good psychic focus.

Since I am approaching death, believing in a god and an afterlife would be a very nice crutch to have, but it is not there. But I believe that I am proof that not all people need the promise award of a heaven, or the threatening stick of hell to be a decent human being.

I can choose to be a good and decent human being that that is my choice and disposition.


Human nature is based foremost in greed, sexual drive, and a desire for power (domination, subjugation, and control over others). Goodness requires active choice, which is driven by compassion. Society creates a legal structure to control man's base instincts, for the greater good. But of course some still covet the power, obtain it, and consolidate it.

Whenever civilization's legal structure collapses, the result is absolutely predictable. Entropy will have its way and chaos will reign. But there will always be some people who choose to devote themselves to helping others, and they become small islands in a vast ocean, trying to stay above the waves. These are the kernels from which civilization can grow. But they will face empires built of blood, of consolidated power and greed.

Even in what we see as our civilized world, this same struggle continues. Who shall win in the end, or will no one win?

The foundation of Human Dignity is CHOICE.
The key to goodness is COMPASSION.
The salvation of humanity is LOVE.


Human DNA is closer to Pig DNA than to Primate DNA, with a 99% match. So 1% of our DNA makes us human.

I wonder if Cruelty is distinctly Human?
ThunderFox69's avatar
interesting.... i might message you privatly ..
Ashen-Fox's avatar
Of course! I'll answer what I can.
ToasterX's avatar
First of all... Keaya. This is very well written. You pretty much nailed the Therianthropy definition on the head. I've got my own personal experience and I've written essays on the subject as well. Perhaps we could chat about the subject, or others as it were. Note me if you'd like to.

Also, well played keeping your cool with the skeptics and "trolls" for lack of anything else to call them.


Ashen-Fox's avatar
Thank you very much. I wanted to make sure that if I was going to write about this topic, I would make it as accurate and true to myself as I could.

I'll gladly chat with you--I'll send a note your way!
Manga-kaProductions's avatar
Wow. This was really profound. It certainly makes me question many things about myself. I may post a journal on this subject. Kudos to making me think, Keaya!
anonymous's avatar
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