The paths people walk on their journeys to find themselves are just as diverse and complicated and multifaceted as the people who walk them. Some paths lead through some rather strange and even incomprehensible places, but that doesn’t invalidate the path, nor does it justify the hatred and contempt that people lay at the feet of the traveler.
To me, that applies particularly well to the much-maligned and often ridiculed travelers who identify as “Otherkin”- especially since the entire concept of Otherkin basically boils down to the belief that what makes us US, what shapes and defines who we are, is more than flesh and blood and bone.
That’s about it, really.
It’s the same foundation that practically every religion in existence has ever used. Christians and Hindus and Muslims and Buddhists and Wiccans and Satanists and… all of them. That’s the entire point of religion, isn’t it? It tells us that there’s something more to the universe that being born, fucking around for a few years, and then being tossed aside into the grave. It tells us that we’re something more special than rotting meat, shambling our way through zombie lives before going back to decomposing.
What’s so horrible about that thought, that it deserves so much contempt and ridicule? Haven’t we, as a species, already proven that we are SO immensely and immeasurably more than our bodies? We’ve overcome everything from the cold to gravity to full-body paralysis solely through the use of our fantastic, intangible minds. We have proven time and time again that there is so much more to being a person than just bouncing around like the straight-legged apes our bodies proclaim us to be.
"Whatever you think about souls and minds and faith, claiming you’re a dragon is still ridiculous," I see people insist, "because dragons don’t exist!" There’s no evidence that a soul or spirit exists, either, and yet the majority of people are happy to accept that concept without qualms. It’s true that a human being doesn’t physically have wings, or a tail, or the ability to breathe fire. An Otherkin who identifies as a dragon is not saying that they have wings, or a tail, or that they can breathe fire. They’re saying that they’re a dragon, in a way that has nothing to do with this rotting sack of flesh they’re bound to. Or that they’re a unicorn, or a dolphin, or a vampire. That they, as people, are something MORE than muscle and blood and bone… and that we all are, too.
Yes, the concept of Otherkin IS meant to include you, too. All too often, people seem to assume that a person who says “I’m a dragon!” is saying “You’re all dull, boring, mundane humans, but I’m not. I’m something more special and sparkly and amazing. I’m a dragon!” when, in fact, what they’re actually saying is “Know that feeling you get sometimes when your soul seems too big for your body and you end up feeling powerful, and euphoric, and you swear your feet keep almost leaving the ground? That’s what it feels like to be a dragon! I’m a dragon! You’ve felt it, too? SWEET! You’re a dragon, too!”
Like most systems of belief, it’s meant to include everyone, whether they personally accept it and believe it or not. And like most systems of belief, it’s really quite rude and intolerant to just dismiss it as a delusion. Identifying as Otherkin is not crazy. It’s just a different way of thinking about the universe, and about what makes people who and what they are.
Why is it seen as so disturbing or outrageous for a person to believe that one’s soul is a thick and complicated soup, or a crazy patchwork quilt, or a wild and jangling orchestra, instead of a solitary flavor, unbroken color, or single, sustained note? That we can be more than one thing at a time? That what makes us who we are is created out of the reborn, regrown, recreated remains of a billion and one other lives before it, just like our bodies are made of billions of molecules reused and reformed from countless other creatures and people and the stones and stars themselves?
You ARE a human. This means you ARE your father, and your mother. You are your first best friend and your first crush and your first worst enemy. You are your first kiss and your first fight and your first bug bite. You are your first sight of fireworks, your first taste of cantaloupe, your first skinned knee, your first breath of air. You are your first word and your three thousand, nine hundred and eighty second word. You are your favorite teacher and your least favorite teacher and the teacher whose name you’re going to forget and feel vaguely guilty about at some point in the distant future. You are what you had for dinner last night and what you ate for lunch last week and what you’ve always wanted to eat but never got up the nerve to try. You are all the things you’ve ever done, all the things you’ve never done, all the people you’ve ever known. all the people you’ll never know, all the places you’ll ever be, all the places that have been gone for thousands of years before you ever knew they existed at all, and, most of all, you’re you.
You can be all that at once, and more, and be perfectly normal, well-adjusted, sane, and happy.
You’re probably a dragon in there, too, whether you admit it to yourself or not.
You’re also Luke Skywalker, a wolf, three different species of fish, a fairy, a towering oak tree, the letter L, the color blue, and ten billion other amazing and wonderful things that you have yet to discover because you can’t hear or taste or smell them over the roaring crescendo that is your life.
You can be THOSE, and be perfectly well adjusted, sane, and happy, too. Because you already are. We all are. Some people just choose to focus on certain particular elements of what makes them who they are. Some people are proud to be an American. Some people are proud to be Greenbay Packers fans. Some people are proud to be Christian. Some people are proud to be a dragon.
If they’re nuts, we’re all nuts. They might actually be a little saner than the rest of us. At least they know what they are, right?