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30 March 2011 @ 11:22 pm
New blog, and a writing challenge: Exploring the Mythic  
scortum_lupa kindly said I could post this, and so...

Hello all! I've recently started up a joint otherkin/therian/animal-folk blog geared towards topics that aren't addressed nearly often enough, and generating discussion. It's called Beyond Awakening. The LiveJournal feed for it can be found here. I and hopefully some of the other contributors will be posting writing challenges from time to time, and I've linked to therianthoughts as one place to post response pieces.

As an example, here's the first writing challenge:

Exploring the Mythic

I've been thinking a lot about myths and symbols lately.

There is a long-lasting, prevalent trend in the therianthropy community of making a significant distinction on the difference between one's animal identity and one's totem. The basic idea is that one should understand their kintype as it actually is: shy skittish foxes rather than archetypal sly tricksters, family-oriented lupines rather than stereotypical vicious lone wolves, and so on. Many argue that as animal folk, we are akin to the real, physical animal, not an archetypal version of that animal.

I feel that there is a certain value in that approach. It's important to research the species you identify as: watch it move, learn of its behavior and habitat. Observe it in the wild or at a zoo. Volunteer with it at a rescue or wildlife rehabilitation center. Learn about what you feel you are; it may help you understand yourself better.

Yet I think this mindset has its drawbacks as well. It discourages exploration of the animal as archetype; it treats a more symbolic examination of one's identity as invalid. There's power in archetype, in symbol, in personal myth. It's possible that learning about cultural interpretations of an animal can lead to a deeper understanding of that species. Obviously you shouldn't rely on folklore, myth, and archetype as your only or even primary source of information on an animal, but it can enrich your comprehension.

One example of someone who has explored his animality both in its factual, literal form and in its mythic, spiritual form is Akhila, who maintains Thébaïde. He states clearly that for him, "being an animal is more than metaphorical" - and yet he also says that "There is Clouded Leopard with a capital C, and Raven from myths and tales. Sometimes we overlap, sometimes we don't; sometimes I'm nothing like in the animal folklore. . . But other times like now I can talk about what clouded leopard and raven are and it is both experience and archetype." He writes about being a liminal animal, and he writes about animal people folklore, and adding to the folklore of clouded leopard through his own experience. And it all seems to add to his understanding of himself and of clouded leopard and of raven.

Here, then, is my challenge to you: Explore your animality as myth and archetype. Read up on folklore, heraldic symbolism, and spiritual beliefs about that species. Think on what the animal means to you, symbolically. Try connecting with the totemic or spiritual component of the species if your beliefs and practices allow for that. If there isn't any available folklore on your animal, write some true and meaningful lore of your own. How does the archetype compare to the flesh-and-blood creature?

Then write about what you experience and learn. I'll be doing this exercise as well. I've never seriously explored rough-legged hawk, or hawk in general, from a mythic perspective.
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Sonne Spiritwind: horsesonne_windsoul on March 31st, 2011 06:22 am (UTC)
I like the concept of this Beyond Awakening blog (plus it reminds me of the prompts we used to do on Animal Quills), so I've subscribed to the feed for it.

Hmm, this is an intriguing topic, and one I started exploring more around mid/late 2008. Maybe this will help give me some initiative again to return to writing and finishing some essays regarding how my therianthropy relates to my personal animal symbolism and correlating totemic entities/energies to my theriotypes. I still have an essay on that in relation to Mongoose/mongoose and one on Horse/horse (capitalization to denote between totemic and theriotypic) that I've left unfinished for the past year or more. Plus I need some motivation anyway to get back into writing more ;P.
Measuring a Jackal's Forcemakhsihed on April 1st, 2011 03:51 am (UTC)
I'd love to see your writings on that!
aethyriek on March 31st, 2011 08:34 am (UTC)
You're brilliant. 8D Mindbogglingly brilliant.
And I am quite excited to read more and I hope some folks jump on board! -ravenously excited-
Measuring a Jackal's Forcemakhsihed on April 1st, 2011 03:52 am (UTC)
:D Yay!

You should totally write stuff. :P
aethyriek on April 1st, 2011 04:58 am (UTC)
There will be much ramblings and rejoicing. ;D
House of Chimeras: Earth Listener - Fetisheshouseofchimeras on March 31st, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC)
I really like this and concept. Not only the new blog, Beyond Awakening but also this topic. I’ll have to keep an eye on Beyond Awakening, thank-you for creating it and bring it to our attention.

I wish I could paripcated in the topic but due to my theriotypes… it would be hard considering dire wolves are extinct and quilled sharks have never existed. I could do a folklore comparison on gray wolves but they really are different animals, and the closest real-life shark species also has no folklore.

I’ll have to think about what I can do. I might just have to go for general.

- Earth Listener
Sonne Spiritwind: red wolf spiritsonne_windsoul on March 31st, 2011 02:41 pm (UTC)
Maybe you could expand it to include a wider array of sharks and/or other wolves or other canines (including but not limited to gray wolves). You could also talk about it in regards to symbolic concepts/associations, or possible totemic associations. I can sort of relate when it comes to my theropod theriotype, considering the obvious lack of myth and folklore on it (among other similar dinosaurs, and it's not similar enough to most dragon myths to draw decent comparison there), but I think I could potentially write some about it from a more symbolic perspective, and/or compare it to some myths, lore, etc. associated with some of the modern birds I feel it's similar to. I guess one advantage to this kind of topic is that we can be fairly creative with it and there are a variety of ways a person can specifically approach it.
Measuring a Jackal's Forcemakhsihed on April 1st, 2011 03:59 am (UTC)
This.

Just because there isn't any existent folklore doesn't mean you can't make some of your own, or look at dire wolf from a mythic perspective. I'd actually say Dire Wolf occupies a certain mythic place in the human consciousness in some ways.