This is a question that is asked by most people, including weres themselves. (A Werecreature (or Were for short) is the general term for a Therianthrope.) For every Therianthrope encountered, a different definition of what Therianthropy is will arise. Keeping this in mind, the best way to determine what Therianthropy is, is to regard the views of many. The following are a few personal explanations of Therianthropy.
What is a Werewolf? : Autumn Fox
Do werewolves really exist? Very good question, but first we must define just what a werewolf is.
We all know about the werewolf myths, stories about people who turn into evil wolf-like monsters under the light of the full moon to eat the flesh of humans, and who only can be defeated by silver. Okay, now you can forget everything that Hollywood has taught you.
Real werewolves, or weres for short (or more correcty, spiritual therianthropes) have very little in common with the myth we know all too well. Spiritual therianthropes are individuals who feel a deep connection with one or more animals, or sees aspects of animals manifest in his/her behavior and personality. Many therianthropes believe that an animal spirit is an integeral aspect of their being. Many also experience mental shifts, in which their personality takes on aspects of an animal, to a point that it is readily recognized by the outside world. Some see their animal aspects as a balance to their human selves, teaching them their place in the natural world, and so, many are environmenally- oriented. Still others simply know they have a connection to an animal, even if it doesn't seem to manifest behaviorally. A rare few individuals claim to be physical therianthropes, beings that have the ability to physically change form, yet no proof has ever been brought forward. Finally, not all therianthropes feel a connection with wolves; There are werefoxes, werebears, werecats, and so on.
As you can see, beyond very basic definitions, it is very difficult to define just what a therianthrope is, as each therianthrope expresses this aspect of himself/herself differently, hence the saying: "Ask ten werewolves what it means to be a werewolf, and you'll get eleven different answers." In fact, some therianthropes are appalled at any attempt to define what they are or otherwise limit the range of acceptable feelings, for when you "define something.. you automatically apply limits to it."
In answering this question, we've also answered our original question: Yes, real werewolves DO exist.
In psychology (pathology), there exists the term of "lycanthopy" which refers to a state in certain individuals who undergo a complete change of personalty, from a normal and rational mindset into a savage and irrational one. These individuals suffering from pathological lycanthropy often act like threatened wild animals, attacking any who approach with clawing and bites. The sufferer apparently has no control over this change in personality, and so it is both dangerous to himself/herself as well as those around him/her.
Therianthropy is NOT the same thing as pathological lycanthropy. It is true that some therianthropes mentally shift unconscously, but many can hold off these shifts until a more appropriate time comes; Some therianthropes can even control their mental shifts. Further, many therianthropes do not experience violent shifts at all. Many seem to experience a deep sense of inner peace and bliss during their mental shifts. Therianthropy is a blessing of pure ecstacy, not something that ruins these people's lives.
Finally, pathological lycanthropy is a disorder, something which is threatening to themselves and those around them. Therianthropy, on the other hand, generally poses little to no threat, except from mundane individuals who may wish to harm the therianthrope because of what they are. So now that you know about them, please try to be kind.
As a footnote, note that some therianthropes refer to themselves as "lycanthropes". In this context, it is not refering to the psychological condition, but rather, to its root meaning derived from the Greek lykos ("wolf") and antropos ("man"). The term therianthrope itself has a similar derivation, with therios meaning "animal".
'The Porch' : Katmandu
Welcome to the porch. You're probably wondering why it's called the porch... well, porches are the traditional places for sitting back with the beverage of your choice and speculating about the events of the day. I'll give you my Rant of the Moment from time to time here, and provide you with a way of replying to the page so others can read your reactions to it. This is a no-holds-barred page, so if you're of a delicate constitution, click somewhere else. Same goes for your replies... express yourself however you see fit. Just remember that infantile moaning about my parentage, sprinkled liberally with poor grammar and expletives, will only reveal ignorance to the reader. Strive for creative, erudite flaming.
My first Rant of the Moment deals, as will most of them, with the stupidity of people in general; and is reflected by the artwork for the page. Homo sapiens has an amazing capacity for rational thought and great things... why, then, do we insist on fucking up so often? I can forgive my ancestors for shitting in their nests- they honestly didn't know any better; weren't aware of their power to permenantly and quickly change their environment, possibly to their eventual detriment. The current crop of hyoo-mans, however, knows better. We know that we can make massive changes to our surroundings, and we know that some of those changes might make life on the planet quite uncomfortable for us (not to mention other life). Yet, we continue to belch out greenhouse gasses, pour waste oil on the ground, cover our consumables in flashy, landfill-space consuming, toxic wrappings.
We have made great strides in slowing, halting, or even reversing our destructive actions. But there are still people today who insist that all this "eco-crap" is useless scare-tactics perpetrated on the public by smelly, wild-eyed, long-haired radicals who would rather have us living in caves. "There's no evidence that we're destroying the planet" they say, "Leave us alone and let us get back to business."
Perhaps so. But we know that we have the power to change our evironment, and we don't know the possible effects 10, 100, or 1000 years from now our actions will have. Doesn't it make sense to proceed cautiously?
I find the Gaia hypothesis attractive. The idea that the planet won't let us destroy the life on it is intriguing. It doesn't hold much scientific water, but it is interesting nonetheless. The theory suggests that if we become too much of a burden, Gaia will remove us... the ultimate predator removing another weak and dangerous life form. Thus the illustration at the top of a poor Australopithecus robustus being removed from the food chain.
We must be predators of our own species. We must weed out the weak and infirm ideas that would cause us damage. We must do this by becoming active in affairs that concern us all. Recycle, vote, volunteer... do it now, before Gaia throws up her hands and makes the point moot.
'My Brothers' : Shadow Nightwolf
was not meant to be born human. Well, perhaps I was, but I am still doing
a great deal of searching as to the reason why. So, you ask, if I was not
meant to be born human, in what form should I have been brought into this
maniacal world? A wolf? Yes, as a wolf. For all intents and purposes, I
am. The only part of my that is not, is my physical form. This visceral
character entraps, rather unmercifully, the heart and soul and psyche of
canis lupus, the wolf. I cannot proffer much palpable substantiation, as
much of my discovery constitutes a myriad of thoughts, emotions, and gut
feelings that I can but share in their aftermath. Happenings available
only to myself for witness. Although I imagine some of my behaviour is
observable to others, as are a few physical traits that could mean anything.
Bear in mind, however, just as I can offer no substantial evidence to this
claim, at least none that would be readily accepted, comments from those
who say otherwise cannot be supported, either.
I cannot say precisely how I feel
about this discovery, though it falls into the same categories as sadness
and despair. I will forever have the question "Why?" hanging over me, much
like a warden hulking over his watches to ensure they are chipping the
rock away in a satisfactory manner. For I feel much like a prisoner. Am
I not? What past act am I being punished for? I once thought that perhaps,
in a past life, my soul was human, therefore corrupt (though I am not claiming
my own soul is not corrupt), and I contributed to the destruction of the
wolves, of nature, and was now doomed to live a life and feel the pain
that nature must endure because of the human race. However, I have done
a great deal of thinking, and I believe the soul never changes. Something
I think I have believed all along. So now I am no closer to an answer.
Nothing has presented itself to mollify my deepest doubts and fears. It
is something I am sure I will be a long time searching.
of my short but trying life I have felt a certain affinity for wolves,
and they, apparently, for me. I understand them. I am not referring to
having the knowledge of their species, or having overcome the myths and
vicious lies the human race has concocted, which I never believed for a
second, though I do know a great deal about them. Most of it useless information
really, for someone like myself. I am referring to their language, their
behaviour, and the way they live. For some reason I am very able to communicate
with them. I have even drawn crowds at the local zoo while I carried on
an empathetic conversation about the severely unacceptable condition in
which the two wolves were being kept. For I understand how it feels. For
them, it is being kept in a 300 square foot enclosure, with but two trees
and a rock for cover. For me, it is the concrete and the steel and everything
else man made that leaves me feeling trapped.
do not live in the city, but I do not live in the country, either, and
even if I did live in the country, I would feel the same. I can feel the
emptiness around me. Not that there aren't buildings and people. I feel
the void left when the land was raped for some pointless purpose and never
replaced. I feel the loss of the trees and the animals when another neighbourhood
goes up to house another thousand people who shouldn't be alive. Perhaps
it sounds harsh, but please understand I am not trying to say that this
person and that should not have been born. I am but pointing out the fact
that we are overrunning the planet. Humans are spreading like cancer. And
the only cure is for them to give a damn. That seems a long way away.
The wolf worries not about these
things, but lives on in a peaceful, esoteric lifestyle which most of us
cannot understand. As it should be. The circle of life. Take what you need,
no more, give back. Humans only take. And take, and take. Countless amounts
more than they need, and they do not give back. I hope you can think this
out and understand what I am saying. Most people ask me what the wolf gives
back. If you think about it you will see. I am not going to point out something
obvious and contribute to society's attempt at keeping down free thought
and expression. Yet another thing wolves do not have to worry about.
I hit two deer once with my car.
My first thoughts were for the deer, who jumped down onto the car from
a high embankment. Seeing deer seemingly falling from the sky makes you
thinkŹ I was truly hurting for them, even though I am fairly sure they
will be okay, due to the nature of the fall. But I know I injured them.
I injured them with a piece of steel that I shouldn't have been driving
in the first place. No, I am legally allowed to drive for those of you
whose minds took that path. But I cannot stand getting behind the wheel
of a car, knowing all the destruction the introduction of the automobile
has caused. I injured two animals meaninglessly, for I was not hunting
and preparing for my next much needed meal. I was merely on my way home.
Granted, I could not avoid it, but it did cause me much grief. And everyone
first thoughts were for me and the car. Being that the buck rolled all
the way over the car, most people's first thoughts were "It didn't go through
the windshield?" Well, no, obviously, or I wouldn't be here in one piece,
with no injuries, if I were here at all. Yes, my mother felt for the deer
as well, but not as much as I, I don't think. Not for the same reasons.
I think, no, I know I would rather
be my true form, a wolf, retaining the innocence of youth all my life,
instead of having lost it as all humans do at a young age. Hunting, not
for sport but for food, running, playing. I would rather be with my brothers
than in this body, forced to live amongst death. Yes, I would rather be
Perhaps I am but rambling, though hopefully I have given some more things to ponder. The meaningless slaughter of nature is not something to be taken lightly. We all become enraged at the meaningless slaughter of humans, but ignore the very stuff which sustains us, and was here long before we were. I am ashamed to be a human. In my heart, and my soul, I am a wolf.
The Shifters' Encyclopedia : Pinky
INDEX: (note, this page is under construction)
1.Shifting/awereness terms and beings.
2.Walk-Ins/Walk-Outs and Walk-In's Disease
3.Shifter's Disease and Doubter's Syndrome
--All of the following are based on my personal experiences/research. Nothing in this has been taken from any other sources and any similarities is purely coincidental. Also note that these are not to be taken as Black and White gospel, there are shades of gray... I intend for these to help when reading my posts (on AHWW) about shifting. If you don't agree with these terms, that's fine and dandy, just keep in mind, these will help see where I stand on the issues... from my POV. Shifter: Any person, animal, etc. that practices any type of transformation listed below.
1. Mental Shift (MS):
A condition known to affect "weres" (even if said humans don't know about their awereness) when one species within their own spirit or soul is dominant over any other. In most cases "weres" are "mentally shifted" in their human mindset. The actual shift occurs when the mindset changes from human to animal (e.g. Wolf) or Vice Versa. A mental shift can also occur with a physical shift, whereas you change in mind or soul, as well as in body. (From my personal point of view, the soul never changes... unless other forces are involved, it Just _is_, a certain part may become more dominant, but the repressed 'side' is still present).
2. Spirit Shift (SS):
Some people use this term hand in hand with the MS, but they are not the same. This term may have a variety of connotations or dictations... I use it such as this, a SS occurs when a spirit guide (SG) is involved. In this case, the SG is a separate entity from the individual involved. Now this could either mean that #1, the SG assumes control over the body (which could be considered a "Walk-In"). #2, Your SG leaves, and may be replaced by another (of the same or separate species). A SS could also be thought of as a "Walk-Out" situation, but I've attempted to include that with the walk-out section and removed from the SS.
3. The Astral Shift (ASS):
I know very little on this subject, and appreciate thoughts/help. From what I know of this, you can astrally leave your body and become that of another form, either by shifting the appearance of the spirit, or entering the body of another being on this plane (this too is included in the Walk-Out/Walk-In section, and overlaps with that of the shapestealer definition below).
Aural Shift (AS):
Again, I know nothing on this subject. What I have heard, the aura (if you can see them) takes on the shape of the animal/wereside. I've also heard that with the AS, the person can take on some characteristics of that animal, mentally, but not a total mental shift.
5. Dream Shift (DS):
This is sometimes the most common form of shifting, at least, for those that can remember their dreams. This is exactly how it sounds, shifting while dreaming. It could be any of the mentioned forms of shifting here, the most common being the Physical Shift (below). For me, I tend to shift in my dreams when there is a genuine desire, or a need to shift. Such as, being attacked in dreams will cause me to shift.. never tried it in RL, hope I don't have to find out that way.
6. Physical Shift (PS):
The stuff dreams are made of... This shift alone, for those who believe, is a goal for the majority of "Weres" want to experience. This is indeed going from form A to form B with the body as the artistic media. A shift in body, many weres feel with the PS, they can become what they truly are on the inside, now reflecting on the outside. Only a handful of people have admitted publicly to being able to PS, or having been able to PS in the past (say once or twice). They are generally either bombarded with questions, or are treated as lunatics, liars, or role players. Thus, most PSers remain quiet about their abilities, and generally share their stories with people they wholeheartedly trust or sometimes, those just willing to listen. *Hint: Most of the time, if you wish for PSers to tell their tales, you must keep an open mind and a closed mouth.
7. The Shadow Shift (SWS):
This type of shifting should not be confused with the PS. This is a term to be used for the type of shift that occurs when only the appearance shifts. This usually takes place when there is little available light, a sort of mass hallucination if you will, but whatever the case, the object being focused upon, appears to be something else. Unlike the PS, this type of shifting is "looks only," you wouldn't gain any extra senses, or characteristics from this... it is, in fact, very similar to just putting on a fursuit (but without the suit).
8. The Relocation Shift (RS):
This subject I've heard about, but I still am quite ignorant on. From what I know about this type, the shifter's spirit leaves the body (in about the same way as an 'astral projection') and then forms a new physical body (from what I can tell, they can choose the shape).
Also known as 'Skinwalkers' and 'FleshDancers,' this is a type of shifting feared the world over. They can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. They can just merely take on the form of another entity. Some claim that the shapestealer must kill the person/animal/etc they wish to take the form of. This could also include Walk-Ins, whereas, they leap into the body of the one they wish to steal, essentially taking it over, and may or may not kick out the 'original.' (That particular method however is also in many references describing the 'astral shift').
10. The "Borrowers" or "Attributes"
-Adapted from D.J. Conway's section called "Shapeshifting" from her book "Animal Magick." Specifically, this deals with the section on shapeshifting, which in her book is a misnomer, simply because it deals with a "Mental" or "Spiritual" shift instead of a "PS" which is most associated as meaning "shapeshift." I have taken her basic idea and changed the format to produce a 'hybrid' form of shifting. Essentially, this is a mixture of the Mental, Physical, and Aural Shift, in varying degree (That is to say that One or Two could overshadow the other(s), or the repressed one(s) appear to be nonexistant). Unlike the types of shifts (being separate) noted above, this type of shift can give you attributes of _any_ animal/spirit guide (not necessarily that of the wereside, or your personal spirit guide). These 'attributes' can be in the form of a physical (for example: "strength"), aural ("senses") or mental ("cognitive abilities").
This wereside is a term widely used to express the "animal" side of a person, typically called "weres" or "Therianthropes." There are several "Shades of Gray" with these "types" of "awereness." For many people, there is no separate "animal side," they *are* the animal. They show in many ways such animal characteristics and attributes as a normal part of their mental state and being. Others within this category are "Transpecies" even "Transgenders" or both. This is a case of "Oops, wrong body," where said person feels they were intended to be born into a different existence, be it another species or another sex. Other people feel as if they are not their weresides (But the wereside is not a separate entity). Many cases of this show that their is a human side, and an animal side of the same "spirit" or "soul." (In which case there may be a 'middle section' whereas the two 'sides' can combine to have traits of both). This also has another situation, where the two 'sides' can exist at the same time, one being the human component, the other being the animal component. Both can exist without each other, but are still parts of the same "Spirit."
12. Spirit Guides (SG):
This may not be correct according to other 'Authorities' but this is what I've gathered and learned over the years. The Spirit Guide (in my POV) is any separate benign entity living along with the 'true spirit owner' of the body. Many "weres" consider their SG to be their 'wereside.' This is NOT the case, the wereside and the SG are two completely different entities. You wereside may be the same species as the SG, but the SG is not a part of you. SG's are separate spirits, they can come and go as they please, and may only stay with you for al limited about of time (Usually a SG will "guide"/help you in some way, and as soon as it has fulfilled it's "duty," it leaves, perhaps to help another). Also, your wereside could be your SG, but your SG cannot be your wereside. Unlike the wereside the SG is separate (as I've mentioned over and over) and could even be considered a "Walk-In," but I won't overcomplicate matters by overlapping the two terms. The SG functions differently from you, which could give you insight into certain situations, they can help show or "guide" you to the correct path.
Walk-In's and Walk- Outs:
Another Segment of my series of Shifting Posts for the Shifting FAQ.
--Again, anything mentioned here is of my own research, experience, etc. Nothing here is set in stone, or known to be 'real,' but everything is written as if it were a normal everyday occurrence (which generally isn't the case). If you have any comments, questions, advice, or can offer help, please email me or reply to this post.
Walk-Ins (WI's): The term "Walk-in" is used to describe a spirit that manifests a physical body, to which it was not the "original owner." There are two primary types of WI's, Positive and Negative. Positive WI's come into the body and can mutually share it with the original (one example being a spirit guide), came in with the consent of the owner, or "take over" an unwanted body after the original owner decided to "Walk-Out" (more on this later). Negative WI's are those that literally come in uninvited, take control over the body, or in extreme cases, kick out, or "displace" the original owner.
Walk-Outs (WO's): These are spirits that for whatever reason (voluntarily, or displaced) left their body, and either become reincarnated, or become free spirits.
Free Spirits (FS): These are spirits that are "free" to do whatever they want (or can). Many spirit guides are "Free Spirits" in that they remain spirits to "Guide" us in certain situations where they may be needed. (If you know more on this subject, let me know, I'd appreciate some help.)
Now for a little bit of information on Walk-In's and Walk-Outs. In most cases, a spirit "walks in" when the original owner "walks out" (in other words, most WI's don't share the body with the owner, nor do most WI's force the original owner out). Ok, so what causes a spirit to walk out? Most spirits that end up taking a hike leave after a traumatic experience (like a car accident, etc.). Many people who claim to have had a "near-death" experience, or those that are "born-again" seem to be completely different people than before these experiences. Well, they just *might* be different people... i.e. WI's.
Also, many spirits that walk out, had severe emotional problems for a significant period of time. They can in a way, displace themselves. Many times, when a person becomes severely depressed, their "psychic shields" are weakened. Psychic shielding is what most people have, and use to protect themselves from wandering spirits. If the shields are weakened enough, another spirit can walk in, and if they see that the original owner _wants_ to die, well, they just might do the displacing for them. In which case the WI would love to have the body for themselves.
Now, about negative WI's. These are the ones you see in the movies, and not much anywhere else. Although it is possible for a spirit to literally TAKE the body from the owner, most of the time they just don't care to, the body isn't *that* important. Negative WI's don't always *remove* the original owner, just take over the body for a 'test drive' so to speak. Maybe try it out once for the hell of it and never look at it again.
Ok, now for those that share the body with the original, one example of which is a "spirit guide." The mutual WI doesn't wish to harm the owner, but rather live with it, learning new things from the original, and also help the original live as fruitful a life as possible. In some cases this type of WI is not benefitful, and would love to get rid of the original. This type of negative WI could be a disaster in the making, especially if it ever assumed control over the physical body. Now to the POV of the WI itself. Most of the time, the new "tenant's" living quarters are "furnished." That is to say, the memories, etc. of the original now belong to the WI. In many cases the WI then forgets what went on in the spiritual sense, and they aren't even aware that they are WI's. On the other hand, some WI's are aware of who and what they are, but most of the time keep quiet about it. They then live as "normal" a life as possible.
Walk In's Disease (WID):
Now that I've explained some details of WI's and WO's, I must explain Walk-In's Disease. Please don't assume that someone you know, or even yourself, may be in some way affected by a WI or other spiritual matters. Please don't mistake your own normal attributes with the descriptions of the above. There is very little chance you have, or ever will be, affected by such things. Now, if you think someone you know might be a WI or affected by one, don't say anything.
#1. What's done has been done. Talking to them about it can't do much good, especially if the original is already "lost."
#2. If this person were really a WI, and wished to discuss this, they would have talked to you about it long ago... or perhaps they are waiting for the right moment to bring it up. Either way, don't pry into their personal life because you are curious.
#3. They just might think you're a nut. Remember, most WI's aren't knowledgeable about their "condition." It would be like telling a normal person you think they are "were," and probably wouldn't accept your thoughts on the subject as even being realistic.
#4. Leave well enough alone. You'd save face and keep a friend. No point in bringing up anything of this nature. I'm sure if you were true friends with a WI, and they cared to talk about it, they would have long ago.
Now, before you start asking "Since when is shifting a disease?" hear me out. This is similar to "Medical Student's Disease" (MSD) for anyone that's heard of it.
For those that have no idea what I'm talking about, I'll explain later. I just ask that you read the whole thing with an open mind before you even consider replying. All comments and suggestions are welcome, remember, this will be on the FAQ.
MSD is a condition where upcoming doctors are reading/studying notes on diseases, virii, other ailments, and their symptoms. At some point in these studies, they may read "And the starting symptom of 'delusionitis' (for example) is a headache." Well, you know what? When you've been studying all night with a desk lamp in your face, you just *might* have a headache.
The student reads on "...tingling and cramping of one side, starting with the hand is also a common symptom..." Oops, said student had been rewriting 4-5 weeks worth of notes in one night... oh no, his hand is cramped!
"Next a feeling of discomfort starts from the upper thigh, through the back to the neck..." Again, the student has been studying all night, and let's face it, those dorm chairs/desks are NOT fitted for the average students 'lower regions.' Thus, the student has neck and back pain from sitting in the chair all night, studying...
By the time the student is done studying, he's probably already convinced himself that these normal, everyday occurrences, are really symptoms of a rare, often never heard of (in this case, fictional) disease.
Shifter's Disease is very similar. Many 'weres' have associated their own normal traits and habits with that of shifting. (Although this is most common with PSing, it can occur with any type.) I've seen everything from a zit to cramps (yes, even menstrual) and to headaches being confused with shifting. Now, while it's a distinct possibility that these very much could be part of shifting, one must also keep record of what's "Normal" to/for themselves. This condition is usually aided when said person has more faith that doubt.. In this case, too much faith can be "unhealthy."
Doubter's Syndrome (DS):
Now... with those that have more doubt...
This "syndrome" (if you wish to call it that) can be as simple as not believing in shifting, or as extreme as being the complete opposite as "Shifter's Disease" (i.e., you think nothing is going on, even if you watch fur sprout from your hand). There isn't really much to say about this, DS is just a condition of more doubt that faith. While you may keep a firm grasp on the belief in shifting, there may be key elements you have doubts with. For example, I've heard a large range of DS from "I believe it's possible, but *I* can't do it" and "If you don't reach the shift by puberty (or some age) you'll never shift." DS isn't stating that these *aren't* true, they just might be. They *are* demonstrating a reasonable amount of doubt (or should I say, giving one a reason behind the initial doubt) enough to make someone not bother trying, or not believing at all. In some cases, a person cannot prove or disprove the existence of shifting, so DB helps fill in that void of reason with disbelief.
It is my personal belief that a good healthy mix of both Doubt and Belief will get you closer to your goal... for all of life's challenges, not just shifting.
Commentaries from Others:
What is "Shifter's Disease"? - by Polar [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Pinky has asked me to write a little on what she terms shifter's disease, so here goes.
Shifter's disease is actually a phenomenon that can and does happen to anyone who is obssessed or enamored with a certain subject, whether it be a particular religion, a hobby, or what have you. In the context of those who are or want to be shifters, it occurs when a person starts reading some therianthropic meaning into mundane, everyday occurances. In other contexts it is much the same, as for example, somebody who is into working "magick", who starts to develop a tendency to see natural occurances that are probably a coincidence (ranging from seeing a lightning bolt to winning or inheriting some money) as a result of their "magick" rather than something that would have happened regardless, and begins to develop megolomaniac tendencies as a result. Likewise, somebody obssessed with a hobby, like, say, computer programming often begins to take that hobby with them into the rest of their lives and does such things as instinctively substituting functions from C++ or LISP (or -heh- COBOL) into their ordinary language.
Somebody who is obssessed with shapeshifting can easily fall into the trap of thinking that things like hot flashes or temporary dizzy spells are in fact "aura shifts" or "mental shifts", when in fact they happen to everyone at some point in their life. Songs that have nothing whatsoever to do with lycanthropy suddenly do, to the person suffering from shifter's disease. My favorite example in this category is when Alonis Morrisette sings "I am aware now, I am aware now", and I'll bet you that a whole bunch of people who are used to using the word Were in the context of a shapeshifter heard that song and the first thought that popped into their heads was that she was singing "I am a were now..." This can reach the point of the absurd, as therianthropic meanings can be read into almost *anything*. You semen was watery when you were a teenager and you read somewhere that puppies have watery semen - a-ha! A definite sign of...something therianthropic. You can hear a high-pitched noise coming from your TV set - must be your ability to hear into the lupine hearing range (while in actuality, any human whose hearing isn't significantly damaged can hear the high-pitched sound from the TV.) You howl and growl in your sleep. How do you know this, did you record yourself? No, but you dreamed about howling and growling in your sleep once. You have sharper than normal canines, or bushy eyebrows, or eyes that change color depending on your mood. Definitely a therianthropic sign there! Never mind that many people have those traits, and probably most of them would go "huh?" if you asked them if they were werecritters. Your eyes glow red in that picture that somebody took of you. Another therianthropic sign! (Actually, everybody's eyes look red in indoor flash pictures.)
Then there is the area in which shifter's disease takes hold the strongest, and that is pertaining to the shift itself. Anything and everything can suddenly become a sign of an impending shift. Hot flashes...sweating...an adrenaline rush...a "weird feeling"...a headache. Everybody gets these now and then, and you probably got them at different times during your life too and thought nothing of them. Now, however, they are all cause for excitement and question: "Was that a sign of an impending physical shift? Maybe it was a brief mental shift or aura shift!" No, it was just a hot flash. The rule of paw here is, if you have to ask whether or not it was a mental shift, it probably wasn't. This is not to say that certain feelings, whether they be feelings of "phantom tails" or "phantom paws", or animalistic instincts taking over during certain situations, are not valid phenomena. They are. It's just that these valid phenomena should not be confused with everyday, mundane stuff that has no relation to a shift.
So, how to avoid shifter's disease? The best way IMHO is to maintain a sense of perspective. As mentioned above, if you have to ask whether or not it was a mental shift, it probably wasn't. If you don't have to ask and you know without a doubt that it was a mental shift, it probably was. It is also helpful to keep in mind that everybody else has their own private likes, loves, and obssessions, and most of them probably have nothing to do with shapeshifting. Alonis Morrisette is not, sorry to say, singing about being a were now. Neither is Rush's "Subdivisions" about weres being outcasts at school (even though it is about outcasts at school in general) and that person you see with the bushy eyebrows and sharp canines is not *necessarily* a werewolf, sorry to say. Most importantly, try to learn what your own abilities are and aren't, and you will be less likely to confuse the real thing with something totally unrelated. And if you have the problem of too much unbelievable stuff happening to you, as if being a werecritter isn't enough, start questioning whether it is even happening in the first place or whether it is just in your imagination.
"Theory & Ritual in P- Shifting" by Sterling
It has been noted that the mind has powers over the body that often go unexplained. This text is a compilation of many theories, both written and verbal, that may help those seeking the secrets of the p-shift.
It has been proposed that in order to initiate a physical shift in form one must first overcome the limitations of the mind. One way to accomplish this is to force/coax yourself into an alternate state of awareness where all the things you have been told you are not able to do are forgotten and you are left with only your basic primal being.
A good method for shifting one╚s awareness is Ritual. Note that Ritual is not used in a religious sense here, but as the literal definition shown below:
Ritual : rit▓u▓al adj : any practice done or regularly repeated in a set precise manner so as to satisfy one╚s sense of fitness and often felt to have a symbolic or quasi-symbolic significance.
In other words, something you do regularly ,repeatedly, or in such a manner as to alter your state of mind. Several examples of this are seen in many religious practices such as monk╚s chanting, old shamanistic rites that included meditation, chanting, and drum beating, prayer, self-hypnosis etc.
A ritual can be any little thing you do to put yourself into an altered state of mind. For some this may include the use of drugs or other chemicals, while to others it may be a very long and complicated rite with long periods of chanting or prayer. While I do not condone the use of drugs for any reason other than prescribed medical purposes, both of these methods have proven effective to different individuals that I have spoken with.
Established rituals can be a good starting point, but it has been my experience that the ritual you create yourself will be more effective for you.
How does this relate to p-shifting you ask? It is very simple. It has been proven by several behavioral and clinical studies that every little thing you hear/see/experience is stored somewhere in your brain. Whether you can recall it or not, it is there. It has also been proven that the most critical time for learning is childhood, and the key figures for learning are your parents and first teachers.
While changing shape or form is very common in children╚s stories and a popular subject for film and television, 99.9% of the time when a child asks what is happening they are told that what they are seeing is NOT possible in ╬real life╚. This also goes for things that a child reads or hears from his/her friends; their parents will tell them that it is just not real and cannot happen.
This is the reason, I believe, that most adults can not conceive of the possibility of changing form. They were taught, directly or indirectly, that it could not happen. Since that teaching is so engrained and buried in our conscious minds, it becomes necessary to shift our awareness away from the things we have learned that we can╚t do, and cope with the possibility of the extraordinary. This is where ritual can help.
Most people have had experiences in which they have succumb to repetitious sounds, patterns of light, or other stimuli that fall in to a regular pattern. A good example of this is when a person is on a long road trip and they suddenly become aware that they have traveled several miles and need to stop for gas, but can not recall what happened in the time it took them to get where they are. The body goes in to ╬auto- pilot╚ mode and the brain diverts itself with other, more interesting things until something out-of-the-ordinary happens to bring attention back to the task at hand.
It is during this time when it may be most possible to step outside the realm of what is learned as possible or not and achieve either partial or total physical shift. As the seeker is unaware of what they are doing, and thus not able to counter it with a conditioned response, I believe this to be a valid theory.
More support is lent to this approach evidence of partial
or total ╬shift while in other altered states of mind such as rage,
ecstasy, or fear. Numerous individuals have reported that they have felt
their body change, their senses sharpen, their strength increase, and had
others remark that they became noticeably larger, stronger, faster, or
different in appearance while in such ╬crisis situations╚
or under the influence of such primal emotions. While most will explain
away the altered perception as adrenal influence, perhaps even some of
the physical attributes given, adrenaline alone cannot account for the
appearance change to animal resemblance such as hair, nail, and tooth growth,
change of body shape, or height difference. While adrenaline can make you
appear larger by muscle mass, it cannot change your height, nor can it
lengthen your arms and fingers, or make your canine teeth extend beyond
their normal measurements. Thus it becomes necessary to look at alternate
means to achieve the same mental state as in the above examples, and ritual
can offer a very easy and direct means to this end.