*May need updating
Originally Published/Created by Amelia Nightside
February 5, 2014
I have found that many of those who are newly awakening, or even those already aware of a kin-type, often seem to be confused by what exactly Therianthropy is. Equally so, there seems to be a blurring of lines between Therianthropy, Spirit (animal) Guides, and Totem animals.
I would like to use this to explain to everyone the difference(s) between the three.
Define – First, I will define these terms, and then, if I feel it is needed, I will further explain the differences between each.
Therianthropy – This is an identity. Individuals who identify as a non-human [Earthly] animal are considered Therians. This identity most commonly is held psychologically and/or spiritually. This identity is often experienced via Shifts and species ( or sometimes body) dysphoria. This identity is often expressed via voluntary or involuntary behaviors, personal preferences and body modifications which may reflect that of their non-human identity.
What is a shift?
What is Species/Body Dysphoria?
Body dysphoria is used to describe general feelings of sadness or an uncomfortable mood. It can include feeling great anxiety, irritability or restlessness in relation to one’s physical body.
Body dysmorphic disorder, on the other hand, occurs when you have a preoccupation about some quality in your appearance.
- An animal, plant, or natural object serving among certain tribal or traditional peoples as the emblem of a clan or family and sometimes revered as its founder, ancestor, or guardian.
- A totem is any natural or mythical animal to whom you feel a close connection during your life or some particular period of your life. The energy of the totem animal speaks to you in some way that is relevant to your own personality or circumstance in life.
More on Totems:
Spirit Guide –
a term used by the Western tradition of Spiritualist Churches, mediums, and psychics to describe an entity that remains a disincarnate spirit in order to act as a guide or protector to a living incarnated human being.
A spirit guide can be an incorporeal, once human, individual, or a non-human creature (hence Spirit Animal).
Spirit Animal Definition
Spirit animals are typically associated with traditional as well as modern Western shamanic practices. During initiations or shamanic journeys, the shaman would find one or several animals that she or another person is associated with. Traditionally, the spirit animal is used for guidance.
Think of your spirit animal as a guardian spirit or spirit guide. It can play the role of protector and provides guidance. It’s like a “personal guide or protector” that has a personal affinity with the person it’s associated with.
In addition, the spirit of the animal could unite with the person it “chose” in more personal ways and one will often find similarities in traits of personality, characteristics, and synchronicity between the two. As such, the power or essence of the animal can be felt or communicated. In that sense, spirit animals can also be referred to as “power animals”.
Power Animals should never be confused as a Kin- or Theriotype. Power Animals are interpreted and expressed through humanized, often romanticized, traits and characteristics assigned as being related to that particular animal (even if naturally, such does not actually apply to the real animal). It is a metaphor, a representation, not an identity. I.E. – The fox is sly. The snake cunning. The bear is strong. The owl is wise.
Compare and Contrasts
One’s Therian-animal or, Theriotype, IS their identity, it IS what they feel they are, and often who they are integrally and internally, at their core.
A Spirit Animal is a type of guide, it can be a totem, but not all totems are also spirit guides.
Totems aren’t always permanent, though they can be, and will leave once their message has been received, or they’ve accomplished what they needed to.
A Spirit Guide (as an animal – per context of this article) and a Totem, are completely separate entities from one’s self, if they are entities at all and not just metaphoric symbols. A Theriotype is not seperate from a Therian, not metaphoric and is not a symbol, message or messenger in any way shape or form.
Often, a person can experience something like a shift in related to their Spirit Guide or Totem; This however, is a case of the entity trying to communicate or teach you something. A shift of this sort likely will not be recurring over a long period of time. More commonly, these entities appear to you via dream, meditative vision or by drawing such animals to be around your everyday life (this is not something that usually lasts forever, but can come and go if the totem and/or guide remains yours for an extended period of time/for life). – In short, there will be signs (as vague as that sounds).
Side Note –
It is possible to have the same type of creature as your theriotype and a totem or guide. It is important, however, to remember that a Guide/Totem is not YOU. While your Theriotype is you.
More on Spirit Guides, Totems & Therianthropy (were/as related):