Alpha, Wolf Packs & Therians

Alpha, Wolf Packs & Therians

Original Copy

Alpha

The first letter in the Greek Alphabet (as I’m sure we all know). Alpha has taken on many connotations over time, from types of social personalities to individuals in canine (and primate) groups. I will discuss here, the context of Alpha in Wolf packs versus Therian groups.

Other keywords to understand: Hierarchy, Dominance Hierarchy, Family/Familial Hierarchy Beta, Omega.

Wolves

Outmoded notion of the alpha wolf

The concept of the alpha wolf is well ingrained in the popular wolf literature at least partly because of my book “The Wolf: Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species,” written in 1968, published in 1970, republished in paperback in 1981, and currently still in print, despite my numerous pleas to the publisher to stop publishing it. Although most of the book’s info is still accurate, much is outdated. We have learned more about wolves in the last 40 years then in all of previous history.

One of the outdated pieces of information is the concept of the alpha wolf. “Alpha” implies competing with others and becoming top dog by winning a contest or battle. However, most wolves who lead packs achieved their position simply by mating and producing pups, which then became their pack. In other words they are merely breeders, or parents, and that’s all we call them today, the “breeding male,” “breeding female,” or “male parent,” “female parent,” or the “adult male” or “adult female.” In the rare packs that include more than one breeding animal, the “dominant breeder” can be called that, and any breeding daughter can be called a “subordinate breeder.”

For details, see www.wolf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/267alphastatus_english.pdf and www.wolf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/247Leadership.pdf

Source: http://www.davemech.org/news.html | View the Alpha Wolf video on YouTube

It’s important to understand that while wolves can and do organize themselves in a sort of Dominance Hierarchy, where the Alpha(s) is the highest rank in all ways and reaches said rank through leading, posturing and fighting, this behavior is only seen under special circumstances such as a group of [usually] unrelated individuals (captive bred or captured from the wild) being forced to live together or some other form of human involvement/intervention.

In the wild, it is incredibly rare for Dominance based Hierarchy to form naturally, but when it does it usually involves a large number of wolves (Example: See the Druid Wolf Pack of Yellowstone National Park), with the average pack being only 6-7 individuals, these packs can number 10 to 20 or more.

Large packs can be a good sign regarding the environment, and resources (like food/prey animals). These [super] packs do not last long. Disease spreads faster in large groups, resources run out quickly with more mouths to feed, and excessive infighting can result smaller alliances, and death of those subordinate individuals.

Natural wolf packs, instead, tend to be simply a family group utilizing a simple Family or Familial Hierarchy. In this structure, the head of the group is the breeding pair, or mother and father. The subordinates being their older and younger offspring.

For additional research and helpful information:

Other Common “ranks”

Beta – When applicable, this is often the second in command filled by the eldest offspring, sibling of the alpha or simply the strongest (but not stronger than the alpha) of the group. Behavior and duties include lending aid to the alphas, existing as replacement to the alphas should they die, can’t perform their duties or otherwise turn up MIA (Missing In Action).

Omega – When applicable, The lowest rank. Sometimes a “jokester”, playful adult, and playmate for youngsters. Often the scapegoat and living punching bag to relieve stress and frustration of all other members of the group. Omegas can be/do get bullied to death or run out of the group.

Therians

There are at least two types of social groups for Therians. These are Packs and Howls.

Howls are simply meet-up groups. These individuals gather at regular intervals (weekly, monthly, annually, etc.) for various reasons. Some reasons might include (but not limited to) Discussion of Therianthropy itself, Discussion of the Online/Offline community, Discussion of personal Therianthropy, other fun or serious community-building events… I may get more into detail about Howls another time.

Packs are usually groups of Therians that form for the purpose of socialization and belonging. At it’s core, it’s just a friendship group. Some however take a more serious or professional purpose (more common for older/adult groups), gaining a title and recognized reputation. They might regularly organize Howls, community service, education and/or other events. Others might form for more relaxed and common purposes (more common for 20-and-under crowds) such as roleplaying, going to the mall, not being alone in school, etc. Many of the “fun” or “young” packs are online-only groups, whereas “serious” or “adult” groups might be more likely to have an offline presence as well.

Ranks in Therian Packs are sometimes applied under a bit of ignorance (lack of knowledge) by those who may be attempting to resemble real wolf packs, without an accurate working knowledge of how wolf packs actually operate in the wild. Ranks are otherwise applied with careless intent. Some use them purely for aesthetic appeal (to seem cool), others have expressed or suppressed need to be in-charge, in-power or control others. Some express a desire or need to care for others.

Social order happens naturally. Reasons for using ranks and labels for Therian social groups can be as varied as the individuals themselves, but humans have a need for labels, and so by following the example of other Therian Packs, or a loose understanding of wolf packs (or other animal social groups) many Therian groups apply ranks to their individual members sometimes with roles and duties included, sometimes not.

In Summary and Conclusion

Dominance based hierarchy is not common of natural and wild wolves. Alpha with the connotation of being the biggest, smartest, fastest, the best, the top dog, etc. Does not apply to these packs. Instead, natural and wild wolves breed, and build families. The leaders are purely the mother and father. Subordinates are their offspring.

Cases in which wolves express dominance hierarchy almost always come from those unrelated groups forced together in captivity or other wild groups that have had some other human involvement.

Therian groups are not wolf packs and will likely share a majority of their characteristics (social structure/order) with that of other human social groups and many ill-informed or ignorant might attempt to model their packs after misunderstandings of wolf packs.

Additional Quick Facts

While wolves and domestic dogs are most commonly associated with hierarchy-based group structure, but plenty of other animals utilize such social hierarchical orders (some dominance-ruled others not). Some examples are (but not limited to): Humans, Baboons, Chickens, Hyenas, Meerkats, African wild dogs, Gorillas, orcas. – Pretty much any social species uses some method of organization within their groups, sometimes it is dominance run, other times it’s sex based, and so on.

Wolves usually mate for life.

When a young wolf reaches sexual maturity (adulthood for most animals), 2 years old for females and 3 years old for males, they will leave their natal (birth) pack willingly or be kicked out by their parents to find a single mate and start their own pack (family).

Wolf pups are born with blue eyes. No pureblood adult wolf has blue eyes.

Most black-colored wolves (seen in Grey/Timber and Red wolf subspecies) are likely to be descended from a wolf-dog hybrid.

Wolves only have four toes (and no dew claw) on their back paws.

Wolves don’t howl at the moon, they angle their heads to the sky to give their howl as much distance as possible, to be heard from other wolves (packmates, rival packs, roaming bachelors/bachelorettes, etc.).

Barking/yipping is rare in wolves and only used as a warning.
http://www.wolf.org/wolf-info/basic-wolf-info/biology-and-behavior/communication/

Very Real Risks to Blood-Drinking

Risks from Human blood consumption
*All sources provided with each snippet/quote. Please notify me if any links are broken

BLOODBORNE INFECTIOUS DISEASES: HIV/AIDS,HEPATITIS B, HEPATITIS C

– Exposures to blood and other body fluids occur across a wide variety of occupations. Health care workers, emergency response and public safety personnel, and other workers can be exposed to blood through needlestick and other sharps injuries, mucous membrane, and skin exposures. The pathogens of primary concern are the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Workers and employers are urged to take advantage of available engineering controls and work practices to prevent exposure to blood and other body fluids. – http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/bbp/

List of Bloodborne Pathogens

Bloodborne illnesses are caused by microscopic pathogens. –

Bloodborne pathogens cause diseases through contact with blood. Since these diseases are present in an infected persons’ blood they are often present in other bodily fluids, so direct contact with blood is not always the only way to transmit them. Some bloodborne pathogens pose few significant health threats and some are potentially fatal, often by leading to other illnesses. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers extensive information about these pathogens.

– Read more: List of Bloodborne Pathogens | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_6822351_list-bloodborne-pathogens.html#ixzz1r6vFNEtT

  • Hepatitis B – Hepatitis B attacks the liver. It can cause fatal liver conditions like cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. The CDC estimates that 3,000 people die each year from Hepatitis B related illness in the United States. Hepatitis B is commonly transmitted among drug users through shared needles and can be transmitted through any blood contact that involves a puncture of the skin or mucosal contact with other infectious body fluids.
  • Hepatitis C – The CDC lists Hepatitis C as the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States. Hepatitis C is transmitted most efficiently through direct blood contact involving a skin puncture. Transmission through sex or contact with other bodily fluids is possible but uncommon. As with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C can result in chronic, fatal liver diseases. The CDC estimates that four times as many people die from Hepatitis C related illnesses than from Hepatitis B.
  • HIV – Human immunodeficiency virus causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). AIDS weakens the immune system making it difficult for infected persons to resister other illnesses. AIDS is a late stage of the HIV viral infection and HIV medications can stave off the onset of AIDS for years or even decades. HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual activity but can also be contracted through direct blood contact though skin punctures or to mucus membranes. The CDC recorded over 14,000 HIV related deaths in 2007.
  • Viral Hemorrhagic Fever – Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) refers to a group of illnesses that affect multiple organ systems. Bleeding, or hemorrhaging can be a major symptom of these diseases. The CDC has a Special Pathogens Branch that deals with the most sever VHFs. Insects and rodents are known hosts of VHFs but the hosts of some VHFs are unknown. Ebola and Marburg are two of the most well-known and dangerous VHFs. CDC records of Ebola and Marburg outbreaks indicate that the viruses most commonly occur in a few African countries and are often fatal. VHFs can be transmitted through blood and other bodily fluids but the fluids do not have to enter the skin through a puncture to cause infection.

Animal Blood – Safety of Pig vs. Cow blood (contributed by Orb)

Though the possibility of becoming ill from Pork blood is small, why risk it at all? It has nothing to do with pathogens, but instead with parasites. Trichinosis is a gastrointestinal illness caused by the intestinal roundworm, Trichinella spiralis. Trichinosis is prevented by cooking all pork and pork products at a temperature and for a sufficient amount of time to allow all parts to reach 71° C.

The eggs of this parasite can be found in a certain percentage of all pigs raised for dietary uses … which is why everyone always tells you to be certain to cook pork thoroughly before eating. It can also be found in the blood of the animal. Unfortunately, heating the blood to the suggested 71° C essentially destroys it, as far as it being “fresh” any longer, though you can make a nice blood pudding from it (I hear, I don’t do cooked blood).

In the infective stages, trichinosis causes intestinal ailments, nausea, vomiting, and watery stools. Later symptoms are facial swelling, headache, and delirium. Some people recovering from trichinosis suffer permanent heart or eye damage, and about 5 percent of cases are fatal. Trichinosis may be successfully treated with drugs before the blood migration phase (which is when the parasite eggs enter the blood stream of the host before attaching themselves to muscle fibers and forming cysts), but it is difficult to diagnose in the early stages. This disease is difficult to see in dietary pigs, and therefore a good deal of pork is sold that is infected. If you buy blood from a butcher, your chances of getting infected blood are higher, as it does not come from a major plant with FDA inspectors on site. The inspection system for small butcher shops is significantly different from that of major plants (more lax). Therefore, anytime you purchase ANY meat or blood product from a butcher you take a risk of some sort. Good reason to know your butcher well.

Beef blood is significantly safer as there are very few diseases or parasites that can be exchanged between humans and cows (mad cow disease being the only one I know of really – it being of little consequence here in the US).

Besides, I happen to like the taste of beef blood better than pig anyway.

http://www.drinkdeeplyanddream.com/realvampire/animal-blood.html

Other Risks of Blood-drinking

Besides the obvious (I hope) risk of becoming infected with a Blood-Borne Disease there are other risks involved, both mental and physical, to your and your donor that you definitely should be aware of. Those wishing to be “turned” especially should take note of these two pages.

To get the blood you need there are pretty much only three ways to do so: Cut another human being (donor), via menstruated blood, or via blood from a slaughter house. And the physical risks vary with each as well.

The common factor being there is no way to procure and drink blood that is completely risk-free. What goes for sex applies here to, the only true safety is to abstain. But, that aside, what are the risks behind each one?

Warning! The information below is not pretty nor glamorous, and I would not recommend eating anything while reading. It is, however, the truth which you as drinker, donor, or interested party should very much be aware of.

Click to read more: http://sarasvati.sanguinarius.org/oblbrsk.htm

Risks of blood-consumption and of blood-letting:

– Scarring

– Infection

– Blood loss

– HIV (AIDs)

– Hepatitis B & C

– VHF

– Salmonella or E. Coli (infected/undercooked meat and blood)

– trichinosis

– Brucellosis

– and many more..

 

A friend of mine years ago, “SpikeJonez” left me with this lovely little tale:

..then there were these other fellers. These guys come into the store, one of them kinda barrel-shaped and ruddy, wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt, boots, jacket and cowboy hat, the other being a beetle-like skinny guy with a pockmarked and skeletal face wearing a black trenchcoat and some metal t-shirt and jeans.

They come in and I roll out the patter of all of the things we have in the store, and when I get to “knives” they both practically leapt at the knife counter. I then proceed to demonstrate the various knives, and I’m noticing that they both have a peculiar tic, sort of weaving their heads occasionally and jerking it back into place.

They also had strange movements in other parts of their bodies, which I came to notice, too. I was used to seeing drunks and tweekers come in here and knew what their various drug-induced convulsions looked like, and this wasn’t it. Yet it looked kinda familiar, and I struggled to place it.

As the conversation goes on, I begin to suss out that these fellas think they are vampires, and they keep making thinly-veiled allusions to murdering people.

Now, New Orleans is swamp country, and there’s no better place to dispose of a body than in a gator-filled swamp, so I’d met my fair share of murderers down there. You can just tell the type of guy who could kill without compunction. I could tell that these guys were the type who could never kill a man, but I could also tell that they were the type to kill something.

Soon enough, the conversation moved on to blood, and at this point I just join in, unlike my usual quiet smiles when faced with such conversations. I mentioned that good blood is hard to find. The big guy looks over to the little guy and says “Not if you know where to find it,” and grinned a jack-o’-lantern grin, to which his cohort responded by oinking.

That’s when I realized what the deal was with the twitching. These guys had trichinosis. Yep, little worms were happily burrowing around in their brains driving them slowly insane, all because they drank infected pig’s blood. Hell, for all I know they got it from a rare porkchop at some backwoods roadside barbecue, but I like to think that it was their unsafe feeding habits that got them in the end. Remember kiddies, think before you drink!

Werewolves, Lycanthropy & Skinwalkers

Originally shared by: Amelia Nightside on Sunday, March 25, 2012

*additional sources may need to be cited.

Werewolves

So, what actually is werewolf or lycanthropy?

Is it a fact based on concrete evidences?

Is it a myth, fabrication of feeble minds?

Is it an exaggeration of some other things?

Well, all these questions have been puzzling mankind for last 5 centuries. Though many ingenious hypotheses have been suggested as possible explanations, definite conclusion can’t be drawn. Some experts have tried to observe it as purely supernatural phenomena while others have relied on scientific observations. Contradictions and debates still persist and will continue till any single theory solves the jigsaw which seems unlikely considering complexity and diversity of the topic. Nonetheless, the werewolf phenomenon has not perished yet; recent werewolf sightings are still reported.

The word werewolf is most likely to derive from two old-Saxon words, wer (meaning man) and wolf. Frequently used Greek terms Lycanthropy refers to the transformation process while Lycanthrope, which is in fact synonymous to werewolf, is the afflicted person. The popular definition of werewolf or lycanthrope is a man who transforms himself or being transformed into a wolf under the influence of full moon. – http://alam25.tripod.com/

Possible Explanations for the Werewolf phenomenon

  • Robert Burton, the clergyman and scholar, considered lycanthrope to be a form of madness as mentioned in his book Anatomy of Melancholy in 1621; he blamed every thing from sorcerers and witches to poor diet, bad air, sleeplessness and even lack of exercise for this.
  • The diet of medieval peasants may have been a source of werewolf delusions. Ergot infection on food grains like wheat and rye was common in Europe during the middle ages. This is actually a fungus which grows in place of grains in wet seasons after very cold winters. Alkaloids of this fungus are chemically related to LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, a strong hallucinogenic psychoactive drug which produces dream like changes in mood and thought and alters the perception of time and space. It can create lack of self-control, extreme terror and blurring the feeling between the individual and the environment.) Similar to this modern drug, Ergot poisoning results in hallucinations, mass hysteria and paranoia. Continuous exposure to this contamination through bread or other food items could contribute to either an individual believing he is a werewolf or a whole town believing that they have seen a werewolf.
  • Rabies – A strain of virus carried by dogs, wolves and other mammals including vampire bats causes Rabies. The virus strikes the central nervous system and produces uncontrollable excitement and painful contractions of the throat muscles’ intervention preventing the victim from drinking. Usually the patient dies within three or four days of first symptom.
  • Porphyria – At the 1985 conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, biochemist David Dolphin suggested that the untreated symptoms of Porphyria match many of the traits associated with the classic lycanthrope. One of them is severe photosensitivity, which makes venturing out into daylight extremely painful and thus dooms the sufferer to a life of shadows and darkness. As the condition advances, the victim’s appearance grows increasingly morbid; discoloration of the skin and an unusual thick growth of facial or body hair occurs. There is a tendency for an abnormal change in skin and formation of sores. Eventually the disease attacks cartilage (the soft bone) and causes a progressive deterioration of the nose, ears, eyelids and fingers. The teeth, as well as the fingernails and the flesh beneath them might turn red or reddish brown because of deposition of Porphyrin, a component of Hemoglobin in the blood. Porphyria is often accompanied by mental disturbance, from mild hysteria to delirium and manic-depressive psychoses.
  • Hypertrichosis – Hypertrichosis is also known as “Wolfitis”, refers to a condition of excessive body hair growth. In most cases, the term is used to refer to an above-average amount of normal body hair that is unwanted and is an aspect of human variability. The hair growth can be generalized, symmetrically affecting most of the torso and limbs, or localized, affecting a particular area of skin. Though severe Hypertrichosis is quite rare it results in excessive or animal-like hair on face and body.

http://alam25.tripod.com/exp.htm

Lycanthropy

Lycanthropy is the professed ability or power of a human being to transform into a wolf, or to gain wolf-like characteristics.

A more modern use of the word is in reference to a mental illness called lycanthropy in which a patient believes he or she is, or has transformed into, an animal and behaves accordingly. This is sometimes referred to as clinical lycanthropy to distinguish it from its use in legends. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lycanthropy)

Clinical lycanthropy

…is defined as a rare psychiatric syndrome that involves a delusion that the affected person can transform into, has transformed into, or is a non-human animal.[1] Its name is connected to the mythical condition of lycanthropy, a supernatural affliction in which humans are said to physically shapeshift into wolves. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinical_lycanthropy)

 

 

Skinwalkers

In some Native American legends, a skin-walker is a person with the supernatural ability to turn into any animal he or she desires, though they first must be wearing a pelt of the animal, to be able to transform. Similar lore can be found in cultures throughout the world and is often referred to as shapeshifting by anthropologists. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skin-walker)

Shapeshifting

… is a common theme in mythology, folklore, and fairy tales. … shapeshifting occurs when a being (usually human) either (1) has the ability to change its shape into that of another person, creature, or other entity or (2) finds its shape involuntarily changed by someone else. If the shape change is voluntary, its cause may be an act of will, a magic word or magic words, a potion, or a magic object. If the change is involuntary, its cause may be a curse or spell, a wizard’s or magician’s or fairy’s help, a deity’s will, a temporal change such as a full moon or nightfall, love, or death. The transformation may or may not be purposeful.

Berserkers (or berserks)

…were Norse warriors who are reported in the Old Norse literature to have fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury, a characteristic which later gave rise to the English word berserk. Berserkers are attested in numerous Old Norse sources. Most historians believe that berserkers worked themselves into a rage before battle, but some think that they might have consumed drugged foods.

Therian/Otherkin Bill of Rights

Summary

You have the right to identify as anything you happen to identify as, you have the right to be respected for who you are, you have the right to expect the same courtesy from others that you give them, you have the right to ask for proof of extraordinary claims, you have the right to ask questions, you have the right to say no to somebody trying to exert power over you, and you have the right not to be pressured to do things you don’t want to do.

Full Text

You have the right to be who you really are inside, whether that is a wolf, a bear, a big cat, a horse, a dog, or even a fish. It is no one else’s business to say or to judge. Sometimes you really do have to look and act like a respectable adult human in order to be successful in real life. But you don’t have to compromise on who you are inside even if you have to control how you look and act on the outside.

You have the right to be respected for who you are. No one else should be telling you what kind of animal you really are if that does not feel right to you, or what your aura really looks like, or what religion you should believe if you don’t want to. If someone tries to take power over you by telling you that they know more than you about who you are or what to believe, you can tell them no if you don’t agree. It can feel good to have other people tell you things about your identity that you want to hear, but be aware that you don’t have to agree with everything they say if it does not feel right to you. You are the sole owner of the real estate inside your own head.

You have the right to expect the same courtesy from others that you give to them. If you try to join a group that is disrespectful of you, or that wants you to bow and worship their authority, or that harasses and hazes newcomers, you can tell them no. You can find a community that is respectful to you and treats you the same as everyone else. No one else has the right to treat you like you are worth less than them, not even if they are bigger and older and more experienced than you.

You have the right to ask for proof of extraordinary claims. If someone says they can physically change into a wolf, or that green monkeys fly out of their butt, it is normal and reasonable to ask them to prove it. If they offer lots of excuses why they can not show you proof, you have the right to say you do not believe them and go find people to be with who do not feel the need to make up stories about how powerful and special they are. You may really want to believe that people can physically shift, but you need to think hard about whether you would believe a similarly extraordinary claim about something you aren’t so emotionally invested in (like, “I own an elephant that can fly”), and what standards of proof would be reasonable to expect under those circumstances. Then apply those standards. Keeping an open mind is good, getting fooled by people who can’t back up their grandiose claims is bad.

You have the right to ask questions. If someone gets mad because you questioned something they said, even in a polite way, or asked for proof of an extraordinary claim, you should consider whether they are being reasonable or mature. Being a therian does not make you so special that you get a free pass to be a jerk to other people, nor does it mean you have to put up with other people being a jerk to you. The therian community is actually a pretty big place, so if you find yourself in a section of it where people are being jerks, you can look for other therians to hang out with who aren’t jerks. You don’t have to stay in a bad friendship, even if you have an important thing in common with them.

You have the right to say no if someone tries to exert power over you without your permission. No one is your “alpha” unless you want them to be, and you should think very carefully about the maturity level of people who want power over others, especially if they try to demand it or take advantage of it in creepy ways. You especially have the right to say no if someone tries to touch you when you don’t want them to, or demands sex when you are not comfortable with that. Be very wary of any group or “pack” that uses power over people in an inappropriate way. You have the right to be respected, and you do NOT have to agree to be submissive to an “alpha” in order to have a close knit group of therian friends – a “pack” if you want to call it that – or a therian support community. Real wolves don’t actually behave that way in the wild. Authority based packs are a very human thing, and not always a healthy thing.

You have the right not to be pressured to do things you don’t want to do, especially if they are dangerous, harmful or illegal. Or even if they just make you feel uncomfortable. Real friends will not pressure you or force you if you say no, you don’t feel okay doing something.

Reuse Rights

You have to copy, use, reproduce, or modify this document as you see fit. You may use this document on your own websites, or in any way you choose.

This paticular version taken from: http://archive.is/X9kys#selection-1337.0-1385.147

**Edit of this specific document by Amelia Nightside

Readers of this piece may also be interested in:

Questioning in The Otherkin Community, by Seraphyna

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1C19a_q5GTOi8zuylyBtBoOs1GeG_-fpTArrSzUjB5DQ/edit?usp=sharing