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 Although most of the book’s info is still accurate, much is outdated.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One of the outdated pieces of information is the concept of the alpha wolf.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/

Reality of Physical Shifting: Eyes

Original: https://www.facebook.com/notes/amelia-nightside/physical-shifting-eyes/707014752672255
February 2, 2014

It is often claimed, in many communities and subcultures (Vampires, Otherkin and even pagans), that some people experience a physical shift of their eyes. This is often explained as a color change, but also I’ve heard of a change in the shape of the pupil (from the average, human’s round pupil, to a more elliptical pupil like that in a feline).. I will try to explain this phenomenon and if it holds any merit realistically.

First, let’s get some Basics

The eye is a slightly asymmetrical globe, about an inch in diameter. The front part of the eye (the part you see in the mirror) includes:

• The iris (the pigmented part)

• The cornea (a clear dome over the iris)

• The pupil (the black circular opening in the iris that lets light in)

• The sclera (the white part)

• The conjunctiva (a thin layer of tissue covering the front of the eye, except the cornea)

Just behind the iris and pupil lies the lens, which helps to focus light on the back of the eye. Most of the eye is filled with a clear gel called the vitreous. Light projects through the pupil and the lens to the back of the eye. The inside lining of the eye is covered by special light-sensing cells that are collectively called the retina. The retina converts light into electrical impulses. Behind the eye, the optic nerve carries these impulses to the brain. The macula is a small extra-sensitive area within the retina that gives central vision. It is located in the center of the retina and contains the fovea, a small depression or pit at the center of the macula that gives the clearest vision.

Eye color is created by the amount and type of pigment in the iris. Multiple genes inherited from each parent determine a person’s eye color.

http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/picture-of-the-eyes

 

How Your Eyes Work

Vision begins when light rays are reflected off an object and enter the eyes through the cornea, the transparent outer covering of the eye. The cornea bends or refracts the rays that pass through a round hole called the pupil. The iris, or colored portion of the eye that surrounds the pupil, opens and closes (making the pupil bigger or smaller) to regulate the amount of light passing through. The light rays then pass through the lens, which actually changes shape so it can further bend the rays and focus them on the retina at the back of the eye. The retina is a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye that contains millions of tiny light-sensing nerve cells called rods and cones, which are named for their distinct shapes. Cones are concentrated in the center of the retina, in an area called the macula. In bright light conditions, cones provide clear, sharp central vision and detect colors and fine details. Rods are located outside the macula and extend all the way to the outer edge of the retina. They provide peripheral or side vision. Rods also allow the eyes to detect motion and help us see in dim light and at night. These cells in the retina convert the light into electrical impulses. The optic nerve sends these impulses to the brain where an image is produced.

http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/resources-for-teachers/how-your-eyes-work

(interactive image available at the above link)

Eye Shape

The actual shape of your eyeball is very important. A misshapen eye can actually cause vision problems because it interferes with how light hits the rods and cones at the back of your eye, causing miscommunication from the optic nerves to the brain, this then would require the use of vision aid such as glasses or contacts.

Human eye shapes can affect vision. There are several different types of eyeball shapes: a normal eye, or one that’s emmetropic; an elongated or myopic eyeball, which causes nearsightedness; and a shortened or hyperopic eyeball, which results in farsightedness. The cornea and lens of the eye can also be shaped differently and affect vision.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/69728-human-eye-shape-types/

Pupil

In the eye, the pupil is the opening in the middle of the iris.

It appears black because most of the light entering it is absorbed by the tissues inside the eye.

In humans and many animals (but few fish), the size of the pupil is controlled by involuntary contraction and dilation of the iris, in order to regulate the intensity of light entering the eye.

This is known as the pupillary reflex.

In bright light, the human pupil has a diameter of about 1.5 millimeters, in dim light the diameter is enlarged to about 8 millimeters.

The shape of the pupil varies between species.

Common shapes are circular or slit-shaped, although more convoluted shapes can be found in aquatic species.

The reasons for the variation in shapes are complex; the shape is closely related to the optical characteristics of the lens, the shape and sensitivity of the retina, and the visual requirements of the species.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/p/pupil.htm

More on Pupil shape: http://www.journalofvision.org/content/13/9/607.abstract

Can your pupil change shape? Yes. Is this para-normal? Not really

Read an overview regarding changes in pupils: http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/tc/eye-problems-changes-in-your-pupils-topic-overview

Some causes of pupil shape changes include:

  • Iritis
  • Normal genetic variation
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Brain tumor
  • Syphilis

http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/symptoms/pupil_symptoms/causes.htm

Eye Color

How do we get it?

Human eye color originates with three genes, two of which are well understood. These genes account for the most common colors — green, brown, and blue. Other colors, such as gray, hazel and multiple combinations are not fully understood or explainable at this time.

We used to think of brown being “dominant” and blue being “recessive.” But modern science has shown that eye color is not at all that simple.

Also, eye colors don’t come out as a blend of the parents’ colors, as in mixing paint. Each parent has two pairs of genes on each chromosome. So multiple possibilities exist, depending on how the “Wheel of Fortune” spins.

http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/eye-color.htm

Get your fill gazing at those baby blues now, Mom, because there’s a chance they could become brown (or go green).

….

What’s responsible for this magical transformation in your baby’s eye color? The answer depends on the amount of melanin present in the iris (the colored part of the eye) — and that in turn is determined by the genes your baby has inherited — as well as other factors

http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/ask-heidi/baby-eye-color.aspx

Melanin is a protein. Like other proteins, the amount and type you get is coded in your genes. Irises containing a large amount of melanin appear black or brown. Less melanin produces green, gray, or light brown eyes. If your eyes contain very small amounts of melanin, they will appear blue or light gray. People with albinism have no melanin in their irises and their eyes may appear pink because the blood vessels in the back of their eyes reflect light.

http://chemistry.about.com/cs/howthingswork/f/eyecolor.htm

Finally, the big question:

Can eye color change? Simply put, sure but it’s not likely to be a good thing. Please continue reading…

Also, did you know your eye color can change over time? Since the eyes don’t constantly produce pigment, they can become lighter or darker as time goes on.

http://www.bitrebels.com/lifestyle/what-your-eye-color-reveals-about-you-infographic/

↑↑ Notice the words “..as time goes on”. Any natural change in color is a gradual change, not instantaneous as a result of mood, shifts or energy levels and related experiences.

Changes (lightening or darkening) of eye colors during puberty, early childhood, pregnancy, and sometimes after serious trauma (like heterochromia) do represent cause for plausible argument to state that some eyes can or do change, based on chemical reactions and hormonal changes within the body.

Studies on Caucasian twins, both fraternal and identical, have shown that eye color over time can be subject to change, and major demelanization of the iris may also be genetically determined. Most eye-color changes have been observed or reported in the Caucasian population with hazel and amber eyes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_color#Changes_in_eye_color

Why does my eye color change hourly? P.S. I am not joking.

Answer 1:

The quick answer is that yours eyes don’t change, but the way we see your eyes does. I said it was quick, not quick to understand. Here’s what’s happening. When we see something, we are really seeing light that comes from some source (a lamp, the sun, etc.) then bounces off an object and into our own eyes. There are some great tutorials on light and color at:

http://www.microscopy.fsu.edu/optics/lightandcolor/index.html.

Just click on a topic and an animation will be activated.

The angle we observe an object from can change the apparent color of an object. Take a glossy photograph or magazine picture and look at it from various angles. The picture doesn’t change, but the way we see it does. So does the light source. Look at the ocean on different days and from different angles (on the beach, from the pier, from the hills) and you will see a similar effect.

When different amounts and types of light (fluorescent, sunlight, etc.) hit your eyes from different angles, or we look at your eyes from different angles, they will seem to be different colors. When your pupil (the hole in the middle of your eye) is more dilated (open) or constricted (closed), the color will also seem to change. Imagine you stretch a balloon out; the color will lighten as the material stretches. Dilation or constriction of your pupil will also change light angles.

Your eyes may seem to change more than your friends’ eyes do if you have different pigments (colors) in your iris (the colored part of your eye).

By the time you understand why the color of your eyes seems to change, you will have learned a lot about both color and how yours eyes work

http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=916

↑↑ Based on this answer, one could say that even our own perceptions of our eyes as a third person, like through a mirror, could change depending on changes in light and angle.

The levels of melanin generally remain the same throughout life, but a few things can change them permanently.

The first is a handful of ocular diseases like pigmentary glaucoma. Another is a condition called heterochromia, or multicolored eyes, which affects about 1 percent of the population and is often caused by traumatic injuries. An example of this can be seen in the rock star David Bowie, who attributes his contrasting eye colors, hazel and light blue, to a blow to the face as a child.

The third cause appears to be genetics. A study in 1997, for example, looked at thousands of twins and found that 10 percent to 15 percent of the subjects had gradual changes in eye color throughout adolescence and adulthood, which occurred at nearly identical rates in identical twins.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/25/health/25real.html?_r=0

What causes the iris of the eye to change color? For most of my life, my iris color in each eye was dark brown. When I was in my 50s, the color began to lighten. I’m now 62, and the iris color is hazel, a mix of brown and green. Also, my father’s eyes slowly changed from hazel to pale blue by the time he was in his 70s…

Caucasian population will see a change in their eye color as they age. In the case of you and your father, the eye color changed due either to a gradual decrease in the number of pigment granules in the iris or to a degradation of the granules.

http://articles.philly.com/2012-07-03/entertainment/32509150_1_oxygen-eye-disease-blue-eyes

3 Know that you can’t permanently alter your eye color naturally. Although many of us may dream of having a different eye color, unless you undergo surgery or opt for contacts you won’t be able to permanently change the colors of your iris’. There are a few things that will change your color for a short period of time, but they are not permanent. Be careful about what you choose to do to change your eye color, as it may cause damage to your eyes or be unhealthy in other ways. As with all things, use caution and good judgment before altering your body. Talk to your doctor for further opinions on altering your eye color.

4 Understand that a drastic change in eye color could be a symptom of a serious illness. If you notice that your eyes have significantly lightened or darkened, you should visit your doctor for an appointment immediately. Drastic changes in eye color are symptoms of multiple ocular diseases and infections, and may be dangerous to your body. A small shift in eye color may be natural, but completely changing colors (for example, brown to blue) could be a serious symptom.

http://www.wikihow.com/Change-Your-Eye-Color-Naturally

One other possibility is magick, more specifically, Glamour spells. It is however, my belief that the real world is not like The Craft, and that glamour spells only effect others’ observations of you, not your actual appearance or physical body.. I also believe that, regardless of how it’s changed, it is not a permanent change.