View Full Version : Therianthropy and Plurality

31 Dec 2019, 21:36
I am plural - as in, my body is shared by multiple people. We are all different ages, genders, species, and are completely unique individuals with our own personality traits and interests. Think "multiple personalities", except we're more like "multiple people" and some of the pop culture ideas associated with that term are inaccurate. For one thing, none of us are "evil" and our way of existing isn't scary! :P We call our group The Primula System :) (the word "system" is widely used to describe a group of people sharing one body). For us, we do NOT consider our plurality to be a mental disorder or trauma related, although that is the case for some plural systems - for instance those with Dissociative Identity Disorder. My plurality is related to my spirituality because I feel that souls exist and my body contains multiple of them. Also, we suspect that at least one of the our system members originated from outside the body and essentially "walked in" at some point, which does bring up some spiritual questions for me.

I (Blue, the system host) am also a therian, which means my identity is (partially) nonhuman. I personally identify as a wolf, border collie, domestic cat, and hawk on a metaphysical level, as well as feeling partly human. I sometimes have "shifts", wherein I experience animal-like instincts, behaviors, and thinking patterns that are related to my nonhuman identities. This also relates to my spirituality - I theorize that my therianthropy is caused by past lives as these animals which left "marks" on my soul, impacts that make me feel like those animals are still a part of me in this human life. I'll admit though that I don't have "proof" for my theory and I'm open to the idea that it could be a mental quirk instead. To further clarify, some therians only identify as one animal, and many don't feel human at all; everyone's different! Many therians have spiritual explanations for their identities, while others see their nonhumanity as a purely psychological thing. Therian also falls under the umbrella of "otherkin" if that word rings a bell for some people :)

I guess I'm just posting this because it would be pretty disingenuous of me if I didn't at least mention these aspects of myself! Also I really like to educate and talk to other open-minded people about these unique identities! :) I honestly had no clue where to post this since it's spiritual but not technically pagan, so I basically just put it in the "no judgment" section to be safe. I'm new here and have no idea what I'm doing :P

**Also, to clarify for everyone, as far as I can tell I (Blue) will be the only user of this account. None of my systemmates have shown any personal interest in paganism so there's no reason for them to speak up on here. If that changes in a major way and someone else joins in on this account, I'll be sure to make that clear to people on here, in order to avoid confusion.

B. de Corbin
31 Dec 2019, 22:50
Well, as confusing as that seems at first glance, I' m sure we'll figure it out eventually.

So holla, BluePrimus!

01 Jan 2020, 00:39
Ah, I'm sorry for the confusion!! If the way I wrote it makes no sense, TL;DR is: "I have "multiple personalities" which means multiple people/"personalities" sharing my body together. And I identify as several different animals on a non-physical level. There may be spiritual reasons behind both." If you understand the writing but the ideas behind it are confusing, then in all honesty, me too. It sure as hell can be confusing to live with :P
Also, thank you! You greeted me on both my posts today, and I appreciate the warm welcome! :D

01 Jan 2020, 04:39
Wow so many wills in one body! Are you able to work? It could be hard to chanel your will into one task when there are so many people vying for 'up time' for want of a better phrase..

01 Jan 2020, 15:08
Yeah, really!! As far as work goes right now, no we don't have a job :/ But that's honestly mostly due to unrelated mental health issues that we're working on at the moment. I don't think that our plurality will prevent us from working in the future, when everything else has become more manageable. Right now we're dealing with things by letting the host (me) spend more time than others using the body, take on a lot of the responsibility, and have priority vote when it comes to making decisions on what we want to do in life. It's a good position to be in because I have more "control" over some things, but also really difficult in how stressful it can be to feel responsible for everything and everyone.

Making group decisions can be a pain, and the "multiple wills" thing is hard sometimes. For instance, we're super bad at managing money because we can't just stick with one or two hobbies and only spend money on that - no, 'A'a wants a rock collection, our little girls (4 and 6 years old) want "stuffies" and toys, I want to take up photography (expensive!), everyone wants to watch movies all the time (but never the same ones!), etc. and before you know it it's like "Where has all our spending money gone?" I'm lucky that I have financial support from my parents at the moment, but it's still pretty stressful sometimes.

It's also difficult when it comes to to bodily autonomy, because even a simple haircut will affect all of us, and permanent things like tattoos and such even moreso. At least some members of our system would love to go on testosterone HRT to become more masculine or gender neutral looking, but that's a hard thing to fully agree on when our body is home to everyone from grown men to nonbinary people to young girls to nonhumans to fictional characters. Basically every person in the system feels some form of body dysphoria, but they all contradict each other's.

09 Jan 2020, 08:34
Oh hi there! I'm also otherkin, and I also have a system. We're trauma-based, however. There's over twenty-five of us, but as you stated also, I'm the only one who has expressed interest in being here. It's nice to see someone who shares beliefs here!

09 Jan 2020, 10:53
In what way does this phenomena(?) differ from having a singular "self" (or no self) pulled in multiple directions by the usual suspects?

Is there novel experiential content? A discordant internal dialogue? etc.

13 Jan 2020, 22:38
Oh hi there! I'm also otherkin, and I also have a system. We're trauma-based, however. There's over twenty-five of us, but as you stated also, I'm the only one who has expressed interest in being here. It's nice to see someone who shares beliefs here!

Hi luna! :D I'm also happy to see others like me on this forum!! Despite different origins, I would bet we have more in common than differences. :) It's honestly kind of a relief to see another otherkin and plural here - I'm feeling a little out of my element in this forum at the moment, because I'm very new to paganism and have social anxiety. Also I'm glad to see a trauma system that's friendly; it's probably just a vocal minority that's the problem, rather than a majority, but the system origins discourse has gotten me feeling a bit pessimistic lately.

In what way does this phenomena(?) differ from having a singular "self" (or no self) pulled in multiple directions by the usual suspects?

Is there novel experiential content? A discordant internal dialogue? etc.

Hi Rhythm! :) I'm unsure what you mean by "pulled in multiple directions by the usual suspects" - maybe it's a pagan thing that a newbie like me wouldn't know yet?

Regardless, the main thing that makes me (Us) different from a singular person is that we are literally fully developed people, as different and separate in our personality traits and interests, as well as sense of age, gender, species, etc. as me and you - we just happen to share a body. Of course, the latter aspects are more of a mental construction or a soul situation rather than a physical reality, but they're a part of who we individually are. We each have an internal sense of self that is separate from the other system members. Basically, it would feel very uncomfortable and wrong to Ren-Kai, a 28 year old man with a love in horror manga and anime, death metal music, and gory aesthetics if you said he was the same person as our 4 year old girl, who loves bunny rabbits, Simon & Garfunkle, Disney movies and children's toys. That's just, *no*.

I guess some novel things would be momentarily forgetting we share a body because we feel separate (for example, "I don't want to wear that bra, [systemmate] already wore it and that's gross!... wait a minute :p). Plus we're concrete enough as individuals to willingly switch who is controlling the body, although it's a big perspective shift so sometimes the process can be a bit of a headache. Most of those experiences are ancillary to the first points, though. Either way, whatever you attribute the plurality to I can assure you the experiences are *very* different from what singlets normally experience.

There are actually some other systems (median systems) who feel like overlapping "facets" of a whole person, more than singular but less than multiple full people - that seems a bit closer to what you're describing. In that case I guess it's just a matter of labels and choosing to embrace their unique qualities and differences; plus, not feeling the kind of distress that would likely be caused by being "pulled" apart by harmful forces, or whatever. All systems are different, though - I can only really speak for my (our) own experiences, but I wanted to mention medians anyway since it pertains to the question.

14 Jan 2020, 08:35
No, lol, not a pagan thing specifically, just referring to the usual clutter of the human mind. Thanks for the detail. It seems very different. What would you say..beyond a physical body, is shared by every experience of self? Assuming there's some continuity, ofc.

15 Jan 2020, 11:56
Ah okay, that makes sense :) Hm well, we do have some things in common! We actually all share the same "pool" of memories, because we experience no amnesia in our system (for reference, some systems do have amnesia). However, the system members who were involved in past events may have more emotion associated with the memories than those who weren't, and different members may perceive events differently due to their emotions and personality. Also, on a day to day basis when we switch who is fronting (as in, controlling the body) the next person who fronts will remember not just everything that previous fronter did but also the things they thought and felt. These memories are carried through to other members when they front further into the future, but they do fade and diminish with time the way minor memories do for most people. I have this ongoing joke that we can read each other's minds, because we remember each other's past thoughts and feelings. It makes communication easier, but definitely makes having privacy from one another more difficult. It also means "surprise" gifts we give one another are never really a surprise :p

Besides sharing the same memories, we also share the same skills, to a degree. I mean, if our 6 year old wanted to read Dostoevsky, she could understand it since she can read as well as any of us - but of course she would feel extremely bored and probably instantly set the book aside, and she probably wouldn't get much out of it when it comes to deeper themes. Personality-wise, she's still a six year old, regardless of the fact that she knows "big words". But basically, everyone has a "base" of above average reading, writing, and drawing skills, plus some piano ability, since those are abilities our brain was born with, that certain members have practiced, or that we have muscle memory for. All skills have to be translated through our personalities though, so not everyone has interest in or patience for the things we can all do. Obviously when it comes to creative things we also have different ideas and inspirations from one another. I have seen our six year old member draw things that are downright prodigious for her age, because of our shared skills, but sometimes she just prefers to scribble and doodle :)

When it comes to the core things that we all have, we basically all have a gender, a species (human or otherwise), an age (though sometimes ages are general rather than specific), a sexual orientation (but some people haven't figured theirs out yet), an idea of what we individually "look" like, a taste in music, various favorites (animal, color, etc.), and opinions and favorites about the movies, books, and other media we consume. Some members have a "thing" that they orient around - for example being "emo", or being "scary" and liking horror stuff - but as we develop more on an internal level we tend to start to branch out from our tropes. Stereotypes can create an anchor when you're floating around in one body with multiple other people, but eventually they become restrictive. I have this theory that all of our members are formed with a built-in "script" - for instance their species, sexuality, gender, personality traits, motivations, and even more minor aspect like favorite animals, sometimes - that appear to be with us from the moment we form. But we also have a lot of flexibility, maybe even more than singlets do, and tend to grow and develop new aspects of ourselves as we experience new things. We sometimes have an active role in deciding what kind of person we want to become (though honestly I believe singlets do too, for example they choose a career or college major, decide to join a certain religion, etc).


I know this is really long and detailed and so was my last post - I hope that's not bad!! I don't get to talk about system things that often because many people in real life aren't accepting of plurality, so when I do get a chance to talk about it I tend to wayyy overdo it. I am someone who enjoys analyzing things and investigating myself (and Ourselves) internally - I'm very introspective. So besides being my reality, this situation is a very major interest for me as well. The deeper questions and answers it brings - about the nature of the "self", "what really is consciousness?", "what things are stored in the brain and body on a more physical level, and what things are part of the personality or soul?", "how flexible is personality?", "how much are we defined by our past, and how much do we actively define ourselves based on our memories?", etc. I really love the intellectual aspect of this experience, and I love the new and interesting experiences we often get to have as a result of our plurality! :D But of course there are plenty of mundane and pain-in-the-butt aspects as well :p

15 Jan 2020, 12:10
That's an interesting theory. What do you think forms members? What is it that supplies the script?

17 Jan 2020, 12:27
This is kind of an embarrassing answer, but I wish I could say I knew... Systems vary in how they were formed and how they "tick", and each one has to figure out the how's and why's themselves. I actually only realized I had systemmates about two years ago, and I wasted the first several months assuming we were formed by trauma because the systems around us believed that was the only way. (There's a lot of argument and conflict in the community right now when it comes to which origins are valid.) At this point we're still figuring out *how* our system works in a practical sense, since that helps us the most on a day-to-day basis. When it comes to origins and causes, aside from "it wasn't severe early childhood trauma" we kind of don't know yet. Theories I've considered have been 'a natural neurological difference our brain was born with' 'at least one member was a soul that came from elsewhere' 'we all have souls and spiritual origins' 'dissociative states' 'IT'S ALL FAKE AND I'M IMAGINING IT' etc. (I deal with a lot of self doubt.) We have specific memories of one or two members forming, which seemed like they came from the "inside" and not from elsewhere, but... it's still speculation. At this point I guess we're still figuring things out.

If you're curious about systems in general, common explanations are early childhood trauma, born neurological difference, that their body is a hub that many souls from another world pass in and out of, trauma that occurred later in life, a mixture of multiple causes - plus there are people who intentionally create "thoughtforms" (psychological entities in their minds) or purposefully practice spiritual medium work. There are also systems who decide they don't care about how they formed at all and have no desire to analyze it. In that regard I'm honestly torn because I'm a naturally curious person, so in some ways I do want to know - but at the same time, analyzing it tends to trigger my self doubt and send all of our emotions into chaos, which is very stressful and unpleasant.

17 Jan 2020, 19:59
I don't remember how I got here either, so no worries.

18 Jan 2020, 13:13
Hehe, thanks! This response made me chuckle :p (I'm not sure if you meant your physical birth as a baby; if so you're right and also that's pretty funny :D)

22 Jan 2020, 04:53
I try to bring the lulz when I can, but I do think it's interesting and I'm trying to wrap my head around the day to day details. For example, where and how or do you...or even could you shelf a 6 year old identity while an adult identity has intercourse with the shared body? How are competing sexual orientations handled, or opposing tastes in food?

With respect to potential non-human identities, how and in what manner of communication is the narrative content of their experience relayed? Do animal identities have human experiences and human thoughts and the use of human language to describe those experiences to the human identities? On that note, even more fundamentally, what demarcation is there between "animal" and "human" in the production of that narrative content? What signifies that A is a human experience whereas B is an animal experience?

Have you ever considered being part of a clinical study? Experiential content of this kind would almost invariably advance the study of conscious experience. Some of the more popular theories of construction might even shed light on how all this could happen at a functional level. AST being a dead ringer, as an example.

28 Jan 2020, 18:47
To answer these questions from my experience alone (many systems experience these things very differently):

When one of us is "fronting" (controlling the body), the others are generally "asleep", in a sense. They're not alert to what's happening in the moment, but our brain fills them in later when they do front. The littles are not alert when sexual stuff is going on, but they *are* able to remember the events after the fact. Generally they deal with that by emotionally distancing themselves from it and just choosing not to think about it much; for the most part they don't care, but it *is* kind of awkward sometimes. They know more than most kids their age would know, which is not ideal but we have no way of avoiding it.

Other than that sexuality can be difficult for some of my systemmates due to incongruency between their identities and their bodies (for instance our gay 35 year old male member who is stuck in a female 21 year old body). We're honestly still working out some those issues. At the moment we only have one sexual/romantic partner, who is only my (the host's) partner, and is only a platonic friend to everyone else. Because our presences in the body are compartmentalized, and don't happen all at the same time, whoever is awake and fronting at any one time just makes decisions based on their own tastes (ie. in regard to food, clothing, or sexual preferences). There is no argument or frustration because they're the only one around to make the decisions or care, because of the whole "awake/asleep" deal.

When it comes to nonhuman members, all of our nonhuman members are actually fairly humanoid. I personally identify as a therian, and consider myself to be both human *and* animal. Our other nonhuman members are a demon, and a skinwalker (which is based on a Navajo myth about evil witches who can shapeshift into various animals). So we're basically all fairly human-like, and can think and speak like humans. I am basically an "animal person", our demon is a humanoid mythical entity, and our skinwalker is like an "animal person" in a completely different interpretation of that phrase. Regardless, our nonhumanity doesn't hinder our communication or functioning.

In regards to your last point, yes our experiences could probably help advance knowledge of complex subjects, potentially in the fields of psychology and philosophy. BUT, sadly that is not possible at this point. Psychology has already determined its stance on plurality, which is essentially this (paraphrased by me):

"Plural systems are a result of a mental disorder (either DID or OSDD) and are invariably caused by severe childhood trauma. The "people" in the system are actually just fragments of one whole, and are more like separate dissociative states than full, separate people. Plurality is innately harmful and pathological, and the ideal treatment is to combine the parts back into one whole (normal) person."

And those are just the psychologists who believe in our existence at all - many are actively and loudly against the idea that such a thing could possibly exist, and claim that it's absurd. For reference, some of those points do hold true for some systems - for instance, the "caused by trauma" bit is true in some cases, and the concept and treatment of DID is helpful for some systems. I don't believe that the disorders themselves are completely non-existent - it's just that the model doesn't fit for quite a few systems. But what all of this means is that psychologists are mostly only interested in studying disordered systems that fit into *their* idea of what plurality is. In my experience the idea of multiple people in one body is so mind-blowing and goes against people's assumptions and psychological viewpoints so much, that psychologists will do back flips in order to either deny or stereotype our existence and assert that we're not *really* separate people. It's pretty depressing, honestly :/