The Law of the Jungle: Self and Community in the Online Therianthropy Movement
Keywords:animal-human, identity, online community, other-than-human, Therianthropy
AbstractThe Therianthropy community is comprised of individuals who profess an other-than-human identity, in particular an animal identity. Existing almost solely online, this socio-spiritual identity group experiences tensions between the individual and personal gnosis, and the community and communal consensus, when it comes to evincing the epistemologies, that is, knowledges concerning Therianthropy. By examining how themes of authority, belonging, and both group and self-acceptance are played out in the discourse and activity of this movement, implicit modes of initiation and rites of passage can be envisaged. These modes are vital for the success of this movement, as they continuously solidify a sense of group and individual identity through the clear designation of an in- and out- group. Yet, in doing so, the Therianthrope is held up as a liminal figure, an other-than-human being who resides in a sacred interstitial state. This is the essence of what separates Therianthropes from other humans, and what makes this identity group a challenge to traditional conceptions of initiation and rites of passage.
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