From Greek Roots: Therios (Beast) + Anthropos (Man).
A personal and integral connection with a(n) animal(s) that might manifest itself mentally, spiritually, physically (via illusion, not actual transformation), or emotionally.
Therianthropy is a state of being, in which someone believes an animal is an essential constituent in their spirituality and life; the melding of two souls, one human, one animal. Therianthropy is an innate part of the person; the recognition and acceptance of the animal within. It is not just what a therian is, but who he/she is.
Because there seems to be some confusion over what a Therian is and is not, Therianthropy is about the inner nature of one's own self. Therianthropy is about the discovery of the animal within, that a person is born with. One cannot become a therian, but must be born that way.
A Werecreature is not one who can physically change their shape, but can become an animal in more than that way. They have been able to transform their mental, astral or spiritual self to an animal.
A lycanthrope is person who through a curse, magic, or other means, has the ability or is forced to transform into an animal for a period of time. Originally, the term lycanthrope meant only a specific species of werewolf, however, it has grown to encompass any person who can shapeshift into an animal.
In folklore, Lycanthropy is the ability or power of a human being to undergo transformation into an wolf. The term comes from ancient Greek lykanthropos: lykos ("wolf") + anthropos ("man"). There is also a mental illness called lycanthropy in which a patient believes he/she is transformed into an animal and behaves accordingly, sometimes referred to as clinical lycanthropy to distinguish it from legend.
A theory regarding the lycanthropy phenomenon of the Middle Ages is ergot poisoning. Ergot is a fungus that is known to infest rye and cause a whole host of symptoms similar to the symptoms of those who were supposedly bewitched by witches or allegedly became wolves or other animals.
Otherkin is a collective term for an assortment of people who have reached the conclusion that they (spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically) are something other than human.
The general concensus of Otherkin shows the majority seem to have memories of a past life as another specific entity, usually a sentient being. A Therian on the other hand, typically describes their Therian nature not as a past life or a specific entity, but an animal type in general.
While, by this definition, Therianthropes fall into the Otherkin classification, there is a distinguishable difference between the two groups. Whereas most Otherkin are of mythical creatures, Therians are strictly animalistic and recognize their humanity as being an integral part of their existance.
In other words, therians generally deal with known animal species, while otherkin may believe they are some mythical creature, like a unicorn or dragon, and that their DNA also contains the DNA of said creature, thereby being able to physically transform into the creature itself. They also believe that if they are bitten by said creature, that their DNA will merge, allowing them to transform at will. This is more seen with people who believe themselves to be the werewolves, vampires and mermaids of popular movies and television shows.
Here are some of the many kinds of shapeshifting. Lots of Therians and Otherkin can shapeshift (or just 'shift') in the ways described below, with the exception of physical shifting, most of these are quite common. That is not to say everyone can do all of them or even any of the them, but they are the most talked about in the community.Astral
Astral shifting is where one changes 'shape', i.e. shifts into an animal body or mind on the 'astral plane'. This is higher plane of consciousness and it can take a lot of work to reach.Aura
Some believe all living things have an aura, a kind of energy field that surrounds us and is generated by our 'life energy'. Perhaps in the same way anything electrical creates and electromagnetic field. An aura shift is where someone believes or feels this energy field has changed shape to that of their were animal.Dream
Dream shifting can be either lucid (very vivid kind of dream where you have control and you know you are dreaming) or otherwise. These kinds of shifts can be involuntary but it is also possible to learn to induce them using meditation.Mental
Again this kind of shift can be voluntary or involuntary, though the latter is usually the most common. A mental shift is where you being to think and/or behave more like your animal spirit. It can be anything from a change of mood to one which has an animalistic feel to it, to completely loosing control of oneself as the animal side of you takes control of your actions and thoughts.Near Physical
This is an illusionatory change wherein the person's attitude, posturing, even making animal sounds, can give off the image of a physical change. Someone looking at the person may say, "they thought they saw the person change", or "they act just like a certain animal".Phantom
This is where your mind mentally shapeshifts your body while you are conscious, in this state you will feel as if you are in your were animal's body even when you know you are not. Weres often notice the sensation of having a phantom tail or muzzle (phenotype specific of course).Physical
What you see in the movies, and read about in folklore and legends. This type of shifting is highly unlikely, as it would require a strong mixture of human and animal DNA. The actual physical change would require a great deal of energy, and probably occur during stressful or volitile situations.Sense
A sense shift is where your senses, usually hearing and the sense of smell become heightened above what would seem a normal human level. These can also be experienced as becoming more acutely aware of the environment that the shifter is in.
A Therian is essentially a person whose spirituality is deeply connected with that of an animal; a melding of two souls, the human and the animal, together. A person does not learn to be therian, nor become one out of want or wishing, but is born one.
The Therian is a store house of energy, and, unlike the psy-vamp, does not need to feed off energy on a daily basis, or risk illness or lethargy. Replenishment of energy is achieved with rest or a basic meal; there is no need to seek a donor, willing or not.
One ability that comes natural to a Therian is as an empathic healer. The heightened senses enable one to read and feel others more easily. Using energy is not a problem for this empathic healer, since the Therian has a higher level of excess energy. Energy is taken from the self, given to whoever is in need, without the fear of becoming weakened; balance and control of the energy can be maintained. Depending on the severity of the healing, a Therian may need to expend a great deal of energy, but a good sleep or hearty meal will suffice for replenishment.
Please remember that any information you gather at these sites should be used with common sense.
The Werelist provides articles, definitions and a Wiki regarding Therianthropy. There is a forum, but please be warned that it is not for the faint of heart. All ideas, thoughts, opinions, claims, beliefs will be challenged; they like to deal with scientific and provable facts. If the sources provided are not satisfactory, you will be asked to provide further evidence to validate your postings.
Therianthropes.com has extensive definitions, mythologies and theories.
The Green Wolf is owned by Lupa (and her husband Taylor), who has published books and articles, off and online, concerning Therianthropy and Otherkin.
Moonscape at Freewebs.com seems the only pages working at this site regard Therianthropy, but it has some very interesting information, and personal viewpoints by the author (She Demon Wolf).
Shadowsden.org is a discussion forum for topics, interests and concerns of Therianthropy; role playing and the purely fantastical are discouraged. The site admin is Shadowsmyst.