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Therianthropy (from n. therianthrope and adj. therianthropic, part man and part beast, from the Greek theríon, θηρίον, meaning "wild animal" or "beast" (impliedly mammalian), and anthrōpos, άνθρωπος, meaning "human being") refers to the metamorphosis of humans into other animals. Therianthropes have long existed in mythology, appearing in ancient cave drawings such as the Sorcerer at Les Trois Frères.
The term therianthropy was used to refer to animal transformation folklore of Asia and Europe as early as 1901. Sometimes, "zoanthropy" is used instead of "therianthropy".
Therianthropy was also used to describe spiritual belief in animal transformation in 1915 and one source raises the possibility the term may have been used in the 16th century in criminal trials of suspected werewolves.
Therians are people who believe that they are, in whole or in part, a non-human animal. That is to say that part of their core being is a non-human animal, be it spiritually, mentally, et cetera. Unlike furry lifestylers, therians do not necessarily try to outwardly project their animalistic nature, nor do they choose their animal side. They consider themselves to be an animal within, and do not generally give it a name, or use it as a game persona.
Therians do not agree on the cause of therianthropy--some believe they are animals reincarnated as humans, while others believe their soul itself is a hybrid--some feel instead that their therianthropy is completely psychological, and others feel it is metaphysical, but not of the soul. It has been said that if you ask 4 therians what therianthropy is, you will get 5 different answers. The one thing that remains constant is that all therians feel there is part of themselves that is non-human.
Therians may also be called shifters, though this can be a contentious term as a growing number feel they do not actually change from one state to another, but maintain an equilibium between human and animal nature at all times. Therians who do not shift are referred to as contherianthropes.
Terms such as 'lycan', 'garou', or 'lupine' are scorned in most parts of the therian community, because these terms derive from movies or games. 'Were', 'werewolf', 'were-creature', 'were-animal', or 'animal-kin' are reasonably well accepted, but 'therian' is the preferred term, at present. The term 'therian' is simply a short version of 'therianthrope', which means 'animal-man'.
Theriocephaly (from Greek θηρίον therion ‘beast’ and κεφαλή kefalí ‘head’) is the condition or quality of having the head of an animal - commonly used to refer the depiction in art of humans (or deities) with animal heads.
Zoomorphism is the shaping of something in animal form or terms.
cynocephaly, having the head of a dog — or of a jackal— is a widely attested legendary phenomenon existing in many different forms and contexts. The word is taken from Latin cynocephalus "dog-head", which derives from Greek: κῠνοκέφᾰλοι.
Hybrids are mythological creatures combining body parts of more than one real species. They can be classified as partly human hybrids (such as mermaids or centaurs), and non-human hybrids combining two or more animal species (such as the griffin). Hybrids are often zoomorphic deities in origin who acquire an anthropomorphic aspect over time.
Partly human hybrids appear in petroglyphs or cave paintings from the Upper Paleolithic, in shamanistic or totemistic contexts. Ethnologist Ivar Lissner theorized that cave paintings of beings combining human and animal features were not physical representations of mythical hybrids, but were instead attempts to depict shamans in the process of acquiring the mental and spiritual attributes of various beasts or "power animals". Religious historian Mircea Eliade has observed that beliefs regarding animal identity and transformation into animals are widespread. The iconography of the Vinca culture of Neolithic Europe in particular is noted for its frequent depictinon of an owl-beaked "bird goddess".
Examples of theriocephaly in the Ancient Egyptian pantheon include jackal-headed Anubis, cobra-headed Amunet, lion-headed Sekhmet (see also Sphinx), falcon-headed Osiris etc. Most of these deities also have a purely zoomorphic and a purely anthropomorphic aspect, both of which the hybrid representation seeks to capture at once. The hybrid iconography then develops as an attempt to represent both aspects. Similarly, the Gaulish Artio sculpture found in Berne shows a juxtaposition of a bear and a woman figure, interpreted as representations of the theriomorphic and the anthropomorphic aspect of the same goddess.
Non-human hybrids also appear in Ancient Egyptian iconography, as in Ammit (combining the crocodile, the lion and the hippopotamus). Mythological hybrids become very popular in Luwian and Assyrian art of the Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age. The "angel" (human with birds' wings, see winged genie) the "mermaid" (part human part fish, see Enki, Atargatis, Apkallu) and the "Centauroid creatures" (Shedu) all trace their origins to Assyro-Babylonian art. The Old Babylonian Lilitu demon, particularly as shown in the Burney Relief (part woman part owl) prefigures the harpy/siren motive.
Luwian and Assyrian motives are imitated in Archaic Greece, during the Orientalizing Period (9th to 8th centuries BC), inspiring the monsters of classical Greek mythology such as the Chimera, the Harpy, the Centaur, the Griffin, the Hippocamp, Talos etc.
The motive of the "winged man" appears in the Assyrian winged genie, and is taken up in the Biblical Seraphim and Chayot, the Etruscan Vanth, Hellenistic Eros-Amor, and ultimately the Christian iconography of angels. Assyrian hybrids also entered Persian art, as in the Faravahar or the Buraq.
The motive of otherwise human figures sporting horns may derive from partly goat hybrids (as in Pan and the Devil in Christian iconography) or as partly bull hybrids (Minotaur). The Gundestrup cauldron and the Pashupati figure have stag's antlers (see also Horned God, horned helmet). The Christian representation of Moses with horns, however, is due to a mistranslation of the Hebrew text of Exodus 34:29-35 by Jerome.
The most prominent hybrid in Hindu iconography is elephant-headed Ganesha. Both Nāga and Garuda are non-hybrid mythical animals (snake and bird, respectively) in their early attestations, but become partly human hybrids in later iconography.
Power animal, is a broadly animistic and shamanic concept that has entered the English language from Anthropology, Ethnography and Sociology. A tutelary spirit which guides, helps or protects individuals, liniages and nations. In the shamanic worldview, everything is alive, bearing an inherent virtue, power and wisdom. Our power animal(s) represent our connection to all life, our qualities of character, our power.
Power animals are endemic to shamanic practice. They are the helping or ministering spirit or familiar which adds to the power of an individual and is essential for success in any venture undertaken.
In the shamanic worldview, everyone has power animals or spirits which add to their power and protect them from harm, like guardian spirits in the Judeo-Christian Tradition. The power animal may also lend its ward or charge the wisdom or attributes of its kind. For example, a hawk power animal provides hawk attributes, such as hawk-eye.
Animal worship refers to religious rituals involving animals, especially in pre-modern societies, such as the glorification of animal deities, or animal sacrifice.
The origins of animal worship have been the subject of many theories. The classical author Diodorus explained the origin of animal-worship by recalling the myth in which the gods, supposedly threatened by giants, hid under the guise of animals. The people then naturally began to worship the animals that their gods had disguised themselves as and continued this act even after the gods returned to their normal state (Lubbock, 2005, p.252). In 1906, Weissenborn suggested that animal worship resulted from man’s natural curiosity. Primitive man would observe an animal that had a unique trait and the inexplicability of this trait would appeal to man’s curiosity (Weissenborn, 1906b, p.282). Wonder resulted from primitive man’s observations of this distinctive trait and this wonder eventually induced adoration. Thus, primitive man worshipped animals that had inimitable traits (Weissenborn, 1906b, p.282). Lubbock put forward a more recent view. Lubbock proposed that animal-worship originated from family names. In societies, families would name themselves and their children after certain animals and eventually came to hold that animal above other animals. Eventually, these opinions turned into deep respect and evolved into fully developed worship of the family animal (Lubbock, 2005, p.253). The belief that an animal is sacred frequently results in dietary laws prohibiting their consumption. As well as holding certain animals to be sacred, religions have also adopted the opposite attitude, that certain animals are unclean.The idea that divinity embodies itself in animals, such as a deity incarnate, and then lives on earth among human beings is disregarded by Abrahamic religions (Morris, 2000, p. 26). In churches such as Independent Assemblies of God and Pentecostal, animals have very little religious significance (Schoffeleers, 1985; Peltzer, 1987; Qtd. in Morris, 2000, p. 25). Animals have become less and less important and symbolic in cult rituals and religion, especially among African cultures, as Christianity and Islamic religions have spread (Morris, 2000, p. 24)
Liminal Being In speculative fiction and, loosely applied, in mythology, a liminal being is a fantasy character that combines two distinct states of simultaneous existence within one physical body. This unique perspective may provide the liminal being with wisdom and the ability to instruct, making them suitable mentors, whilst also making them dangerous and uncanny.
Centauroid creatures, also known as centaur-like or tauric creatures, appear frequently in mythology and works of fiction. Like the centaur of Greek myth, such creatures typically possess the body of a four-legged animal with a human or human-like torso where the head should be, giving them six limbs and a double set of ribcages. An example of Centauroid creatures in classical Greece would be Ichthyocentaurs.
A bestiary, or Bestiarum vocabulum is a compendium of beasts. Bestiaries were made popular in the Middle Ages in illustrated volumes that described various animals, birds and even rocks. The natural history and illustration of each beast was usually accompanied by a moral lesson. This reflected the belief that the world itself was the Word of God, and that every living thing had its own special meaning. For example, the pelican, which was believed to tear open its breast to bring its young to life with its own blood, was a living representation of Jesus. The bestiary, then, is also a reference to the symbolic language of animals in Western Christian art and literature.
Bestiaries were particularly popular in England and France around the 12th century and were mainly compilations of earlier texts. The earliest bestiary in the form in which it was later popularized was an anonymous 2nd century Greek volume called the Physiologus, which itself summarized ancient knowledge and wisdom about animals in the writings of classical authors such as Aristotle's Historia Animalium and various works by Herodotus, Pliny the Elder, Solinus, Aelian and other naturalists.
Following the Physiologus, Saint Isidore of Seville (Book XII of the Etymologiae) and Saint Ambrose expanded the religious message with reference to passages from the Bible and the Septuagint. They and other authors freely expanded or modified pre-existing models, constantly refining the moral content without interest or access to much more detail regarding the factual content. Nevertheless, the often fanciful accounts of these beasts were widely read and generally believed to be true. A few observations found in bestiaries, such as the migration of birds, were discounted by the natural philosophers of later centuries, only to be rediscovered in the modern scientific era.
Two illuminated Psalters, the Queen Mary Psalter (British Library Ms. Royal 2B, vii) and the Isabelle Psalter (State Library, Munich), contain full Bestiary cycles. That in the Queen Mary Psalter is in the "marginal" decorations that occupy about the bottom quarter of the page, and are unusually extensive and coherent in this work. In fact the bestiary has been expanded beyond the source in the Norman bestiary of Guillaume le Clerc to ninety animals. Some are placed in the text to make correspondences with the psalm they are illustrating. 
The Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci also made his own bestiary.
The Aberdeen Bestiary is one of the best known of over 50 manuscript bestiaries surviving today.
Mediaeval bestiaries are remarkably similar in sequence of the animals of which they treat.
In modern times, artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Saul Steinberg have produced their own bestiaries. Jorge Luis Borges wrote a contemporary bestiary of sorts, the Book of Imaginary Beings, which collects imaginary beasts from bestiaries and fiction. Nicholas Christopher wrote a literary novel called "The Bestiary" (Dial, 2007) that describes a lonely young man's efforts to track down the world's most complete bestiary. Writers of Fantasy fiction draw heavily from the fanciful beasts described in mythology, fairy tales, and bestiaries. The "worlds" created in Fantasy fiction can be said to have their own bestiaries. Similarly, authors of fantasy role-playing games sometimes compile bestiaries as references, such as the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons. It is not uncommon for video games with a large variety of enemies (especially RPGs) to include a bestiary of sorts. This usually takes the form of a list of enemies and a short description (e.g. the Metroid Prime and Castlevania games, as well as Dark Cloud and Final Fantasy).
A monster is any type of legendary creatures which usually appear in legend or horror fiction. The word monster derives from the latin word monstrum, meaning "omen", from the root of monere ("to warn") and also meaning "prodigy" or "miracle".
The term monster refers to a being that is a gross exception to the norms of some ecosystem. A person referred to as a monster is taken as exceptionally evil, grotesque, unreasonably strict and uncaring, sociopathic, and/or sadistic. The word monster connotes something wrong or evil; a monstrous being is generally morally objectionable, physically or psychologically hideous, or a freak of nature.
Totems support larger groups than the individual person. In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem. Normally this belief is accompanied by a totemic myth.
Although the term is of Ojibwe origin in North America, totemistic beliefs are not limited to Native American Indians. Similar totem-like beliefs have been historically present in societies throughout much of the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and the Arctic polar region.In modern times, some single individuals, not otherwise involved in the practice of a tribal religion, have chosen to adopt a personal spirit animal helper, which has special meaning to them, and may refer to this as a totem. This non-traditional usage of the term is prevalent in the New Age movement, and the mythopoetic men's movement
Totemism (derived from the root -oode- in the Ojibwe language, which referred to something kinship-related, c.f. odoodem, "his totem") is a religious belief that is frequently associated with shamanistic religions. The totem is usually an animal or other natural figure that spiritually represents a group of related people such as a clan.
Totemism was a key element of study in the development of 19th and early 20th century theories of religion, especially for thinkers such as Émile Durkheim, who concentrated their study on primitive societies (which was an acceptable description at the time). Drawing on the identification of social group with spiritual totem in Australian aboriginal tribes, Durkheim theorized that all human religious expression was intrinsically founded in the relationship to a group.
In his essay "Le Totemisme aujourdhui" (Totemism Today), the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss argued that human cognition, which is based on analogical thought, is independent of social context. From this, he excludes mathematical thought, which operates primarily through logic. Totems are chosen arbitrarily for the sole purpose of making the physical world a comprehensive and coherent classificatory system. Lévi-Strauss argues that the use of physical analogies is not an indication of a more primitive mental capacity. It is rather, a more efficient way to cope with this particular mode of life in which abstractions are rare, and in which the physical environment is in direct friction with the society. He also holds that scientific explanation entails the discovery of an "arrangement"; moreover, since "the science of the concrete" is a classificatory system enabling individuals to classify the world in a rational fashion, it is neither more nor less a science than any other in the western world. It is important to recognise that in this text, Lévi-Strauss manifests the egalitarian nature of his work. Lévi-Strauss diverts the theme of anthropology toward the understanding of human cognition.
Lévi-Strauss looked at the ideas of Firth and Fortes, Durkheim, Malinowski, and Evans-Pritchard to reach his conclusions. Firth and Fortes argued that totemism was based on physical or psychological similarities between the clan and the totemic animal. Malinowski proposed that it was based on empirical interest or that the totem was 'good to eat.' In other words, there was rational interest in preserving the species. Finally Evans-Pritchard argued that the reason for totems was metaphoric. His work with the Nuer led him to believe that totems are a symbolic representation of the group. Lévi-Strauss considered Evan-Pritchard's work the correct explanation.
A therianthrope who's animalistic side is so interwound into their human side the two are indistinguishable. A contherianthrope does not experience shifting but rather feels a constant presence of both animal and human sides at the same time. Contherianthropes have been described as finding it very natural to use both human conceptualization/logic and native animal emotion/instinct, jointly, as combined factors in decisionmaking, dynamically blending each to add richness and insight to the overall process.
Clinical lycanthropy is defined as a rare psychiatric syndrome which involves a delusion that the affected person can or has transformed into an animal, or that he or she is an animal. Its name is connected to the mythical condition of lycanthropy, a supernatural affliction in which people are said to physically shapeshift into wolves. The terms zoanthropy or therianthropy are also sometimes used for the delusion that one has turned into an animal in general and not specifically a wolf.
The most commonly known form of therianthropy is lycanthropy, from the Greek word lycos ("wolf"), the technical term for man-wolf (werewolf) transformations (Rose, 230). Although the precise definition of lycanthropy specifically refers only to werewolves, the term is often used to refer to the process of shapeshifting to any non-human animal form.
Affected individuals report a delusional belief that they have transformed, or are in the process of transforming into another animal. It has been linked with the altered states of mind that accompany psychosis (the reality-bending mental state that typically involves delusions and hallucinations) with the transformation only seeming to happen in the mind and behavior of the affected person.
- A patient reports in a moment of lucidity or looking back he sometimes feels as an animal or has felt like one.
- A patient behaves in a manner that resembles animal behavior, for example crying, grumbling, or creeping.
According to these criteria, either a delusional belief in current or past transformation, or behaviour that suggests a person thinks of themselves as transformed, is considered evidence of clinical lycanthropy. The authors go on to note that although the condition seems to be an expression of psychosis there is no specific diagnosis of mental or neurological illness associated with its behavioural consequences.
It also seems that lycanthropy is not specific to an experience of human-to-wolf transformation; a wide variety of creatures have been reported as part of the shape-shifting experience. A review of the medical literature from early 2004 lists over thirty published cases of lycanthropy, only the minority of which have wolf or dog themes. Canines are certainly not uncommon, although the experience of being transformed into hyenas, cats, horses, birds and tigers has been reported on more than one occasion. Transformation into frogs, and even bees, has been reported in some instances. A 1989 case study described how one individual reported a serial transformation, experiencing a change from human, to dog, to horse, and then finally cat, before returning to the reality of human existence after treatment. There are also reports of people who experienced transformation into an animal only listed as 'unspecified'.
A werewolf or werwolf, also known as a lycanthrope (from the Greek λυκάνθρωπος: λύκος, lukos, "wolf", and άνθρωπος, anthrōpos, man), is a mythological or folkloric human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf or an anthropomorphic wolf-like creature, either purposely, by being bitten or scratched by another werewolf, or after being placed under a curse. This transformation is often associated with the appearance of the full moon, as popularly noted by the medieval chronicler Gervase of Tilbury, although it may have been recognized in earlier times among the ancient Greeks through the writings of Petronius.
Werewolves are often granted extra-human strength and senses, far beyond those of both wolves or men. The werewolf is generally held as a European character, although its lore spread through the world in later times. Shape-shifters, similar to werewolves, are common in tales from all over the world, most notably amongst the Native Americans, though most of them involve animal forms other than wolves.
Werewolves are a frequent subject of modern fictional books, although fictional werewolves have been attributed traits distinct from those of original folklore, most notably the vulnerability to silver bullets. Werewolves continue to endure in modern culture and fiction, with books, films and television shows cementing the werewolf's stance as a dominant figure in horror.
The Greeks also spoke of cynanthropy (Kynior, dog). Cynanthropy, sometimes spelled kynanthropy, is applied to shapeshifters who alternate between dog form and human form, or to beings that do not shapeshift but possess combined dog and human anatomical features (Hamel, 76). It is also used for real persons suffering from the delusion that they are dogs (Ashley, 37). The term existed by at least 1901, when it was applied to myths from China about humans turning into dogs, dogs becoming people, and sexual relations between humans and canines (De Groot, 184). After lycanthropy, cynanthropy is the best known term for a specific variety of therianthropy.
Anthropologist David Gordon White called Central Asia the "vortex of cynanthropy" because races of dog-men were habitually placed there by ancient writers. Hindu mythology puts races of "Dog Cookers" to the far north of India, the Chinese placed the "Dog Jung" and other human/canine barbarians to the extreme west, and European legends frequently put the dog men called Cynocephali in unmapped regions to the east. Some of these races were described as humans with dog heads, others as canine shapeshifters (White, 114-15).
The weredog or cynanthrope is also known in Timor. It is described as a human/canine shapeshifter who is also capable of transforming other people into animals against their wills. These transformations are usually into prey animals such as goats, so that the cynanthrope can devour them without discovery of the crime (Rose, 390).
Ailuranthropy refers to human/feline transformations (also known as werecats), or to other beings that combine feline and human characteristics (Greene, 229). Its root word is also used in ailurophobia, the most common term for a phobia of cats. Ailuros is also a Greek name for Bast.
Musoanthropy refers to human/mouse transformations, or to other beings that combine mice and human characteristics. Its root word in Greek is also used in musophobia, or phobia of mice. Musomania describes a fondness or interest in mice.
Therianthropy or various terms relating to subtypes can refer to any sort of werebeast or to trans-formation into any animal. In India & the Asian islands the tiger is the most common form, in North Europe the bear (see berserker), in Japan the fox, in Africa the leopard or hyena, sometimes also the lion, in South America the jaguar; but though there is a tendency for the most important carnivorous animal of the area to take the first place in stories and beliefs as to transformation, the less important beasts of prey and even harmless animals like the deer also figure among the were-animals. Another unusual case is the were-shark of Polynesia.