San: Shut up! I'm a wolf!
Welcome to the world of Otherkin, a particularly unique subculture that has gained some attention online.
There are several variations on the Otherkin phenomenon, but at its most basic level it can be defined as individuals who identify, spiritually or psychologically (though never physically), as something other than human. What species that the Otherkin do feel like can range from any ordinary animal to dragons, elves, angels, demons, vampires, lycanthropes and basically every fantastic being under the sun you've ever heard of and a considerable number that you haven't. Otherkin are often assumed to be claiming experiences similar to transgender people, but the similarities between the two experiences are only surface level.
Contrary to popular belief, Otherkin is not directly tied to the Furry Fandom. There are Otherkin who are not furries, and vice-versa, and while there are Otherkin furries, it is not a requirement for either group to belong to the other.
A subgroup of Otherkin is therianthropy. This belief is similar, but limits itself to real animals (though those who identify as mythical animals often consider themselves "theriomythic," a derivative term.) Some therians prefer to be disassociated with Otherkin for personal reasons, however, most at least agree that the two groups are very similar, and many simply use Otherkin as a blanket term.
Another subgroup would be vampires/vampyres and Fae. These usually have no connection to Furry Fandom at all (and associating them with such may be a Berserk Button) because they generally have little or nothing to do with animal motifs. They can also range from people who fully believe themselves to be human but are simply roleplaying, to people who believe that vampire or faerie mythology had a grain of truth to it and that the spiritual archetype describes their feelings/drives/emotions/physical needs, to people who actually believe they are vampires or faeries. For some this can be a part of religion as well (there is an entire subgroup in Neo-Paganism devoted to faerie magick).
The vampire/vampyre subgroup also has a split: those who actually consume blood, and those who believe that Life Energy is real in some form or another and consume it. That said, neither (except for the rare Serial Killer - which almost anyone active in the subculture will reject as a representative) generally believe in harming human beings for this - most of the "blood" type either engage in consensual bloodplay or consume animal blood/meat, and most of the "energy" type see themselves as "feeding" by simply being around other people or by sex.
Yet another non-animal, non-furry subgroup are the "celestials/angels" and "demons/daemons/chaos entities." Again, these can range from people who are simply roleplaying, to those who believe that mythological and religious stories of spiritual entities have a grain of truth that describes their lived experience, to people who actually believe they are such a being or have invited such a being into themselves. These have had actual varying degrees of acceptance in some recognized religious and mythological systems (some forms of paganism and Neo-Paganism embrace and play with the concepts, while some forms of Christianity believe the concepts are real but evil and to be rejected) Due to this, they are actually the most "mainstream" of otherkin and may not even see themselves as part of the "otherkin" community per se - simply as strong believers in a concept of their religion.
Two somewhat connected but different concepts, one more tied to reincarnation and the other a variant on the "spiritual being" variant above in a form of reincarnation, are the "old soul" and the "walk-in." Unlike Otherkin, in both cases, one of these can be (and most often is) considered to be a human being, though occasionally these are seen as gods/goddesses/angels/demons/etcetera as per the "spiritual being" variant of otherkin.
- In the "old soul" variant, someone is seen as to have been reincarnated in one of the truest senses of the word - to either wholly or partially be the return of someone who has died and/or the human form of a god/goddess/etc, reborn as a newborn child. There are provisions in some existing world religions for this: it was present in ancient Greek religion, it is still present some sects of Buddhism and Hinduism. Therefore, while it is loosely tied to otherkin and shares similar roots mythologically (and some people who consider themselves one of these will identify as otherkin) it is a fairly mainstream religious concept, at least when expressed in certain ways.
- In the "walk-in" variant, someone is seen to have become a Real Life Willing Channeler or Wetware Body at any point in their life for any of the above (whether dead human or animal or spiritual being). This is very similar to Otherkin, except it can and often does include humans as well as/instead of animals or spiritual beings. It's also an element of some mainstream religions (generally animist, pagan, and neopagan belief systems, and some forms of Christianity believe it exists but also believe it must be exorcised.). It also tends to be shared rather than a singular personality (e.g. two or more "souls" sharing one body, or the body being controlled by one soul who lets the others in as "guests"), though some people claiming the experience have claimed to have become their walk-in entirely, or have integrated due to viewing their experience as a result of trauma.
Yet another similar concept is the "fictionkin", who believe that they are a fictional character, the same way an otherkin believes they are an animal or mythological creature.
The first documentations about otherkin may go as far back as the Middle Ages during the era in which people were prosecuted because they were werewolves. Back then you could get prosecuted because the neighborhood didn't like you, in which case he attributed werewolvery to you (because what other reasons could you give for the cow that was flat out dead with all it's organs spattered all over the place). Believe it or not, some people that were prosecuted believed what the neighborhood said and they told all their "deeds" to the court. Scientists later on gathered evidence that in truth, they suffered from "lycantropia" or "werewolf illness".
Contrast with Daydream Believer.