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What is a Therianthrope?

By Wanda Albano
Updated May 23, 2024
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Traditionally speaking, a therianthrope is a creature of myth and imagination. The word is derived from therianthropy, which comes from the Greek words therion, meaning beast, and anthropos, meaning man. In common parlance, therianthropy can refer to a few different things.

The first definition has to do with the ability of some humans of legend to shapeshift into animals. Werewolves, werecats, selkies, and wendigos are primary examples. The second meaning refers to a state in which a deity or other supernatural creature may be part man and part animal in appearance. Gods like Anubis and Horus, as well as creatures such as mermaids and centaurs, can all fall into this category.

Therianthropy also has more specific branches. Lycanthropy which encompasses werewolves and all other versions of wolf-men, cyanthropy which refers to men who can change into dogs as commonly found in Chinese myths, and ailuranthropy which pertains to shapeshifting humans who can take on feline appearances, are all forms of therianthropy.

The word therianthrope, however, is often used outside of this traditional context. In some New Age communities for example, a therianthrope (also called therian) is a person who subscribes to the neo-pagan belief that he or she is part animal. A New Age therianthrope does not actually have the ability of metamorphosis and will not exhibit evidence of animal body parts in his natural, surgically unaltered state. Instead, he believes that as a therianthrope, his spirit is part animal. The New Age therianthrope also claims that he is in possession a certain kind of animalistic energy which differentiates him from normal human society.

In a therianthropic community, closeness to particular animal species, "primitive" emotions, a deep appreciation of nature, and a different, more instinctive world view are all seen as evidence of therianthropy.

There have also been documented cases of clinical therianthropy, where a patient may develop delusions of being part animal, or shapeshifting into an animal. These delusions are often associated with deep psychosis.

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Discussion Comments

By anon301018 — On Nov 01, 2012

For so many years since I was young I noticed something was different. I appeared more animalistic than most people and have an 'appearance' of a tiger (not full form or a tail etc). I also noticed physical behavior like rolling/ scratching, all fours running when I was younger and feline sounds. Other people noticed this too, with a couple of them seemingly with judgmental views, but now I have discovered therianthropy, I realize I'm not alone in this and I feel relaxed in this knowledge.

By anon166344 — On Apr 08, 2011

Therianthropy has such a huge definition according to multiple people, that it hasn't gained recognition as an actual culture, society, belief, or disorder.

The way I define is that it's when a human believes he is in part, connected to or identifies with a non-human animal. I consider myself a therian, but I don't ever shift physically. And it's physically impossible to do so. Ever. It's stupid to think you can. A therian can be the complete opposite of his theriotype. Because you have so called "fast reflexes" or you are "hard to kill" does not mean you are a therian.

By anon129215 — On Nov 22, 2010

I am a therian! But I do not have lycanthropy because that is not my spirit animal. I am a tiger therian. And So far as I know it is not possible to physically shift! But you can mentally shift. but your eyes do seem to change a little. Not in color but in pupil size.

People can often see that your eyes have an animal characteristic to them. And some can tell you are a therian by your eyes. I think that would come with the theory: when you look into someone's eyes, you look into the soul. Or,the eyes are the gateway to one's soul. And since the spirit animal is part of your soul, you have the same color eyes.

I do not believe that physical shifting is possible but there are many different types of shifting.

By anon127658 — On Nov 16, 2010

I'm not exactly what that describes. Increased reflexes and strength. Resistance to many kinds of pain. Hard to kill. I could give a whole description on what I am. I call myself a lycanthrope. Animal spirit which I can call on to help me. I don't get my strength from the moon like most people think. I crave meat and blood but I don't eat it but I know I should be.

Enhanced hearing, agility, reflexes, vision, pain resistance, harder to kill. I can still die and be killed. It just takes a hell of a lot to do it anyway, but this does have some pretty interesting points. -Kadziet

By anon120659 — On Oct 21, 2010

Therianthropy is not new age, nor is it Wiccan/Pagan (which is also not new age, I may very well add!).

Also, as someone who has clinical Therianthropy, I can say that it is not the same thing as clinical Lycanthropy. Clinical Lycanthropy is when people believe they are shape shifting.

With my clinical Therianthropy, on the other hand, I do not have hallucinations of shape shifting into an animal. It's simply when I shift (shifting being the term for going into the animal mindset) I shift so deeply that my human self "disappears". I cannot think like a human at all, however I am in a human body and have never once thought I was in a different body.

Both clinical Therianthropy and clinical Lycanthropy are very dangerous, however they are both controllable, and they are not the same thing.

By anon60906 — On Jan 17, 2010

You know, people don't understand where their Greek roots come from. This is crap. There is no such thing as "clinical therianthropy." It's "clinical lycanthropy." What a doctor fears most is what they can't classify as "normal." So they come up with this clinical crap to just keep a stable person in the system?

By anon47793 — On Oct 07, 2009

I'm a therian, and I know for a fact that several points brought up in this article are absolute and utter bullocks. Our existence is neither "new-age", and nor is it "neo-pagan". In fact, of the dozens of therians I know, only two are pagan/wiccan. Several are kemetics, some Christian, and others atheist. We come from all walks of life and many of us have varying opinions on even how we have come to be therian. Spirituality is only one of many variations.

By anon30343 — On Apr 17, 2009

I don't believe Therianthropy is 'new-age' and many Therians do not consider their Therianthropy spiritual.

By anon25536 — On Jan 30, 2009

Now wait a moment here. I am a therian, and what your saying about 'clinical therianthropy' is *not* 'clinical therianthropy', it's Clinical *lycanthropy*.

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