“From The Deep Blue Sea” by Ocean Watcher; April 2010 & January 2017
There is something alien about the ocean world to so many people. It’s just such a different environment from what people are used to and many of the animals in the ocean are so different from land animals in some ways. The animals that live in the ocean might as well live in another world from those on land. So it makes me think it is little wonder that aquatic therians are so “rare.” It’s weird and alien enough to identify as a nonhuman land animal (especially if it’s a mammal) but to identify as a nonhuman animal that is aquatic that is even more alien. The difference between human and another mammal (like a wolf, for an example) is one thing, but the difference between a human to shark (or especially human to sea slug) is mind blowing in terms of behavior and physiology even more so. After all, at least both a human and a wolf are generally anatomically similar and they are at least both mammals with for four limbs in common. The comparison between human and shark, and even more so human and nudibranch is even more alien than that. So it makes sense to me that not as many people would end up identifying as aquatic than as identifying as another mammalian animal.
My name is Ocean Touched and I am a blue glaucus and frilled shark therian. Physically I am human, Homo sapien, and I am no more or less then that. Yet every part of me that isn’t physical, is actually frilled shark and blue glaucus rather than human, or at least that is how I feel. What I mean by that is that while I know that I am a human, I identify a blue glaucus and a frilled shark. I am, feel, and believe that I am a frilled shark and blue glaucus an integral and personal level. I feel that I identify as a frilled shark and blue glaucus to the point that I feel that I am a frilled shark and blue glaucus in some non-physical way. A frilled shark and blue glaucus within a human body, if you will. This is the state of my identity and my sense of self. The way I experience and perceive the world has lead me to consider myself this way. My mindset, identity, sense of self, etc. is that of a frilled shark and blue glaucus which has grown to act human through living a human life and having a human body as far as I can best describe it. Homo sapiens on the outside but non-physically within in some bizarre way, I am Chlamydoselachus anguineus, and Glaucus atlanticus regardless of my body. This state of mine is a part of my everyday life and this self-identification is a long-term and constant feeling. I’ve identified this way sense childhood and, considering I’m well into my adult years, I see myself as still identifying this way into the foreseeable future. Its something which persists even after evaluating my experiences and trying to come to other possible explanations as to why I identify this way.
Polytherianthropy, or the phenomena of having more than one theriotype, isn’t unheard of in the therian community though it is one met with some lingering skepticism throughout the history of the therian community, and such skepticism towards the phenomena often skyrockets the more theriotypes a person identifies as. One thing which often gets raised for polytherians is how their theriotypes can be set-up and how being a polytherian can work. For myself its kind of hard to explain simply or easily outside the statement – I see myself as a frilled shark and blue glaucus simultaneously in a human body completely. It isn’t like I have two spirits in me because, like all theriotypes, my theriotypes are me. They are not separate from me, because that is not a theriotype if it is. My species identity is made-up of both a frilled shark and blue glaucus at the same time, always and completely. It’s not like an on/off switch of sea slug/shark where one minute the next the other nor is it like a scale sliding between them. I am comfortable with saying “I am a frilled shark in a human body” in the same breath as saying “I am a blue glaucus in a human body” without fear of any paradox that is innately within such a statement. To every extent frilled shark and blue glaucus interacts and mingles within my species identity. There is no fundamental separation between them inside of me because those two species are what I identify as. It’s like being a frilled shark and being a blue glaucus are on different “wavelengths” if you will. The states seemingly occupy the same “space” for they are all and completely me, however they do so without limiting the other for they don’t actually “occupy the same space” in the same sense as each other. They are both very real and strong to me. It just two different states that are happening at the same time. My mindset is a singular functioning self that is both these in one. I identify as both them after all. I just am an individual who is physically human that is actually non-physically a frilled shark and blue glaucus simultaneously in some way on the inside at the same time. What can I say, identity is weird.
As part of this “both at the same time” packaging I don’t experience “shifts” as they are called in the therian community. Instead the experiences I have which relate back to my species identity are not merely daily life experiences, but constant ones. My therianthropy is always there. My therianthropic experiences do not come and go, they simply remain. The intensity of my animality doesn’t change in any way throughout daily life. It is an unchanging aspect of my mentality, my perceptions, how I perceive myself, and such. Like everyone else in the system, my animality is kept in check and even masked over thanks to what our system calls “the barrier” and “the mask.” They keep me from acting animalistic in everyday life, especially when out in public. This human masquerade is both a strong product of growing up in a human body being molded by family and schooling to not act so much like an animal, and simple nature of having a human body in which human behavior is prepackaged. The Barrier is what keeps my mentality and how I do act in our system’s innerworld from coming though while fronting. The mask is a persona that further helps whomever is fronting to keep from acting too nonhuman and whatnot. Because of this and because I am a polytherian, my experiences of being a blue glaucus and frilled shark are mixed and mingled together. Because there aren’t any shifts to my phantom body or my mentality, both my theriotypes exist at the same time.
Appearance of my Theriotypes
Usually, my theriotypes are combined to create my body in our system’s innerworld, my phantom body, my form in most of my dreams, and so on. This combination is due to the nature of having constant experiences rather than shifts. It just seems to be the way my mind has figured out how to work around these two species at the same time. This default combination is how I experience my identification as those two species. I certainly identify as a blue glaucus and frilled shark, but its just the daily experiences of them that mingle together very naturally. I call this combination of my theriotypes a “quilled shark” sometimes (mostly, for tongue-in-check reasons). The “quilled shark” very much looks like a frilled shark in body structure but has many, many blue glaucus features on top of that. About 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) long with a long eel-like body; however where the pectoral, dorsal, and anal fins of the frilled shark would be, there are the groupings of cerata from a blue glaucus instead. The coloration is also like that of a blue glaucus for the most part along the belly and sides, but the coloration is a light dull gray like the colors of a frilled hark along the back. So, very much a merging of both their features into one. This is how I experience my therianthropy. Two theriotypes at the same time. Even in my dreams most often and certainly when it comes to my phantom body.
Dreams are basically a regulated mess of thoughts, emotions, events, and more of daily life often full of symbolic meaning rather than literal meaning created by the subconscious. (This is why they are unreliable in determining one’s species identity.) Due to this same feature though, my therianthropy (among other aspects of me and daily life) has a habit of showing up dreams even if the dream isn’t about it at all. Sometimes dreams that would otherwise be “normal” have something which references to my therianthropy while other times dreams are less subtle and are more direct. Sometimes in dream I’m doing something that mirrors everyday life (such as cleaning around the house, being at work, etc), but I’m a “quilled shark” while doing so. Sometimes I am human but have shark or slug features (gills, cerata, etc) while going about in a dream. That or, more rarely, I am anthro in some way. Another interesting thing is that I have swimming dreams and never flying dreams and I hardly ever have dreams of being a nonhuman animal other than a frilled shark, blue glaucus, or a mix of both. Then there are dreams in which I am a frilled shark or blue glaucus (or both at the same time in the form of a “quilled shark”) and I’m acting like such. Dreams of being a blue glaucus could be described as either boring or calming due to the fact I am usually just floating at the surface of the water. Such dreams are understandable given real life blue glaucus are at the mercy of the sea for their movement and they can only move under their own will to limited degrees. Dreams of being a frilled shark sometimes involves hunting, but usually just swimming with nothing but water as far as could be seen all around. In my dreams the water often cool, the light from above limited, and prey (mostly fish and squid) scarce. So, in my dreams there are a number of odd ways my therianthropy can come up. Finally dream where I am both, which is most common, tends to have a mix of behaviors of both animals.
Phantom sensations are the bread and butter of my therianthropic experiences when I am at front. They are constantly there in so many ways in the form of a full phantom body which combines both of my theriotypes into one form (due to its constancy in my daily life) and my lack of shifting. This full phantom body is like a ghost of a roughly five foot long mix of frilled shark and blue glaucus traits swimming in the air like it were at sea within the same space taken-up by our system’s body. My phantom body usually stays roughly parallel to the ground our system’s body to standing on and usually around the height of the torso area (never higher than our body’s neck nor lower than our waist) while fronting. This body mimics (or, more accurately, tries to mimic) what actions I take while in control of our systems body. This can come about in some weird ways due to my phantom body being so different in form from our system’s body in anatomy. For example, if I push open a door with a hand, through my phantom body I feel myself opening the door with my snout. In another situation, if I was picking up something with our hand, I would feel my mouth picking up the object in question. If I am walking quickly, the strokes of my phantom caudal fin move ever faster to keep my phantom body in line with our system’s body, yet if I stand still my phantom body will still ungulate as if swimming very slowly (perhaps due to how frilled sharks swim constantly). Yet, if I lay down or sit down my phantom body rolls over onto my back due to the nature of blue glaucus being compatible then as they do not move much on their own will and live “on their backs”). However, sometimes my phantom body just can’t mimic what is going on in any scant way, such as all the actions while driving, working at a computer, or washing dishes. In daily life events like that I feel my phantom body just being there and not doing anything for the most part or at all.
The sensation of my phantom body feels as real and “there” as our system’s body feels to me while I’m fronting. So it isn‘t simply a passing whimsy or something ease to forget if not being thought about. It’s a very strong sensation and presence to me. On my phantom body, my ampullae of Lorenzini are tiny static points peppering my snout. An echo of what it is for a shark picking up electrical fields and temperature changes that I am not aware of around me. This sensation tries in vain to mimic something like their purpose on a real shark. They often become more active when near certain objects or living beings due to this attempt at mimicry. Further down, my gills are six long slits of feeling across my phantom neck with the first one right behind the jaw and the last one just before the pectoral fins. I feel air passing through them rather than water due to my phantom body “swimming” through air when I am fronting. The sensation of them rippling as air passes through them is an odd sensation to say the least. This action is like my gills are trying in vain to breathe for me rather than relying on our system’s lungs, or sort of like an instinctive/automatic impulse. When it comes to my fins, due to them being a merger of frilled shark fins and blue glaucus cerata, they stick out a fair bit from my phantom body. Each cera (singular form of cerata) is flexible and boneless though they still tend to keep to a certain position. However, they do not move at my will beyond the natural range of those fins on a frilled shark. Because of this, they get in the way sometimes. Thankfully, the cerata either bend back when walking against things go through them. (However it’s still a bit odd no matter how long I’ve lived with it.) There is also the sensation of a lateral line which is sort of a ribbon of phantom-like sensation running along the side of my phantom body. It pluses slightly and gently to the slightest movement around me as my mind tries to mimic what it might be like for a flesh and blood frilled shark. These details and others about my phantom body are presence I deal with every day. However, sometimes my phantom body isn’t always strictly aligned with our system’s body.
Out-of-body experiences in a multiple systems are not unheard of (they are actually a possible manifestation of dissociation even.) Among our system, out-of-body experiences are fairly common. Mostly they come in the form of someone experiencing themselves outside of our body and the headmate who is fronting at the time “seeing” them. We tend to call these experiences “projection” and the act in progress “projecting.” (These aren’t plural community terminology as far as we know. They are just what we personally have come to call them.) This is something I (and everyone else in our system) can do voluntary though involuntary projection also occurs to a less common degree for myself and others. The experience basically involves my phantom body simply being outside of the same space as our system’s physical body. Other than that, the experience is a lot like how I experience my phantom body when I am fronting in how real and detailed it feels to me. During these experiences I might “swim” around in the air unless there is a sizable body of water nearby, where at which care, I tend to prefer being there instead. Other than that, what I might do while projecting varies a lot. Distinguishing projection from shamanic journeying is rather simple for our system. While projecting, I am still in this world (and most often, not far from our physical body), while journeying involves being on another nonphysical plane.
I, like many in our multiple system, I have animistic beliefs. These animistic beliefs include a belief in “otherworlds” and the belief in the ability to journey to such non-physical places by way of out-of-body experiences. Out-of-body experiences where we are “elsewhere” is something our system has experiences off and on since our teens. (Its because of these experiences and others that we took an interest in animism and paganism.) Shamanic journeying is a spiritual practice, not a therianthropic experience; however, my therianthropy does influence this spiritual experience and thus why I mention it here. An intrinsic part of this journeying is that my form is that of how I see myself (species and all) and not another form or how our system‘s body looks. That is just how I am naturally ever since I can remember. These kind of out-of-body experiences for me are not overly common for me (others in our system experience them more often than me), but they have naturally just occurred throughout my life and my form during them reflect how I see myself.
One thing I do experience regularly is hunting related instincts. Most of these impulses seem to be easily triggered by certain things such as the smell of blood or the sound of rapid movement. Of course, impulsive thoughts are one thing while, actual thought to act on those instincts, (let alone actually acting upon such) are another. The thought might be there for a moment, but I’ve long since trained myself to not act on any such impulse. My hunting instincts or instincts towards food might get stirred up by any number of things, but I just ignore them. Sharks are rather well known for their keenness toward blood. I don’t crave blood or anything like that. At the sight or smell of it, it makes me think of food. Well, sort of. A better way of describing it is more along the lines of making me think of hunting. An interactive thought of possible prey. However, with these instincts they don’t make me want to reach out with my hands, which makes sense as neither of my species have limbs. What instincts I have here focuses on the mouth – wanting to grab with my mouth.
So closely related coincidently to my hunting instinct is my instincts related to my mouth. A shark’s mouth is its own symbol for the whole animal. After all, say “jaws” to just about anyone who is a native speaker of English, and they will likely know whose dental work you are referring too. Neither sharks nor sea slugs have limbs for grasping or holding things. So instead they depend upon their mouth. This is how my therianthropy colors my views on my sense touch in one any. My therianthropy also messes with my awareness of things moving around me.
I tend to be sensitive to vibrations and movement. Meaning I tend to pay attention to changes and movement around me more than it seems many people tend to do. Other people more often than not seem to easily file it away as background noise. I don’t naturally do this. I have a tendency to actually have trouble not paying attention to those kinds of stimuli. Something I tend to associate with my therianthropy, especially with certain traits of my phantom body tries to mimic. That was how movement around me is influenced by my therianthropy, but even how I myself more is influenced by my therianthropy.
Frilled sharks, as one would logically conclude, sink when they stop swimming. So a major instinct with frilled sharks is swimming and not stopping. Blue glaucus, on the other hand, are a species of nudibranch which float along the surface thanks to their “foot” acting as a natural floatation device and they depend on the currents to move them. So ironically, these animals are dramatically different in this way. This difference crop up and mingle in weird ways in my therianthropy. This manifests within my therianthropy similar to how my phantom body acts more one species or the other depending upon if I am moving or not. When I am standing still, sitting, or laying down my animality sides more with being more like a blue glaucus, but with being a “nudibranch” while walking, etc. my animality sides more with being more like a frilled shark. So there is a tradeoff of instincts at certain times. At times, some instincts dominant more than others depending on which is more compatible.
Walking can feel awkward at times because of the added sensations from my phantom body. One body walking upright on two legs while the other body does not walk to all let alone on two legs. This confusion can lead to me questioning and second guessing my actions. This tends to happen to a number of us whose body in our innerworld is drastically different from as human body. For me, once I get moving, or if some other instinct which I consider more shark-like is bring drawn out, I have a tendency to want to move/keep moving.
So when I sit down, etc. is when my combined animality leans toward blue glaucus. With blue glaucus, there is an instinct for not moving and there is an alien feeling for moving all really. It’s really interesting. For me it’s strange and it’s amazing sometimes. So that is how my therianthropy colors how I think and feel while moving and remaining stationary, but these experiences extent beyond simply while I am on land.
Ironically, enough while I love being in water, in some ways I don’t really care to swim in it. Too many conflicting thoughts – human legs only able to go up and down yet in our system’s innerworld. I am used to swimming in a side to side motion. The difference can get really confusing sometimes times. Sometimes to the point of me not wanting to swim because it feels too awkward. So because of this, I rarely go swimming while I am fronting. Instinct makes me want to swim one way but the human body simply cannot mimic it. Then, along with the awkwardness and dysphasia due to body differences, there is also concern for my health.
Neither sharks nor sea slugs have lungs. Sharks have gill slits and sea slugs gain oxygen from the water through their cerata. A pair of lungs is a lot different than either of these systems. I can safely say I’ve stopped and thought to myself my on earth do I have to breathe. Breathing is hardwired into the brain involuntary so it’s not like I’m in danger for forgetting to breath. It’s not like I’ve been so conflicted in thought I forget that the human body cannot breathe underwater. Merely, that it has caused me pause at times. My therianthropy isn’t that hazardous. Plus, when I do get the impulse to breathe with other than the lungs of our system’s body, it focuses on my phantom body. My phantom gills and cerata are on my phantom body after all, so I simply get the desire of wishing they could do the work our system body has to do. So just to be safe I am very alert in what I am doing while I am swimming.
Let’s just say that my relationship with gravity is weird. Sharks and sea slugs live their lives swimming and rarely (if ever) touch ground. They live in a world where weight is almost meaningless. Even when it comes to my phantom body, I feel that sense of swimming rather than being stuck to the ground. Yet, that is very different than how life is for our system‘s body. Gravity pulls you down obviously. It isn’t possible to just swim up or down to get something. Life is limited to a much more horizontal playing field. This limitation can leave me feeling weird, especially because of the presence of my phantom body. I might need to reach high to get something and my phantom body might rise up to where I wish to go, but I won’t be able to reach it and will need a step-stool or latter. Its something so minor, but its the persistent minor things which remind me of the difference between my species identity and our multiple system’s body constantly. Things which remind me of that I might feel one way, but I’m physically not that species. So my therianthropy even influences here.
Lacking any of skeletal structure at all is another thing that humans have which is so radically different from either species. Blue glaucus have absolutely no hard structures to them at all while frilled sharks only have cartilage. They just float in the ocean. Humans have skeletal structures, and rather complex ones at that. The human body is not, for lack of a better word, “pliable.” The human body has a lot of physical limits. Both frilled sharks and blue glaucus are very flexible animals. This difference plays a small part in my overall dysphoria, and sometimes can lead to some awkward (though utterly harmless) movements when the body can’t do what I want it to.
I consider myself not a very social person and quite an introvert. I wouldn’t say I am not anti-social as I do like to interact with people, but I just also really like my seclusion in good measure too. I like to recharge and relax by myself. I tend to deal best with people in small personal groups. I find it amusing how this seems to happen to complement my theriotypes as neither animals are very social. Frilled sharks are completely solitary as far as shark researchers have surmised and what sightings of them alive had shown, and blue glaucus have been known to cannibalize members of their own species at times if they float too close to another under the wrong circumstances.
I am not a very verbal person. I like communicating and discussing things, but speaking is very weird for me. Some of this seems to come from a quirk in my mind where words don’t come naturally as I tend to think more in pictures and such. Also, I often have what a friend of mine once affectionately referred to as “the dead look” because of the lack of expression of emotions on our system’s face. I have a tendency just to forget about them. When it comes to me at fronting, any form of expression other than some general body language tends to be forgotten by me unless I think about it. Which makes sense given the nature of sharks and sea slugs, and my being used to lacking such ways of expressing myself inworld. So I tend to connect this quirk of mine to my therianthropy for this reason. Another thing I can’t help but find connections is how interestingly my therianthropy happen to compliment with my gender identity in one certain ways.
Gender Identity Influences
Human beings, like many modern animals have pretty distinct sexes – male and female (even though at times biology among other things ‘plays’ with this general idea of things). However blue glaucus, like many other nudibranch, are hermaphroditic in nature. Frilled sharks, on the other hand, almost always tend to be male or female only. I believe this influences (or at least just compliments) some of my experiences with my gender identity. I consider myself a bigendered /non-binary person. In brief, I don’t identifying as strictly male or female but rather identifying as being somewhere in-between with a slight bit more weight given toward the masculine. This happens to work well with how blue glaucus are a hermaphroditic species. So some of experiences relate to my gender identity and my species influence each other in specific areas.
Cause of My Therianthropy
I’m on the fence on if my therianthropy is from spiritual, psychological, and/or neurological causes. I tend to lean toward spiritual mostly with psychological and neurological influences, but that is just me. I don’t have any past life memories, but given my theriotypes that doesn’t seem all that suspiring to me. Plus the system I am a part of isn’t sure how our multiplicity as a whole was caused let alone each of us individually. Either way, what caused my therianthropy doesn’t mean as much to me as much as how my therianthropy affects me now in daily life regardless. I don’t have a nice and pretty cause for my therianthropy, only insight into my experiences.
Acceptance in the Therian Community
I’ve been around the online therian community since 2006. That amount of time has been enough to have seen certain statements come around and back around the community by various members time and time again. Any number of people who spend enough time in the therian community will come across topics of why certain species of animal are more common than others for theriotypes. One argument that comes up from time to time that I have heard and have even had said to me is that the reason there aren’t many therians with “less complex” animals as theriotypes is that people can’t identify as such animals. Now, it makes sense that the human mind is more familiar with the image and behaviors of certain mammals but not so much with others; however, some therians have claimed that it is actually impossible for people to identify as a “less complex” animal (despite their being therians with such theriotypes though rare).
I have been told I am not a therianthrope because they think someone can’t identify as a blue glaucus and/or frilled shark. When this has happened to me, sometimes all it has taken was for me to explain my therianthropic experiences and identity in detail. Other times, however, it doesn’t matter how much is explained. There has been times that no amount of explaining one’s identity could change their mind. In every case that that has happened to me, it has been from spiritual therians who view therianthropy as dealing with the soul. However, therianthropy is defined as an identification as a nonhuman animal. Spiritual, psychological, or neurological explanations to the cause of that identification is extra. Belief in souls or if one has a nonhuman soul does not make or break being a therian. (Not to mention, when it comes to spiritual explanations, it all comes down to belief which can’t be proven.)
I do find it odd or even aggravating that there are some people who don’t consider me a therian solely on their thoughts/believes upfront rather than taking the time to hear what I say and how I feel to decide for themselves. Of course, I tend to focus on a person’s experiences and thoughts on why they are therianthrope to consider their sincerity on their therianthropy. Something which not all do. I do find it rather weird at times that there are therians who say certain animals can’t be a theriotype (based on their belief no matter the rational of a person), yet such people would likely rail against those who might and do the same to them. It doesn’t affect my therianthropy what someone else thinks. At the end of the day my experiences are still there.
So that is a general overview of my therianthropy and some of my experiences related to it. Hopefully that might explain some aspects of my therianthropy as well as my daily experiences. That is an overview of how my identity is for me and some insight what is like for me to be a frilled shark and blue glaucus therian.