What do we believe?
I posted this on our DreamWidth and LiveJournal accounts yesterday. While it focuses mainly on multiplicity/plurality, which my system does not consider "Otherkin" by itself, the core principles have to do with how we evaluate others' claims, and our own, about self-identity. Eli asked if we'd be willing to post it for that reason. The other article I mention at the end, by the way, will also be up here when finished.
I just left a long, thoughtful comment to someone I'm not going to name; it was a very personal and private discussion. Zie got me thinking hard about some new things, and some old things stemming from another discussion that also seemed the sort of thing to keep anonymous.
We doubt our own plurality, just as we doubt being Otherkin for anything other than psychological and allegorical reasons. We still deeply believe we're plural and that we came from another place that objectively exists, but we routinely question both. And we doubt, at least a little bit, most of the others who make such claims.
There are Otherkin and systems whom we believe are true examples of what exists, if plurality and non-psychological types of Otherkin exist. Mostly this is based on how reflective, generally credible, and honest with themselves they seem to be, though admittedly there are some very subjective things in the mix too.
Then there are definitions. The one that OKP settled upon for multiplicity was, if I remember correctly, "having more than one distinct entity as permanent residents of the same body". This seems to include medians, though we didn't catch that nitpick at the time, I believe. And then there are deliberate, possibly potential splits of a particular aspect of oneself, such as the shadow side or the inner child, that don't progress into an independent, diverging experience. That diverging experience is part of the key to us. It may not be present in MPD/DID - we're not that knowledgeable about it - but our "line" for declaring someone a system member includes divergence.
And there are portals. Lovely portals and separate residence. If someone is on the other side of a door from your head to another realm, we consider that visitation rather than residence. If someone is hanging out in something you own or just following you around, but with zir independent existence rather than being a full time resident of your headspace...that's a neighbor, not a headmate. We'd welcome people with neighbors into "plural" communities because we share the experience of living in community but I don't think they fit under even the big tent of plurality.
Independence, but living together. Divergent reactions to experience. Those are the important things. There are still the same biochemistry, the same core memory, the same primal gut reactions, and we honor that - it would be hypocritical not to, when we're all affected by our depression and the abuse we've suffered, even the ones who weren't here for the abuse. But even the way those make us feel, when we're out of gut reaction enough to reflect, is different.
Even the gods grow, if they're open to it. We don't work with Thor much but have been told by those who do, that he's mellowed out greatly since the time in which the stories of the Eddas took place. To see growth, or rebellion against it, helps us to believe that others are true individuals. Constructs are valuable but not necessarily people; we honor them, but in a different way. Disrespect for our own constructs is as damaging as showing disrespect for nature by going out in shorts and a cami in the depth of winter. We're not going to win unless we can change the entire paradigm; working with it is the only sane way.
Otherkin and all kinds of introjects receive yet another layer of evaluation. Does the person really seem to have thought through the claimed identity? Considered other possibilities? It doesn't necessarily affect liking and relating to the person, but making us really believe that zie is that species or that specific person is a higher bar to set. We don't really care what a person is, in that sense, but rather who zie is now, the qualities zie has, the way zie lives. If zie really is or was something radically different, we really don't give a shit. It's immaterial. In that sense, we are agnostic to the objective reality of many claims. The subjective is not enough for some things, such as our search for our people; if we didn't objectively believe, even with doubt, we would have seen no reason to try. Understanding what kind of reality a self-identity has is important but when it's an outsider's self-identity it doesn't often impact our decisions or well-being. We can afford to be agnostic.
There's a difference between judging a person and judging what zie believes about zirself. A person cannot be objectively wrong. That's no excuse to placidly accept what zie says about zirself. Nor are we closed to any possibility of what zie could be - god/dess, historical luminary, the thirty-seventh Sephiroth we've seen this week - but we're not going to even try to believe it unless we see a glimmer of it in zir thoughts, words, and actions.
And we have a "What is Plurality?" essay to majorly overhaul, again...
1. Here, I define "construct" as a non-sentient resident of headspace that is not sentient. Something created to serve the system's, or one head-resident's, purposes. A construct in the magical sense or another created being is, in our eyes, a person. It was a spur of the moment word choice and probably not the best even in terms of our own idea of what a construct is. Sorry for any confusion or toes stepped upon; that was not our intent. As Corweyn answered for me in our DW comments, we believe a constructed, sentient being is equal to a naturally born, sentient being, etc. We don't care so much about where an entity came from as whether it's conscious, can feel, and so on.
2. The conversation on our DreamWidth gave us another question to add to the self-discovery arsenal: When in another realm outside the mind and body, such as the astral, does one's experience of being another type of being change - or is one still limited by the brain? I'd suspect that something wildly different from human would, though the experience might be incomprehensible upon return.
"All knowledge is worth having." -Phedre no Delaunay
"Everything has a price." -Jaenelle Angelline
"I think if you try, that's being your best." -Echo