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Furry and Magic

I want to talk a little bit about how magical furry is.

Magic, as they say, is nothing more than an act of intent. It is “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will,” if one is to believe Crowley (not necessarily recommended). In this sense, if spells are acts of intent, then coming up with spells is the act of defining one’s intentions. In this sense, magic is living deliberately.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts like this on my mind, lately, for a lot of different reasons. Perhaps it’s worth expanding on them

Continue reading Furry and Magic

Gender: Furry II (Now With More Scales)

Guest post by V, who’s gone through a variety of names that people found hard to pronounce and eventually settled for simple. V is a dragonish critter who’s been floating around the outskirts of furry since the early 00’s. They’ve written previously about species identity as lizardywizard, and can currently be found on Mastodon, as @behemoff@dragon.style, and Twitter as magnetongue.


I’ve read a lot (a lot!) of great writing on gender here at [a][s], and Makyo’s recent post “Gender: Furry” was no exception. I must admit, however, that I clicked on the title expecting, hoping for—and yet, deep down, knowing I probably wouldn’t find—something different.

See, as much as [a][s] is a site that dares to go deep into questions of gender, sexuality, and how those things are expressed in the playground of liminal, hot-swappable identity that is furry, there are surprisingly few writings on species as identity.

Therians and otherkin are more common in furry than we seem—when mentioning I’m a therian at furmeets or in chats, I always get at least one person per gathering who admits “Me too”. It’s obvious in hindsight that if anywhere would be a natural fit for such people, of course it would be furry, where we live out a startlingly profound yet largely unspoken agreement: to set aside our human personas completely among our friends, even when not roleplaying. Think about it for a moment. While there’s no requirement in furry to portray yourself as your character, wouldn’t a furry who used a human name and avatar for all their interactions seem weirdly out of place? The default, the expected, is that we uphold the masquerade. Through fursuits, avatars, usernames and conbadges, we ensure that our friends in the community know us primarily for our fursonas, not our physical forms.

Yet despite the obvious overlap, the topic by and large remains the elephant (or wolf, or cougar) in the room that is furry, just as furry seems to be a verboten subject in therian communities. Somewhere down the line, we mutually agreed to ignore each other’s existences.

I’ve got some theories on why, but those will come a little later. First, my story.

Continue reading Gender: Furry II (Now With More Scales)

Gender: Furry

Gender: Furry was originally commissioned for and published in Furries Among Us II, released by Thurston Howl Publications. You can purchase Furries Among Us II here. Do pick it up to read this and other essays by fascinating by some of furry’s finest minds. The anthology has been nominated for Best Non-fiction Work in the Ursa Major Awards! You may vote for this and other wonderful furry works here.


Many people, I suspect, use the idiom, “hindsight is twenty-twenty,” in a way that is better served by other, more appropriate words or phrases. The sense in which I hear it most commonly used is perhaps more adequately covered by the beautiful portmanteau, “regretrospect”. That is, now that things are said and done, I regret a lot of what happened during this adventure.

Also, it’s my second favorite portmanteau after “congratudolences” and really ought to see wider use.

No, I think “hindsight is twenty-twenty” is better reserved for cases when seemingly unrelated occurrences come together to form an outcome that seems to be greater than the sum of the parts. It fits best when you look back at your life and see disparate, unconnected events come together to make the situation you find yourself in now.

I came out to myself and my (at the time) fiancé as transgender over a process of several months. It began sometime in 2010 or so, when I started to feel like I was able to put words to the things that were making me feel bad. I began by identifying as genderqueer, and although that label still fits very well, I adopted ‘transgender’ in 2015 as the one that I use in day-to-day life to describe myself, as it leaves the fewest questions as to why I’m a six-foot-two rectangular man-shape in feminine clothing and makeup.

But we’re talking about hindsight, so it’s worth bringing up that one of the only things I ever stole was the book “The Boy Who Thought He Was A Girl”, back in second grade. I’m guessing at the title here, as I can find no record of it through casual Googling, however, I remember that it was a trashy, essentialist book about a boy who wanted to learn how to kiss, which somehow made him girly and, thus, confused about whether he should actually be a girl. Of course, in the end, his understanding of his gender role as a boy were firmly straightened out by strict-yet-loving family.

Or perhaps another step in this path of hindsight was sneaking into my step-mom’s spare room when I was about twelve and trying on one of her old dresses. At that point, I had yet to become the lummox that would be my post-pubertal destiny, and so the dress fit, albeit poorly.

Or, hey, skip ahead to 2006, when I had just turned twenty and realized that it felt just as good to role-play online as a vixen as it did as a tod, though I told myself at the time that it was because I wanted to experience more relationship configurations than the male homosexual relationships I’d had to that point.

Each of these things, and so many more, felt like an independent, unconnected occurrence to me. It’s only in hindsight that I can see that there were aspects of me straining towards some way to feel happy and comfortable. When I was growing up, they were simple oddities, but now just another way to see the present more clearly.

I think that it’s fairly common that one comes to terms with a portion of one’s identity in this fashion. Before I came out as trans and made the question of sexual orientation at least twice as complicated, I went through the process of figuring out that, despite being born male, I was also attracted to other boys as well as girls. Those ‘crushes’ in elementary school make more sense, and so on.

There had to be some lever that pushed each of those instances from a collection of loosely related occurrences into the formation of a strong facet of my own identity. With orientation, it was obviously the rush of hormones that came with puberty: all of the sudden, ‘liking boys’ took on a new tenor.

With gender, it was almost entirely the furry subculture’s fault.

Continue reading Gender: Furry

The Third [adjective][species] Poetry Collection

Welcome to The Third [adjective][species] Poetry Collection! Each year, for the past few years, we have collected some poetry from those within the fandom centered around a loose theme. This year’s theme was **comunity and belonging**. Below are the submissions we received in no particular order (other than the fact that the first made Makyo cry on the plane).

The furry subculture is full of unbelievable talent, and it is our pleasure to showcase poetry from those who make up the fandom.

“Quigley Napoleon Underfoot” by Jazmine Bellamy

That little wet nose with the short legs & the crooked tail didn’t know
How broken the family he was becoming a part of was

All he knew was he was leaving yet another place behind
Another car ride to another place

Old Maggie finally had the chance & sat on him
Big Red & Bigger Jed were thrilled to see him go

He noticed off the bat
Just how quiet & sad his new mommy was

How much his new daddy didn’t seem to care
Past saying that getting him was a mistake

A year or many dog years later
He was back in that house they’d picked him up from

Big Red wasn’t there anymore
Old Maggie was older still

But a new friend was exciting
A Bassedor

So ungraceful
His new sister Grace

His mommy loved on them both so much
She was still sad

Some days more than others
But they all sat in the sun in the yard for hours

The years rolled by
Mommy was up and down and all around

One day
Mommy was gone

A whole week gone she was
Daddy and his other girly stayed though

When mommy came home she was still scared but not as sad it seemed
Suddenly they were packing again

Everything in boxes and garbage bags
A new bed

Just the three of them
Yet the family wasn’t broken anymore

He was starting to feel old
As the years slowly shuffled past

Mommy brought home someone new
Patient & calm & kind

Who rubbed his ears just right
Scratched his back so good

His new daddy loved all of them
The family grew again

New daddy bought them all a bigger bed
But he still wanted to sleep right between them at night

This was the forever family he signed up for
When he left that foster home way back when.

“Fuzzed Gallery” by Z. Tanner

Sometimes people can only see
myself as a monstrosity
They spare no thought nor sympathy
no quarter given unto me
in spite of all this tragedy
that I have found a family!
Inside of the menagerie
They accept all identities
Genders and sexualities
with the words of simply be
Beauty paired with simplicity
of implicit animality
a strike against the world’s cruelty
Have I found such camaraderie
And this is where I becomes we.
So come join me and he and she,
Lots of room in this gallery
So with a kind heart and some glee
Welcome to our community.

“Color Fur Power” by Shining River

Color Fur Power is
The power in the fibers
And those fibers come together.
In our superfurry bodies,
Our paws, arms, and faces.

Put on your head!
Yeah, put on your head!
Join our dancing mass of colors
In more than a parade,
More than a masquerade.
‘Cuz this time it’s for real.

Color Fur Power
Is our fierce furful love,
Our fierce furful hope,
Our fierce furful joy
Will shake the earth.
We shake the earth.
Until a stubborn monument falls,
And an ancient flag of black and white and red

Is
No
More.

We write for justice,
Speak for freedom.
Solidarity
For the fur family.
To dance around the flagpole
And the stubborn monument
And sing a freedom song.
We shake the earth.

With the blessing of the Sun,
And the blessing of the Moon,
Color Fur Power flows within us
Color Fur Power flows from us.
And the stubborn monument gives way.
The flagpole falls and the flag
Of black and white and red tears loose.
It’s away,
away,
away down.
On to the ashes
of history.

“Call to Change” by Z. Tanner

This is our community
It belongs to you and me
We can make this place great
If we can just stomp out hate.

Cannot block this silent roar
The Poisoned hounds have taken root.
But we can heal this open sore.
If we can give them all the boot

Is not the time to tolerate
Nor is the time to anticipate
Now’s the time to stand and act
That’s not opinion that is fact

So Fuzzed friends and family
Which side is it gonna be?

“Thoughts From a Ewe in Late Autumn” by Jazmine Bellamy

“How strange”
She thought
As she watched the imperfect v’s overhead
This time headed south

“They should just find a place and be happy”
She shook her wooly head and lowered it
Back to the hay left out by the farmer

“My own sisters and I enjoy all that is here”
She mused as the shepherd dog lazed nearby
Eyeing all of his flock peaceful on the ground

“Even the Collie is one of us anymore”
She munched happily at the realization
Sure he wouldn’t appreciate it as much but still be amused

“Progress and Change” by Z. Tanner

We stand tall on
those that came before.
Refining our flaws
Carried to these shores

Breaking down these
Zoo walls bars and cages.
Reaching up to the stars
We be thoughtful sages.

Learn from our history
and one another
These animals we be
Are welcome as brother

And march on from
the dark of our past
Beasts who have learned
To make all this Last

United Together
Us Animals be
I’m glad to be here
With you and with me.

Continue with me,
In our diversity.

“Otters of the Northwest” by Jazmine Bellamy

The surface of the water breaks
A spray of droplets
Followed by happy chuffing
Another dive
Fur sleek
Spirals and rolls
The chill of the underwater world barely noticed
Dancing
Elegant and free at the same time
Pure ecstasy
Clown princesses and princes of their aquatic realms
Trickster darlings
But that beautiful dance
Oh to be able to move like they do
Dancing in beams of light that break between the currents
Precious moments of ephemeral grace

“Place called Fandom” by Z. Tanner

This place called fandom
is where I have found me
Yeah this place called fandom
is where I found me.
It gave me a place to explore
and room to be free

It’s such a wild place to be
friends encourage growth and change
Such a wild place to be
my friends help me grow and change
With radical inclusive love
The world we will rearrange

I am glad that I am here
with all expression to just be.
Oh so glad that I am here
And free to express all that be.

I am grateful that you are here,
We together make furry.

“Midnight or so” by Tyler Parsons

The winds awaken from their dead sleep,
on one of those nights around midnight or so.
It’s right about that time of night,
that I find myself wandering alone.

“You’d think by now I’d have learned to cope,”
I sigh to nobody passing by,
as I pull my coat in closer,
cuddling a ghost with all my might.

I remember saying something like
“You are the only one who understands me,”
but the gentle breeze upon my face
is my only hope for a reply.

Eventually, when my pilgrimage
has laid time to rest
and my skin feels just a bit too tight,
I come across wherever I was headed all this time:

this desolate freeway overpass
between the suburbs and the forest,
where balls of light dart
towards the endless darkness.

Then, I felt the wind pick up
and force me against the railing,
like the world had stopped moving
but the air continued past.

The trees bowed, the clouds scattered,
a golden moon blazed down from a clear sky,
and somewhere deep down inside,
something was aching to come out.

AROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

I cover my mouth as I stumble into the road
struggling to steady myself
watching the world roll around inside my head.
what on earth had come over me?

As the wind begins to clear
and the world shifts back into place,
I start to hear a familiar sound
coming somewhere from the town.

It started slow, a faint murmur
from the depths of the earth, rising
up to the rooftops, past the trees
into the swirling sky

From all over the city, the choir sings,
surrounding me with their music.
A howl—a million howls
ringing out through the sky;

and I with my silence,
begging to be released,
and the last of my will
floating away in the night…

So I did the only thing
I could ever do:
I let myself howl
and cared not who or what heard.

I have found them.
They have found me.

“Forgiveness” by Z. Tanner

I was once called to serve among you
Proud as a lion I stood.
Tried to hear complaints all through,
Trying so hard to be good.

But yet like many I’ve stumbled
in fear I made a call
From that I didn’t fumble,
What I did was fall.

Felt like I was a broken cat
to far gone to redeem,
You all told me it’s not like that
That it wasn’t what it seems

I now still walk among you
As we are all friends true.

“Meaning and Self” by Makyo

There’s some duality between sources of meaning,
Between the types of stories we use to back identity.
It’s not quite good & bad or light & dark,
Though I’m not yet sure just how to define it.

Dad used to punish the dogs
by locking then in the basement.
If he was really mad,
he’d toss then down there by the scruff.

Mom moved me & her dogs to a new house —
moved us three days early during the divorce.
Her dog punched my ex stepdad in the crotch the night before,
the nut-shot to end all nut-shots, & our time there.

Few things make me feel as deeply about life as parenthood,
even if it’s just me caring for my dogs.
Some reminders of that are intense enough to be raw, painful,
salt in the wounds of mortality, maybe, or the ache of maternal love.

The meaning behind the story of me & my dogs
comes with a story of its own, or maybe several.
It’s bound up in stories to come,
& these stories nest infinitely deep.

Remembering that & shaping that,
It’s a part of making the meaning in my life.
This isn’t better against worse,
it’s not mom against dad.

It’s not a dichotomy at all, really,
now that I think about it.
It’s something subtler, comfortably complex, a topic of its own.
I guess it’s just meaning & self.

“A Rhyme” by Z. Tanner

Birds of a feather
all chant together
cats in our clowders
come on now get louder
you ferrets in business
Ya’ll already got this
Dogs in your packs
we’ve all got your backs
Through this diversity
we all achieve unity
Join us and come in
There’s warmth here within.

Editorial: On Words (repost)

You’ll have to forgive your self-indulgent author, today. Every year, around this time, I get very maudlin. Part of it is the big change in my life around work that happened a while back, part of it is that lasting sense of “this is when the school year begins”, and part of it is grief.

In my Kaddish article these many years ago, I talk about the Mourner’s Kaddish, a prayer said after the death of one’s parents. It’s spoken daily for eleven months, and then yearly on the anniversary of the death. It’s said in order to ease the burden of grief over time so that it does not remain an overwhelming force in life.

Would that I had the faith to let go. Still, no harm in trying.

So, in that vein, on this anniversary, yit’gadal v’yit’kadash sh’mei raba…

Five years ago, on September 6th, a friend of mine passed away.

I’d not really had all that much exposure to death before that, if I’m honest. My step-adoptive-grandfather died when I was fairly young, and all I really remember out of that was the funeral, and inheriting a small medal he’d won from Colorado State University, something about soil science and geology. After that, I had dream after dream about what winning that medal must’ve been like, walking through some grand oaken hall to receive a pewter medal on a velvet pillow. That I later attended CSU, and that CSU had no oaken halls as in my dreams, always left me vaguely disappointed.

Other than that, my brush with mortality was limited to my grandmother, who passed some time later. The unfortunate part of her passing was that, for years before, she had been deep in a mire of dementia that left her a pallid shadow of her former self. From her, I remember that a lot of our final interactions were beset by confusion, frustration, and tears. “You’re [my mom]’s son, right?” she asked in the airport. She repeated the question seven or eight times, being sure, each time, to comfort herself that the person pushing her wheelchair was someone known to her.

My mom and I had flown out to see her as she got settled into a final stage of her life in Charlotte, North Carolina. My mom flew out to see her one more time before she died, but, after a long talk, it was decided that I would stay home. “I can’t handle it. I can’t be in that role again,” I pleaded, and my mom let me stay with my dad while she flew out of town.

Continue reading Editorial: On Words (repost)

Call for Submissions: The Third [adjective][species] Poetry Collection

We are proud to announce the Third [adjective][species] Poetry Collection! We have run two such collections before, one in 2015 and one in 2016, and are looking to continue the tradition of featuring some of the fandom’s poets here on the site.

As with last year, we are looking to feature poems with a specific focus. This year’s theme will be community and belonging. Poems can be about furry itself, or about animals (anthro and otherwise), but must include at least some mention of animals or furry. There are many excellent poets out there in the subculture, and we’d love to showcase their work here!

 

The fine print on what to send:

Continue reading Call for Submissions: The Third [adjective][species] Poetry Collection

Furry Migration, The Furry Writers’ Guild, and [a][s]

Howwwwwwdy!

This year, August 25-27, Furry Migration will be taking place in Minneapolis, MN! The guests of honor include voice actor and comedian Malcom Ray, artist Talenshi, and *drumroll* The Furry Writers’ Guild! The Guild’s mission is to support, inform, elevate, and promote quality anthropomorphic fiction and its creators.

I’m posting this here for two and one third reasons.

Continue reading Furry Migration, The Furry Writers’ Guild, and [a][s]

Species, Gender, and Data

One of the neat things about identity is the fact that a shared identity can lead to a community.

This is the way furry works, after all. A bunch of folks all around the world started identifying with this thing. Maybe they identify as folks who see themselves as something other than human. Or maybe they identify as someone who really likes art of anthropomorphic animals. There’s a lot of different ways to approach the topic of anthropomorphics.

Getting a bunch of folks together with a shared identity takes a lot of organization. That is, unless you’ve got the internet.

Suddenly, we start to see a community cohere out of shared identity. It’s a strange attractor of sorts: folks who are outside furry but share that identity are drawn in, making the sense of community more appealing to those outside, yet still have the shared identity.

Similar things happen within the LGBT community. Parties, gay clubs, and pride parades are some of the most visible aspects of this, of course. Still, much the same happens with trans folk. There are whole houses and communities of trans people in the embodied world, and online, the community becomes even grander. We talk of the gender cascade or the transplosion, the idea of “the act of seeing in others that portion of identity we find within ourselves that lends the greatest validation to our membership”. Seeing others live happily embracing their identity makes it easier to embrace our own identity.

Now, come with me on a short diversion through furry fiction.

Continue reading Species, Gender, and Data

Engagement

*tap tap* This thing on?

Oh, yes, hi! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

A long while.

The last post of substance was by Howl back in January. My last post was…oh gosh. September 7th, last year. Ten months was an awful long time ago.

In that time, I’ve received several emails about the state of [a][s]. One of them dubbed this period “The Quiet”, which I feel is pretty accurate, even if it makes me feel a little sad.

Those emails have sat in my inbox. I’ve read them all. Each has three or four drafts prepared for it, none of which I’ve had the wherewithal to send. They’re just there, staring me right in the eye every day – I have four active email accounts, which are tiled neatly in a pinned browser tab, and [a][s] was bottom-left. It was there. Just a big, accusatory Draft.

There are even a few emails stuck in there with more in-depth questions: queries, of sorts, for the publication of articles. Each of those has been ticked with a star, GMail’s nifty way of saying, “this is important, you should probably get to it, soon.”

Sigh.

Oh, and then there’s the furry poll.

Ah jeez.

So, I owe everyone a serious, serious apology. I’ve let a lot of folks down, not least of which myself. [adjective][species] is a labor of love for me, as it is and was for so many others, and letting it fall apart like this does everyone a disservice.

Let’s sit down and see what happened, and figure out ways to fix it. Makyo’s good at a lot of things, and talking something to death is definitely one of them.

Continue reading Engagement

Participants needed for a new survey!

As in the past, we’ve worked with the International Anthropomorphic Research Project, and we occasionally receive news of a survey or study they or related researchers are conducting.

The following comes from Moses Simpson

I’m a Masters student from the University of Waikato and I’m doing research into the mental health and protective factors of the furry community.

This research draws from work done by the IARP and adds an investigation into how being within the furry community can be a predictor factor for or protective factor against mental health issues.

The survey is well-designed and understanding of the basics of the furry subculture and of mental health. And, hey, you could win an Amazon voucher for taking the survey! Sweet.

Take the survey here.