From firstname.lastname@example.org Sat Jun 14 03:51:47 1997
Last-modified: 02/03/97 Version: 97.1
How To Use This FAQ Collection
The Frequently Asked Questions file has been broken up into three major parts. The first is the Core FAQ, containing the most basic questions about AHWW, and is intended to acquaint the reader with the newsgroup and its purpose. It has been drastically shortened and simplified so that the reader can get the gist of the group without having to read through the other two parts. The second part is the Resource FAQ, containing the various bits of information and minutia collected over the years by AHWW members. It contains the various ways held to effect physical shifting, humor, Internet resources, books, songs, movies and other media relating to shapeshifters, and much more. It is interesting but rather lengthy. The third part is the collection of MiniFAQs, the essays pertaining to various phenotypes of shapeshifter and the legends specific to them. All three parts will be available from a variety of locations, but only the first part will be posted regularly on AHWW. The other two may be gotten by emailing KATMANDU@NEGIA.NET; via anonymous ftp to ftp://ftp.negia.net/users/katmandu; or on the web at http://www.negia.net/~katmandu/ahww.html. The resource FAQ contains many other locations the files may be found. Additions, suggestions, gripes and kudos should be sent to the keeper of the FAQ, KATMANDU@NEGIA.NET.
Introduction - The Core FAQ
Welcome to alt.horror.werewolves! This newsgroup is probably a little different than most groups you've come across in Usenet. If you're reading it based on the name, then chances are you have an interest in werewolves and horror-genre fiction. So do we... but there's more to it than that. We do discuss werewolves in movies, literature, and art... but we also discuss windigos, werebears, wereleopards, weretigers, ravens, werebats, wererats, polymorphs... any shapeshifter at all. We talk about theriomorphs, both physical and spiritual; about methods of changing, about personal philosophies, and about fun. What were all those terms up there? Read on; everything will be explained in time. But be aware that AHWW is more than is seems at first glance!
A little etiquette before we continue: Whenever entering a new newsgroup, it's a good idea to lurk for a while, and try to fathom from posts by folks who have been there a while what sorts of things are okay to talk about and what topics are forbidden. By reading this FAQ, you've taken a big step in that direction: A FAQ is the group's official declaration of being; it tells everyone who read it what the group is about. Most all usenet newsgroups have a FAQ of some sort; asking for it before you post is considered good manners. Also: Even if you don't agree with a group's purpose, flaming them is enerally a very bad idea. Especially a group like AHWW. *toothy grin*
A little history
AHWW was originally grouped November 16, 1992, as a logical extension of the alt.horror hierarchy. As such, it was intended for discussion of horror-genre movies and books dealing with werewolves. It received very little traffic; on the order of 2 or 3 posts a day, if that.
It began to attract folks with an intense interest in werewolves and hapechangers in general. Gradually, the conversations shifted to discuss what werewolves meant to these people personally, and how they entered into their worldview. Some of the original posters resented the change and eft... which is unfortunate, because we have had many detailed discussions about werewolf flicks in the past three years. As the discussions grew more and more philosophical, a concept known as spiritual therianthropy was formed (more on this later). More and more folks joined in, and soon AHWW was njoying almost a hundred posts a day. This led to some confusion... specially during the "winter of our discontent" recently, when some nasty words were exchanged and confusion reigned. This revised FAQ is one of the positive things to come from that.
What does the future hold? AHWW, its participants, and its discussions will always stay with me, personally. Who knows what will happen to the Internet, and the alt. groups, as time goes by? But the friendships started here will last, I suspect; even if the "information superhighway" decides it no longer needs us.
What is a Lycanthrope? A Theriomorph?
Lycanthrope \'li-ken-throp\ n (NL lycanthropus, fr. GK lykanthropos werewolf, fr. lykos wolf + anthropos man) 1:a person displaying lycanthropy 2:a werewolf
Lycanthropy \'li-kan(t)-thra-pe\ n 1: a delusion that one has become a wolf. 2: the assumption of the form and characteristics of a wolf held to be possible by witchcraft or magic - lycanthropic adj.
Theriomorphic \'thir-e-o-'mor-fik\ adj (GK theriomorphos, fr. Therion beast + morphe form - more at treacle): having an animal form <~gods>
-- Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary
In this context, lycanthrope would appear to include only werewolves. owever, it has come to refer to any shapeshifter, whether it be werebear, wolf, bat, panther, raven, fox, what have you. A more accurate term, and one that's being used more and more, is theriomorph; as it doesn't connote any specific animal. Both lycanthrope and theriomorph are used interchangeably, though.
Do you actually believe you're a werewolf?
You'll find that there is no one answer to any question on AHWW. The concept of lycanthropy is held by some to be just an interesting myth, and to others as a means of explaining their worldview; with many gradations of belief in-between. I personally have never seen a man transform physically into an animal, and cannot do it myself; but I'll never rule that possibility out. When folks here call themselves werewolves, they generally mean that they find the characteristics of lycanthropy intriguing and see examples of such in themselves. What those characteristics are and the extent to which they manifest themselves are, again, very personal and will no doubt vary from individual to individual. We'll deal with this in more detail later on. Patience!
Ysengrin has this to say:
To me, being a were is having a strong animal nature - mannerisms, mindset, social habits, and so forth - usually of a particular animal, and usually *in place of* a more traditional human nature. It's not voluntary, and it's filtered through our human upbringing, but it's still there. Many weres visualize themselves internally as their were animal, or some anthromorphic form, and are uncomfortable with people who don't think of themselves as animals. Some weres - myself included - are uncomfortable enough with even our human *form* that we strive to change into our internal, were images of ourselves.
Are you guys for real?
Oh, my, yes; we are very much for real.
Many of us like to role-play. We enjoy D&D, or Whitewolf's Werewolf: The Apocalypse, or live role-playing games. But we do not role-play on AHWW... we reserve that for groups where it's expected and condoned; like on a good MUD or FurryMUCK. We may talk about arcade or RP games that deal with shapeshifters, but we don't bog the group down with the minutia of rules and such: that's best left to groups like alt.games.whitewolf and the like. And while many of us are "furries", and enjoy good anthro artwork; alt.fan.furry and related groups are best for that. (More on furries in a later section).
What we discuss here, fun and games aside (because we DO like to have fun as much as the other were), is very serious and real to us. For some of us (not all; again, it's a very personal thing) it's tantamount to discussing a religion. It's not a role, it's real.
What are "Howls"?
Speaking of conventions... The first "Howl", the 1994 Harvest Howl, was organized by Smash Greywolf in Ohio. A Howl is basically a gathering in the flesh (or fur) of readers of AHWW to socialize, get to know one another, howl at the moon, leap over raging bonfires, and to generally share the camaraderie that exists amongst members of the cyberpack. Camped out in the woods, as far from civilization as possible, watching the full moon dance over shimmering heat waves from the bonfire, surrounded by folks of a like mind... it's truly a recharge for batteries drained my mundane human xistence. Howls are organized by whoever has the land and time to put one on. ask on the group when and where the next one is; they're worth it, no matter the distance traveled to attend.
Why not change the name of the group?
It's been suggested before that alt.horror.werewolves is no longer an appropriate name, given the groups' change of focus. It is true that it is no longer strictly about werewolf horror fiction. However: making a new alt. group, like alt.therianthropy or the like, while easy to do, runs the risk of losing readership. Not all university news servers carry alt. groups; and those that do are usually loathe to add new ones without a considerable amount of hassle. The likelihood that large numbers of folks would lose their access is too great. Grouping a rec. or soc. group is difficult.. It is possible that we now have the readership and activity to pull it off; but the fear of some sites not carrying the new group is still a large one.
Also, there's some safety in the name. It's in such an obscure section of the usenet world that folks who have no real interest in werewolves are likely to skip it altogether; and that fact alone has undoubtedly saved us from a lot of hit-and-run flamers. Something like alt.spiritual.werewolf is likely to garner more attention from the wrong types of people than it's worth.
I thought werewolves were bloodthirsty killers.
Wolves in general have had a bad reputation. Seen as evil killers, used to embody the worst traits of men, harassed and eradicated as dangerous menaces. Is it at all surprising, then, that humans who can turn themselves into wolves face the same bad press?
In a lot of cases, that's exactly what it is: Bad press. Hollywood, especially, has done more to distort and vilify the werewolf than any church. While a lot of original legends and myths hold the werewolf to be a savage, animalistic killer; there are, in fact, many legends that portray him as a kindly soul... although they generally view lycanthropy as a curse rather than a blessing.
The impetus behind such labeling is probably fear: Fear of the unknown, the unexplainable, the unthinkable. Were I to be faced with a snarling, fur-covered manlike shape, I would be enthralled... but I doubt the general public would. Shoot first, ask questions of the corpse later. When the farmer loses his livestock to predation, better to blame the wolf; and by extension, the were.
So what is it? Are shapeshifters vicious animals? I suppose that depends on the personality of the shifter and how his mind functions while shifted. Listen to Ron the Werebat, while I go refill my drink...
So, what are werewolves like, then?
--Ron the Werebat ^*^
This question has been the topic of many discussions here on A.H.W., and although each of us probably has our own answer to this question that we are most comfortable with, we are all able to accept other viewpoints on the myth (although most of us don't like the "ravening beast" idea, I think...)
The major ideas given for the mentality of the werewolf (and werebat, and other lycanthrope) while transformed are presented here. I believe all have been supported or at least posted by members of A.H.W. in the past.
1. "Mind of a Wolf" - when the werewolf transforms (for whatever reason) he loses his human mind and takes on the mentality of a normal wolf. This means that while the werewolf would not go out of its way to commit heinous acts of evil, it might for example attack a small child and eat it if it were hungry enough. Similarly, the noise and confusion of the city might scare a werewolf into a frightened frenzy, where it leaps about ripping out throats... It is more likely that a werewolf in wolf form with this mentality would flee to the woods, however, if any were available. The territorial nature of the wolf might prove interesting here - should transformation occur in the house or apartment of the werewolf's human form, it might (if it retains any of its human memory) stick around and "guard" its "territory." Should the transformation occur while walking through unfamiliar territory, the werewolf might be extremely cautious, as it knows that it may well be on someone else's (read: "another territorial wolf's") land.
Exactly how much of the human form's memory is carried over to the wolf form's memory is debatable. Subsets of "Mind of a wolf" might include "memory wiped" (the wolf form has no memory of the human form, no recognition of familiar places/faces), "vague memory" (enough to give the wolf a sense of security in the human form's house or apartment, a sense of trust and connection with one's spouse and loved ones, etc.), and "complete memory" (albeit interpreted through the mind of a wolf). The movie _Ladyhawke_ portrayed a werewolf (and werehawk) with this mentality.
2. "Mind of a Beast" - Similar to the Stevenson tale "Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde," the werewolf (while transformed) loses all inhibitions and goes on a wild ID-spree, expressing as many repressed urges as possible before reverting back to human form. This werewolf could be the "ravening beast" who slaughters her cheating husband, her whining children, and her abusive parents in one fell night, or perhaps the disgruntled lawyer who stalks parks on the nights of the full moon to rape and mutilate attractive young women. As with "Mind of a Wolf," the werewolf may or may not remember his or her actions in wolf form after the change. This is the werewolf of classic Hollywood horror.
All of us generally repress violent and sexual urges throughout the course of our lives, although there might be plenty of other things held back by our Egos (or Superegos? I keep forgetting...) regarding those two. Perhaps the homosexual werewolf, repressing his true nature for years and years due to the pressures from his family or church, finds the change enabling him to break free and express his love interest in a coworker or close friend. Of course, given the fact that all other barriers are down as well, this poor fellow might find himself raping his love interest... Oh, well. This is not the kind of werewolf mentality any of us on A.H.W. would WANT to have, I think. These lycanthropes are typically violent and destructive, more so than normal humans or animals. Name a Hollywood werewolf film (_An American Werewolf in London_, _Silver Bullet_, etc.) and you can bet it will portray werewolf mentality in this manner.
3. "Super-hero" - this is the lycanthrope who remains completely human in mentality after the change occurs. It could just as easily be labeled "Super-villain," since not all humans would use lycanthropic powers for good... Still, it is probably the least horrific of lycanthrope mentalities (at least for the individual lycanthrope). The White Wolf game _Werewolf - the Apocalypse_ seems to portray werewolf mentality this way, although werewolves are slightly affected by their wolf nature depending on what form they are in and can still frenzy on occasion... a better example of a lycanthrope with this mentality would probably be Kirk Langstrom as Man-bat, after he perfected his formula and could retain his sanity while he changed (before this, Man-bat had possessed a "Mind of the Bat" mentality). It is not one of the more exciting mentalities to talk about, since we already know it in human form - however, even a normal person's psyche may be considerably altered on looking into the mirror and seeing the reflection of a wolf, having to walk on all fours, and receiving a cornucopia of sensory stimuli in the form of new scents and sounds.
These are the three main viewpoints, although I must stress that rarely do we find a lycanthrope that expresses only one of these mindsets. Usually, the lycanthrope is primarily one of the three types, with aspects of one or both of the others apparent from time to time. A "Super-hero" werebat might use his sonar to hunt live pigeons and eat them on the wing (Who? Me? Nah... Well, maybe...). A "Mind of the Wolf (Bear)" werebear might be outside eating berries when he catches his wife making love to another man on a grassy knoll, and fly into a rage (Mind of the Beast), killing them both. You get the picture.
Thank you, Ron! *fresh Coke fizz sounds* Well, if that old saw is mostly just legend, what about the others? Like:
What's the moon got to do with it? (and other misconceptions)
Again, this is going to have MANY different interpretations. The moon didn't always figure into the equation in a lot of myths, and silver is a fairly recent adaptation... The moon has long been held to cause insanity or otherwise affect human thinking. Many of us feel energized on nights of the full moon, and spend long hours gazing at its face. In legend, the effects of the moon range from nil to being the only time a were can change; and often forcing that change. I prefer somewhere in the lower middle: It can facilitate the change, but isn't necessary. Silver is one of those metals that's held to have mystical properties, for various reasons; not the least of which is its relative scarcity and value. It's generally regarded to hold religious significance, being a "pure" metal; and therefore be able to effect such "satanic" creatures as werewolves. It's appearance in werewolf mythology, not surprisingly, seems to be after the rise of the catholic church. Again, it's influence ranges from zero to being the only thing that can injure or kill a were. If you still want to try it, silver bullets can be made; but casting them is reported to be difficult, and the were is not likely to appreciate the attention. So what about longevity and health? Some hold that werewolves are invulnerable to mortal insults; that it would take some supernatural influence to injure or kill one. Others say that a werewolf is no tougher than a human to kill. I personally like the idea of increased healing ability and slightly lengthened lifespan. Some also hold that werewolves turn into undead (ie, vampires) upon their expiration: the group has decided that this is a fairly rare idea; based on a slavic myth.
Finally, there's some thought that werewolves naturally hate vampires. Again, this is probably mostly Hollywood myth. In real life, however; just as we call ourselves werewolves, there are folks that call themselves vampires... some weres find that the very idea of being a living dead creature is an anathema; werewolves are the very embodiment of energetic vitality. Having met many vampires, both on AHWW and groups like alt.vampire, I can proudly say that some are my friends. There are some vamps, yes, that would get on anybody's nerves; but there's no real reason why a were HAS to dislike a vamp.
Virtually every culture has some sort of mythos regarding shapechanging. Specific animal mythos are covered in the collected MiniFAQs. As I collect different culture's views on therianthropy, I'll add them in.
I thought you guys were crazy.
Aaah, I see you've hit upon another bit of the werewolf mythos... relatively recent, "scientific" mythos. Lycanthropy has long been held to be a sign of insanity; a precursor to psychosis and/or schizophrenia. Indeed, there are documented cases of individuals who claimed to be werewolves who were extremely mentally ill. But was their lycanthropy due to their illness or vice-versa?
With modern psychology and society holding such a view, it's not uncommon for someone who feels they are a werewolf to be uncomfortable with those thoughts, and to think themselves crazy. I don't think it has to be so, however. I'm pretty sure I don't have the corner on sanity... I'm pretty eccentric, if I do say so myself... but insane? No. Certainly not by the legal definition of the word. Read on, you may find the information on mental shifting enlightening; and don't short-change yourself. Judge for yourself if the cyber-pack is insane...
What is the "cyberpack"?
I don't know where the term first came from. The cyberpack is basically anyone who reads AHWW and finds a bond with the others there. It's an extended friendship circle, a source of moral (and sometimes physical) support. It's a bunch of people who like each other's company and find common traits amongst themselves. It's the social and emotional side to AHWW.
There is no leader of the pack, no alpha, no hierarchy. There's no need for it. There's also no entrance exam or secret handshake... if you find you get along with the group on AHWW, and feel a kinship with them... well, then, you're a member. Welcome, friend.
The first thing to remember when reading this section is that the ideas expressed here aren't necessarily held by every reader of AHWW. This subject is a very personal one, and opinions on it will vary from individual to individual. The second thing to remember is to keep an open mind...
What's "spiritual therianthropy"?
Physical Therianthropy has been defined as the ability to shift from human to animal form and back again. Spiritual Therianthropy, then, is the ability to mentally transform from the normal human mode of thinking and reacting to an animal one. Each one of us identifies with an animal whose haracteristics we feel reflect our own. For example, I feel strongly attracted to both the wolf and the cougar... one is a pack animal, truly comfortable only in a group setting, relying on its packmates for everything. The other is a solitary hunter, only meeting others of its kind to mate. I feel that there are aspects of both animals in my psyche.
Humans are animals. Most of humanity, however, has tried to deny this fact. Humanity has sought to remove all aspects of animalistic traits from its behavior; to the point that being called an animal is considered an insult. It evokes images of uncivilized, impulsive, hedonistic behavior; acting completely without thought or restraint. Humanity has attempted to remove itself from nature as well as remove nature from itself; by subverting and subduing the land, bending it to suit humanity's purposes, attempting to conquer it rather than coexist with it. As a result, humanity has had to deal with a number of ecological problems caused by it's attempts to kill the very thing that sustains it.
All humans are animals, but very few these days can look into themselves and find the animal remnants. We who believe in Spiritual Therianthropy feel those animal remnants very strongly. We exist in the human world, but long to seek connections with the animal one. It contacts us through totems, through dreams, through our very souls. We cannot completely leave the human world, nor completely enter the animal one. We are in-between, half animal and half human in psyche... mental, or spiritual, shapechangers. We seek to balance the two halves of our nature, so that someday we can teach the rest of humanity how to balance its drive to conquer with the reality that it needs nature to survive.
What are "totem animals"?
Totem animals are animals that best reflect the qualities and needs of a person. How totems are used varies greatly... some shamanic traditions place great importance on totems and have many different totem animals, colors, directions... some barely mention them in passing.
Most commonly, it's believed that their are two kinds of totems... the central totem, the one that defines who you are; and "outside" totems, spirits that surround and guide you. The central totem is the animal you most strongly identify with, that reflects who you are. As I mentioned above, I strongly identify with the wolf and the cougar... reflecting the two sides to my nature.
Outside totems are commonly called upon to guide a person. How they are called and how they manifest themselves, again, depends a lot upon the particular tradition you follow and what you believe.
What do dreams have to do with it?
Dreams, with a capitol D, are messages from your soul, or sub- conscious, or whatever you wish to call it. Not everyone Dreams.... scientists say that everyone has dreams; but not everyone remembers them upon waking. The Dreams that we're talking about here are dreams that are exceptionally vivid and memorable, that make a strong impression upon the dreamer, and seem to have something to impart of importance.
A lot of my experiences with therianthropy are through my Dreams. I don't have them every night; sometimes it's months between them... but the really vivid, technicolor, interesting dreams I try to remember and write down and decipher. Sometimes I shift into different animals in the dreams. Sometimes I just know that they have something important to say. I cherish every one of them as a message from my elusive animal spirit.
It sounds like I'm attaching a lot of importance to these Dreams... and I am, really. But one can feel a strong pull to know their animal side without having them. They are not a pre-requisite for being a were-creature. They are, however, a valuable tool for discovering what that spirit has to tell you.
I usually rely on my Dreams to come on their own. There are ways to go looking for them, however. One involves autohypnosis; Asikaa has volunteered to tell us more about it:
It is a learned skill, and fairly easy to learn at that. First you need to learn how to relax physically. It's best to get hold of a compact disc (or continuous tape cassette) and put the player on infinite repeat. Oh sorry, I forgot to mention what should be on the CD! Not Iron Maiden or Aerosmith! You can get relaxation soundtracks from health stores and similar places. They contain "nice" sounds, such as birdsong, the gentle trickle of river water over rocks, the wind through the trees...
Now all you have to do is put the CD player on infinite repeat like I said, and lie down flat on your back, with your legs out straight, arms by your sides. Let your hands curl slightly into their natural relaxed position, and make sure you are absolutely comfortable.
Breathe in slowly and steadily, filling your lungs completely. Hold the breath for two seconds then release it. Don't blow it out, just let the weight of your chest gently descend, emptying your lungs. Try to breath like this for the rest of this "session". It doesn't matter if you forget the breathing later on, just do whatever feels comfortable.
Now you can start relaxing your body. Start at your face, and work down. Breathe in, concentrate on the muscles of your face and neck, *feel* the muscles, explore them with your mind. Let the breath out, and as the air leaves your body, imagine all the tension being drawn from the muscles of your face and neck and floating away.
Do this a couple of times for each part... your chest, your arms and shoulders, your stomach, thighs, legs and feet. Once you've got down to your feet, mentally check for any feelings of tension left behind, then go back to that part of your body and relax it a little more. By now your body should be fully relaxed... a nice warm feeling of well-being. This is the first stage of autohypnosis, and will take a little practice to master.
Now we concentrate on the mind. Imagine yourself lying warm and comfortable in your favorite place. Perhaps lying on warm sand, or on the edge of a forest next to a lake. Clear your mind of all unnecessarythoughts, and concentrate on that place. Let your mind enjoy the feeling of total isolation, with no worries or stress. Float along with your calm thoughts, and you should notice that you have no awareness of your physical self. Honestly, you really cannot feel your body any more. You have become just your consciousness, nothing more. Your body is so relaxed it may as well not exist.
Now you should be able to start Dreaming. You mind is free of all physical restraints, and your body has assumed the type of deep relaxation usually found only in alphawave sleep. It is up to you what you do with this mental freedom, but with practice the possibilities are endless.
Isn't this some kind of New-Age pseudo religion?
No. Not on it's own. The concept of Spiritual Therianthropy means a great deal to me, personally; and might be seen as my religion.... it certainly forms the core of my belief system. But we have no intention of starting a church or cult here. Most of us have an intense dislike of any _organized_ religion, in any case.
But not all... there are Christian werewolves out there. This sounds like an impossibility; but the basic tenets of Christianity aren't so far from many other religions... and nowhere in the bible does it condemn werewolves! Spiritual Therianthropy should work well with many different beliefs; even atheism.
So there'll be no cups of spiked kool-aid at the Howls, and stop looking for the BATF. *grin*
How do you mentally shift?
I can tell you how I "shift". It may not be this way for others. I welcome any additional comments on this subject for addition here.
What I mean by "shifted" is the state of mind that I'm in when I feel closest to my animal spirit. It's a feeling of heightened awareness, a sense of prowess and well-being. It's what defensive-tactics instructors call "Condition Orange"... that state of hyper-readiness and alertness that means one is ready to handle whatever crisis might get thrown at him. It's the state that I envision a healthy animal being in at any given moment... ready to fight or flee, ready for anything a hostile world might conjure up. I might add one additional thing that I'm ready for.. fight, flee, or party. :)
I achieve this state unconsciously whenever I'm in an area or situation that might prove to be harmful to me. Most all humans have felt this at one point in their lives or another... Whether they admit it or not, it's a wonderful feeling. Adrenalin junkies spend their lifetimes looking for this feeling and beyond. I noticed this feeling accidentally and connected it with my fascination for animals and began looking for a way to bring it on voluntarily. I found that if I concentrated on visualizing myself as an animal, those thought patterns would return to me and I'd get the ol' predator feeling again. Now I find myself slipping into it at odd moments... when I'm driving, under particular full moons, while listening to evocative music.
Most people can sense an outward change when I'm shifted inwardly. Perhaps this is the first step, for me, to physical changing... we shall see.
Where can I go for more help?
If you still have questions after reading the three parts of the FAQ, or you just want to talk. Check out the IRC suggestions in the Resource FAQ. IRC is a good, real-time place to ask questions of others. Or, post them to the newsgroup. we're patient, and will endeavor to answer whatever you ask. Or, pick someone who's writings you've admired and email them. They should make an effort to answer your question or direct you to someone who can.
Forget about the Michael Jackson album. Forget about the university course. But never forget us.
People, do you realize what is happening here? WE are making history. Every single day that we exist,every single day that this GROUP exists. History is occurring right before our eyes. And I don't think a lot of us see that.
This letter is being sent out not only to the newsgroup, but also to those who once were its backbone; as Smash accurately calls them the gray muzzles. Their muzzles are gray, not out of physical age, but simply the fact that they have been a part of this group longer than the rest. And the grayer, the wiser, has been my experience.
I am not one of them, but oh, how I wish I was. From the stories I have heard, this virtual bonfire never burned as bright as when it was the original few. But those days have passed, passed on long ago. As many have pointed out, it was only this past winter that alt.horror.werewolves started to truly be recognized for what and who was in it. But it happened in a sad fashion, drawing attention from the wrong kinds of people. People who thought that "Hey! Here's a chance to play with a bunch of werewolves, frolicking in the snow, and get a bowl of virtual chili." Many were they who came seeking fun. Many were they who left when the truth came to light. But some, like myself, stayed. Why? I think it's because we came in with ourselves (so to speak), and at first, it WAS all fun. Throwing snowballs, and all that. But finally, when the fun was ended out of, well, annoyance, we were still here. Because, while the fun was great, it wasn't the only reason we decided to reveal ourselves. We longed for contact with those who might understand, who might actually know what we were talking about when we spoke of lycanthropy in our lives.
Life moved on. The ones who stayed gradually integrated into the pack, no matter what their animal was, be it bear, raven, wolf, dog, cat, lion, panther. And they have shown themselves to be truthful, and wise. While we still have fun, it isn't as totally rampant as it was. Many interesting subjects were brought before the fire, and all were discussed as much as possible. I was here when Gevaudan admitted what he truly was, and watched as he was not chased, but comforted by others saying "Don't go; stay". (To those who do not know, it has nothing to do with games or flames; but it is not my story to tell). I was here when the first flamewars erupted. I remember efridine's first post, as well as PainEater, the recently-returned "Lord" Kelkemen, and Savak.
We got over them, since they were no different from other flamers, bothering us then leaving (except perhaps L.K.; but I won't go into that here). And again, we returned to our conversations via the net. The other big event was the Spring Howl. I had not attended the one in the fall, since I did not know of this group then. But as Spring rolled around, the idea was formed to throw another one. And after it was over, all those who had attended could not stop howling in joy and revelry. It was a renewal for those in attendance, and a source of envy for those who could not go. But not one person who had attended had wanted to leave. The sense of closeness that was created there, I can only speculate at. But had I the means, I would have been there in a second. That feeling is mutual for many of us. But that has come and gone, and will not happen again (ie the spring of 1995 will not repeat itself).
Time passed, bringing us up to where the group is now. Many have left for reasons beyond their control. Many have grown disillusioned with the way this group is going. But a lot of us have decided to stay, no matter what our inner feelings tell us. There are a lot of new faces that do not even know of the old ones. How many of these new ones will stay, and how many will leave, is impossible to tell. But we continue to grow, and the group changes with each new face. What it was, and what it is, are very hard to compare. One does not mirror the other. But, as has been said many times, that's a fact of life on the Internet. Things will inevitably change since it is impossible to prevent new people from finding us. And we wouldn't want that, since there are still so many of us out there, looking for a ray of hope in a dull sky.
I guess what I'm saying is, look at us. To anyone reading this right now, I want you to stop for a second. Just stop, and look at yourself. Then look at where you are reading this. Consider what you are, and why you are here. If being here, or having been here (meaning ahww), feels/felt right, then know that your life has been worthwhile. Everyone, WE, are creating a portion of history. RIGHT NOW. Though I do not believe it has ever been discussed, look at what has become of alt.horror.werewolves. *We* have created a place unlike any other. Never before have so many come together in one place, even if it is technically non-existent, sharing many ideas, but with one thing in common. Whether we are werewolves, werebears, werecats, whatever, or simply people who are in very close contact to our animals spirits, LOOK at where we are from. This, this place spans the globe. There are weres here from Germany, Norway, England, Ireland, Australia, The U.S., Canada. I am sorry if I missed anyone's home country, these were all I could remember. But even if I did, look. We have no borders here. All are welcome, provided they are honest with us. Not all of us here are were; some are humans, some are vampires. But one thing we all share in common is acceptance. The majority of people who have visited this fire (and stayed for a while) have accepted that yes, we are indeed what we claim. We are spiritual theriathropes, shifters in one method or another. Whether it is through Spiritual Dreams, or a mental process, or physically changing shape. I know of very few here who have ever gone around, finger waving, accusing someone of being false. And that's incredible. To my knowledge, something like this has never before happened: a meeting of beings such as us. I am fairly certain that anyone reading this now, whether new or old, would never have met so many like him/herself if alt.horror.werewolves did not exist. I sure wouldn't have.
Many of us who have been around here for a bit, and even some who haven't, have strong feelings towards this group, or more specifically, its members. To turn to a sad note: what would happen if tomorrow, you woke up, and the group no longer existed. Through infighting, or this Exon bill, or just simply the removal of the group from existence, what would your first feeling be? Personally, I think my depression would last a long while. But not forever. Why? Although having this newsgroup is important to me, simply knowing that the beings behind the text exist gives me hope. We have broken a barrier that no one thought existed. We have formed friendships, and deeper relationships that have no name.
We do not keep written records of what has happened here, in this newsgroup, since it fully became what it is today. Our history is only the one where each individual joins, stays, and starts to learn. Learn not only what the current topic is, or what we are about, but also of those wiser than you. There is no hierachy here. But there are people who have been here long enough to see more than they let on. Smash, Vladwolf, Firewolf, Katmandu, Dreamwolf, Asikka, Gevaudan, Wolfshadow, Windwolf, Medicine Wolf, Hiker, Snowlock, Winterdreamer, Dean R., Rimblesah, Wolfbard; as well as many, many more. These, to me, are important weres. They are some of those who helped create what we now take for granted. Every day, I wake up, on log in to read what's been posted. I expect it to be there, with names which I recognize. But most of the names I have just listed are not here anymore. I will admit, some have left due to the summer. But their presence, and it was a PRESENCE, is sadly missed.
I do not post much. I do not have the voice to post most of my opinions. And this may be my death, or my rebirth. I have felt what Smash feels. And, in my mind, I must find a way to re-vitalize what was once a powerful group. It still is. But the power has changed. And I am not used to it yet. Please, I am not writing this as something personal. It is meant FOR ALL. All in this group. I sing it into the air, hoping that at least someone here will listen. Perhaps I am too melodramatic. Perhaps I will be chased off because of this. But even if that happens, I WILL NEVER FORGET WHAT HAS HAPPENED HERE. Simply because I cannot. It is too important.
I will end this now. But not on a sad note. I want each and everyone reading this to realize one thing: YOU HAVE BECOME A PART OF HISTORY. It may be a history that will never be known publically. You will hopefully never hear about it in the media. But in my mind, and the minds of those who have ever been a part of this group, it will be hard to forget. I will personally never forget anyone I have ever met on this group. We have, in effect, created the one thing no one ever thought of, or even dreamed about: this newsgroup IS a haven, for ones of our kind. You do not need any more reason than that. If you see the group for what it is, and are glad it is there, then you should be happy. There are many ideologieshere. May no one EVER say that theirs is the "one true way". History has taught us otherwise, that there can never be only one way. And now, we are a part of history.
I Am Not What You Think (A Were's Song)
The Jaguar and the Wolf,
The Dolphin and the Centaur,
The Phoenix, the Crow and the House Cat;
They all mingle within me.
They are me and I am them;
The Cat (Jaguar and Domestic),
The Dolphin, the Phoenix,
The Centaur adn the Crow.
These are all parts of me.
The me that I am,
The me you don't know.
Lurking close to the surface of Human, that must hide them from you
You say I am crazy,
I am not, not in that way.
If you went through what I do,
(better now than before),
You would be too.
"But," you say, "to think that I am not all Human?
That is surely crazy."
But you are wrong
I am crazy, yes, but by choice
More different then crazy,
I am not what you think.
I am stronger than you.
You call me crazy and I don't care
I know you are wrong Wrong to judge what you or science cannot comprehend.
But I am right.
I am not crazy.
I am not what you think.
"They should put me awy," you say
Ha! You fear what you do not know,
What you do not recognize or comprehend.
I am not what you think.
I can be worse than you
Or I can be better.
It is not your decision,
It is mine.
I am not what you think.
I am not Human, I am Were.
And, as an addendum, some info on avoiding flamewars on the group:
Originally, this was brought up on rec.games.frp.dnd, but it has as much relevance here. Read and be enlightened!
There are (very broadly speaking) two ways in which a discussion can be carried on. The two (or more, of course) people involved can seek the truth, both having open minds and a willingness to try to see the situation from the other person's POV, or one person can hold fast to his own position and use any means at hand to attack anyone who disagrees with him, in particular taking advantage of their willingness to be reasonable.
The person who initiates the first type of discussion (and there are many going on in this group at any given time) is honestly looking for knowledge, answers, and truth. The person who starts off the second form is just trying to stir up trouble.
Signs of Type 2 threads -- i.e., flamewars:
1) It is started by a statement, generally provocative, rather than an honest question. Example: "RP games are evil!!!" instead of "Are RP games evil?" (that's what a troll is, btw)
2) The provoking person attacks other people, rather than defending his ideas. (note: sometimes, but rarely, the "accelerant" in the flamewar is someone who joined the thread later)
3) The only interest the provoking person has in other people's sources and the foundations of their points of view is to examine them for a possible point of attack. In a truth-seeking debate, all participants eagerly examine any support for an opposing POV, because it might contain something they don't know...and want to. In a flamewar, references are merely a target.
4) The provoking person makes snide comments to other participants, belittles them, invents demeaning names or titles for them, criticizes them for typos, and generally acts like a badly impacted lower intestine, with the intent of making participation so unpleasant for the poor naive fool who thought that they could have a civilized discussion that the latter pulls out in disgust.
5) The person who is fueling a flamewar frequently invents a set of victory conditions known only to himself, and calls upon them to declare "I've won!" In a genuine discussion, the "victory" is a consensus of all involved, even if only an agreement to disagree.
Eventually, of course, someone brings Nazis into it, and it's officially declared dead. Meanwhile, a lot of bandwidth has been wasted...a lot of people have been riled...and NOTHING has been accomplished.