“Domestic and Wild: Spectrum of Diversity” (4/4/2008)
This is a subject I have thought about numerous times and sought to eventually describe some of it in words and always came up short on that until now. Me pondering it probably came about initially from me identifying as a domestic cat and domestic horse but seeing most therians online being wild-type animals. That along with me thinking about how my therianthropy developed and thus that for some reason two of my theriotypes may have developed into being domestic animals instead of wild ones because of my human upbringing and the particular ways in which that factored into my therianthropy in my childhood and adolescent years. After bringing up this topic in a few places I noted some responses to it and I helped to clarify my take on it better. There was some confusion as to what I mean by “feral”, as though I meant to use it as a savage state of mind or actions ‘beyond being wild-minded’ when instead I mean feral, wild, and domestic as terms relevant to more scientifically-related uses of the terms for animals which are designated as domestic, as wild, and as feral. Those which are feral are domesticated animals that have gone back to a state of mind and life as a wild animal. Wild for animals is usually understood without elaboration, but there is another blurring for them aside from feral animals—found in ‘exotic’ animals and other captive or “tamed” wild animals that are not actually domesticated (thus I refer to them in this as ‘tame-wild’ animals). And then there are domesticated animals (that expands beyond cats and dogs and into birds, livestock, rodents, etc.), which are not so easily defined but what I instead seek for readers of this to understand is not some dictionary definition of what domestic animals specifically are or are not. Instead I am basing the concept of domestic animals on those creatures which have been classified as such and what makes them different from their wild counterparts or the feral members of their species/breed.
Therefore, this is not about finding and applying the ‘most appropriate’ term of the four main types I’ve mentioned (domestic, wild, feral, and tame-wild) and limiting myself or wanting others to limit themselves to those concepts and dictionary-type definitions of what those things are and are like. I’m seeking to describe this from an observational, comparative, experiential, and further, a subjective perspective (which is where the therianthropy comes into it). The experiences, the commonalities and the differences between these particular parts of me and to the real, living animals which they correlate to are not verbal, but I’m attempting to capture some of them into descriptive words to better explain these parts of myself and how the lines are indeed blurred between the domestic/wild concepts, but also that there are lines there—differences do exist, even if they can’t always be put into words or described quickly and conveniently. As also, this perspective is involving the integration of being a human, which I consider a “domestic-like” animal (in a generalized concept), and thus how that incorporates into, conflicts, or otherwise influences how the domestic, wild, or feral aspects of myself occur.
As a blurred line between the concepts of domestic and wild, I am not restrained even in terms of classification as to those aspects of myself. This is not so much about what therianthropic and human aspects, behaviors, instincts, etc. of mine fall into which classification term—it’s about the experiences and aspects themselves that I feel fall under an umbrella classification that points toward all of these concepts, individually and together. For example, what’s important to me in writing this is not simply explaining [insert attribute] about my horse theriotype that falls under the domestic category but not under wild or feral, and making it a point to apply that categorization to that attribute/aspect. Instead it’s about describing those aspects that I feel are affiliated strongly with all of these categories of wild, domestic, feral, and tame-wild for my theriotypes.
Horse is domestic, not a wild horse and not a feral horse (such as a mustang). Back in 2005 and part of ’06 I tried to convince myself that I’m really some type of feral horse, most likely a mustang (since they are the most commonly recognized feral horses in the U.S.). It was also during that time in which I sought to explain my therianthropy more so through imprintation on my soul of one or more past lives as each of my theriotypes, and so with horse I pondered over whether I had been a mustang taken from the wild somewhat early on in my life (early adulthood) and “tamed”. Yet even with the consideration of a possible past life influence then, I came to realize that if past lives had anything to do with it then nevertheless I had never been a feral horse, mustang or otherwise, during that life, or if I had been, then such was taken from me for a life with humans from a very young age as a foal. However, now I recognize my therianthropy as being primarily psychologically based, though past lives could still be some possible contributor to it. And even with that change in belief of therianthropic origin, I have retained my belief of being a non-feral domestic horse.
There are bits and pieces in my “Midnight Sand” horse essay about why I believe this, yet I still can’t force into words even remotely the extent of reasoning I have for it. Maybe in some way I can best simplify it as a form of deep understanding, of being able to subconsciously recognize the differences between myself as horse and wild horses (non-domestics) as well as feral horses; that the resonation in so many ways holds strongest to the non-feral domestic horses. And yes, that includes things like a strange-and-yet-not familiarity with reins on me (not in a literal since, because I’ve never done any “horse-play” type of things or otherwise put ‘reins’ on myself), an understanding of them sometimes seeming as though they are or ‘should be’ pulling back on my horse muzzle when my body feels the need to react through suddenly stopping—synonymous with a usual horse’s reaction, for example, when being pulled by the reins to halt suddenly. I associate carrying heavy loads distributed across my body, as well as pulling heavy or semi-heavy objects on flat land or up inclines with horse.
These situations aren’t nearly full reason and ‘validation’ for me being a domestic horse, but they do contribute to my reasoning for it. My hair, as horse, should be long and flowing, limp and with forelocks, unlike wild horses with their stiff upright hair, as well as the build of my ‘warmblood’ equine body reflects some domestic types of horses as opposed to true wild horses. My “Home”, physically, is not a wide, open grassland in the wild, it’s a decent sized pasture/field and my house (particularly my room), both on the property I have lived almost all of my life. My equine Home is Stable and Pasture, not Grassland and not Wilderness. And yet, I cannot claim that the latter two are not important to me, from a human and equine perspective. Sometimes horse calls out deeply through instincts to just run freely with a herd across open grasslands; no fences, no barriers that vastly limit my space to run, no stable—for with my wild herd they would be my Stable. This is not an often occurring feeling, but it particularly calls out to me when the instinct hits me strongly to run and especially to be with a herd—to be protected by and integrated into the social structure of a large group of horses. My prose “Hooves Beat as Hearts” does a wonderful job of capturing that instinct and my acknowledgment that I can’t fulfill it.
Therefore, I more appropriately feel I am a rather domestic horse that retains some of my ferality, as many domestic animals do to some or whatever extent. Wilderness still thrives within my equine mind, within those instincts that ring throughout my understanding, emotions, and body, even if only uncommonly. I feel the pull, the sense of being ‘torn’ between those instincts of ferality and those of my more domesticated mind—Herd vs. Stable, Grassland vs. Pasture, safety and protection amongst humans, living with and in some ways nurtured by them sometimes clashes with the want for separating myself from them, even at the many risks presented by life in the wild. But the sanctuary amongst humans, and the very much a given of as a human, win out every time. Some may take this as a sense of some ‘broken spirit’, that I’m like a horse who has had the true will for freedom and wild abused and beaten out of me, so to speak. Instead for me it’s much more similar to the concept of wild animals, like wildcats or wolves, who may have made their steps into domestication through a willful association with humans—generation after generation allowing it more and more, particularly because of the benefits it presents.
In part, it wasn’t actually just choice because, obviously, I didn’t choose to be human, just as I can’t choose to not be human, but throughout my life as my equinity developed further (however it may have initially come about), I chose to embrace more tameness and more affiliations with domestication than with the wild. I chose to embrace pastures and the concept of Stable over wandering around in the wild or otherwise sustaining a stronger mentality of being wild/feral, therianthropically. In a sense, it’s like a form of symbiosis, and if not the commensal type then the mutualistic kind to some extent, and it’s caught somewhere between obligate and facultative in terms of necessity for survival. As a human, it is, at least for the most part, necessary for me to live this way, domestic and among other humans (obligate relationship), and from an equine perspective instinctively it aligns more with a strong preference of benefit rather than necessity (facultative), but is also intrinsically bound to the obligate human relationship, thus creating something in-between.
I look back at my childhood and feel up to around middle school I was more ‘wild’ compared to how I am now—not wild in a human sense, but in a therianthropic sense that manifested itself through certain behaviors, instincts, thoughts, and so forth. As I entered adolescence and gained a better grasp on myself as an individual person and introspected about myself, I integrated my therianthropy and overall self even further into a human and domestic life. Like with many things, doing such has had its own set of pros and cons, though over the years the pros apparently proved to be worth the cons. And this brings me to wonder about my future as an independent person, when soon enough (only months from now) I will begin more of my major steps into full adulthood as I leave my home and live on my own, with me in a few years leaving college to take up a full-time job and eventually a career. Will this bring about a sort of development in more equine (or even feline) ferality, or will there be no change? Will it only be so subtle of a change that I take no notice of it? It seems only time will tell for those.
Yet I also wonder what potential impact I could have on my horse therianthropy if I am eventually given adequate opportunity to finally spend time with horses. So far, throughout my entire life I have been separated from them except for quickly viewing them from a distance or only rather briefly being in close-contact with high limitations on what ways and the amount of time I could spend with a horse. I do not know what it feels like to spend close-contact and personal time with a horse, let alone a group of them, as I also do not know what it feels like to ride one. Though I hope that someday I will be able to have such opportunities, and that if they can’t last extensively, then maybe at the least I can learn to ride a horse, work in a stable, or something that will allow such times for a few days a week or month, even if I end up leaving those opportunities behind. Yet in the meantime and thus far I have found ways to consciously and subconsciously compensate for the lack of that real horse contact and socialization through balancing out my humanity and my other theriotypes in ways that cause lower conflict toward the rather instinctive, anxious, and herd-bound mind of my equinity.
Cat seems even more integrated into domestic life than horse. My felinity blends in quite well with my humanity and as cat I take much comfort and safety in being domesticated. It’s a more independent mindset than horse’s, and even still if I want that socialization with other domestic cats, I have them with me as pets, and I already know (for various reasons, including non-therianthropic ones) that it’s quite important for me to have companionship with at least one other housecat in order to maintain and balance myself properly. And similar to them, I’m more than happy to very much limit my time outside in the winter because of my cold intolerance, as I await the spring weather to return so that I can roam around more comfortably outside—watching birds, relaxing in the sunlight, and just simply enjoying and reveling in being outside in the spring and part of summer. I see my cats every year go through a similar pattern, with all of them being disinterested in going outside as long as it’s cold outside and winter continues on, but when spring weather starts up as more than a brief day or two, with an increase in sunlight, warmth, and plant and animal life, my cats are anxiously awaiting to go outside (including those I never let out). I am also, like them, quite content to enjoy my time outside within the boundaries of my property (which is a decent size, at least) and some short reaches out beyond that, though of course I do enjoy spending time at and exploring other natural areas far outside of my property, yet I always want to return back to my stationary physical home, inside my house, and particularly my bedroom (also relating back to horse and stable).
Those are minor things, and of course similarities that may have nothing to do with my felinity, and what’s more important are the other observations I have made between me being domestic cat, more so than feral or wild-type of feline, and the domestic cats themselves I have associated with briefly or extensively in person, read about in books, and seen in video. It’s the resonating that rings to me as domestic more than the other types, and like it is with my horse theriotype, I consistently fail to capture that understanding and resonance into words, most especially text, though it’s not essential or highly important for me to capture them verbally anyway. With cats being such notable predators, there used to be times when I would try to doubt my feline therianthropy based some on me not having such a strong desire to hunt prey; it made me wonder if I was just lying to myself about being feline. Over time I have come to realize that having such a reduction in hunting desires does not make me less feline, and most especially not less domestic cat. I don’t have need to hunt because I am a “domestic” human, combined with me being a domestic cat, and for me it has manifested in a notable reduction in what my hunting instincts may have been if I was more feral or wild-minded regarding my cat theriotype. Though even domestic cats are known to hunt for play, practice, and fun rather than food (although some do hunt for food), which I don’t seem to have that desire any more than rarely.
However, I have come to realize over time and thought that my ‘hunting instincts’ maybe manifested in a different way than just wanting to stalk prey, pounce on it, and suffocate or torture it to death. Similar to how some therians feel they can use rifle hunting as an outlet for their therianthropic hunting desires, I use a more human outlet for mine as well. I love to ‘stalk’ animals with my camera or just while watching them with binoculars in order to get a ‘close-up’ look, particularly for small animals, and through it I am satisfying parts of my felinity as well as my human desires and interests. Watching birds fascinates me, and it seems I can too often be found sitting near my glass pane door behind or alongside my cats just watching the birds feed in the winter. I’ll track insects, reptiles, and small mammals sometimes, if not with my camera or binoculars then with simply my body and eyes keeping up with them as I try to get close (but not badly close) until the animal gets away or I otherwise become bored with it.
With this I am also reminded of times when I spend time outside at night in the dark, just allowing my senses, eyes and ears, to become more sensitive and adjusted to the nighttime sounds and reduced light. I quietly stand still and listen carefully for rustles in leaves, breaking of twigs or branches, or any sights or sounds of movement anywhere near me, all while my phantom cat ears reflect my careful observations of sounds, with them twitching and pricking to sounds of movement. I observe and in a way ‘hunt’ for the nighttime animals that I am so often separated from encountering. That daytime fascination and stalking doesn’t cease when I am outside at night, at least if the temperature is moderate, the weather is decent, and I otherwise feel drawn to spending time outside at night (as I primarily prefer to spend nighttime inside, and while I’m apt to fall into a nocturnal pattern if given the freedom).
The “outside world” is so interesting and fascinating, from my human and non-human standpoint, yet I’m not a largely adventurous feline and I am quite content with spending most of my time inside my house, which all connects together between my theriotypes and my human mind—it goes back to that “Home” concept I mentioned earlier. Though in essence, I feel aligned most with a housecat who is restricted (even in large part of my own will) to my house most of the time and sometimes journey to the outside portion of my property—they’re limitations as far as ‘safe’ and ‘protected’ areas go (because I of course go to many places outside of my house, but don’t feel comfortable most times in exploring them more freely, let alone staying in those places extensively). I’m not a cat who is completely content staying inside the same house my whole life (and especially not one or two rooms), and so spending time outside and enjoying being there is important to me, for human, feline, and my other theriotypes, but I most like to stay within my territory that is my home’s property. I tend to think it would be nice if at some point I can move into a house on a much larger property, with more acres of pasture/fields of gently rolling hills and some flatland, lined by forest, which would please me even more for my human and non-human aspects, including feline.
Observation and Significance
Mongoose is much more difficult to talk about in terms of possible domestic aspects and influences because I, at this point, have nothing to compare myself to in that regard. I am already rather limited in research and observation opportunities involving mongooses, particularly in video and much more diverse images of behaviors and socializations, but my resources are even fewer for ‘tamed’ mongooses. Although they do not have a domesticated species, I have read brief mentions of some types of mongooses being kept as pets or kept as tame or semi-tame hunters of small animal pests. But I do not yet have video, diverse images, and/or extensive (or really anything more than brief text) descriptions about tame or semi-tame mongooses (and which species of them) and also something equally as adequate for at least a few species of mongooses that are just wild. I believe I would need both sufficient and extensive documentation and/or video and images of wild mongooses (again, a few different species, not just one species) and of tame/semi-tame ones. For now, however, I am content with just observing myself as mongoose and how that correlates with different species of mongooses, regardless of what influences my domestication has on me being one.
The many attributes, influences, mindsets, and effects that can be caused by or affiliated with being domestic, wild, feral, or something else similar or in-between are complex and quite numerous across and within those categories and blurred lines. They are things which vary yet still retain some core, stable concepts from species to species, and defining just what all is within or encompassed by those core concepts is a tricky, difficult task that I will not bother myself to try to accomplish. Instead, my interests lie in the experiences of being these things along the domestic/wild spectrum, in subjectively living, thinking, and feeling these aspects which correlate or counter particular classifications in that spectrum, per theriotype and for being human as well. To me, it is a fascinating thing to be described in words, and yet words quickly become too limiting and insufficient to convey the understanding, the instincts, and the correlations which have no verbal synonyms in my language and vocabulary. Domestic, feral, wild, and tame-wild, as well as the frequencies between them, are experiential, mental, instinctive, subjective, behavioral, and in some ways physical, and yet the boundaries between them dwell inside the compilations of how they manifest and exist as these attributes and aspects, and how they occur as individuals and species of animals. Differences are indeed existent for these concepts regarding domestic/wild, although those differences remain in part unclear. But through subjectively and objectively understanding and through comparative and contrasting observation, a better comprehension of being human as well as the separations between wild, feral, and domestic animal species (such as in relation to theriotypes) maybe reached for some, though it is far from being any necessity as a therian and understanding one’s own therianthropy–both human and non-human.
Along these lines, I hold an interest in coming across therians of various species types–wild, domestic, and otherwise–and hoping that I will be able to hear or read some deeper parts of how their therianthropy relates to that domestic/wild concept, including in how it relates to (contrasting, comparative, or both) being a human, and thus as a domestic-like creature. It makes me intrigued to read of similarities or differences to me in the effects of upbringing as a human (and in particular ways) and self-development, and ways it connects to other explanations for the cause(s) of one’s therianthropy. One of the most fascinating types I have come across are therians who have theriotypes that are greatly blurred boundaries on being wild, domestic, and feral, like wolfdog, feral horse, and pariah or proto-dog therians, to name a few.
Yet at least for my therianthropy, I am domestic across the expanse of a few species, I am in part wild, and I am also part feral—they are all things that thrive within my mind and instincts, in my yearnings and reactions, in my socializations and behaviors, and beyond those aspects. I am domestic cat and domestic horse, yet I am not domestic pet; and I am tame and docile while also retaining opposing thoughts, reactions, and instincts to those. I strive for a certain balance of wilderness and domestic sanctuary, as well as a balance between restraint and freedom, and between prey, predator, and neutral safety. Further, I strive for a balance between human, within and outside of me, and non-human—an integration of minimal conflict for human, horse, mongoose, and cat, regardless of the levels of domestic, wild, or otherwise held in or encompassed by each of them. In some ways I have had to “sacrifice” parts of my wildness or ferality, but so far it has been through a significant purpose and a form of symbiosis that has proven worthwhile to me and how I experience myself and my life. And thus, to that I have ‘sacrificed’ very little in return for the benefits, diversity, and experiences I have gained in my therianthropic and self development.