Birds Of A Feather

By and for Bird-People

That Which Snatches And That Which Flies


[By Zedjeb (from the Chimera System).]


I am harpykin, or harpy otherkin. Or at least that is a nice label for what I am. I use that label to describe myself sense my form is what society would call a harpy any way and I agree with the word, and so the label works nicely enough. The details of my identity place me at a crossroads between being something of a humanoid avian otherkin and a snowy owl therian as far as my experiences and self-identification stand. These feelings and ideas are spurred on by how my innerworld body can change from a humanoid harpy-like creature all the way to just a snowy owl. This sliding between these forms is a natural process in my otherkin identity. Plus, my harpy form could either has wings and arms molded into one, or they are separate with wings on my back and my arms covered in pseudo-wings and talon-tipped hands. My harpy form seems to be my natural and ‘default form’ while my owl form feels much more of a secondary or ‘travel form’ in some sense to me.  I don’t consider these two forms different kintypes, but rather the snowy owl form being part of me being a harpy otherkin.

Human/bird hybrid-like creatures can be found throughout much of the world through stories and folklore. One of the most well known is the harpy hence another reason why I feel works so well. The harpy of earlier Greek mythology were often depicted as “lovely” women with wings or generally beautiful creatures women’s faces and busts but bird bodies. Later on in Greek history and on into the Middle Ages, they began to be depicted as an ugly bird of prey with a head and bust of an old hag. Other very similar humanoid headed and bird-like bodied mythological creatures include the Sirin (not the same as the Siren in Greek mythology), the Gamayun,  and the Alkonost of Russian folklore. Some of the images of a harpy does resemble my image of my self though some do not. One of the biggest things is that regardless of time period, harpies have always been shown to be female, and I am certainly not female. However that seems small compared to other things which seem to match well for a label. Plus some of the modern incarnations sometimes seem a bit close to home. Today, the word harpy sometimes means a more humanoid creature then how it was used in the past.

Sometimes it feels weird being one of the only harpy otherkin really active in the otherkin community from what I see where I watch around. I’ve always heard various theories as to why there are certain kintypes and theriotypes are more common then others, as that topic has always floated around and about at some point.  For harpy otherkin, sometimes I wonder if it isn‘t because the few people who might of identified as a “harpy“ instead turn to and decide to label themselves as an angel, a winged humanoid, or along those lines. Plus, tengu otherkin seem to be around a otherkin community here and there oddly enough though and they are often depicted as humanoid/bird-like (specifically crow-like) beings. So it seems some of it might be from different people picking different words for themselves compared to others even though some might have similar experiences like I do. So perhaps it is not that I am alone by experiences but just not as many people decided they are comfortable with the label I have chosen for myself.

I’ve only actually met one other harpy otherkin with whom I talked in a short lived messaging back and forth, plus I’ve seen a few posts from two other self-identified harpy otherkin on two different forums. So other harpy otherkin are or at least have been around off and on. One thing I noticed though in my conversation with the other harpy otherkin and from one of the old posts on forum, was that each of us had a connection or identification toward a certain species of birds onto our harpy identity. For one of them it was the harpy eagle and the other identified with owls in general, while I identify specifically with the snowy owl. One of those harpy otherkin who had posted on a forum, actually even noted having at least two forms – one an anthropomorphic bird-like creature and another just a large eagle, which really reminded me of my otherkin identity the most. All this of course makes me wonder about the connection with any tengu otherkin even more given they often connect with crows or ravens from what I’ve seen. This makes me wonder strongly if this is a common theme among otherkin who end up calling themselves a harpy or similar. That idea, however, might have to wait as I keep an eye out for other people who label themselves as harpy otherkin.

Personally, I certainly feel “avian” and “bird” first and foremost within my own harpy otherkin identity, but not of a real-life bird species exactly sort. I am a snowy owl in many respects, but there are things added to that. As far as other otherkin go and what kintypes are mostly seen about, I identify with most bird therians I have met much more than I do with most angelikin I have met. My experiences, thoughts, and feeling are much more bird-like than say angel-like compared together. I guess, it makes sense considering even my harpy form is predominantly more bird-like than humanoid-like in appearance and my nature as a harpy is much more grounded in animalistic instinct and the state of my body than the emotional and self experiences of some angelkin I have met. Sense other harpy otherkin seem to be lacking in the otherkin community, the next closest group of nonhuman identifying people are bird therians as far as some similar feelings go. I can’t really identify with how I’ve seen many angelkin describe themselves, but I can much more readily see myself in the words of bird therians. To bring it down and cutting things down to a rather stereotypical baseline – I identify more with the animality of bird therians verses the sense of having a purpose and a sense of duty to a deity or whatnot of some angel otherkin I‘ve met.

Really from what I’ve heard a number of bird therians, not so much different then what they commonly talk about from what I have seen. For me being a “harpy” is not some intangible experience and far off idealized connection. Being a harpy is raw and it surrounds my being. I am a harpy in a human body. Being a harpy, and specially a snowy owl-like harpy doesn’t just influence who I am, it influences what I am and how I deal with it. It is what I am.  Then again, that seems to be the case for many kin from any number of kintypes.

Of course, I can often find myself sympathizing with many otherkin including therians which goes with the territory of finding similarities across any nonhuman identity. I have similar instincts to fly, to preen and clean my feathers that I feel should be there, to grab onto things with my feet rather than my arms, and those are just the more dramatic things. That doesn’t include all the little things which happen more suddenly not to mention just how I feel about myself and what I think I should look like.

In harpy form in our innerworld my wings can either appear on my back with my front arms having a short pseudo-wing over them, or they could appear as synonymous and mingled together with only feather covered and talon tipped hands appearing out from an otherwise great bird wing. My phantom wings always appear on my shoulders and never on arms unless my arms are spread apart and aren’t bent in ways not possible for birds to take. The only feathering I sometimes have on my arms are feelings of my pseudo-wings sometimes but they always come with my actual wings as well. My phantom wings don’t go along with my existing upper limbs. I had always been confused about why my phantom wings almost never appeared in sync with the physical human body’s arms. That was until I read Tsu’s essay “I Just Worked Something Out” which really put a number of things into an interesting perspective for me. Her explanation of phantom limbs being connected but not exactly overlaying due to a difference in anatomy from a wing to a human arm made sense to me about my own phantom limbs.

To me as a harpy in a human body, the human body feels heavy to me. The very bones within this body feel heavy and weighted down. The bones of an owl are lightweight to make flight easier and so does my harpy body in our innerworld. Our physical body is not in reality heavy for what is normal, but compared to my innerworld body, our body certainly feels heavier. I feel grounded in this body not only because this human body is incapable of flight alone. I feel grounded because of this body itself. My limbs can only carry me forward but not upward. No matter how strong our physical arms may or may not be, the strength can not compare to stamina of the muscles of a bird and it makes me feel this odd sense of loss and confinment. There is actually a great amount of strength housed in the muscles that give a bird lift. Its not an effortless thing. Run and climb all I want, I can never fly.

Flight is certainly something that I always miss while at the control of our human body. Being grounded is a worrisome thing for me. Its one thing to choose to stay on the ground, but not having that choice on your own is daunting. Maybe that is part of my bird-like mentality – a grounded bird is a dead bird kind of thinking in the back of my head. That kind of anxiety crops up when I get stressed or scared. I’m short an escape route, I guess I could say. Flight isn’t really about freedom to me. Its about movement and instinct. Instinct calls within me saying I should open my wings and fly upward to get from one place to another, but I have to contend with this physical body. The winds sing to me around this body. Flight isn’t effortless or easy for any bird. Gravity is always pulling downward and it takes a lot of muscle power to not fall to the ground like a stone, but that effort is in the blood for me. Just as Mist Weaver craves running for the pleasure of the ground rushing below her paws and Aquasarius craves swimming through the water with the pressure pushing around him – I crave the sky and flight for the pleasure of being there and doing what is my nature. Its an instinct to do. To exert all I have into that movement.

The human body lacks the dexterity in the feet compared to the much more subtlety of the human hands and arms. For my innerworld body, harpy body, that is reversed. Because my arms are often a part of my wings for my innerworld body which have a more important purpose, my hands are not as nimble as human hands. Whereas for my harpy form my feet which are snowy owl like in their shape are much better at grasping and manipulating. I can’t say as I have experiences of really or always have a feeling of wanting to do human things with my feet or something like that, but I do on occasion try to pick things up off the ground or stop something with my feet. With some things it is possible despite how unequipped the human foot is for things like that. Of course, when I can’t pick it up it annoys me. I think and wonder why human feet can’t be more nibble. I like stopping runaway coins with my feet as a game but its hard to pick them with my feet. Human toes just don’t have that ability.

I certainly also have the instinct to hunt. To swoop down and snatch prey from the ground. Mice and other little animals are what catches my interest the most. The instinct is to reach out with my feet and stop the animal that way  Perhaps that is the owl part of my identity coming through as my harpy identity.

Things of that nature, but there is more to it then that. So much more then that. Being a harpy otherkin goes beyond how I feel sometimes or even beyond how I see myself. That identification is what I am. The whole of what I am and is present in my daily life. I use the word harpy for all that which goes on within me. Something avian but not a real-life bird. Nonhuman. Harpy, for me.

– Zedjeb


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