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An open letter to an e-mail correspondent - Baxil [bakh-HEEL'], n. My Sites [Tomorrowlands] [The TTU Wiki] [Photos]
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January 15th, 2009
01:27 am
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An open letter to an e-mail correspondent
Hi there --

It figures you would drop me a line while I'm in the middle of writing a character into my web-serialized novel that's having a crisis of faith ... :)

I really appreciate you taking the time to write me despite your fears. It takes a lot of courage to open up to a stranger to that degree. Thank you for showing me that respect and trust. I'll respond in kind, and I hope you can get something useful out of it.

The truth is, being a dragon (or thinking myself to be one; take your pick) doesn't make me an authority on the phenomenon. I have no desire to lecture. I don't gain anything by convincing you of any conclusion. All I know is what I believe, how I got there, and what it has meant to me. If sharing that helps you find your own sense of self -- to get closer to the truth; to find new inner strength or peace or closure -- I've done good. That's the goal.

Whether you end up thinking of yourself as a dragon or not.

You talked about your fear that this is crazy. If you'll let me unpack that for a moment, it sounds like there are three elements to that:

- Fear that you're believing something unhealthy.

*Any* belief system can be unhealthy if you misapply it. Look at the spectrum of Christians in your life -- from the level-headed ones to the disturbing obsessed ones. So this is always a valid worry, and a good reality check. But the bottom line is: is draconity inherently harmful? As a 31-year-old, married (to a lovely human ;)), productively employed, drama-free dragon, I would say no. My draconity serves as a source of stability and strength, giving me a framework for understanding this crazy world that explains my place in it and offers confidence that I can grow to be more than I am (in any of a multitude of ways -- including growing more into my human body, when I want).

- Fear that you're believing something irrational.

The principles draconity rests on are really pretty mundane ... they're just ones that aren't common things for the average modern Western citizen to think about. If you choose (as I and many dragons do) to take the viewpoint that draconity rests on some essential self being non-human, the only hypotheticals it requires are the existence of souls; humanity being non-unique in having souls (which seems only logical unless you're a Biblical literalist); souls being able to shift between species in some way; and dragons (or something close enough to what we define as "dragon" to trigger the association) existing somewhere, not necessarily on Earth. I must point out that there are also many dragons who believe in their identity despite rejecting one or all of those assumptions: many are quite serious about their draconic identity while believing they are tapping into some collective consciousness, archetype, or affirmative mental construct. I won't speak for them here.

The bottom line is that there aren't any mental leaps of the "2 + 2 = green" variety once you lay down and build from the basic assumptions. However, in this more than anything else, the best thing you can do for yourself is to not take my word for it. Poke, prod, challenge. Figure out what dragons mean to you, what level you relate to them on (personal?/extrapersonal?, literal?/metaphorical?), and whether your experiences with the world allow you to believe in dragons or not. Take as much time on this as you need or want; give yourself permission to revise your answers along the way.

What you get out of your draconity depends on what you put into it, and the more you dissect the question and come up with an answer, any answer, that you can accept with your full heart and mind with a minimum of reservations, the more your beliefs will ultimately mean to you.

- Fear that you're believing something other people will mock.

If you're a dragon, you are. However! :) Quite frankly, my experience over more than a decade of draconity has been that the quiet, unashamed public airing of such a fringe opinion is a wonderful litmus test for other people's capability to interact with you as a mature adult.

*Huge, huge disclaimer:* The previous sentence should *NOT* be read as "Other people have to accept my draconity or they fail." NO! WRONG! The litmus test is for *empathy*, for *curiosity*. For traits that have profound impacts on every aspect of your friendships and relationships. Some of the best people I know are the ones who found out I was a dragon, gave me a chance to explain myself, and said, "Your beliefs are bizarre, but you're cool anyway."

The reason I call it a wonderful litmus test is that, one, friends you can respect and trust are worth their weight in gold -- and, two, most people respond in surprisingly mature ways if you give them the chance. Are people going to mock you? Yes, because you are on the Internet, and the Internet makes people stupid. But the amount of hassle I've gotten for it away from the professional trolls has been very low compared to the rewards.

You've currently got friends who seem likely to mock the idea. That's going to have to be a factor in whatever decision you make. I do urge you to consider, though, that if they truly respect you, they're not going to let a thing like your spiritual/identity beliefs stand in the way of your friendship. If they don't really respect you ... well, you'll find out fast, and it'll hurt to find out, but IMHO you're better off in the long run knowing.

* * *

As far as your history, and love of fantasy -- it's up to you what sort of causal relationship you want to draw. Were you always interested in dragons because of some prior connection, or is it that connection that's creating the idea of being dragon? Either one is a perfectly valid conclusion, depending on the other assumptions you make. It's one of those "reptile or the egg" questions.

But personally ... I think it's a combination of the two. Draconity is about the interaction of two worlds -- a human body and a dragon soul -- and the more you embrace it, the more you have to learn to reject false dilemmas.

Would I have discovered my draconity if I'd had a childhood free of fantasy? Of course not! I'd still be the same person I am now, but I wouldn't have the framework to describe and unify all of the feelings and desires and mannerisms -- I'd channel it elsewhere and call it something else, or stagger through life reaching for something undefinable and unnameable. But at the same time, who I am predates my reading: it's what persuaded me to pick up that set of books in the first place. There's a delicate interplay, a drawing-out process, a self-refinement continually at work. Those choices ultimately led me to choose to call myself dragon.

Which brings me to my last point of the moment: Draconity, ultimately, is a choice. You have an identity -- you are you, and the label you choose to slap on it won't change that. If you really are a dragon in some essential way, then your choice isn't to "be" dragon or not -- it's to acknowledge it as such, or not.

So draconity is about claiming that you in a framework that improves your life. I wish you luck as you seek answers, and if you want to discuss this further, I'll do my best to oblige.

Dream well,

Baxil

Current Location: ~/Brainstorm
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(13 comments | Leave a comment)

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[User Picture]
From:balinares
Date:January 15th, 2009 03:30 pm (UTC)
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Hey, speaking of draconity, I've got a question: as per whichever unwritten rules may exist in the happy world of Otherkin, is it required to seriously believe at all? I mean, playfully referring to myself as a dragon is a useful abstraction to label (and, to be honest, relish in) a certain set of quirks of my identity, but I don't for one second mean it for real. But at the same time I don't want to offend anyone for whom the whole thing might be Serious Business, either. c_c
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From:baphnedia
Date:January 15th, 2009 05:00 pm (UTC)
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The happy world of Otherkin? O_o

If you choose to only be a dragon, as per a screen name, or enjoy it as an abstraction - then that is your own comfort level that exists betwixt you and your belief system. Some very close personal friends of mine are similar in that belief, whereas my own relationship (if you will) with my belief system leans more in the direction of Baxil's.

Anything in life you can delve more or less into - and you are the best judge of how much is too much, or too little. All the time people tell me I spend too much time on the internet and not enough time making music, for instance, but I do what I feel what is right for me, and urge those around me to be patient, as the music will get done eventually. No rush.

Hope that helps. Oh, and in a question to Baxil, mind if I xpost this to my draconity board?
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From:balinares
Date:January 16th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
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Ah, well: I've come to be fairly comfortable with my own quirks, thankfully; the question was more one of semantics, whether the sort of cheerfully half-assed dragon-ness I partake in could fall under draconity by definition, or if I might offend someone by even thinking it might.

But thank you for taking the time to reply, it's appreciated. :)
[User Picture]
From:baxil
Date:January 17th, 2009 02:51 am (UTC)
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To answer your specific question: Go ahead and repost. As usual, a link to the original would be cool.

See below for the remainder.
[User Picture]
From:baphnedia
Date:January 17th, 2009 02:56 am (UTC)
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Oh whoops, posted without the remainder... *runs of to fix*

http://www.paradice.net/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=2519
[User Picture]
From:baxil
Date:January 17th, 2009 02:42 am (UTC)
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I'm sure there are some dragons/Otherkin out there who get a burr up their butt at the folks who don't take it seriously. I'm not one of them. So, basically, what baphnedia said.

To be honest, most of the friction I've seen has been in the other direction: in the furry community, you can find a subtle undercurrent of dislike for Otherkin. "You know. The people who take it too seriously ... who really think they're dragons." So if you can put up with us literalists, I don't see any reason why we can't return the favor. :)

Edited to add: Semantics is a complicating factor here. The term Otherkin itself -- and to a lesser extent, "draconity" -- generally implies belief because that's how most people who use the term seem to use it. It's your choice if you want to claim the label while "not meaning it for real" -- it's not (shouldn't be!) an issue of whether you have the right to it or not. But be aware that you'll probably have to spend time correcting people who make assumptions.

Edited at 2009-01-17 02:49 am (UTC)
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From:eclective
Date:January 16th, 2009 02:12 am (UTC)
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A well-considered refutation of a lot of the bogeymen that plague the whole Otherkin concept, both negative (fear that one is believing in something Too Weird) and "positive" (arrogance in the guise of requiring a certain measure of understanding and acceptance from friends).

I also particularly liked your last paragraph. False dilemmas: that's a wonderful way to put it. We are given a form, a nature, by the world; we shape our form, our nature, from out of the world we see around. I find that a profoundly spiritual truth. There are no "reptiles" and "eggs", just a continuity of mutually supporting states. Which came first, Deity or Deity? We are all Deity.

I also did love your linked response to that one New Year's email, by the by. Ever an inspiration, Baxil. Ever.
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From:keithsdragons
Date:January 16th, 2009 08:41 am (UTC)
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It's always fascinating to watch fellow dragon's wax philosophical in their support of young, questioning individuals. I remember that stage of my own experience rather well, and it was up to Plato and Kant to convince me of the validity in what "[...] I have discovered". (I particularly appreciate your clarity in that paragraph in identifying the unique curiosity that leads us to fall in love with fantasy in a way that it's millions of other readers rarely experience.)

Also, it's a hell of a lot easier to test the waters with something like this, which you can play off if things go sour, than risk exposing something "dangerous" like homosexuality--which I wonder, do you view as a choice?
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From:siege
Date:January 16th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
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Bad apostrophe! I smack you with a fish! *flop flop*
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From:keithsdragons
Date:January 16th, 2009 10:24 pm (UTC)
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Oi, bad indeed! Such are the consequences of writing while sleep deprived. (Luckily my professors are at least as forgiving as Microsoft Word!)

I appreciate the smack. I need to wake up.
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From:baxil
Date:January 17th, 2009 05:41 am (UTC)
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I did a lot of thrashing around in the young/questioning stage. Of course, I came of age in the shoulder generation where computers were ubiquitous but the Internet was almost entirely academic.I think it's only going to become more and more rare for people of fringe belief to develop those ideas in the absence of a community of like-minded individuals. It's an interesting change.

That having been said, the community isn't a cure-all. Something like Otherkin that flies below the conventional radar can find its own niche, but won't always have the resources to really help when a member faces challenges. Dragons don't face the physical danger that minorities like nonwhites or homosexuals do -- you're right about that, and I don't want to understate hate crimes -- but it's not always accurate to say it's "safe" to be a dragon. I know dragons who ended up being institutionalized or physically assaulted by overreacting (fundamentalist) parents, and when your social network is a bunch of voices over the Internet, if something goes that pear-shaped it's a lot harder to rely on friends to get you out.

As for homosexuality and choice -- it's a little off topic, but good question. There's a definite genetic component and a definite environmental component (for instance, everyone is pulled toward heterosexuality by societal conditioning). The relative influences aren't going to be the same for all people; so it basically boils down to some people having a "choice" (less genetics, more environment) and others not.

That having been said, the people who can choose shouldn't be used as an excuse to mistreat homosexuals, and the people who can't choose shouldn't be used as clubs against bisexuals. Ideally, the concept of whether it's a choice or not should be a moot point.

[User Picture]
From:siege
Date:January 16th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
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In your disclaimer, I think you meant "previous" or "prior" rather than "following".
[User Picture]
From:baxil
Date:January 17th, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)
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Entirely correct; fixed. I re-read it before sending and posting, but overlooked that one. Thanks for the heads-up.
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