The roaring came from an unexpected source. On the sidewalk (silent shopfree street, sunny and complacent) sat a little boy in diapers. His finger tracked the red chalk stripes on the pavement within the reach of his short arms, and he roared. He was very focused, and sometimes the roaring changed to a satisfied growling. His father stood a few paces further on, smartphoning something, and did not seem the cause of the transformation of the little one. It was the red chalk stripes.
Therianthropy is the metamorphosis of man into animal, like werewolves. In Psychologie Magazine (may 2015) an article appeared about a modern therianthrope: “at age 18 she googled for the first time the symptoms she had been experiencing”. These symptoms include: the feeling of having tusks, a deeper connection to the dog than to her family, and The Lion King as favorite movie. So in this case there’s no temporary transformation under the influence of a full moon or shamanistic ritual, unless one considers the watching of The Lion King a shamanistic ritual. This 28 year-old feels half woman, half lion all the time. Sometimes she really badly wants to bite someone in the subway, at home she eats raw meat. She is not psychotic, she lives a normal life, she just feels lonely sometimes.
Why is this a problem? Because people think it’s weird when you eat raw meat and growl while doing it. But don’t we all feel lonely sometimes? Don’t we all want to really badly bite some people to death in the subway sometimes?
Typical for the problematization of all sorts of different aspects of the human condition is Kathy Gerbasi. She is a psychologist at the University of Niagara and researches therianthropes. Therefore she set up support groups. Apparently not even Gerbasi, who chose to devote herself to researching the therianthropes, can put herself in their place. Would someone who feels like a lion want to sit on a chair, and talk about their problems (that to a lion are no problems at all) with someone who feels like a fish? This is as fantastical as Noah peacefully leading the animals onto his wooden ship.
We don’t need more than red chalk stripes to become someone else, as long as we are open to it. We don’t always have to respond in the same socially accepted way to our surroundings. Like seeing a painting and say “hmm, nice, this piece really moves me” and then walk on to the next painstakingly painted work, totally untouched. When we let go of being a clearly defined person, with a vocabulary, an IQ value, a social position, then we can see the bleeding sidewalk and roar. The sight of a Jackson Pollock will make us ecstatic for days, we will leave the museum on hands and feet.