Therianthrope Waves

"Absolutely, people are too caught up in the forms. Every once in a while, some well-meaning but clueless music interviewer will hit me with a question like 'As a werewolf, do you think you can effectively write about dragon issues?' Shit yeah -- the dragons lived through the same crazy Changes I did, faced the same injustice and fear, shifted out of the same human shell. But, you know, the people I can't write about -- it's the kids that theri parents are bringing in. I can't even begin to imagine what life is like for them -- being furry since birth, never knowing a world without magic. If I have a werewolf son, in a lot of ways I'll have more in common with CharacterDennisRedwing than I will with my own flesh-and-blood." - CharacterStuartRoseman

On the surface, a therianthrope is a therianthrope -- a person in a nonhuman body with a human background. But not all theris are created equal.

Theris' attitudes, beliefs, desires, driving forces, and self-image can vary widely depending on their background. And arguably, no single factor is bigger in determining them than what "wave" the theri changed in.

The Wave Idea

The idea of theri waves was popularized in 1998 after a famous writer penned an influential piece discussing a modest resurgence of interest in therianthropy. (Canonwise, the details of this haven't been worked out yet; feel free to claim it if you want to write it or write about it. -B) By that time, basically everyone who had considered themselves to have been nonhuman even before TheChanges had already shifted form ... and people who didn't consider themselves to be a traditional theri, but wanted to shift and were willing to put in the serious effort at self-modification, were starting to meet with some success. That process of "becoming" theri was fairly controversial among existing theris.

The writer made the observation that the act of first shapeshifting had separated itself out into several major temporal clusters -- an early wave of changes, an as-yet-growing subsidiary wave, and a future wave of theris who would not need to shapeshift at all -- and coined three terms:

First Wave

"First Wave" theris fell into their new form essentially immediately -- within days, sometimes weeks, of their first exposure to the changed, magical world. Sometimes, they would have a few issues to work through before self-acceptance prompted their shift -- and First Wave shapeshifting continued well into 1997 -- but the overwhelming majority of First Wave theris had taken command of their new form before the first Christmas.

The typical First Waver had an immediate and inescapable knowledge that they were going to change, and of what they were going to change into. Many -- but not all -- had considered the idea of being non-human even before TheChanges; a number had never let themselves think such a crazy thing before shapeshifting became possible, but TheChanges gave them license to consider it.

Second Wave

At the time of the article, "Second Wave" theris mostly consisted of people who were firm on the idea of being nonhuman, but had no particular idea of what their theri form was; since this didn't give them the strength of belief to change on their own, many had to seek out magical or social assistance to pin down something they felt comfortable adopting as a second skin. A few of them -- the subjects of the article -- ended up settling into a form and effecting a permanent transformation. There were signs this was going to become more widespread -- and, thanks to the increasing sophistication and power of magical transformation, become available as an option to self-styled humans as well.

The writer predicted that by the turn of the century, this trickle would become a roar, and therianthropy could even become a statement rather than a state of being. Those words proved mildly prophetic; actual therianthropy was never really fashionable the way many mages dreamed and theris feared, but shapeshifting did become more accessible and temporary body modifications became a subject of great debate as time passed.

"Second Wave" theris, as a group, never had a strong, immediate reaction to The Changes -- but developed one later on, through some individual epiphany or deeply personal moment of great meaning. The average Second Waver did not become a theri under the raw power of their own belief -- they either sought out magical aid for their first change, or were coached through it by theri friends of similar form. Once that initial breakthrough took hold, they adjusted to their new body until they found it more comfortable than the old one.

Third Wave

The article also discussed what it might be like to be a child born to theri parents, growing up nonhuman their whole life without ever having changed from a human form. Examples of these "Third Wave" theris were rare (and extremely young) at the time, but would presumably only grow more numerous with the passage of time. Clearly these children would have a completely different therianthrope experience than any of their forebears.

The article even raised the idea that, one day, humanity would become just another theri form for a person to choose if they felt their soul wasn't truly furry or scaled ... though, of course, the day that humanity became a minority would still be decades or (more likely) centuries in the future.

Other Waves

Some people, extending this metaphor, tried to argue that there was a "Zeroth Wave" of theris who were physically nonhuman even before TheChanges. Given that nobody ever was able to show proof such a beast actually existed, this idea was naturally controversial. Other terms for a Zero Waver include "Zed" and "Pre", short for pre-Changes therianthrope. Self-identified Zeds tend to be greeted with open mockery.

Still others said that there could be (or already was) a "Fourth Wave" of animals that were uplifted to human form and human intelligence. Terms for this widely varied (with some lumping them in with the zero-wavers and some arguing they should be put in a different category altogether). This idea led to a similar dispute as the "Zeroth Wave" one -- as of at least the late 2000s, no such uplift had been verifiably documented and no method for doing so repeatably produced.

See Also

* TheriType contains a classification scheme TTU residents use that is based on the physical characteristics of theri forms.

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