Shape shifting is the transformation
(mentally or physically) of one's self into an animal. A
'theriomorph' is a shapeshifter; a being who can assume an
animal as well as a human form.
A spiritual theriomorph is someone who at
least sees aspects of animals in his or her personality and
actions, and those aspects shape who he or she is. More so
in the meaning of a spiritual shapeshifter, being able to
assume animal as well as human form in spirit (or a mix of
There are two types of shapeshifting;
changing your light body in the astral to power animal, and
changing your physical form on the earth plane into an
animal. Perhaps this is where the lycanthropy legend
actually began. Very adept shamans are said to be able to
change their physical human forms into that of animals.
During certain ritual dances, humans can
be possessed by the animal spirit. Although they outwardly
do not become the animal, their body may contort or move in
the fashion that the animal is most comfortable.
Vocalizations are also heard, such as the cry of the Eagle,
scream of the Falcon, etc.
These power dances are not harmful, as
long as they are done within some type of sacred circle.
Inwardly, the individual melds with the animal. The human's
sense of smell or sight may be heightened, there could be
increased dexterity in the limbs, or a feeling of savage
power that the animal may represent.
Depending on animals for food and fur for
warmth, primitive man knew that his destiny was linked with
that of the beasts. His almost religious fascination with
the creatures he hunted is evidenced by cave drawings found
as far apart as France and Australia.
Many early civilizations revered animals
as the incarnation of gods; in ancient Egypt, for example,
both the cobra and the cat were objects of worship. It is
not surprising that stories of humans turning into beasts,
has become deeply ingrained in the popular imagination.
Often such metamorphoses are associated with fear and
In central and eastern Europe, for
example, a belief in the bloodsucking vampire that condemns
its victims to a living death has persisted into the 20th
In West Africa until recently, members of
a secret society called the Leopard Men believed that simply
wearing the leopard's distinctive spotted skin would
magically imbue them with that animal's fearsome strength.