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 the two).
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
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 terror.
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.