Community of people who believe they are animals

Throughout the U.S., a group of people who identify as therian has been growing over the years. Therians are people who believe they are animals, either spiritually or psychologically. Within the Houston area, there are an estimated 3,000 people in this community. 

"A therian is basically someone who believes spiritually or mentally that they are an animal," said Aramond VanRahamdalph, who leads a therian group in Houston. He identifies as both vampire and therian. As a therian, he tells FOX 26 News that his identity is of both a wolf and a raven.

“When we go through our awakening, it's brought upon by a kind of a bond with a specific animal," said VanRahamdalph. "It could be at a zoo or out in the wild. For most therians, when we shift, which we get the animalistic instincts, a sixth sense, heightened senses, hair on the back of your neck, sensation gets a little stronger.”

VanRahamdalph said those who are therian, just know that they are.

Part of being therian means going through what is called a shift and although there are several types of “shifts,” the process usually involves mentally and spiritually turning into the animal that the therian identifies as.

“You start getting the mentality of the animal within you," said VanRahamdalph. "For the ones that go full on into what is known as a phantom shift, you actually get the similar thing of phantom limb syndrome -- you start feeling a tail, or ears or claws. You know it's not there, but it's like you can feel it.”

Therians also gather in the woods with their therian family, their packs, to celebrate their identity.

VanRahamdalph told us they go on "runs" to celebrate who and what they are.

“I do know the younger kids -- they do the whole wolf howl," said VanRahamdalph. "It's mostly to celebrate but it's also to commune because when they howl, the wolves howl themselves, so it's a back-and-forth, basically, a talk with the wolves.” 

VanRahamdalph estimates that there are tens of thousands of therians throughout the U.S.