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The Role of Identity in Magic

By Taylor Ellwood

The concept of identity in magic first fascinated me when I encountered the subculture of Otherkin. My perception of that subculture was the people in it were primarily obsessed with proving that they were something that wasn’t human, whether it was an angel, dragon, elf, coyote, etc. More specifically, while they acknowledged they had a human body, they felt that their soul and identity was not human. What I found so fascinating was the fixation on identity itself, which I’d never seen focused on so explicitly. I wanted to know how proving the identity of one’s self as an Otherkin made a difference in that person’s daily interactions or what s/he did, which from what I could ascertain was not something really addressed by the Otherkin subculture. I also wanted to know what made someone being an Otherkin any different from being a human in terms of what a person could do.

I never really got any answers to those questions, but what I did get was an awareness that any definition of magic seems to treat the concept of identity as an implicit part of the process, never really exploring the concept to any great degree of depth. Identity just is, now move along. Don’t get me wrong, there is some writing in chaos magic texts about faking it until you make it, donning a suit or something else and pretending to be what you want to become, but even that concept doesn’t really explore where identity fits into the process of magic.

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