The magic of furry
I want to talk a little bit about how magical furry is.
Magic, as they say, is nothing more than an act of intent. It is “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will,” if one is to believe Crowley. In this sense, if spells are acts of intent, then coming up with spells is the act of defining one’s intentions. In this sense, magic is living deliberately.
I’ve had a lot of thoughts like this on my mind, lately, for a lot of different reasons. Perhaps it’s worth expanding on them
By the time this article goes live, I will be two weeks away from gender affirmation surgery. May 10th will involve getting up at 5 AM - if I can even sleep the night before - and driving to the hospital, where I will spend the day without time. I will blink, and when I open my eyes some hours later, I’ll have a different physical form than when I went to closed them.
I’ve been involved in the purchase of three houses, I’ve gotten married, I’ve moved halfway across the country, and this still feels like the largest intentional act that I’ve taken.
This is an act that stretches far beyond the necessary requirements to fulfill and complete it, in and of itself. I just needed letters, insurance, and time off work to complete it. I just needed the will to perform the act, and discovering that was all that was required, I just…did it. For a long time leading up to beginning this process, I believed that it required something that I didn’t have, that I could never have. When I found out that all it took was a phone call to the surgeon to get started, I leaped at the chance. Not to say that it’s been easy, but neither has it required any mystical element I didn’t already have.
This act goes beyond just its requirements because that act of intent itself changed me in turn (and not in the obvious surgical way). In magical systems, both in media and in the world at large, there is often a price to pay for your acts. Karma, mana drain, however you want to look at it. in the case described above, it’s the fact that no act occurs in isolation, and you’re going to have to live with the consequences of the act.
Sometimes these are concrete. For instance, I’m going to have to live with the pain that comes with a major surgery affecting the pelvic floor. I’ll be limited in terms of movement for weeks after the surgery. Some of these are financial - after all, transition is incredibly expensive, even with insurance.
And some are less tangible.
As I mentioned back in…oh jeez, 2013 was really five years ago!? As I mentioned half a decade back, a change in species or character often happens around large life changes, and I’m no different. The process of death and rebirth that goes along with this surgery, where I die - hopefully metaphorically - on the table and am reborn, changed, is no small feat.
So it was that, shortly after my surgery consult back in 2016, I got the idea to start interacting with friends as something other than an arctic fox. More and more, I started appearing as a snow leopard (because I couldn’t seem to let go of those wintry species). At first, it was an ‘alt’ situation: Maddy, as the snow leopard was called, was an alternate character to use when I was feeling the fox.
She was different from the ‘usual’ in a few ways. She’s cis, for one, unlike the arctic fox, who transitioned along with me. She’s shorter and a bit pudgier than I am. She’s happier and struggles less with mental health. She’s an ideal rather than a reality, and something to be played for fun.
Or, well, she was. This ‘alt’ phase lasted a few months, I suppose, before I woke up one morning and realized I’d not interacted as an arctic fox in a few days. Slowly but surely, the snow leopard had started to overtake the fox.
Becoming an arctic fox was something that just sort of happened to me. Back in 2005, I was pretty firmly camped out in red fox territory with a character named Ranna, and yet, in 2006, I shifted pretty quickly away from that character to Makyo Alopex.
It took a bit of time before I figured out what the big life change was that went along with this. I finally settled on how, once my friends Ash, Shannon, and I moved to our own house, I finally felt on my own. When I was living in the dorms, I was simply ‘away from home’. Now, though, paying rent, I was well and truly moved out. No empty nester, my mom greeted the news that I wasn’t coming home for the summer with joy, telling me, “Good, now you can take the rest of your stuff.”
2005 and 2006 were the years I finally started to grow up, and so that was the end of Ranna. 2017 and 2018 have been the years I’ve started living pretty authentically as a woman - visibly trans, sure, but also visibly feminine. This upcoming surgery has been something of a final blow to Makyo Alopex as a character, or at least as a main.
One of the downsides to the end of Ranna, is that it happened very suddenly, and not at all deliberately. Which, come to think of it, also applies to me moving out on my own and starting to grow up. It felt like an accident, slipping away from who I used to be.
My goal is to avoid that with the change from arctic fox to snow leopard. This is, as with surgery, a process of death and rebirth. Makyo Alopex is dying, in many senses of the word, and being reborn in Makyo Uncia, called Maddy. I have intent here, more than I did when I left Ranna behind. I have the will, in Crowley’s terms, and the ability to make it manifest.
As with a lot of how I experience furry, this is a microcosm, rather than something unique. I am not the only one to be deliberate about changing my species, just as I’m not the only one to read way too much into the furry fandom.
Furry, as a whole, is an exercise in self-actualization. It is taking the idea of “this is how I want to be seen” to places and extents not often tread.
Through each aspect of ourselves, we choose how we want to interact. We choose a species,
Just as I can dig into the intent behind changing a name, a fursona, an identity, I can look for the magic of self-actualization within furry as a whole. After all, furry is magic.
(fox to cat, death and rebirth, alchemy)
(expand into the wider sense of furry itself being an act of will)
(what to do with this: live deliberately, create and create and create)