Living on the Fringe: Space Elves and the Origin of Otherkin

Beyond the normal reaches of our society lies an endless array of others: some living, some dead; some known, some obscure. This is about the fringe of the fringe.

Otherkin were perhaps once best known as “those people online who think they’re dragons”; now they’re best known as “those people on Tumblr who think they’re anime characters”; but in truth, the origins and history of Otherkin date back much further than most might expect.

A quick definition of terms. Otherkin, or “kin”, are a subculture that identify as nonhuman. This is commonly a spiritual, “I was this in my past life”, identification, but some Otherkin believe their identity is psychological in nature. Otherkin traditionally identify with fictional creatures, such as elves, dragons or fae. A closely related concept is therianthropy; therians instead identify with animals that, whether currently living or extinct, exist. A relatively new addition to the nomenclature are “fictionkin”¹, who identify with fictional characters; unlike Otherkin or therians, many fictionkin identify with beings that, while fictional, are generally human.

Otherkin and therians claim to experience their identity in different ways: via memories, and via “shifts” – commonly mental shifts in behavior, sensory shifts in perception, or “phantom shifts”, where they feel their identity reassert its body via phantom, ie mental, limbs. It is important to note that Otherkin and therians do not claim to physically change, and so-called “p-shifters” are usually a laughingstock in the kin community.

Though today it’s seen as a youth subculture, Otherkin trace their origin to the burgeoning pagan & new age movements of the 1970s. An invaluable timeline by Orion Scribner places the first group that we would today call “Otherkin” in at least 1975, when a group called the Elf Queen’s Daughters placed their first public ad in a pagan quarterly. The term itself dates to 1990, invented as a catch-all for the many non-elven identities Otherkin now possessed; therianthropy found a name and a home on Usenet circa 1994.

But all that can wait. Today, we’re zeroing in one specific facet of the Otherkin community: a elfkin subculture with an involved mythology that flourished briefly, but brightly.

The Elenari started on now-lost mailing lists in the late 90s; in 2000, a newly-created site called the Elenari Nexus became the community’s home.

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Living on the Fringe: When Anti-Vaxxers thought their children were aliens

Beyond the normal reaches of our society lies an endless array of others: some living, some dead; some known, some obscure. This is about the fringe of the fringe.

Adherents of fringe beliefs don’t tend to see reason when their favorite nonsense is debunked; they just slide on to tanother. They go effortlessly from Gamergate to Pizzagate to QAnon(gate) with nary a bit of self-awareness; from the Rapture of 2011 to the “Mayan” apocalypse of 2012 to the arrival of Nibiru in 2017; from starting a Final Fantasy cult to starting a Hannibal cult. Yes, really.

When this happens, the old bullshit tends to go down the memory hole. And so it is with anti-vaccine maven Jenny McCarthy, who’s done all she can to bury that she once explained her son’s autism not with debunked science, but by believing she, and him, were literally magic.

Such is the way of the Indigo Child believer: the precursor to anti-vax, and a strange movement in its own right.


McCarthy’s awakening came when a woman on the street yelled at her.

No, really. Someone told her that she was an Indigo & her son was a Crystal child. And on the word of a Lady Screaming On The Street, she found her purpose in life.

McCarthy embraced the Indigo child identity hard, but only a few years later, she deleted all pages about her belief in Indigo children – and her crusade against vaccines began.

But what exactly were Indigo Children? And how were they related to anti-vaxxers?


Well, let’s look them up. In a delightful field of embarrassingly sincere artwork, we find a succinct, 14-point checklist of Signs You May Be An Indigo Child:

This is a narrow list that limits Indigo Children exclusively to: every overly-sincere-and-awkward teen; every liberal arts student who just discovered politics; every Weird Horse Girl. Wow, truly a paranormal phenomenon at work.

But the Indigo Child phenomenon relied on its vagueness, on the ability of just about any mom to fit their child into their rubric. Other countdowns make it even more weaselly: you may have had a difficult childhood. Or a nice one. The Indigo Child tent is big. Pagan author Lorna Tedder claimed every pagan mom she knew had an “Indigo child”, and some believers claim as many as 95% of children are born with Indigo or Crystal ~ E N E R G I E S ~

But what are Indigo Children?


To put it simply, Indigo Children are children born with indigo auras, and Crystal Children are children born with crystal auras.

“Ah”, I hear you say. “Ah.”

The internet’s most respectable resource, Crystalinks dot com, seems surprisingly dubious on the phenomenon, but does quote the original 10-point indigo child list:

They come into the world with a feeling of royalty (and often act like it).

They have a feeling of “deserving to be here,” and are surprised when others don’t share that.

Self-worth is not a big issue; they often tell the parents “who they are.”

They have difficulty with absolute authority (authority without explanation or choice).

They simply will not do certain things; for example, waiting in line is difficult for them.

They get frustrated with systems that are ritually oriented and don’t require creative thought.

They often see better ways of doing things, both at home and in school, which makes them seem like “system busters” (nonconforming to any system).

They seem antisocial unless they are with their own kind. If there are no others of like consciousness around them, they often turn inward, feeling like no other human understands them. School is often extremely difficult for them socially.

They will not respond to “guilt” discipline (“Wait till your father gets home and finds out what you did”).

They are not shy in letting it be known what they need.

“Born feeling like royalty”, does not follow rules, doesn’t respond to consequences – a magical indigo child, or a rich kid? The results will NOT surprise you!

Commentary on the Indigo child is effusive in its praise, but hazy in the specifics. Indigo children have ‘special auras’. Indigo children will ‘change the world’. But what of the specifics? Let’s look at THIS reasonable looking site:

“Put simply, thousands of years ago we began to “think” instead of “feel.””

Ah.

“With past as our guide, we gave our power to the ego, which made us fearful. The intellect caused us to lose our connection to the collective consciousness, making us feel alone.”

Ah,

“Some adults have been able to gain at least a part of this former knowing. They in turn are giving birth to children who remember how the collective consciousness works and they are using it. The indigo offspring is their descendant.”

Ah…

But this site lays bare the truth. A Indigo child ‘bores easily’. Is ‘prone to insomnia’. ‘Has a history of depression’.

“Has probably been diagnosed as having ADD or ADHD”.


Indigo children were almost universally children with ADD or ADHD, raised by parents who would rather believe their child was an alien than that their child need Ritalin.

And here is where we see the seed that birthed anti-vaxxers; that made their transition from talking about auras to talking about debunked medical science.

“Indigo Children who take Ritlin or other psychotropic drugs soon lose touch with their intuition, psychic abilities, and warrior personality. These children were sent to Earth with these three spiritual gifts for the express purpose of cleaning up our planet, environmentally and socially.” Care and Feeding of Your Indigo Child, Doreen Virtue

Suppressive drugs such as Ritlin, can cause an indigo child to forget their life’s purpose, which only delays what HAS to change on our earth for us to continue living on it.

Indigo parents believed their children didn’t really have ADHD; in fact, ritalin suppressed their natural, magical gifts, and so parents should deny their children medicine that could help them.

One of the reasons an indigo, crystal or rainbow child has trouble sleeping is because wayward spirits are attracted to them. These spirits know these children can see and sense them. This makes them more irritable and restless in school. The schools and doctors decide from this they are ADHD or ADD.

Crystal children, meanwhile, were typically diagnosed with autism. And that’s how Jenny McCarthy found her way from crystal auras to antivax: how people went from denying their children medicine so as to not ‘suppress’ their gifts, to suspecting the medicine itself was the problem. From a more outré type of denialism – doctors are trying to drug the MAGIC out of your ALIEN ghost child! – to the more simple “this one discredited doctor’s study proves this vaccine is bunk, so let’s bring back measles.”

But both are related to hatred of their children – of love that’s conditional. Indigo and crystal children believers could only love their ADD-diagnosed child if they could rationalize it as them really being special in some way; vaccine believers would rather their children be dead than autistic. And both abuse their children by withholding healthcare. Neither is kooky or harmless; and when anti-vaxxers finally disappear, let us hope they disappear for good, and don’t move on to something new.

…though there are also New Agers who think their kids are literal aliens. Or angels. So uh, not holding my breath.