Elven Like Me

Otherkin Come Out of the Closet

The ACME Collective, in its December 1999 communique, explained its actions in Seattle: "The number of broken windows pales in comparison to the number broken spells—spells cast by a corporate hegemony to lull us into forgetfulness of all the violence committed in the name of private property rights and of all the potential of a society without them."

The Battle of Seattle also saw the rise to prominence of the pagan priestess Starhawk, who set up a "WTO Spell," complete with a "Spiral Dance" around a slowly melting ice sculpture that doubled as an altar. These ethereal machinations, she claimed, defeated the World Trade Organization. And of course, millions of people in the United States are waiting to be called home in a future Rapture, where all the good people will be beamed up to heaven while the wicked suffer in hell on earth. Believers include the man who currently has his finger on the Nuclear Button, born-again Christian George W. Bush. If he gets to evacuate, why not the elves?

The Otherkin are both sign and portent of a widespread dissatisfaction with the modern world. Materialist beliefs won't do it anymore, so older ones are dusted off, or dressed up as commodities and sold to a public hungry for something other than the mundane. Dansky says that "most organically developed metaphysical beliefs, whether you're talking Judaic or Celtic or whatever, serve a dual function within their original context. In addition to being supernatural beliefs, they also lay down the guidelines for society—a lot of faerie legends, for example, also serve as an agriculture primer on making sure the local forage is renewable."

Removed from this ancient context, the Otherkin appear out of step with our reality as they seek to build their own. Few elves think that a fog-shrouded gate will open up to lead them to the fabled Arcadia—putting them one step ahead of Dubya on the metaphysical food chain—but they're constructing a post-premodernworld for themselves, online. Alyannael, a self-proclaimed angel, puts it this way: "We have dragons and elves, angelics and satyrs, were-creatures and vampires who come together. Discussion gets lively, arguments can get heated, but there is the bond of a community of unique individuals who have one thing in common: We are Otherkin."

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