When I came to identify as otherhearted circa 2014-15, I immediately adopted two heart-types: forest spirit and tiger.

Forest spirit was something that I’d already been exploring for a long time, being the thing that first led me down this path. Tiger was more of an innate “this should be included as well” because it hadn’t been a huge part of my journey but it was definitely present. Spirit and tiger remained my two core “types” after I eventually concluded that otherhearted wasn’t the best descriptor for my species identity (as a whole). Until earlier this month, I had considered them to be separate. See, there was always this vagueness about both (much of my identity is vague, but I digress) that didn’t distress me or anything, but it always left me curious. Each one had missing pieces. For spirit I had some general ideas about body shape/size, habitat, and associations, but nothing more. The morphological details in my head could be applied to a variety of different animals (none of which I felt a particular connection to) and I spent countless hours scouring mythology with no results. Tiger was almost the opposite. I had a clearer idea of its form, recognizing it as tigrine but not earthly. I feel resonance when I see earthly tigers, and there are aspects of tiger behavior that I can relate to, but it’s not to the point where I’d say I experience felinity like tiger therians. I draw more inspiration from artistically styled tigers, from tiger-monsters in media. But I didn’t know what tiger was beyond that. Was it some sort of mythical creature? Something from fiction?

So with forest spirit I had a being without form, and with tiger I had a form without being. Sometimes I would idley think about them being the same entity, but I always dismissed this because I thought tiger just didn’t fit in with certain aspects of spirit. I thought that most tiger subspecies were too big and all of them lived in the the wrong habitats. I don’t have a good excuse for being wrong here. I thought I’d been doing pretty thorough research, but I guess I was always so quick to dismiss things, or I was always looking in the wrong places, that I never dug deep enough. At the beginning of this month I was once again wishing I knew what my spirit ‘type looked like, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give a tigrine form more consideration.

First off, my spirit ‘type has always been connected to temperate deciduous forests, and I always associated tigers (save for the Siberian) with tropical habitats. This is true, but I wasn’t aware that tropical deciduous forests exist, and that they’re one of the many places tigers can inhabit. The difference being that these forests operate on a 2-season calendar rather than a 4-season one. It’s not a perfect match (for reasons I’d like to cover in future posts) but in some ways it’s pretty damn close. The verdict is still out on if the tiger’s historic and prehistoric ranges specifically include/d temperate deciduous forests, though. Whatever the case, tigers certainly appear in the art, stories, and cultures of regions beyond these. Even if the depictions aren’t mythological in nature, they’re still proof that the “soul” of the tiger exists all over the world. It’s also worth noting that some prehistoric tigers were about the same size as or smaller than the smallest extant subspecies (the Sumatran) which could help with the “wrong size” issue I was facing. Suddenly tigers were a viable forest creature.

Really… when dealing with spirits, none of that matters because theoretically spirits can look like anything and exist anywhere. But I like how nicely things came together. No feral forms that I’ve seen in reality or fantasy, nothing that I’m able to imagine, give me that sense of connection the way tiger does. The only thing stopping me was the fact that I hadn’t been asking the right questions.

So far, the two fit together really damn well. Dare I say they practically complete each-other. This also sheds new light on some “confusion” that I’d been having with my tiger ‘type. I see myself in tigers and I see tiger in myself, but at the same time tiger just doesn’t feel as integral as other parts of my identity. Tiger-ness has never had much of an influence on my life; furthermore, I’ve never really had the desire to be a tiger in the same ways that I desire to be a spirit or an alien. Now, viewing tiger as an aspect of forest spirit, this makes sense. Tiger is simply the form that spirit wears. I may embody tiger, but tiger is not integral to my functioning as a spirit-person. I suppose this means that I was tiger-hearted all along!

Things are still fairly new, and as always I can’t be sure if it’ll stick, but so far viewing my tiger ‘type and my spirit ‘type in this way has been working out. I can still focus on tiger without forest spirit, and forest spirit without tiger, but they are the same. Maybe I’m wrong and I’ll find things that fit both of them better in some obscure fiction or myth. Admittedly, I feel like I haven’t scoured fiction well enough, but at the same time there isn’t exactly a 100% comprehensive list of entities that I can browse through. What I currently have is pretty good!

In the end this turned out to be more of a tiger-focused entry, but that’s alright because I have posts about other aspects of my spirit ‘type planned for the future.