Feb 282014

One of the more common questions asked by those new to the Furry community concerns the way in which we go about discovering, inventing, or otherwise giving form and life to our Fursona. Before I elaborate upon my personal thoughts on that matter, it is worth mentioning that you are by no means limited to one Fursona, and many Furs have multiple Fursonas to express different aspects of themselves or different roles or desires they want to explore. That’s true for me, personally, in that I have multiple Fursonas, although one particular Fursona seems to be more dominant in me. I should also add that you are by no means limited to the actual creatures of our planet. Many Furries are hybrids, even those that are not (as yet, I suppose) genetically feasible. The are many mythical Furries like unicorns, centaurs, griffins, … Fur itself, also, is not essential. There are Scalies, Avians, anthropomorphic fish, insects, … the list grows ever longer. In this sense, the word “Furry” itself is more of an umbrella term for the community as a whole.

Hare in the Forest

Hare in the Forest by Hans Hoffmann

In any case, I consider this process “finding” your Fursona, because it is seems to me to be a journey of discovery and awakening, even when it feels like an entirely original, conscious, creative process. Along the way, we inevitably draw from our intuitive or inspired ideas and feelings, and our previous experiences. How conscious we are of this process of discovery has much to do with the nature of the relationship we intend to cultivate with our Fursona. We might consider our Fursona to be a mask we wear to set aside our “real” life for a while, or the rules, responsibilities, and inhibitions that go with it. We might have a Fursona that emphasizes the opposite of everything we suppose ourselves to be… outgoing rather than shy, adventurous instead of cautious, courageousness in place of meekness. We might come to see our Fursona as a close friend, a companion or guide, or even an ideal mate (there is no reason your Fursona has to have the same gender identity as you). Perhaps we relate to our Fursona as an improved, more whole, or more idealized expression of ourselves. Ultimately, a Fursona is, in some way, all of these things, just as we are all of these things.

Understanding what sort of species or combination of species you will be working with is a good place to start, and it is no small matter. If you do not already have strong feelings along a certain line, then I would suggest you grab a notebook, and start by recording your answers to some if not all of the following sets of questions. (Even if you already have a Fursona, it can be a worthwhile exercise.)

  • Are there any particular animals that stand out in your memory as being special to you at any point in your life? You might have had real encounters or experiences with an animal in the wild, or a long-time animal companion or family pet with whom you shared a deep connection. This could also include your plushie friends from childhood, animals in drawings, paintings, sculptures, or on clothing that were special to you, perhaps a character from a favorite book, movie, or television show.
  • Do you feel more connected to the land, the sea, or the sky? What sort of natural environment seems to make you the happiest? When you think of an ideal vacation outdoors, where would you be going? The woods, the mountains, a lake or river, the ocean and the beach, the desert, the swamp… Where do you feel the most comfortable, relaxed, or joyful when you are outdoors?
  • Do you like heights? Do you like to swim? Do you like to hike, run, jump, or crawl? Do you move slowly and deliberately, or are you an untamed ball of energy that leaves a motion blur behind you? When you leave home, do you like to travel great distances or are you more comfortable remaining fairly close? Do you love to explore unknown places or prefer to stick to familiar territory?
Forest at Autumn with Water

Forest at Autumn with Water – A Photograph by Marianne Gagnon

  • Which season is your favorite? What sort of weather? Do you like the warmth of the Summer sunshine, the cool breezes of Spring, the bright colors of Autumn, the cold, quiet of the soft snow? Do you enjoy rainy and gray skies? Do you like frost and ice, or does cold weather make you want to hide at home next to the fire? Do thunderstorms make you excited or nervous? Does the thought of getting wet make you uneasy? What is your favorite time of day, and when do you feel the most active and energetic? Do you naturally rise and retire with the sun, or do you just begin to switch on after sunset? Do you sleep more than most, or are you proud to need less sleep than the rest?
  • Do you find that you have many friends, or just a few, very good ones? Do you prefer to live alone, with your family, with friends who share your age or common interests, or in a larger but cooperative group? Do you prefer to live far from others, in a small town, a suburb, or the most urban of areas in a great city?
  • Are you naturally and routinely social, or do interact with others only when you really need or want to? Do you prefer to take on the role of a leader in your social groups, or would you rather generate the ideas, organize everything and others, support and work toward the ideas and plans of others, or just show up and enjoy yourself? Do you tend to speak softly and quietly, or are you boisterous and assertive. Are you the sort to mate for life, or would you rather change partners when you feel the need to move on?
  • How do you deal with confrontation and conflict? Do you puff up and fight back, keep your cool and play smart, go silent and hope it goes away, or run away altogether? In a time of real trouble, where is your safe place? Would you take refuge in the earth, on a mountain, in a cave, up in a tree? Would you just prefer to burrow under your covers? Do you love silently sneaking up on others and surprising them, or are you so loud that they can hear you coming before they see you?
  • How do you handle the resources that maintain you in your life? Do you save everything you earn and spend nothing on yourself? Do you save nothing and blow it all on yourself? Do you give what you have freely to others or are you more protective of what you have? Do you plan ahead or take each day as it comes? How do you respond to difficult times? Do you rely on support and assistance from others, depend on your own determination and strength to find a way, or leave everything behind to start over from scratch?
  • Are you loyal, clever, affectionate, cunning, resourceful, nurturing, mischievous, playful, courageous, inquisitive, wise, reliable, gentle, aggressive, fearful, shy, boastful, steady, dependable, fierce, or aloof? Take the time to write at least 25 adjectives like these that describe you from your own perspective, and at least another 25 that convey how others are likely to perceive you.
Arctic Fox on Rocks

Arctic Fox on Rocks – A Photograph by John Sarvis of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

When you have all of your answers, reflections, and ideas collected, take a few days or a few weeks to consider them. Read over everything several times, making a note of any animals or creatures that you think might share this in common with you and why you feel that to be so. If the same animals or set of animals or creatures seem to keep occurring in your thought process, that is a perfect place to start further exploration. If at the end of this process, you have a single animal, then run with it. If you have more than one, consider a hybrid, or working with multiple Fursonas. Above all, follow your intuition and what feels most right to you. Once you have identified the basis for your Fursona, it is time to study everything you can about them. If you have an animal or several animals, study their varieties, their habitat, their food, their individual and social behavior, and the nature of their life cycle. Go see them in live and in person if you can, in the wild if possible, or in a zoo if needed. If you have one or more mythical creatures, study them in story and legend. Where did they come from, and how do they interact with their own kind, and with humans? What they mean to the culture that first drew them or wrote about them?

Though this might seem like a great deal of effort, you are only beginning a long and rewarding process of building a meaningful relationship with your Fursona. You will come to discover the ways in which the animal and the human within you work in harmony to make you who you really are. You will also discover how you uniquely express that union of human and animal in a way that no other Furry could.

“We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made of us.” – Jean-Paul Sartre