moments of moreness

published: 2024-06-13 | updated: 2024-07-15 | tags: archetropy, alterhuman | syndications: pillowfort

i saw someone on tumblr asking if you can experience “archetrope shifts” and it made me think. (by the way, if you don't know what an archetrope is, check this out.)

specifically, it made me think, well, that's like asking if you can be a teacher and have teacher shifts. there's certainly a mindset and affect that teachers have to develop, and that can come out when you don't intend it, like in all the anecdotes about people accidentally using their “teacher voice” with their friends. but calling that a shift doesn't feel like the right way to talk about it.

how do we talk about it, then? in the interest of following my own recent advice i figured i'd try and describe it from first principles. i posed the question to myself:

when you feel ‘more’ your archetrope than usual, what does it feel like?

the first analogy that came to mind for me was this: it's like getting in character for a play. we have a general cultural assumption that the people who perform really well do so because they lose themselves to the character a little bit. this whole performance we call life goes better, is experienced as more pleasurable by the audience and your fellow performers and hopefully yourself, because you played your role to the highest of your ability.

it's like getting a streak in a video game. particularly, i'm thinking about mechanics where there's a mode you enter if you perform consistently well and you keep going as long as you keep getting perfects or whatever. you enter a flow state. for a little while, achieving your goals feels effortless, you don't even feel like you have a goal because you're just riding the moment.

it's like being possessed. you feel like you're aligning with your higher self, your true will, god's will, the universe, something bigger and more important and powerful than you. sometimes it feels uncontrollable, maddening, overwhelming. you do it because you feel like you have to. you see patterns. everything reminds you of it.

it's like sailing the ocean and catching the tradewinds. suddenly hard work is easy, the sheets billow out, the vessel speeds up. the wind knows where it wants to go — the same place it's always going — and your ability to reach your destination depends a little on your wit and a lot on how much it aligns with the wind's will.

when i asked in the archetroper's guild, people had other ways of describing it.

there was someone who considered it largely a conscious phenomenon. she felt she had a particular mindset she sometimes entered where she were more likely to see her regular habits and activities through an archetrope-y lens. she experienced moments of more attention, more investment — it was about where she was directing her focus.

one person felt it when he was doing stuff that felt conceptually ‘in character’ — for him that involved physical work, duty to other people, and clear goals that transcended his personal will. someone else also felt that it was other people that brought out their archetrope: they would feel compelled to assume their role when they saw someone who needed that kind of help.

so in my metaphors and in the little bits i could glean of others' experiences, i feel like there are definitely some loose themes.

the major one, to me, is the sense of connecting with something bigger than yourself. this came too from the words people were throwing around as potential alternatives for ‘shifting’: embodying, anchoring, enacting, aligning, syncing. not just a change from one state to another, but a linking, merging and harmonizing of two forces.

synchronicity is a big one. there's a hint of accident to the experiences. but unlike a shift, which to me is like discharging a buildup of static electricity, this seems more cosmic. you notice something new in a familiar place. someone is in need, and suddenly you have a quest. the stars align, and you can make out a strange constellation.

maybe less essential, but frequently there's a sense of purpose. it may be grand, or small, or unknown to you, but you have one. the archetypes have their narratives, and if you're playing your part well you'll feel it. a sense of pleasure and mastery may follow.

though many people who choose to take up an archetrope do so because they already feel somehow larger-than-life, we are all, ultimately, made of more gunk than stardust. the feelings of embodying your archetrope wax and wane because if we had to cope with the compulsion all the time we'd turn to ash.

so, to return the the original question: yes, i guess it can be said that archetropers shift, in the sense that ‘shift’ just means like, any change in self-experience whatsoever. but i will personally not be calling it that, because i think we preemptively block off avenues of exploration by importing old terms for new spaces. ‘archetrope’ got coined in the first place in large part because we felt like terms like ‘royaltykin’ were confusing the nature of the experience, remember? it's not bad to compare new idea to old ones — this is literally how the brain naturally works. i just think our best, most vibrant, creative and supportive archetroper community is one that we put a little more effortful thought into.

during this conversation, a marginal preference emerged for the word ‘sync’. we agreed that it was not a drop-in replacement for ‘shift’, instead opting to use it in ways like this:

i often refer to archetypes as proper nouns, both because it sounds more mystical and because “X archetrope” is cumbersome. so i might say something like “dude i feel synced as fuck with Warlock right now”. that's just my little predilection.

later, ahava asked what The Term To Use was. i mentioned ‘sync’ with its whopping consensus of three people, and some of the other terms, but he decided he wanted to use the metaphor of “plugging in” to describe his own experience. it's probably going to take a lot more community-wide talking about archetropal experience in general before we find a common idea, let alone term, that works. we need to leave room to explore these concepts directly and be open to the idea that they might look a little, or a lot, or entirely different from therian shifting (which i invite you to consider is also different from otherkin and fictionkin and 'hearted shifting).

that is to say, what we need more than terms is experiences. the archetroper community is still in its infancy, and there is a dearth of resources for questioning people to use to get to grips with the concept, or for established archetropers to find fellowship and inspiritation, or. y'know. anything. i beseech you to use this post as a prompt for your own reflection. dig deep into your feelings. invent descriptions from first principles. what's actually happening to you? what are you doing? what metaphor makes sense to you? when you feel ‘more' your archetrope than usual, what does it feel like?