What is metamorphosis?
Metamorphosis is defined as a change from one thing to another, like a chrysalis to a butterfly, or a seed into a plant.
Humans have been telling stories about human/animal metamorphosis since we began telling stories. Paintings by Neanderthals in Spanish cave paintings appear to include creatures that are half human and half animal. The Egyptians had their sphinx, a woman/lion, Seth was a human/dog, Sekhmet was a lion-headed lady, Re had a human body with a hawk head. The Greeks had their minotaur – man/bull and centaurs - horse/human. European sailors had mermaids – ladies with fish tails. Hindus have Ganesha – an elephant-headed man god.
The Azteks had Naguals, a human who could turn into a jaguar, and many Native American tribes told stories about shapeshifters. They also have a reverence for animals that is uncommon in most western cultures, where animals are treated more as a food source. In Native Americans stories, animals were on the earth first, and treated humans as little brothers, teaching humans what to eat and how to live on the land. They are therefore revered.
Why do we have this fascination with humans as animals? Some anthropologists and psychologists think that it is a way to connect us to their special abilities and strengths. Perhaps that’s why our super-heroes can do things like fly, live underwater, swing through cities on spider webs, or fight like a panther.
My fantasy book is about Netahs, a secret society that lives among us, that can transform into animals, all kinds of animals, and then back into humans whenever they want.
- The Netahs is a fantasy about humans who can become animals. Do the characters have similar personalities to people you know?
- The animals in The Netahs live in Colorado. The terrain and climate of the state varies widely from high altitude mountain forests to dry plains. What advantage does it give the Netahs to be able to be either a human or their animal in this environment?
- Is there an animal, that lives in nature that you would want to become? Why? What are its strengths or special abilities? What could you enjoy that is not possible as a mere human? What disadvantages might you encounter?
- Are there animals you would not want to be? Why? Is it their behavior, environment, life span, threats to their lives like predators?
- Consider myths from other cultures and times that included animal/human combinations. Were they good, bad, helpful, evil? Why were those qualities important to those societies?
- Imagine what kind of political structures your chosen animal might have, depending on whether they live in large groups or solitary, whether they mate for life or season, how they care for their young. Are they democracies, socialists, dictators, monarchies? Why?
- Among comic-book super-heroes, what powers do they have and what does that tell us about our own society and what we hold dear?
- If you could improve one thing about human culture, would you base it on something you’ve learned about how animals behave?