“Long ago the trees thought they were really people
Long ago the mountains thought they were really people
Long ago the animals thought they were really people
Someday, they will say
Long ago the humans thought they were really people”
Constance O’Day-Flannery, Shifting Love
Shape-shifting is a common theme in mythology, folklore, and fairy tales. In its broadest sense, shape-shifting occurs when a being (usually human) either (1) has the ability to change its shape into that of another person, creature, or other entity or (2) finds its shape involuntarily changed by someone else. If the shape change is voluntary, its cause may be an act of will, a magic word or magic words, a potion, or a magic object. If the change is involuntary, its cause may be a curse or spell, a wizard’s or magician’s or fairy’s help, a deity’s will, a temporal change such as a full Moon or nightfall, love, or death. The transformation may or may not be purposeful.
The desire to be different in some way so as to match some ideal promoted through advertising has become an obsession, especially for vulnerable younger members of society. Perhaps the pressure to conform to some unrealistic ideal is something that has always been with us, but surely not to the extent that now is the case. And it is this desire that helps to account for the current interest in shape-shifting as it would seem to provide a means of achieving the goal to bring about change. However, as many of the tales in this collection show, it is only by coming to terms with who we really are that peace of mind can truly be ours once again.
Cover artwork by Kala Trobe