While most people would respond to the notion of literal shapeshifting either with disbelief or with fear, we see examples of the phenomenon so frequently as to take it for granted. Any good actor, actress, or movie star is a shapeshifter. So are Christian clergy when they preside in sanctuaries and are understood to stand in the place of Christ and mediate his Presence in Word and Sacrament. In fact, all theatre can find its origin in ancient public worship.
. The two main reasons for shapeshifting are either to mediate the presence of another being or to protect oneself in threatening situations.
According to legend, from our primordial beginning when life was still raw and we knew no separation between instinct and intellect or between body and spirit, humans had an intimate, inspired relationship with the other creatures of this planet. Humans and animals understood each other well enough to be able to assume each others roles when necessary with the same skill used today by good actors and actresses. When, later in history, humans and animals took the evolutionary paths which drew us away from each other, the ability to assume each others roles began to disappear. Metamorphosis then became a secret skill, belonging primarily to the domain of shamans, sorcerers, and saints.