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Animal Familiars


Guest Stormwalker

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Guest Stormwalker

Do traditional witches have animal familiars? If so how are they acquired? Does the animal have to choose the witch or is it the other way around?

 

Stormwalker

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Guest Bean Sprite

My familiar chose me. We meshed very well together, until she passed last summer from a reaction to flea drops.

She liked to help with my rights, and spells.

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Guest Rebie

I never really thought about my cat as my familiar till one day she did something and it hit me. As for how she came to me, she just came into my life in a most unusual way and I knew it was meant to be. I had not seen her before ,nor had I picked her out. A lady just came out of no where and dropped her right into my hands and ran. I am standing there with this tiny kitten who was only 3 weeks old , infested with flees and in need of medical attention. She is 11 years old now. :)

Rebie

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i have a HUGE bond with my furry family members. they always seem to know what it going on. whenever i have ever done any crafting, i have at least 2 of them sticking their noses in. when meditating they are joining me (quietly, all 5 of them) in their own little trance state.

i feel a connection with most animals that i meet. i always have.

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I don't know if I ever had a familiar or not. I do know that my cat used to love to walk all over my alter and working area, claiming it as her own. She lives with my parents now as I can't have her be with me in my current apartment.:cry::mad2:

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  • 10 months later...

I had something funny happen this morning and I thought it might fit in this column. I have two cats that I got from a lady who had to find them a home or take them to the pound. All I originally wanted was one cat, but she said they had never been apart and she acted like she was going to have do the pound thing with the large one. The larger,actually both cats have been here about three years. The older who I call Big Cat has never been a lap cat, in fact up till about three months ago she had damn little to do with me. To her I was just another boring creature on the edge of her world. Back during the summer I had done some photography of red roses with silver pentagrams in their centers for a friend. I had tossed them on the bookcase,pentagrams not the cats. Anyway Big Cat came walking into the living room one day with one and dropped it in front of me. I picked it up and she sat there staring at me. A bit slow here in inderstanding the cat, I finally hooked it on her collar. For an old cat she did a remarkable back flip( never seen a cat do that intentionally). Since then she has stayed close even now she is sitting next to me.

Anyway to end this long winded diatribe, last night I worked a twelve hour graveyard shift. I came home tired and flopped in the chair. The doorbell rang and here came Big Cat. I opened the door and here are two Jehovahs Wittness types. They offered their booklet. I politely refused. Then they started staring at Big Cat who with her nice shiney pentagram has just decided to hiss and snarl at them. They looked at her and I have no doubts they were a little freaked and then took off down the street. I could see them pointing out my house to their brethren. I think Big Cat just brought me out of the broom closet to that church group.LOL,is she a familiar I was not aware I had. The other cat is,3 guesses????,.... Little Cat.

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^ I love it! I think each familiar will have its own roles. Not all witches do tarot, not all familiars aid in spells. Sounds like Big Cat has a penchant for defense against the "dark arts" ;)

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Rune, Big Cat looks like she's related to our Ivan & Nick. Ivan weighs 28 lbs, Nick 26. We don't have any witchy doo-dads around but when I'm doing a working, Nick is always supervising. The other three could care less unless it involves catnip or valerian. I'm not sure if Nick is a familiar or not as he's the first cat (out of countless) that had any interest in what I was doing. I think perhaps he's just a little more sensitive to the energies moving?

 

I DO wish Ivan would do the hiss & spit thing. He's the only one of the four that doesn't disappear when someone comes to the door. He's so laid back I think someone could try to physically harm me and he wouldn't care as long as he'd gotten a scritch or two beforehand.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 6 years later...

I wanted to dig up this post and see if any of you have a familiar and how do you know if you have a pet that wants to be a familiar/ or are suited? I have this crazy cat that won't leave me alone when I am doing anything craft related. He seems really overly excited by whatever I am working on. Problem is he interrupts my spells, knocks over my candles, attacks me (ambitious play) and attempts to maul my tools and supplies. I am trying to make smudge sticks atm..yeah thats happening. My husband bought him as an older kitten for our oldest son's birthday- at a gypsy caravan park no less. When he brought him home he never cried for his litter mates/ mother. Like he was just always here. He is a sweet cat but he has this really feral nature about him. I have never worked with a familiar before so I can't tell if hes an overly excited cat or if he has some sense about what I am doing and is just being an accidental pain in the ass. Do your pets go insane when you are working your craft?

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Hey moonshadowe,

I have a crazy snake that started acting manic while I was crafting. You are right in what you say it's as if they know. She's a very calm, good natured creature and quite happy just to sit on my lap and sleep. Her vivarium is quite near my supplies and whenever I'm preparing she goes hyper trying to get my attention/get out.

I will have to research into working with familiars a bit more as I haven't tried to work with her yet either. When I bought her I did have the idea in mind though.

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Critters can tell.

 

It doesn't make them a familiar. Just part of the animal kingdom. When I had cats - one of them did that. My little dogs come running when I'm doing something. If the energy is calm, they curl up and snore. If it's not - the dance around and get all excited.

 

My one dog is very good at sensing when spirits are around. I pay attention to him.

 

 

What exactly is a familiar? How is it being defined here?

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Critters can tell.

 

It doesn't make them a familiar. Just part of the animal kingdom. When I had cats - one of them did that. My little dogs come running when I'm doing something. If the energy is calm, they curl up and snore. If it's not - the dance around and get all excited.

 

My one dog is very good at sensing when spirits are around. I pay attention to him.

 

 

What exactly is a familiar? How is it being defined here?

 

I guess thats it. I really have no idea just exactly what a familiar is/ does. I always kind of assumed it was more a wicca thing until I got to thinking about the history of the witch trials. They had familiars or were accused of it. Surely it must be more than a spastic cat (or snake) who has a witchcraft fetish. Or maybe thats the requirement. I never thought of inducting a pet into my craft before because it seemed like I might be involving them in something they really want no part of. This cat seems like he very much wants to be a part of it, even if he just gets in my way. I kinda feel sorry for him. He wants to help but he doesnt have thumbs so he just bites everything. ;)

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I suppose that in a basic sense of the word 'familiar' is just that; not only familiar to us but familiar to the spirit world too. Maybe a guide that is sensitive and in tune with energy we cannot see. Perhaps good for heightening craftwork.

But as I've said I've never worked with one before so I'm just speculating ????

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So, I googled it

 

wiki - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Familiar_spirit

In European folklore and folk-belief of the Medieval and Early Modern periods, familiar spirits (sometimes referred to simply as "familiars" or "animal guides") were believed to be supernatural entities that would assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic.[1] According to the records of the time, they would appear in numerous guises, often as an animal, but also at times as a human or humanoid figure, and were described as "clearly defined, three-dimensional… forms, vivid with colour and animated with movement and sound" by those alleging to have come into contact with them, unlike later descriptions of ghosts with their "smoky, undefined form".[2]

When they served witches, they were often thought to be malevolent, while when working for cunning-folk they were often thought of as benevolent (although there was some ambiguity in both cases). The former were often categorised as demons, while the latter were more commonly thought of and described as fairies. The main purpose of familiars is to serve the witch or young witch, providing protection for them as they come into their new powers.[3]

 

never heard of this site before but it was on the 1st page of google

witchcraft and witches - http://www.witchcraftandwitches.com/terms_familiar.html

A familiar (or familiar spirit or familiar animal) is an animal-shaped spirit or minor demon believed to serve a witch or magician as domestic servant, spy and companion, in addition to helping to bewitch enemies or to divine information. The animal was often believed to be possessed of magic powers, such as the ability to change its shape. They were an identifying characteristic of English witchcraft in the Early Modern period, largely setting it apart from continental or New World witchcraft, and they featured prominently in many British witch trials of the period.

Familiars, from the Latin “familiaris” (meaning a “household servant”), were mentioned in the Bible, referring to the spirit guides of sorcerers and necromancers, and dire warnings were issued against any contact with them: “A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them” (Leviticus, 20:27).

 

 

haven't heard of this site before either...

pagancentric - http://www.pagancentric.org/what-is-an-animal-familiar/

In contemporary witchcraft, any thoughts of animals as “demonic spirits of evil” have been left far by the way side, though many modern witches still use animals when working with magick, utilizing their primordial instincts and psychic abilities “to attune with nature and deities”. Animals are sensitive to psychic power and vibrations (maybe because things which are self-evident haven’t been taught out of them by well-meaning but misguided “teachers”), and are welcomed into the magick circle when power is being raised or spells are being cast. They’re also used to aid scrying, divination and spirit contact. When working with magick, animals act as a guard in psychic defense for they react visibly to negative forces and harmful energy.

 

We here at PaganCentric don’t think of animal familiars as spirits which can, or should, be used as tools in magickal rituals. Certainly an animal might choose to be present during a ritual and make its presence known in ways of its choosing, but it should never be included and thought of in the same way as you think of an athame or a candle. In short, the animal should be a willing participant, of its own accord, or it should be left out of your calculations altogether. Or, in other words, don’t be an ass.

 

 

I just posted excerpts. What do you guys think?

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That sounds about right. I guess I wouldnt really need one then. I already know when spirits are present and would prefer to follow my gut and not guess what my cat is thinking. I dont feel like I have any kind of special link to him.

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I dont know if I would call my cat a familiar but my cat certainly helps out in healing ceremonies. She seems to know just when someone really needs a cuddle to cheer them up or bring them out of their funk - and her cuddles are more effective then any method at my disposal. Sometimes she even helps us pick out herbal remedies - I have been making tea for clients before and she will come and pull out certain herbs and they are always the perfect herbs for the job.... I think she is better at picking out the herbs then I am!

 

She helps other ways too.... She will come in during energy work and add a little something here or there or redirect our attention at the perfect times.... Cats have strong intuition and are excellent communicators when they want to be.

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I've never had a familiar, but I've had animal companions throughout most of my life. For the last 3 years I've been lucky enough to be my gorgeous dog's human :biggrin: when I was growing up we had two cats, my fiancé has never had a cat before and thinks they're assholes, so at the moment we just have my dog. Hoping to change his mind about cats in the future, haha.

 

I always understood familiars to be a spirit entity rather than a flesh-and-blood being.

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Well I have come to the conclusion that my cat is opposed to magic and related things. I ordered a new tarot deck and they arrived just a bit ago in the mail. I walked into my bedroom to put them on my desk. The cat was sleeping on the bed. I left the room for a few minutes and came back and the tarot cards were scattered everywhere and the cat had left the room. Guess I have to take his feelings into consideration now when I am working on things because his efforts are feeling more and more like deliberate acts of sabotage.Yesterday when I was making smudge sticks every time I got started on one he would attack me. Twice he carried my thread off and ran under the bed with it. I get where your fiance is coming from about cats being assholes. But I still love him. :wink:

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Maybe the cat was doing a reading for you :vhappywitch: and then, thread would be a lure for any kitty.

I find when I'm working on something the animals want to be in the middle of the activity.

In the traditional sense familiars were demons in animal form to assist the witch. However I like the idea of familiar being able to carry the spell- like Pyewacket in that old movie "Bell Book and Candle" .

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what a great string! i started calling my cat pal my familiar a few years ago but wasn't quite sure what that meant. she is amazing and such a smart lil herbalist and likes to rub against my tarot cards etc. I also have a local animal care business and have a big gaggle of awesome furry animals in my life (i call humans non furry animals :smile: ). But not all of them are my familiars... I like the list of definitions! thanks (although some of it is obviously coming from judgemental of witches perspective :smile:. In terms of the getting attacked when prepping things...are you using valerian or some other herb that is attracting your cat pal? My cat looooves valerian but turns into a 'bad drunk' on it...but perhaps if you give your cat pal some catnip right before you prep things that will help?

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No I wasn't using valerian. I have some catnip here for him and ofc that seems to be the one and only plant on the planet he doesn't care about. He is an indoor cat, we live next to a dangerous road so I don't let him out. He likes to plot escapes and run outside and smell plants before he is recaptured. Last night I was working with my new tarot cards and excluded him from the room so he sat in the hallway and cried like a baby until I let him in the room. He didnt attack me this time. Just got on the bed to have a snoop and left me to it. I can't get a read on this cat. He seems to be interested in anything witchy I am doing and feels the need to supervise. It just manages to put him in a really hyper mood along the way. Is valerian ok for cats like catnip is?

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Is valerian ok for cats like catnip is?

Yes, valerian's just fine for them. As is chamomile. A lot of cats don't react to catnip but one of the other two will usually get them.

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hey moonshadowe, I think you are right..your cat pal wants to be part of your practice and my experience is that cat's love to manage things :) Maybe purposefully involving him will help (I hold my tarot cards with both hands and let my cat rub up against them as much as she wants..maybe doing this with a few of your tools will help kitty feel like he is included). and maybe the end result is he ends up feeling like your familiar?

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