Posts Tagged With: Familiar spirit

About Our Familiars

I had several questions today in regards to the Witch’s familiar. I dug up some information up and added a few things of my own. I hope this helps answers your questions. If anyone has any questions about anything, please feel free to ask. After this I have to get ready to go to the doctor. I hope you have a fabulous Tuesday and here’s the info…….

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Many Witches choose to have a familiar— a spiritually attuned creature (who lives with or nearby the Witch) who offers the Witch insights into nature, and for help in magick. Today’s familiars include cats, dogs, birds, bunnies, and even the stereotypical frog, but, really, any living creature with whom the Witch can have an ongoing relationship or rapport can fulfill the role of the familiar! Actually, the Witch doesn’t necessarily choose this creature so much as the animal and the Witch seem to discover and bond with each other. No matter what kind of creature it might be, the familiar is no mere pet. The animal in question is the revealer of truths and a respected partner in every sense except being human!

If a Witch wishes to put out a call for a familiar, he usually does so through a spell or ritual. This ritual typically takes place outdoors, near the home. The Witch begins by creating sacred space, and then he meditates, prays, and places the request in the hands of nature. During the meditation the Witch visualizes the living space so the right creature can easily find its way to the door.

Below is a list of not so average animals we might not think of as being familiars:

Bees

According to many demonologists, if a witch or sorceress managed to eat a queen bee before she was arrested, she would be able to withstand torture and trial without confessing. This was one of many ready explanations offered by witch-hunters when their victims refused to confess. In this way, many witches were condemned to death despite the lack of a confession.

Chickens

A chicken named Nan was considered a familiar in the 17th-century Bury St. Edmonds trials of Suffolk, England. Three other chickens were also cited as imps in the same area.

Crows

Sooty-feathered and harsh of voice, the crow was a fit familiar to witches, prized for its ability to fly and spy. Villagers feared this carrion eater, for it was a messenger of mortality. A fluttering crow around the window or one that flew thrice over the roof, croaking each time, meant Death was on his way. Simply to see the bird flying alone could bring bad luck, and crows rising in a flock from a wood sometimes presaged famine.

Flies

Margaret Wyard, an accused witch of Bury St. Edmonds in Suffolk, England, confessed to having flies among her familiars.

Hares

In ways both physical and behavioral, the hare was a natural ally of witches: Hares are swift and agile, able to stand on their hind legs like a person, prone to gathering in parliament like groups,

orgiastically mad in the spring, wantonly destructive of crops and possessed of a most unbeast like cry. Some witches traveled in the shape of hares.

Given the association of hares with witchcraft and magic, it is not surprising that superstition surrounded them. It was said, for example, that the sight of a hare running down a village street presaged fire and that the appearance of a white hare in a mine would be followed by a fatal accident. A hare that crossed a person’s path would bring bad luck. And the very word ‘hare’ could not be mentioned at sea, so great was the fear of the animal’s power.

Curiously enough, possession of a hare’s-foot brought luck. This belief arose not from the hare’s traffic with witches but from much more ancient associations: The hare is a notably prolific creature, and its foot was long a sexual symbol.

Mice

Margaret Wyard, an accused witch of Bury St. Edmonds in Suffolk, England, confessed to having mice among her familiars. Other witches in the area admitted to having two “heavy and hairy” mice as familiars. In 1662, the nine- and eleven-year old daughters of Samuel Pacy somehow saw invisible mice, which they threw on a fire. One mouse “screeched like a Rat.” The other mouse “Flashed like to Gun-Powder.”  One 16th-century Essex woman confessed to having three mouse-shaped imps named Daynty, Prettyman, and Littleman. Another woman had four named Sparrow, Robyn, James, and Prickeare.

Snails

A victim of Matthew Hopkins and John Stearne, John Bysack confessed to having six familiars in the form of snails. These imps sustained themselves by sucking Bysack’s blood. “Each snail was an assassin with a particular assignment: Atleward killed cows, Jeffry pigs, Peter sheep, Pyman fowls, Sacar horses and Sydrake Christians.”

Snakes and Cats

Anciently inimical to each other, the serpent and the cat were favorites of witches. The serpent seems to have played the smaller role: While it could serve as a familiar, it was chiefly valued for its fearful aspect and its link to Satan – useful in repelling the curious, who might interfere with a witch’s business. To dream of a serpent signified that someone had a grudge against the dreamer.

The cat, on the other hand, was surrounded by speculation. Its pupils – narrow slits in the daytime and luminous black globes at night – linked it to the moon and emphasized its power to see into the future. Cats were said to suck the breath from infants at night. And cats forecast the weather: When they scampered and cavorted, wind was on its way; when they washed their ears, rain was coming; when they sat with their backs to the fire, they awaited frost and storms.

Except in northern England, where it was thought lucky to own a black cat (but unlucky to meet a strange one), black cats were the most common embodiments of Satan. As for cats that served as familiars – rather than as transformations of the witches themselves – they were usually brindled.

Spiders

Spinner of webs, an archtrickster, and a silent and murderous trapper, the spider was tiny enough to hide in the hood of a witch’s cloak as a familiar and whisper instructions in her ear.

Ordinary folk said that to dream of a spider meant betrayal. To see one in the morning brought bad luck, and to kill one summoned rain. The sight of spiders terrified wedding parties because the creatures were omens of unhappy marriage. And in Switzerland it was said that the plague, with its black sores, was spread by malevolent spiders travelling in secret from house to house.

Toads

Ugly and venomous thought it was, the toad seems to have been among the most cherished of witch familiars: The creatures were dressed in velvet by their mistresses, ornamented with bells and encouraged to dance. Common folk both feared and valued them though. Toads were burned because the horns on their foreheads marked them as agents of Satan and because witches used toad spittle to concoct ointments that conferred invisibility. On the other hand, toads were admired for their ability to hear distant thunder long before the human ear could catch it; the sight of the little creatures making their way to safe water provided a reliable indicator for approaching storms. And very elderly toads – rarely glimpsed – carried precious jewels in their heads, effective antidotes to poison.

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Spell of the Comb and Mirror

SPELL OF THE COMB AND MIRROR

Purify area, cast circle, etc. Burn a white candle for yourself, and say:

O Lady of shimmering beauty,
        For whom the stars are shining jewels
        And the Universe Her creation and plaything,
        Weaver of destinies and Protectress of things wild and free
        Make me now, I do ask, to be thy daughter
        Make me one with thee and grant me thy far-flung power
        Grant to this, thy Witch and Sorceress
        Strength within and without.
As eternal as the boundless sea,
        The calm assurance of my powers
        To make any do my bidding,
        And the winds, waters, and fires,
        The hills themselves lend willingly themselves to me.
        Give to me, who am of thy ancient Craft
        The wisdom of ages, the lore of eons,
        Knowledge of light, knowledge of dark.
        Grant me beauty ever more perfect
        That I may reflect thee better.
        Build magic within me, build power within me.
        Power be drawn and power come.
        And make me one with thee.
        Make me greater, make me better
        Grant me strength and grant me power.
        O Goddess who is my friend and mother,
        I give you love and thanks
        O Beautiful One, may the magic I have summoned
        Return the stronger when I have need of it
So mote it be!”

Categories: Articles, Power Spells | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

July 10 – Daily Feast

July 10 – Daily Feast

New trends and new ideas interest us, but how we love the familiar. We like to keep those things that are dear to us, old songs, familiar places, the good faces. Most of us don’t want to recapture the old times. They have served their purpose and we have put too much into what counts for us now. But when something familiar comes to our ears, or a certain fragrance touches our memory, we are suddenly back there and reliving old times. It is tiresome to be forever striving toward the future. The road is unfamiliar – and every inch of it will have to be tested and tried. And then something we know by heart rises to the top and it buoys us up and we are ready to go again. Sometimes it takes the familiar to help us appreciate what we have today.

~ Grandfather, Great Spirit, the good road and the road of difficulties you have made me cross; and where they cross, the place is holy. ~

BLACK ELK

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

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Life As The Witch – Our Familiars

Celtic Comments & Graphics


Our Familiars

 

Many witches choose to share their lives with familiars—spiritually attuned creatures to whom the witch turns for insights into nature’s lessons, and for help in working magick. Black cats, of course, are commonly associated with witches, but dogs, birds, rabbits, and, yes, even toads can fulfill the role of familiar. In the Harry Potter stories, Harry purchases an owl as his familiar while his poorer friend must be satisfied with a rat. In actuality, the witch doesn’t necessarily choose his familiar, so much as the animal and the witch seem to discover and bond with each other.

No matter what kind of creature it might be, the familiar is no mere pet. Rather, the animal is a respected partner and companion, who reveals truths and offers the characteristics inherent to its nature to the witch for magickal purposes. Birds, for instance, often carry messages between humans or between the earth and the spirit world.

If a witch seeks a familiar, he usually puts out a call through a spell or ritual. This ritual typically takes place outdoors, near the home. The witch begins by creating sacred space, then he meditates, prays, and places the request in the hands of nature. During the meditation the witch visualizes his own living space, so the right creature can easily find its way to the door.

Cats, for instance, are notorious for showing up unexpectedly. But sometimes you might have to seek out your familiar. One witch tells how her feline familiar called to her psychically—she actually heard the words “Come to the animal shelter.” The command was so clear and insistent that she immediately drove to the local shelter where the cat was waiting for her. Trust your intuition. You’ll know your familiar instantly when you encounter him or her.

Because animals tend to be more sensitive than humans in many ways, your familiar can provide signals and guidance, especially regarding other people. Observe your pet’s reactions to visitors and friends—Fluffy or Fido could give you information you might not have picked up on your own. Animals are demonstrably good at predicting earth and weather changes, too, and they often sense impending danger long before a human could. They can also see things people can’t, including nonphysical beings such as faeries and ghosts.

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Life As The Witch – So how do you know if your pet is a familiar?

Witchy Comments

 So how do you know if your pet is a familiar?

Well, the easiest way is to ask them. But if you don’t happen to speak cat, dog, snake, or gerbil, then watch their behavior when you are practicing magick. Do they ignore what you’re doing or try to take part? Do they meow or howl when you are reciting a spell? Are they always chewing on the sage smudge stick?

An animal will usually let you know by their actions if they want to be a part of your magickal practices. If they’re not interested, there is no point in forcing them. A pet either is or isn’t a familiar by nature. There is no training that will change that.

Can you actually seek out and find a familiar if you don’t have one? Yes and no. It isn’t usually obvious before you bring an animal home whether or not they will be suitable for such a role. My advice, as an expert in such matters (cats are experts in pretty much everything, in case you didn’t know), is to never get a pet only because you think it will make a good familiar. If he or she turns out to have no magickal inclinations, you will only be disappointed and resentful.

On the other hand, if you are ready to open your home to a new companion anyway, and would like to have one that will share your magickal life, you can always ask the gods to send you a familiar-or do the spell that appears later in this book. Then, when you are looking for the perfect pet to add to your household, you can try to open all your senses and see if you can spot one with that extra something.

Just be sure you will be happy to have that animal (even if it is a dog) whether it turns out to be a familiar or not.

Familiars tend to come to you when they are ready or feel that you are; it isn’t something that can be forced. If you do end up with a special animal, be certain that you never ask it to do anything dangerous or uncomfortable, and always say thank you at the end of every ritual.

And an extra treat or two wouldn’t hurt, either.

A number of the spells in this book are especially appropriate to do with the help of a familiar. These spells don’t have to be done with a familiar, so don’t worry if you don’t have one, but if you do happen to have one, this might be a good time to ask them to lend a paw.

Familiars help out with spellcasting in different ways, depending on the animal and the Witch (and sometimes the spell being used). Most often, the cat/dog/snake/whatever merely sits inside the magickal circle or on the Witch’s lap and lends their energy to the proceedings.

Some animals will participate more actively by moving objects around, making noise, or sitting on the spell while you are trying to read it. Either way, it is best to simply allow your familiar to work in whichever way comes naturally to them, rather than try to force some form of behavior or interaction. After all, your familiar knows best!

~Magickal Graphics~

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July 10 – Daily Feast

July 10 – Daily Feast

New trends and new ideas interest us, but how we love the familiar. We like to keep those things that are dear to us, old songs, familiar places, the good faces. Most of us don’t want to recapture the old times. They have served their purpose and we have put too much into what counts for us now. But when something familiar comes to our ears, or a certain fragrance touches our memory, we are suddenly back there and reliving old times. It is tiresome to be forever striving toward the future. The road is unfamiliar – and every inch of it will have to be tested and tried. And then something we know by heart rises to the top and it buoys us up and we are ready to go again. Sometimes it takes the familiar to help us appreciate what we have today.

~ Grandfather, Great Spirit, the good road and the road of difficulties you have made me cross; and where they cross, the place is holy. ~

BLACK ELK

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

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Aumakua, Familiars, and Spirit Animals . . . Oh My!

Aumakua, Familiars, and Spirit Animals . . . Oh My!

  • Dr. Steven Farmer

Animals and Spirit Animals

From the Rainbow Serpent of the Aborigines of Australia that birthed the land and its inhabitants, to the “Cowardly” Lion that accompanied Dorothy to Oz, to the tale you tell of the hummingbird that hovered for several seconds two feet from your nose, cultural and personal stories and mythologies (or mythos) are rampant with animals and spirit animals. These stories and experiences resonate with our instinctual connection to the animal kingdom, as well as conveying an innate kinship with this vast realm of beings we share our planet with. We owe a great deal of thanks to our animal brothers and sisters who give so much to us humans, such as companionship, warmth, and food. In some traditions it’s even told that humans descended from the animals.

As for animal spirit guides, the awareness that Spirit sometimes shows up in animal form was inherent in the cultural beliefs of indigenous peoples. These traditions all have some variations depending on the mythos of the particular culture, but the common thread is the unquestionable acceptance of animals as spirit guides. Even some creation myths credit spirit animals with the birth of the world, such as the Rainbow Serpent mentioned above. As human consciousness continues to evolve during this present era, we look with greater interest and curiosity at what these ancient peoples can teach us, and some of the greatest lessons are what we can learn from the animals, whether in the flesh or in spirit.

When an animal makes an appearance (whether physically or symbolically) in an unusual way or repeatedly in a short span of time, the spirit of that animal is attempting to get a message to you. Often you’ll have a hunch or a sense of the message from this spirit guide. Trust it. As you’ll see, it might even be a distant, long-deceased relative that is guiding and protecting you by showing up in animal form.

Aumakua

As I mentioned, every culture has a slightly different take on this idea of animal spirit guides. From ancient Hawaiian spirituality, still alive today, comes the concept of aumakua—spirit guides clothed in the language, customs, and mythos of this culture.

Aumakua (ow-ma-koo-ah) are very simply the spirits of deceased ancestors. They can be called on for protection, guidance, and spiritual support. The very first ‘aumakua were the children of humans who had mated with the Akua, or primary gods, the main ones being Ku (Koo), Kane (Kah-nay), Lono, and Kanaloa (Kah-nah-low-ah). When someone died, they went through a period of time where they stayed with these Akua and thereby acquired a degree of mana, or power. Eventually they could make themselves known to their descendants. One of the most prevalent ways they could make their appearance—although not limited to this—was through animals and animal spirits. They could also show up in the wind, rain, or lightning, or in your dreams.

Very soon after her father’s death, Ellen took a walk on the beach. She noticed a dolphin jumping along the water, much closer to shore than usual. She realized that this was her father’s spirit expressing through and in cooperation with the spirit of Dolphin, embodied in the one that was tracking her as she walked along the shore. Ellen was reassured that her father was just fine in the spirit world. His spirit had elicited Dolphin’s help in getting this message to his daughter. This was her aumakua.

Familiars

From Western Europe a few centuries ago comes the idea of familiars. During the Middle Ages, familiars were mainly associated with witches, while these days they’re associated with Wiccans. Familiars are spirits often showing up as animals, although they can also inhabit objects, such as rings or lockets. The spirit animal can also be the companion of magicians and sorcerers. Think Harry Potter’s Owl.

Another term for familiars that has been grossly distorted over the centuries is daemon or demon. Up until the persecution of witches that began in late 13th century, the word itself did not mean something evil. In other words, the word demon got . . . well, demonized. In more contemporary terms, a demon would simply be an animal spirit guide or power animal, often embodied in a companion animal, such as a cat or dog. In fact, older women who kept a cat during the persecutions were often accused of being witches and put to death, whether or not they actually practiced witchcraft.

So an animal spirit guide by any other name, whether called ‘aumakua, a familiar, a power animal, or a totem animal, is still an animal spirit guide. And they can help you navigate through this lifetime. And who knows—maybe the next time you spot that hummingbird, it just might be great-great-great auntie Jane telling you that she’s watching over you, so try to cheer up!

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What is an Animal Familiar?

What is an Animal Familiar?

By Patti Wigington

The black cat was the traditional witch’s familiar, but some people connect better with other animals.

In some traditions of modern Wicca and Paganism, the concept of an animal familiar is incorporated into practice. Today, a familiar is often defined as an animal with whom we have a magical connection, but in truth, the concept is a bit more complex than this.

History of the Familiar

During the days of the European witch hunts, familiars were “said to be given to witches by the devil,” according to Rosemary Guiley’s Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft. They were, in essence, small demons which could be sent out to do a witch’s bidding. Although cats — especially black ones — were the favored vessel for such a demon to inhabit, dogs, toads, and other small animals were sometimes used.

In some Scandinavian countries, familiars were associated with spirits of the land and nature. Fairies, dwarves, and other elemental beings were believed to inhabit the physical bodies of animals. Once the Christian church came along, this practice went underground — because any spirit other than an angel must be a demon. During the witch-hunt era, many domestic animals were killed because of their association with known witches and heretics.

During the Salem witch trials, there is little account of the practice of animal familiars, although one man was charged with encouraging a dog to attack by way of magical means. The dog, interestingly enough, was tried, convicted, and hanged.

In shamanistic practices, the animal familiar is not a physical being at all, but a thought-form or spiritual entity. It often travels astrally, or serves as a magical guardian against those who might try to psychically attack the shaman.

Today, many Wiccans and Pagans have an animal companion that they consider their familiar – and most people no longer believe that these are spirits or demons inhabiting an animal. Instead, they have an emotional and psychic bond with the cat, dog, or whatever, who is attuned to the powers of its human partner.

Finding a Familiar

Not everyone has, needs, or even wants a familiar. If you have an animal companion as a pet, such as a cat or dog, try working on strengthening your psychic connection with that animal. Books such as Ted Andrews’ Animal Speak contain some excellent pointers on how to do this.

If an animal has appeared in your life unexpectedly — such as a stray cat that appears regularly, for instance — it’s possible that it may have been drawn to you psychically. However, be sure to rule out mundane reasons for its appearance first. If you’re leaving out food for the local feral kitties, that’s a far more logical explanation. Likewise, if you see a sudden influx of birds, consider the season — is the ground thawing, making food more available?

If you’d like to draw a familiar to you, some traditions believe you can do this by meditation. Find a quiet place to sit undisturbed, and allow your mind to wander. As you journey, you may encounter various people or objects. Focus your intent on meeting an animal companion, and see if you come into contact with any.

In addition to familiars, some people do magical work with what’s called a power animal or a spirit animal. A power animal is a spiritual guardian that some people connect with. However, much like other spiritual entities, there’s no rule or guideline that says you must have one. If you happen to connect with an animal entity while meditating or performing astral travel, then that may be your power animal… or it may just be curious about what you’re up to.

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