Magickal Familiars, Magickal Allies
It is time to measure the cat for a magick wand? Perhaps the parrot needs to learn some chants? Maybe there is a set of domination spells so that the dog can force you to walk him on the schedule he chooses? No, spells regarding animals are still meant for people to perform, although some benefit from some animal assistance. Many of these spells involve protecting animals from physical and spiritual harm. Others benefit humans, through the power and gifts of animals.
Animals who participate in your spells and rituals, enhancing them with their own powers, tend to fall into one of two categories:
The concept of an animal as a pet is a modern one. Those who possessed this concept of interspecies friendship ahead of their time often found themselves condemned for witchcraft on ground of familiarity with demonic creatures like cats, birds, rabbits, black dogs, reptiles, and amphibians. Sounds like what you’d find for sale in any local pet store? Well, familiar animals are exactly that: familiar. The classic witch’s cat, rabbit or toad, a familiar is an actual, individual animal with whom one can live and share an intense psychic, personal bond. If this characterizes a relationship you have ever had with an animal then you have had a familiar, regardless of whether you engaged in magickal practice together. A dog who won’t sleep unless it’s under your bed, the cat who follows you from room to room the bird who spends the day perched on your should: these all qualify as familiars.
A familiar’s presence may be sufficient to spark and enhance your magick, whether there is any conscious active involvement or not. For others, the psychic and magickal bonds possible between animal and human create profound power and satisfaction.
In general, familiars are creatures who can realistically live with you: cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, toads and snake are most typical. Those living and working closely with other species—those species that usually do not live amongst people—may discover psychic and magickal bonds, as well. Wild animals that remain wild can also qualify as familiars, though invariably they choose you rather than the other way round. These include those birds or bees that, taking a liking to someone in the family, stop by daily. Scandinavian witches traditionally favored flies as familiars. Wild dolphins occasionally single-out an individual human and initiate a relationship. It is not unknown for people living on the edge of woods or in a wilderness place to develop a special relationship with an individual creature.
A familiar is a specific, individual creature with whom you have established a psychic bond. Of course, this limit’s the creatures with which you can magickally interact. What if your magick requires a rhinoceros or crocodile? What if it requires a dragon or unicorn?
A familiar may be considered an animal ally but animal allies transcend the boundaries of familiars. Animal allies are a form of spiritual relationship because the relationship may occur entirely in the realm of spirit, any animal may be approached. The presiding spirit of the animal may also be approached, rather than any individual creature.
A person may have as many familiars and/or allies as needed.