In some traditions of modern Paganism, including the various Wiccan paths, 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.
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Here I will try to enlighten you on what exactly is a witch’s familiar. I have found some cool history, as well as meditations to help find your own familiar. I give credit when I know it, if the author is unknown I will provide the link where the information was found. Remember, though, that a familiar usually finds us, when we least expect it. It is hard to say when or where we might find our familiar, when we do, they deserve the utmost respect and kindness.
In legend, a familiar or familiar spirit is a supernatural being that helps and supports a witch or magician. Traditionally, a familiar is an animal, but some are said to be humanoid. Familiars often have special powers of their own. When witchcraft is portrayed as a type of communication or alliance with evil forces in order to gain magical powers, a familiar may be considered a type of demon.
The stereotypical familiar in Western culture is the black cat. Because black cats are strongly associated with witchcraft, there are a number of superstitions regarding them. A black cat crossing ones path is said to be a portent of doom, for example. A familiar may be nearly any animal, however. Other common forms for a familiar to take are a dog, an owl, and a toad.
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