This is an introduction to help explain the title question. Today’s post is just going to answer frequently ask questions I have gotten over the years. Some of the other topics for this series will include but not limited to magickal tools, herbs, essential oils, crystals, precious and semi-precious gems, stones, your Book of Shadows, your altar and what you want to put on it, spells, rituals, etcetera. Most of the topics have other posts about them on Coven Life and Witches of The Craft. I also might add viedo links and/or a link for a general search on that day’s topic.
If you have questions about things in any of the post please ask them in the Comment box located below each post. This way if other people have the same question I only have to answer once.
If at anytime you want to share a picture of how you do something for that days topic please email it to LadyBeltane@aol.com subject line should have “For Sharing” please include your first name only or you pagan name and a short description about the picture. At the end of each days post the top I for tomorrow will be there. If you get pictures to me by 8:00 PM CDT for the next days topic I will include them in them post.
Any questions please ask them in the Comment section and I will reply to them by 8:00 PM CDT.
Tomorrow’s topic will be “Magickal Tool.” I look forward to learning different ways of doing things for every topic with you.
We’ve all seen the images of witches with their loyal cat or toad by their side. These witches’ familiars help them cast spells, or in the case of Harry Potter, deliver the mail.
But what are familiars and why are they so important to ideas around witchcraft? And what unusual familiars can we find in history, beyond the stereotypical black cat?
We’re going to look at exactly that, so grab your nearest pet for company, get comfy, and come with me into the world of witches’ familiars…
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The folklore of the wicked witch and her diabolical animal familiar is a well-known and often repeated tale. When the seasons change and the nights get long it’s not uncommon to see images and symbols of a dark-cloaked witch with an evil black cat or toad at her side. This is a fantastic archetype of magic users wielding control over nature and animals, but it’s a far cry from the beliefs that started it all.
The concept of magical spirit creatures has resonated throughout history in creation myths, tribal traditions and religions, but it’s only relatively recently that magical animal and familiars became re-imagined as evil or dangerous companions. Historically, familiars or spirits were often seen as a type of guardian angel rather than an evil demon.
The Witch’s Familiar
Most people conjure up thoughts of the witch with cat or toad when speaking of familiars. In the days of widespread persecution of witches in Europe and North America during the Medieval and Early Modern periods, women accused of magic use and witchcraft were assumed to have a familiar, most often in the form of cats, dogs, owls, mice, newts or toads. These servants to witches were considered low-ranking demons, or even fairies. Legends of the time, British and Scottish contribution to the lore, said familiars fed on the blood of the women. The witches in turn used the animals for spell casting. The familiar could shape-shift, and spy on others. Many completely innocent pet lovers were persecuted for this ‘unnatural’ pairing, and the blame was placed on them for any kind of bad luck, such as milk spoiling or crops withering.
“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.” Patti Wigington reveals in About Religion .
If an illustration of a dubious event counts as fiction, then this late 1500s sketch could be the first reference to familiars:
The author is unknown, but there is a description here:
An image of a witch and her familiar spirits taken from a publication that dealt with the witch trials of Elizabeth Stile, Mother Dutten, Mother Devell and Mother Margaret in Windsor, 1579.
Whether the term “familiar” would have been used by the author at the time is unclear. However, the sketch was made some time after 1579 and in 1584 we find what is likely the first appearance of the term “familiars” in this context within the English corpus. This appears in the book Scot’s Discovery of Witchcraft, edited by Reginald Scot. (This could be earlier than Malleus Maleficarum.)
The term appears in the very long subtitle of the book:
Proving the Common Opinions of Witches Contracting with Divels, Spirits, Or Familiars, and Their Power to Kill, Torment, and Consume the Bodies of Men, Women, and Children, Or Other Creatures by Diseases Or Otherwise, Their Flying in the Air…
As I was taking a walk I saw two different rabbits and a mom and dad Robin Red Breast. My first thought is the spirit meanings that go with these animals and birds. Seeing a rabbit is a good sign for fertility especially if you are wanting to conceive. Seeing Robins are a sign of new beginnings and new life as in the Midwestern United States they are usually the first birds that come out as soon as spring begins.
Being 61 years old and all my children are grown and all but one has blessed me with a grandchild I am certainly not interested in having another child. So I spent sometime wondering why I had seen signs for fertility and we beginnings/new life. I also asked my Spirit Guides why I saw them. It was after asking for help in understanding that I began to understand why this happened.
Fertility can mean you are ready to be implanted with new ideas that as they grow they will bring growth of yourself usually spirituality and/or as a person in general. With this thought in mind I understood why I saw the 2 rabbits within seconds of each other and in a few steps the Robins.
I have come to a point in this lifetime of change and growth that will in some way effect every aspect of my life and the roles I have as a person, wife, mother, grandmother, and High Priestess.
The main reason for me sharing this is to remind you if you see wildlife, insects you usually don’t see, or even a reoccurring shape in the clouds paid attention to them because most of the time it is the Universe, a Goddess a God bring you a message you need to have.
There are a few different websites that will tell the spiritual meaning of an animal, bird, insects, fish, and reptiles. Witches of The Craft is one such website. Use the SEARCH box on the home page to find what you are looking for. I recommend checking more than one website definition as just like in everything every person express things they way they chose to perceive them.
If you want some help in figuring out what you keep seeing means you can make an appointment with me for a consultation. There is a small fee I charge when helping people read signs that are sent to them for whatever the reason is.
Blessed be dear brothers and sisters.
For Coven Life
When this ancient soul enters your life it is prompting you to take a glimpse at immortality.
The turtle is connected to the power of peace, adventure, resilience, adaptation and productivity. People drawn to this energy are usually old souls, ones that are attracted to both the sea and land.
Many beautiful mythological stories have been told about this wondrous creature that possesses an eternal soul.
The Turtle is connected to the creation story time and time again, throughout many cultures.
- In Hindu Mythology the world is thought to rest on the backs of four elephants that are standing on the back of a turtle.
- In Africa it was though that the turtle gave all the animals their colours.
- In North America of the Cheyenne tradition the Great Grandmother Turtle carries the whole world and of course creation itself on her back.
- In Chinese mythology it was the turtle that helped create the world
It has been used as protection against evil, as good luck for voyages by sea and by land across the globe.
Most importantly I believe that the turtle energy helps us close all other books and begin to tell our own true tale. Turtle energy is behind all great storytellers and writers. So if you are feeling the need to be inspired as a writer or storyteller, try and connect to the Turtle, you might be pleasantly surprised with your creative writing and spoken word.
Written By Hypatia
For Coven Life
The serpent throughout history has endowed us humans with much power usually reserved for Gods, Goddesses, Kings and Queens.
In ancient Egypt it’s symbolism adorned the crowns of the most powerful Kings and Queens, especially that of the Cobra. Cleopatra from the Ptolemaic blood line in Alexandrea is often depicted with such a powerful serpent on her crown, as so were other Kings and Queens in her blood line thought to be descendant from the Gods themselves.
The Cobra is a symbol of not only mysticism, magick and majesty, but also one of great and infinite or eternal power, something the Egyptian Kings and Queens found very alluring.
It is the connection between life and death and one that represents the afterlife that links the Cobra to mysticism and the occult.
Cobra Familiar is certainly NOT for everyone, a mystical animal that usually attracts the advanced magickal practitioner, or devout students of the magickal arts, allowing them to see through the veil, assisting them to connect with chthonic Gods and other spiritual beings.
It is important that such a familiar is accepted with a pure heart, a clear mind and a ready nourished soul, as the Cobra can offer alluring prospects just to test and throw you off your path. Beware of the Cobra’s hypnotic gaze.
Once this is mastered and understood the Cobra is a profound inner teacher. As a spiritual teacher the Cobra teaches us how to pause, wait and be patient. It can be a fierce protector, teaching us how to be wise and humble.
Cobra brings out your full potential and power. It can be very empowering and somewhat intoxicating seeing this, therefore it is important that you understand that all power is to be respected and used with utmost care and for the good of all. Learn to tame your beast.
When the cobra energy is out of balance it can become egocentric and egotistical. Self illusions and delusion of power and grandeur. Many ancient Kings and Queens have fallen in this trap.
If the Cobra Familiar does appear in your life, ask yourself if you are ready to become a student and unlearn all that you have learnt only to learn all over again.
Written for Coven Life
Familiars come in all shapes and sizes, both tangible and intangible. It is said that we do not choose our familiars, they choose us.
A Witch is alive in the world of symbolism. A whisper from the trees- Psithurism, a bird singing on a tree or flying in a certain direction- Ornithomancy.
Chanting and spinning like a whirling Dervish, a Witches world is clothed with mystery and wonder at every turn, at every ebb and flow of the ocean and at every waning and waxing of the moon, moving to the rhythm of the Universal energy that is within, one that is made purely of Frequency and Vibration.
When a Witch connects to the spirit of the Universe they attract a power that enlivens every cell in their body, one that brings them closer to the Divine and allows a union with the ‘Natural Law’ of creation itself.
This energy is one that is a conduit between the tangible and the intangible that encourages communication with spirit and comes in many forms, shapes and sizes. One such energy being that of a Witches Familiar.
The World of Familiars is OW so Very Real for a Witch.
In fact non magickal people also have these allies, they simply are unaware of their incredible teachings and powers. Animals either domesticated or wild imprint on people. When this imprinting occurs an incredible bond that is felt between the 2 is established.
In a Witches world, the bond between the Familiar and the Witch can be so strong they literally are an extension of one another. This doesn’t sound all that farfetched especially when you look at current cultures still practicing their ancestral ways how they dance their animal or spirit to connect with it, they merge with their animal to see through their eyes. In effect this too is what the Familiar does for the Witch.
A Witch is trained to tune into the intangible, the world of communing with spirit, seeing energy and understanding that even the slightest touch of the universal web of life creates an incredible ripple that affects all of existence.
This Brings Me to the World of the SPIDER.
Arachne in Greek mythology was a very talented mortal weaver, in fact her weaving was described as being better than that of the Gods. Athena the Greek Goddess of war, hearing this, challenged Arachne to a competition. In the end Arachne of course was the superior weaver and much to Athena’s jealousy that was also mixed with slight humiliation, the Goddess decided to change Arachne into a Spider, destined to weave for eternity. Hence the word that describes all the species of Spiders as Arachnids.
A Spider as a Familiar
This beautiful species called an arachnid has come under many names throughout history and through different cultures. Countless legends speak of lessons learnt through the Spider. Usually identified as a Female energy the Spider has been a great teacher to many over time. Some cultures even use ‘Grand Mother Spider’ as the creation story. If we connect this creation story and describe it through the Hermetic Principle of the web of all universal life, or Vibration and Frequency as the Natural Law, one can only ‘begin’ to comprehend the sheer energy of the Spider and the reasons for its reverence.
To understand the Spider’s connection in the web of life one needs to connect to the Spider energy, becoming familiar with its powers.
The silk spun by a Spider can create the most enigmatic sacred geometry. This spun silk is said to be 5 times stronger than a strand of steel the same thickness. Science still cannot replicate the incredible strength of this Spider silk.
Spiders are highly tuned to vibrations. In fact they are said to tune their silk web to particular vibrations when weaving to attract certain insects, similar to tuning of an instrument. These vibrations are also important in courtship attracting the right partner for breeding purposes and acting as safety nets in times of danger.
Therefore the Spider and their web has been associated with not only creation but also destruction. Other traits associated by the Arachnid include, wisdom, fortune, death, deception, patience, the feminine, resourcefulness and intrigue, all very natural traits of the Spider species.
Lessons of the Spider
Great many lessons can be taught from the Spider, one that includes resilience, consistency, creativity, patience, receptivity and connection with the shadow self.
When taking on the Spider as a Familiar learn to understand its true existence. See its web as the connection to the web of life, one that creates and also has the power to destroy. Nothing is there just because, everything has a purpose and is created by the Great Mother and Father for a reason, the Spider is one such beauty.
How does a Spider Become Your Familiar?
Now for some there may be a level of ‘cringing’ that involves a natural fear of spiders- Arachnophobia-one that brings chills and sweats at the same time. Yes I too had an enormous fear of Spiders at some stage in my life. I’m not saying that I can pick one up and play with it, however I hold a greater respect for this incredible Arachnid, teaching me lessons that I will carry through the rest of my life. One very lesson is dealing with fears and phobias that have been imprinted on my soul throughout childhood.
I was in awe when I went to visit my dear sister and her Spider Familiar. Not an exotic species in a glass terrarium, ‘only’ a large big black house Spider by the name of Gretchen nicely nestled in the kitchen corner that she would catch and feed live flies to. Some people are just naturally fascinated by insects more so than others. I have learnt to respect them from afar. Where she lives there are also venomous Spiders that can do a great deal of harm to humans. These she catches and takes outside at a safe distance. She also mentioned that these simple house Spiders are renowned in keeping some of the more venomous and aggressive species at bay. Now that is a symbiotic relationship between the Familiar and the Witch. There is give and take. Whether in the physical or the spiritual you need to feed your Familiar. In the spiritual, Familiars are often fed with libations. In the physical, well what ever your Familiar is programmed to survive on.
My sister had made an agreement with Gretchen, by feeding her fresh flies, in return Gretchen would offer her protection to the household from venomous and aggressive Spider species.
It’s about honoring and respecting the relationship, one that is based on give and take. Holding the equilibrium to encourage a homeostatic environment. Remember the sensitive vibes of the Spider and her web extends to your own vibes. Everything is frequency and Vibration as attested by the famous Nicola Tesla.
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”
― Nikola Tesla