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All About Familiars

Lady Saoirse
By Lady Saoirse
November 22, 2022
All About Familiars
All About Familiars

Getting psychic help from spirits, ancestors, and deities is well known to most people, but not everybody knows you can also have daily psychic access to animals. The study of shamanic animal symbols is very popular, but there are other types of animal communication that not everybody knows is possible. What began as a way of accusing innocent people of terrible malevolent magic has developed into a legitimate practice for people around the world. That is the ability to have animal familiars. Join us as we explore what familiars are, the history of them, what different animal familiars’ spiritual meanings are, and how to discover your own animal familiar. This article will explore:

Familiars have been written about in the Middle Ages, most especially by Inquisitors looking for so called witches and heretics, but today’s magical people know that what was said back then was wrong. People today know that humans can have a psychic and spiritual connection to their animal guides and it’s completely natural. Join us as we explore familiars and things like what is a familiar, and what has history said about them? What is a fox power animal as opposed to a fox familiar and what are different shamanistic animal meanings when they are your familiar? How do familiars help us, and how do we discover what animal is our familiar? To learn all about familiars, read on!

What is a Familiar?

All About Familiars

Today’s magical practitioners often refer to their pets as their familiars, but hundreds of years ago, a familiar was defined as something different. A so-called witch was someone accused of using malevolent magic, and who was in league with the Christian Satan. Both Satan and his witches were considered to be working towards the goal of destroying humanity by corrupting them against the Christian god. Familiars were spiritually charged creatures believed to be gifted to witches by the Devil, and these creatures served to assist the witch with their magic. Animals who were often suspected were creatures most closely associated with the Devil and these were cats, toads, goats, wolves, flies, snakes, weasels, frogs, lizards, various types of birds, and dogs. A familiar was suspected to be any creature who was anywhere near somebody who was accused of being a witch, and any animal that happened to be black was often more suspected of being a familiar than other colored animals.

Believe it or not, another animal highly suspected to be a witch’s familiar was a butterfly. It was believed that butterflies stole milk for witches, and hares were also suspected of being witches’ familiars because they stole foods from the garden. Wolves would of course steal livestock, and they would also attack humans. Another thing worth noting is that some people also believed that witches could shapeshift into animals and steal things for themselves. One woman who was accused of being a witch and shapeshifting and was supposedly caught red handed- pun intended. She had been said to shapeshift into a hare and was eating a man’s vegetables in the garden when he retaliated by cutting off its paw, only to discover it was a woman’s hand! He later found his neighbor nursing her severed stump where her hand had been, and he could have returned her hand to her, but instead he kept it for luck!

Unlike ordinary animals, however, it was believed that a witch’s familiar could, and would shapeshift into any other form the witch desired, including into human form in order to do her bidding. Some said familiars were actually demons and came to new witches when they were learning their powers, and other people believed that every witch, regardless of her expertise, had familiars. Some people said witches would send their familiars out to do their bidding and they often took an ordinary appearance so as not to arouse suspicion. Witches were said to keep their familiars in baskets or pottery lined with fine furs. Some even said that witches fed their familiars with blood or milk from their own bodies, and it should be noted that it was believed there was a mark, or an extra “teat” the witch fed their familiar from. Some familiars also liked meat, and bread! Some believed familiars could be held inside talismans, or sacred items of jewelry and that they could even be housed inside bottles and their power was strongest at midday.

What History says about Familiars

All About Familiars

Historic writings have things to say about what people believed familiars were and did. The Wise Wife of Keith, Agnes Sampson was accused of being a witch in the 1500’s in east Lothian Scotland. She was said to be a midwife and healer who had cured many of their ailments and before the official accusations, had been suspected of being a witch. It was documented that she was one of many accused of raising storms at sea that risked the life of Anne of Denmark who had just married King James VI. She was tortured and found guilty and then executed. Familiars would be considered to assist such witches with spellwork to raise the storms, and these could be done by digging holes in the ground, filling them with urine, and stirring the liquid while chanting magic words. The familiars could lend their magical strength to this and carry the magic away as well. They could gather magical materials, and the prosecuting side stated Agnes called familiars to help her raise the storms to harm the King’s new bride.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Duke of Cumberland was said to have a powerful familiar that aided him as well. He was a Royalist English commander during the English Civil War and lived from 1619 to 1682. He was also talented in the arts and sciences and was a prominent public figure in his time. While Rupert was not outright accused of being a witch, it was said he had a white poodle named Boy who was accused, and that dog was supposedly bestowed with magical powers. Today, it is considered propaganda accusations, but at the time it was said the dog made Rupert invincible to bullets and also granted him the powers of invisibility. It was said the dog could speak many different languages and would shapeshift into a woman for Rupert to enjoy her company. The dog was also said to have psychic gifts, but despite his supposed mystical powers, the poor pup was killed in a battle at Marston Moor.

Yet another historic tale speaks of a woman named Alice Parker who was accused of witchcraft in Salem Massachusetts. Among the various allegations against her was that she had a black pig that attacked a man she had disagreed with. The story goes that Alice Parker stormed into an establishment and fussed at her husband who was drinking there with a man named John Westgate and in response, John basically told her to be quiet. She called him a “rogue” and told him to butt out. He stated that on his way home afterwards, a black pig ran towards him and scared him, making him lose his balance and his knife stabbed him. He claimed he had to crawl home bleeding pretty badly, and the hog followed him and tormented him the entire way, all of which he attributed to Alice Parker, that the hog might have been a devil, and that Alice was a witch.

How They Help Us

All About Familiars

Realistically, there are some people who can train animals, and some people do have attack dogs, but there is absolutely no evidence that shapeshifting is possible or that devils manifest as animals that help people do evil magic. Today’s witches, however, who say they have familiars, believe they are helped by them in different ways. They help by making them aware of things, they protect their humans, and they provide companionship.

Awareness

Animals have keen vision and hearing and powerful senses of smell that transcend humans’ senses, and they can alert us of things we don’t know. They also have extrasensory perception, or psychic abilities, acting as animal mediums and let us know other things we could not know all on our own. One family had what they called cat mediums and one day one of their cats was staring transfixed at an area on the floor, and nobody could see anything. The cat did not move at all, and just sat watching, and finally, a poisonous snake slithered out! The family paid attention to see what the cat was trying to tell them and since they were watching, nobody was hurt. It is also believed that animals can sense spirit presences in the home and will react. Some signs your dog mediums are sensing ghosts include the dog following an invisible force or sitting back and acting like it is about to be petted by someone, but nobody is there. They can also act terrified or aggressive at seemingly thin air and flat out refuse to go to a particular part of the home or property. They may be trying to warn that there is the presence of danger in the form of a living organism or a spirit and they should be listened to.

Protection

Your pet readings of situations can be keener than your own and their instinct to protect you might be something you tell friends is cute, but their instinct to protect should be respected. Some animals have an instinct to chase, but others have an instinct to lead their humans out of harm’s way and if your dog or cat suddenly behaves as if it wants you to follow, do so, because they may be getting you away from hidden dangers. Pets naturally decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides and they alleviate loneliness. They provide opportunities for more exercise and give us more chances to be socially involved in our neighborhoods, all of which increase our quality of life, lower our stressors, and make us healthier. Outdoor animals are also good at warding off predators and keeping their territory pest free.

Companionship

Will your pet chat with you the way a human would? Not quite, but they bond with their people and become their best friends and family members. The Health Resources and Services Administration reported that over forty five percent of older adults are lonely and that one in five Americans in general have issues with loneliness or isolation. Our animal companions help us shift the focus from ourselves to fulfilling their needs and they provide companionship and company when we would otherwise be alone. They become a big part of our lives and a lot of people prefer to be home with their pets than out with strangers.

Spiritual Meanings of Familiars

All About Familiars

Besides what we gain from having our animal companions in our lives, depending on which animal is your familiar, the spiritual gifts you get from them can vary. This is not too different than having a spirit animal, except a familiar might be a KIND of animal, but also a particular animal who happens to be that type of animal. So, while totem animals and spirit animals emphasize the spiritual lessons and blessings we gain from a type of animal in general and those blessings can be had from any one of that kind of animal, one particular animal will be your familiar. Read the link given here to learn about spirit animals and read further in this article to learn what certain types of familiars bless us with: A Guide To Spirit Animals | Mysticsense

Crows

Black crow images conjure up mystical creatures who speak with the dead, and deliver messages to the Father of the gods, Odin. However, a big black crow will bring a big, loving heart into your life when it is your familiar. A black crow superstition might be that crows portend death, but they are more likely to bring laughter, and affection. A crow cawing superstition you should take heed of, however, when your familiar is a crow, is that you are being put on notice to pay attention to messages that come seemingly from beyond the realm of the living. Crow familiars will bring you wisdom, and beautiful things they collect from the outdoors as gifts, and they will protect your garden from critters that would eat your plants.

Stags

It is very rare that a deer stag would be your familiar, because a male deer is a wild creature you normally only see in nature, however, keeping deer as pets is becoming more common, and injured deer are adopted by families all the time. A stag familiar symbolizes leadership and protection, but deer make for very sweet and gentle hearted companions. They never lose their wild hearts, so grant them as much freedom as possible and wide-open spaces to roam. A stag will be loyal and return to you after its adventures and settle into your life permanently. A stag is a creature that should be respected as it is known as the king of the forest, and some consider it to embody the spirit of the wild itself.

Dogs

Perhaps the most loyal animal to have as a familiar is the dog. When a dog is your familiar, it will behave as if it were human or as if you are a dog as well, and it will never want to leave your side. Dogs guard their people fiercely, and even the smallest chihuahua will rush to your defense if it feels you are in danger. In exchange for barking when there are sounds late at night to ward off possible intruders, acting very happy to see you all the time, and literally making you its entire world, all your dog familiar asks in return is your love and that you take good care of it.

Cats

Cats have a reputation of being standoffish, but that’s not entirely fair. They do like their space, but they love attention on their terms. Occasionally, you find a cat that does not want to be bothered, but animals of any species might be that way. Cats bring grace, dignity, poise, and pride into the home, and they remind us not to work too hard and to take time to rest. They remind us to take care of ourselves by showing us their good grooming habits, and they will chase all animals out of their territory they don’t like. So, you won’t need to worry that opossums or raccoons will tear into your trash cans or that mice will infest your home. Cats will love you and spend plenty of time with you, but also patrol and protect just as much.

Bees

Some believe a bee omen is to watch out and not get hurt, but the definition of bee familiars is different. Bees bring nourishment and industriousness into your life, and those who can communicate with bees find themselves keeping multiple hives of them. Bee familiars will enjoy nature with you, thriving amongst the beautiful things you plant, and they will pollinate fruits and vegetables to help ensure your garden grows. Fiercely protective of their hive, they will also chase off creatures they see as predators of your home and garden in general and they will reward your upkeep of their hives with sweet honey.

Wolves

Like dogs, the definition of wolf familiars includes loyalty, protection, and also power. Like deer, few have pet wolves, but again, it happens, and when an animal is unable to be returned to its habitat in the wild, humans adopt them and bring them into their families. It has been stated that wolves do not domesticate well, but some people’s familiars do not live with them, they just visit. The wolf spiritual meaning is also of freedom, and of being with their own kind in their pack. The spiritual meaning of wolf familiars is magic. Wolves are known to carry messages to and from both gods and the spirit realm, and if you communicate with the wolf, it will reveal hidden messages to you. Before you believe that white wolf spiritual meaning is that you should adopt one so you can harness its magic, read this: So You Want a Pet Wolf? Here's Why You Should Probably Reconsider - One Green Planet

Foxes

When a fox appears and communicates “I am a fox, and I am your familiar” , consider yourself lucky because these creatures are as graceful as cats, as loyal as dogs, and more playful than you can imagine. Fox familiars bring laughter, joy and boundless energy into our lives and they keep us on our toes. They need a lot of room to play and become bored easily, and can tear up things in the house. They have minds of their own and cannot be trained to obey like dogs, but they remind us to be true to ourselves and not be followers. They are also very intelligent and can lend us some of their “smarts”, and we can learn from their tenacity not to give up when we are struggling to meet goals.

Goats

The spiritual meaning of goats as familiars is fun and also about being capricious. Goats change what they want to be doing quickly, and they need lots of space to roam on your property. They also prefer to be with people they can have a relationship with and be affectionate with, but they need companionship of their own kind, other goats. Goat spiritual meaning is joy, energy, and adoration into the lives of their people, and remind us not to self-isolate from those who love us. They have minds of their own and can get into mischief, so be careful!

Hawks

Hawks spiritual meaning is that of keen observation, having an ability to envision the future, and the ability to succeed. Your hawk animal familiar may be a pet, or it might be a wild hawk that lives nearby and visits you. Either way, hawk familiars teach us the powerful skills we need to go out and work for what it is we want and not to back down from getting what we know is ours. They may be able to give energy to strengthen your psychic abilities and they will teach you how to sit quietly and pay attention to things until you understand all that is going on.

Falcons

Familiar falcon spiritual meaning is that of keen decision-making abilities, independence, and unwavering focus to achieve goals. Falcon familiars are not going to cuddle you and be by your side all day long. They need plenty of freedom to hunt and fly free, and they may simply tolerate you for short periods of time, but when they choose you, the spiritual meaning of falcon familiars is to hunt together, believe it or not. They will teach you how to decide what it is you are looking to accomplish, and their skill in catching prey will rub off onto you and you will meet goals just as well as they do.

How to Discover Your Familiar

All About Familiars

Some people go searching for a familiar, and even cast spells to try and find one. They pray and ask their guides to bring them the blessing of a familiar to help them, but there is nothing you need to do to find a familiar. Believe it or not, your familiar will find you! It will come into your life, appearing when the time is right, and it will stay with you for as long as it is meant to. Some people grow closer to their familiars than they do a lot of people, and when your familiar passes on to be a spirit, their soul might stay nearby, watching over you.

Maybe hundreds of years ago, it was considered something dangerous to have a familiar, but the magical things superstitious people imagined such animals could do is impossible. Familiars are a kind of animal companion who we bind more closely with than other animals, and yes, sometimes they do share magical energy with us in the sense of bestowing blessings upon us. Whether your familiar comes to you when you are younger or older, know that their appearance in your life is timely and they will stay with you all the days they are meant to. May you and your familiars bless and love one another for many years, and may you recognize one another immediately. So be it.


All About FamiliarsAbout the Author: Lady Saoirse has studied magic and lore for most of her life, but started walking her own Magical Path after being spiritually reborn in the desert. Today she shares her gifts as a Psychic and Content Writer for Mysticsense and she writes for Pagan Pages emag.

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