Witch Wednesdays Podcast Episode 35 - Witch Familiars

Witch Wednesdays Podcast Episode 35 - Witch Familiars

 Episode 35 can be found here and on YouTube here.

S: You're listening to episode 35 witch familiars. should be a relatively quick podcast episode for you. and we say that a lot but I mean it.

T: this time is the truth 

S: because we are I don't think either of us have too much to say on familiars we just wanted to introduce the topic to you and kind of Clear up kind of the misconception about it the main one being that it's your pet. it's not. so if you are unfamiliar with what a familiar is, a familiar is a shape shifting spirit. it is usually in the form of an animal who assists a witch in performing spells and rituals. so familiars are found in magical traditions all over the world. and they assist only the practitioners they are bonded to so they're not like the Fae who are out there available to anybody who wants to work with them and leave an offer ing, you really have to bond with this sort of spirit and animal in order for it to help you in your magical practice but you may have more than one. they are often in the form of cats, toads, owls, dogs and mice although any animal or insect could be a familiar, which is why those first three are the three animals that you're allowed to bring to Hogwarts with you. I had to throw in there. a lot of what is used in harry potter really does come from real magical practice or tradition, theories throughout the world and that happens to be one of them, cats toads and owls are very common familiars.

T: but again not necessarily your cat toad or Dog.

S: Familiars have the advantage of being able to go into places where humans cannot. but as animals they can so they're often dispatched on various magical errands. they have a history long before the witch hysteria came about in Europe because they were originally seen as a form of guardian angel. In ancient Rome they were thought to offer protection over the home. Familiaris in Latin means domestic or household. I can confirm that's correct because I took seven years of Latin, what a time in my life. in ancient Greece they were seen as a personal spirit that guided a persons actions, which is an idea that was popularized by Philip Pullman in the book His Dark Materials which if you seen there's a movie called the Golden Compass. The spirits that's attached to them or they call them in that daemons right. so they take various animal shapes in there you know attached to you that's major plot line in the story so that's part of this idea that there was this sort of familiar spirit that kind of guided your actions.

T: so big part of both historically and in the books but really your character and attitude and life choices aren't predetermined but the familiar that is a bonding with you kind of says something about your character as well so there's that.

S: so it has its whole you know a long history but in 1604 King James introduced a witchcraft act that made working with these What he called evil spirits a capital offense. so during the height of the witchcraft persecution that followed, familiars were often seen as evil wild creatures that only carried out the evil intent of the witch because they were given to witches by the devil. and during the witch trials these animals were also put on trial and sometimes executed, which is why cat massacres swept through mid evil Europe and they even hung a dog in Salem. but these actions pay back these actions directly led to the plague because there were no cats left to hunt to get rid of the rats that were bringing the plague so that's what you get for massacring cats, you get the black plague.

T: and it was also thought that because they were bonded to a witch that by harming the animal they lessen the magic of the witch and there's some truth and correlation there. But they would often kill the familiars before the witches to lessen their power and do them harm. 

S: so familiar today are different because they are not seen as demons or given to witches by the devil or anything like that they are merely spirits that have a special psychic attunement and are therefore helpful in spellcasting raising power setting and clearing a space scrying and healing. they also visibly react to negative or evil energy so they're very helpful to have around for protection, especially cats. they are not however usually pets so they shouldn't be treated as such. They are animals who volunteer to work as familiar is and then they are drawn to a particular witch so they are not necessarily the cat that you even went and adopted from the shelter. that's not to say that your cat can't be your familiar but it's very rare that it's your pet. so it's definitely unlikely to be your pet but it doesn't we're not saying that it can't be so if your pet if you have a cat that is you're familiar definitely let us know we would love to know more about it. 

if you are looking to attract a familiar, witches often send out psychic calls to find one. meditation is a good way to do this you want to focus your intent on finding an animal companion and then take care to notice any animals that appear in your life unexpectedly because the animals often select you not the other way around. they can come to you in a variety of different animals so just start to notice any that come into your life unexpectedly and unexpected is the key here because if you often see like I do cats in your backyard first think about whether or not you're putting out cans of cat food every day like I am. but yes I feed these feral cats that are in the yard and they feed them every day so it's not that unexpected that they keep showing up, so highly unlikely that those are familiars or my animal spirits, because there's a direct correlation and you have to think about that the same way as when seasons change or anything like that you might notice like a certain animal coming around more but you have to think about what changed, did the weather change, is it a common animal for the area, did you leave out food or water, so get rid of all those mundane things that could be attracting a particular Animal or insect you and then see if that that's really this animal coming to you in a more unexpected manner.

so a familiar if you do put out the energy out there and find one, can be worked with in a variety of ways. they provide protection and they are great at sensing sort of negative energy around and like we talked about in the other spirit episode we talked about the guardian spirits who will bounce negative energy away from you that you don't even know about familiars can act in the same way providing similar protection. you can also send them out and see things through their eyes that's a common meditative practice that some witches undertake a sort of deeper trancelike state where they can send out their familiar and see what they are seeing.

T: I can't do that.

S: and they also provide an energy boost. We talked about that before like with grounding, you can pull up energy from the earth, Using the energy of a familiar is another way to sort of get an energy boost when you are doing your spell work that's another way that they kind of work with you.

T: and we talked about spirit guides and how they can be animals, the biggest difference to me between Spirit familiar and a spirit guide is a guide is actually going to nudge you on to a certain path or certain direction and they'll assist you but it's your own energy are using it's your own initiative if you're on focus those kind of try and nudge you the way that you should be going where is a familiar it's like a really good friend there all in all the time they're gonna help you do whatever it is good or bad decisions, it's really you're not gonna try and guide you on a certain path and then they're going to give you that energy boost. so whatever you're working on even if it's not something you should be working on a guide will be like not the best idea and a familiar is like yay let's do this. They're similar but have very different functions.

S: yes very true and an animal spirit guide open presents in a lot of different ways even if it's the same animal over and over again like mine is the raccoon, it can present it's not just a physical raccoon, it comes up in dreams or meditations or on television or something like that whereas a familiar is going to be the same orange tabby cat showing up every single day, it's a physical cat. with that said I do not have a familiar.

T: I do not either.

S: I want one.

T: I had one years ago and he was a cat and he was very very helpful when I first start first started. he would come whenever I cast a circle and lay in the circle with me but he passed away so. and I have not had another one since.

S: A lot of times if you do have an Animal like that and they pass away they may come back to you in a different form. it wouldn't be the same cat coming back but maybe that spirit would come back in a toad or something like that to Tara to work with her again but not necessarily they could just be gone from this plane. 

T: yeah and my practice and my path is much different now than when I first started so to me it might be unusual to have the same familiar come back just because I'm on a much different path and practice than when I first started out so he was perfect for the time and place but he may not be perfect for today's time and place.

S: I do you not have one I've never had one I never put out the psychic energy and work needed to attract one to me.

T: it is a lot of work to both build that bond and find the perfect animal. That is why I haven't sought another one a lot of effort in building and ...

S: yeah I'd I just haven't done that yet if I am I might will see. I haven't had any sort of particular workings where I would think a familiar would be generally helpful. I haven't needed them to go out and you know see the world through their eyes or send them into any spaces or any magical errands that you know I couldn't do myself so I haven't had a particular need for a familiar but it might be nice just to have a little companion.

T: I when I first got started it was very very helpful to me just almost is like a frame of mine because I knew when my familiar showed up it was trying to do the working. like I might be thinking about a spell and not sure on when to do it but he showed up I knew that was the right time to start working on my spell. But like I said I was on a very different I was in a very different place when I first started learning but like searching different paths and seeing what works for me and what didn't so he was very very helpful in helping me decide on what works for me and what didn't and so I haven't needed one in recent years, which is why I haven't put in the effort to get another one. plus it's hard when they go away.

S: yeah it's just it's the same as when a pet dies it's emotionally traumatic. so not a lot of witches want to go through that so I'm still I'm still thinking about it. I haven't done any particular workings that ...often enough that I think would be helpful. so I think a familiar would be very helpful especially in baneful magic, if you do a lot of baneful magic. And we talked about hexing and jinxing and things and if you do a lot of baneful magic relatively often it's good to have a familiar as protection but also to send him on a magical errand to check on the person you're hexing. I don't do those kind of workings often enough. I also think that they are particularly helpful for hedge riding if your hedge witch but I don't spend a lot of time astral projecting or going into the spirit realm riding that hedge like we've talked about is not really within my witchcraft practice so I don't ... I think a familiar would be very helpful in that instance because it's sort of a connection between the physical realm since it is a physical animal but also this spiritual being so it's half in half out of the physical realm and spiritual realm so it can help witches that hedge ride. I think it's why they were so commonly associated with witches in medieval Europe because that was a bigger part of witchcraft. I don't know that it is anymore.

T: I personally don't know anyone that practices that day to day, even week to week or month to month. Possibly on certain sabbats. But I don't know anyone that that's an integral part of their practice. There's nothing wrong if it is part of your practice but I just personally don't know anyone that feels the need to do that all that often if that makes sense.

S: I agree. And I think that would be a particularly helpful area for a familiar but again since Tara and I don't do that it's just not something that I have in my life right now. But perhaps if my path changed a little bit I might find ways that a familiar would be more helpful and then put the work into finding one but at the moment I'm gliding along without one.

T: And you don't need one. A lot of these we're getting into are our personal beliefs and our practice, so witch familiars are very common and I know a lot of witches who have one and they use them for a wide variety of things. Ones that have them, love them. But the ones that don't have them tend to get along fine without. So it's really just a matter of what you're comfortable with. When I first got started it helped me get into the mindset. When my familiar was there, it was time to do something. But I no longer need that. But I know the people who have a familiar, love them.

S: If you have one we would love to hear about it, so let us know in the comments.

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