Practical Magic(k)

Practical Magic(k): Spirit Familiars

Featured art by Camilla d’Errico

Humans and animals have a developed a deep bond over the ages, that goes beyond the emotional, into the metaphysical. Cats and witches, Harry Potter and his owl, Hedwig – the concept of spirit (or magical) familiars dates back centuries.

The word familiar stems from the the Latin word familiaris, which means “household servant,” and is intended to express the idea that practitioners of magic possess the ability to have spirits do their bidding, as servants ready and willing to obey any command.

It is important to note, that familiars are not viewed as “pets”, rather, the animal makes the conscious choice to attach to their human, and deserves great respect. Some believe that familiar spirits are actually demons (or supernatural entities), which assume the form of an animal to aid in magical practice.

According to Wikipedia:

“When they served witches, they were often thought to be malevolent, while when working for cunning-folk they were often thought of as benevolent (although there was some ambiguity in both cases). The former were often categorised as demons, while the latter were more commonly thought of and described as fairies. The main purpose of familiars is to serve the witch or young witch, providing protection for them as they come into their new powers.

Since the 20th century a number of magical practitioners, including adherents of the Neopagan religion of Wicca, have begun to utilise the concept of familiars, due to their association with older forms of magic. These contemporary practitioners utilize pets, wildlife or believe that invisible spirit versions of familiars act as magical aids.

According to WitchesLore.com:

“Spirit animals possess the knowledge and traits of their species and when you are in touch with your spirit animal you can ask the animal for assistance. It is believed that all animals have healing and inspirational powers and that you can bring their energies into you. The Native Americans believe that when a person is born an animal’s spirit enters into that person, it is meant to provide wisdom and protection.”

Types of Spirit Familiars and Their Meaning:

Alligator – Strength

Ant – Industriousness

Antelope – Speed

Bat – Intuition

Bear – Knowledge – healing

Beaver – Beginnings

Bee – Co-operation – community

Bird – Rising above – freedom

Butterfly – Transformation – love – balance

Cat – Tenacity – Heightened Psychic Awareness

Cougar – Leadership

Coyote – Quick thinking

Crane – Balance – dignity

Crow – Resourcefulness – magic

Deer – Wisdom – peace

Dog – Loyalty

Dolphin – Communication – harmony

Dragonfly – Creativity – skill

Eagle – Power – healing

Firefly – Illumination

Fox – Cleverness – discretion

Frog – Peace – love – healing

Goat – Diligence

Hawk – Awareness – honesty

Hedgehog – Protection

Horse – Transformation – change

Hummingbird – Beauty – movement

Lizard – Releasing

Loon – Communication – serenity

Mouse – Illusion – charm – charisma

Otter – Joy – balance – uplifting

Owl – Wisdom – healing – insight

Peacock – Self-assurance

Pelican – Abundance – fortune

Porcupine – Humility

Quail – Group harmony

Rabbit – Overcoming – protection – luck

Ram – Determination

Raven – Mystical exploration

Salmon – Persistence

Seagull – Freedom

Seahorse – Nourishing

Seal – Tranquility

Snail – Perseverance

Snake – Power – protection

Spider – Connection

Squirrel – Honesty

Swan – Nurturing

Turtle – Knowledge – healing

Whale – Intuition

Wolf – Loyalty

To learn more about Spirit Familiars, and how to work with them, click here

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