Animal familiars are viewed as having an spiritual connection or bond with a witch.
A physical familiar will often come into a witch’s life when least expected or when they are most needed.
This can be through an adoption program, as a gift or as a stray animal that is taken in by the witch.
Some witches believe that an animal familiar chooses their witch to live and work with.
It can sometimes feel like a reunion between a witch and familiar from a past life or past lives.
For other witches, it may feel as though after months or years or wanting a particular animal (specie or breed), that the animal manifests into reality at the right time or opportunity.
A witch may or may not be ready or prepared to welcome the familiar into their life, but there may be a feeling or sense that it’s meant to be.
Familiars can be physical and real in life and/or they can be a familiar spirit in the astral/spirit realm.
Animal Familiars and Witchcraft
Let’s look at physical familiars first as they are the most commonly talked about:
Physical Animal Familiars
Physical animal familiars are different than the usual or typical household pet.
While many witches call their pets familiars, the true sense of the word goes deeper than simply as a “pet” and not all pets belonging to a witch will be familiars.
Historically, the concept of animal familiars was written in texts such as Malleus Maleficarum as a way to identify and prosecute witches during the Middle Ages.
Familiars in the physical form often have a deep psychological and psychic bond with a witch and will often be drawn to the witch while performing spells, rituals, magick or divination.
Some witches may strongly feel that their familiar has been with them in past life times and will continue to be with the in future lifetimes.
There’s a mind-to-mind, spirit-to-spirit connection between the physical familiar and the witch.
Animal Spirit Familiars
Witches can have both a physical animal familiar and animal spirit familiar or just one or the other.
While many witches are familiar with the concept of physical familiars, there can also be spirit familiars.
A physical familiar is an animal that lives with the witch as a pet offering companionship and assisting with physical magickal workings such as crafting, spell work, rituals and more.
A spirit familiar is an animal spirit that works with the witch to do magick, spells and rituals in the astral/spirit realm and can act as a companion and/or protector during astral travel.
A spirit familiar shouldn’t be confused with the terms “spirit animal”, animal spirit guide or “fetch.”*
*A fetch is often in the form of an animal spirit used in hedge witchcraft and hedge riding.
To know more about hedge witchcraft and hedge riding, check out the book To Fly By Night: An Anthology of Hedgewitchery.
For many reasons, it may be probable that a witch is unable to have a physical familiar due to circumstances, finances or living situations, so having a spirit familiar is the best or only option.
For some witches, their familiars are animals that aren’t allowed to be kept legally as pets so meeting the familiar in the astral realm is the only possible way to work with the familiar.
While spirit guides in animal form provide guidance, advice and counsel, a spirit familiar works with the witch in magickal and spiritual workings in the astral realm, for example such as astral spells.
Animal spirit guides will often have more communication intelligence in the terms of spoken thought and language, while spirit familiars are more closely connected to their animal instincts and nature.
Spirit familiars speak more through simple ideas, body language in the same ways as a physical pet or animal communicates.
To know more about animal spirit guides, check out Connect and Work with Animal Spirit Guides.
How to Meet an Animal Spirit Familiar
If you feel drawn to work with a spirit familiar, you can do astral work to invite the familiar to introduce themselves and make an appearance.
Here are a few ways you can send out an invite to meet your familiar in spirit:
To begin to meet your spirit familiar, create an “astral temple” or a scenery – some place in the astral realm that you will call “home”.
This can be any place that you can create or imagine, where you feel safe, secure and at ease.
Send out a thought that you want to meet your familiar spirit and ask them to come forward.
Allow the image of one animal or several to come to your mind.
You may see many animals which all may have meaning to you at some point, eventually, you may find your mind narrows the animals down to just one.
If you feel several animals are coming forward, ask them if they are your familiar and listen to what they say or see how they respond.
Feel with your gut to know if the answers you receive and judge for yourself if it’s truthful or not.
When you meet an animal that says they are your familiar or respond in a positive way that confirms it, spend time with the animal and observe them.
Ask yourself in the meditation or afterwards how the animal makes you feel, if you feel an instant connection, if you like the animal specie or breed or not, and if the answers are yes or no, ask yourself why.
When you’re ready to finish the meditation, thank your familiar spirit and let them know you will be back soon.
Follow up with astral visits regularly to strengthen your connection with the spirit familiar then over the course of a few weeks, you can start to do astral magickal workings and see how they work.
Another way to meet your astral familiar is to create a ritual to call forth and invite the familiar to come to you.
The ritual can be choreographed / planned or it can be semi-improvisational (depending on how you work with rituals.)
Items that can be used for a ritual to invite your spirit familiar can be a white or brown candle, a petition / small letter or invitation, and crystals such as fluorite, selenite or clear quartz.
When doing a ritual to invite your spirit familiar, don’t become focused on expecting a certain animal to come forth and be your familiar.
Although cats, dogs and wolves are top on the list of physical and spiritual familiars, stay open to the possibility of other animals that may be your spirit familiar.
While a ritual is just one of the first possible steps to inviting a spirit familiar to introduce themselves to you, it will be astral travel and meditations where the real work will happen.
Tarot and oracle cards can help to open channels to communication and get a better idea of who your spirit familiar is.
However, to work with a spirit familiar, you will have to go beyond tarot, oracle cards and divination and work with the familiar in the astral realm.
To assist with a meditation before meeting your spirit familiar, you can draw a single tarot or oracle card as a meditation focal point to help you go deeper into the meditation.
Any tarot or oracle deck that you resonate can work well for the purpose of finding your animal spirit familiar.
Animal-themed tarot or oracle decks can also be used for the same purpose.
Psychic Connection between a Physical Familiar and a Witch
The bond and psychic connection between a witch and an animal familiar is usually strong and often will strengthen over time.
For some witches, this connection may be instantaneous while for other witches, it may be relationship connection that has to be worked on to improve and strengthen.
Either way, the bond between the witch and the familiar can’t often be explained in words or logically.
There can be an affinity and often a feeling of being reunited with each other again on a spirit level.
The bond of a familiar and a witch may be centuries-old, reuniting lifetime after lifetime, possibly again within the same lifetime of the witch considering animals have a shorter lifespan than humans.
There’s a special bond and connection with a familiar that’s different than with other pets or animals.
Magick and Animal Familiars
Many familiars are attracted to magickal items and divination tools.
Some animals (even if not a familiar) will like to sleep on magickal/witchcraft books, grimoires, tarot/oracle cards, under altars, on meditation cushions or in places that are designated for ritual, spells or meditation.
The energy of these places and items is often positive and calming to animals that are more sensitive to energy.
While most witches won’t allow others to touch their magickal items or divination tools that belong to them, animals are often the exception to this rule as their energy is pure and untainted.
Some familiars will be drawn to magickal workings such as rituals or spell work, and will want to be near the witch while performing these tasks.
In Wiccan practice, while working in a cast/magick circle the witch can’t leave the circle unless the circle is taken down or a doorway is “cut” in the circle to allow passage out and back into the cast/magick circle.
However, cats can enter and leave cast circles as folk tales associate cats with the spirit world, as well as other animals can pass in and out of the circle also.
Animals are more closely connected to the spirit world and some animals can sense or see spirits, so it’s natural that they can pass in or out of a cast magick circle without any consequences.
How to Work with an Animal Familiar
When working with an animal familiar (physical or spirit) be sure to respect their needs for personal space and to take care of their physical and emotional needs first.
Here are a few ways that you can work with your animal familiar, but are by no means the only way or limited to these suggestions:
Spells, magick and/or rituals with your animal familiar
For physical animal familiars that can mean working with them while doing spells, magick, herb or wild crafting or rituals.
For animal spirit familiars, this can mean doing the same with a physical familiar but in the astral realm instead such as astral spells and magick.
This can mean also using things like whiskers, hair, nails or fur in spells – as long as they are humanely gathered which preferably are found rather than taken or removed from the animal.
Never forcibly remove, cut or take whiskers or fur/hair unnecessarily from a living animal for magickal or spell purposes.
Nail clippings can be used after doing necessary routine nail trims. Fur or hair can be gathered from regular brushings or grooming.
Communicate with your animal familiar
Spend time practicing your animal communication – this can help to improve communication with other physical animals and pets.
This means thinking outside the terms of spoken language and words and instead with emotions, feelings and imagery.
Tune into the sounds that your familiar makes.
Learn what each meow, each chirp, each squeak, each bark means.
Pay attention to body language, ear positioning and tail movements.
Try to see the world from their perspective – they work hard to communicate with you on your terms, meet your familiar halfway.
Books and online resources are available about animal communication and what body moments mean, however, tune into how your familiar communicates to you and others.
Sigil Magick / Binding Runes / Amulets / Talismans
Create or purchase a protective amulet or talisman for your physical animal familiar to wear or keep near their sleeping area (as long as it is safe to do so that the animal won’t eat or destroy it.)
A sigil or binding rune can be drawn on the inside of your familiar’s collar or near their sleeping area or in their cage/habitat for protection, safety and/or good health.
Some witches (and even non-witches) believe that animals can astral travel and that their body and facial movements during sleep is triggered by what they experience during astral travel.
Animals are more closely connected to the spirit world and more attuned to energy than most humans, which is why some animals can see, hear and/or sense the presence of ghosts and spirits.
Join your physical familiar on an astral journey during meditation while they sleep or meet up with your spirit familiar often to travel, study or do workings.
Your physical or spirit familiar can accompany you in the astral realm to keep you company or to offer protection while you’re there.
If you have an astral temple or home that you’ve created in the astral realm, you can let your spirit familiar guard and protect your astral temple or home.
A Witch’s Familiar
Have an animal familiar?
Share a photo of your animal familiar (physical or spirit) on Twitter or Instagram and tag TarotPugs to show off your familiars!
Share an image, drawing or anything that represents your animal familiar and tag TarotPugs.
Show everyone your familiars and we’ll do our best to share your post or tweet on Twitter or in our Instagram Story!
Until next time,
Stacey and the Tarot Pugs
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3 thoughts on “Animal Familiars and Witchcraft”
I am not familiar with how any guides spirit animal or otherwise. Iam 60 years old and played it by ear most of my life. I have oxygen so I don’t use candles anymore. I suffer from anxiety so I have worked alone with homemade Sigils..knot spells.. Some I make my own wording some I use spell chants that I find. I have always loved wolves and I want to see if it is my animal spirit
I feel that when we have an affinity for a certain animal it can mean a few things (but not limited to these possibilities): the animal can be a teacher or guide for a certain time in our life (if we are going through something or as a life lesson), the animal can be a guide for our whole life as a theme or overall lesson, or there can be a spirit connection with the animal that speaks to your spirit (but not to be confused with spirit animal unless one is culturally connected to native spirituality), yet it can be somewhat similar in a sense that the teachings and guidance of the quality of what the animal represents is at the core of who you are spiritually.
In the case of your connection with the wolf, wolves are seen as teachers and wise elders, connected to a primal nature as humanity has had a connection with wolves (which later became domesticated dogs after evolution and thousands of years). You may be interested in learning more about the spiritual meaning of the wolf and see how it speaks to your spirit. I feel that if we have an affinity for a certain animal, it may likely already be a guide, familiar or teacher for us and that can be a strong bond spiritually that the teaching or wolf animal spirit is with you often or always.
The wolf may have much to teach you, but also I have found that wolf is not only a teacher, but teaches us to be a teacher also and share our wisdom and knowledge with others in many ways.
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