What Is A Familiar?

What Is A Familiar?

Popular lore has it that a familiar is a ‘witches helper’ and that the word itself derives from the Latin word for a servant. But that seems like a construct, stemming from a time in which people could imagine few other types of relationships.

If witches are shamans, who are aware of or journey in other dimensions, then the familiar is the creature who is familiar in these different realms. They are usually animals already credited with magical powers. Ravens have always been said to have an identity in this world and one behind the veil. Cats are also inter-dimensional.

Was the cat seen as evil by the medieval witch hunters because of their high status in old Pagan cultures? Ancient Egyptians revered them, and the Cat Goddess Bast was one of the most popular deities. Nearly every household had a shrine to her. Or, did the Church inquisitors and obsessed local councils demonize people’s bonds with animals in their eagerness to persecute?

Of Course Witches Preferred Ravens Or Cats To The Malleus Maleficarum Crew

They mostly went after mature and independent women of means or young outlier girls. It seems understandable that those females preferred to hang out with ravens, cats or even wolves than with the Malleus Maleficarum crew.

“Three hundred years ago people believed in the devil. They believed if an incident could not be explained, then the cause was something wicked, and that cause was often a woman who was said to be a witch. Women who did as they pleased, women with propriety, women who had enemies, women who took lovers, women who knew about the mysteries of childbirth, all were suspect…”
Alice Hoffman – The Rules Of Magic 

Familiars Travel Between Lifetimes

Anyone who has a cat will attest to their frequent intent gazing at things we cannot see. They’re attuned to dark matter, quintessence and other realms. A reminder; occult means hidden, that’s it. Animals are also more attuned to nature, the Schumann Resonance and lunar rhythms than most people. A close connection to a creature means some of that rubs off.

We’re fond of many companion animals, of course. But the familiars are the ones we form super-strength spiritual bonds with. They come into our lives via weird means, and we feel their presence long after they depart. The real familiars are always there, life after life.

They are a comforting presence in times of transition. What is a Familiar? A guide or guiding intelligence in animal form, whose spirit is known to the person.


61 thoughts on “What Is A Familiar?”

  1. The Lion & The Centaur

    Stumbled upon this old post (mercury retro – I blame you). The only animal regularly visiting my dreams is a bear. And those are always nightmares. They usually happen in the same forest, at sunset. I had Mercury cross my South Node less than a month ago. Again I saw that dream. It made me wonder if I was killed by a bear in my previous life? But now I’m starting to think, that maybe bears are my familiar animals? Usually those dreams coincide with me meeting a new man. Usually the guy turns out to be sketchy. True this time too. So, perhaps I try and have a talk with the wise bear next time?

    1. The Lion & The Centaur

      Okay, googled it. This is creepy. Because in my dreams it has been the same (unfamiliar) forest, same season, same color of sky for years. I run from the bear and then I wake up. “For the Inuit people, the bear is a strong power or totem animal. In some beliefs, it is said that if an Inuit hunter accepts to be eaten by a bear, he may reincarnate as a shaman and carry the spirit of this animal.”

  2. Definitely cats, but also not all cats. I’ve had several in my life, and only a couple (the female ones, interestingly) were clearly guardian guide familiars. I have been extra grateful for their company. The first one was most definitely a magical spirit; she is memorialized by a tattoo on my heart chakra. I’m also interested in the fact that despite my witchy sensibilities, there are stretches of time where I do not have a familiar… so I’m on my own. Perhaps they are simply there when we need a boost. Though good goddess I always could use a boost! I miss those fur mamas.

  3. Wish Upon a Star

    This is off topic I know. Has some portal opened or what?

    Just experienced a profound healing on waking up. Have had neck problems since early 20s. This healing had me seeing visions of when my jaw was dislocated when I got my wisdom teeth out under general anaesthetic. The visions weren’t traumatic.

    A lot of energy moving in my jaw, neck and shoulders. Feel great.

    Thank you Aries New Moon

  4. My son, like me, has had intense dreams and nightmares since babyhood. We have 2 black cats and I’ve convinced him that witches kept black cats to control all the monsters, ghosts, etc., to free up the witches to do their work. Since I’ve told him this, Olive the cat has started keeping watch outside his bedroom door at bedtime.

    I think not.

    Same cat, 18 years old and still stunning, knew i was pregnant before I did and started sitting on my abdomen constantly. Continued until I gave birth.

  5. Cos the killed witches with their cats there were no cats to kill the mice. Then the black plague occurred because they killed the cats

    1. Wish Upon a Star

      A profound example of cause and effect.

      And the reason for black plague was found when?

      The sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons.

  6. Definitely my beautiful pure bred kelpie called Orbit is my familiar. Already dead for 30 plus years but his photo hangs on my parents wall along with the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Orbit is still talked about today, referred to as Orbit the wonder dog.

    Able to read minds and preempt what you were about to do. Tracker and kangaroo rounder upper extroidinairre, he would also duck dive for massive sticks in ocean, river, lake or dam.

    He always Gazed at me with adoring eyes.

    I came to be HIS companion when I was walking past the local pound and thought I’d merely say hello to some animals.

    Orbit was only 3 months old and throwing himself against the wire mesh fence like a lunatic. The pound man said he was being gassed the next day and he really wanted my attention.

    I left with Orbit on the end of a loosely tied price of string around his neck as a lead. He ran around and around in circles joyfully the whole way home, hence the name Orbit.

    Then within two weeks, horror of horrors he was stolen from my backyard! But that’s another story….

  7. The synchronicity on this is nuts. I had lucid-ass dreams this (ahem) afternoon about a group of four cats that suddenly were my housemates and being particularly attached/connected to one of them…I kept lightly waking up and going back to sleep to be with them/see what was gonna happen–I have a very visceral memory of holding this partickler little guy and a huge heart crush. I wish dreams didn’t float away so fast–this MercR has been crazy with them and I know I should have been better keeping the dream journal.

  8. “Anyone who has a cat will attest to their frequent intent gazing at things we cannot see.”

    Yes! I’m really lucky to have tuxedo Virgo cat who I happened to meet right after she was born. I took a picture of her while she heaped among the newly delivered litter. She is such a character & communicates with her impressive eyes. She often looks up at me but over my right shoulder. I lost my parents when I was little & wonder if she is seeing them? I kind of hope so. I also have a beautiful Leo man cat who guards the perimeter of my place. He looks like a lion & is quite vocal. Virgo lady cat is never much in the mood for his antics.

    1. Such a parallel story to me. My tuxedo fur baby is a virgo and she chose me. I was looking to adopt a tortoiseshell kitten at the SPCA but my tuxedo baby told me she wanted to come home with me so I took her home that very day. I later on adopted a male maine coone mix who is my lion. He protects the house while she sits on my lap.

  9. Penelope Darling

    Hmm, I often have a similar relationship to plants. I dream of certain plants in the garden, that we’re sitting together and communicating.

  10. Got to say I love everything about the bottom image. The colour I’ve been surrounding myself in for the past year and the ace of cups she holds which is my favourite tarot card. The top of her arm dropped with the fine mesh shawl. It’s all blissful.

  11. My rabbits are my familiars. My 4yo little man is the downright spooky one but our big girl rabbit, who is only one, and sometimes either grumpy or like Eyeore is like a barometer of what the next vibe will be. She can predict excitement as well as hard work and even a pissed off mood. All in one day. As silent animals who cannot ask for affection, they are very good communicators. Luckily they are free range indoor only pets and their close proximity to us allows them to continually provide us with the most useful information. Like hopping fortune tellers.

  12. Scorpio_Rising

    I attract every feral cat within a 5-mile radius, plus stray dogs, birds, crows, and squirrels…not sure what the universe is trying to tell me.

    1. I seem to attract animals of all kinds too, i have a dog who is 19yld now but still acts like a puppy. There a very large grass hopper who is currently sheltering under a bamboo leaf out of the rain, a green fog who stops by every few days for a visit, a couple of kookaburras who come right to the back door and call out, a bat who likes to hang out in a tree near the back door. Cats drop by and wonder into the house, don’t know where they live, but it’s a couple of different cats. In other places i have lived there has been an owl, cockatoos, patriots, other dogs especially when they are lost, magpies, rabbits, possums. Never know who is going visit or been in my yard when i get home. It’s very cool.

      1. I too attract cats but they have upset me in the past so I’ve a cautious relationship with any cat. I had to cover up a dead patch of lawn last year due to neighbourhood cats using it as a toilet. The day after I put down the turf one of the cats left me a dead rat under the trampoline. I telepathically caught the message,
        “That’s what I think of your lawn…bitch”.

        I MUCH prefer my magpies, finch, wrens, honeyeaters, cockatoo, green frogs, geckos and skinks. They’re sweet and lovely. The cats round here though, are roughnuts…

        1. ThisIntuitiveLife

          Noooo!! Sweet human, that rat was a token of love. Cats bring dead animals as a sign of deep affection to those they love. @notreallyhere

          1. Or they think you are so inept at looking after yourself and have no hunting skills, they give you a pity rat. Here you go. You should be thankful I’m here or you’d starve…

  13. I have a small black dog who is without a doubt my familiar. For years, I called him my Little Bear, without knowing that my North Node in the seventh house sat on Polaris. He is my partner in life. I have the luxury of knowing his birth date (but not his time), and it turns out our Lilith’s are the same, so that does make for some interesting power struggles between the two of us, but also, we hate to be repressed in the same ways.

    On a funnier note, he has a Scorpio moon and is a sex addict, even after being fixed. Every night around 7 pm, he goes into the living room to get it on with his stuffed bear for about 30 minutes straight…haha.

  14. I feel like The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina reflects a more modern, nuanced understanding of what a familiar is and can be. : )

  15. I’ve thought long and hard about my familiar and have decided that it’s the hare. Not that I have a hare but it resonates perfectly. I’ve had my cats dogs horses etc who have all been utterly amazing especially my jack russell whom I bought as a puppy. A Pisces and the most amazing creature I could ever have wished for. But as my witching animal I call upon the Hare.

  16. When I was in 2nd grade, a small black and white kitten followed me home from school, biting my ankles as I walked. My parents let me keep her! She finally wandered away when she was well over 20 years old, which is ancient for a cat. She was blind by then, very thin, and had swellings all over her body. She just walked off in the night and didn’t return. By then I was in my late 20s. In my early 30s, I had a strong yearning for a cat again, and a coworker knew someone who was looking for a home for a kitten she found outside her house. The mama cat was wild and had a litter of kittens in a bush. All the kittens had found homes except this one. When I went to meet her, I knew instantly that it was my old cat, only in a newer body. She’s still black and white. When I held her in my arms, she instantly fell asleep and she didn’t even meow the whole long car ride home. I still have her and she’s now 10 years old.

    1. Awww. This gives me hope that I’ll meet up with my little Man Iggy again someday. I am only getting over his death (5 years) in the sense that I’m thinking about getting another cat…but still can’t really bring myself to bear it. The tattoo I have of his image contains his ashes; so he’s deffo with me in that way, if not meandering about the milky way after being an indoor cat for so long. (Poor kid. Pounce ’em Iggsters!)

  17. Should have known something was up when I was born; a black dog & black cat in the house.. I love all my pets feircely but the ones who come to me with longevity are never ar away, even in spirit.

    I seem to be heckled a LOT this dark moon though by crows, even when I am driving..

  18. I was blessed with a beautiful cat, he made me dance through many “cat hoops” before he deigned to trust me…
    But once I passed his tests he was my brave and true “watch cat “
    He would scream at 3am if someone entered my property and alert me!

    He would jump on my chest to disentangle me from those disgusting red eyed demons that would trap me in the astral if I wasn’t a smart traveller…

    He crossed over at 17 cradled in my arms from IBD, pancreatitis (he allowed me to check his blood sugar and inject him with insulin) diabetes and unfortunately an inoperable tumour in his spine paralysing his legs…

    I cry now writing this, Reg passed over on 23rd December 2012 and I miss him everyday but he jumps on my bed sometimes at night to visit me.

    It was an honour and a privilege to be allowed in his life.

    He awaits me on the Rainbow Bridge

    1. This made me cry. Feel for you, Gwendolyn. My little man died of FIP, Dec. 11, 2014, also in my arms; he was 19.

      1. Breaks our hearts

        Grief is the price we pay for love…

        To grieve over our fur-babies like we do shows how much they/we loved each other.

        He is checking up on you all the time, and he will FLY over that rainbow bridge when he hears you have arrived!
        Apparently the family has to wait upon the animals to say hello first

        That brings me great joy

  19. I adopted a black cat from a shelter in 2011, I don’t think I have had any other situation in my life that felt more meant to be. We’re obsessed with each other, I genuinely feel like her presence makes me stronger and our connection is not just human/pet. She is the greediest Taurus of all time though and would probably sell me for a flake of tuna!!

  20. Totally agree with this. I had a large tabby as a girl, I felt so close to him whilst growing up, I was his favourite. He died when I was 17 and I was distraught. I’m now 38 and after not having a cat since then I’ve recently acquired one from a friend who is downsizing. He is my shadow, looks incredibly like my childhood cat and is such a big softie. He has helped me heal the scars I didn’t know I had from my previous cats’ departure and I’m so connected to him. We are both very happy!

  21. My Sabrina was my familiar. She chose me and showed me so much. I will never, ever, ever forget that precious creature. I’m afraid to get another cat as i’ll always be comparing with her.

  22. I cannot have a pet where i live now, so doves and crows come to my window. Doves are a bird of Venus fitting for a taurus, and i allways feed them on my windowsill. Crows are the birds of Saturn and ancestors, the best day of feeding them is Saturday, i do it every time i remember. Last time was in a dream, and it made us happy. I find their company so good.

    1. How do you feed a crow? I have crows, magpies, doves and the usual small birds, robin, bluetits etc come to my garden. I can’t keep animals either as I travel too much, but these I feed bread, an apple, seeds, sometimes bits of cheese if it’s going, at the same time ish every day. I also make a point of cleaning a big glass bowl of water for them. I love to catch sight of them bathing in it and look away like I didn’t notice – their modesty haha

    2. There’s also a little mouse obvs who lives under a wooden planter. It’s strange but for me caring for these wild animals feels like I’m caring for the ancestors – laying out daily offerings

  23. Two crows were checking me out today, we had a nice chat. I like saying, “I see you!”. Auspicious? I’ll wait and see, wish I could remember what I was thinking about before I saw them.

  24. i got my beautiful tabby Princess after Mystics recommendation. sun conjunct bast.
    ive been sober ever since….
    adore her, dont know what took me so long….love it when she watches things i cant see…

  25. I knew a ‘familiar’ dog. She was a village shaman and protected a young addict. When he passed out at the tide’s edge, she would attempt to drag him up the beach, barking and nipping at him to awaken. When he dangled on the precipice of overdose she would force her way into the room and attempt to remove him. And when he sadly was arrested, she chose to live with my friends and I, for which I was grateful.

    When a local demon in the form of a rapist approached as I sunbathed, she saw his energy field from 200 metres down the beach for and went on the attack, driving him away and saving me.
    She would leave and go to the village on a Saturday Night on her own to party at the open air clubs – and put the village dogs in line.

    She was also a trickster goddess who bouncing through the long grass appeared to be a black lab – but on popping out would send people into fits of mirth with her basset hound figure.
    Always in my heart.

    1. What a beautifully told story sphinx. Magical. Thank you for sharing it.
      I too have a black dog familiar who now guards me from the other side and yes, she is always in my heart.

      1. Me too. She was/is wonderful. And now I have a big white dog who is pure, unadulterated love, embodied. She even has a big black love heart marking on the end of her nose.

  26. Wish Upon a Star

    I thought all those cat pictures were leading up to something? Yes familiars.

    I have got my eye on fostering a black cat. Thanks for prompting me.

    Would you believe that shelters find it hard to adopt black cats. Muggles are scared of them.

    1. My partner (who has some 8th house and neptune energy) was shocked that people don’t like to adopt black cats, as he specifically adopted a black cat who he spoils the heck out of. It took the cat about a year to adjust to me, my son, and our rescue dog (also black) but now we are a weird little family and I trust they have our backs. Dogs and cats know when you’ve saved them but as they say they’re the ones who save us.

          1. I found a black cat starving death that approached me at my dinner table at the outdoor restaurant at this quiet hotel I stayed at in Cabo. No one would feed her. So I did. Everynight. By day 4, I had changed my flights, paid for extra nights had the hotel get her when she came back. And I brought her home where she lived like a little queen for the rest of her life. 16 more years than she was. She was a skeleton and people just kicked her away or complained to the hotel staff. She was so wonderful. And so beautiful. Pure black. Eyes as dark as the night sky.

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