The tale of Familiars stretches back over many centuries and through many cultures. Although today, a Familiar is most often accepted as an animal but the history of Familiars suggests that it could be a spirit, dwarf, fairy or other elemental being that is drawn to a particular person and can come in a variety of forms.
Familiars are common within Lore. Western European Lore describes them as Human familiars whilst Britain and Scottish Lore describes them as Divinatory Animals and Greek Lore describes them as Maleficent Animals. Within Shamanism, Animal Familiars are not a physical being at all, but a thought-form or spiritual entity. It often travels astrally, or serves as a magical guardian against those who might try to psychically attack the shaman.
During the days of the Witch Hunts, it was well believed that Familiars were sent to a witch by the devil and were, essentially, small demons that could be sent out to do a witch’s bidding. During this time, it was believed that cats (especially black cats) were the preferred vessel for such spirits but that dogs, frogs and other small creatures could be used just as well. Many innocent pets met untimely ends due to this belief.
Most recorded history of Familiars came about during the Witch Trails of England and Scotland during the 16th and 17th centuries and therefore, most of the claims that were recorded were given during a time where testimony was obtained by force. Many of the individuals tried during this time were compelled to provide statements that they did indeed have a familiar that was sent to them by the devil and that in order to summon the Familiar, the individual would need to perform some sort of devil worship.
Modern times have changed much of the outlook on Familiars. While Christians may still see Familiars as demons, Wiccans and Neo-pagans see them to be the same as the Christian concept of a guardian Angel. For most, a witch’s familiar can be their closest companion, sharing special knowledge, a deep bond and who can offer support and even healing.
Finding a Familiar
The mediation should take place in Nature. A circle should be cast and you should take a comfortable position for the mediation.
Begin your meditation by closing your eyes and relaxing your body. As you feel your body and mind reaching a relaxed state, visualise your home or garden or living space so that your Familiar will know where to find you. Then place your request for your Familiar to find you whilst holding the image of your home in your mind.
Once you have your Familiar, you are able to strengthen the bond. Each night of the waxing moon, sit with your animal facing the horizon. Stroke or pet the animal until it is relaxed. Synchronise your breathing with that of your animal (purr if it is a cat). Do this each night and by the Full Moon, you would have bonded physically and mentally.
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