Four Kinds of Familiars

Solar Birth Totems *NEW*

Finding and Working with Your Animal

Animal Meanings

My Familiars

Recommended Reading

Totem Animals

Totem animals or familiars are talked about a lot in the Pagan community. What exactly is this concept? A totem or familiar is an animal that works with you in mediation, spells, rituals, daily guidence etc. The animal can be an animal that is involved in your everyday life such as your cat, dog, lizard, bird or the animal takes shape in an astral/spirit form. In this section of the Book of Shadows, I will provide articles, rituals, and othe information about these beings and how to work with them. Click on a link to the left. If you have any questions, e-mail me and I will try to answer them the best I can.

Totems or Spirit Guides- Several different cultures believe in totems or spirit guides. Some believe that we are each born with a spirit guide that stays with us the rest of our lives, who guides us down the path we were meant to tread but if we stop listening to our guide we will fall off the path. Totem beliefs vary immensely as some believe they are like spirit guides and stay with us and others believe they are only here as we need them (example: if you need courage you might receive a vision of a lion or some other courageous animal).

Power Animals- Alot of cultures believed in power animals at one time. They would believe that if they ate a piece of the animal it would in turn impart the qualities they needed from that particular animal. Native americans did not do this practice as far as I know but other primitive cultures did. Today native americans and alot of wiccans believe that by visualizing the animal or dreaming about the animal will impart those same qualities.

Animal Familiars- Early european pagans mainly those of the witchcraft religion had what are called familiars (example: the infamous black cat). Familiars are animals that the witch has formed a psychic bond with. They help in the circle by aiding in energy and make wonderful companions. The death of a familiar can be quite devastating to the witch. A common misconception about familiars is that they are an extension of the witch, they are breathing living animals with minds of their own.

It is believed that each of us is born with 9 animals who bring teachings and messages for greater
understanding and insights for our benefit throughout our lifetime. Two of those animals are permanent
and never leave us.. They are our primary totems and sometimes called Power Animals. They are not
necessarily exotic animals and we usually know them by instinct because we are especially attracted to
them throughout our lives - sometimes even dreaming about them. One walks on the left to guard and
guide the feminine side of our energies while the other walks on our right to guard and guide the
masculine characteristics. Those with a female totem on the right and a male totem on the left are born
with a special kind of energy balance and usually have very important Spirit work to do in their lifetime.
To discover the remaining 7 totems, we should read and learn as much about animals and their physical
characteristics as we can. One excellent book for this is Animal-Speak by Ted Andrews. Psychics, people
who do healing and special work with animals, and others who have a good understanding of animal
energies, should also be able to help. Those who meditate can ask for the animals to show themselves
during meditations and identify themselves as totems. The animal chooses the person, not the other way
around. Many believe that they can just choose an animal and start communicating with it.. usually ego
gets in the way at these times. The individual chooses the animal he or she believes to be the most
glamorous and powerful, rather than what is harmonious to the individual. The results are ineffectual
and often frustrating. No animal is better or worse than any other.

Every animals medicine is unque. It is always much better to be powerful in mouse medicine than to be
clumsy and ineffectual in eagle medicine. You will find your greatest sucess in the animal that comes to
you. Do keep in mind that your interactions with animal energies is not limited to those which have
"specifically" called to you. Any animal may be called on "when you are in need." If you're feeling
depressed think of Hummingbird for joy. When details are slipping through your fingers call on
meticulous Mouse. If you're having a communication difficulty ask for Dolphin's help. Butterfly helps all
those who are going through important life changes. Also keep in mind that while the attributes given to
animals in most books on the subject are usually singular, each species (to say nothing of individual
animals) has many other qualities. Squirrel, for example, is given the quality of Gathering, meaning
gathering only that which is needed. For humans, this refers not only to material possessions but to the
ability to shed old sorrows, fixations, beliefs. If you study Squirrel you will also discover that it is an
incredibly inventive animal, and one which does not know the meaning of defeat. The squirrel-proof bird
feeder has not yet been invented.

Familiars By Deva Bluewing Familiars - also called imps - were said to be given to Witches by the Devil or bought or inherited from other Witches. A Witch could have several of them. Cats were the favored forms, especially black ones. The fear that all cats were Witches' familiars was one of the primary reasons for the famous cat massacres that swept through medieval Europe. Familiars were given names like any household pet, which most of them undoubtedly were. Perhaps the best known familiar name is Pyewackett, the monicker the Witch's cat in the movie Bell, Book and Candle, and a name that dates back to Renaissance England. Pyewackett, Matthew Hopkins (the famous Witch hunter) stated, was a name "no mortal could invent." There is a scant evidence of familiars in early American Witch trials. In the Salem Trials in 1692, John Bradsheet was indicted for "inciting a dog to afflict." The dog was tried and hanged as a Witch. Some familiars were said to be Faeries. Oberon was a popular name for fairy familiars in 15th and 16th century England. Many modern Witches have animal familiars, usually cats, which are their magical helpers. Some also have dogs, birds, snakes or toads. Witches do not believe the familiars are "demons" or spirits in animal form but simply animals whose psychic attunement makes them ideal partners in magical workings. Some Witches say that it is possible to endow pets with magical powers and turn them into familiars, though others don't believe it should be done. Still others believe familiars are never "pets" (and should never be treated as such) but are animals who volunteer to work as familiars and are Karmically attracted to Witches. Witches who do not have familiars sendout psychic "calls" to draw the right animal. Familiars reputedly are sensitive to psychic vibrations and power and are welcomed partners inside the magic circle and other magical work. They also serve as psychic radar, reacting visibly to the presence of any negative or evil energy, whether it be an unseen force or a person who dabbles in the wrong kind of magic. Familiars are also given psychic protection by their Witches. Some Witches it seems also use the term familiar to describe thought-forms created magically and empowered to carry out a certain task on the astral plane. In closing, what I usually instruct in this area is that the student of magic who feels that they have found a familiar is that they should practice an exercise called "Trading Places" by Keith Harry. This exercise is simple enough to memorize and to practice, and though it was not written specifically for bonding with an animal familiar it was designed for becoming familiar with an animal, and inducing a mystical experience. I think you will readily discern its value in the acquiring of a familiar.