Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Musings on a Witches Familiar

My cat Willow resting after helping us package orders to send out from our Etsy shop!

The concept of a witches familiar is the stuff of legends, we think of the classic pointy hat wearing witch with her black cat as an example.  In the real world and in the craft of real magic, a familiar is an animal that you have a special relationship with, and it's not just about spells under a full moon, its a relationship that helps you find a connection with the animal kingdom.  It is often a favorite pet, and usually you're their favorite person as well.  Sometimes a familiar is not a physical animal, but an animal spirit, or may even be a wild animal that visits you from time to time.  Your familiar is your animal ally that reminds you of your place in the world, of your instincts that have become quiet through years of the daily grind of grocery stores, traffic, meetings and all the other trappings that make us feel disconnected from the natural world that we yearn for.  Our familiars bring us back to what is really important in our spiritual growth. 

My cat Willow is a familiar of the physical kind.  There is something very special about the bond that a person can make with an animal, it's a relationship that's all about sensing, feelings and mutual kinship.  Science has discovered for instance that people have developed the ability to understand the emotions behind animal communication, and our "pet" animals such as cats and dogs have learned the same about us.  It's something that has actually become hard wired into our brains.  In one study both pet owners and non pet owners listened to recordings of dog barks, they could tell what the situation was that the dog was in from the sounds of the bark, playful, scared, lonely, aggressive, they could recognise all the barks. 

With technology that tracks eye movement, it was also discovered that dogs are able to read a humans emotions on their faces in the same way that other humans do.  But of course none of this will amaze anyone who loves an animal, we've known it forever and so have our pets and familiars.  I recently was doing research for Mystical Cats Tarot and was looking up books about reading cats behaviors just for reference and interestingly in many of the reviews on these books many people had commented that much of the material was basic, I believe that it's because to many of us, it really is.  We've lived with these animals for so long, that we've developed a mutual language and we do understand each other to a great degree.
Connecting with the world of animals is important to our spiritual development because it makes us slow down and listen to our own animal selves.  The other day during the mundane activity of taking out the trash, the call of a male cardinal up in the top of my oak tree caught my attention.  Since one of my super secret powers is the ability to whistle a tune fairy well, I repeated the call just for fun.  Next thing I knew he called back.  So I began an conversation with this lovely red bird. 

We called back and forth for quite some time, I just stood there amazed as his call changed slightly, adding more and more repeating notes into the mix.  I struggled to keep up with the aviary jam session, he was clearly the master musician and I not even a novice, but what fun it was.  I felt honored that he would take the time to sing to me, a mere human.  And then I remembered that I was part of his kingdom, the animal kingdom, and it felt amazing to rekindle that connection.I thought about it again as I sat in my overstuffed armchair after breakfast this morning, my cat Willow resting comfortably on my lap.  The windows were all open, and the birds were enjoying their breakfast too right out the window at our bird feeders.  As I stroked her soft fur around her ears and under her chin the way she likes, she purred, delighted.  It occurred to me that it was quite amazing, this friendship.  Of all the things that cats love to do,  looking out the window at birds is one of their favorites, but at this very moment, like many others in our lives, this little animal had chosen what she wanted to do most in the world was to rest in my lap.  My heart just swelled.  That's what it's all about, and here I was, breakfast done, no music, no TV going, and where I wanted to be most at that moment was here in this chair with this little animal on my lap.  We sat there for quite awhile, just me and my little friend.  That's what it is to have a familiar, that unspoken understanding between human and an animal of another species, mutual communication, and love.  When I finally decided that the day was calling and I needed to attend to my various responsibilities that pay for cat food and litter, I pushed my back forward from the back of the chair, her cue that I'm getting up.  At this point the usually jumps down right before the lap turns into a pair of legs, but this time she didn't, she stood up and pushed back against me with the side of her whole body against my chest purring like mad as if to say, "You're not going anywhere."  "Ok, Willow."  I said, "Ten more minutes."

It's my fault Willow is the way she is, she knows she's a star!  She was the cat model for my Magic is Afoot piece.  This mug is available in our Etsy shop, Click Here 



  1. My 3 y/o rescue kitty had been at the HSMO for 6 mos when she came home with me. The first night shr snuggled in my lap bumping my hand to be petted. When she licked my fingers & looked up at me it seemed as if she was saying "what took you so long? I was waiting for you!" Never needed an adjustment period. Taliessa & Ms. Molly Cat =^^=

  2. That's when you know, what a sweet little familiar you have! :o)

  3. Mickie, remember when Grandad was sick and they came to Albuquerque for a last visit. Our cat Tip stayed with him the whole time and when he was packing to go home Tip tried to climb into his suitcase. That really tickled your Grandad.

  4. I do remember that! Grandpa always had a way with animals, I think they can sense when they are needed, Tip was a great cat!


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