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Familiars


Guest fizzyclare1
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well, based on what i have read its animal that serves as a vessel for magic for a witch? but i find that a bit...um...unsatisfactory...see if i can find something...

 

a concise explanation from wise geek: http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-a-familiar.htm

 

 

"

In legend, a familiar or familiar spirit is a supernatural being that helps and supports a witch or magician. Traditionally, it is an animal, but some are said to be humanoid. Familiars often have special powers of their own. When witchcraft is portrayed as a type of communication or alliance with evil forces in order to gain magical powers, this being may be considered a type of demon.

The stereotypical familiar in Western culture is the black cat. Because black cats are strongly associated with witchcraft, there are a number of superstitions regarding them. One crossing a person's path is said to be a portent of doom, for example. A familiar may be nearly any animal, however, and other common forms for it to take are a dog, an owl, and a toad.

In the days of widespread persecution of witches, every witch was believed to have a familiar, and close animal companions were sometimes considered proof that a person was a witch. In addition to animals, humanoid creatures were believed to serve in this role; sometimes, they were said to look like regular people, and othertimes, they were said to be odd in appearance, having some deformity or resembling stereotypical images of demons. Legends of this period also often attribute the habit of drinking blood to familiars. They were considered at least as dangerous as witches, as they were thought to be supernatural beings that looked like normal animals and could spy or wreak havoc for their witch without being easily detected.

While Christians traditionally interpret familiars as demons, to Wiccans and Neo-Pagans, they are more like the Christian concept of a guardian angel. A witch's familiar can be his or her closest companion, offering moral support, special knowledge, and/or physical healing. Wiccans may seek one through meditation or divination, but most do not believe that they can be summoned, contrary to traditional Western legend regarding witches and black magic. Author Phillip Pullman offers an interesting take on the idea in his His Dark Materials trilogy, in which every human has a "daemon" in animal form that has parallels to various cultural interpretations of the soul."

 

...goes without saying i lean more towards the last paragraph...all this talk of demons...

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a concise explanation from wise geek: http://www.wisegeek....-a-familiar.htm

 

Ok, this is a mish-mash of concepts. let me try to separate them out...

 

In legend, a familiar or familiar spirit is a supernatural being that helps and supports a witch or magician. Traditionally, it is an animal, but some are said to be humanoid. Familiars often have special powers of their own. When witchcraft is portrayed as a type of communication or alliance with evil forces in order to gain magical powers, this being may be considered a type of demon.

 

I'm not sure "in legend" is right here. AFAIK, this is teh interpretation derived from the witchcraze period in medieval Western Europe, and tended to be given in trials. It might be reflected in the Malleus Maleficorum, but I can't recall. So, basically, it's Christian horror fantasy.

 

The stereotypical familiar in Western culture is the black cat. Because black cats are strongly associated with witchcraft, there are a number of superstitions regarding them. One crossing a person's path is said to be a portent of doom, for example. A familiar may be nearly any animal, however, and other common forms for it to take are a dog, an owl, and a toad.

 

He forgot to say that the reason cats are supposed to have nine lives, is that it was said that a witch had ten lives: one in herself and nine in her cat. ;)

 

to Wiccans and Neo-Pagans, they are more like the Christian concept of a guardian angel. A witch's familiar can be his or her closest companion, offering moral support, special knowledge, and/or physical healing.

 

I don't think anyone on this forum has every used one in this way. It's easy enough to look back using the search facility, as there was a relatively recent thread on this subject. it might have been in the pets category, thinking about it. ;) But I've never come across anyone who claimed their familiar offered them moral support or physical healing, or not as such. perhaps the author of that piece was thinking of the usual things people get from their pets, of a feeling of comfort. or perhaps I've never spoken to the right people. :lol:

 

Author Phillip Pullman offers an interesting take on the idea in his His Dark Materials trilogy, in which every human has a "daemon" in animal form that has parallels to various cultural interpretations of the soul."

 

Author Philip Pulman's 'interesting' take is based on the concept of the fetch, from Heathen cosmology, rather than the concept of the familiar. At least, looking at this definition. Perhaps someone who has read the books and knows the difference has a better take on it. :P

 

I do know that some of the witches on this forum, past and present, have sometimes used a familiar. Different people seem to put different pets to different uses, depending on the person, the animal and the relationship. AFAIK, it isn't straighforward. But I only have a fetch and not a familiar, so I can't really help.

 

The reason I asked "what is a familiar", is I wondered what you thought it was, Fizzy? Just in order to clarify what information you were seeking - or what you were seeking it about. :)

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because i dont really consider myself to be a witch, maybe a shaman, sort of, and i often wonder about the need that i have for a poochy companion. i also have a an uncanny ability to...understand dogs. but i was wondering what the role of such animal would be for someone who sometimes contacts people on the other side. (thats if there is a role).

 

i dunno, i guess what i am asking is do animals help a person contact ancestors, and i suppose other beings like um...wights deities well, anything/one really.

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I have both a cat and a dog and I would consider neither of them remotely useful in the context of familiars.

 

Personally I don't see the need for one and secondly I find my animals rather annoying during and magic. It would be fine if they chose that moment to have a little snooze but usually they're both chasing each other around.

 

I agree with what Moonhunter was aiming at with it being a christian horror fantasy. Whether there was any truth in the matter of familiars before this time I'm uncertain.

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so actually the use of a familiar to deliver spells is tricksy to say the least. so theoretically it could be possible to have a familiar and just not use it for magic...but then i suppose it would not be a familiar anymore...the mind boggles over such complexities..... :o_headscratch: :o_cat2:

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