In my opinion most spiritually inclined people share a love of animals. Since we are looking at familiars I will discuss this Wiccan terms. Wiccans especially study the significance of animals that cross their paths everyday to ascertain what message or suggestion is being given. Wiccans honor all animals as Goddess's creatures and respect them and their characteristics. Seen as harbingers of the Goddess, noting animals that appear is looked at as receiving guidance. I include these events within what I call “sign posts”. Like following a map that has a landmark to indicate if we are the right path, animal appearances in everyday life and during Dreamtime can help us discover if we are on a good path for us or not as well as help in decision making. Native American beliefs, practices and shamanism are the most identified with animal harbingers. Although I also practice this type of observance this is different than having a familiar. There is a difference between having a animal spirit guide and a familiar. An animal spirit guide works with us in Dreamtime, during meditation and help us learn about our place on our path and in live (The Good Red Road). A familiar is a flesh and blood, living, breathing animal endowed with mystical prowess and powers.

According to Webster's dictionary among the definitions of “familiar” are the following:

“ who is often seen and well known; especially : an intimate associate or companion.”
“A spirit often embodied in an animal and held to attend and serve or guard a person...” “To be acquainted with something...”

These attributes all describe an animal familiar.

A familiar can be any animal of any type. It can be a bird, a reptile, a dog, cat, horse and so on and so forth. These are powerfully advanced animal spirits that have opted to assist with magical workings of any kind, even with prayer.

They have reincarnated themselves many times and, devoted to Goddess, choose to serve her students and priestesses. Their powers assist in any number of ways. Sometimes they simply comfort when the owner is upset or sad, or amuse to elevate the owner’s spirits. But they often are VERY ACTIVE during magical ritual and practice.

I recently lost my familiar, Tyr! It has left an empty place in my heart but he was amazing! It did not matter if I was opening a book to pray to an archangel or merely lighting a devotional candle, he came running from wherever he was and jumped up on the table or where I was sitting. He often sat on my prayer books, my Grimoires and Books of Shadow! He was quite amazing. Often animals avoid flame. He would always walk around my lit candles and cauldron and around smoking incense. He always had to sample offerings to Goddess from honey to wine to baked cakes he simply had to give his approval each and every time. He always remained until my prayers or rituals were done and then he would just leave and go back to wherever he was before.

Other animals are conduits of communication. My daughter recently adopted a new dog. I knew right away this dog was a familiar and I told my daughter that she is a link between the “here” and “there” and to speak aloud when praying or working so that this dog can facilitate this communication and help send energy outward more efficiently.

On the other hand I had an uncle whose dog would, as the Spanish say “take on afflictions” my uncle was supposed to get as a result of powerful magic done against him until it passed. Then the dog would be fine.

There is so set way to determine whether or not your pet is a familiar but one good indicator is that very subtle but sure feeling that there is something especially unique about the animal. I have noticed that they all seem to be calm, seem dreamy eyed in some way but the best way to be sure is to simply include them in your work and prayers to find out.

Familiars are not exactly like other pets. They are with someone to help and do service with that person. To not use the familiar will frustrate the animal for they, like humans have elected to have a life purpose. It is a pet yet soul relationship that develops over time because each of you is here to do Goddess's work in service.

Author's Bio: 

Cate Cavanagh is a published poet and author (GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT AND HER GODMOTHER), syndicated columnist in various magical e zines as well as a print political columnist in New York and pod caster on Here she discusses her school of metaphysics QUANTUM SPIRITUALITY, The Science of Change (this program is copyrighted.)
As International Poet of Merit honoree for 2001, and elected poet for "The Best Poets of the Millennium" and "The Best Poets of 2000" her poetry has been widely published. Cate is a featured author for CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL-WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE CAT, a screenplay writer and snark columnist at:
A practicing Witch Cate also offers diverse magical and psychic services and is a creative supernatural and occult specialist for TV and screen please visit
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