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European folklore of the Mediaeval period believed that familiars, were supernatural entities that were believed to assist witches in their magick.Familiars often have special powers of their own.

 A familiar may be nearly any animal.They would appear in many different of forms. Common forms for a familiar to take are a cat, a dog, an owl, and a toad. Black cats are strongly associated with witchcraft, there are a number of superstitions regarding them.

 Every witch in anicient times, were believed to have a familiar, having animals as a companion were considered proof that a person was a witch. In addition to animals, humanoid creatures were believed to serve as familiars; these familiars looked like regular people,they were said to be odd in appearance having some deformity or resembling a demon with horns on its head and hoofs as feet. Some even claim that their familiars were a ghost, a deceased family member.Some believe that their familiar is an ancient one ( an elder priest or priestess from a ancient time).Some also believe that these Ancient Ones are their guardians,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.



Witches and familiars, especially the cat, have long been associated. The similarities between the two are numerous, the strongest being resourcefulness and independence. Regardless of gender, both are called "she". Both have also enjoyed a long history of being deified and maligned in many cultures. Not every cat is a candidate for a familiar and not all witches like cats. There are those times, though, when a witch meets a cat and the magick is so strong the two definitely belong together. Bonding instantly is magickal, however, the relationship must grow with love and respect. It is well known that cats see very well in the dark. Their eyes reflect light which enables them to get a double dose of the available light. A cat can alert you to the presence of another human, animal or bird in the dark. There are rituals to strengthen this psychic bond.

Here, from an eighteenth century Book of Shadows, are instructions for the training of the cat to occult use:

"To be performed every evening, at the same time, in the same place....Adapt the cat to sit close by you, facing in the same direction you face which shall be the place where the moon will rise. Stroke gently but firmly with love in your hands until its purrs and your breathing are heard as one sound. Now you and the cat possess the same will, your eyes will see as its eyes see, and your thoughts will travel together. The time has come to work spells and cast enchantments for power is doubled through the agency of your familiar." Witches All, Grosset & Dunlap, 1977

Cats can be finicky. They also adapt, though they may not like the changes. So if you are a first-time cat friend here are some tips to aid you in your new friendship:

• Cat likes her food served in the same place and preferably at the same time each day.

• Prepare a comfortable resting area for Cat using a box or basket with a pillow or blanket tucked inside. Mint tucked under the bedding helps deter fleas and ticks.

• Cat is very fussy about being clean and will lick her coat many times a day. The fur accumulates in her intestines and creates hairballs which can make her ill. So brush Cat often.

• If you place a collar on Cat, be certain it is expandable. If the collar gets caught on something, Cat could choke. With an expandable collar, she can slip out easily.

• Cat will eat meat. Loves it. She needs other nutrients, however. So choose a good quality canned food and dry food to supplement her diet. Always keep a bowl of fresh water available to her. Watch her for she can easily become a Fat Cat.

• Cat does not like being followed. She will investigate any new premises until she feels comfortable that it's safe.

• Cat will have at least three names and one is her secret. Sound familiar?

• If Cat lives indoors either provide a Cat Door for easy access to the outdoors or a kitty litter box that's always in the same place. The litter box must be emptied about every day to keep her and you happy. Another indoor cat must is a scratching post or your furniture will be her target.

• Last but definitely not least - every once in a while Cat loves a little catnip to roll in and chew. Fresh from your garden is perfection. Dried will do.




Dogs, too, aside from being man's best friend, have journeyed with the Gods and are wonderful familiars. The Goddess, Artemis often traveled with a hound at her side. Although not as finicky as Cat, Dog is protective and loving and giving. Unlike Cat, however, Dog comes in all sizes - small, large and XL.

• Dog's rest area needs to be comfortable and large enough for his size. If he doesn't mind, the mint will work here, too.

• Brush, brush, brush. Dog will always be your friend. Also check for ticks, fleas and other problems

• Dog also appreciates something to chew. I suggest something other than your shoes or table legs.

• Dog needs exercise so plan to walk Dog everyday or allow him to romp in an enclosed yard. A Dog door should come with the yard.

• Dog's diet is important. He'll eat most anything and that's the problem. Choose healthy dog food and treats to keep him happy.

• Identifying collars are slowly being taken over by tattoos these days. You'll need one for a leash if you walk Dog.

• Dog is a devoted and lifelong friend. Treat him like one.



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The information on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice.  No responsibility is assumed by the author(s) of this information or the owner(s) of this site.

Bear in mind "A Modern Herbal" was written with the conventional wisdom of the early 1900's. This should be taken into account as some of the information may now be considered inaccurate, or not in accordance with modern medicine.