This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is a “Choose Your Adventure” practice, which means going back through the topics and picking one that you haven’t covered before. As I’m new to this channel (and responding to it) this was very easy for me as there were many, many topics to choose from.
My Chosen Topic for the Week of 8/12: “Do you have a familiar? What does that mean? How do you know if an animal companion is a familiar or is familiar material?” including “The roll of pets, if any, in your practice?”
The definition of a familiar is when a spirit possesses or takes the form of an animal in order to provide spiritual/magickal assistance and guidance. To me, I feel that the primary role of a familiar is to be a guide within the liminal space, astral plane, and spirit world.
Because I feel this way about the role of a familiar, I do not believe that a living being is suited for this task, and so I do not view pets as familiars. They are companions and a deep bond can be created between a person and their pet that transcends the “keeper/pet” dynamic. Pets can even be a part of one’s practice. But, I do not think that the primary role of what a familiar is can be filled by a living animal 99.9% of the time.
That said, I do think that spirits and energy can possess or embody a physical form. So, I suppose it could be possible. I also, though, think it is extremely rare and that most who call their pets “familiars” are misusing the term.
I do have a cat.
Miss Luna has no interest in my spellcrafting, nor in the tarot. She also has no interest in my altar or hanging out in (or on) any of my sacred spaces. In fact, she is very careful to give me space and observe from a distance during any tarot time, spellcraft time, and ritual time I have. She often sits right in front of the entrance to the room I am in during these times, and from there she will watch everything very closely. Then, when I am done, she will return to be closer to me and following me around (which is her usual modus operandi).
Meanie, my previous cat, was much the same in this behavior.