Sunday, December 11, 2011
The Cat Familiar
For as far back as I can remember I have loved cats. I love their funny, faerie-chasing playfulness as kittens. I love their fierce inner lions, their wisdom and their affection. I love their whole-hearted acceptance of you as Theirs. I love their mighty pride and inherent sense of superiority and dominion over less special creatures like dogs (their thoughts not mine). I love how embarassed they are when they fail to perform any act without grace. I love the way they knead their love into the very fabric of your soul with their paws and purrs. I love how they give you tiny, little nips to show just how much they love you back.
In European folklore and the folk-beliefs of the Medieval era, familiars were supernatural beings believed to aid the wise ones in their practice of magickal arts. According to the anecdotes of the time, they would appear in numerous guises, often as an animal. The purpose of familiars is to serve the young witch, providing protection as she comes into her new powers. The witch's familiar is her companion. The witch and her familiar are drawn together as if by magnet, both intuitively knowing they are meant to be together. I know exactly what this is like, with my first familiar, Lola Le Fey, my faerie baby cat.
Lola le Fey, Faemore's first familiar. Love forever.
The witch and her familiar are similar in character as both are wise, independent and astute. When the witch and her cat familiar are at work together, the magickal pull is extremely powerful and they know instinctively that it is meant to be. A bonding takes place and the two form a lifelong alliance. The cat familiar has a mysterious air about it, and has for centuries been linked to all matters occult. Cat mythos first began in ancient Egypt, where they were worshipped as the embodiment of the gods. These stories of cats soon reached Greece, Asia and the rest of Europe, where cats then became associated with witches.
I learnt almost everything about magick from talking to my cat familiars, and working with them in my magick doubled every spell's power. They taught me how generate energy intensely, as they themselves do with their concentrated purring. They taught me how absolute True Will can be. They taught me how to align and attune myself to my most natural state of being. They taught me how to create my world magickally rather than mundanely. If you tell her your secrets you can be utterly certain your cat familiar will not betray your trust. You must of course gift the favour in return.
The familiar cat is a creature of habit, and like the witch she must be given her own sacred space, where she is to be left to her own devices and her needs are to be met. She will be of great assistance to her witch as she is a powerful magician herself and can attune to nature effortlessly, and manifest a variety of spells. The cat familiar is very intuitive and her sixth sense cannot be matched. She will definitely be a lifelong friend, and as cats are magickal creatures, you will always have mystery and magick within your home and your heart for all of your days.
As soon as the witch and her familiar have chosen each other, they will then choose a magickal name for the cat. The cat familiar with her particular magickal abilities is an invaluable participant in the making of magick, and meditation, divination and devotion. She enjoys working with the energy within a sacred circle. The witch is capable of telepathically communicating with her familiar and can trained her cat to be on the look out for earthly visitors, spectres and spirits, and living people who are good, or bad, as well.
The cat familiar always travels with the witch on the back of her broomstick, and they become more bonded as time goes by. The cat from a kitten has a certain air of worldly knowledge and from young participates in the witch's spirituality, worship and ritual. Familiars should always be thanked for their assistance and given treats for the support and love they offer the witch. The cat familiar loves catnip. She talks to her witch companion and lets her know what is going on in the outside world. She also lets her witch friend know if they are any changes occurring that she should look out for as well as chase away unwanted spirits.
The Egyptian goddess Bast is part cat, and sacrifices were once offered to ensure her blessings. The remains of cats that had been mummified thousands of years ago reveal the sacred role that the cat familiar played in ancient Egyptian culture. The cat familiar can be traced back to the Egyptians who treated her as a sacred creature. Followers of the Goddess Diana also considered the cat sacred because she once assumed the form of a cat, and cats were under her special protection. In Scandinavia, Freya's chariot was drawn by cats. The Celtic goddess Cerridwen was also attended by white cats, who carried out her orders on earth.
Bast, Goddess of Cats.
Once the familiar is chosen, aside from naming it, the witch places a magickal ring of protection around the animal. The cat familiar is very loyal and serves her owner well. Witches throughout time have had cat familiars and their familiars were traditionally black. The witch and her companion familiar become very attached to each other. If you have forgotten which ingredient to use in a spell because you didn't write it down, your cat familiar will knowingly move through your herb and plant area and place her paw on the ingredient you need.
A witch and her cat familiar are spiritually-bound and have a telepathic connection. A witch's familiar always knows when they are spirits around, and has no difficulty with communing with both worlds. The witch's familiar is able to guide her between the two. In the mid 1500's cats were recognised as the archetypal familiar for all witches. It was thought that a witch was able to turn herself into a cat. When the witch's familiar grows old and dies, she is able to guide the witch from the spirit world to find the new feline friend of her bosom, and she watches over the witch and her new companion familiar.
Dori, Selene's cat familiar.
Cats have been sacred to more than one religion, and at different times and places have been considered both good and bad bringers of luck, much like my totem animal Owl, also known as Cat with wings. The Egyptian Goddess Bast was both the lion-headed and the cat-headed and attended by cats. Therefore cats were sacred and revered in Egypt. Killing one was a heinous crime, and when a household cat died mourning rites were performed for it. Cats were often found in temples and were ritually fed as well. The household cat was also allowed the share the family's food.
Faemore's present cat familiar, Pino Beans. She is is little, little, peeny scenes.
Cat amulets were produced and elaborate cat-sized sarcophagi were crafted for cats who had died and were often embalmed as humans were. Whenever we see the image of a witch on her broomstick her loyal cat companion is always close by, and when a familiar is there as a witch is working, the spells she casts are always more powerful. It is important that the personality of the cat matches the personality of the witch. A witch's familiar can be her closest companion, offering moral support, special, arcane knowledge and physical and psychic healing. Know that when you are looking for your cat familiar she will very likely see you before you see her.
Lady Faemore Lorei.
It is the familiar spirit of the place;
It judges, presides, inspires Everything in its empire;
Is it perhaps a fairy or a god?
When my eyes, drawn like a magnet, to this cat that I love …
- Charles Baudelaire, a French poet, cat fancier, and believer in familiar spirits.
Posted by K. L. Abbott at 10:17 AM