A Witch’s Familiar


I have a little black dog I found years and years ago. He’s old now, but ever since I found him he’s been my little shadow. Funny thing is immediately after finding him I said “This is my familiar!” This little guy has been a great comfort and a great little protector. I have a weird connection with crows as well. During the most trying moments of my life, during loss of loved ones, or during serious sickness I’ve found crows outside of my window or outside of my door. It’s as if they were there to tell me that everything was going to turn out alright, and it has. So, each time I see a crow it’s a sign of comfort for me, and maybe, in a way, these crows and my little dog are my familiars.


Traditionally, a familiar is thought to be an animal spirit that helps protect a witch. They appear as various animals – cats, dogs, goats, rabbits, owls, snakes, crows, frogs, ravens and more. During some witchcraft trials any animal, even a fly, could be assumed a demonic familiar. It was Christian belief systems that denounced familiars as agents of the devil.


A verse in the Bible even makes mention of a familiar. Leviticus 19:31 reads “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.” What was unfortunate about this is that during the witch trials many suspected witches who were coincidentally animal lovers were condemned to death. Their love of animals, in some ways, solidified authorities’ belief that they were witches. There are even cases of animals being put to trial, and being found guilty of being a witch.


William Shakespeare makes mention of familiars in Henry VI, Part II “Away with him! He has a familiar under his tongue (Act 4, scene 7).


So, next time you look your dog or cat in the eye or notice a peculiar bird following you along they’re probably there to protect you.



Categories: Blog

Cynthia Pelayo

Cynthia (cina) Pelayo is the author of short story collection Loteria and the young adult horror novel Santa Muerte published by Post Mortem Press. Her short stories and poems have appeared in DM, Weird Year, Flashes in the Dark, SNM Horror Magazine, Seedpod, Static Movement, and more. Pelayo is the Publisher/Gravedigger of Burial Day Books and is a member of the Horror Writers Association. She is currently at work on two novels and a series of short stories and poems. You can find her on Twitter at @cinapelayo or at cinapelayo.com