Familiars are another perfect thing for me to talk about while I’m visiting my family’s farm in Illinois this week. Before I ever knew that I was Pagan, I had a love for animals and even had multiple familiars growing up on the farm. Familiars aren’t always the stereotypical black cat or raven. They are animals that you have a personal connection with that help connect you to the spirit world. They are counterparts in magic lives. They are our protectors in this world and in the other worlds. These animals are family, they have souls, and can even be a former kindred spirit from a previous life.
My first familiar in this life was a beautiful Brindle Boxer named Ginger. My parents got her when my mom was a few months pregnant with me. Ginger was constantly by my side watching over me or giving me kisses while I was rocking myself in the infant-to-toddler rocker on the floor. Being an only child the whole time Ginger was alive we formed a tight bond. She would be my partner in crime, companion on the farm, and playmate in our cabin by the Mississippi river for the first five year of my life. Ginger was my first familiar and acted as a protector, her death would mark the first new era in my little life, the dawning of becoming a sibling of two Irish twins, my brothers born 18 months apart.
My next familiar was a tomcat named Nickey. He was a huge barn cat with large patches of yellow tiger on white. He came to the farm looking for food and found me feeding our barn cats and livestock. The first few months Nickey was on the farm no one could touch him and me being the animal tamer, I was determined to pet him and eventually hold him.
I bribed him with food and finally he let me pet him while he was eating. The next time I saw him I bribed him with milk and he let me pick him up. After that Nickey and I were inseparable I’d bring him in the house and get in trouble if he got past the kitchen. We’d play outside on the large round bales of hay stacked neatly in a line. In the summer we’d layout on those bales and suntan ourselves. We’d go on adventures in the timber for hours. He was my familiar that taught me the excitement and necessity of travel and adventure. From time to time Nickey would disappear for months and then wander back to the farm looking for me. Mom always said he was out catting. Eventually after more than 6 years of coming and going on our farm he never returned. I always looked for him even when I got into high school. I felt like apart of me was missing when he was gone.
Just after Nickey showed up on the farm our family got a new dog, a lovely Faun colored Boxer German Shepherd mix named Molly. I think dad was the one that named her, I can still remember going to pick her up and then being in charge of holding and calming the little puppy on the car ride home back to the farm. I was 8 1/2 and both of my brothers were starting to get into their terrible twos. Molly and Nickey would be my best friends for years to come. The three of us would play together and whine when we were separated. Molly was the first animal that I knew was my familiar.
In high school I discovered a love for any occult studies and towards the end of my senior year I discovered Paganism and became intrigued. I found out through pastlife regression that I had kindred spirits around me at the time. After diving into pastlives I was able to recognize their presence in my current life. I felt like I had come home after a long journey, everything became clearer.
I recognized Molly to be part of my other half. The little bit of my soulmate had been beside me while I was growing up watching over me, protecting me and offering me companionship. When I realized this molly was old with white muzzle, she was nearly 11 years old. I remember rushing home to her to hug her and seeing a sparkle in her eyes because she knew that I had just realized who she was.
Not long after that I was in my first semester of college, Molly was sick and wouldn’t eat. It broke my heart to know she was dying and I couldn’t be by her side. I was practicing Astral Projection at the time just so I could try and be with her. My mom called me on day to tell me that Molly had died and I fell into a deep depression, I wouldn’t eat much, all I would do was sleep, my grades suffered and I fell apart. Its been over ten years and my heart still breaks when I think about Molly. I have no control over the tears, I had to stop five times while I wrote these last two paragraphs. I still feel her around me and see her when I close my eyes.
The last animal that I knew was my familiar was also alive when Molly was with me. She was a gray tiger puss cat that we got in a box of kittens at the flea market in Iowa. Her name was Smokey. This cat and Molly were best friends after Nickey disappeared. Smokey was the holy terror of the litter of kittens and would continue to be well into her old age. Smokey taught me to be feisty and never back down in the spirit world or in the real world. She loved our family and became the only indoor outdoor cat that was allowed to sleep inside at night. She even had the habit of meowing at the backdoor when she had to go to the bathroom, what a considerate little kitty. Smokey died in a snow storm after I had moved to Michigan. It was never the same coming home after that. All of my familiars were gone.
Currently I have two maincoon kitties in Michigan. They aren’t my familiars but they do miss me. So far since I’ve been away I get daily updates from my partner back home saying that they are just sitting by the door waiting for me to come back. I have a feeling that I wont have another familiar for a long time, maybe not ever again. But that’s ok with me. I’ve already had four wonderful pets that have been my familiars and taught me the lessons of life through their eyes and paws.
If you don’t have a familiar don’t worry. I know many Pagans that have never had familiars. Also, not every pet you have is a familiar. We had two dogs in between Ginger and Molly and numerous barn cats and other animals on the farm. I loved them all and had no idea that some of them were familiars until I looked back on my life. Love your pets, familiar or not they will always teach you amazing lessons with their little paws.