A Weirdling Bestiary: Part 1- Beasts of City and Suburbia
Some notes to start off with-
This is all a part of my personal UPG and world-view, which is a culmination of my individual experiences, upbringing, influences, and research. Although much of this personal mythology is based off of the biology and behaviors of the creatures in question, you may have different associations and feelings about these animals, and that’s totally ok.
There are some animals commonly found in cities and suburban areas which have been left out of this section (like foxes, bats, deer, rabbits, snakes, toads, and all insects) because I’ll be covering them later in other chapters.
Blue Jay- Blue jays are fierce, clever and have complex social lives. They have deep ties with oak trees, which are regarded in several cultures as the Tree of Life, the king of trees, and sacred to many gods of thunder, lightning, and sky. They are excellent communicators, both vocally and physically, and can imitate the calls of other birds. Even though they’re quite common, much of their habits remain a mystery to those who study them. The beautiful blue color for which they are known is not a true pigment, but in fact an optical effect of light scattering within the cell structure of their feathers. They are birds of magic, illusion, mystery, and complex familial ties, and are emblematic of the element air and the realm of the sky. a well as bright, lively daytime energy. For offerings, give them acorns.
Canada Goose- Geese are the mortal enemies of business people and all Suits. They travel in formation and are loyal to their mates and comrades. As such, they are good animal guides for anyone who identifies strongly as part of a group or community and those who function as a team. Goose magic is great for sticking it to The Man. As they migrate in spring and fall, they also represent transitions and cycles. Admire them from afar and stay the fuck away from their babies if you don’t want to die a very painful death.
Crow- If you are outside, it is unlikely you are out of site of a crow. Fittingly, insight and observation are among their primary associations. Crows are smart, mischievous, and extremely common. Because they’re ubiquitous pretty much everywhere, they’re a reminder of the constant presence of magic in the world.
Although each crow is very much an individual, they live in family groups and cooperate with and look out for those within their groups. At the same time, they regularly engage in bitter rivalries and battles with crows from other families. In spite of that, multiple families will come together and roost at night outside of the breeding season to socialize, network, and learn. Theirs is an entire society that exists alongside our own- both Other and familiar.
Do not take the presence of crows for granted. They are the little bits of the Other-realm that fly about by day. They are wonderful sources of magic, wisdom, and humor, and should be treated with respect. They’ll remember if you wrong them. They’ll remember those who were good to them. They are always watching. Crows are favored familiars among practitioners of the occult and any who seek to understand and manipulate reality at a higher level, as well as any interested in death magic or hedge witchery.
Duck- Although their primary elemental association is water, ducks unite the elemental realms of water, earth, and air due to their ability to move through each. Ducks represent family (particularly parent/child relationships), adaptability, cheerfulness, emotional connections with others and at times- obliviousness. If you are having difficulty adapting to change and embracing new circumstances, or if you’re having trouble with family, ducks are helpful guides. They spend much of their time floating along on streams, totally comfortable half-submerged in that state of continuous change and renewal. They can help you learn to go with the flow.
If you wish to give offerings to ducks, choose cut up grapes, corn, peas, seeds, and oats- bread is bad for them and their environment and therefor bad for you and your workings.
House Sparrow- Although wild animals, these are birds whose natural habitat is outside of, on, and around man-made environments. They are ever-present wherever there are people, and tend to be quite tame. Their energy is significant because it’s so closely tied to our own, these birds having spread with us and our civilization as we’ve advanced across the world. If you wish to gain a connection to nature by feeding a wild bird from your hands, this species is a good place to start. Due to their intrinsic and obvious ties to the home, they can be regarded as home-guardians and fitting familiars to hearth and cottage witches. House sparrows are social, enjoy singing to one another, and will flock with other types of birds, and so embody a spirit of friendship, acceptance and joy.
Hummingbird- Hummingbirds are largely solitary and territorial little creatures. They’re highly intelligent and have exceptional memories, and the largest brain-to-body ratio of any bird. They are insanely fast and are able to hover in place and maneuver almost instantaneously in any direction. They groom themselves meticulously, build exquisite, tiny nests of lichen and moss, and feed mostly on sugary nectar. They come in a dizzying array of beautiful and jewel-like colors and will fearlessly defend what’s theirs. Their energy is fiery, valiant, joyous, vibrant, individualistic, and creative. As an autistic witch, I relate strongly to hummingbirds. They make great animal guides for creative people, introverts, bold individualists, a range of people on the spectrum of neurodiversity, and anyone who wants to bring some flash and vibrancy to their lives.
Mourning Dove- Mourning doves are fairy birds. With their muted pastel and iridescent feathers, melancholy calls, and lifelong partnerships, they embody magic, romance and devotion.
They have strong ties with Aphrodite and love goddess archetypes in general, and their feathers are excellent for use in love and beauty spells. You may be blessed in love if a pair nests close to your home. If you wish to bring their energies into your life, offer them seeds, soft words, and safe places to build their nests.
Pigeon- Pigeons are place guardians, observers, and navigators. Pigeons Know The Way. Seek out locations where pigeons gather (those which are not obvious sources of food), for you can be assured there’s magic to those places. The gratitude of pigeons is a wellspring of magical power to be drawn from, so be both respectful and wary of Pigeon People. Pigeon magic is of finding things, of home, love, and attuning with the spirits of places. If you wish to bond with the spirit of your city or town, carry pigeon offerings like seeds or other morsels, and be especially kind to any one-footed pigeons, should you spot them.
Seagull- Gulls are bold, opportunistic, and equally comfortable in sky, sea, or urban sprawl.They’ll snatch food from the mouths of larger animals, grab it from the hands of humans, and are even known to steal milk from lactating seals. In spite of many unflattering nicknames, they’re graceful and adaptive creatures. They are most iconic when pictured in the liminal space of the horizon- between sea and sky. From gulls, one can learn to make the most of what they have and to take nothing for granted. They can teach us to soar above all limitations and to fly along the currents of life’s events and emotions with ease, transcending all worldly concerns. They make good animal guides for beach bums, dreamy sea witches, and cerebral literary folk.
Starling- Starlings are gregarious, social, communicative, and can imitate human speech and a variety of other sounds. They live in huge flocks and defend their nests fiercely. They represent the power of social ties and group identities and the safety in numbers. Interestingly, starlings wouldn’t even exist in North America if it weren’t for a group of Shakespeare enthusiasts who released a flock of a hundred in New York, with the desire for America to have every species of bird ever mentioned by their beloved playwright. In a way, they can be seen as representations of the power of dreams and fantasy to reshape the real world. Their feathers have a multicolored sheen and their eggs are a vivid, beautiful blue. Starlings are fitting animal guides for outgoing, sociable, extroverted, and theatrical types.
Tufted titmouse- These cute, inquisitive little mohawked birds are known to remain in their territory in pairs and small family groups throughout the year, hoard food to prepare for the harsher seasons, and to curiously look in on human habitations through windows. They make comfortable homes for themselves in tree holes, and often line their soft nests with the hair and fur of other animals. They’re another excellent bird familiar for those focused on the keeping of their hearth. Their energy can assist in making one’s house truly feel like a home, and in making sure you never lose interest in what’s going on in the world around you.
Coyote- Coyotes are monogamous and tend to mate for life. Originally from plains and deserts, they’ve since spread and are now thriving in many urban areas across North and Central America. They’re omnivorous and opportunistic feeders that eat everything from carrion to bugs to berries. Coyote has figured prominently in the mythologies of many cultures across North America, in a vast array of roles. From savior of humanity, to teacher and trickster, to coward, to inventor of death, it’s hard to find an archetypal role which coyote has not, at some point, embodied. As such, their element seems to be chaos- both harmonious and discordant. The prevailing essence of coyote within the collective unconscious is that of humor, intelligence, carnality, and expression. They have a broad array of vocalizations, many of which sound eery, otherworldly, and almost fae-like. They are ideal animal guides for waste witches, desert druids, and punks.
Opossum- Possums are the ultimate survivors. They’re omnivorous, so they can live off a broad range of foods. They have opposable thumbs and prehensile tails, and are equally at home in trees, on the ground, in burrows, and in man-made and man-altered environments. They are highly resistant to a variety of poisons and toxins as well as rabies, and manage to rid themselves of most ticks and parasites. When threatened, they play dead and exude disgusting scents, repelling threats with minimal effort. Females have bifurcated vaginas, and males have dual-pronged penises, making them interesting symbols of duality and taking different paths in life.
As they are nocturnal and often nomadic, they make good animal guides for people who travel off the beaten path in life. Mystics, drifters, and anyone living off the grid or involved in nightlife would do well to consider possum their kin. Honor opossums by spreading knowledge of how wonderful they are, as they are often the targets of human cruelty.
Raccoon- Raccoons are portal masters, the roamers in the night whose clever hands can open gateways, pick locks and catch that which lurks out of sight. They are highly tactile, mostly nocturnal, and very smart. With their masked faces, dexterous paws, tenacity, and nocturnal tendencies, they are the ideal animal guides for thieves, foragers, craftspeople, and anyone who makes use of obscurity. Their hook-shaped penis bones make powerful magical charms, especially useful for protection, potency, and invisibility. Raccoons also have ties to liminal and magical spaces. It’s easy to imagine them disappearing into a trash can on one side of town, only to emerge from a dumpster on the other side. Follow raccoons at your own risk, you might find yourself lost somewhere just sideways of here.
Rat- Rats are fantastic animal guides and companions for the misunderstood and the underestimated. Although they can and do act as vectors of disease in some environments, they are still themselves smart, adaptable, social, and caring creatures who watch out for their own, sometimes even at their own expense. They are wizards when it comes to getting into and out of tight and difficult situations, and in the lab and home are known for their ability to navigate mazes and learn tricks. Domesticated rats are often very clean and sweet animals that “laugh” when tickled. Wild rats are enterprising survivors. Rat energy is powerful when it comes to overcoming adversity, hatred, and poverty and making the most of limited resources. They love to nest and hoard, so they’re another good familiar for the homey witch, as well as the grungy witch and the standard witchy witch. Really, you can’t go wrong with rats- just never have only one.
In spite of being wonderful creatures, the negative perception of rats and the darker side of their nature makes them conceptually very useful in dark magic. One could, for instance, imagine a rat carrying one’s curse to a target like it would a parasite or disease, or use the image of a rat as a servitor in hexwork.
Skunk- Skunks are masters of alchemy and pacifist defense. They do not have to fear, nor must they take violent action to protect themselves. Look to skunks for unconventional solutions, self-assurance, calm in the face of adversity, or as animal guides if you’re a chemist or alchemist. Skunk magic is also great for use in spells meant to repel others or keep them at bay.
Squirrel- Squirrels are creatures of balance and resourcefulness. Not only do they balance themselves expertly as they run along branches and leap from tree to tree, but they balance their time between play and planning, activity and rest. Even though much of that activity is spent burying nuts they’ll never find, those same nuts will grow into trees which will one day house and feed the squirrel’s numerous decedents. Ultimately, none of their time is wasted. Squirrels are the animal guides of people who both work and play hard, and squirrel energy is useful to anyone who’s trying to adjust their work/life balance or just learn to have more fun and enjoy themselves.