Familiars (sometimes called “imps”) aren’t just pets. A witch should have a spiritual connection with their familiar(s) and let them help in his/her magickal workings. While some beliefs suggest that they are minor “demons” sent to help a witch, many witches don’t believe that. They see them as living beings (or, occasionally, spirits) with ideal psychic attunement. Familiars are known as a witch’s helper and can range from dogs and cats to lizards and birds. Shoot, maybe even fish! A familiar doesn’t have to be a physical animal, either. It can also be an animal spirit. Some people even have dragons as familiars. Some witches believe you can give a pet magickal powers and turn them into a familiar. Other witches believe familiars aren’t pets at all, but animals who volunteer to help out witches. What do familiars do?
They are “in constant attention to witches for the purpose of carrying out spells and bewitchments.” (The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft 2: 119. Rosemary Ellen Guiley). They normally help their witch in her/his magick. Familiars are also known to give companionship and protect their witches, sometimes in turn for food, blood, love, nurturing, etc. They can visibly react to evil or negative energy towards the witch, alerting her/him.
How to identify your familiar?
Like stated above, familiars aren’t just pets. Just because you love your dog/cat dearly doesn’t always mean they are your familiar. A familiar is an animal, spirit or animal spirit/energy that has a spiritual connection to you and shows interest in your workings and/or magickal tools. “Witches who do not have familiars send out psychic “calls” to draw in the right animal.” as Guiley wrote in The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft (2: 120). Witches can also do attraction spells or divination to find their familiar. Be careful to not accidentally (or purposely) force an animal to be your familiar against it’s will. If it’s not your familiar and doesn’t want to be, it’s not your familiar. Familiars are not mandatory.