This post is part of the event BookEnding Autumn, which is facilitated quarterly by Sam & Clo. This prompt in particular was developed and hosted specifically by Jamsu, so if you wish, you can check out the original post here. But the ‘official’ prompt is as follows:
If you were a witch, which magical creatures would you want as your familiar?
Before I answer this, I wanted to do a little digging. Of course I know of familiars but I really am not familiar with them (yeah, that’s right–witch humor!). So I consulted the oracle (Google) and the simplest answer I found was:
…familiar spirits (sometimes referred to simply as ‘familiars’ or ‘animal guides’) were believed to be supernatural entities that would assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic.
Historically, familiars were often small, ordinary-seeming creatures who were given common names. Reading further, I found some familiarity. In European folk tales, familiars entered the story when the protagonist is in the most need of aid–perhaps a grinning, striped Cat (a la Cheshire) or a cricket named Jiminy. Then I found connections to a couple recent reads. Relative to this is a daemon (Latin for the Ancient Greek daimon) referring to a guiding spirit. This term goes all the way back to Greek religion, mythology, and philosophy which, honestly are not my topics to date although my high school teachers loved them. What I really am driving at here is the His Dark Materials trilogy. It has been a while since I have visited this world, but I remember the daemons being connected to their humans until being physically killed. I know I have heard of/seen daemons in other books/stories but offhand I can’t remember what. Probably none as well-known as HDM. Plus, HDM has an epic TV series coming out this winter sometime and I am looking forward to it!
The other recent read that came to mind when I was researching this was The Bear and the Nightingale. Just a disclaimer: I have only read book 1 and admittedly, I didn’t enjoy it all that much. I think it was due to it being the audiobook version, I’m open to trying to read on. But anyway, the reason I thought of this book was Vasilisa’s belief and loyalty to a household diety and just basically the “old magic” in the book.
Two quick TV examples that I have watched recently which blatantly mention familiars and are super witchy, which I would recommend on this topic: Salem, which was an awesome show starring Shane West (think back to A Walk to Remember, ladies!) that is based on the Salem Witch trials and life in early Salem, Massachusetts. It is a horror show though and it gets pretty twisted at times, but if you’re looking for something to watch this October, jump on this train! The second show is, of course, Sabrina the Teenage Witch–either the New Adventures or the 90’s version. Of course Salem is her familiar. And while we’re at it, why don’t we throw Charmed in there too. I love this show and the Halliwell sisters are gifted a cat as a familiar as well.
On a final note, familiars are also said to reflect the personality. So to sum everything up I think my familiar would be a dog. More specifically, a golden retriever. Blonde, loyal, protective, friendly, curious, family-oriented, playful and fun…yep, I’m going with that.
What would your familiar take the form of? What books or movies come into your head when thinking of familiars? Share in the comments!