Mark Green's Atheopaganism Blog

Living an Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science

“Familiar Spirits”

Something light for a Wednesday…

Wikipedia: “In European folklore and folk-belief of the Medieval and Early Modern periods, familiar spirits (sometimes referred to simply as “familiars” or “animal guides“) were believed to be supernatural entities that would assist witches and cunning folks in their practice of magic. According to the records of the time, they would appear in numerous guises, often as an animal…”

If there is one thing that folklore seems to have gotten right about witches and pagans, it is that we like our animals. In some cases, LOTS of animals.

And why not? Having animals can ease depression, reduce sense of loneliness, lower blood pressure and even reduce the chance of stroke or heart attack (study sources on the last page).

The handsome girl above is Miri, the Very Soft Cat. She is named for a medieval song, “Miri It Is Wel Sumer Il Laugh With Fugheles Songe”, or “merry it is while summer laughs with birds’ song”.

Miri, like most cats, has an unerring sense of where attention is being paid, and makes a beeline to that spot. Typing? Cat wants to be on the keyboard. Ritualing? Cat wants to settle down right in the middle of any Focus I might create for my ritual work.

It’s just a thing. Like a box in the middle of the floor is apparently irresistible. I don’t claim to understand it.

Despite these near-universalities (and a brain the size of a walnut), each such creature has its own unique personality. They are individuals, and we love them for their idiosyncrasies.

Despite the not-so-occasional annoyance, the presence of M. the V.S.C. in my life is an unmitigated positive. There is something marvelous—and a little weird, when you think about it—about having a little animal that slinks about the house and makes itself a part of our household. And her affection, sparingly doled out as it is, adds to my life tremendously.

I think it speaks well of us Pagans, that so many of us have these “familiar spirits”. It speaks to our ability to give and receive love, which is the most potent form of magic there is.

What’s the most interesting thing about your “familiar spirits”?



  1. My relationships with animals teach my mind to be more flexible, and increases my awareness, much in the way being able to speak and think in multiple languages does. This has helped me form deeper connections with all of the natural world. Those interconnections are very nurturing, just like you describe with your Miri.
    My cats are Chloe and Django, but I have lots of friends. Some have feet, others have paws, wings, talons, scales, leaves, roots, ….

  2. I have been luck enough to spend three years now with a wonderful gerbil called Loki (he had a brother called Thor who passed away) and he is always fascinated whenever I do ritual or meditation, he comes right up to the door of his gerbilarium and sniffs at me. He also loves being outdoors, particularly when the breeze brings interesting smells. He’s totally a Pagan at heart!

  3. Being unable to turn a stray away, I ended up with a small family of cats. Every one of them came and sat by my ritual fire. When I was finished ritual, they took turns sitting in my lap. I don’t know if it helped my powers any but they were always a comfort.

  4. Does your site have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an email. I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it develop over time.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.