Monday, 28 February 2011
Animal magick is the art of recognizing and working with familiars and animal spirit guides.
Animal magick shows you how to work with animals for your spiritual growth and increased magickal power. Familiars are not the stereotyped witch’s cat and cohort in crime. Real or imagined, familiars make excellent companions; they can warn you of danger, general healing energy, and love you unconditionally. If you work magick, familiars can aid in augmenting your results with their preternatural power.
Your work with your familiar/totem/guides can take on an even greater purpose, that is the remembrance and honouring of our ancestors. You can use familiars/totems/guides in meditations and magick; uncover superstitions about them, and draw associations with ancient Pagan deities. Learn to identify familiars with the descriptions of physical characteristics and magickal attributes. Use chants to invoke an animal’s greatest natural attribute. You can discover a new source of strength, wisdom and friendship in your familiar.
The word familiar in the dictionary is defined as “closely acquainted; an intimate associate or companion; a spirit often embodied in an animal and held to attend and serve or guard a person”.
To most people a familiar is a witch’s companion, a small animal that helps the witch with magick.
You may already have an actual physical familiar living in your home in the guise of a pet. Do you find yourself receiving mental messages from your familiar? This type of communication is common between people and their pet/familiar.
You may even have an astral bodied animal familiar, drawn to you by your enthusiasm for that particular creature with which it is impossible to have contact in the physical realm. Many people collect pictures or statues of a particular creature and never consciously realize they are subconsciously communicating with that creature, either as a non magick working familiar or for the magickal and spiritual powers it has.
So what is the difference between an animal totem, a familiar and an animal spirit guide?
Totems are those animals that you have had an affinity for or have seemed to have walked with you for a very long time period. They may have walked with you for many lifetimes, many years, or just have recently came into focus as you have had need of them. Your totem animal need not be limited to animals on this planet at this time, mythical creatures and extinct ones are useful totems too.
Guides are animals that come around quickly as you need help at certain times of your life and then just as quickly leave. They may linger as long as a glance or for many months. Distinguishing Guides from Totems can be difficult but not impossible. If you are needing help at the moment in your life or something happens, then the animal that has crossed your path more than likely was a guide giving you wisdom to help you along the way. You don’t choose a spirit guide, it chooses you.
Then there is animal medicine: The term medicine refers to the special powers housed in each part of creation, including the animal kingdom. By observing animals in natural surroundings and their associated behaviours, we begin to get glimpses of each creature’s medicine. This understanding in turn, helps us to connect with the animal spirit, honour it and utilize it in our witchery.
So how do you find your familiar or totem animal?
There are meditations, dreams, dancing, drumming, spells or just being particularly drawn to one animal, or seeing images of it in everyday life.
Once you find your animal you need to research it. Work to understand it. Where does it live? What does it eat? How does it act, walk, hunt, look after its young? You can expand that to cover what element it corresponds to, how does it defend itself, does it have its own legends or folklore? All these things will help you to understand your animal more and why it found you. Remember that there will be positive AND negative characteristics to any animal.
Ok what about shape shifting?
Shape shifting is a change, a way to help us become better by becoming different than ourselves. We already Shape shift everyday in many different ways to everyone we meet. We are a different person to our boss, to our coworker, a stranger, a spouse, our child. Native Americans Shape shifted to go on spiritual quests to learn answers about themselves and the world around them. So we may learn too to Shape shift to seek higher wisdom and knowledge.
Shape shifting brings us closer to our Totems. When there is a mutual comfortableness between you and your Totem or spirit guide, you can learn about many more things in the world that human eyes have forgotten to see.
So you have a totem or an animal spirit guide – but what does it mean? Each totem or spirit guide will be with you for a reason, what you need to work out and understand is why it is with you.
Say a butterfly totem came to you – the butterfly symbolizes reincarnation, magick, beauty and love. Transformation of the personality and life. Understanding where you are in the cycle of your life and using it to the fullest. Divination concerning future events that have a bearing on your cycle of life and rebirth. Relate that to your own life and situation and learn from it. The butterfly is with you to help you, assist you and guide you.
Or maybe a Griffin has joined you – seeing a Griffin is a sign of powerful new beginnings of learning how to use the psychic in a useful manner. But on the negative it is subconscious punishment for love of riches, greed or of desiring riches. Its magickal attributes are understanding the relationship between psychic energy and cosmic forces. Spiritual wisdom and enlightenment. Bringing the dark side of ourselves into submission.
What about an otter? His magickal attributes are finding inner treasures or talents; faithfulness; gaining wisdom; the ability to recover from a crisis. Be sensible, but not overly suspicious, when something or someone new enters your life. Its appearance points to a need to enjoy life rather than just endure it. Social life, friends, happiness. Guidance to uncovering talents, psychic or physical.
So once you have your totem animal, familiar and/or spirit guides is that it? Nope! Everything that is worth having takes a bit of work to keep. You need to honour your guides and make sure you stay connected with them. Apart from learning all about them as I mentioned before, you do need to reaffirm your connection occasionally. Make pictures of them, even if your art isn’t that good. Donate to wildlife charities if you have some spare cash, even small change will help. Make charms and amulets for your familiars and pets collars. Don’t ignore your spirit guides in your daily life. Take them out with you when you go anywhere, say good morning to a picture of your animal each day, put a statue on your altar, wear a pendant representing your particular animal.
In order to form a strong bond with your guide, familiar or totem mutual respect is essential. You must listen to your guide’s point of view and suggestions.
Working with animal magick take time and effort, but can be very rewarding and enlightening.