I have a familiar spirit. I hesitate to share too much about him because it’s a very personal relationship, but there are things I can say. Let’s call him Agrippa.
Agrippa first came to me in response to a specific call for a familiar. It was eight years ago. I’ve always loved the diverse lists of spirits given in the medieval grimoires, but I never liked the way those texts treat them. I decided I would get a more loyal and faithful familiar if I skipped the forcible summons or the bonded servitude. Instead I wanted a freewill volunteer, a sincere companion.
This means I didn’t use the layers of protective precautions that some magicians would use. I’m confident in my ability to protect myself. This is a hallmark of how I do magic. I don’t live in fear of the spirits around me because I don’t treat them like dirt. (At the same time I tolerate exactly zero troublemaking. Some magicians go on and on about how troublesome their spirits are, but I would just kick those spirits out.)
I lit a special candle and put out the call. Many spirits showed up, but finding a familiar is like meeting a good friend. The first time you hang out you’ll know that you’re in for many good times together. That was how I felt toward Agrippa. It’s chemistry.
This brings me to the big question: why does someone want a familiar? It’s like asking why you’d want a friend, or why you’d want to date. A familiar knows what’s on your mind and agrees with what you want to accomplish in life. They’re relentless allies.
On a typical day, when I wake up in the morning I immediately feel the presence of Agrippa. Agrippa appears in an animal-like shape, and typically sleeps on my bed. When I say “appears” I don’t mean this literally. You shouldn’t see spirits visually like people and cars. It’s more of a feeling in the chest or a glimpse in the mind.
I make a point of making an offering to Agrippa every day. Offerings to spirits are a sign of respect. It shows that you’re willing to give as well as receive. Of course, Agrippa won’t starve if I neglect this. He has no body to feed, he’s a spirit. But he really enjoys offerings of food.
Agrippa is a little funny. He used to always want offerings of chocolate. I don’t usually have any to give. Recently I had a banana and I got a strong urge to place the peel on my shrine for Agrippa. I hesitated; was it just my imagination? Normally we never offer garbage to our spirits (would you offer a banana peel to a guest?) but Agrippa got really excited about it. Now I offer one almost daily. He takes so much delight in it, but I shake my head and laugh at him. I give him a hard time because it’s such a ridiculous thing to want.
Throughout much of the day I’m not aware of Agrippa at all. If you work in a crowded office you forget about the guy in the next cube until he clears his throat. Agrippa will get my attention if he needs to warn me about something, or if he gets bored. He likes it when I do magic rituals and he wants to do them basically all the time. I get the feeling we could enchant around the clock and I’d drop over of exhaustion before he got sick of it.
The other time I feel him strongly is if I’m out and about. I go walking and he’ll range out ahead of me, sometimes helping me choose the right trail.
Some of the other benefits of our relationship are:
+ He’s basically a nonstop, walking protection charm
+ He boosts and intensifies my intuition
+ He helps me make decisions
+ I learn new magical techniques by working with him
+ He’s good company
The best part of a given day with Agrippa is at night. I suppose spirits don’t need to sleep but he curls up with me anyway. When I lay down to go to sleep I can almost tangibly feel his weight and warmth on me. It’s a peaceful way to close your eyes.
Do you have a familiar? What’s yours like? Post a comment and let us know, or stick around for the next installment and I’ll talk about the process of actually getting a familiar (step one: protection).
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