10 Ways to Bond with Your Animal Familiar (Witchcraft, Paganism)

What is an animal familiar?

In European folklore, a “familiar spirit” is an animal or spirit that aided a witch in spell craft and connecting with the spirit world.  (Source.)

Modern witches adapt this traditional folklore to include specific animals that they maintain a personal, spiritual relationship with.  Typically, a modern witch’s familiar lives in or near the home.  It maybe including in spell craft or called upon for spiritual favors.

If you live the in the United States, you probably know the old stereotype that witches keep black cats.  This idea likely descends from a combination of folkloric tales about witches keeping familiars and the European fear of black cats as a bad omen.

Not to be confused with the tradition-specific totem or spirit animals of Native American tribes, familiars also sometimes refer to a kind of animal in general with which the practitioner shares certain pronounced traits.

This animal symbolizes something inherent about you.  They “shadow” something inexplicable.

In this context, a familiar usually refers to an animal in general.  Like wolves in general may share similar traits with you, rather than a specific animal in your life (like your dog).

To give you some obvious examples, a shy person might relate to turtles.   A strongly assertive person might identify with bulls.  A person who prefers living at night might feel a strong connection to bats or other nocturnal creatures.

That said, this article primarily deals with bonding with domesticated animals.

Never take a wild animal out of its habitat or try to interact with animals in wild unless under expert supervision.

Choosing your animal familiar.

Inviting a familiar into your life is a serious undertaking.

Think carefully about whether you possess the time, money and dedication to train a familiar.

Including a living creature in your spiritual practices is rewarding.

It’s also a major responsibility.   If you are in the process of choosing an animal to work with, take your practical interests into consideration first.  Your primary obligation is to provide a safe, decent quality of life for any living creature in your care.  Damaging your relationship with an animal by failing to provide for its renders any spiritual relationship pointless

Very often, an animal familiar chooses you.  Rather than actively seeking on out, try simply putting your intent out there and see what comes along.

Once you identify a good “candidate,” consider some of the following exercises to deepen your relationship.

Obviously, some of them are more appropriate for certain animals than others.  Use common sense here.

(Please note:  This article contains affiliate links for your convenience.  It’s standard industry practice and it’s really no big deal, but the FTC got their panties in a wad about it a few years ago and now we all have to bore you with super bland disclaimers about it).

1.  Try synchronizing your breath.

If possible, let your familiar settle on your chest or close enough to your body that you feel or see the rhythm of its breath.  Try slowing or speeding your own breathing to match your familiars.

This simple meditation promotes empathy and “syncs” your life energy.

2.  Experiment with energy healing.

If you work with energy healing (like Reiki), try using it to help soothe your pet.  Obviously, if he or she needs medical attention, seek it.  But working with energy healing in conjunction with traditional veterinary medicine can’t hurt, and it’s a safe way for your to practice your skill set.

3.  Let your animal familiar take you on a nature walk.

Again, this works best with dogs and cats.  If you know a safe area in nature to take your familiar off the leash, let him or her lead you on a nature walk.  You may be surprised by the adventure they take you on!

If going without a lease isn’t an option, give your familiar some slack and see where she tugs you.

4.  Use trimmings or shed in your magic.

Snake skin or the hair of a black dog are both classic, powerful ingredients in spell bags.  As long as collecting them poses no harm to the animal, these types of spell ingredients enhance your personal magic exponentially.  Especially when they come from an animal you care for.

5.  Adorn your familiar with a protection charm.

This works best for animals that wear collars.  Consider creating a protection charm for your animal to imprint your energy of goodwill in its life.  Choose gemstones or pendants with meaning to you.  Leave the charms in the moonlight or pass them through the smoke of burning rosemary periodically to charge them with protective energy.

6.  Include your familiar in moon rituals.

If you plan on casting a spell that might benefit from your familiar’s energy, then invite your familiar animal to your magical circle.  Depending on what your animal is and whether it’s practical, try opening circle and wait.  If he or she opts to join you, be flexible.

Trying to control what happens usually leaves both of your frustrated.  Open yourself to improv and follow your familiar’s lead.  You’re there to learn from them, not the other way around.

7.   Find out what sacred plants are safe.

Be extremely cautious when using sacred plants for magical or medicinal purposes.  Not all plants that are safe for humans are safe for any given animal.

But some (like catnip for cats) are well known be safe and can be excellent tools for deepening your bond.

8.  Kitchen witch your animal’s food.

If your kitchen witch skills make you a star over the cauldron, try looking up recipes for your animal.  Again, use extreme caution.  Don’t assume because a food is safe for you, it’s safe for your animal familiar.  But with some research, many domesticated animals can eat food you cook for them safely.

Put a magical twist on these recipes by chanting over the cauldron or stirring clockwise 9 times or whatever you like.

9.  Try sacred massage.

Some animals enjoy massage.  Dogs in particular have special pressure points (for example, behind the ears) that relieve stress and encourages healing.   It also helps to promote a sense of safety and security,  All of these things are crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship with your familiar.

Get a book about massage technique for animals and experiment.

10.  Charge your pet’s water.

Once a month, leave your pet’s water in the full moon light before giving it to her.

Alternatively, place a non-water-soluble crystal of appropriate associations in a glass jar with the water and leave it over night.

Bless the water for calm nerves, peaceful sleeping or psychic energy.

(Please note:  This article contains affiliate links for your convenience.  It’s standard industry practice and it’s really no big deal, but the FTC got their panties in a wad about it a few years ago and now we all have to bore you with super bland disclaimers about it).



  1. I’m looking for advice here. I have fostered some baby raccoons for about 2 months, they are ready for release in the next week or so. They have had a big impact on my choosing to travel this path, and in gratitude for this direction, I want to send them with blessing and protection. I am very new, so dont want to be too complicated.

  2. I lost my familiar nearly a year ago (my little black shelter dog). We had a bond that was immediate and like nothing I’ve experienced before with humans or other animals- it was truly on a spiritual level our souls knew each other the moment we met as if we were cut from the same cloth. I have gotten a puppy since then and am trying to bond and find even a portion of that sort of attachment with her- I will try some of these techniques. I love her but my heart feels so empty without the bond I felt with my familiar I am hoping to forage a deeper connection. Thank you for this read!

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