In today’s modern Witchcraft, Familiars are often times thought of as being animal companions or pets. When asked if they have a Familiar, many Witches will often refer to their cat, dog, or other animal. Usually these pets have a predisposition towards Witchcraft, whether they’re always showing up at ritual time or just can’t seem to keep out of the Witchy supply cabinet. Yet, this seems to be a more modern conceptualization and I find that it presents a rather incomplete picture of Familiars.
I believe that there are, in actuality, really two types of Familiars. The first, is that which I have just described, an actual material creature. The second type, and that which will be the focus of this article, is the Familiar Spirit. As the name suggests, this type does not take an actual physical body but instead appears in spectral form. The form which the spirit takes is typically that of an animal (such as a cat, toad, rat, or crow) but it may also take human form as they did for Witches Alice Kyteler and Bessie Dunlop. There are many interpretations or theories as to what the Familiar spirit is exactly and Emma Wilby notes that traditionally Familiar Spirits were variously thought of as being imps, demons, fairies, angels, or even the Devil himself.*
According to folklore, there are a number of ways a Witch could obtain a Familiar. Probably the most prevalent method was the Witch being gifted a Familiar, usually by the Devil and typically after undergoing an initiatory experience. Other cases include Witches inheriting their Familiar from another individual, such as a family member. Elizabeth Francis, a Witch from Chelmsford, supposedly received a Familiar named Sathan from her grandmother and she in turn passed onto another Witch named Agnes Waterhouse.* In fact, according to some stories, a Witch had to successfully pass her Familiar on before she could die in peace. If the Familiar could not be given away properly, they supposedly hid in hedgerows waiting for a passing Witch to hopefully adopt them.* Additionally, there are cases of Familiars appearing of their own accord, such as the case of Essex Witch Joan Prentice who claimed that she was simply preparing herself for bed when her Familiar spontaneously appeared.* Regardless of the specific method, it is typically the Familiar that finds the Witch, not the other way around. That being said, I do believe there are certain ways to be proactive if one wishes to find a Familiar to work with.
The first step is to consider why you want a Familiar, what type of qualities would you like them to have, and what type of relationship do you want with them. For example, do you want a Familiar to act as a mentor or do you want them to be a servant to do your bidding? Once you have a clear idea, put your intentions out there and let it be known what you’re specifically looking for. One suggestion would be to petition your deity and ask them for help. The next step would be to spend time out in nature, dreaming, or journeying to the Otherworld. Keep your senses open as these are places where you will likely have your first communication with a Familiar Spirit. Once you are approached by a Spirit and begin conversing, it’s important to inform them what exactly you’re looking for in terms
Feline friends and fans know there is nothing to fear from the world’s most cuddly creatures (sorry, red pandas, corgi puppies, and fluffy bunnies, this is a cat’s world), but the persistence of the pesky belief that black cats are somehow bad luck has endured for centuries. Sure, back during the heyday of Egyptian rule (around 3000 BC), all cats were notoriously honored and worshipped—killing one was even a capital crime—but the rise of good, old-fashioned witchcraft in Europe put the kibosh on any trace of goodwill towards the inkiest of felines, and the all-black brethren are still trying to distance themselves from the bad press of a witchcraft affiliation.
Black cats pop up frighteningly frequently in all sorts of culturally based bits of folklore, and though much of their mythos is actually of the positive variety, Western tradition has so maligned the critters that black cats as bad luck have become something of a given in various circles (at least, that’s what it looks like once Halloween decorations start popping up, “scaredy cats” and all).
The Middle Ages
It seems that the association between bad luck and black cats dates all the way back to the middle of the fourteenth century. It’s not known exactly how and why cats became associated with the Devil in the Middle Ages, but the belief was so persistent that they were all but exterminated during the Black Death pandemic around 1348 CE. (Pause to cry.) Ironically, killing off the cats only worsened the plague, which was often spread via rodents, which all those dearly departed cats could have helped kill. Oopsie!
Scottish folklore includes a fairy known as the Cat Sith, a giant black cat (with a small white spot on his chest) who was believed to have the ability to steal a dead person’s soul before the gods could claim it. That belief led to the creation of night-and-day watches called the “Late Wake” to guard bodies just before burial. The Scottish also employed such tried and true methods as “using catnip” and “jumping around a lot” to scare off potential Cat Sith soul-stealers. (Some things never change, even when you’re dealing with possibly fairy-infused felines.)
The Age of Witchcraft
Blame black magic. As chatter about nefarious witchcraft began to spread around Europe in the sixteenth century, cats (particularly black ones) found themselves tangled up in the hunt, simply because many presumed witches had taken in alley cats as companions. Somehow, the concept of “companion” turned into “familiar,” and the belief that witches could turn themselves into their (typically black) cat companions became
The shocking number of animal cruelty cases reported every day is just the tip of the iceberg—most cases are never reported. Unlike violent crimes against people, cases of animal abuse are not compiled by state or federal agencies, making it difficult to calculate just how common they are. However, we can use the information that is available to try to understand and prevent cases of abuse.
Who abuses animals?
Cruelty and neglect cross all social and economic boundaries and media reports suggest that animal abuse is common in both rural and urban areas.
Intentional cruelty to animals is strongly correlated with other crimes, including violence against people.
Hoarding behavior often victimizes animals. Sufferers of a hoarding disorder may impose severe neglect on animals by housing far more than they are able to adequately take care of. Serious animal neglect (such as hoarding) is often an indicator of people in need of social or mental health services.
Surveys suggest that those who intentionally abuse animals are predominantly men under 30, while those involved in animal hoarding are more likely to be women over 60.
Most common victims
The animals whose abuse is most often reported are dogs, cats, horses and livestock. Undercover investigations have revealed that animal abuse abounds in the factory farm industry. But because of the weak protections afforded to livestock under state cruelty laws, only the most shocking cases are reported, and few are ever prosecuted.
Dogfighting, cockfighting and other forms of organized animal cruelty go hand in hand with other crimes, and continues in many areas of the United States due to public corruption.
The HSUS documented uniformed police officers at a cockfighting pit in Kentucky.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has prosecuted multiple cases where drug cartels were running narcotics through cockfighting and dogfighting operations.
Dozens of homicides have occurred at cockfights and dogfights.
The HSUS’s investigative team combats complacent public officials and has worked with the FBI on public corruption cases in Tennessee and Virginia. In both instances, law enforcement officers were indicted and convicted.
Correlation with domestic violence
Data on domestic violence and child abuse cases reveal that a staggering number of animals are targeted by those who abuse their children or spouses.
Looking at online menus for a restaurant to take a visiting friend, I read “humane meat” and had to do a double-take. This bizarre concept, already seen on labels in upscale grocery stores, is invading eateries so that anyone who wishes to order the chicken can feel sort of OK or even really good about it. What are we thinking? That the animals were blown away in the middle of the night while dreaming sweet dreams after a life of comfy straw and the sun on their backs in lush green meadows, like in the fantasy cheese commercials that PETA sued to have removed from the airways, the ones that failed to show the real misery and muck in which California’s dairy cows languish until the truck comes to take them to you-know-where? Or maybe you don’t know where.
One hates to be absolute, but in my view, there is no such thing as humane meat. Perhaps if we were being asked to consider roadkill, which at least would not be cruelly raised or even killed by us (someone else’s non-commissioned vehicle doesn’t count) if we scraped it up off the tarmac and ate it, but that’s not what we are being asked to consider. Rather, it is being suggested that we actually find it acceptable to eat the flesh of animals who were very much alive, had friends and family — or, more likely, were deprived of them — and went through enormous trauma despite some small courtesies, such as perhaps 2 inches of additional space in their jam-packed prison cells. Yes, kicking the dog six times a week instead of seven is marginally better, but that doesn’t mean that we should go around suggesting that people kick the dog, just not as often, does it?
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Calling this sad flesh “humane” is like calling Britney Spears an opera singer. Yes, “Baby One More Time” may be easier on the ear than fingers on a blackboard, but it’s hardly Wagner’s “Ring Cycle,” is it? I could go along with SLCBSU, or “slightly less cruel but still unacceptable,” meat, but it’s definitely still not humane by a long shot.
There’s nothing humane about the flesh of animals who have had one or two or even three improvements made in their singularly rotten lives on today’s factory farms. Perhaps they are allowed outside into a patch of mud if they can fight their way out through the 10,000 other hens competing to get through the hatchway. Perhaps they are allowed to share a box in which to lay their eggs. Perhaps they are not kept in iron maidens or sow stalls in which they can never turn around. But the rest of their lot in life and the manner in which they are otherwise treated outside these reductions in abysmal treatment are still an abomination.
By being asked to support meat from living beings who are marginally less cruelly treated, we are being encouraged to support animal breeders, the people who bring our fellow animals into this world for the sole purpose of putting them through the wringer — causing them stress, trauma and pain — and then, because we’ll pay for those body parts, pronouncing, “Off with their heads!” In asking us to endorse humane meat, we are also being asked to endorse artificial insemination (a hideously terrifying procedure carried out on what farmers themselves call “rape racks”) and to support mutilations such as castration, dewattling, decombing, and ear-punching — all without painkillers. Being asked to support humane meat means being asked to support the suffering of animals in transport, to approve of treatment that causes them palpable fear, their bodies shaking and their eyes wide as saucers, as they are slung by their legs into crates that are slammed onto the back of a truck. And we are being asked to find acceptable and humane their experience of barreling down the highway in the freezing cold and sweltering heat. How can we accept any of that if we are against cruelty to animals? It’s simple — we can’t.
By being asked to endorse this grossly misnamed “humane meat,” we are being asked to endorse the ways in which the animals are killed, the final moments that culminate in the fear and the stench of the slaughterhouse. For most meat is obtained from the slaughterhouse, a place of blood and offal and struggles and screams. If that is so humane, why don’t we take the kids and make a day of it? Because it isn’t humane, that’s why.
All of us in society are supposed to believe that cruelty to animals is wrong and that it is a good thing to prevent needless suffering. So if that is true, how can meat be acceptable under any but the most extraordinary circumstances, such as perhaps roasting the bird who died flying into a window? The pig or hen’s misery
great tit clutch can be anything from five to 11 eggs, with the female doing all the incubation.
The cock helps the female with feeding the brood: the chicks usually leave the nest around 20 days after hatching.
Though great tits living in oakwoods rarely have a second brood, it’s not uncommon for them to do so in pinewoods.
Most individuals are sedentary, rarely moving far from where they hatched, but there is a tendency for them to move more in years when the beech crop fails.
It is becoming increasingly rare for British-ringed great tits to be recovered abroad. This is thought to be because of the increase in the amount of food available in gardens.
The most widespread of all the species of tit, it is found across almost all of Europe and east to Japan and south to Indonesia. It is also found in North Africa.
Though widely distrubuted throughout the British Isles, the great tit is a rarity in the Hebrides and Shetlands.
There are no fewer than 30 different races of great tit, many of which are predominately grey and black and lack the bright yellow of European birds.
Britain’s population of around 2 million pairs puts it in 8th place in Europe. Germany has the most: an estimated 8 million pairs.
The great tit owes much of its success to its adaptability, while increasing numbers in Britain may well be because it is an enthusiastic user of garden feeding stations.
Because of its wide range and the fact that it often lives in close proximity to man, it is one of the most intensely studied of all birds.
The readiness of great tits to use nest boxes is one of the reasons they are such popular birds to study.
The longest running study started in Wytham Wood near Oxford in the 1930s and continues to this day. The university manages it.
The male’s distinctive double-note song is one of the most familiar sounds of spring.
There are, however, a huge number of variations of the song, and a typical cock great tit will use around 40 variations.
If you hear a bird song that you can’t identify, then there’s a good chance it will be a great tit.
It has been found that the individual birds with the greatest repertoire of songs enjoy the most success with the girls.
Many old country names for this species reflect its song. One of the best is sharp-saw, from Norfolk.
The most successful and dominant cocks tend to have the thickest black stripes down the center of the underparts.
In the 1960s, when sparrowhawk numbers had been decimated by pesticide poisoning, the most dominant great tits were also the heaviest. However, these fatter birds are the most vulnerable to sparrowhawks, so once the latter’s population recovered, the dominant males lost their excess weight.
Great tits invariably nest in holes, but here they can be remarkably inventive, often using manmade sites such as post boxes.
New puppy visits have to be one of my favorite appointments in veterinary medicine. Adorable puppies, excited owners, so many opportunities to lay the groundwork for a long and happy life together. We cover lots of topics: vaccinations, deworming schedules, training, nutrition. During the first visit, one of the most common questions I get with puppies is, “When should my pet be spayed or neutered?”
For a very long time, veterinary medicine offered a fairly standard response: Six months. But why is that? Is it truly in every pet’s best interests to be desexed, and if so, why this particular age? Let’s unpack this very important topic so that you understand the factors we consider when we give you our recommendation for spays and neuters.
Understand Exactly What a Spay or Neuter Entails
A spay, known in veterinary parlance as ovariohysterectomy, is the surgical removal of both the ovaries and the uterus in female dogs. While ovariectomies (removal of the ovaries, leaving the uterus) are becoming more common in other parts of the world, the complete ovariohysterectomy is still the main procedure taught and performed in the United States. In the dog, the ovaries are up near the kidneys, and the y-shaped uterus extends from both ovaries down to the cervix. An ovariohysterectomy is a major abdominal surgery that carries with it, like all surgeries, risk and benefit.
A neuter procedure, or castration, removes the testicles from a male dog. Unless the dog has a retained testicle (a condition known as cryptorchidism), a neuter procedure does not enter the abdominal cavity. While still a major surgery, it is not as complex as a spay in a healthy, normal male dog.
The Size of the Pet Matters
A main reason veterinarians recommend a spay at six months as opposed to six weeks is concern for anesthesia. Very small pets can be more of a challenge in terms of temperature regulation and anesthetic safety, though with today’s advanced protocols, we can very safely and successfully anesthetize even tiny pediatric patients. In a shelter environment, where highly trained and experienced staff perform thousands of pediatric spays and neuters a year, it is not uncommon to perform these procedures in pets closer to
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