Definitions for familiar spirit
This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word familiar spirit
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
Ref: familiar (def. 9). 9
Origin of familiar spirit:
familiar, familiar spirit(noun)
a spirit (usually in animal form) that acts as an assistant to a witch or wizard
In European folklore and folk-belief of the Medieval and Early Modern periods, familiar spirits were supernatural entities believed to assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic. According to the records of the time, they would appear in numerous guises, often as an animal, but also at times as a human or humanoid figure, and were described as "clearly defined, three-dimensional… forms, vivid with colour and animated with movement and sound" by those alleging to have come into contact with them, unlike later descriptions of ghosts with their "smoky, undefined form[s]". When they served witches, they were often thought to be malevolent, while when working for cunning-folk they were often thought of as benevolent. The former were often categorised as demons, while the latter were more commonly thought of and described as fairies. The main purpose of familiars is to serve the witch or young witch, providing protection for him/her as they come into their new powers. Since the 20th century a number of magical practitioners, including adherents of the Neopagan religion of Wicca, have begun to utilise the concept of familiars, due to their association with older forms of magic.
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