Thursday, June 15, 2017

[Familiars 2017: Part 3] Forming a Pact with the Domestic Familiar


I've previously talked a about the different types of familiars and, more specifically, about the difference between a domestic familiar and a pet.  Within the latter article, I stated that your pet is not a familiar if they have not initiated a pact with you.  But what exactly is a pact?  What can you expect?  Why is it even necessary?

Before we get started, I should note that all of this comes from the personal experience of having four domestic familiars.  I have done some reading on this topic but I find my experience with domestic familiars differs from what's often in the books.  Your mileage may vary.  Also, because my familiars and their pacts are incredibly personal, I'll be talking about this in a general sense based on these experiences.  Some secrecy and privacy was paramount to the formation of my pacts and I will be honoring that in this article.


The Pact

If you have a true familiar, you'll know it.  There are certain bonds and interactions you'll experience with your animal if they're interested in familiarship, all of which were discussed those at length in this article.  One of these special traits is a telepathic voice of sorts with which they use to communicate.  Without this voice, you simply don't have a familiar as they will utilize this form of communication to initiate a pact.

A pact is a form of spiritual agreement between you and your familiar, detailing their bond to you, how they will assist you with your magical work, what you will do for them and in what circumstances that pact would be rendered void.  It's much like a legally binding contract for the spiritual world.

This pact also strengthens the bond between the witch and familiar.  Prior to the pact, a familiar may exhibit all the traits previously described but they would be intermittent or muddled, particularly in terms of the metaphysical voice.  Up until I made a pact with one of my familiars, I could understand what he was saying but I didn't know exactly what his voice sounded like - if it was high or low, soft or loud, gravely or airy.  After the pact was formed, his voice became as clear to me as if my husband were talking to me in the same room.  Prior to making a pact with another of my familiars, he never aided me in my craft at length.  He might push a book in my direction but he wouldn't stay for the duration of a ritual.  After making the pact, I have photo evidence of his involvement.  This is why a pact is so important.

So how is a pact forged?  There are actually many options your familiar and you may choose.


Initiating the Pact

The Witch's Teat

In the previous article of this series, I talked about English witch-hunter Matthew Hopkins who is attributed for this lore.  According to Hopkins, a witch was given a third nipple (called a teat) from which to feed their familiar blood.  For some, this has been adopted as practice and select witches believe the only way to form a pact with your blood.  These witches often assume the familiar is a spirit inhabiting a physical presence and blood is required to maintain that body.

That being said, I cannot recommend this as an option.  While the most "common" familiars are carnivores, blood diseases and medication are a concern.  If you are on medication, it's likely you carry that medication in your blood.  If your animal drinks your blood, that medication could cause adverse effects in the animal.  If your familiar suggests this as a means, I would talk with them to find an alternative.


Some Sort of Genetic Exchange

Instead of offering your blood to your familiar, your familiar may offer an exchange of their DNA to you.  This is probably the most common exchange I've experienced.  Examples of a genetic exchange include hair, whiskers, teeth and nails.  If the item is a tooth or a pulled nail, follow up with a visit to your vet to ensure your pet's safety.  If there's a remaining root of the tooth in question, that will need to be extracted and your animal should be checked for dental disease.  If a nail is involved, there may be blood, pain and a potential need for stitches.  Ensure that the animal is in fact offering you this item as a genetic exchange for a pact rather than incurring a painful accident.  And, of course, never, ever take these things from your pet.  Particularly in the case of teeth and nails, that's animal abuse.

In exchange, they'll expect a gift of your genetic exchange - again, hair, nails or teeth.  Hair or nail clippings are typically my go-to as they're easy to retrieve and no pain is involved.  Neither of you will be consuming it - simply set it aside for ritual.


Food or Drink

One of the more common and easier exchanges for familiars includes food or drink.  I've also experienced this one with one of my familiars.  Your familiar will, via mental connection and telepathic communication, request to share a meal with you to seal the pact.  It's surprisingly pretty straight forward.  If you share a meal with your pet, ensure it's food that won't hurt them.  For cats and dogs, properly-cooked unseasoned chicken and a glass of water is a great way to go.  For other species, research their diets to see what works best for them.  Never, under any circumstances, feed an animal something it is not supposed to eat.

If you decide to go the route of food, prepare the meal for ritual and set it aside.


A Gift

Another way you might seal a pact is with an exchange of gifts.  Your familiar may bring you something they've found around the house or outside and expect you to return the gift in some way.  I can't be much more specific about this because the gift could be quite literally anything.  Your familiar will tell you it is a gift for the pact, so it should be easy to identify.  If they bring you a gift, you will need to find a gift in return.

Set these gifts aside for ritual.



The Ritual

Once your familiar has directly told you that they would like to make a pact for familiarship and you two have determined how you would like to do so (either by food, gift or genetic exchange), the next step is a ritual from which the pact can officially be created.

For this ritual, you should not have to trap your familiar in the room with you to get them to stay.  They should willingly participate in this ritual of their own accord and stay with it until the very end.  A true familiar would not walk away without telling you directly why they're ending the ritual and the pact is not being made.

Sacred Space

Begin by erecting a sacred space.  This may or may not involve cleansing an area, protecting it with quartz or other talismans, casting a circle, calling quarters, spirits and/or deities, or whatever you feel is sufficient enough for your work.  If you're unsure, ask your familiar what they prefer.  Most familiars will want to work within your style of witchcraft.


The Agreement

Once sacred space is created and you feel sufficiently protected, your next step is to hammer out the agreement.  You may choose to discuss it verbally, write it down and/or visualize it.  Whatever the agreement is, you and your familiar should be fully comfortable with it.  I would encourage contingencies in which the pact would be broken.  Your familiar would likely have some, such as neglect, abuse or discussing the full extent of your personal pact detail-by-detail as it relates to that specific familiar.  In exchange, you can also place certain contingencies on the pact, such as them causing you physical harm or upon their death if you wish not to be connected to their spirit for the rest of your life (and perhaps afterlife).  If you choose to put any limiters on the pact, that's entirely up to you.  Whatever you decide, make sure all the details are discussed and both parties are comfortable before moving forward.


The Exchange

Once the pact is fully discussed and agreed upon, the exchange is how you "sign" it.  If you and your familiar agreed upon food, now is the time to feast.  If you have gifts to exchange, now would be the time to charge and exchange them.  If you have genetic material, like teeth and hair, you would want to combine them in some way.  They're certainly not for eating!  This may mean placing them in a jar, sachet, poppet or necklace.  Wherever you place them, seal it properly, be it tight stitching, super glue and wax drippings, etc.

If you have chosen to write down your pact, you may choose to include it with your genetic material or create a jar, sachet, poppet or necklace in which your pact is sealed.


Strengthening the Link

At this point, you'll want to strengthen the bond between you two.  This may mean a variety of things, but it typically involves mutual meditation and/or astral travel.  How you strengthen the link is personal and entirely up to you two.

Once the link between you two has been properly strengthened, be sure to ground, center and release your sacred space if and as needed.  Then place any items from your ritual in a safe place designated specifically for your familiar's magical work and items.



Some Words of Caution

A Pact is a Serious Investment

While a pact and familiarship sounds like fun, it should also be taken seriously.  Making a pact is a weighty decision that affects both of you not just spiritually but physically and mentally.  The bond you form will feel like adding an extra arm to your body that you must constantly hold above your head.  The familiar can feed it with energy but there will be times you will need to hold it up yourself.  Holding your hand above your head doesn't sound like a big deal until it's been an hour, the blood has drained out of it and the muscles have exhausted themselves.  If the familiar is hurt, physically or spiritually, you will feel it.  If they're working on something, there will be a tug to that "limb." Your familiar should assist you in not feeling totally exhausted from the familiarship but you can certainly see how important it is to weigh your decision before forming this pact.


You Can Always Say No

While it may seem exciting to receive an offer of a pact from an animal, you may feel you have too much going on, you might not be ready or you may not like their terms.  You can always say no.  If the potential familiar becomes angry or violent, then it's probably a good thing you did.  Some familiars may be comfortable waiting until you are ready and some may not, but it's a risk worth taking if you're not quite in the right place to form a familiarship.


Ensure You Both Agree Upon the Pact

If you have a problem with one or more terms of the pact, speak up.  Negotiate.  Get what you want out of the pact as well.  What do you want your familiar to accomplish?  Do you want them to teach you?  Are they able to teach you?  Can they guide you?  All of your requests should be within the realm of reality - they're not going to bestow you with unnatural superpowers like flying or teleportation.  Your familiar will be clear about what they can and cannot do as you discuss your terms.



Multiple Familiars Can Be Exhausting

Remember how I spoke about a bond with a familiar feeling like a third arm you must keep above your head at all times?  Now imagine a fourth.  And maybe a third or fourth leg.   All of them have to keep moving, all of them can be pulled on, all of them can hurt and all of them take effort.  This is what having multiple familiars is like.  As I said before, you can always say no to a pact.  If you feel like one familiar (or two or so on) is enough, then simply say that you're expended at this time.  Don't hurt yourself in the process of making a pact.  It's not worth it for you or your animal!

Part Four: How a Domestic Familiar Serves the Witch
Part Five: Maintaining a Bond with the Domestic Familiar
Part Six: The Domestic Familiar and Ritual
Part Seven: On Multiple Domestic Familiars
Part Eight: Death of a Domestic Familiar
Part Nine: Ending a Domestic Familiar Pact

A special thank you to Kaiulani, Jocelyn and Lauren as my top Patreon supporters this month!

1 comment:

  1. Ah so, I talk to my cat a lot because she seems to like it, we don't always seem to understand each other but the gesture is usually appreciated. But as I was reading this I was talking to her like usual and told her about how to start a pact or something we'd gift each other or something like that, and not even thirty minutes later she came over to me with her mouse toy and dropped it at my feet, which she never does because she doesn't even really play. But of course i handed it back to her to see if she wanted to play with it and she just took it and dropped it back at my feet and looked at me expectantly, so I asked her if this was a gift, and she seemed to say yes. I kept talking to her and she almost eerily replied perfectly to everything I said! I don't know exactly what to make of it, and I'm not even sure what I would give her in return, but I offered to give her some treats as an I.O.U until I figured it out and she seem happy with that offer haha~
    What do you think? And what would make a good gift in return?? Maybe I could make her something..

    ReplyDelete