Familiar work can take on many forms and how you go about communicating with and learning from your familiar will be as individual as your personal practice. Some of the most common ways to work with a familiar are through journaling, astral traveling, and dream work but there are more advanced methods such as shapeshifting that can be employed with experience. (keep in mind, shapeshifting is an activity that happens only in the spiritual realm, you cannot change your physical form in that way)
There are also many ways to approach learning from a familiar. As I’ve said, familiars often have their own ideas about how things will go but they will frequently work within your preferences and requests when you ask. To that end, there are two main ways to proceed with your familiar work.
1. Giving up control
This approach is exactly what it sounds like. You become open to whatever your familiar seeks to teach you and follow its guidance, teachings, and suggestions understanding that these lessons are driving you further on your personal and spiritual growth in the exact way that your soul needs.
2. Requesting help with specific problems
This approach puts you in a position of more control. You request your familiars help with specific areas of growth that you’re working on. It should be noted that this does not mean you are in complete control. Remember, your familiar has a mind of its own and if it thinks you’re working against yourself, moving in the wrong direction, or simply stalling it will likely ignore your requests. In my personal experience, it’s easier and more beneficial in these instances to trust your familiar on these matters. Often, butting heads with your familiar can lead to weeks or months of no progress. In instances where that doesn’t happen, you may find down the road that you wish you’d taken your familiar’s input more seriously.
This is a personal matter though! I speak from my own experiences and the reported experiences of my students but you won’t know the particular ins and outs of your own familiar relationship until you experience it for yourself.
You can, of course, also combine these methods. Giving your familiar control until you find something in particular that you wish to work on is my preferred approach and works quite well with two of my three familiars. The third is adamant about having control but only shows up when he has something very specific to teach me.
You also need to consider the means of communication between you and your familiar. Below are quick overviews of some common ways to communicate.
Writing is a very accessible way to communicate with your familiar. You can do it anywhere, at any time and all you need is a pen and paper (or, if you prefer, some digital means of writing). Getting used to this form of communication can be a bit tricky though. Many people feel as though they’re “making up” the words that they receive as responses. This is entirely normal, imagination is a vital part of this sort of spirit work and the process does involve quite a bit of “making it up”. That does not mean that the guidance you receive isn’t real. Your imagination will guide you truthfully as long as you trust yourself and your familiar.
My favorite way to do this sort of guided work is through a process of question and answer. Take a sheet of paper, a journal, or a blank document, and write your question on it. This question can be anything you need, something specific to a problem you’re facing currently or it can be an open request for guidance. This open request might be worded something like this. “Dear *name of familiar*, what guidance do I most need to receive today?”
After making your request, simply wait for words to come to you. They may come quickly and easily or they may not. Give it time and try not to second guess the words that you want to write. Write out whatever comes to you and evaluate them afterward.
Another method of receiving guidance through written words involves storytelling. This works best if you’re already fairly comfortable with writing in a narrative style but if you’re not, don’t let it stop you from giving this a try. Instead of asking a question and waiting for a reply you essentially ask your question internally or out loud and then write the story that comes to your mind. Your answer will likely be contained in this story, though you may need to do a bit more writing and a bit more analysis of the response.
As I demonstrated in the last section, meditation is an excellent way to contact and work with your familiar. Just be sure that every time you come to your meditation cushion you have your question or intention in mind. All you need to do is sit, hold your question in your mind for a few moments and then ask you familiar to help you.
How you experience this meditation technique can vary hugely. You may sit quietly for a time before hearing the response in your head, you may be guided on a visualization, or you may simply find yourself with an epiphany or a spontaneous answer. I recommend this style of familiar work only to people who are already comfortable with meditating for a decent length of time. It can often take a while for familiars to respond and if you can only focus on meditating for 5 minutes it can be frustrating how often you walk away from your meditations with questions unanswered.
I cover astral travel thoroughly in my Astral Travel for Absolute Beginners course. If you’re interested in using this method and aren’t familiar with astral travel already I suggest taking that course to become fully comfortable with the technique.
In order to work with a familiar in your dreams, there’s one vitally important detail to take into account: You must be able to remember and recount your dreams. If you cannot recall your dreams then you won’t be able to remember what your familiar has shown you!
If you can remember your dreams then dream work can be a great way to work with your familiar. For this method, you need some way to document your dreams next to your bedside, either a pen and paper or a voice recorder. Since dreams fade quickly it’s very important for you to write down every detail you can remember about the dream afterward. Outside of that, it’s simply a matter of setting your intention, asking your question if you have one, and getting a good nights sleep.
This method of familiar work does have a tendency to be harder to interpret than others. Dreams are less likely to carry straightforward answers and it may take you some time to sort through the details of the dream to make sense of the messages contained in it.
Whatever method you choose is perfectly fine as long as it works for you. It’s no good using astral travel if you can’t venture out of body. Meditation won’t work for you if you have constantly wavering attention. Try as many methods as you can and use the one that actually works for you.