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Familiar work is highly personal and very subjective. Because of this, there are plenty of ways for it to go wrong, get confusing, or become just plain weird. In this FAQ section I address some of the most common questions I receive about familiars.

My familiar was a [blank] and I don’t like it. What do I do?

Deal with it.

No, I’m serious. Your familiar chose that form for a reason, probably in part due to the fact that you have this resistance to it! If you want to work with a familiar and learn from it you need to accept this form that it’s presenting and learn to work with it anyway. My suggestion is to pick up a book on animal symbolism and start researching your familiar. Figure out what lessons it might be bringing you and learn things about the animal that might endear you to it.

Even if you can’t learn to love it, look at your familiar as an assignment from your soul. If it was willing to take that form despite how actively you dislike it, then it must REALLY want you to learn that lesson.

My familiar refuses to show up no matter what I do

This does happen sometimes, try not to panic. You DO have a familiar.

There can be several causes for this. One is that you’re trying to contact it through the wrong means, or that you’re simply missing it. Change the method you’re using and look closer. Your familiar might be an insect, a tree, a dandelion, or something else unexpected. Try to let your instincts and feelings guide you rather than your head. Your logical mind is a wonderful thing but it’s well trained to get in the way of the odd, the extraordinary, and the unusual.

The other likely reason that your familiar may not show up is that it’s choosing not to show up. Sometimes, they may feel that it’s simply not the right time. Or that you still have things to learn before their work with you can begin. Or, perhaps they realize that while you may want to work with them now your life may not allow you to focus on your familiar. In many situations where your life is tumultuous, unpleasant, or dangerous, your familiar may take a backseat whether you like it or not. They have your best interests in mind and if focusing on your physical life is tantamount then they will push you in that direction in any way they can.

Only one familiar showed up but I feel like I have more, where are they?

When you can feel other familiars or when you work in a system like mine it can be confusing when they won’t all work with you. This is quite normal though.

In instances where a person has multiple familiars, each familiar is meant to teach you something specific. These lessons can relate to life circumstances that will change over time and one familiar’s lessons may well build on the lessons of the familiar before it. My own familiars rarely show up all at once and in fact, my predator familiar took three years to appear to me for the first time. His timing was perfect though. Trust your familiars to appear at exactly the right time and to teach you exactly what you need to know.

I think the being that showed up is lying about being my familiar, what do I do?

Command it to reveal its true nature. You’re a witch, a being who lives in both the physical world and the spiritual world, this makes you an incredibly powerful force. Your commands hold weight and in most circumstances, a properly cast magical command will remove any glamour that is being used to trick you. If need be, banish the being and next time you go to meet your familiar cast a circle that will allow only your familiar to contact you. This selectively permeable circle will ensure that your space is protected from any being who would try to trick you.

What about having my familiar help with spells, carry messages, or do other magical work with me?

Whether or not your familiar will help you in such matters is up to you and your familiar to negotiate. As I’ve said, you cannot force your familiar to do anything and it may refuse to help in matters that it finds petty. If it does agree to help you in such things the possibilities are endless. They can lend you energy, teach you spells, show you new magical techniques, help you orchestrate complicated spellwork, visit other witches and spirits to carry messages and serve as shapeshifting companions, allowing you to see through their eyes.

Many of these techniques take time and experience to learn and it’s important to first build a strong relationship and establish trust between yourself and your familiar first. Respect their boundaries, heed their advice, and work with them often.