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A familiar animal, in folklore, is an animal believed to be possessed of magic powers such as the ability to change its shape. It may be a temporary form assumed by a spirit, devil or trickster god.

In tribal shamanism and also in spiritualism it is believed that astral travelling is done in a special "body" or "form" which is able to travel out of the physical body and go around the world, spying out the land. The astral form is often believed to be that of an animal. This sort of belief is very ancient and is recorded in Egyptian hieroglyphics. In Western witchcraft and folklore, the village witch has his or her "familiar", an animal with which they live that commonly helps with different sorts of magic (be it by guarding, helping, or so on). Echoes of this can be found in popular culture such as the Harry Potter series.

Any animal can be a familiar, but commonly seen animals include: hare, fox, coyote, anansi the spider, witch's cat, vampire's bat, raven, rat, etc.








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