Book: Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World

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Where would the witch be without her cat? That black dog over there—is that a stray roaming loose, a disguised witch on the prowl or a messenger for the goddess Hecate? And those flies buzzing around? Do they merely indicate the presence of food or do they hold deeper significance?

Around the world, specific animals are associated with witchcraft. In some societies, certain animals are so intrinsically identified with witchcraft that should you have a close association with one (or in an era of witchcraft hysteria, even a brushing acquaintance will do), there’ll be no need to ask whether you’re a witch; that very relationship defines you as one.

There is no creature, living, extinct, or mythical, that does not have its place among the magical powers of witchcraft. Each creature possesses its own magical powers, to be drawn upon by the human practitioner as needed. Elks, for instance, are invoked for romance; dragons to guard wealth. However, certain animals are specifically identified with witchcraft, whether as teachers of the art or because of relationships with witches. These are the animals that are featured in this section.

Animals closely identified with witchcraft are invariably also closely identified with sex, birth, death, secret wisdom, wild nature, and/or intensely radiant male or female reproductive energy, the potential for creation, and hence magic. What is a magic spell, after all, but the act of bringing something into existence?

The various magical partnerships between animals and people, including such concepts as familiars, allies, and nahuals are also discussed in this section, as is transformation, which incorporates the various magical and spiritual traditions that blur the boundaries between species.

While outside observers may sometimes react to the witchcraft animals with fear, witches and other magical practitioners traditionally view their animals as partners and their relationships as alliances.

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Next: Books of Magic and Witchcraft