Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Familiars Throughout History by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson

Let's welcome the authors of The Familiars, Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson for a guest post today! *applause*

Familiars are the animal companions to a wizard or witch. They are mentioned several times in the Bible, from Deuteranomy to Leviticus. Shakespeare's Macbeth had them, too. Familiars were common in Europe during the Middle Ages, and could be seen in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. They existed in popular culture since the 1800s. The earliest and most recognizable of these magical assistants were the black cats of a witch. You’ve seen them on Halloween posters rubbing up against the leg of a woman dressed in black. Surely you are aware of some of the more famous familiars, like Harry Potter’s owl, Hedwig, or Gandalf’s horse, Shadowfax, or Merlin’s owl, Archimedes. Disney’s animated films added many more familiars to the lore, including Jafar’s parrot, Iago, Ursula’s eels, Floatsam and Jetsam, or Maleficant’s crows.