The Care and Feeding of Familiar Creatures
The professor of familiar creatures will help you teach
your dog to fetch a ball, a stick … or a mandrake root for a magic potion.
Everyone at Mandrake Academy has
an animal familiar — a magical companion and assistant. The Initiate has
a white rabbit. The Magician has a great-tailed grackle. The High
Priestess has a black cat.
The professor of familiar creatures is pictured
feeding her own familiar, a wyvern, by hand. Wyverns are dangerous,
dragon-like creatures, with wings, two legs, and a serpent’s tail. While
the wyvern isn’t likely to bite the hand that feeds him, any close
interaction with the creature entails an element of risk.
The Strength card illustrates bravery and courage.
The professor might seem fearless, but that’s not necessarily the case.
She’d be the first to tell you that she both fears and respects the
power of every wild creature. She’s learned, however, to maintain her
composure, even in the face of danger.
She’s also learned that some animals feed on fear, so
she refuses to display any hint of vulnerability. Instead, she snatches
victory from the jaws of defeat.
Astrologically, the Strength card is linked to Leo,
the sign of the lion. The wyvern, like all fire-breathing dragons, is a
mythic version of the lion.
The professor’s fiery red hair, like a lion’s mane,
hints at her connection to Leo. So does the ruby-red heart pinned to her
blouse, and the giant glyph for the sun behind her. Leo rules the heart,
and Leo is ruled by the sun.
The glyph for Leo, in the top right corner of the
card, spells out the connection. The Leo glyph is a curved line that
looks like a lion’s tale or a lion’s mane.
The wyvern’s tail looks something like the Leo glyph.
It’s also reminiscent of the figure-eight lemniscate about the
professor’s head, which is a symbol of infinity.
The symbol at the top left corner of the card is the
Hebrew letter Teth, which
means serpent. The wyvern has a serpent’s scales, a serpent’s tail, and
a serpent’s tooth. The imagery calls Shakespeare’s King Lear to mind. He
complained, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is, to have a
thankless child.” Happily, familiar creatures aren’t children, which
means we can release them back into the wild if they start to bite.
Every major arcana card in the Wizards Tarot includes a
familiar creature. Some depict more than one. Go through the major arcana
cards, list the familiars you see in each one, and write down the human and
animal characteristics you associate with them.
Strength’s Familiar Creatures Spread
Familiar creatures represent a primal side of human
nature. The animal you choose as your familiar — or the animal that chooses
you — will reveal a lot about your personality.
This majors-only spread is designed to help you find the
familiar creature that’s right for you.
Pull the major arcana cards from your deck and
Start dealing the
cards, face up, into four separate piles: one for creatures of fire,
like the wyvern in the Strength card; one for creatures of water, like
fish; one for creatures of air, like birds; and one for creatures of
earth, like dogs and cats.
Keep dealing, until
you come to a card that pictures an animal in its own element.
This isn’t a quick spread — but the process of finding a
familiar creature shouldn’t be rushed. If you run out of cards before you
succeed, pick them up, shuffle them again, and keep dealing.
Once you’ve found your familiar, get to know the animal.
Study the image and examine its role in the card. Research the creature’s
characteristics. Give your creature a name, or ask him to reveal it to you
during meditation. Later, you can ask him to help you with spellwork, or to
find information for you on the psychic plane.
Remember that working with a familiar creature entails a
measure of self control. Before you can tame a wild animal, you’ll have to
tame your own animal instincts, drives, and passions.
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