A familiar is a spiritual or supernatural being in the shape of an animal. This animal has symbolism or energy that can be important for one to know and use in their magickal workings, or even in their every day life. This concept is often confused with the Native American concept of totems and spirit animals.
The concept originates in Medieval Europe. They were believed to be supernatural entities that helped witches in the practice of magick. It was thought that they were the witches personal demon. Usually folk tales told that they were black in color.