Animals and Their Role in Magic

In many cultures, religions or beliefs, animals often play an important role. Some religions perform ceremonies in honor of an animal, hoping to capture their spirit within their own body.  In witchcraft, witches may sacrifice animals in order to gain supernatural powers that come from the characteristics associated with various animals.


The first animal to be discussed is the cat, which has always been associated with witches, especially if it is black in color. Black cats are thought to possess a part of the devil, which are often used with spells. It is thought that every practicing witch or sorcerer is supposed to have a cat by their side, which are seen as shells for a demon to hide within. Some folklore states that a witch can take the form of a cat. How many times you ask? Ironically enough, it is nine for every one of the cat’s lives. Today, a cat is seen as a pet that is believed to possess psychic intuition.


Snakes have also been associated with creating magic. In many rituals, a live snake is used in many cultures, as well as their skin and fangs. It is not uncommon for the venom of a poisonous snake to be used when making a potion or performing a spell.


African lore holds stories that speak of witches transforming into the form of a leopard in order to secretly meet in the bush and go undetected. In Africa, the hyena was also believed to be an animal that witches would transform into for the same purposes.


Many people feel creeped out when they spot a crow, especially when there are many in a group. In many beliefs, the crow is a symbol of death or impending death. Throughout the world, some thought that a witch would transform into a crow during the night to conduct their business and be able to fly away when detected. This is also true for the raven. Another bird that is often associated with sorcery, death and darkness is the owl. During the Middle Ages, it was thought that demons took on the form of an owl and stood by the side of witches. They were also seen as an evildoer, carrying out the twisted wishes of witches. Speaking of flying through the night, bats have also been seen as a creature that witches change into due to their impressive night vision, as well as their ability to blend in with the darkness.


In various witchcraft ceremonies, it is said that sheep’s wool and their hearts are used. Tales deal with the bewitching of sleeping individuals by placing wool in the room in hopes that it would absorb their breath. In France, the heart of the sheep would often be used in sacrifice rituals.


Tortoise shells have been used as rattles, as well as a symbol of healing and fertility in regards to Iroquois dancing rituals. The noise produced by the rattle is said to call spirits during a ritual. When creating various brews, toads have always been used as a common ingredient. The skins of the toads have been used in creating poison, as well as hallucinogenic powers. Charms, amulets and remedies are also created from toads.