Subtitled: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic. 


This popular and thorough book examines the folkloric roots of familiar lore in early modern Britain from historical, anthropological, and comparative religious perspectives. It argues that beliefs about witches' familiars were rooted in beliefs surrounding the use of fairy familiars by beneficent magical practitioners (or 'cunning folk'), and corroborates this through a comparative analysis of familiar beliefs found across Native American and Siberian shamanistic traditions. Wilby then goes on to explore the experiential dimension of familiar lore by drawing parallels between early modern familiar encounters and visionary mysticism as it appears in both tribal shamanism and medieval European contemplative traditions.



Eastbourne, Sussex Academic Press, 2013 (2005). Paperback, 293 pp.

Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits - Emma Wilby