My fellow members of the Eclectic Halloween Artists Group and I participate in art challenges every month or so. The theme for this month is Familiar Friends. So what better familiar than a black cat! I painted this one as a 5"x7" watercolor, now on eBay. But check out the other offerings from EHAG members, on eBay and on etsy. You'll find links to all of them on the EHAG blog, EHAGart.blogspot.com.
Here's a little history about familiars. In European folklore familiar spirits, sometimes referred to simply as familiars, were supernatural entities that were believed to assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic. According to the records of the time, they would appear in numerous guises, often as an animal, but also at times as a human or humanoid figure, and were described as "clearly defined, three-dimensional… forms, vivid with colour and animated with movement and sound" by those alleging to have come into contact with them, unlike later descriptions of ghosts with their "smoky, undefined form[s]".
When they served witches, they were often thought to be malevolent, while when working for cunning-folk they were often thought of as benevolent, although there was some ambiguity in both cases. The former were often categorised as being demons, while the latter were more commonly thought of and described as being fairies. The main purpose of familiars is to serve the witch/young witch. The service the familiar would provide would be to protect the new witch coming into his/her new powers.
Hope you're better familiar with familiars! ;)