I have worked with the spirits of my land and of the dead since I was a child, ancestry working is very important to me, and I see no reason why the animals in our lives shouldn’t be held to the same respect. As a witch, I will continue to work with the spirits of my pets long after they have passed. In my own personal practice I do not work with the idea of physical pets as familiars as familiars are a completely different classification of spirit, but I have worked very closely with the spirits of some of my deceased pets.
There are three ways that I incorporate the remains of pets or animals in general into my witchcraft:
1. Using the skull as a spirit house for the spirit of the animal to reside in.
2. Using the bones for readings.
3. Using the fur/hair or small bones, teeth and claws in sachets.
Now, before doing either of these I always perform a ritual that allows me to make contact with the spirit and make sure that this is something that it wants. Always ask permission. I then do a cleansing of the body, releasing any of the potential traumas of death. I then place the body in a rot box a safe distance from the house. With smaller animals this can also be done in a large flower pot. After the body has had time to decompose and I have macerated it and degreased it and put the skull back together, then I will continue.
Awakening the skull for spirit connection:
The way that this is done can vary for everyone. I personally have made a specific incense for this purpose that I will light. I then sit with the skull and hold it so that I can look into the eyes of it and I will enter a trance state. The experiences from there will differ depending on the animal. In some instances I have had a journey-like experience where I have traveled to a space in order to commune with the spirit, in other cases I have had direct contact through hearing the words of the animal, or in some cases feeling the primal needs of the animal translated into thoughts that my own mind can then decipher. It is not uncommon that this may end up translating into more of an ecstatic experience as movement and physical cues are very typical behaviors for animal communication.
It will really greatly depend on the spirit itself and the relationship you have had with it. This can also be done with the skulls of animals you don’t have prior relationship with, but if you haven’t done a ritual in which you asked permission before this process then I HIGHLY suggest approaching the spirit with respect and always asking before assuming.
Another great way to incorporate the remains of pets who have passed is by incorporating their smaller bones into a bone throwing set. I have been developing my own set for awhile now, finding pieces, holding them and listening to see if they would fit with the set. When making bone sets a lot of people find that they have a lot of bones of animals that are easy to obtain (raccoon, coyote, claws from wolves and bobcats, etc) as you develop your set though you will find ways to incorporate more of yourself and the spirits that guide you into it. The bones of your beloved pets can make a wonderful edition to these sets because of the relationship you shared with them, and the meaning and guidance of these bones would take on a whole new level depending on that relationship as well.
Sachets/Witches Ladders/and More
The remains of pets are amazing to use in a variety of different spells. You can use them within protection sachets for yourself and for your home, you can add them into witches’ cords and hang them by the front door (especially great for the ever vigilant cat or dog), turn their claws and teeth into wearable jewelry that you can carry around with you. The possibilities are quite endless!