(author's note-this is the introduction to a short story I'm writing, but it was so much fun to write I thought I would put it up on E2 just as it is. Thanks to lizardinlaw for her feedback on the draft)
I better tell you right off what I am. I'm what folks in olden times called a familiar, which is a sort of companion a witch has.
Now, before you all go off making cross fingers and studying to find where there might be some holy water to throw, (which wouldn't bother me none anyhow) hear me out. There has been a lot of talk about us witch folk down through the ages, and I am here to tell you that most of it is purely lies. That's right, a lot of stuff that just ain't so. We ain't creatures of evil no more than what a bear or a deer is, and we got our nature from the same place they do. We never asked to be the way we are, and we didn't make no bargain with no Devil. How it came about was like this:
See, back in the real olden times when Adam was made, you recollect he asked for a helpmeet to look after things with him? Might be you even heard the story that got left out of the Bible later on, which was that the first helpmeet's name was Lilith.
Let me tell you about Lilith now. She weren't no devil and she weren't no such evil spirit as Church People who ought to know better is always making out. Lilith was just a natural Doer, that's all. She could put her hand to anything. Shucks, you talk about naming the animals , she did that all the first week, and then she up and organized them into work parties for huntin' and farmin' an' such. After that she started in on ol' Adam hisself, and before another week was out Adam hardly knew his right hand from his left without Lilith done told him.
This came hard on a feller who figured he was appointed by God to be the boss over all creation, so one day Adam snuck out of the house what Lilith had made him build, and he went to talk to God personal.
'I purely cain't stand the creature,' he says. 'She done taken over the running of ever'thing. I thought you said I was to be boss?
God, he scratches his head some, and he says, ' You said you wanted a helpmeet, Adam. Ain't she helpin'?.
Adam he says, ' I wanted someone to do what I done told 'em. This one don't listen to a word I say!'
God he sorta shrugs, and he says, ' Well, my first name is Beneficent and I do want all my creatures to be happy. Go 'way and I'll fix it. ' Well, you all know what come of that. Adam got him a woman what would do what any man done told her she was to do, an' Lilith was outta work. By an' by she comes to see God herself, and she says, Well, now Adam's happy he's got that little dishrag Eve a' waitin' on him and doin'ever thing he says, but what about me? What's to become of me? Which is natural, you might say.
God he looks at Lilith, and he fondles his great white beard and considers. Finally he says, 'My middle name is Justice, so I will say this. Adam and Eve and their kin shall be fruitful and multiply over all the earth as I have promised. But half of all the girl children that's born shall be kin to you, and to you and to your kin I give great power and knowledge. Now is that fair?
Lilith she thinks on this, and considers, and by and by she says, ' Fair is as fair does. You done give Adam a helpmate made from his rib. What does I get?
God is feelin' a mite sympathetic toward Adam by now, and he sighs and says, ' All right, I'll do it. I will cause you to fall into a deep sleep, and out of your body I will make a helper for you.' And with that he raises his hand and prepares to do just that, when Lilith speaks up again.
'Wait a bit, there.' she says , 'I don't want no milksop like that Eve. What's this helper a'goin' to be like?'
Now God is fresh outta patience, and his voice rolls out like thunder in the mountains. ' That's for you to decide!' he roars, so that all the angels duck down and cover their ears. 'Now shut your mouth, an' sleep deep! God says.
There it was,folks, what we Witch people call the Covenant. Half of ever' girl children born is kin to ol' Lilith, born with power and knowledge just like God promised. 'Course, don't all of 'em know it at first, an' some never learn, but they is one and all Doers and Shapers and puttin' things in order come natural to them. So poor ol' Adam never did get shed of Lilith, so to speak, not from that day to this.
But, you say, what as all this got to do with familiars an' such ? Well, hold your water, I'm a comin' to that.
You recollect seeing how a baby bird is shown to fly by its parents? Or a kitten shown how to hunt by watchin' its mother? Well, a witch when she's born is just as unknowing without some other witch what is grown teaches her. Might could be her own mother, could be some other, a grandmother maybe, or just some grown witch who recognizes her for what she is. Witches got a special sense, see, and one witch will always recognize another. Which is natural.
Now the first thing ever natural born witch has to learn is how to see her familiar. You recollect how God did say that Lilith's helpmeet was to look any way she chose it to? Well, how it come out, a witch's familiar is born the same time she is, only invisible. And it stays that way until the witch her own self chooses to give it form. Course, if sobeit she never gets to know her familiar that creature is still there, and will help its mistress any way it can like we all do. So when you might be studying what a familiar like me would look like, I say it all depends on what the witch if she comes into her power and knowledge will choose.
Lots choose cats, as you might have heard; a cat can go most anywhere and not be seen, which is useful.Some choose rats for the same reason. I did know a horse familiar once, though, what could take its mistress most anywhere on the earth or off it. Myself, my Mistress favors a sort of monkey, usually, though sometimes, specially lately,I am an ordinary cat unless looked at real close. And the reason for that is what this here story is about.