Visual Images: Dogs

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Dogs

It is common to find dogs in witchcraft images in the capacity of a familiar. In "The Witch of Edmonton," a play following what happens to a woman once she signs a pact with the devil, Elizabeth the witch has a black dog as a familiar. Dogs were commonly associated in early pagan religions with death and the underworld, and perhaps vestiges of this belief remained when dogs were associated with witches.

 

 

Anonymous, Ann Bodenham Conjuring, 1688

 A witch named Ann Bodenham and her companion are seen here summoning demons out of a fiery pit. Ann is holding a book in her hands from which she is reading the incantations. Her companion behind her has her chest bared much like the Minoan Snake Goddess. The demons which she has called out of the circle of fire look like small men with horns on their heads. A dog and cat are frisking around the edge of the circle.

 

Matthew Hopkins, Discovery of Witches, 1647

 With the exception of the rabbit, all of the familiars named in this picture are various kinds of dogs. The dog standing at the front of the picture, named Vinegar, seems to have the body of a greyhound-like dog and the head of a cow or bull. It seems that a dog didn't have to be a certain type, say large and menacing, to be considered a familiar.

 

Anonymous, Witches and Their Familiars, 1619

 These three witches have various kinds of animals with them. Birds such as the owl on the shoulder of the witch in the center, cats, and dogs all had the possibility of being familiars. There is a tiny dog, smaller than the cat, in front of the center witch.

 

Ancient Influences-Dogs


The Witch Through Time

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