28 July, 2010
Spirit Guides are like, to use a Christian reference, Guardian Angels and are given to us at birth. You can request their pressence during a ritual if you'd like to speak/communicate/meditate with them or, as I tend to do, just talk to them any time you feel you need guidance. They are meant to guide/help you through life and help you learn a spiritual lesson.
Familiars are individual animals that are inhabited by a single spirit. These animals will usually seek you out rather than you seeking them. These animals tend to be drawn to magick and rituals and don't need to be "asked" to attend. They can also enter and exit the circle without a door being cut for them with your athame/finger. Familiar's can enhance your magick and they are more able to communicate with you than a regular pet.
Spirit Animals are the spirit of a breed of animal and not one animal/pet in particular. These animals possess all knowledge and habits of their breed. This is the animal that you feel best represents you and can be found through deep meditation. It may take more than one session of meditating before you can see your Spirit Animal. They can take messages for you or aide you in your magick.
All three of these can be very powerful and helpful to you while you seek direction on your path. Don't fret if you don't have a familiar. It just may not be the right time for it. Spirit Animals can be difficult to see or sometimes you may just have a particular animal you've always identified with. For instance, I've always connected with Horses and Crows. Crows, despite their dark symbolism and connection with death, have always followed me. They often appear before I receive good news. I even have one that took residence in the tree outside my classroom. He would often "talk" to me in the middle of my lessons. My students didn't think it was as adorable as I did.