But not every animal companion has been viewed as friendly. And if you dig through the past long enough, you’re bound to uncover a surprising fact. For one short chapter of human history, animals were seen as something more: some, it seems, were servants of the devil.
Episode 164 of the Lore podcast goes to the dogs (and cats and birds and rabbits). The topic is witches’ familiars–supernatural creatures believed to provide assistance/protection to practitioners of magic. Host Aaron Mahnke gives a fine overview of such otherworldly figures before bringing the discussion out of the realm of pure folklore and showing how (alleged) familiars have played an integral role in historical events. Mahnke details how familiars factored into the infamous Salem Witchcraft Trials (somewhat surprisingly, no reference is made to the cat Salem in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), but he devotes most of the narrative focus to British examples (including a nobleman’s dog demonized by printing press propaganda during the English Civil War). A well-structured and fast-moving episode, “Loyal Companion” serves up a real treat to faithful followers of the podcast.