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How witches summon daemon familiars


I watched a series called "Game of Thrones" in which a priestess called The Red Woman conceives a shadow demon and uses it to kill the enemies of the king she served. It seemed like an interesting concept, so I tried to include it into my world. This setting takes place in an alternate version of medieval Europe. Witchcraft was not feared and persecuted like it was in our world. It is respected, with the worship of Baphomet being the official religion of the land. It came to power during a great plague which devastated the continent. When the Judeo-Christian God failed to help and stayed silent, Baphomet heard their pleas and came to their aid and offered power to the first witches to save their people. As a result, Witches became the dominant power in society and gathered together to form covens, which are the center of political and religious power. Schools and research are given over to studying the occult as magic took the place of science. Spells require various components and materials, as well as the knowledge of certain chants. Time limits vary, with longer and more powerful spells taking many hours to complete.

Witches have the power to summon a familiar. These creatures are ethereal daemon spirits summoned from the spiritual realm to exist in servitude to their master, and can be used for various purposes. They exist as formless entities until brought over into the material realm, and are considered minor deities in their own right due to their connection with Baphomet. They can serve as magical batteries or amplifiers for the witch to increase power for a spell. They can also be used for battle or assassination, or a repository for special items, etc. Witches are connected to their familiars for life, and can communicate telepathically and see through their eyes.

The resulting daemon is a reflection of the person's personality, and can take various forms, and no two familiars are the same. Because of the intimate connection and lifelong nature, a witch can only ever have one familiar. Therefore, witches wait until they are extremely confident in their abilities, status and personal preferences before using their single chance. It grows in power and size with her until it reaches full maturity. The magical prowess and understanding of the practitioner increase as they are bound for life to one who was literally made from it. Through the connection between one and their familiar, one can manipulate their spells to degree that was previously impossible for them. It also allows for one to be able to understand spells and magic that they would have no understanding/knowledge of quicker and more readily.

The summoning spell is a process that takes place over the course of several months. It starts with a period of fasting, as well as continuous prayer and meditation. After its completion, an ancient ritual must take place which involves a coven of witches, with the main practicioner using herself as a conduit between the physical world and the spiritual world, and opens herself up to be indwelt by the spirit. Chanting and various components such as sigils and runes connected to the god are used. A human must also be sacrificed to Baphomet on the altar due to the rule of equivalent exchange: To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. If all goes well during the ceremony, the daemon is drawn into the womb of the individual where it gestates for a period of time and becomes bound to the individual's soul.

After this initial period passes, a birthing ceremony takes place, in which the daemon is delivered into the physical world. This is a test of strength and endurance, and those too weak will die in the process. The ones who survive however are welcomed into the top echelons of the priesthood and are among the most powerful of magic users. Having a daemon familiar is seen as a mark of prowess and a status symbol of power in society, and are highly prized.They are respected and revered by the population due to their devotion to Baphomet and their craft. There is a downside however. Giving birth to a familiar destroys a woman's ability to give birth to children the normal way - this is intended: witch has to make a sacrifice of both body and soul to make the bond possible and give the familiar a physical form. A witch who has spawned a familiar can never have children or create a lineage, which is part of why familiars come with such prestige - it indicates a powerful dedication to the art.

I'd like our feedback and opinion on this concept. I tried to keep some of the dark and creepy undertones of the episode. What works and what doesn't here?
Erebus Wow! What an interesting idea! I have some questions/comments for you to reflect upon:

Is this a matriarchal society? I ask, because no where in your summary concept do you mention 'males' having much influence or 'magical powers' in this religion/society. Was this intentional? If so, Why?

Can men acquire familiars? If yes, What is that process like?

Can women have natural children before having their supernatural familiar? Is this generally discouraged? (Or forbidden?) Or... do they have natural children in order to sacrifice them to gain their familiar? Hmmm...

What *exactly* are they physically gestating (that simultaneously is destroying their reproductive system) and birthing? Is it human-like at all? Are there specialty midwifes for this occassion?

Thought: part of the attractive qualities of a familiar IMO is the familiar's ability to be able to shape-shift between something corporeal, and not-corporeal (energy, invisible forces, etc.) To give birth to something 'corporeal' that will need some nuturing (assuming some sort of infancy period) suggests 'vulenerability' because of actual embodiment. Do you want your familiars to have weaknesses or vulnerability? Are they utterly invincible? If not, that needs some further mechanical explaination.

If the most powerful witches can't or don't desire natural children, Who's actually having the kids to keep the society going? I think your society would benefit greatly if natural-parenthood (for all genders) was also well-respected in its own way. This also opens the flipside of very powerful practioners who have natural children, not 'needing' or wanting familiars.

What underground or differing religions exist? There's other continents on your planet- what are those cultures like? How do they all interact? Is the Baphomet religion considered heretical to other cultures that might be practicing the 'old religion'?

Keep going with your ideas! Hope this helps! Happy Writing!