The Awakening is a ceremony a wizard may perform to grant a familiar increased intelligence.
In the Elven City of Jamurra is a school for the children of the country's most powerful wizards. It's full of spoiled brats with access to absurd levels of power. I grew up on a ranch near the school. One brat dared another to use the forbidden rituals of Awakening, and... well, let's just say a wizard did it, and move on, shall we?
Each Council-trained wizard is allowed to take a familiar when they graduate. They us a ritual called Awakening to make their familiar more intelligent. It has other effects, as well.
Well, we instantly learn the language of the wizard, and we learn some of the basics of being a familiar. Simple things like 'don't urinate on the carpet' and more complex things like how to store the wizard's excess power for him.
It is a blessing and a curse, and I do not like to see it done.
We stop being wild animals. We can never go back to our herds or flocks -- we know too much. And what happens if the wizard wants a new familiar? We have to be 'put down' as they say. Which means we are executed. Sometimes kindly wizards will sneak us out into the wilderness, where we have to pretend to be a regular animal again. Which is not easy anymore.
Normally, however, the wizard uses a summoning spell that attracts animals with an affinity for them. So most of the time, the familiar has a compatible personality with the wizard. And many familiars love their new life. But we live and die on our master's whim.
- Is there a de-awakening spell?
I know of no ordinary spell to undo it, but there are other kinds of magic out there. For instance, I once heard a psychologist say they had a ritual called 'Lobotomy' that might work, but that ritual is too unpredictable and dangerous. Crones have a way to steal memories, so perhaps they could steal the Awakening away. But I am doubtful.