Before scientists conceived of the periodic
table, with its 116 elements, scientists
taught that the earth and everything therein
was made of four basic elements: water,
air, fire and earth. Paracelsus, a fifteenth
century alchemist, took the idea one step
further, theorizing that each element
was composed of nature spirits called
elementals. These creatures, made of unique
ethereal substances, could live only in
the element to which they were born. As
the guardians of all nature, they lived
and acted as humans, although they had
Throughout the centuries following many
hundreds of stories, referred to as fairy
tales, have been spun about the elementals
and their interactions with mankind. It
is said that within these stories there
may be nuggets of truth. To this day there
are those among the fanciful and faithful
still calling upon the elementals and
benefiting from their help.
Undines are the elementals associated
with water. Frequently found in forest
pools and waterfalls, these beings are
described as sensual and lovely with beautiful
voices. Intuitive and empathetic, undines
have long memories, for water holds memory.
Their activity is responsible for the
vitality in all liquids, including that
which exists within plants, animals, and
humans. Therefore, undines have great
healing power. It is said that when one
cries he or she taps into the energy of
the undines. If allowed, their influence
can overwhelm, or drown, a human, leaving
them “all washed out.” Undines are also
recognized as mermaids, naiads, oceanids,
sea maidens, and water sprites.
Spirits of air are called
sylphs, and these creatures are said to
live in the space between dimensions.
Theirs is the voice heard as a sigh on
a breeze, or a hiss through a cornfield.
They rustle tree leaves with their whispers
and lash great oceans with their shrieks.
Their activity is reflected in the gathering
of clouds, the formation of snowflakes,
and the growth and maturity of all plant
life. Sylphs are credited for inspiring
poets and artists, and reportedly can
be contacted through meditation and conscious
mind travel. Once their power is tapped,
they deliver revalations and epiphanies.
If seekers are not balanced, the energy
of the sylph can be intoxicating, leaving
them paranoid or insane. Sylphs can be
associated with winged angels or cherubs.
In the flame of the hottest
fires live the salamanders. These fire
spirits are lizard-like and have association
with dragons. Passionate, creative, and
temperamental, salamanders demand immediate
action, for unlike undines, they have
little to no memory. Their essence enlivens
one's sexual drive. When their intense
energy is taken to excess it may be said
the individual feels “burnt out.” The
terms “hot-headed” and “cold-blooded”
also refers to the energy of the salamander,
as he is the controller of body temperature.
Someone with a “fiery temper” may be under
the influence of a salamander.
Gnomes may be the best-known
of all nature spirits. Indeed, Paracelsus
said these were the most important of
all elementals. These diminutive earth
spirits wear red conical hats and live
deep within the earth. It is said they
move as easily through the earth as humans
walk upon it. Their activity is present
in all geologic formations, such as mineral
deposits, crystal formations, and erosion
of rock. Gnomes appear in hundreds of
stories as protectors of secret treasures
and knowledge, and though they first appear
grumpy and mean, if won over, they can
become the most loyal and helpful of friends.
However, if betrayed, gnomes are known
to wreak havoc on one’s life. Some traditions
say that gnomes actually spend the daytime
as toads, as the sun’s rays will turn
them into stone. Gnomes are generally
pictured as wizened old men in green,
blue, and red clothing, but they are of
the same essence as sprites, goblins,
dwarves, brownies, dryads, elves, and
Mischievous and magical,
alluring and exciting, the elementals
and their stories will doubtless continue
to enchant, inspire, and affect humanity
as they have for thousands of years.
About the Author:
This article was written by Robin Daniels.
Robin is a mystic and contributes to Mystical