Traditional Nature Spirits
The nature spirits
Earth Water Air Fire
The Air Spirits (ryel, sylph, sylphid, elf, vestal, unicorn, air fairy)
The Fire Spirits (Salamander, will-o-the-wisp, fire fairy)
Other spirits that are found in nature (giant, dragon, orb) The Spirits of the Ether (Constructive Spirits)
The Earth Spirits (torn, elf, gnome, kobold, goblin, dwarf, rhome, troll, faun, fairy)
The Water Spirits (wyvern, undine, triton, sirelle, nymph, nereid, siren water fairies)
The nature spirits
The etheric plane is not a world that is parallel and unrelated to ours. Indeed, the tradition of Christian Hermeticism teaches us that the material world in which we live is not monolithic. It is in reality made up of seven different vibrational states. Therefore, let's identify these states, from the most dense vibrational state to the most subtle: the solid, liquid, and gaseous states, then the chemical ether, the life ether, the light ether and the reflecting ether.
The hermetic tradition tells us that the four etheric planes play a particularly crucial role in nature. Indeed, it is through them that any material, solid, liquid or gas, can be vitalised. More precisely, the chemical ether is responsible for the functions of assimilation and excretion, the vital ether is necessary to reproductive functions, the light ether is closely related to sensory functions while the reflecting ether is associated with memory functions.
Thus, it is thanks to the subtle energies of the etheric plane that matter organises and orders itself. These energies are therefore engaged in structuring functions and also contribute to all life processes. However, the nature spirits (also known as elementals) are formed of etheric matter and they therefore inhabit this invisible world that animates and organises the visible world. To be more specific, the earth spirits are formed from chemical ether, the water spirits from vital ether, the air spirits from light ether and finally, the fire spirits from reflecting ether. We will identify these in four main groups.
Fairies work at the surface of the earth and their main task is to care for plants. Thus the appearance of the fairies is usually closely related to the plants that they care for. According to Roman tradition, dryads take the appearance of robust and fresh young women, however their bodies end in a sort of arabesque which imitates the trunk and roots of a tree. They wear a crown of oak leaves on their heads, and carry an axe to strike anyone who would attack the tree in their care. Hamadryads, on the other hand, differ from dryads in that their fate is closely tied to that of a tree with which they are born and die. Fairies are often green in colour, have a slender body, and a head that is large in proportion to their torso. Their bodies are formed of two densities of ether: one denser part, which forms the body itself, and a thinner part which forms a kind of vaporous garment. Their movements are driven by their desires and their physical structure is very simple. Their main internal organ is a palpitating and radiating centre, roughly in the same location as our heart; it is gold in colour and emits light. Like the gnomes, they live for a few hundred years. These are the fairies who look after the assimilation of etheric energy that the plant needs to grow, and the disposal of miasmas that impair its proper metabolism. They watch over the growth and welfare of trees and plants. When the plant is weakened, the fairy tunes to it by changing its own vibrational rhythm. If the plant is cut, it will remain with it until all life has left it. They know the birds and animals in the vicinity and they protect their newborns. But fairies are also involved with humans and particularly with children.
There are a wide range of species varying according to their geographic locations and also according to their functions. The most common is a small stocky old man, 30 to 45 cm in height, with an emerald green coloured body. This may vary according to the lunar phases. As stated by Rudolf Steiner, during the full moon they become like little knights covered in shining armour, while in the first quarter, they are almost transparent. Under the influence of the moon, gnomes can be mutated into toads or frogs.
They carry out their work in caves and mines, live a few hundred years roaming the earth and underground and are linked to metals, minerals, rocks and gems. For them there is no need to think, and they have an immediate understanding of what they see or hear.
There is a type of gnome associated with each of the crystals and precious metals.
In Italy, the Monaciello of Naples was entrusted with the care of hidden treasures and could enrich anyone able to steal his little red cap.
In the Celtic tradition, there is a gnome with a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and whoever manages to win his friendship becomes the custodian of extraordinary riches.
The Earth Spirits
They inhabit the chemical ether and are very numerous. Some live underground, others work at the surface of the earth, while others are busy both on and under the ground. These are the gnomes and fairies.
The Water Spirits
The water spirits inhabit the life ether. There are thousands of different varieties, and their form is more delicate and their appearance, therefore, more unstable.
Undines existing at the surface, not far from the shore, assume the appearance of human babies, chubby and round, generally light blue in colour, and they enjoy tumbling over each other in the waves. They have big laughing eyes and their hair is light and downy. They have no neck, and their body measures about forty-five centimetres. They seem to enjoy the presence of humans. The rhythm of the waves is, for undines at the surface of the sea, the physical equivalent of the cosmic rhythm which is so important in the life of nature spirits.
The second category consists of undines existing at medium depths. They have a more human appearance, measuring between one and a half metres to two metres ten centimetres, and they are slender and possess a fierce beauty. Their long hair resembles blue-black algae. These undines sometimes come to the surface (especially in moonlight or during storms) but most of the time, they are at a depth of at least ten fathoms. Sirens belong to this category. Germanic tradition recounts a siren of the Rhine, called Lorelei, who attracted ships with the harmony of her songs, and drew them into the abyss where the fatal Nibelungen treasure had been cast. Sometimes sirens perform the role of prophets, presaging good or ill fortune.
The Nereids and their masculine form the Tritons also belong to the category of medium depth water undines. It is reported that Tritons haunt the oceans equipped with a conch whose sound is so powerful that one can hear it from one end of the Earth to the other. The appearance of deep water undines resembles that of a dark blue furred gorilla and they are quite unattractive. They are apparently blind, and endowed with extraordinary psychic powers. They rarely come to the surface, and then only at night and in the moonlight.
There are two classes of freshwater water spirits: the smaller and the larger variety. The smaller undines, at a length of twenty to thirty centimetres, inhabit streams and waterfalls, and are blue in colour and similar to humans in appearance. The larger undines, meanwhile, measure sixty to ninety centimetres but are a slightly darker blue. Their faces have less human-like traits. The naiades are a kind of sprite that live in running water. They have a feminine appearance, and live in rivers, springs and fountains. Their bewitching beauty arouses fear mixed with fascination in humans. They have the reputation of being able to disturb the minds of those to whom they appear.
This reputation of being dangerous seductresses is not unfounded. Indeed, we must know that all nature spirits have the power to cast a spell on those who abandon themselves to their influence. Thus under their charm, a man hears, feels and sees whatever these beings suggest to him. Of all the nature spirits, it is the water spirits who have acquired the greatest skill in this domain.
Undines perform the function of focusing etheric energy in our rivers, seas and oceans. Over the course of their existence, which can span a thousand years, they continuously sustain the energy flows which crisscross the waters of our planet in every direction, these currents constituting a kind of flowing nervous system, purifying energy for the well-being of all life on Earth.
The Air Spirits
Made exclusively of fine particles of light ether, the spirits of the air are not restricted materially and therefore their corporal shapes are less clear to human sight than the earth and water spirits.
Sylphs may be divided into two main classes. The first includes sylphs who live in the clouds, and those who preside over storms. The second category of sylphs work more closely with humans. Sylphs living in the clouds are usually very large, with large forms, but they have a narrow, more or less human face and hair that appears cloud-like. They experience great pleasure in gazing at sunrises and sunsets, but nothing equals the pleasure they have in shaping the clouds. Sometimes they sculpt the clouds by capturing thoughts emitted by humans (a good exercise is to fix our gaze on a cloud, invoke the sylph in charge of it and ask him to change the appearance of the cloud to make it adopt the appearance of an animal or a designated object). We can identify four principal winds among the first category of sylphs: Notus, the South wind; Boreas, the North wind; Zephyrus, the West wind; and Eurus, the East wind.
Sylphs presiding over storms, meanwhile, are on average one metre thirty five centimetres high, and have a beautiful appearance and usually associate with salamanders to generate major storms. Knowing that their realm is the air, and that the air is full of light, we can say that these spirits move in the light and warmth of the atmosphere and that by their continual movements, they feed multiple streams of energy running through the atmosphere. Thus any air current produced by the simple flight of a bird or insect is primarily perceived as a sound, which sylphs use later as elementary energy that they channel for the execution of their tasks.
The second class of spirits of the air consists of highly evolved beings, the most advanced in the whole hierarchy of nature spirits. They are very beautiful, possess a childlike face, and are surrounded by an opalescent haze. Bearers of light, these sylphs are more specifically carriers of cosmic love, messengers of love through the airspace. One of their greatest joys is to welcome and entertain children at the time of their death. Occultists also work with these great beings of light, particularly during exorcism rituals, because they have the ability to perform psychic reprogramming of the senses and the brain. They thus perform a realignment which facilitates the release of artificial elementals.
Among the spirits of the air, the elves are the best known. They are relatively large in stature, from sixty to ninety-five centimetres high, and prefer to frequent
the surface of the ground in the company of fairies, with which they are often confused. Their task is to impregnate plants with light, and they are therefore involved in the process of photosynthesis. Thus minerals rise in the plant thanks to the gnomes, and are developed by the fairies and transformed by the elves, bearers of light. Like all nature spirits, that they are endowed with a great power to enchant human consciousness.
They also love music, and they sing heavenly songs.
The Fire Spirits
Fire spirits are formed of the finest parts of the reflecting ether, the most subtle of all the ethers. Salamanders are the guardians of the inner fires of the Earth. Their lifetimes can span several thousands of years. Perceived in their fiery form, they are usually visible above the marshes, meadows and fields. Small salamanders measure from eight to sixty centimetres tall and to human sight they have no particular form, usually assuming a hazy appearance. They are responsible for the fertilization of plants. Occultists sometimes invoke them because of their great ability to predict future events, but handling them can be very dangerous (they are often at the origin of spontaneous combustion). Large salamanders are between one and a half metres and four metres long and mostly live in volcanoes and terrestrial depths. They play an essential role in the creation and development of the world because they are the guardians of the internal fire at the origin of all things. They are well known in the guise of dragons.
Salamanders inhabit an almost completely purified material that accomplishes its ultimate combustion before becoming pure spirit. That's why they embody the Divine Light, that of illumination and enlightenment. They are the sisters of the Kundalini energy, that energizing snake that for Hindus, is located at the base of our spine, and once awake, causes an inner fire that burns our whole being, rises to the brain, gushing from the seventh chakra, the fontanelle, in a beautiful Lotus Flower with a thousand petals. Salamanders are also associated with the philosophical fire of the alchemists.
Salamanders are classified into four categories according to their degree of combustion. They are red, orange, yellow or purple, the latter being the most senior and the most cunning.
Our foremothers a hundred years ago liked to recount at length to their grandchildren the story of a ragged beggar who asked for shelter late in the day from a rich man.
After eating at the table and sleeping in the hallway, the beggar leaves at daybreak, leaving the room in a trail of light. The rich man then realises with horror that he had hosted a venerable saint or some kind of angel from paradise. Too bad for him if he had been stingy, for a calamity would soon be sure to come. But if he had treated the poor angel disguised as a poor man well, then great happiness would await his host.