Paracelsus divided the Nature Spirits into four classes:
(1.) Gnomes, the Earth spirits; (2.) Undines, the water spirits; (3.) Salamanders, the fire spirits, and (4.) Sylphs, the air spirits.
Under the general heading of "Gnomes", we find those creatures known as tricksies, hobgoblins, elfs, forest-men, brownies, dwarfs, little old men of the rocks, and many other similar titles.
The Gnomes are the most dense of the Nature Spirits, and consequently are more subject to the laws of mortality. They live in the element of Earth, and are said to work among the rocks and to some extent, with trees and flowers.
Certain types of Gnomes dwell in old ruined castles. This is one reason why old buildings are over grown with vines and creepers, for the Gnomes seek to extend Nature's beauty. Some of them attain great size; others have the power of changing size at will. The majority, however, are dwarf-like in stature, rather thickset, with large heads and a waddling gait, their garments growing as an integral part of them.
According to Paracelsus, they marry and have families, living in a strange world which the Norse people call "Elfheim." They are said to have come out of the earth, which they are able to penetrate to it's very core.
They also live in caves, and mold stalactites with stalagmites, and some work with corals and shell-fish under the sea. These little people are often seen by children, who remain clairvoyant up to about the seventh year.
In the forests, they are sometimes seen storing up provisions for the winter. They are industrious little people who are given charge of molding and forming the Earth. Under the direction of wiser ones, they have charge of all the solids, bones, and other tissues of the human body, working with them and restoring them. No broken bones would be set, were it not for the assistance of Gnomes.
The king of the Gnomes is called "Gob" - a name from which the word "Goblin" is derived. It is said that one of the elemental kingdoms dwells at each of the four corners of creation; and the Gnomes, who work with the most crystallized elements, have been given the northern corner of creation as their home.
The ancients declared that Gnomes govern the secret treasures and hidden things of the Earth, and that those who would seek material treasures hidden in Nature, mus first gain the support and assistance of the Gnomes, who will either unveil them or so conceal them that they cannot be found.
The Gnomes are very miserly, greedy and fond of good things to eat; on the other hand, they work incessantly are very patient and faithful, and in our world would be called steady or temperate.
Occasionally they meet in great conclaves in the heart of some dark forest or among rocks; and they are well portrayed in the wonderful story of Rip Van Winkle in the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow." A busy little people, they play a great part in the development of man, and assist him in his work.
They work intuitively through the elements; and while they have a certain form of mentality, it is inferior to ours. They are incapable of expressing or manifesting themselves through any substance other than their own element. The hypothetical ether pervading solid crystallized substances as the first etheric essence is the only substance in which they can function.
Since they dwell in darkness and gloom, the Gnomes are said to have a certain effect upon human disposition, and to govern saturnine melancholia, sadness, gloom and despondency.
Under the classification of Undines are listed the Nymphs, Niads, Mermaids, Sirens, Harpies, Sea-daughters, and Sea Goddesses of the ancient. These are the elementals whose home is the element of water - the oceans, lakes, streams, and rivers of the Earth. They govern the liquids or vital forces of the body.
As the Gnomes represent the sign of Taurus in the Zodiac, so the Undines represent Scorpio, having to do with life and vital forces of Nature. They are reputed to be very beautiful, and in their realm, beauty seems to be a keynote of power. They have many qualities similar to the Gnomes, for they dwell in world of their own.
They are generally considered amicable and fortunate, and serve man in the spirit of love and sincerity. Like the Gnomes, they have their own rulers; individuals of an unusual degree of superiority. Their supreme ruler, Necksa, they obey and reverence highly. All these beings have a knowledge of and revere the Creator God.
The Undines have been given the western corner of creation, and are said to whisper sometimes through the west wind, which is the medium of their power. They work with the creatures living in the sea, and are said to have an important part in the production of rain.
Medieval philosophers (especially Paracelsus) held the belief that storms were caused by battles between the Nature Spirits; that the crossing of their qualities results in great disturbances in the heavens, which we know as storms and upheavals.
The ancients highly honored the Salamanders, calling them the "Fire Kings" because of their flaming appearance, their great strength and power, and the important part played by them in human affairs.
No spark or fire can be lighted on Earth without the assistance of a Salamander, for they are the spirits of fire. Those able to study phenomena clairvoyantly can see these great Fire Kings twisting and turning in the flames, particularly during a great conflagration. Many of the ancients believed these fire Salamanders to be gods, claiming that their emperors were the children of the "Fire Kings."
They are especially fond of incense, the fumes of which will enable them to assume certain forms of bodies.
The Salamanders are the strongest and most dynamic of all the elementals. A great similarity exists between them and the Lucifer angels, and also the great fire Devas of India. In Volcanoes and the fire strata of the Earth, they are said to have their homes an the wield authority. Their flaming King, Djin, is a glorious being, fierce and awe-inspiring, who rules them with a rod of flame.
Though dangerous to human life, the Salamanders, when properly understood, are great benefactors. They are hasty of action, tempestuous, and emotional, but very energetic. Some of them assume tremendous proportions and resemble the giants of prehistoric times, while others are small and barely visible to the eye.
Their home is said to be in the south, and they are felt in the warm winds of the equator. Their temperament is sanguineous, and they influence to a certain extent all individuals with that temperament. If this quality is permitted to become a controlling power in life, the Salamanders, working through it, confer upon all whom they thus influence tempestuous natures, fiery temperaments, and uncontrollable passions.
Because of the tenuity of the element in which they live, the Salamanders are seldom seen. They live to an extreme age, many existing for thousands of years before finally being dissolved back into the primal essence from which they differentiated.
The inhabitants of the fourth ether (the finest and highest of all) are called sylphs, or air spirits. They are also known as the riders of the night, the wind-born, the storm angels, the air-devas, the mind born, and by various other names.
The ancients believed their homes to be in the clouds. Deeper study, however, has proved that this group of elementals (which includes fairies and all creatures with iridescent wings referred to in children's fairy tales) really have their homes upon mountain tops, rather than the air itself.
The Sylphs live and have their being in their own ether, and like, the Gnomes, propagate and maintain themselves in a world of their own, building castles out of the subtle element which is the reflector of the mental plane.
They vary in appearance, some resembling human beings with with slightly different proportions. They are said to be mirthful, eccentric, capricious, and inconstant, darting hither and thither. They are always busy, and work especially with the thoughts of living creatures.
They assist in the airy elements of man's body, such as the gases and the ethers which are generated within his own being, while the Salamanders work through the blood and the fire elements of the body. Paralda, their leader, is said to dwell on highest mountain of the Earth.
The Sylphs wield a powerful influence upon all thing in which air is an important factor. The next two thousand years (the Age of Aquarius) will be an air age in which the influence of the Sylphs will be especially evident, and the conquest of the air will have a great deal to do with the discovery of these latent concealed facts.
The ancients claimed that wars, plagues, fires, earthquakes and other cataclysms were caused by great armies of elementals marching in military array against each other, and fighting in these elements of Nature (portrayed beautifully in Tolkein's Battle for Middle Earth). Thus thunder and lightening were said to be caused by battles between the Sylphs and Salamanders, while rains and tidal waves were caused by Sylphs and Undines.
Movement of bodies in the Earth, landslides, and internal rumblings were said to be caused by inharmony between the Salamanders and Gnomes. Generated out of the explosions of gunpowder, the Salamanders hover over battlefields. As great armies of red flaming creatures, they also feed upon human passion, obsessing the mind of man and finding expression through the receptive ethers of the body.
The four groups - Gnomes, Undines, Salamanders, and Sylphs - form the natural inhabitants of the etheric elements. Their labor is carried on through what is called the humidity body of both the Earth and the Planetary Logos.
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