Archive for the Elementals Category

snapshots of elementals

Posted in Elementals, Photos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2011 by Susana Romatz

I’ve been toodling around a bit here lately, snapping some shots with the magic of the natural world in mind. Of course, I can’t KNOW that these are elementals, but I do KNOW that when I arrived at these places and at these specific times, I was overcome with strong feelings, whether they be of awe, amusement, happiness, or peace. These are the feelings that (these and many others, and not always positive) I feel when I’m in the presence of the elementals. Too often we humankinders hurry past these encounters without saying hello…

Salamanders/Fire fairies

My dog made me take her outside right in the middle of the last episode of Lie to Me (we all have our vices) and I caught a glimpse of this beauty burning just above the tree line in the Northwest. By the time I got my camera this shot was all I could get through the scrappy scrub oak across the gravel. This evening moon invoked the sun fairies, who ride the rays that impact that great cold boulder and light it up, reminding us that there is so much more going on in the world than can fit in our tight schedules…

In the book Enchantment of the Fairy Realm, Ted Andrews describes fire fairies as “beings of the fire realm…tiny salamanders who are found wherever there is flame or heat.”  They live in lightening and in the lava that bubbles at the center of the earth. They dance fiercely when our passions are ignited. They warm the earth and make the seeds and bulbs come to life…here in the doldrums of winter in Pacific Northwest I try to light a candle every day to chase away the greys. Paracelsus said that “salamanders have been seen in the shape of fiery balls, or tongues of fire, running over the fields or peering into houses.” (read the rest here). I can see them dancing, just as quickly as I can light a match.

Earth Beings/Gnomes

Philip Ball explains the way Paracelsus viewed the gnomes in The Devil’s Doctor: “Each [elemental] inhabits its element just as we breathe and pass through the air. To the gnomes, earth is like a gas through which they can move with ease…Gnomes are small, (‘about two spans’)…and they dwell in mines.” In the book Nature Spirits, Rudolph Steiner says that the gnomes are the beings that bring the minerals from deep within the earth up to the plants and help the shoots to overcome the ever present downward and inward force of gravity. Whether or not you choose to believe that there are little man-like beings living in the soil, able to pass through it as easily as we pass through the air, helping to nourish and push the plants up, you must, at least, admit that there is some natural force that permits such growth (gravitropism? diffusion?)…why not call it gnomes? It’s so much more fun.

(gnomes can pass through concrete as well)

Water beings/Undines/Nymphs

Ted Andrews says that “tiny water faeries can be seen flowing in the sprays of waterfalls. Water sprites can be seen riding the crests of waves in the oceans or on the back of sea creatures. They can be seen dancing on the surface of bay and shore waters. Mermaids can occasionally be seen bobbing on the surface of the ocean.”

All the pagan texts that I’ve read say that elementals like to congregate where two different things come together: a river and the ocean, a fork in the road, moon and sun in the sky at the same time…etc. These are liminal times and places, when both sides of a threshold are occupied at once. The pictures above are like a metaphor of liminality…the reflection of the trees in the water, the stones and the soil supporting, it’s no wonder the nymphs are dancing in the rain!

Air Spirits/Sylphs

Whenever I go to a hot spring to soak I often find myself thinking about all of the elementals that came together to make such an experience exist. Then I invariably start trying to recognize them by sight, a skill I haven’t quite mastered yet. One of the things I do is to try to differentiate between campfire smoke (fire) and the steam (water) from the hotsprings. It’s harder than one might think. Paracelsus said that the difference in appearance between the nymphs and the sylphs is pronounced. The nymph bears a very close resemblance to humans, so close that they have supposedly intermarried with us. The sylphs are “cruder, coarser, longer and stronger” than human counterparts (qt. taken from The Devil’s Doctor). I can’t tell once it gets to smoke and fog though. Perhaps with more practice…


fly agaric.

Posted in Elementals with tags , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2010 by Susana Romatz

This is a set of lovely fly agaric growing at a neighbor’s house up the road. I love, love, love this mushroom because it calls up the world of the unknown, just by looking at it! I’ve heard it can be hallucinogenic (as long as you are able to live through the poison part) although they are very unpredicatble.

David Arora told a story about visiting Japan and walking up a hill to visit some mushroom hunters. He noticed that there were king boletes (Boletus edulis–a highly prized edible mushroom in the States) growing all over the hillside. He picked many of them and made his way to the Japanese mushroom hunter’s house. They scoffed at his boletes, saying that they squish them into the ground because they are so disgusting. Then they pulled out two huge bags of Amanita muscaria, the fly agaric, which is apparently a highly prized edible there. David Arora laughed and told them that in the States we squish the fly agaric into the ground because we don’t eat them.

I don’t squish Amanita mushrooms. I don’t eat them either, because, frankly, I’m a little scared of them. According to David Arora, you can eat them after you boil them and dump off the water (as they do in Japan). Some folks like to drink the water and experience the trippage…but I’m afraid of experiencing the extreme gastrointestinal distress end of that spectrum. Or the seizure aspect. Or the coma aspect. Or, even more undesirable, the dead aspect (although Wikipedia tells me that the fatal dose is 15 caps, which is a ridiculously huge amount of mushrooms to eat, even in a soup).

I do believe that fly agarics are related to elementals, mostly because of the feel of them. Whenever anyone sees a fly agaric, they are overcome with that sense of magick that only fairies bring. Lots and lots of people put them in their fairy pictures or when they want to impart a feeling of the mystery of nature:

(Moritz von Schwind)

(Elsa Beskow)

Anyway, I love the fly agaric. Maybe someday I will parboil one. Until that time, I will content myself to view them as gnome meeting grounds and treat them with respect.

(I think I caught a little brown fairy taking a rest on this one!)


Posted in Elementals with tags , , , , , , on November 12, 2010 by Susana Romatz

I didn’t always believe in elves and fairies. I’d read about them here and there in fairy tales or the odd woo-woo spirit crystal healing book I chanced to pick up from a library shelf. I saw them flying around in movies like Dark Crystal or Labyrinth. It wasn’t until I started reading Ted Andrew’s books that I really actually got an idea of what a fairy might be, and that they actually might exist.

I first read Animal Speak. It was a fine book that directed me to look more closely at my encounters with animals. What was the animal world trying to tell me about myself? Was I seeing lots of squirrels? Perhaps I should start saving up for a cold or rainy day…hard times might be coming. That red tailed hawk I’ve seen four times in two days? Maybe I need to start honing my vision, looking toward my goal with more intensity.

Then I happened to see another book by Ted Andrews entitled Enchantment of the Fairie Realm. I bought the book from a store that sold singing bowls, John Waterhouse posters and tiny pewter dragons guarding real crystal balls. I was killing time, waiting for my partner to exit the store across the street, when this little tan book jumped out at me. I flipped through the pages and decided to buy it, although I didn’t really even start to skim the book until a year later.

Andrews believes that we “see” fairies more subconsciously, at least at first, than consciously. The blur you see out of the corner of your eye, the face you glimpse in the wood grain or the bark of a tree, the mini dust twister that swirls across the playground as you walk home–any of these could be fairies showing their face to you. Andrews even says that when you smell a particularly delicious waft of flowers or sap, the fairies have said hello to you. The more conscious and grateful of these gifts you become, the more often you will be graced by them and the more fairy enriched your life will become.

I imagine it’s different for everyone, but my experience of the elementals (gnomes-earth beings, salamanders-fire beings, sylphs-air beings and undines-water beings) has been more of a subliminal experience. I don’t usually “see” them, I just have a feeling that they are there. I can sense when there are a lot, and I can sense that there are not a lot. I can sometimes feel the qualities of the elementals that live in a certain area. They might be light and playful or grumpy and warty. They might wish that I would leave them alone to do their work in peace, or they might invite me to join in with their play.

Andrews says that the first step toward interacting with an elemental is to acknowledge that they are here with us. That might mean saying thank you when you pass a delicious smelling daphne or saying hello when you see a flicker of movement from the corner of your eye or even singing a song while you’re weeding a garden bed. It doesn’t have to be big or loud, but it will definitely awaken your super senses to fairy activity…

(John Waterhouse-Undine)