Archive for The Devil’s Doctor

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…