The are four groups of nature spirits that are collectively referred to as the Elementals. They are, in no specific order, the Sylphs, the Undines, the Gnomes, and the Salamanders. Each of these groups corresponds with one of the four elements; air, fire, earth, and water. They live among us, yet remain mostly unseen except by children (their young minds have not been corrupted yet) and skilled practitioners who have been trained to see them.
We can trace the roots of the naming to the Swiss physician, alchemist, theologian, and philosopher Paracelsus (ca. 1493–1541). Paracelsus was an enigma during his life as he found common ground in the physical sciences, magic, theology, and humanity. Rather than ignore one discipline for the sake of another, he viewed them all to be necessary and dependent on one another. He was thought to be a prophet of sorts and a diviner, but that’s another story altogether.
Salamanders – Fire
Fire spirits are any entity connected with the power of fire. This group is represented by the salamander, but not your typical salamander. This creature has the appearance of a lizard, but in reality is a fire-breathing beast that can have wings or not. These amazing beings are intense as they understand the duality of their nature. As fire both destroys and creates, sometime simultaneously, the salamanders are masters of understanding energy. Creatures that fall into this category are dragons, firedrakes, ifrits, fire faeries, phoenix, and hellhounds.
Gnomes – Earth
Although all Earth spirits are classified as gnomes, there are many different types. Any spirit or being that is of the earthly realm; living on the surface or beneath it, fits into this category. The list includes, but is not exclusive to trolls, giants, elves, dwarves, brownies, pygmies, dryads, satyr, and leprechauns. Earth Spirits are here to protect the planet and preserve them for the future. They are hard workers and very loyal and are constantly keeping tabs on everything earthbound; especially things that are changing. Most of them reside underground, in caves, or in hollow trees. They are attracted to those who care for the planet, making sure that resources are not be squandered or hoarded.
Undines – Water
The water spirits watch over the oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams across the planet. Undines are said to be able to connect the movements of water with human emotions. Of all the elementals, undines are the most approachable and friendly, however some are merely using that attraction for nefarious reasons. The list includes naiads, mermaids, water nymphs, sea maids, limoniades, oceanid, oreads, and potamides and they are almost exclusively seen in female or feminine forms. Many of them also are characterized as having wonderful melodious singing voices; again sometimes this was used to enchant human men.
Sylphs – Air
Sylphs are considered the highest vibrational elementals, and are considered to be beautiful beyond comparison. Most resemble a gathering of clouds or a type of angelic being, or an invisible mass. They are usually winged and slip in between the ground and the sky with ease. It is believed that they control the weather, pollination and foster creativity among humans. Sylphs are considered arrogant in comparison to other elementals. This category includes air faeries, silphid, angels and divas. Of all the forms of elementals, sylphs are the smallest group.
There are many articles about elementals and each one seems to add a degree of spin. Some are obviously intended to drive social and environmental justice messages. Others are more focused on the ‘personality’ of each type. At first I wanted to make this an all encompassing article about every detail I could find, but I didn’t. I don’t want anyone’s opinion being my opinion.
Use this brief introduction to the Elementals as a starting point in your research.