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Nature spirits usually abide in trees, rivers, plants, bogs, mountains, and minerals. They attached themselves to practically every natural thing. In China, for example, they watch over the rice, silk, roads, gateways, and other things.
In the Shinto religion of Japan there is worship of nature, nature forces, and nature spirits.
Nature spirit worship was also practiced by the Greeks and Romans who believed spirits inhabited every glen, pool, and even the air. As can be seen there are many incidences of the universality of nature spirit worship.
Elementals are of a lower type of nature spirit. They are believed to exist as the life force in all living things. They are said to even exist in the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water; the planets, stars, and the signs of the zodiac; and the hours of the day and night.
They are ruled or governed over by higher spirits such as devas or archangels (which in modern witchcraft are called Lords of the Watchtowers, the Guardians, or the Mighty Ones). Generally elementals are looked upon as benevolent creatures that maintain natural harmony.
The Neoplatonic Greeks (ca. third century AD) grouped the elementals according to the four elements of life. The elementals of the earth are the gnomes, ruled by the angel Ariel; the ones of the air are the sylphs, ruled by Cherub; the ones of the water are the undines, ruled by Tharsis; and there are five elementals that are salamanders, ruled by Seraph. Porclus, in the fifth century, added a fifth group which dwells beneath the ground; and in the eleventh century Psellus included a sixth group, the 'lucifugum' which means "fly-the-light."
Interest in the elementals increased during the Middle Ages and Renaissance when practitioners alchemy and magic sought to acquire nature's secrets so to be able to control her forces.
Also included among elementals are elves who live in woods and along seashores, and household spirits such as goblins, brownies, bogles, and kobolds. Sometimes fairies are included within the elemental category, and also mannikins which are male fairies having the attributes of elves, gnomes, and brownies.
In the folklore among many Native North American tribes, water babies, that are small in human form, inhabit lakes, streams, springs, and other bodies of water. The are not malicious, but do at times play tricks on humans, and are feared.
Other types of "little people" as they are called do inhabit forests and mountains. Some are said to possess powerful medicine which they frequently bestow on humans in times of need.
Elementals do appear to clairvoyants and are easy recognizable. Many are claimed to wear clothes and jewelry. Gnomes are dwarfish living in caves and mountains. Sylphs appear as butterflies, undines as waves, and salamanders as lizard-like creatures that frolic in flames.
Thus far elementals, except the water babies, seem like nice, friendly little creatures of nature. But, others share a different viewpoint. Although the elementals are classed as nature spirits, they are thought by some to be entities of the astral plane. The origin of the belief in their existence seems to be similar to the one previously mentioned; the belief in elementals was at its height when everything in nature was thought to possess life, and these spirits were thought to live in every tree, stream, hill, cloud, and boulder.
Some writers describe them as evil, others as evil or just mischievous, others say they are both good and bad. The latter description is derived from the Greek term "daimone." They also have been classed somewhere between angels and men, and can materialized in animal or human form.
Out of the conjunction of folklore and demonology comes the succubi. In rabbinical writings the first of all succubi was Lilith who was the personification of feminine lust, and mated with Adam before Eve. Some say she seduced Adam. Others claim she conceived from his nocturnal emissions spilt during his sleep. Either way, elementals, such as the satyr, elves, and the like which inhabit the secret parts of the earth invisible to normal man, resulted from Lilith's conception. Some occultists still hold creation of these invisible creatures still continues.
Within the occult tradition a child born out of marriage bonds is not subject to demonic contamination, but an offspring born of artificial insemination, through the means of an incubus or succubus as the case may be, is, and they carry the elemental stigma showing that they are not truly human. The pure elemental does not have the proper corporeality or material substance. It is ethereal in substance although it does partakes to some extent of the nature it inhabits.
Some believe elementals lack souls and seek sexual union with humans in order to acquire one. They are capable of copulating and bearing children. Folklore contains many tales of such prodigies such as Hercules, Achilies, Plato, Alexander the Great, and Julius Caesar. Many are known to have existed in the royal and ducal houses of France and England. Among them are the Merovingian and Carlovingian kings (the latter included Charlemagne) to name a few, although there were others. Folklore seems to have a fascination for human-elemental unions.
Some elementals are said to be deceitful and hateful toward human beings and enjoy causing accidents and tragedies. Frequently these entities are associated with ritual magic and sent on psychic attacks by magicians. The practitioners of such magic say when elementals are summoned they attach themselves to the human aura. Unless they are dispatched when their mission is accomplished they unnecessarily drain energy from the aura.
Also, along with this category of elementals may fall confused spirits which are attached to the aura of their victims. If these spirits are not properly detached from their victims through deposition they can be extremely troublesome.
Artificially created elementals are commonly called thought-forms. They are generally considered non-physical entities existing in the mental or astral plane. They do affect the human aura, which can be seen by clairvoyants, and sensed by others on an intuitive level. Thought-forms radiate out and attack sympathetic essences. A.G.H.