In this article R J Stewart gets more specific in how he experiences and views Elementals, Faeries and Nature Spirits. There are so many different views around on the Net, but these are his and he's considered an expert.
Faeries, Nature Spirits, Elementals
Article (3) written for and published by PanGaia Magazine
By R J Stewart © May 2001
During my travels in the USA teaching workshops, one question keeps recurring, in various forms. “What is the difference between/connection between Faeries, Nature Spirits, and Elementals?”
Like most questions, there are several possible answers, and none of them are true. However, we can draw near to the truth of the matter, especially through meditation, vision, and direct experience of the spirit world of our planet.
Not the spirit world of angels, but that of our planet, which teems with spiritual life.
So this article is intended to help set the scene for your own experience, to offer some simple thoughts, ideas, questions, and challenges. Especially challenges to popular established dogma and propaganda about Faeries, Nature Spirits, and Elementals. As with most spiritual matters, let us begin at the end of the list, and work our way towards the beginning.
Some years ago I had a conversation with the author Isaac Bonewitz. He said (approximately) that Elementals only exist in the formal temple or lodge where the ritual magician has created them. We discussed this for some time, and I think we disagreed in a friendly manner. However, his statement made me think about the popular idea of Elementals, as it is presented in modern literature on magic, paganism, witchcraft, earth mysteries, and so forth. There is, I concluded, a problem. If we think about Elementals as small components of “pure” Air, Fire, Water, Earth, with some sort of consciousness, we are making them too abstract, and too small. These “pure” Elementals are what Isaac Bonewitz was talking about, and they are indeed mainly found where they have been impressed into existence by temple magic. They have no independent existence in nature, and will fade if they are not constantly maintained. This is similar to many experimental or analytical situations in science, which cannot be maintained outside laboratory conditions.
Back in the late 1970’s I was at sea during a terrible storm in which several ships, including sailboats in the Fastnet Race, were lost. This experience left me in no doubt about the existence of Elementals…. they are large conglomerate beings of one primary Element, but with the other three present also. Thus the Storm lived as many huge wind Elementals (Air) and the mountainous seas (Water). It was also itself, a Storm. This made it, for the duration of its life, a Nature spirit, defined by both power and place.
Elementals are a gathering of forces into undeniable and certain patterns: the forest fire, the volcanic eruption, the tornado, and the earthquake. Anyone with spiritual sensitivity who has been in any such events will confirm the presence of a host of beings that make up the greater being, the total.
Thus to attempt to isolate “an Elemental” is like isolating an atom…perhaps exactly the same. It is a technical or artificial process. They all exist in Nature, but do not exist naturally in isolation, for they are defined utterly by one another. Many Fire elementals make a bonfire, or a firestorm, but they can do so only through interaction with those of Air and Earth to build that larger Elemental being. It is a matter of relativity and not one of abstract absolutes.
We are already Elementals!
Do not forget, dear Reader, that you are already an Elemental, several of them in fact. Our bodies are made of Water, Earth, Fire, and Air. Our consciousness and energies are Elemental. That is, the philosophical or metaphysical concept of the Four Elements as relative states of motion and energy, but not the modern idea of elements as defined in chemistry and physics. So to find Elementals, we need look no further than our own bodies and moods. And, I would suggest, we should pay more attention to the way our bodies and emotions interact with places and with weather changes. In the faery- based spiritual traditions, interaction with weather and with place brings deep insights. This idea of ourselves as Elementals, raises a fundamental theme for our discussion, maybe even (greatly daring) a definition:
1. All beings in nature, corporeal or spiritual, are made up of combinations and rhythms of the Elements. Thus faeries, nature spirits, humans, trees, plants, animals, fishes, insects, mountains, oceans, continents, telephone calling cards, chewing gum, and canned soft drinks, are all composed of Elementals in varying patterns or sets of relationship. Some are highly active, some are relatively inactive.
2. Occasionally we will experience large Elementals, such as storms, fires, earthquakes.
3. Elementals are not faeries or nature spirits, but faeries and nature spirits are often strongly elemental in their character.
So Nature Spirits are…what? As is so often the case, we can discover what something may be, by discerning what it is not. Surely they are not cutesy little things posturing upon cultivated irradiated mutated cut flowers or lisping thoftly to us from the well-pruned toxin -laden trees of suburbia. I feel, sense, and commune with nature spirits as Spirits of Place…. powerful zones of consciousness and energy in and of, say, a forest, a hill, a river. They have distinct presence, powers, and perceptions, but they do not move around beyond their own boundaries. They are the spirits that the ancients called genii loci.
By comparison, and of a different order, the spiritual forces of plants, flowers, trees, are collective entities, within the natural world, and segments of these may live within or comprise organs of, any specific Nature Spirit. The collectives are found over huge areas, sometimes world wide, just like humans.
Thus Nature Spirits are complex entities, made up of a totality of many other beings…all involving Elementals. Just as humans, animals, and all living creatures.
What about the Faeries?
Traditionally, Faeries were the first order of spiritual beings in the world, before humans existed. They, like all things, have Elemental relative patterns. They are made up of Elementals, as we are, as all things on this planet are. But they, like us, are not just Elementals. The whole is more than the sum of the parts.
Faery beings, however, often tend strongly towards one Element. Thus a powerful faery being of the ocean will be of Water more than any other Element, but it is not a water elemental. When one of the huge storms develops, short-lived water Elementals grow in power, along with short-lived air Elementals. These large vessels or Elementals are traditionally ridden by the faery beings, which exalt in the wild Elemental power. So there is an exchange, an interconnection, but the faery beings are not the Elementals.
More significant is the long -standing tradition of the independence of faery beings: many of them are not bound by place or elemental qualities, and can move and interact freely with considerable power. Thus they are not Nature Spirits or Elementals, though they may participate for some time in the life- cycle of certain places (just as we do).
To put it more simply, faery beings have independent personalities, aims, thoughts, practices, powers, sports, customs, loves, desires, and use no computers or cell phones. They are free spirits.
Elementals, however, are utterly and only defined by elemental patterns beyond which they have no existence. Nature Spirits are defined by a complex interaction of power and place, a fusion of many varied energies of consciousness and vitality.
In Kabbalistic tradition, the Elementals are said to be the result, the end product, of the consciousness and energy of universal angelic forces impinging upon our planet Earth, and thus generating a response. All living beings on the planet, physical and spiritual, partake of that response, being energized and, so to speak, given definition by the ceaseless Elemental dance of relationships.
So we might conclude thus: humans, living creatures, and faeries, are complex. They are made up of complex interactions of the primary Elements of Air Fire Water and Earth. They all have affinities to certain Elements more than to others: the fiery temperament in a flamenco dancer, the earthy strength of the goat, the airy power of the trooping faeries that cleanse the polluted cities as they pass, and so forth.
Nature Spirits are less complex, have less volition, but are immensely powerful through their continuing interaction with all the other beings and Elementals of a locus, a place. This is why we feel distinct sensations in certain parts of the forest, in the mountains, by the shore.
Elementals are usually within and interacting with, all other forms. Just the same as we have many smaller entities that comprise our organs, cells, and so forth. Occasionally large and temporary Elementals will grow together, from many, as natural forces build into major events, such as storms, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, earthquakes. These active Elementals are comprised of all four elements (like everything else) but with a potent preponderance of one Element that is undeniable until it runs it course.