In occult and esoteric thought, Nature Spirits are various types of beings said to exist in nature.
Belief in the existence of nature spirits is common to all cultures throughout history. They are usually believed to be attached to a specific place, such as a tree, river, plant or mountain. They allegedly come in a variety of shapes and temperaments. Some are described as human in form, others are like animals or are half-human, half animal; some are regarded as helpful, others deceitful or malevolent. They are normally invisible to humans, except to those with Clairvyance.
Elementals are a sub-class of nature spirits that, according to occult belief, are a part of the life force of all things in nature.
In Ceremonial Magick and other Traditions such as Wicca and Neo-Paganism, they generally held to be ruled by archangels and are generally regarded as benevolent. The Neo-Platonic Greeks categorised Elementals according to the four Elements: Earth elementals are Gnomes, Air elementals are sylphs, Water elementals are Undines, and Fire elementals are salamanders.
In the Middle Ages interest in these main groups was revived and alchemists and Ceremonial Magicians sought to control and manipulate the forces of nature and the universe.
Other Nature Spirits include elves, who are said to live in the woods, and household spirits such as brownies, Goblins and bogIes. Fairies are also sometimes included in this category.
In Wicca and Neo-Paganism, nature spirits are to be treated with respect, as they can combine in a powerful energy. Their participation and cooperation is sought to enhance rituals and stimulate communication between mankind and Mother Earth.
When sites are selected for outdoor rituals, an effort is made to communicate with nature spirits, through meditation, to secure their cooperation and seek their guidance. Nature spirits are said to manifest themselves physically, through animal and insect noises, a rising of wind, fox fire, a clearing of sky, the sudden presence of an animal or a flock of birds. Some Clairvoyant individuals claim to be able to see them.
see also: FAIRY.
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.
Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans. Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.
Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church. Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.
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