Gnomes - Nature Spirits of the Earth
By Rose Greenwood
Gnomes, the nature spirits associated with the earthelement, have been featured in legends around the world for millennia. The wordgnome is believed to have originally derived from the New Latin gnomus and theGreek genomus or earth-dweller. Gnomes are often thought to live underground orin subterranean passageways.
They have been known by many different names. Germanscall them "erdmanleins". In Denmarkand Norwaythey are called "nisse". In Brittanythey are called "nains". The Polish call they by the familiar"gnom".
Gnomes are one of the four types of nature spirits:gnomes (earth element), sylphs (air element), undines (water element) and fierysalamanders (fire element). Gnomes are usually depicted as small, bearded menwho care for plants, trees and other aspects of the earth.
Garden gnomes are the most well-known type of gnomes.They are believed to assist in the healthy growth of plants of all types. Theuse of representational statues of gnomes in gardens began in the mid-1800s.Garden gnome statues are most prevalent today in England, Germany and France. Other types of legendarygnomes are forest gnomes, house gnomes and dune gnomes. In some cultures, theterms gnomes and trolls are used interchangeably.
They continue to be featured in the literature of manycultures, including the recent Harry Potter book series. The book Gnomes by WilHuygen, with illustrations by Rien Poortvliet, has become a coffee tableclassic. Gnomes are also featured in many games, including some of the morepopular video and computer games.
Unfortunately, gnomes are often misunderstood andportrayed as mischievous or bad-tempered. The true nature of gnomes is that ofguardians of the earth. Gnomes try to counterbalance hazardous conditions inthe earth. For example, gnomes are under the direction of their own hierarchs,Virgo and Pelleur, and work closely with other nature spirits and angelichierarchs to mitigate cataclysmic events such as earthquakes.
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