What are Nature spirits and Fairies?

In response to the many questions we receive from readers about fairies, we present the true occult facts about nature spirits in this article, without the misleading embellishments or fanciful speculations we often find in books written by many modern psychics


Let us begin by saying that we ourselves have no doubt whatsoever about the existence of the beings variously known as fairies, pixies, gnomes, mermaids, undines, sylphs, salamanders, brownies, kobolds, nixies, and so on and so forth. We say this not only from personal experience, but also because of the evidence of thousands of trained seers throughout history, in every part of the world, who have recorded their clairvoyant observations of these elemental beings in their investigation of the hidden side of Nature.

You are, of course, free to discount this large body of evidence and dismiss elementals as the figments of the imagination of millions of deluded men and women, in which case we suggest that you stop reading now and go off and watch something 'real' instead, such as a television game show! Those of you who do not have the inner sight, but do 'believe in fairies', will find much to interest you in this article, as well as in the books about these marvellous beings we review for further reading and study in the fairies books section of our website.

The Elemental Kingdoms

Occult Science affirms the existence of the four elements of Fire, Water, Earth and Air, or the elements of Primary Creation as they are also called. These are homogeneous elements and not the compound elements known to material science. Every nature spirit within each element corresponds to and depends upon the Being to whose Essence it belongs. So fairies, or nature spirits come under the domination of the higher ones, known as the Devas or 'Shining Ones' in Eastern occultism. The Devas in their turn are the collective aggregate of Divine Intelligence. Therefore, the formation of the elements, out of which the elementals or nature spirits have arisen, goes right back to the time of the period of the first breath of differentiation of the Pre-Cosmic Elements, or Matter in its primordial condition. You can read more about matter from the standpoint of Occult Science in our article why matter matters.

Every nature spirit belongs to one of these four elements. Those who are connected with Fire are called salamanders; with Air, sylphs and fairies; with Water, undines; and those connected with Earth are known as gnomes, pixies, brownies, etc. But we must not think that these beings are all alike. Far from it, within each element there are rank upon rank of nature spirits of all kinds, each of which has its own particular work to do in connection with the fundamental processes of Nature, such as absorption, assimilation and discharge of the life force, sometimes called 'prana' in Eastern occultism. In addition, the various grades of nature spirits are concerned with building up, preserving, and breaking down the various states of matter, both seen and unseen.

The inhabitants of the Elemental Kingdoms

Many people who are not clairvoyant wonder what fairies look like. The occultist and writer Bulwer-Lytton provides the answer in his famous novel Zanoni (reviewed in our books section of the website.) in which he says:

"Now, in space there are millions of beings not literally spiritual, for they have all, like the animalculae unseen by the naked eye, certain forms of matter, though matter so delicate, air-drawn, and subtle, that it is, as it were, but a film, a gossamer that clothes the spirit. Hence the Rosicrucian's lovely phantoms of sylph and gnome. Yet, in truth, these races and tribes differ more widely, each from each, than the Calmuc from the Greek,—differ in attributes and powers. In the drop of water you see how the animalculae vary, how vast and terrible are some of those monster mites as compared with others. Equally so with the inhabitants of the atmosphere: some of surpassing wisdom, some of horrible malignity; some hostile as fiends to men, others gentle as messengers between earth and heaven."

As ever, this peer among mystics sums up the whole matter in a few lines. The elemental beings who direct the invisible hidden forces that drive the great storms that rage across our planet may well be regarded as 'hostile as fiends to men'. Their work seems utterly destructive and cruel, often leaving thousands dead, injured and homeless from the devastation wrought by tsunamis and hurricanes. But such elementals are not 'evil'. They have no consciousness of self as we understand it, and therefore no concept of 'right' or 'wrong.' They are simply the unconscious or semi-conscious agents of the universal laws they serve. The occultist and seer, Geoffrey Hodson, three of whose books we review in the books section of our website, gives a very vivid and true description of such air elementals in his book Fairies at work and at play. We quote his description in full in our afterword to this article at right, together with other clairvoyant observations from his books.

What about those nature spirits which are 'gentle as messengers between earth and heaven' which Bulwer-Lytton also mentions? You can read about these heavenly messengers of beauty and joy in Geoffrey Hodson's lively descriptions in our extracts from his books in our afterword at right.

From the foregoing and the examples we give in our afterword, it will be clear that a comprehensive description of the inhabitants of the elemental kingdoms is an utter impossibility. One might as well try to count and classify human beings from a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual perspective, and then distil this down to a single statement. You may object that the writer Douglas Adams did just that when he described humanity as "mostly harmless" in his book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but amusing as this statement may be, it does not really tell us very much about mankind. Were we to say that nature spirits are 'mostly good' you would probably very quickly stop reading this article and look for a more complete answer, and serve us right for our levity!

Those nature spirits in charge of the waters, the woods, the hills, the mountains are mostly entirely benevolent and loving in nature. There are, further, the cloud and wind Devas, who paint those magnificent pictures in the sky at sunrise and sunset which enthral all sensitive minds. Nature spirits are only one of the ranks or orders of spirits who compose the Hierarchy which rules the Universe under God. There are vast numbers of them and they are divided into three main classes: the Bodiless; the Form Devas; and the Passion Devas. The Bodiless ones belong to the highest realms of light, completely inaccessible to all but the greatest seers, and are composed of what we may call mental elemental Essence. Form Devas are of a lower grade of evolution, and while their bodies are composed also of the same Essence, they have no direct connection with mankind. The Passion Devas dwell in the Astral World, and their bodies are composed of Astral Elemental Essence, and these are the beings most commonly seen by clairvoyants.

The first teachers of Humanity

Some of the hierarchies of the highest Devas taught the early human races the origin of everything on earth, and the material and spiritual evolution of all things and beings, including physical man, right from the first beginnings of humanity more than 18 million years ago up to the start of the Kali Yuga, or 'Black Age', which began about 5,000 years ago, coinciding with the death of Krishna, the Holy Hindu Saviour. They taught the true history of the Races, from the First to our present race, the Fifth. The Sages of the Third Race learnt it from the Devas and passed the knowledge on to the inhabitants of lost Atlantis; and it was given in the Senzar language, which was known to the Initiates of every Nation. These learnt this secret sacerdotal tongue from the Sons of Light in Central Asia, and parts of this knowledge can be found in all the sacred Books, such as the Chaldean Book of Numbers, the Corpus Hermeticum, the Puranas in India, the Shuh-King in China, and even in the Sepher Jetzirah of the Kabbalists.

This early period of humanity was a true 'Golden Age', when the Gods walked upon the Earth and mixed freely with the mortals. It was the dawn of man's consciousness, and man in those days had no beliefs that could be called religion. Had they not their bright Gods of the Elements around them, and even within themselves? Their childhood was nursed and tended by those who had given them being, and called them forth to intelligent life. When the Gods departed, or became invisible, the later generations ended by worshipping their Kingdoms—the Elements.

It is through these 'Sons of God' that infant humanity learnt its first notions of all the arts and sciences, as well as of spiritual knowledge; and it is They who laid the first foundation stone of those ancient civilisations that so sorely puzzle our modern generations of students and scholars. So they lead men onwards, until by eating of the fruit of knowledge, dispelling ignorance, Man becomes like one of the gods. They are the guardian spirits of the human race, or, as Hermes says: "those who dwell in the neighbourhood of the immortals, and thence watch over human affairs."

Deva evolution

All the Devas pass through four stages of evolution, first in the mineral kingdom, then in the vegetable kingdom, then the animal kingdom and finally incarnate in the human kingdom. These states are referred to as Immetalisation, Inherbation, Inzoönization, and Incarnation. When they reach the stage of human evolution—as many of them have done—they become active forces and have to do with the elementals, the progressed entities of the animal kingdom, in order to develop gradually into the complete form of humanity.

But they do not incarnate as humans until the Third Root Race, for in the First Race on earth they are ethereal beings, and in each of the subsequent Races and sub-races they became more and more encased in material matter; in the Fourth Race their intellect has greatly developed and they gradually acquire speech and language. Their primordial spirituality is eclipsed and overshadowed by nascent human mentality. So they have descended from the ranks of Gods to Man, and now commences the terrible climb back to God-hood; through suffering, trial, test and temptation, to initiation into the mysteries, whence they return laden with the treasures of experience; victory over the material; and wisdom fully developed. You can read about the seven Races of humanity in the Secret Doctrine, reviewed in our books section of the website.

But as these Devas were material Spirits, they were not always good. One of the bad Devas was their King Thevetat, and it is due to the evil influence of this King-Demon that the Race of Atlanteans became a nation of black magicians in the end. This led to war and the disfigured allegories of the race of Cain, of the giants, and of Noah and his righteous family. This war ended when Atlantis was submerged, which cataclysm again found echoes in the stories of the Babylonian and Mosaic Flood.

Clairvoyance and the 'third eye'

There are vast numbers of elemental beings of all types and grades, and they vary enormously in appearance, attributes and intelligence, from the tiny flower fairies seen by many clairvoyants to the mighty Devas who rule over the great oceans, mountain ranges and entire continents. All these beings are material, no less so than man, but of a finer grade of matter that is invisible to our physical sight. This is the matter that the astral world is composed of and the elementals exist in this world or realm. Consequently, they can only be perceived clairvoyantly, despite the assertions of some investigators, past and present, who claim to have photographed fairies, as we shall see later on in this article.

The reason they cannot be seen is that humanity lacks the so-called 'third eye'. The inner senses, which were natural to the early Races of mankind, have atrophied during racial growth and the development of the outer senses. There once existed four-armed creatures, male-female in nature, with one head, but three eyes. The third, or central eye at the back of the head, gave them spiritual vision, and all the elements were full of wonders to them. After the separation of the sexes, men having fallen into matter, the third eye began to lose its power, and, when the Fourth Race had run half its course, it was closed entirely and the inner vision had to be awakened by artificial stimuli; the process of which was the secret of the Initiates or Sages.

Then the third eye gradually petrified and disappeared altogether and became what is now known as the pineal gland, a small pea-like mass of grey nervous matter attached to the back of the third ventricle of the brain; it now almost invariably contains mineral concretions and sand, and nothing more. The inner vision can now only be acquired through training and initiation, save in the case of the natural and born magicians, or sensitives and mediums. During trances and spiritual visions it swells and expands; the initiate knows how to regulate it, and the aspirant who is pure in heart need not fear it. Unfortunately, the Deva eye exists no more for the majority of mankind; it is dead and acts no longer, and the only witness to its previous existence is the pineal gland inside the brain. The two remaining eyes in the human embryo are also centred within the brain and grow from within without.

As in the case of the eyes, so all the human senses are developed from within to the without; the third eye retreated inward when its course was run. It was also called the eye of Shiva, and it is known that the reason for its loss was the misuse the Atlantean black magicians put it to, by making it the fane of every spiritual iniquity in the Land of Sin—as Atlantis was termed by the early Pioneers of our present Fifth Race.

The Cottingley Fairy photographs

One notable investigator of the inhabitants of the elemental kingdoms, was the author and spiritualist, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In his book The Coming of the Fairies, first published in 1922, he records his involvement with the now discredited 'Cottingley Fairy photographs', taken by two little girls, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, in the village of Cottingley, near Bradford, during the early years of the 20th Century. In the early 1980s Elsie and Frances admitted in several interviews that the photographs were faked, using cardboard cut-outs of fairies copied from a popular children's book of the time, although both insisted that they really had seen fairies, and Frances maintained this position until her death in 1986. We do not doubt their claims in the least, for we too, have seen fairies, and so have millions of others all throughout human history.

How and why the photographs were faked, and by whom, and for what reasons, forms no part of this article, though we would add in passing that many of the characters involved, including Conan Doyle and Edward Gardner, a leading Theosophist, had their own reasons for participating in, and encouraging the phenomenon. Interested readers who wish to know more about the two girls and the other individuals involved in this trickery and their possible motivations, will find plenty of literature on the subject, both in print and online, notably in one of the latter chapters in Seeing Fairies, reviewed in our books section of the website.

What is quite certain is that the inhabitants of the elemental kingdoms cannot be photographed, for the simple reason that they are composed of a finer material than our earthly matter which is not susceptible of being captured by any presently known photographic technique or apparatus. Yet Conan Doyle's book is important because it brought the existence of the hitherto derided and largely unknown invisible elemental kingdoms of Nature to the attention of the public and the scientific community. The fact that science did not profit from this opportunity and continues to deny the existence of any form of life that cannot be detected by its instruments is its loss. We do not doubt that Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths could see fairies clairvoyantly, notwithstanding the trickery they later got involved with, possibly because no one believed them then, any more than most people believe in fairies today, unless it is the 'tooth fairy', which at least can be relied upon to provide sweets or cash!

This is a very great pity, for if more people were aware of the existence of the countless ranks of the invisible nature spirits who compose the Hierarchy which rules the Universe under God, they would have a very different outlook on the world. We may read in The Golden Star that "the highest poetry of speech or pen could never once succeed in a recital that would aptly show the purity of these inspiring shapes, ethereal, intangible; not shades or phantoms, but a race of pure intelligence and full of vital essence." This is true. The higher nature spirits are all glorious Beings of vast knowledge and power, calm, yet irresistible, and altogether magnificent in appearance, as you can see in the illustrations which have been made of them by such artists as Ethelwynne M. Quail, who painted the pictures that illustrate Geoffrey Hodson's Kingdom of the Gods, reviewed in our books section of the website.

The work of nature spirits

From the smallest cell in our bodies to a mighty alp, the invisible workers of Nature's elemental kingdoms are constantly shaping and transforming matter, unseen and unsung servants of the Devas who direct their activities, who are themselves the agents of still greater and more powerful beings who rule over each element. Nature spirits are the active agents which further the evolution of plants, flowers and trees, as well as the seas and oceans, atmosphere and earth; their auras radiating all around and stretching out in lovely colours like streamers, or moving clouds; and with these auras they touch all growing things; imparting to them their own vital forces.

In The Golden Star, mentioned above, we may read that nature spirits take their work very seriously:

"Those who have the Sight can see them in the trees, the rocks, a drop of rain, the rushing waterfall, or in the ponds between the plumes of reeds, and on the leaves and in the cups of water-lilies. And at the sound of music they come trooping out and dance; and when the artist is inspired to great creations, they guide his hand and eye and mix his paints, and every stroke of brush imprisons a wee fairy, that shines out from his masterpiece in rays of beauty.

"Fantastically dressed they are, and little elfin faces peep out and peer from under pointed hoods and caps of gold and brown and red and blue; their eyes mischievous green and sparkling with life's joy. Some are transparent like a crystal and others look like little men, who busily bestir themselves with mien important. Here are tiny elves like angels, as they fly from bloom to bloom and kiss their petals softly. And gnomes with spades dig in the earth and fetch great gems and lumps of gold to hide in caverns in the hills, where treasures vast accumulate, to give delight to mortals in the far dim distant ages.

"And when the master-singer rings his golden streams of melody, they float upon the waves of that delight right into trembling souls of all his audience.

"They live in blocks of marble and of granite, until the chisel of the sculptor brings release; and for all time they stand in ecstasy that echoes in the hearts of men and brings them joy.

"More wondrous still: they are in every word that flows from the great pens of authors guided by the Master; and in every drop of ink a spark of glowing fire that spreads on virgin page in traceries of mystic characters, that even he can't always understand at time of writing."

But not all nature spirits are what we would regard as beautiful or well-disposed towards human beings. We hear an echo of this in the folk tales about changelings left in place of stolen human babies by the fairies, or mischief-making gnomes and pixies who wreak havoc when they are crossed or annoyed. Some nature spirits are spiteful and cruel and can do harm if they are given the chance. But we should remember that this is not through any evil intention on the part of such beings, for as we have said earlier, they are in their lower ranks simply the unconscious agents of the universal laws. One might as well call a flame cruel for burning us when we put our hand in the fire, or the wind malicious when a sudden gust blows our umbrella inside out!

Most nature spirits are not even aware that there are such creatures as human beings and avoid them if they possibly can. You may say that the nature spirits are wise to do so and we would not disagree with you!

So we have learnt that nature spirits or elementals (the same thing) both surround us and are within us at all times. They produce the phenomena we know as light, heat, magnetism, growth, decay, and so on. They dwell in the very marrow and sinews of our bodies and regulate the blood in our veins and the various chemical processes that sustain us. They manipulate the formation of minerals, the growth of crystals, the development of plants and animals, and the awakening within them of the first germ of consciousness. The trained Seer sees and knows them as they are, and in the genuine Occult Orders, a few of which still exist today, the pupils learn their secrets; long forgotten now by most and veiled from vulgar gaze.

The true poet and inspired artist sees them in inner vision and tries in vain to tell the glories that his soul beholds. To children and the simple in heart, fairies dwell still within the hearts of flowers, or in the sheen of iridescent insect's wings. They sparkle in the eyes of laughing maidens and linger on their dimpling cheeks. They are the scent of roses and of the odorous may that adorns the hedges in spring; and with their fairy-brush they tint the blooms, the fruits, the leaves and grasses, that with their joyful message raise up our hearts and minds to Paradise.

Books about nature spirits and fairies

If this article has encouraged you to learn more about the hidden side of Nature you will find much to interest and inspire you in the five classic books we review about fairies.


© Copyright occult-mysteries.org. Article added 3 February 2015. Updated 24 August 2023

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