Folklore, legends, and fairy tales are populated by unique beings who are aligned with the different elements. These entities aren't merely products of some storyteller's fertile imagination. Each of these creatures, known as elementals, has a specific function and its personality reflects its particular element. For instance, elves are earth beings who protect nature's sacredness. Most people can't see, hear, or touch them, but if you keep an open heart and open mind — and use your intuition — you can contact them.
In Benin, one elemental is called aziza (little people). The aziza live in forests, working magick much like the elves of European lore. Tibetans recognize the sa-bdag who bear remarkable similarities to the faery folk of Western stories. The chinoi of Malaysia are beings who live in flowers.
Devic beings have agendas, responsibilities, and projects of their own. They're not to be commanded like servants or carelessly invoked without consideration. Witches believe that elemental beings warrant their respect — and if you don't show respect to the elementals, they might not help you.
Magickally speaking, elemental beings are considered more powerful than humans when in their element. Although they are specialists in their own realm, they lack understanding of the other elements.
If they so choose, they can be very helpful to witches. Befriend them, and they will serve as devoted assistants in performing magick spells. The processes used to invoke an elemental being and work with it are too lengthy to describe here. If you'd like to examine this subject more closely, read Dancing with Devas by Patricia Telesco or Practical Solitary Magic by Nancy B. Watson.
Gnomes, whose name means “earth dwellers,” dwell in the element of earth. Said to have a great sense of humor and clever minds, they enjoy humans who are kind and honest, and will often help such individuals. At times, however, they can seem gruff or coarse. Sometimes called trolls or leprechauns, these elementals are practical, no-nonsense, “no frills” creatures. They possess a wonderful appreciation for material things and can be valuable aides when you're doing prosperity spells.
Other earth spirits include the dwarves of European faery tales, the bergbui (Teutonic mountain giants), the kubera (Hindu guardians of the north), and the simargl (Slavic guardians of all plants).
If you wish to work with a gnome, go to a wooded area, call to it, and wait patiently until it reveals itself to you or you sense its presence. Give it a small gift to thank it for its assistance. Gnomes love jewelry — the flashier the better — and quartz crystals. Bury your token in the ground as an offering to the earth spirits.
Sylphs are air elementals who appear as lovely winged beings, a bit like Disney's faery Tinkerbell. The ancients believed that these creatures carry many oracular messages from the gods to human beings. They generally gravitate to intelligent, literary, and analytical people.
In matters concerning communication, sylphs can be great allies — petition them when you're doing spells that involve contracts or negotiations of any kind. If you want to contact someone but can't do it through ordinary channels, a sylph can serve as an intermediary.
Sylphs are also said to interact well with the other elementals. For example, they blend their talents with those of the undines to make snowflakes. Some air spirits from around the world include ga-oh (the Seneca spirit of the four winds), boreas (the Greek personification of the north wind), and austri (a Norse dwarf who rules the air).
If you'd like to commune with a sylph, stand outside in the open air, preferably on a windy day. You can either call out to the sylph and ask it to join you, or whistle to attract its attention. Sylphs are fond of flowers of all kinds. To thank a sylph for its assistance, place fresh blossoms in a sacred spot outdoors as an offering. You can also scatter flower petals in the wind for sylphs to enjoy.
Salamanders look like bright, tiny lizards with tongues of flame. They inhabit the element of fire and are naturally drawn to people who exhibit courage, creativity, and initiative. Other manifestations of the fire spirit include the will-o'-the-wisp described in European and American stories, the hob (an English fire-tending faery), Logi (the Teutonic giant who governs wild fire), and Shawnodese (the spirit of the south in some Native American traditions).
Call upon these fire spirits when you do spells that involve action, inspiration, vitality, or passion. Salamanders can serve as liaisons, marshalling the forces of the fire realm to assist you. To contact these elementals, build a small fire or light a candle and gaze into the flame while you request their presence. Remember to thank them for their assistance by burning incense in their honor.
The undines (or ondines) are water spirits. Sometimes they show themselves to humans as mermaids or sirens, who live and frolic in the waves. Seafarers' folklore abounds with tales of these alluring creatures. Although usually described as quite beautiful, undines can be capricious. Their element — water — governs the emotions, and undines may shift moods unexpectedly. Undines relate best to sensitive, intuitive, and artistic people who don't try to repress their own emotions.
Other water spirits from around the world include Aganippe (a Greek water nymph who lives in the stream that provides poetic inspiration to the Muses), apo (Persian water spirits), gahongan (Iroquois water spirits), and Nakki (a Finnish water genie whom you can bribe with coins).
Invite the undines to assist you when you're doing love spells. They'll also come to your aid if you seek creative inspiration or want to improve your intuition. Sit quietly beside a body of water and gaze at the surface. Soon you may notice circular spots where the current seems to move more rapidly or bubble — those are the water spirits. Undines are fond of perfume and essential oils. Pour some scent in a stream, lake, or other body of water to thank them for helping you with a spell and they'll continue to serve you.