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Part of the Magick in Theory & Practice series.

In mysticism, mythology and alchemy, an elemental is a creature (usually a spirit) that is attuned with, or composed of, one of the classical elements: air, earth, fire and water. The elements balance each other out through opposites: water quenches fire, fire boils water, earth contains air, air erodes earth. The concept of elementals seems to have been conceived by Paracelsus in the 6th century. Paracelsus' elementals were:

Element Elemental Source
Air Sylph invented by Paracelsus, though supposedly part of Greek and Egyptian mythologies (not confirmed)
Earth Gnome invented by Paracelsus, but probably based on the traditional kobold
Fire Salamander invented by Paracelsus
Water Undine water goddesses from Homeric myth

Elementals are commonly mentioned in grimoires dealing with alchemy and sorcery and are usually called by summoning.

In modern occultism the word Elemental can also be used to mean any simple or only partly sentient spiritual entity. These entities can be entirely natural (ie the spirit of a group of trees) or can be created by magicians or sorcerers to perform a task for them. The latter type are called Servitors. This kind of "subservient" or "man-made" elemental can be found mentioned in the works of Austin Osman Spare or Aleister Crowley. They are a vital concept in modern Chaos Magic.


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