Elementals and Perception


The elder bushes are flowering!

Folk wisdom says that you should tip your hat to the elder berry bush. The shrub is said to protect against evil spirits, black magic and witches as well as against fire and lightning and was called the tree of life in folklore. As the elder is a really hardy plant, it was a symbol for vitality.  Its withering foretold the death of a family member, cutting it down brought bad luck or death upon you. The believe that the bush housed benign domestic spirits was the reason that it was planted in many gardens.

The German word for elder, “Holunder”, derives possibly from Nordic mythology, as the seat of the goddess Holder or Holla, the protector of home and farmstead. Holda is the origin of the brothers Grimm’s fairy tale “Mother Holle”. The snowflakes or the gold poured out by Mother Holle are the white flower petals of the elder berry bush. The black berries are the pitch. If you ever had to remove elder berry spots from clothing you know what I mean.

(Source: Wikipedia, german version: “Schwarzer Holunder”; http://www.hauenstein-rafz.ch/de/pflanzenwelt/pflanzenportrait/laubgehoelze/Schwarzer-Holunder-Sambucus-nigra.php#.U4saaF663bI)

What we can find in myths, fairy tales, and folklore of Central Europe are only poor remains of a knowledge, that was alive during pre-christian times and possibly up to the Middle ages. In the stunted form we see today it is obvious how fear of demons and superstition have overgrown existing knowledge. You can read more on the hidden wisdom of old fairy tales and the religions of our ancestors in our article “Fairy Tales, Myths, and Legends” of April 2013. There we have already talked about and interpretated the beautiful tale of “Frau Holle” (Mother Holle). But I didn’t know about the interesting relationship between Frau Holle and the elder berry bush then – therefore I wanted to add this interesting tidbit.

“Elemental Beings and Perception” – this edition of “FairyVeil” touches The central issue of our area of interest which I have avoided so far as it is very controversially discussed.

Millenia ago, no global means of communication like the internet or television were available. Nevertheless, a common knowledge of elemental beings acting in and through nature was established (of course different according to the region). From my point of view, this is only explicable if a relatively large part of the population was able to perceive these beings at least sometimes, just as today single men or women are gifted in such a way.

Dora van Gelder, Margot Ruis, Jana Haas, Marko Pogacnik, Gerhard Kogoj, and so on… but nowadays the number of people who can transmit and report their experiences with the elemental world seriously and reliably is very low. Were there no books and modern electronic communication nobody would get to know about their perceptions and experiences.

It seems that the ability to perceive nature beings has dwindled down during the last millennia.


On reading Dora van Gelder, you get the impression she can’t understand why most people are not able to see elves, an ability that for her is a matter of fact since her childhood:

„Why do most people not see fairies? They live in the same world as we do, but their bodies are less dense than ours, though only slightly less dense than a tenuous gas. I feel sure that the veil between them and us is exceedingly thin – so thin that nearly anyone could penetrate it with a little effort along the right line. the difficulty is to indicate this line an especially to get others to comprehend it. Most certainly, one strong reason for our not seeing them is due to a difference in point of view.“

(Dora van Gelder, The Real World of Fairies. Second Edition 1999, Quest Books. Chapter 1: Introduction to Fairy Worlds, p. 3.)

Does that mean if only people looked at the world of elemental beings with the right understanding, they would begin to perceive? Does it mean that modern humans are plagued by “inner blindness”? Consequently, our “perception disorder” could be healed by (spiritual) knowledge or “recognition” …

„As far as I am concerned I can see fairies. I can see them with my eyes shut, but I do not close my eyes ordinarily, as it is for one thing unnecessary, and for another, when clairvoyant sight has brought fairies into range, ordinary sight helps very much to observe details. And many fairies are so nearly perceptible by ordinary sight that it is much easier to study them with that. Just what sort of light they give off or reflect (for they are themselves luminous) I do not know, for I am not a physicist, and even if I were, where are the instruments with which to study anything so subtle? A scientific friend suggested looking at fairies with and without some borrowed spectacles, by way of making some sort of test about the kind of light is involved. I did so and found that the fairies looked different through the spectacles, just as trees look different. But perhaps the distortion is due to the effect upon one’s ordinary sight. Again, fairies seem not so visible through ordinary window glass, but the same difficulty arises here as before: is it the dimming of light to ordinary eyes that is affected?

(…) It is quite not so easy to get into contact with angels, however. The matter of which an angel’s body is made is very much finer than that of fairy bodies, and it is not visible at all to the physical eye. Angels require a pure form of clairvoyance for observation, so fine is the material of which their bodies are made. Thus, while angels are almost never seen with the physical eye, fairies can be seen that way, especially out of the corner of the eye. A number of people can see fairies on the fringe of vision. The theory is that the central part of the retina is used so much for ordinary sight that it does not respond to the more delicate vibrations of light from the fairies, whereas the rest of the retina is fresh and more suitable for such uses.“

(Dora van Gelder, The Real World of Fairies. Second Edition 1999, Quest Books. Chapter 1: Introduction to Fairy Worlds, p. 6 ff.)

Funny isn’t it? –  how this extraordinarily talented woman views her own talent and can’t understand why other people are not able to do what seems so ordinary for her? As if she had to curb herself not to cry out in frustration: “Oh come on, put some effort into it, it is just there in front of you!” … it is quite noticeable that nobody has ever accused the child Dora to be a liar or a spinner of tall tales, when she told of her perceptions … Topsy-turvy?

Why is the average human being comparatively limited in his perception? We will get no response by Dora van Gelder, but I would translate her remarks in this way: there is certainly a reason and you have to accept it…

„Maybe in a way it is just as well that this sense is not so readily at hand that people could force it to work. For any such violent effort to move nature ahead of her own time is in many cases fraught with danger. People sometimes try to press themselves forward into a clairvoyant state by using their will, taking drugs, or engaging in other practices. However, if its development is unnatural, clairvoyance is not usually safe. But this does not make it less real than in cases where the power occurs in a perfectly normal way.“

(Dora van Gelder, The Real World of Fairies. Second Edition 1999, Quest Books. Chapter 1: Introduction to Fairy Worlds, p. 5 f.)

At the beginning of the 20th century Rudolf Steiner – among some others – propagated a way of spiritual education to obtain “knowledge of higher/elevated worlds”. He enumerates three types of paths which were suitable for the three basic types of human beings: “The Yoga Path, the Christian-Gnostic Initiation and the Christian-Rosicrucian Initiation”. (Lesson: The Yoga Path, the Christian-Gnostic Initiation and the Esotericism of the Rosicrucians. Köln, 30. November 1906; Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe, Buch 97, S. 193ff.)

In a nutshell, these are three versions of occult training i.e. exercises to achieve clairvoyance, clairaudience etc.

If you search the Internet nowadays, you will find a lot of more or less obscure advices and techniques, how to learn “channeling”, in short: how to become a medium.

During the 20th century cultures and religions of indigenous people were thoroughly explored and they enjoy some popularity among certain groups. Some people interested in elemental beings practice shamanistic methods to study ways to perceive ethereal beings.

On the other hand there are voices warning against the dangers of esoteric and occult techniques which can lead in the worst case to mediumistic psychoses (mental disorders caused by the use of occult techniques).

Is it possibly harmful to try to communicate with nature beings?

Marko Pogacnik distinguishes 3 levels of perception:

„The first step into deeper perception happens when we live in our day-to-day consciousness but in addition enter the invisible worlds through special meditative states, visualisations or trance. We must be able to remember our experiences later in order to bring to waking consciousness what we have experienced in an exceptional state. On this first level, which is often realised through shamanistic rituals, we cannot integrate our experience of the invisible worlds into our ordinary consciousness. We swing back and forth between the two worlds. My first experiences, which I described in Chapter One, were such examples of a first step into clairvoyance. I was sitting and meditating with closed eyes in our kitchen at home and mentally moved into the world of elementals.“

(Marko Pogacnik, Nature Spirits & Elemental Beings. Working with the Intelligence of Nature. Second edition, Findhorn Press, Scotland, 2009, p. 224.)

But Marko Pogacnik warns vehemently against this kind of intrusion into the otherworld, because it can lead astray and the perception can be distorted without knowing it.

He rather recommends a “second level” for the communication with nature beings which he calls a “normal extension of our perception abilities”.

„After taking the second step, we no longer need to move back and forth between two opposing levels of consciousness. It is possible to perceive the invisible world as an existence parallel to normal reality. At the same time as remaining in normal consciousness, the experiences of the ’second‘ reality are fully registered, examined by the mind and immediately integrated into our own world of experience. While getting these impressions of another world dimension, we are at the same time completely anchored in our own body, and we sense ourselves as fully present alongside this invisible reality. At this level the heightened perception is integrated into day-to-day consciousness.“

(Marko Pogacnik, Nature Spirits & Elemental Beings. Working with the Intelligence of Nature. Second edition, Findhorn Press, Scotland, 2009, p. 226.)

According to his explanations, Marko Pogacnik’s own perceptions of the elemental world belong (after first experiments using the “first level” which he has experienced as problematic) to the “second level”.

Even if Marko Pogacnik calls this level a “normal extension of our perceptual capabilities”, Alvin has to remind the reader that for the average modern human being the capability to communicate with elemental beings in day-to-day consciousness is unfortunately not the rule.

Therefore I understand his advice in this way: in your efforts to communicate with nature and elemental beings, you should never try to overstep the limits of your normal conscious ability of perception.

Although Marko Pogacnik obviously receives also visual impressions during his contacts with the elemental realm, he advises his readers against trying at all cost to “see” something and proposes to use a wider understanding of perception:

„If we understand clairvoyance as an inner viewing of pictures, we put the absurd idea in our heads that this is a prerequisite for our communication with the invisible dimensions of reality. This idea may lead to a physiological block, with the result that even quite sensitive people would think they are not able to perceive the invisible worlds. (…)

During this pase of evolution, now nearly over, humanity has developed to a way of perception that is adapted to the criterion of reason. In so doing, many of our normal perceptual capabilities, which did not appear useful to the interests of our reason, were allowed to wither away. Now it is time to reawaken them and connect them to the perceptual process. We are speaking of subtle corporeal reactions, the subtle sensitivity of our auric field and the creative potential of our imagination and intuition. Even the power centres of our etheric organism, the chakras, can operate as perceptual organs.

I see that the best way to work through these dualistic blocks lies in gaining knowledge about the ‚lighter‘ worlds and then turning lovingly towards their presence in the here and now.“

(Marko Pogacnik, Nature Spirits & Elemental Beings. Working with the Intelligence of Nature. Second edition, Findhorn Press, Scotland, 2009, p. 227 f.)

The third level of perception Pogacnik has experienced is in his opinion “an exception, because it is only possible with the most highly developed elementals and with those elemental beings who have developed beyond the realm of elemental spirits”:

„The third level of perception takes on a revelatory quality. If we perceive a being in this way we become inwardly one with the being and experience its reality as if it were our own.“

(Marko Pogacnik, Nature Spirits & Elemental Beings. Working with the Intelligence of Nature. Second edition, Findhorn Press, Scotland, 2009, p. 226)

In our blog post “Fairies and Form” (March 2014) we focussed on differences and contradictions in the depictions of nature beings by clairvoyants. The explanation we found was that personal thoughts and views or cultural differences can influence or even change the medium’s perception.

Taking into account Marko Pogacnik’s remarks we can define another (and perhaps even more obvious) reason for lack of accordances:

By using unnatural techniques for the intrusion into ethereal realms you can’t experience and report nature according to the reality. As Pogacnik says, “our perception could be distorted without our noticing it”!

Abd-ru-shin (Oskar Ernst Bernhardt, 1875 – 1941) says that all forms of artificial assistance in perceiving the life beyond are unnatural:

„The few people destined for this from the outset have in their own natural development a totally different protection, carefully watching over every step, which others do not enjoy. However, this protection is only effective in natural self-development, without any artificial aids! Because only in all that is natural does protection lie as a matter of course.

As soon as there is the slightest assistance, whether through practices by the person concerned or from another source in the form of magnetic sleep or hypnotism, it becomes unnatural, and is thus no longer completely in harmony with the Natural Laws which can alone grant protection. When to this there is added ignorance such as exists everywhere today, then it becomes disastrous. Volition alone will never replace ability when it comes to action. But no one should go further than his own ability will carry him.“

(Abd-ru-shin, In the Light of Truth. The Grail Message. Lecture: Modern Psychic Science. Verlag der Stiftung Gralsbotschaft, Stuttgart)

There is certainly a difference between on the one hand people devoting themselves to nature and trying to open up to perceptions of elemental beings working in and through nature and on the other hand people who want to contact deceased spirits. For several reasons I would estimate the dangers of contacting and communicating with spirits as much higher!

Nevertheless, a friend of nature beings should be very cautious in using techniques that aim at changing consciousness! Only once I have attended an introducing lesson in shamanism and I am sure I don’t want to repeat this experience: When I, directed by my without doubt experienced teacher, descended during a light trance into the “underworld” seeking for my “Totem animal”, a seemingly bottomless abyss opened up under my feet, and I withdrew, afraid, unto the safe shore of the “middle world” and my day-to-day consciousness!

But I think it is certainly not harmful to sit in full wake consciousness under a tree, touch its bark and to observe the subtle feelings and emotions this conscious contact releases. As Marko Pogacnik writes, it is not necessary to “see” some inner images, turning to nature alone is always beautiful and uplifting! Love for nature will always build the bridge to the elementals! Simply set aside reason with its redoubtable ambition to get “knowledge” and its curiosity to experience extraordinary things! Revelations can’t be forced. Therefore the normal day-to-day consciousness is the best protection against any dependences on extraordinary, artificially induced conditions (just think of experiences via drug misuse) which could easily happen.

If you are looking for more detailed explanations, I would recommend the short lecture “Is Occult Training Advisable?” by Abd-ru-shin. It summarizes in few simple words what is necessary to know about the dangers of occult training and the right and safe path to gain knowledge of higher worlds (which admittedly requires patience, continuous work and most of all humility). You will find this lecture under “Grail Message”.

If you have own experiences or have a question, or want to support us in translating some other articles into English, just leave a comment or write an e-mail!

 Alvin – The Elfenfriend                                                              Published on 31 May 2014

(Translated by Rowena in May 2015)

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