Nature Spirits, Elemental Beings & The Four Branches
When I think of everything I have learnt from Marko Pogacnik's book, 'Nature Spirits & Elemental Beings' and apply it to The Four Branches, new, exciting relevations are unveiled for me.
To overlay the idea of nature spirits and elementals and the importance of their presence within the landscape is well worth pondering, especially so if you consider that our ancestors who created the original stories represented in The Four Branches were more able to 'see' and understand these beings than we are today.
Many landscape features do have their own folk tales attached to them, both in Britain and around the world. In Australia, in particular, the connections between story, myth and landscape are well known as 'The Dreamtime'.
In Woolpit, Suffolk, during the 1100's, it is said that two children with bright green skin appeared in the village. When they were discovered, they were very frightened, could not speak a word of English and would only eat green beans. The boy died but the girl grew up and got married. She learned English and said they had come from a land where there was no sun. Hearing a sound (church bells) they followed it into a cave and that's how they arrived in the village.
The First Branch takes place in a woodland near Dyfed which acts as a kind of portal into the Underworld or Inner Earth. Arawn is a ruler of this Inner Earth and therefore may be understood as a high level Nature Being. His wife, we may equate with the Goddess, the overlighting Divine Being of the planet, Earth, or, in this case, an aspect of Her associated with the locality of Dyfed, the area under Pwyll's guardianship as Chief.
There is an arrangement between the human, Pwyll, and the Nature Being, Arawn, leading to their exchanging roles for a year (a common fairy tale theme). It is through the honour Pwyll shows to Arawn's wife that he wins their friendship and alliance and is called 'Pen Annwn' or Head/Chief of Inner Earth. We must assume that the story may be indicating not only a Shaman's symbolic alliance with Nature and the Goddess, but a more literal alliance with the world of the elemental beings and nature spirits.
When we consider this, we see that Pwyll has literally made a bond, partnership or commitment to work in alliance with the overlighting higher level beings of his region. This may be a common occurance at some point in the past in Britain and many other places across the world. It also shows Shamans and shamanism in a new light. Imagine if we did that today. Instead, we are constantly working against them because we don't know they are there. We don't realise how our actions may interrupt or even destroy the energy they create.
Pogacnik describes nature spirits and elementals as existing at the vibrational frequency of the emotional level. This means they cannot be seen physically as we see the material world around us. They cannot be experienced through the mental level of thoughts. They communicate through feelings and emotions.
Those people who are highly sensitive and have developed their capabilities can sometimes 'see' them or feel them. They can sometimes communicate with them through visualised emotional communication. The beings need to 'appear' in some visual guise in order to be perceived by us, they are just not restricted to this appearance in their own reality. They generally tend, then, to appear according to the expected construct of the observer, although with some consistency, it seems.
There are not so many people around who can 'see' elemental and nature beings nowadays due to the advanced development of our mental and physical capacities. Things started to change for us
humans when Christianisation in the Early Middle Ages first decreed penalties for devil-worship.
These 'devils' were a misrepresentation of the earth elementals whose 'earthy, animalistic' appearance and Underworld connections led to the polarity view of 'Down' - 'Underworld' - 'Hell' - 'Devil' - 'BAD' and 'Up' - Heaven' - 'Angel' - 'GOOD'.
By the time the Witch Trials and the Inquisition was all over, common interaction between humans and elementals was mostly a thing of the past too.
But go back in time to our earliest foremothers and fathers. The further back, the stronger their connection to elemental beings would have been, here, there is no good and bad or devils and angels, just elementals and nature beings of the upper, lower and middle worlds, earthy, flighty, watery and fiery in their appearance and manner.
Look again at some of the earliest cave paintings that portray human-type figures. Perhaps it is not people but nature spirits we are seeing here?
Marko Pogacnik describes elemental beings that are attached to our physical bodies in his book 'Nature Spirits and Elemental Beings'. These beings may appear as a small child that stay close to our own bodies. Have a look at this cave art image from this perspective:
Some of the Nature spirits, such as those attached to plants or animals, may not look quite so human. What could these be, elemental/nature beings attached to an insect or a tufted grass, perhaps?: