Salamanders, Spirits of Fire

A term from Paracelsus. Salamanders are elemental intelligences related to the hot, active aspect of nature (fire).

"Just as visible Nature is populated by an infinite number of living creatures, so, according to Paracelsus, the invisible, spiritual counterpart of visible Nature (composed of the tenuous principles of the visible elements) is inhabited by a host of peculiar beings, to whom he has given the name elementals, and which have later been termed the Nature spirits. Paracelsus divided these people of the elements into four distinct groups, which he called gnomesundinessylphs, and salamanders. He taught that they were really living entities, many resembling human beings in shape, and inhabiting worlds of their own, unknown to man because his undeveloped senses were incapable of functioning beyond the limitations of the grosser elements...

...the salamanders, or spirits of fire, who live in that attenuated, spiritual ether which is the invisible fire element of Nature. Without them material fire cannot exist; a match cannot be struck nor will flint and steel give off their spark without the assistance of a salamander, who immediately appears (so the mediæval mystics believed), evoked by friction. Man is unable to communicate successfully with the salamanders, owing to the fiery element in which they dwell, for everything is resolved to ashes that comes into their presence. By specially prepared compounds of herbs and perfumes the philosophers of the ancient world manufactured many kinds of incense. When incense was burned, the vapors which arose were especially suitable as a medium for the expression of these elementals, who, by borrowing the ethereal effluvium from the incense smoke, were able to make their presence felt.

The salamanders are as varied in their grouping and arrangement as either the undines or the gnomes. There are many families of them, differing in appearance, size, and dignity. Sometimes the salamanders were visible as small balls of light. Paracelsus says: "Salamanders have been seen in the shapes of fiery balls, or tongues of fire, running over the fields or peering in houses." (Philosophia Occulta, translated by Franz Hartmann.)

Mediæval investigators of the Nature spirits were of the opinion that the most common form of salamander was lizard-like in shape, a foot or more in length, and visible as a glowing Urodela, twisting and crawling in the midst of the fire. Another group was described as huge flaming giants in flowing robes, protected with sheets of fiery armor. Certain mediæval authorities, among them the Abbé de Villars, held that Zarathustra (Zoroaster) was the son of Vesta (believed to have been the wife of Noah) and the great salamander Oromasis. Hence, from that time onward, undying fires have been maintained upon the Persian altars in honor of Zarathustra's flaming father.

One most important subdivision of the salamanders was the Acthnici. These creatures appeared only as indistinct globes. They were supposed to float over water at night and occasionally to appear as forks of flame on the masts and rigging of ships (St. Elmo's fire). The salamanders were the strongest and most powerful of the elementals, and had as their ruler a magnificent flaming spirit called Djin, terrible and awe-inspiring in appearance. The salamanders were dangerous and the sages were warned to keep away from them, as the benefits derived from studying them were often not commensurate with the price paid. As the ancients associated heat with the South, this corner of creation was assigned to the salamanders as their drone, and they exerted special influence over all beings of fiery or tempestuous temperament. In both animals and men, the salamanders work through the emotional nature by means of the body heat, the liver, and the blood stream. Without their assistance there would be no warmth." —Manly P. Hall, Secret Teachings of All Ages

"The four elements of Nature—earth, fire, water, and air—are merely condensations of the four types of ether. These four varieties of ether are densely populated by innumerable elemental creatures of Nature. The salamanders live within the fire (the Tejas Tattva). The ondines and nereids live within the water (the Apas Tattva). The sylphs live within the clouds (the Vayu Tattva). The gnomes and pygmies live within the earth (the Prithvi Tattva)... The physical bodies of the salamanders are the plants, herbs, and roots of the vegetables that are influenced by the signs of fire." —Samael Aun Weor, Esoteric Medicine and Practical Magic


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