A guest post by T. Damon
The Forest Spirit series takes place in an enchanted Forest, one that resides within what is referred to as the Earth Realm. Within that realm live the nymphs, faeries, trolls, gnomes, and forest-specific animals. In The Haunting, the beings of the Forest are first introduced to ways to travel to the other realms—Water, Air, and Fire. Elemental beings share our world, but are mostly invisible to our mortal gaze. They are spiritual representations of the elements found in nature. The elemental being of the Earth Realm are the gnomes, adept at living off the land and mining the valuable gems and ores from deep within the Earth’s ground. The gnomes’ disappearance from the Forest is cause for great uproar and investigation in the Forest Spirit series, highlighting the importance of this evolutionary offset of the main beings of the series, the nymphs. Now let’s familiarize ourselves with the elemental beings of the other realms.
The undines rule over the waves in the Water Realm, sharing their home with the animals of the ocean. According to the 15th-century alchemist Paracelsus, who identified all four of the elemental beings, undines are humanoid but are equipped to reside in the water, referred to by later writers as mermaids. Though in The Haunting, Sirenia the undine makes it abundantly clear that her kind do not appreciate being referred to as mermaids, only as undines. She even draws the comparison of calling a faery a “buzzing insect”. Ouch.
Fun fact: I paid homage to the classical Latin writer Ovid by naming the undine king after him. Ovid wrote an exceptionally long poem entitled Metamorphoses that includes undines in 8 A.D.
The elemental spirits of Air are known as sylphs. Paracelsus described them as human-sized faeries, though coarser, taller, and stronger than a typical human. In many ways, the sylphs are the most similar to humans of all the elemental beings. Like humans, sylphs move easily through air, and are capable of burning in fire, drowning in water, or becoming stuck by the earth.
In the Forest Spirit series, the sylphs are first introduced in The Reckoning. They are roughly the size of the faeries, though lankier and with an airy sense about them that caused them to almost float as they moved. They are accompanied in the Air Realm by all manners and species of birds, some visiting for a vacation and others living there permanently. The sylphs tend to look down on the beings that walk upon the earth, both in actuality and metaphorically. They are intelligent and reserved, it is true, but they would do much better to have more consideration for beings other than their own kind.
Within the flames of the Fire Realm resides the salamanders. Personally, I love salamanders and have my whole life. They’re one of my all time favorite animals and I’ve always felt as though there was something magical about them, even before I learned of their hermetic standing among nature’s elemental beings. Salamanders are the only of the elemental beings that are represented by an extant species of animal, and perhaps that is what makes them the most fascinating of all, in my opinion. There is a tangibility to the salamander that is not apparent in the others.
To many writers throughout history, salamanders appeared to emerge from fire. Their poisonous skin burned any mortal flesh that so much as grazed their mucous, and the warmth of that skin was so suited to withstand heat. So it’s no wonder they have been associated with the element of fire since Paracelsus’s time. Some of the earliest folklore claimed that salamanders taught ancient man how to make and use fire to their advantage. As a zoology student myself, I learned in my studies that salamanders are an important indicator species. Their sensitivity to their environment dictates whether or not their species’ will live in a particular place. A toxic environment in any form is not tolerated by the animal, and in an instant could be wiped out of an area, much like a fire blazing across a land.
In the Forest Spirit series, the salamanders become extinct in the Forest very early on, but the clever inhabitants of the Fire Realm still manage to help their ailing Earth-based friends throughout the whole series. Hawthorne, the beloved sage salamander friend of Narena’s since childhood, shows up time and time again for her throughout the series, even despite facing his own demise in The Falling. One of the stories in Song of the Spirits delves into the salamanders’ earliest influences on the eventual fate of the Forest, featuring some of Hawthorne’s ancestors. The salamanders did all that they could for the Forest in their time spent in the Earth Realm, but unfortunately the toxicity of the negative influences upon the land could not be brushed away by their kind. They were forced to return to their elemental realm in their entirety, but their imprint on the Forest is not easily forgotten. If anything, their abilities are stronger and more powerful in their own element—the Fire Realm.
The Forest Spirit series even delves into the transcendental complexity of the Spirit Realm. But if you want to learn more about what that realm entails, you’ll have to read the series!
Now that you are familiar with the magical elemental beings of nature—which one is your favorite? What element do YOU most identify with?
About the Author
T. Damon has been imagining new tales and bringing them to life through her writing since she was a young girl growing up in Burlingame, California. She always assumed she would make her career in the animal field, as she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology, but her passion for writing was a fire within her heart that was not to be ignored. Aside from writing, in her spare time she enjoys spending time with her young daughter and studying astrology, tarot, and anything magical or mystical. Learn more about T. Damon at her website.