The Oxford English Dictionary certainly is a great thing. It tells me that Paracelsus was the first to use gnome as a rough synonym for pygmy in reference to beings who call earth their element and move through it as unobstructed as fish do through water or birds through air. However, it had much earlier been used as a word to describe a short, pithy statement of truth, which makes sense as the root of the word comes from the Greek γνώμη, which relates to thought, judgement, and opinion. Alas, earth is not really the element of knowing, even if its elementals are gnomes.
Roderick says that Wiccans typically envision gnomes as small, stout creatures who live in small hills or mountains and maintain vast stores of treasure in their under-earth dwellings and in caves. They bestow the spiritual powers of earth, such as stability, growth, material gain, mastery of the physical body, sensuality, pleasure, money, riches, and stamina, but can invert them and cause thick-headedness, tiredness, heaviness, dullness, insensitivity, gluttony, greed, or stinginess. Witches work with gnomes when they want to rebalance their earth energies or when they want to work with earth energies.
Deborah Lipp says instead that “Gnomes are Earth. Because we live on the Earth and we are solid, we can often relate to gnomes, but we can also be mistaken about their nature. Remember that gnomes are slow, if they move at all, and are both infinitely patient and immensely stubborn. Trying to talk to a gnome into something is like trying to persuade a rock. They cannot be persuaded or enticed, although they do respond to sensory stimulation and to respect.”
“In appearance, gnomes are solid and squarish of shape, and have craggy brown, gray, or black skin. They blend into their environment, and disappear into shadows. Gnomes live in caves and caverns, and can be sensed in dark, inaccessible crevices whence a compelling stillness can seem almost to be calling you.”
Practice: Meeting the Gnomes
What You’ll Need
- Earth Incense
- Earth Oil
To begin, light the earth incense and allow it to waft over your body, infusing you with its energies. Place a dab the earth oil at all seven body-energy centers: base of the spine, pubic region, solar plexus, heart, throat, center of the brow, crown of the head. Next you will engage in a guided imagery. As always, you can read it and memorize the imagery sequence now, have a friend read it to you with your eyes closed, or tape record it for later playback.
Find a comfortable lying-down position and close your eyes. Take several deep breaths and allow your body to become relaxed. Slowly allow the earth to hold you completely. Surrender your body weight to the planet, where it belongs.
Imagine that you stand at the northern edge of a large, freshly ploughed field. A musky, heavy earth scent fills the air and you welcome it. Hold your spirit hands up so that they face outward toward the north. Feel the cool, weighty energy of the ploughed earth circulate through you completely until you feel that you are one with it. Then imagine that you cast this energy out through your hands and it appears as an electric-green power that forms a protective shield around you. Turn your spirit body in a clockwise direction, casting the energy that bursts forth from your hands into a circle of protection and containment. When you face the north again, the energy that once emanated from your hands subsides.
You are now completely surrounded by this field of energy, yet you are able to clearly see through it. Imagine that you raise your hands to the sky and summon forth the gnomes–the spirits of this earthy realm. Soon you see figures crawl out from their holes beneath the neatly ploughed rows. The gnomes approach your circle and surround it. As they do, your circle takes on a sparkling emerald hue. Ask the gnomes who have joined you where they reside near to your home.
Reader: pause for a few moments.
When you have heard their answer, bid these magical creatures farewell and firmly request that they return to their magical realms. You watch as the gnomes depart and crawl back beneath the earth’s surface. All that is left behind is the green aura that surrounds you and your magic circle. This aura left behind is the balancing force of earth. Feel it penetrate you. This force centers you and causes you to become whole.
Reader: pause for a few moments.
When you feel you have absorbed enough of the elementals’ powers, it is time to close the circle that you have created. Imagine that you hold your hands up to the north, begin to turn your spirit-body in a clockwise direction. This time as you turn, imagine that you draw the energies of the circle back into your body. Then allow the energy to pass through your body and return to the earth below your feet, grounding it completely.
Once you have finished, it is time to open your eyes. Get down on your hands and knees and place your forehead to the floor, grounding and solidifying all of the energy you raised.
Take time to journal about your experiences, to draw a picture of the gnomes, and to write down where you can find them near your home.
As initially disappointed as I was when King Necksa presented himself to me wearing the face of Disney’s King Triton, I’m equally pleased that my mental form for gnomes turned out to be a little like how J.K. Rowling described garden gnomes in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets–little stubby humanoid creatures that kind of look like potatoes. I guess I figure since the gnomes live in the earth, they might as well look like roots.
More importantly, though, I think this meditation was more powerful for me than the previous elemental meditations. I normally struggle a little in visualizing casting the circle of elemental energy. With this one, though, I had green light zinging around 360° in less than 2 seconds. And the energy! I quite literally felt encased in stone. I’m a little worried about how easy and powerful this visualization was, and I worry that I’m taking earth energy into a little bit of excess right now. As I read over Roderick’s description earlier, I guiltily felt that I’ve been awfully thick-headed and insensitive lately, and I’ve felt like my whole life is dull, and I’m awfully tired. Not to mention I’m being really miserly these days…which is necessary given my lack of income. Still…I’m thinking I need to be working on some elemental balancing. Stat.
Interestingly, the gnomes mentioned that they’re pretty much everywhere not covered in water. I could go into the gardens at my house and be with them very easily. They did mention, though, that I am more cognizant of their energies after I’ve gazed upon Mount Ranier. They also mentioned that I might want to go to the nearby Mima Prairie and feel them there.