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A class of nature spirits linked with the earth.
A fabled race of dwarflike creatures who live underground and guard treasure hoards, Gnomes have many different names in popular lore, such as Elves, Imps, Goblins, Leprechauns and Brownies. They are said to be visible to clairvoyants as dwarfish humans who live in caves and the mountains.
In European folklore, fairy folk who live in the earth and mine precious minerals. They have always been kindly disposed toward mortal miners.
Gnomes of various sorts appear in many fairy tales and legends.
According to Rosicrucianism, Gnomes were misshapen elemental spirits that dwell in the bowels of the earth. It is believed that Paracelsus was the first one using the word, probably based on the Greek ge-nomos (earth-dweller). In the occult philosophy of Paracelsus, Gnomes are beings that have earth as their element.
Gnome legends are centuries old, involving woodland gnomes, dune gnomes, farm gnomes, garden gnomes, field gnomes, cave gnomes, house gnomes, forest gnomes and others, all of which have their own characteristics and names, depending on regional tradition.
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Sources: (1) Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, Harper Collins Publishers; (2) Rose, Carol, Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia, W. W. Norton & Company; (3) Egleton, Margaret, Gnomeland: An Introduction to the Little People, Firefly Books.
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