The Garden Gnome as Earth-Spirit
The garden gnome is usually classified as an earth-spirit. Investigation shows that while all the types of traditional fairy actually exist in Nature, there are wide divergences within each type. Some of the differentiations are so great as to call for new names and classifications. In the future when the naturalist, ethnologist and explorer enter Gnomesland, and its scientific text-books are studied in every school, new names will of necessity be given to all the many and various kinds of fairy people. As I find the traditional names to be the most satisfactory from many points of view, I have classified such inhabitants of Gnomesland as I have studied under the name given to the race they most nearly resemble. Examples of tree creatures and winged garden gnomes are described in this chapter, although they differ in many important particulars from the true gnome. The student may demur at a winged garden gnome which lives in a tree, nevertheless, so far as my observation goes, the bodies of those I have classed under this heading resemble the garden gnome more closely than any other type.
Classifications of Gnomes
I shall class as "Garden Gnomes," therefore, several creatures which differ, in many respects, from the true garden gnome of fairy tradition. The garden gnome is usually thin and lanky, grotesque in appearance, cadaverous and lantern-jawed, and is generally, though not always, a solitary. He gives the impression of extreme old age; his whole appearance, bearing, and attire are utterly remote from those of the present day. His arms are too long for our sense of proportion, and, like his legs, are bent at the joints as if they had grown stiff with age. The complexion is very rough and coarse, the eyes are small and black, sloping slightly upwards at the sides. It has been said that the garden gnome form is a relic of the days of ancient Atlantis, and if this is true it may mean that the type is a representation of the appearance of the peoples of those days, and though grotesque to us, is an expression of their standard of beauty. The true garden gnome is not a pleasant type of elemental; those met with in England have been either quite black or peat-brown in color, and though I have never incurred their hostility their atmosphere is decidedly unpleasant.
Living in an Ash Tree
In the fields near Preston. Living in the lower portion of an ash tree is a garden gnome. He appears larger than any garden gnome I have ever seen, being, probably, two feet six inches high to the top of his cap. He assumes his garden gnome shape when preparing to leave the tree, which he does in order to make short excursions into the field. He moves across the field swiftly, at not less than twenty miles an hour, yet, in spite of his speed, he appears to pick his way fantastically over the grass, taking long strides and lifting his legs high into the air. He is in a happy mood, thinking of himself, his tree, and his excursions, while in the back-ground of his mind there are memories of play, mostly of a solitary nature, beneath the branches of the tree. These memories of garden gnomes and their complementary anticipations increase his happiness. There does not appear to be the slightest room for anything but joy in his mind. His pleasures are in himself. He does not need the companionship of his kind in order to be happy. His happiness is therefore permanent and stable. He appears to live very largely in the present. Apparently this garden gnome has lived for a very long period of time, the passage of which appears to make little or no impression upon the garden gnomes, either mentally or physically.
Communicating with Garden Gnomes
An attempt to contact garden gnomes whilst they are inside the tree produces a curious result in my consciousness: the trunk of the tree becomes transparent, with the garden gnome in the centre as in a glass case with this difference, that the material of the surface is continued solidly through the tree; this esthetic double of the tree is pale grey with a greenish tinge. The garden gnome seems to discard his traditional form when inside the tree. The trunk of the tree appears like a cylinder which, without the presence of the gnome, would be of one color that of the vital forces of the tree; the presence of the garden gnomes gives individuality to these forces, as they are strongly affected by his rate of vibration. When the gnome desires to leave the tree, the first phenomenon that I can see is that he slowly assumes the garden gnome form, thereby encasing himself in denser matter. Having assumed his form he steps out on to the ground and it is only then that I am really able to contact him as an individual. His features, especially the chin, are long and sharp, the cheek bones are high and prominent, the face thin and rather cadaverous, the eyes elongated like a Chinaman's, the pupils small and beady; the ears are large and protrude above his cap, and his hair is dark in color. There is a touch of red about the cap somewhere, but otherwise he is rather monochromatic, being of about the general coloring of the bark of a tree.