Universal knowledge of elemental beings
These beings have been described worldwide in similar terms, considered in connection with the same natural elements, and placed within a hierarchy at the summit of which there is not a single god but a group of gods.
Testimony to the existence of a dozen main gods is found not only in Greek, Roman or other European mythology, but is also found to varying degrees in Africa, Asia, and America.
Such conformity is amazing. Beyond the variations due to the differences of culture and environment, the conceptions and descriptions match in an astonishing manner. Where can this unanimity come from?
There are two hypotheses. The first one considers all the knowledge about elemental beings as a human invention that is propagated all over the globe. The second approach considers the fact that since so many peoples worldwide have believed in the existence of elemental beings and could depict them in a similar manner, it means that they all – no matter where they lived – saw the same thing and could thus describe a similar reality. There was therefore no transmission of an imagined conception but the development of a knowledge based on personally lived experiences.
Of these two hypotheses the first is the least plausible. It is a well-known fact that information transmitted by word of mouth and through intermediaries gets rapidly distorted.
In addition, at the time when these transmissions were supposed to have taken place natural obstacles such as oceans, high mountain ranges, and deserts were almost insurmountable barriers. Besides, a very strong missionary zeal would have been necessary to propagate that knowledge all over the world.
A knowledge for all times
According to ethnologists and historians, one of the characteristics of peoples believing in the existence of elemental beings is precisely the absence of a missionary spirit.
The fact that the belief in the existence of elemental beings is uniformly spread, not only in space but also in time, gives more credence to the second hypothesis.
Indeed, this belief has been alive since the earliest human history. It begins with the worship of nature spirits, the traces of which are found in cave drawings dating over 25,000 years ago. It continues with the worship of ancient gods in Mesopotamia (5 BC), in China and Persia (4 BC), in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as with the Aztecs and Incas (14th/15th century AD), with North American Indians (17th/18th century AD), up to the present day when animistic beliefs are firmly rooted in a sizeable portion of the world’s population.
What an extraordinary long life for a belief considered erroneous and stemming from human imagination!
Why not accept that these folktales and legends are founded on truth, that they were originally based on lived experiences and direct contact, and therefore that the elemental beings really exist?