XIV: gnomes

You all know the gnomes, of course. But you may not know the swedish tomte as well as you know the gnomes. A tomte resembles a gnome in many respects, but there are also significant differences. They’re probably related to each other, but so far, science has ignored undertaking any serious exploration of this important kinship. From their looks alone, these beings’ close relationship ought to be obvious. But while they share a number of similarities, the gnomes live in larger groups, while the tomte is solitary. He often lives on a farm, perhaps in the barn; he helps out with the animals and keeps an eye out for things. You wouldn’t want to mess with him; it could bring you bad luck. Sometimes he has a wife and children, but unlike the gnomes, he wouldn’t practice communal living. Let’s see what Steiner said about gnomes, as it would (I’m sure) apply at least partly to the tomte as well:

States of consciousness can lie in all four forms of the physical plane while the body of such a being lies in the astral. We must think of the consciousness in the solid Earth, the body in the astral; or a being that has its consciousness in the water and its body in the astral; then such a being with its consciousness in the air and its body in the astral and one with its consciousness in fire and its body in the astral. Present-day man knows but little of such beings; in our time it is only through poetry that they are known. Miners (of minerals) however know such beings very well. A gnome is only visible to someone who can see on the astral plane, but miners frequently possess such an astral vision; they know that gnomes are realities. Thus, on our Earth there exist various forms of consciousness, and what the natural scientist today calls laws of nature are the thoughts of beings who think on the physical plane but have their bodies on the astral plane. When in physics we have to do with laws of nature we can say: these are the thoughts of a being who has its body on the astral plane. The forces of nature are creative beings and natural laws are their thoughts. [Source.]

Modern Santa Claus is called a tomte (or jultomte) in swedish but bears little resemblance to the traditional tomte; he’s only hijacked the name and perhaps a reputation. Sometimes people put a plate of porridge out for Santa, but this comes from the old tomte lore. On christmas, you were supposed to offer the farm’s tomte a meal, or he wouldn’t be happy with you and wouldn’t help you in the year to come. In order for you to learn more about the tomte and to see its resemblance to the gnome family of spiritual beings, here’s an old film of a very beautiful swedish poem about the tomte. (With subtitles in english!)

(The poem doesn’t begin immediately; be patient. There’s a dog too!)


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