The Pattern Still Remains

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In the works of Paracelsus, the sixteenth-century Swiss alchemist and physician, we find four elementary spirits: the Gnomes of earth, the Nymphs of water, the Salamanders of fire, and the Sylphs or Sylphides of air.

The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges, 2005.


The Wolf, Fenrir, was bound by a fetter called Gleipnir, made from six things: “the noise a cat makes when it moves, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, and the spittle of a bird.”

The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges, 2005.

Abtu & Anet

According to Egyptian mythology, Abtu and Anet are two identical sacred fish that swim along before the ship carrying the sun god Ra, in order to warn him against danger.

The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges, 2005.

Five Minervas

According to Cicero there were five Minervas:

  1. Minerva, the mother of Apollo
  2. Minerva, the offspring of the Nile
  3. Minerva, who sprung from Jupiter’s brain
  4. Minerva, the daughter of Jupiter and Croypha
  5. Minerva, the daughter of Pallantis

The Every-Day Book by William Hone, 1827.


In the mythology of the Maoris of New Zealand there is an equivalent to the great Roc of the Arabic world. This is the ‘Poua-Kai’, a huge bird of terrific size and strength which, in a great battle, destroyed half the warriors of a powerful tribe with its terrible rending talons and thrusting beaks.

The Doomsday Book of Animals by David Day, 1981.