We’ve all seen these cute little men wearing tall, pointy hats. Have you ever wondered what their history is, or if they have a spiritual meaning? Keep reading to learn more about the garden gnome and its spiritual meaning.
Table of contents
Garden Gnomes Spiritual Meaning
A garden gnome, sometimes called a lawn gnome, is a statue of a small, legendary humanlike creature with a long flowing beard and a pointy, red hat.
In modern times, gnomes are used as lawn and garden decorations. In fact, they’ve become synonymous with certain mystical magic of the garden. Many believe they bring fortune, protection and prosperity.
Because they have earth elemental magic (in contrast to air, water and fire elementals), gnomes are a revered spirit that protects the earth and is associated with magic and alchemy (the science of transforming base metals into gold or the science of finding a universal elixir).
Stories say that gnomes are the unsung heroes of the land, always ensuring the earth is a safe place to live. They keep safe also those who have respect for nature. Some say they are invisible and live underground, protecting the treasures of the earth as well.
Gnomes understand the medicinal properties of plants and will provide aid to individuals who have health issues. Of course, they’ll withhold this information if they don’t like you.
Because they are magical creatures, breaking a gnome will bring bad luck. Treating them badly or with ill intentions will do the same. Not only will they withdraw their good luck and good intentions, but they will also cause bad things to happen as well. It is said they can bite you with their sharp teeth. Even worse, they may strike back with pestilence, landslides and earthquakes!
Gnomes live long and industrious lives – generally around 400 years. They are kind, wise and merry. Female gnomes give birth only once, typically to twins and family is very important to them.
Since they generally live in rural areas, on or below farms, they’re the guardians of animals and nature. They are kind to humans and will share advice with farmers. They are very secretive, however, and won’t share the location of their burrow or teach a non-gnome their language.
Spiritually, a gnome represents the protector of man’s possessions. They protect crops from pests. In its human form (the statue), it drives away pests and rodents who are naturally scared of humans.
In the spirit world, the gnome is a guide and protector, protecting you from negative energy and all bad luck. Even better, a gnome will also bring good luck into your life.
7 Garden Gnome Spiritual Meanings
Having a gnome in your garden can have a spiritual significance in your life. Having a gnome in your garden will:
- Attract/bring good luck into your life.
- Cause your actions to be productive, fruitful and have positive results.
- Shield you from negative influences and energy, keeping you safe from people who may take advantage of your weaknesses.
- Provide you with emotional stability.
- Protect you and your home from harm.
- Bring you spiritual knowledge and wisdom, helping you to become enlightened about spiritual matters and spiritually transformed.
- Provide you with perseverance. The gnome’s red hat is said to fill your heart with enthusiasm, passion and energy, helping you to keep going even with things get difficult.
Origins of the Garden Gnome
Some say it all started in the 16th century, beginning with a Swiss chemist named Paracelsus. He wrote a book about gnomes, describing them as being about a foot tall. He believed that just as we move easily through air and fish through water, gnomes could move through the solid earth. He also believed that they were reluctant to communicate with humans. He was the first person to describe them as having magical powers.
“Gnome” is believed to have been derived from the Latin word “genomos,” which means earth dweller.
In his storytelling, Paracelsus incorporated fairies, dwarves and gnomes, otherwise known as the “little folk,” into his stories. It’s believed he may have been influenced by the description of mythological creatures called pygmies when he dreamed up gnomes. More and more authors began to include gnomes in their fantasy literature after Paracelsus’ description of them.
However, in the Scandinavian culture, the word “Tomte” is the traditional word for gnomes and was coined in the 1300s by Saint Birgitta of Sweden; therefore, gnomes can be found in literature much earlier than Paracelsus’ revelations. Most European cultures have some sort of gnome folklore with local variations and assorted names that have been embellished throughout the centuries.
In the 1800s, an interest in and fascination with gnomes caused people to make figurines, first in Germany and then elsewhere, to put in their homes and businesses. The first statuettes were made of terra cotta. These became popular and soon tourists traveling to various parts of Europe began to collect and display groupings of gnomes in their homes and gardens. Since then, the use of gnomes has spread, taking up residence in gardens across the globe. Today, gnomes have achieved an almost iconic status in pop culture.
Are Gnomes Good Spirits or Bad Spirits?
One would have to assume they are good spirits as they are protective and work hard to keep bad spirits out of your garden. Garden gnomes are typically thought to be mischievous, but harmless; however, they may bite with sharp teeth if the need arises. And if they think you’re a threat to them or nature, you better watch out. Remember … they can strike back with pestilence, landslides and earthquakes.
Gnomes in Folklore: The History of Gnomes
In European folklore, a gnome is a dwarfish creature or earth spirit who guards the earth’s underground treasures. In medieval mythologies, the gnome is represented as a small, physically deformed (typically represented with a hunchback) creature that looks like a dry, gnarled old man. Their origins can be traced back to ancient Roman mythology and western European tradition. In all stories and tales, gnomes bring good luck.
Although their exact meaning has changed over time, gnomes are nature spirits that live underground. They are said to interact with humans in two ways – helpfully and/or mischievously. It is also said that if you upset a gnome, they will bite you with their sharp teeth. And then there’s the pestilence, landslides and earthquakes. In Scandinavia, gnomes, like elves, have been associated with the holiday season.
Early folklore suggests that gnomes brought protection, especially protecting buried treasure and underground minerals. They are still used today by many people and cultures, who place them in a garden or tucked into a barn’s rafters, to watch over and bring abundance to garden, livestock and crops.
Gnomes are described frequently in German and French literature. Children grew up with stories of the spirit that protects the earth. In these stories, gnomes are portrayed as symbols of chastity and prudence. They are described as tireless and have a no-nonsense approach to life. They rarely complain and don’t let setbacks slow them down. When other characters in the stories feel like all is lost, the gnome approaches life and its obstacles with strength and perseverance.
Gnomes and their Red Hats
Why are gnomes generally depicted wearing a red hat? It’s believed that the gnome and his hat are inspired by genuine Bavarian miners who were typically short (so that they could fit inside small tunnels underground) and wore pointed red hats that they stuffed with padding to protect their heads from falling rocks.
The descriptions of gnomes have changed over time. Initially, they were gnarled and ugly, taking on a less human form than modern gnomes. Originally, they could be described as more goblin-like or a creature that resembled a disfigured fairy. Their behaviors were different as well. Early gnomes acted more animal-like, whereas, modern gnomes are said to have human intelligence, and may even be wiser than humans. Modern gnomes also have human-type personalities.
Both original gnomes and modern gnomes share certain characteristics such as being able to move through the earth with ease. Some sources say they must live in the dark (underground or deep in the woods) because the sun’s rays will turn them to stone. All gnomes have magical abilities and can manipulate natural materials. Gnomes protect the earth and the wildlife that lives on it.