Gnomes potentially control vast kingdoms. In 1976, Carl Woese of the University of Illinois grouped living things into three principal categories.
- Bacteria – cyanobacteria, purple bacteria, gram positive bacteria, green non sulphur bacteria, flavobacteria and thermotogales,
- Archaea – halophilic archaeons, methanosarcina, methanobacterium, methanococcus, thermoceles, thermoproteus and pyrodictium,
- Eukarya – diplomads, microsporidia, trichomonads, flagellates, entameba, slimemoulds, ciliates, plants, fungi and animals.
In effect plants and animals 'are relegated to a few twigs on the outermost branch of the Eukaryan limb’. Everything else belongs to unicellular beings.
Most of the real diversity in evolution has been small scale . Of the 23 main divisions of life, only 3 - plants, animals and fungi - are large enough to be seen by the human eye, and even they contain species that are microscopic … if you totalled up all the biomass of the planet – microbes would account for at least 80% of all there is, perhaps more.
Traditionally, a gnome was characterised by its extremely small size and subterranean life style. Our ancestors had got this absolutely spot on, as indeed all these are tiny and most live in the earth.
The diversity in shape and size of all things microscopic was seen in visions by our ancestors and an attempt made to describe them, but as the range of diversity is so massive they never succeeded in describing them all, only managing to give an idea of their vast range of shapes and sizes.
Myths and legends of gnomes also indicated their peculiar habits, habits which are indeed a characteristic of micro-organisms.
We now know that there are lots of microbes living deep within the earth, many of which have nothing at all to do with the conventionally organic world. They eat rocks, or rather the stuff that's in rocks – iron, sulphur, manganese and so on. And they 'breathe' odd things too – iron, chromium, cobalt even uranium. Such processes may be instrumental in concentrating gold, copper and other precious metals and possibly deposits of oil and natural gas. It has even been suggested that they created the earth's crust.
Within myth and folklore, gnomes had an ambivalent character being both extremely powerful and a force for both ‘good’ as far as human beings were concerned and ‘bad’. The bad aspect is of course particularly relevant to bacteria.
Most micro-organisms are neutral or even beneficial to human well-being. The most rampantly infectious organism on Earth, a bacteria called Wolbachia, doesn't hurt humans at all – or any vertebrate, but if you are a shrimp or worm or fruit fly, it can make you wish you have never been born.
Altogether only about 1 microbe in a thousand is a pathogen for humans, however, even if most of them are benign, microbes are still the number 3 killer in the Western world.
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- Borri, Giuseppe Francesco - Between Crucibles and Salamanders - Massimo Marra
- Bryson, Bill - On microbes
- Dadd, Richard - The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke [detail]
- Dadd, Richard - The Fairy feller’s master-stroke
- Evans-Wentz, W Y - Alchemical and Mystical Theory 
- Evans-Wentz, W Y - The Fairy Faith in Celtic countries - The testimony of Mrs X
- Gnomes in the garden
- Isle of Man - The Testimony of John Davies, herb doctor and seer
- Joscelyn Godwin - Celts and Scandinavians
- Keats, John - Lamia
- Lewis, C S - The Silver Chair - Gnomes
- Mayan - Popol Vuh - 11 The Spirit beings of disease
- Misuse of Sonata
- Paracelsus - extract from Scritti alchemici e magici
- Reichel-Dolmatoff – The Tukano Indians - Hell and the Abyss
- Starfish and blue people
- Steiner, Rudolf - Gnomes, Undines, Sylphs and Salamanders
- Steiner, Rudolf - Nature spirits - Lunar Pitris
- Steiner, Rudolf - Nature spirits - The spirits of minerals, viruses and bacteria
- The disappearing boyfriend
- Thorlacius - Noget Om Thor og Hans Hammer
- Toluene hallucinations
- Visionary Antidepressants? Sertraline (Zoloft) by J.C.E., Utah State P