I’ve talked about all of Paracelus‘ elemental spirits (Undines, Gnomes, Salamanders) except for one, so now it’s time to cover Sylphs, the Air Elementals.
First off, no one’s ever seen one. Paracelus said they were invisible. This hasn’t stopped people from describing them. In the Eighteenth Century, the Abbé de Villars, in his Comte de Gabelais, said they are fierce-looking, but docile–if you’re a smart person. Dumb humans, they can’t stand.
Besides that, Sylphs are slippery spirits, so we don’t really know anything about them. They seem to have a strong connection with the Undines, but neither one of them will talk about it.
The Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase and Fable says that chaste humans become Sylphs when they die, but in my opinion, they got that from a misreading of the very tongue-in-cheek epic poem by Alexander Pope, the Rape of the Lock.
Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock