Inflammable liquors obtained by distillation. This is connected with the ancient notion of bottle-imps (q.v.), whence these liquors were largely used in the black arts.
The first spirit quyksilver called is; The secound orpiment: the thrid I wis Sal armoniacand the ferth bremstoon.
Spirits. There were formerly said to be three in animal bodies:
(1) The animal spirits, seated in the brain; they perform through the nerves all the actions of sense and motion.
(2) The vital spirits, seated in the heart, on which depend the motion of the blood and animal heat.
(3) The natural spirits, seated in the liver, on which depend the temper and “spirit of mind.”
(Elemental). There are four sorts of elemental spirits, which rule respectively over the four elements. The fire spirits are SALAMANDERS; the water spirits UNDINES (2 syl.); the air spirits SYLPHS; and the earth spirits GNOMES (1 syl.).
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894