Modern people do, of course, believe that all this — the telegraph, telephones, the use of steam Power, etc. — happens without the participation of spiritual entities. This is not the case, however. The development of human civilization involves the participation of elemental spirits, even if people do not know about it. Modern materialists imagine that the telephone and telegraph, and the steam engines driven long distances and also used by farmers, have been constructed merely on the basis of what people produce by the sweat of their brow. Everything people do in this respect is under the influence of elemental spirits. They are always involved and helping us in this. People are not taking the initiative on their own in this field — they are guided. In laboratories, workshops, really everywhere where the spirit of invention is active, elemental spirits are providing the inspiration.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 177 – Fall of the Spirits of Darkness: Lecture 4: The Elemental Spirits of Birth and Death – Dornach, 6 October 1917