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Summoning the Gaia Guardian is necessary to acquire the first Gaia Spirits. The Gaia Guardian drops 8 Gaia Spirits. It is recommended to use half of these spirits to craft the Gaia Spirit Ingot, which can be used in place of Terrasteel to summon the Gaia Guardian II, which drops 16 Spirits on death.
The Gaia Spirit replaces the Essence of Eternal Life after version R.1.1-77.