From the physical realm of the household, we will now move on to the etheric realm.
The etheric world does not consist of solid, measurable, graspable aspects, but rather of processes, movement and interpenetration. It is thus not a world of things but of living beings.
In the home, etheric processes are everywhere:
creating — cooking, sewing and crafts
changing — cleaning, decorating, mending and repairing
Long ago, people perceived the etheric world in the form of elemental beings — the helpful brownie behind the stove, the watchful tomten in the barn, and mischievous sprites tangling the hair of lazy householders as they sleep.
These elemental beings were once seen as helpers in the household, and given a nightly bowl of milk or porridge in gratitude. But human intellect came to the fore over and above the feeling realm of the soul, and the helpful beings seemed to fade from existence.
However, it is a fact, a “practical occultism,” that etheric beings still exist wherever material is handled. Only the factual, physical world has no true life. Understanding that working with etheric processes enlivens the home will help the homemaker in daily life.
This section of the book includes one of my favorite quotes from Steiner ever:
For wherever material is handled, there are processes. Rudolf Steiner gave an often cited example: to the homemaker who complained to him that her household responsibilities gave her no time to read his lecture cycles he answered gravely, “When you clean your living room, you release elemental beings. When you read a lecture cycle, you release no elemental beings.”
So . . . elemental beings get “stuck” when dust and dirt accumulate, because there is no movement there, no processes. And thus when we clean, we “free” these beings, and the work becomes easier. Maybe that’s why if you clean things up right away, the messes don’t seem as overwhelming as when they sit and grow and stagnate!
Manfred Schmidt-Brabant, The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker, Temple Lodge, 1996.