Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker – Part 6

And now, the astral realm!


The astral realm relates to the soul life, that of emotions and basic consciousness. In a household, often the “aura” of the space reflects the activities and soul processes of the residents. Don’t some homes radiate welcome and joy, while others are clearly sheltering unhappy people?

Artistic activities are an obvious example of an astral influence, but more important is the sense of humor displayed in the home. Now, by “humor” we mean something fairly specific:

Only someone who can laugh about himself has humour. Laughing at others only is not true humour, but to have humour means to lift oneself above the dichotomies of the world.

When I read this last sentence, I was struck by the word dichotomies. In anthroposophy, the primary dichotomy is that of what we call the “adversarial forces.”

Steiner spoke of Ahriman and Lucifer: the being who wants us to rebuke the spirit and focus solely on the physical world, and the opposite being who wants us to renounce the material and focus solely on the spirit. Steiner places Jesus as the representative of the human being in balance between these forces.

Perhaps we can link these esoteric ideas to humor in this way: if we always laugh at others, we are probably avoiding some sort of realistic picture of our own selves. Perhaps these adversaries are nudging us into superiority or lack of compassion through excessive self-regard, whereas true, healthy humor brings cheerfulness.

Just as there are beings who live in the etheric processes of the household, so other beings work within the astral realm of the home. In ancient Rome, the astral beings of the home were known as penates. These beings are to the home and the family as a whole what guardian angels are to individual human beings, for anything that is formed intentionally as an organism has an angelic helper.


Next time: the spiritual realm of the home.

Manfred Schmidt-Brabant, The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker, Temple Lodge, 1996.

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Filed under Anthroposophy, Deep Thoughts, Homemaking

13 responses to “Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker – Part 6

  1. Mon

    This is interesting, “anything that is formed intentionally as an organism has an angelic helper”.
    I think there’s an idea out there about how every thing has a duplicate. Sort of when something comes to form, it splits into many dimensions.

    Anyway, as far as the feel of the home, when we sold our last house, everyone felt compelled to comment on the ‘good feeling’ in it. And this was a house furnished and decorated to sell, so it wasn’t particularly ‘homely’. But I knew to what they referred – my intentional efforts to manifest love and joy. It was in the very walls.

  2. And I had the opposite experience with a house. We bought it, but it did not feel right. I wouldn’t even consider a home birth in it because it felt so wrong. I later discovered that a very unhappy family with abused children had lived there and, during the great depression, a large family of 8 children were orphaned and separated there. no wonder!

  3. I think that aura of a space extends even to the furnishings. I have some furniture that was given to me that’s pretty, but I don’t like it because of the way it makes me feel.
    I just finished reading this chapter myself and I’m so glad you’re doing these reviews.

  4. I love this… and I do believe everything has an aura; I pay close attention to the feeling I have with objects as I declutter. Yet, I find myself resistant to let go of things that are no longer serving me any “good.”

  5. Penny in VT

    Thank you so very much for this series, I just love it.

  6. Eve

    Fascinating! Really? Angelic helpers….? I so wish my penate would get more creative meals made these days.

    Now you’ve got me intrigued.

  7. mominmadison

    I love this! I agree. This is the first new home we have had and I felt adrift for a long time–it didn’t feel right, not like our home. I always told my husband it is because its molecules were so empty! We do infuse it with life, love, and joy…so I think it is saturated now. 😉

    I find it interesting that many of these concepts tie in with buddhism.

  8. “anything that is formed intentionally as an organism has an angelic helper” Hmm. Not sure. But homes do seem to acquire auras of a kind, good and bad…

  9. I’m really enjoying this series. I just found you and “jumped in” today, going back through all the posts. You’re really helping me to understand Steiner better, and the post on the etheric realm and elemental beings was particularly helpful. I have been reading off and on about Waldorf (kids went to Waldorf preschool/kindergarten) and even some of Steiner for several years and am influenced by his work, but I can’t always understand it. Thank you for doing this!

  10. Mon: Intention is so important, isn’t it?

    Sarah: I don’t believe in ghosts, but certainly something must cause these kinds of feelings and perceptions.

    Dawn: Oh yes, it’s not just the home as a whole. I remember taking a Waldorf doll-making class, and the instructor spoke about how important it is to hold the receiving child in your mind lovingly while you create the doll.

    SusieJ: Well, the decluttering mantra is to keep only what is “beautiful, useful, or truly sentimental“, so maybe you can justify keeping things that way.

    Penny: You’re welcome!

    Eve: Yes, the angel of (X or Y group/organization/family) is a popular concept in anthroposophical circles. There is even “the being of Anthroposophia”, though there we are getting way esoteric 🙂 But yes, I believe that each couple, each family, each working group of any kind has something like a guardian angel. Perhaps they are attracted by our intentions? And perhaps your penate would act more on your behalf if you paid more attention to it! Household gods and all, you know.

    MIM: I’m still waiting to find somewhere that truly feels like home. Renting makes that particularly hard. Yes, Buddhism is right in there — of course Steiner was familiar with Theravada concepts and incorporated karma, reincarnation, and the eightfold path right into the center of anthroposophy.

    URD: Isn’t it interesting that things can be perceived even if we don’t necessarily believe in one explanation or another?

    Lisa Z: Welcome! I’m glad these posts are helpful. Please don’t think I’m some sort of expert, though! Steiner can be very difficult to work with as his speaking/writing style is not modern, one could say. I tend to gravitate toward other writers inspired by him, to be honest!

  11. Thanks for posting this. I am really enjoying your insights into this book. I have been away from the computer lately and just catching up reading my favorite blogs.

  12. Nana

    I’ve always had feelings about buidings in general. I tend to think of office buildings as either cold or warm, which I believe reflects the attitude of the top executives who are in charge. The Countrywide corporate headquarters in Calabasas is a cold building and the people who work there seem to be uptight and anxious.

    On the other hand, the building on Russell Ranch Rd is warm. The people who work there are friendly (even the high level executives) and there is lots of laughter. I’m fortunate to be working in this building.

    As for houses, when we were looking for a house to buy, there was one which had a great floor plan. But, every time we approached it from the sidewalk, I got very uncomfortable negative vibes.

    We had actually almost bypassed making an offer for the house we eventually bought. For reasons unknown, we came back for a second look and immediately made an offer. The sellers (a couple and their toddler) needed something larger as they were expanding their family. And they have returned several times for neighborhood get togethers, so we have gotten to know them. This house is perfect for us and we have the best neighbors anyone could wish for.

  13. Lisa Anne: I have insights now, do I? 🙂

    Nana: Your house certainly has a welcoming feel, as does the street in general.

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