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.