The Magic of Psychosynthesis

We are living in troubled, unsettling times, not just here in the UK where I sit and write, but in many countries around the world. Brexit, now exposed for what it really is, has morphed into an unpleasant can of worms and the effects reverberate not only in the UK, but in other countries in the European Union which are involved in this mess. France is having prolonged demonstrations with the gilet jaunes, and in Catalonia, the people are demonstrating against the lengthy prison sentences given to the leaders of their bid for independence. We are connected in our European angst, but unrest is global. Hong Kong and Chile have political protests, Libya too; the Extinction Rebellion movement and the Friday school strikes for action on the environment have spread around the world. Change is prevalent.

As an astrologer and practitioner in astrological psychology, I can turn to my ephemeris to see what might be going on through an astrological lens, knowing full well that Saturn and Pluto have been in Capricorn for sometime now. Working alongside, they’re gradually grinding down and clearing out the outworn structures of the so-called “establishments” which are taking the hits. Like industrious workmen, they get on with their own jobs, coming together from time to time to combine both energy and effect. From April to June 2019 they rubbed along together for a while in conjunction; they touch base with each other again in December, staying in tandem in the near future until February 2020.

Will book cover

What, you’re probably wondering, does this have to do with Will Parfitt’s new book – The Magic of Psychosynthesis: initiation and self development? The answer is just about everything. The book is a treasure trove for anyone on the path of personal growth and self discovery – what the author calls The Work. Moving from the stage of Aspirant (as we all are) to Adept (what we aspire to) Will offers clear and detailed signposts for how to navigate, travel and develop our inner world, yet remain fully grounded and connected to the changing world and environment we live in.

The book acts like a spiritual satnav, gently guiding the reader through the principles of Assagioli’s Psychosynthesis with a wealth of practical exercises to support the journey. Students of Astrological Psychology will already be familiar with the Egg Diagram, and with the analogy of the orchestra, the sub-personalities being different players within the orchestral whole, or Self.

Using reflective meditations based on Assagioli’s four steps in experiencing the will, readers are encouraged to explore their awareness and use of their own will, with techniques to build up muscle and strength here. In astrological psychology, developing the way the Sun – the sense of self – functions in your own chart could be worked on alongside this. I liked Will’s questions here: Who is running your life? Are you directing your life? Are you in control of your life? To what extent is the direction of your life determined by outer events?….

Other compatible approaches are introduced for use alongside the The Work, such as Kabbalah and Tarot. The practical exercises throughout the book can be taken at leisure; there is no pressure to work on them in a linear fashion and I for one will be going back to the section on training the imagination to do the suggested work on automatic drawing. The exercise on selling your soul I found particularly potent, with challenging and thought-provoking questions which hold up a mirror we may prefer to avoid looking in.

Developing the transpersonal qualities of Love and Will underpin much of Assagioli’s Psychosynthesis; both are required, and while it is important to engage with the will, without love there is no cohesion, connection or wholeness. The Work, Will asserts, is about travelling the path of self discovery…and the journey has to include love too. Focussing on and developing the heart is therefore equally important, especially in these times of change and uncertainty. Will suggests that the simplest and most profound way to deal with obstacles, difficulties, challenges, opposing viewpoints (very pertinent right now in our Brexit-splintered society) is to remain heart centred. That, using an astrological psychology prism, requires stepping beyond the personal emotional needs of the Moon – our emotional needs and feelings –  in the chart and taking the leap to connect with the pure and highest manifestation of Neptunian energy – of acceptance, inclusivity and non-judgemental love.

The text of Will’s book is richly supported by references to other psychological and esoteric traditions such as Crowley, Gurdjieff, Regardie and Fortune. These do not intrude on the flow of the text with footnotes but are listed in appendices at the end of the book, along with an index of Practices and Spells.

Drawing on forty years of is own personal and spiritual development and his experience as a therapist, Will writes clearly and with warmth, as though he is speaking personally. For every exercise he emphasises the importance of grounding in real life what the reader discovers on their own explorations of the inner world. He emphasises the importance of coming back to earth, of being here now, in everyday reality and to opening the heart to love in all interpersonal relationships. This, he suggests, is especially needed in these challenging times of global change and upheaval and relates to what we as individuals can do, which is to live with a deeper consciousness of our self, and to live every day with love in action.

The Living Birth Chart

LBC in colourI write this with my astrological psychology hat on. My second book, The Living Birth Chart has been updated and reissued with all diagrams and illustrations in full colour, and I’m rather pleased with it.

Based on the material I taught and used in the workshops I’ve facilitated, The Living Birth Chart has an emphasis on working practically with astrological psychology and putting it to use in your own life.

You don’t need to be an astrologer to use the book, but an interest and basic understanding of the subject will help, as will a read of my co-authored introductory book, The Cosmic Egg Timer.

So how might The Living Birth Chart be helpful? Suppose you’re someone who wants to get a better understanding of how the interactions between you and your parents have shaped you, held you back, encouraged you…..well, there’s a whole chapter on this in the book, along with practical exercises to try out.

Maybe you’re someone who finds it difficult to get in touch with or express your feelings. This, working as an astrological counsellor, I found was quite a common problem and sticking point with many people, students and clients alike. Issues around feelings are associated with the Moon, which symbolises our feeling self.

Practical suggestions about working with feelings are featured in The Living Birthchart. Here is a sample. You might like to make some brief notes for yourself as you respond to the questions:

  1. How big a part do feelings play in my everyday life?
  2. Am I making enough contacts with people?
  3. Am I able to state my enotional needs or feelings?
  4. Am I able to ask for what I want or need?

A ‘free Huber chart’ facility is available on www.astro.com (from front page go to ‘extended chart selection’, and don’t forget to select ‘Koch houses’). This provides free Huber-style natal, house and nodal charts plus chart data and age progression dates, which can be viewed on screen or printed off.

I can’t guarantee the quality of the chart, but it should look like this, in full colour, as charts used as examples in this reissue of The Living Birth Chart are.

bruno huber

Solstice sunset

Solstice sunset

I took this photo from the Great Orme, Llandudno, North Wales, as the sun was setting. It was close to the date of the Winter Solstice. The view is towards the island Anglesey, which is connected to the mainland of Wales by the Menai Bridge.

It was cold when I took the shot – typical of a dark and wintry day in the northern hemisphere when astrologically and astronomically the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn. With busy lives and disturbing events happening around us in a world full of change, it’s good to remember and reconnect with natural events which occur at this time of year.

Connecting with the position of the Sun in relation to ourselves on Earth is something we can do relatively easily at this time of year. On 21st December the Sun is at its furthest point from the northern hemisphere, making this the shortest day and longest night of the year. Meanwhile, down in the southern hemisphere the Sun is riding high in the sky as the exact opposite happens.

The winter solstice is a festival of light and in the northern hemisphere it coincides with Christmas. This Christian festival takes place at the same time of year as the pagan celebration of the solstice which celebrates the gradual and at first impercetible return of the light of the Sun after the long days of darkness. It’s the turning point of the year and marks the return of the light and the rebirth of the Sun (the Son in Christianity…?), together with the promise of the warmth and energy the Sun brings to make crops – essential to life – grow once again after the earth has lain dormant.

This is the time of year when people of all faiths, and none, have festivals of light, or of special significance in their own faith, when we can express our connection with the earth, our life upon it in relation to others we meet, families, and our place in the solar system.

Here in Brexit blighted UK, we’re going through some very dark days as we have no idea what is going happen, and unfortunately neither do our politicians (or maybe they’re just not telling us…?) But it’s a dark and difficult time as we enter yet another government/PM-created limbo waiting to discover what will happen on 29th March 2019.

So here are some suggestions of what you and I could do at this time of year to bring light into our lives, and the lives of others around us:

  • light a candle – simple and easy – remember the sayng that it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness
  • call a friend – reconnect with someone you’ve not been in touch with for a while
  • perform a random act of kindness – just do it!
  • take a risk and smile at strangers as you walk down the street – this one is very rewarding
  • say hello to someone you don’t know – you could follow up the smile with this one
  • glow with joy and a warmth of spirit…and it will come back to you in spades

And may the warmth of friendship be wrapped around you at this time of year.

Life without Pluto

IMG_1621This post comes with my astrological psychology hat on. It’s something I wrote a while ago, but have revisited as the “demoted” planet Pluto is currently slowly but surely moving through the sign of Capricorn (big on established structures) and we are seeing the effects of this on a global scale.

Pluto cleans up big time, sweeping away the cobwebs, turfing out the dross that’s been hanging around for too long (note the governing Tory party in the UK undergoing internal turmoil whilst trying to sort out Brexit). Pluto will continue on this task until 2024. Times are changing, attitudes have to change too. Climate breakdown is not going to go away unless we all pitch in and wake up to what we, governments and world powers can and must do.

Here’s what I wrote:

On 24th August 2006 a group of scientists and astronomers got together in Prague and decided to demote the status of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet. Their decision came after a lengthy period of search for the definition of what a planet is.

On 16th August 2014 I visited the Jodrell Bank Observatory with two children aged 8 and 10. The Observatory has a brand new visitor centre and I was looking forward to seeing how they had reconfigured the site and displayed the old brass observational sextants and other instruments, including the famous mechanical orrery with its planets orbiting the Sun. I was very disappointed. All of these had gone, along with the Planetarium which had offered interactive quizzes and visual high speed trips across the galaxy.

In their place were two very modern buildings with slick display boards, often accompanied by a video but not much else. Equipment and fun experiments in the hands-on area for children had been reduced and the two children I was with soon lost interest as there was little to engage them. In one area, empty apart from displays on the wall and a large modern orrery suspended from the ceiling, we searched out and named the planets. Pluto, long demoted, wasn’t there and I explained to the children why it wasn’t there, also telling them it had been discovered in 1930. The new visitor centre may be state of the art, presenting bang up to the minute modern science, but all sense of the history of discovery behind it had been erased.

IMG_2901

This got me thinking about how life, for those heretical beings amongst us who dare to claim we are astrologers, would be without Pluto. OK, so Pluto has been around a relatively short time and its discovery and subsequent inclusion in natal charts and interpretations is also relatively new. But its discovery, after lengthy research by Clyde Tombaugh, coincided with the start of an era of world war and disruption, brought to a halt by the dropping of the atomic bomb.

Astrologically Pluto is often feared, or at least treated with due caution and respect, as it can herald big changes and upheavals often leading to transformation. Astrological psychologists, Bruno and Louise Huber, in their book The Planets, describe Pluto as one of the three transpersonal planets saying, “The stimulation of Pluto’s energy makes us experience an expansion of consciousness affecting all of our lives”.

Would we really want to be without this?

For me it would difficult to interpret a chart and give a consultation without including Pluto, the planet associated with transformation. Pluto offers opportunities in life for us to transform ourselves and our ways of thinking and move on. It can encourage us to boldly go where we’ve not been before, sometimes plumbing our inner depths and spaces and demanding that we make ourselves anew.

I’d feel a bit lost, disempowered and diminished if Pluto wasn’t there in my natal chart. I’ve learned a lot about myself, studying the expression of Plutonic energy in the context of astrological psychology. It’s offered me many personal insights and that’s what has helped me to change and grow. We come to grief if we try to use Pluto’s energy to gain personal power and control over someone or something. But we can learn to use the energies of Pluto, and the other the transpersonal planets, not for ourselves, but for those things which affect the collective, embracing change, transformation and the good clear out and spring clean that goes with it.

Reflecting on my disappointment that Jodrell Bank had changed and become more slick and glitzy, I can raise a smile at the thought of Pluto at work in this complete makeover. Gone is the old, the history and the links with the astronomical past. However, the best part of the visit was a guided walk around the enormous, and famous, Lovell Radio Telescope. Like following the stations of the cross in a church, we were taken to a series to display boards around the perimeter of the telescope. I learned more in the short talks at each than I ever have about  – yes – the history of this impressive piece of engineering, once the largest radio telescope in the world but now demoted to the third largest.

In the makeover, the baby wasn’t quite thrown out with the bathwater after all. I wonder – did Pluto get the last laugh here?

Earthy pleasures

french bread

What do farmers in northern France do when the Sun is in Virgo and the harvest is in?

They hold a local agricultural fair to show off the fruits of their labours and the produce of the land, demonstrate their skills and celebrate the bounty of the earth.

Spending some the Virgo month of September in France most years, we often visit daughter-in-law’s family in Picardie. We’ve been taken to the local agricultural fair to see an interesting range of aspects of country life. On one occasion daughter-in-law’s farming brother Hubert was taking part in a ploughing competition. The whole event was very earthy, reflecting the earth element of Virgo, the astrological practical sign of precision, nurturing and attention to detail. I went along to this event and viewed it through an astrological lens.

Arriving by car at the venue  – a very large field in the middle of nowhere –  we were directed to park in another large field nearby. This was ploughed with Virgoan precision into sets of long earthy furrows, with enough space between each to park 2 rows of cars.  We headed off towards the ploughing match area. Way in the distance the tractors on their allocated plots could be seen ploughing and turning up and down as they created precise furrows.

Hubert had already spoken of how difficult it was to meet the exact requirements in this competition – each furrow has to be of a certain depth and width, each competitor has a judge watching and checking every furrow ploughed.

The contrast between modern farm machinery and traditional methods was marked. Hubert was driving a large tractor and ploughing 6 furrows at a time, but a demonstration of old style ploughing with 2 horses attracted a lot of attention too, as did the sheepdog rounding up the flock in a Virgoan way, keeping things nice and tidy!

There were produce stalls of all kinds, with tasting and sampling included. And there really is more to French bread than baguettes; one stall had a line up of locally produced organic flour and the many varieties and flavours of bread that was made from it.

IMG_2047There were farm animals on show, and although I didn’t see a Capricornian goat, I did touch Taurus when I stroked a beautiful creamy-white Charolais bull named Velours (Velvet).

Astrology is vibrant, living and all around if we know where and how to look for it.