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.

A reminder from Buddha

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I looked out over the garden from the kitchen window today and noticed our buddha caught in a patch of autumn sunshine.

Surounded by green foliage, some with yellowing leaves and some of dark green holly, I paused and remembered the question “What would Buddha do?” (this is on a fridge magnet in my daughter’s house). I must have had the current Brexit mess in the UK on my mind at the time.

The answer – a quote from The Buddha – is:

Sustaining a loving heart, even for the duration of a snap of a finger, makes one a truly spiritual being.

A timely reminder.

Baftas, Brexit and Insects

I awake this morning to the news headlines on the radio. First up is the Baftas – hot news at the moment as The Favourite has scooped an armful of awards, with Olivia Colman getting the Best Actress accolade. She was briliant, as were her supporting female leads; the film was odd and slightly boring (my view) and seemed filled with characters who were distinctly nasty to each other. I far preferred Stan and Ollie and Bohemian Rhapsody. But then I’m a push over for films with a spot of happiness, some poignant sadness and with music in them.

The news moves on to Brexit; in third place comes a mention of the alarming lack of insects, news of which has just broken.

Back to Brexit – that ongoing saga of unbelievable self-harm which parliament, government, the Prime Minister and some of the country seems to be willingly – almost eagerly? – putting itself through in the name of the “will of the people”. What tosh. It’s the most dangerous emergency the UK has faced sine WW2.

Boris Johnson is being interviewed and he’s using the quiet, well-modulated voice he’s no doubt been schooled in using, in an attempt to be taken seriously as he spouts something or other I may or may not have heard before. I’ve had enough of this man and the porkies he peddled during the referendum campaign so I turn off the radio.

I don’t need to hear anymore. The item on Insects is given little prominence and comes low down on the list. In fact, it’s something which is infinitely more important, scary and of long term importance and significance than a no-deal Brexit.

There’s a global decline of insects. A recent scientific review of insect numbers reports that 40% of species are undergoing dramatic rates of decline. We can’t do without them, whether we like them or not. We need them for pollination; they ensure that 75% of crops in the world are pollinated. And we need food.

Insects provide food for birds, bats and small mammals. They are good for the soil and they keep the number of pests (like flies) down. Loss of habitat and use of fertilisers and pesticides are to blame, along with climate breakdown. Most insect decline comes from Europe and North America.

So what can we do?

1) Make your garden or patch more insect friendly. Plant to attract insects – encourage the bees and butterflies. Don’t use plastic grass (horrible dead stuff – and it’s plastic too). Leave a wild patch on your lawn for the insects. It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be there.

2) Don’t use pesticides. At all. There are other ways. One of them is leaving things be as much as you can. The worst that can happen is that some plants will be eaten by caterpillars….but then you’ll have the butterflies and moths too.

3) Buy organic or grow some of your own fruit and veg.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

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These words are in my head right now as I’m learning to play the Elton John song of the same name on my piano. I’ve got a touch of earworm – it’s a very poignant song with a touching melody – and it’s got me thinking about how hard it can be to say sorry, even when we know we’re wrong.

The words are roaming around in my head……….It’s a sad sad situation, and it’s getting more and more absurd………..sorry seems to be the hardest word………..and they make me consider them in the context of a couple of real life situations which are in the news:

1) Towards the end of last week, Prince Philip crashes his car into another on a public road, his large car rolls over on to its side and he somehow manages to get out shaken but basically unhurt.

The two people in the other car are hurt, not seriously, the baby in the back is mercifully unscathed, and the official announcement is that Philip has been “in touch” with these drivers to “wish them well” or somesuch weird words.

How about sorry? It probably is the hardest word to say if you come from a place of “never explain, never apologise.” One of the injured passengers says she is still waiting to hear from him, and that no apology has been offered.

2) The whole Brexit mess in the UK is getting more and more absurd almost by the hour; it’s taking over the headlines to the extent that the media can barely keep up with the twists, turns, events, happenings. Prime Minister Theresa May seems to be ever more stuck between a rock and hard place, her apparent innate inflexibility making her dig deeper into the hole she’s already in.

Absurd is one way of describing the Brexit mess. It’s the stuff that nightmares are made of.

Antidotes are necessary – walking in nature, watching birds, appreciating what is good in life and being kind and generous to others, maybe giving them a smile (however they voted in that confounded referendum).

A great nation is like a great man: when he makes mistakes, he realises it. Having realised it, he admits it. Having admitted it, he corrects it. He considers those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers.            Lao Tzu

Sorry doesn’t have to be the hardest word.

 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Goodwill

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You know what good will is when you experience it

Saturday’s People’s Vote march in central London – where an estimated 700,000 people, all concerned about the impending doom-laden no-deal or hard Brexit –  united together in harmonious solidarity to express their feelings and demand a final say on what happens.

Britain, my country, is in a state of flux, and has been riven since the 2016 referendum. People marching and demonstrating on Saturday were demanding a second vote on the final Brexit deal (if a final deal ever emerges. Goodness knows they’ve been negotiating for long enough and have only recently started to leak out some alarming details, should we tip over the cliff edge with no proper deal at all on 29th March.)

I wasn’t in London, I’d just come back from holiday, but I followed the events via Twitter and news media. And I’ve signed the People’s Vote petition. What struck me was the huge amount of good will that seemed to be around. People of all ages were cooperating. It made for moving, heart-warming reading and viewing.

Italian psychologist Roberto Assagioli – a contemporary of Jung – focused on the use of the will. Assagioli’s work is often called “a psychology with a soul”. He would most certainly have supported the People’s Vote march; he went to prison for his views and attitudes during WW2.

Assagioli outlined three identifiable expressions of will:

The strong will, where determination and persistence are engaged to reach an aim or goal. Strength of purpose and a clear outcome are sought, and there may be a rigidity of focus too. Hard Brexit?

The skilful will, where we’re prepared to deviate from a straight line or pathway to a desired goal, acknowledging that we may have to shift position, change and alter expectations along the way. The skill is not to lose sight of the goal, but to be prepared to make concessions and evolve with the situation along the way. What the People’s Vote was saying? Minds can be changed.

Then there’s good will, which can permeate both the strong and the skilful will by bringing openness, acceptability of the situation we find ourselves in and work to understand and include the viewpoints of others. With good will, much can be achieved. There are good feelings, an ambient atmosphere and meaningful connections with others are made.

Good will is one of those qualities that we recognise we when we experience it, but it’s hard to describe. There was a lot of it about on that march, and it’s that kind of thing which makes me feel proud to be British. Don’t let’s lose sight of it – we need it to help us out of the hole we’re in.