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.

Earworms

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Ageing music book, Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau, France

Earworms – those snippets of songs or strains of music which suddenly appear in your head and won’t go away. Sometimes described as “I’ve got this song/tune/piece of music on the brain”. And it often doesn’t go away does it?

Singing with my local Rock Choir in Cheshire, I very often have an intense bout of Earworms, especially when we’re limbering up to perform at a big concert or when we start to learn a new song, so I had to smile when I saw someone doing research into this phenomena when I went to a concert recently.

A stand was set up in the foyer of the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester with the intriguing words “Do you get Earworms” on a large poster. I went to check it out in the interval and agreed to take part in the short survey being run by the Royal Northern College of Music.

They were interested in responses to the music being performed that evening – the theme was space and the cosmos, and top of the bill was Holst’s Planets Suite. I can pretty much conjure up the opening bars for Mars at will –

Da-da-da-daaaa, da-da-da-da, da-da-da-daaa, da-da-da-da, and so on…..

But my head was still filled with floating remnants of the 18 songs I’d performed with Rock Choir at the Liverpool Philharmonic the previous week, and with the first section of the new song we’d started to learn at Rock Choir that morning.

I wondered if there might be room for any more, but the brain and the memory is Tardis-like and there was room for the Star Wars theme, which I’d heard in the first half of the concert, to replay itself as I chatted to the researcher and answered a few questions.

But I need to keep those 18 songs I performed to hand in the filing cabinet in my head as our choir has some charity gigs coming up and we’ve been told we could be singing any of the 18. Attention has to be firmly in place to pick up what song to sing, based on the intro music. Earworms can be very useful!

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

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.

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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?

Wanting and Needing

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As the annual festivities approach, I’m busy learning a seasonal song  – All I want for Christmas – to perform at the local gigs our Cheshire Rock Choir are giving in the next few weeks.

It’s a bit of annoying song to sing – quite light and superficial in a way, with a catchy melody that that doesn’t exactly sing itself; it has to be learned, so there’s some note bashing going on too.

But it’s some of the words which have given me pause for thought:

I don’t WANT a lot for Christmas, there is something that I NEED

which made me recall what Assagioli’s psychosynthesis says about wants and needs. Psychosynthesis is sometimes called “a psychology with a soul”. It explores, amongst other things, how our psychological make up is composed of an infinite number of subpersonalities. It works with the transpersonal qualities of love and will, and focusses on transpersonal qualities which we can express, but which we often block, especially if there is a conflict of wants and needs going on between some of our subpersonalities.

Examples of transpersonal qualities are beauty, courage, joy, power, inclusiveness, understanding, wonder and humour. Returning to wants and needs, we might want something, but at a deeper level, that want is the outer expression of a need – but there is often no apparent connection between what we want, and what we seek, or need.

I might want a cup of coffee, expertly prepared by a barista…but what need could be hidden behind that? Maybe I’m just in need of some caffeine because I’m tired, but sitting down in a cafe to drink my coffee forces me to stop what I’m doing and take a rest. What do I get from the rest? A break, a pause, a space to recoup my energy, a time to be still, to be in the moment? And what might the underlying transpersonal quality be? I suggest it could be peace.

Back to the song – I don’t want a lot for Christmas….OK, not much, message received. But …….there is something that I need. What might that be? The words of the song move on to the final chorus –  All I want for Christmas is you, baby.

What’s the transpersonal quality there? My guess is that it’s love.