Psychosynthesis incorporates lots of different exercises from many different sources which are used when appropriate in group settings and sometimes with individual clients. Below are a few typical examples that you might like to try for yourself.
How To Get the Most From These Exercises
To help you maximize the beneficial effects of any exercise always try to make sure you have enough time to complete it without being disturbed. Even if you can only spend a very short time on a particular exercise do set aside a specific period for it and stick to that.
Before starting an exercise, take up a comfortable position, either standing, sitting or lying as appropriate to the exercise, and with a straight but not rigid spine and closed eyes, take a few deep and slow breaths. Take your time doing this, you do not have to rush. Be aware that you are a unique individual choosing, at this very time, in this very space (that is, ‘here and now’) to perform this exercise.
Always take your time with an exercise – it is better to err on the side of slowness rather than rushing through it.
It may be necessary, particularly with a longer exercise, to read it through a few times to familiarize yourself with what you have to do. Do not begrudge this time, it will help you connect with the ‘essence’ of the exercise, and help you become focused.
If you find any exercise particularly useful for you, stick to it for some time, as repetition of an exercise multiplies its power. Alternatively, if you find a particular exercise genuinely difficult, it may be better to leave it and return to it at another time. Whatever your experience, don’t treat yourself or the work too seriously. Humour is one of our greatest teachers.
It is a good idea to record your experiences immediately after finishing with an exercise. This is for your benefit alone, being a record of you as you are and as you progress. Try not to censor or judge what you write. The more open and honest you are with yourself, the more open and honest you will become! Finally, do not gossip about your work or prematurely share insights as this can often dissipate the energy.
The Rose Garden
– a classic psychosynthesis visualisation to explore how different parts of us are not always in conflict
Either sitting or lying down, take a few deep breaths and relax. Imagine you are in a meadow, and spend some time tuning into being there … What is the sky like? Is it a sunny day? … How do you feel? … What can you hear – bird song perhaps? … What can you smell? What do you see? … Be in your meadow as if it really exists.
In one direction you can see a small house or cottage. Walk towards it, feeling your feet on the ground, and remembering to pay attention to really being in your meadow … As you reach the house, you realise it is the home of some of your subpersonalities. You wonder who will live there, and how they will greet you. As you approach the door be aware of your excitement and anticipation.
You tap at the door and wait expectently … Greet the person who opens the door to you, and pay attention to what he or she looks like. Is it a man, a woman or a child? Old or young? Fill in as much detail on this figure as you can … Then exchange some words, asking the figure its name if you like. Find out as much as you are able about this person.
This character (a ‘subpersonality’ in psychosynthesis terms) then asks you into the garden of the house. It is a beautiful rose garden. Pay attention to the roses, their colours, scents, and overall beauty … Allow yourself to be infused with the quality of the roses … Walk with the subpersonality into the depths of the garden, then find one particular rose to which you are attracted.
Both you and the subpersonality look at this rose, brightly lit by a ray of sunshine. Feel the energy of the rose, its beauty and warmth, transform your feelings and thoughts. Let yourself feel really good to be in this beautiful garden at this time.
Then turn to the subpersonality and see how it has changed. Again engage him or her in dialogue and ask how he or she feels, what transformations, if any, may have taken play. Ask particularly about what the subpersonality needs.
Finally thank the subpersonality for taking you to the garden, say goodbye for now, and bring your consciousness back to your room.
Write about the experience, and the needs of the subpersonality, in your diary. In what way(s) can you express and fulfil this need, or at least some aspects of it in your daily life?
– an effective way to connect with the essence of a quality
Relax and centre…Think about Freedom. Hold the concept of Freedom in your mind and reflect upon it. Ask yourself questions about this quality: what is it? what is its nature? what is its meaning? and so on. Record your ideas, and any images that emerge.
Be still and receptive; what does Freedom mean to you now?
Realise the value of Freedom, its purpose, its use in your life and on the planet as a whole. What differences would there be if Freedom was in abundance?
Allow Freedom to be in your body, assume a posture that expresses this quality. Relax all your tensions, let them drift away. Breathe slowly. Allow Freedom to express itself on your face. Visualise yourself with that expression.
Evoke the quality of Freedom. Imagine you are in a place where you feel Freedom; a quiet beach, with a loved one, in the middle of a crowded city, in a temple of Freedom, wherever you choose. Try to really feel it. Repeat the word Freedom several times. Let the quality permeate you, to the point of identification if possible. Allow yourself to be Freedom.
Resolve to remain infused with Freedom, to be the living embodiment of Freedom, to radiate Freedom.
Draw on a piece of paper or card the word Freedom, using the colours and lettering that best conveys the quality to you. Place this sign where you can see it daily, as often as possible. You can make several such signs and place them strategically around your home. Whenever you notice a sign, recall within yourself the feeling of Freedom
Note: this exercise can be easily adapted to help you connect with other qualities (such as, for example, Joy, Truth, Clarity, etc.)
The Inner Guide
– a visualisation to connect to a source of inner guidance
Relax and centre yourself.
Imagine you are in a meadow where the sun is shining and the birds are singing. Spend some time really feeling your presence in this meadow. Notice what you can hear, what you can see, what you feel.
At one edge of the meadow is a hill with a path leading up to the top. Start to walk in that direction, really feeling your feet on the ground beneath you. Start an as=scent up the hill, taking your time to really enjoy the sights and sensations you experience on your journey.
As you reach the top of the hill become aware that you are about to meet someone who is intimately involved with the evolution of your life. This person is your inner guide – you might see him or her as a wise old person, as a guardian angel, or simply as someone whose eyes express great love and care for you. However you visualise this person, let the image of him or her appear clearly before you. Allow yourself to fully experience the excitement and interest such a contact invokes.
You can now engage this being in a dialogue and, in whatever way seems best to you at this time, ask about any issues, questions, choices or problems you currently have in your life. The dialogue may be verbal or non verbal, it may take place on a visual or symbolic level, but however it occurs really relish this time you are spending with your inner guide.
Also ask about global awareness and the state of our planet and what you can be doing to help the current precarious situation. Let your inner guides wisdom and understanding help you realise your connection, your ability to love and your power to cause change to occur.
When you are ready, thank your guide for having appeared to you and, returning back down the hill, enter the meadow and once more feel your feet firmly placed on the ground. Bring your consciousness back to your room and spend some time considering what you have learned and how you can put this learning into practice in your life.
– a way of anchoring your energy to the core of the earth
Relax and centre.
Sit upright, let the base of your spine become really heavy, and see it as an anchor. Imagine the anchor goes down into the earth, attached by a light but strong cord to your whole body. Let it pass in its own way through layers of rock and sediment and anything else it comes to until it finally reaches the core of the earth, then hook it in there. Let it find its own way down and hook to centre in a natural way, don’t force it.
Feel yourself hooked into the planet’s core, the planet’s energy of which you are a part.
You can extend this exercise by having your feet flat on the ground, and imagining that they have openings on the bottom. Draw energy up through them as you inhale, circulate this energy through your body, then as you exhale let it go back down into the earth. Then you are circulating earth energy through your body. Cycling and recycling this energy will really connect you to the earth.
We are all, individually, a bit like ‘growths’ on the earth’s surface, little ‘blips’ sticking out, like hairs on the globe shaped body of our mother planet. Each ‘hair’ or ‘blip’ is as important as any other and each hair has the potential to grow to its fullest height. You can let this happen through you.
Being At Peace
– connecting to the self behind all identifications
Relax and centre.
Pay attention to the rhythmic flow of your breathing without trying to change it or force it in any way. Just let yourself freely and easily breathe for a while.
Say to yourself: ‘My body is at peace.’ Be aware of any sensations in your body but do not try to suppress them in any way.
Next affirm silently to yourself: ‘My emotions and feelings are at peace.’ Do not suppress any emotions that arise, simply be aware of them and let them pass.
Then silently affirm: ‘My thoughts are at peace.’ Notice whatever thoughts arise but do not become attached to them.
Visualise yourself as perfectly silent. Be at peace in a perfectly silent, peaceful world.
Silently affirm: ‘I have sensations, emotions, feelings, thoughts, but I, as an individual Soul, am eternally at peace and at one with the universal rhythm.’
Realise the truth of this statement.
Note: this exercise is a simplified disidentification practice; you can find the full psychosynthesis disidentification exercise here
– a psychosynthetic meditation on inner and outer awareness
Spend at least one hour today self-consciously aware of each single task you’re working on for this period
Treat each event with a combination of relaxation, reverence, and the quiet awareness that, at least whilst you are attentive, this is the single most important thing in the world.
When you notice yourself drifting off, be aware of it , and allow your attention to gently turn back to focus.
As you stay focused on one valuable thing at a time, notice and acknowledge all the times you feel yourself being drawn to something else. Just let the thought and feeling pass by, don’t grasp it. (For instance, you hear the tone of your phone ringing, but resist the urge to pick it up.) Don’t dwell on distractions, just note them and let them go.
Later, after the time is up, write down 2 or 3 interruptions you think might deserve or need less attention than you’ve been allowing them. Assuming you want to remain centered and mindfully attentive, reflect on what you can do about these distractions?
Near the very beginning of his main book on the subject, Assagioli asserts that the primary aim of psychosynthesis psychotherapy is ‘The conscious and planned reconstruction or re-creation of the personality, through the cooperation and interplay of patient and therapist.’ Later, he delineates the stages for this harmonious development of the individual as being:
‘1. Thorough knowledge of one’s personality.
2. Control of its various elements.
3. Realization of one’s true Self – the discovery or creation of a unifying center.
4. Psychosynthesis: the formation or reconstruction of the personality around the new center.’
The first stage, thorough knowledge of one’s personality, is a tall order but no one is expected to achieve some final goal with this work. To think so would be hubristic and in any case unachievable. The point is to be in process, willing to enter into a mindful reflection on what emerges from the unconscious. This can require considerable patience and is not to be rushed; indeed, a willingness to enter into the process is actually far more important than any apparent results. This stage of the work also requires the courage necessary to enter into what can be difficult memories and reflections and the willingness to stay with the process to allow the fullest exploration of the unconscious. Psychosynthesis can be used for short-term counselling, but its psychotherapeutic application does not offer – nor would it want to offer any kind of ‘quick fix’.
As the work of exploring the personality proceeds, the client is also learning to find ways to control its various elements, what Assagioli called the second stage of development. This control is, however, not about achieving any kind of rigid mastery of the personality but rather about the control that comes, somewhat paradoxically, from letting go into the process and finding appropriate ways to make happen the choices that inevitably arise. Development in psychosynthesis is a fluid, non-linear process. As Piero Ferrucci says: ‘When it is balanced and healthy, human growth proceeds in all directions; it looks like an expanding sphere rather than a straight line. It is precisely for this reason that psychosynthesis endeavours to take into consideration all the dimensions of human life which truly matter.’ To use an analogy often attributed to Assagioli, if the psyche is a house, we are concerned with the basement, ground floor and upstairs of this house.
Whilst the work of therapy is being done, Assagioli states ‘the harmonization and integration into one functioning whole of all the qualities and functions of the individual must be aimed at and actively fostered – the central purpose of psychosynthesis.’ The primary way for achieving this integration is through a process of disidentification from what controls us coupled with a growing awareness of the deeper choice that comes from self identification, the alignment of the personality with the Self. To achieve this end, a psychosynthesis psychotherapist will work towards the client becoming both arbitrator and then director of the development of his or her own psyche. ‘At first the therapist plays the more active role. Then his influence becomes more and more catalytic … in the final stage the therapist gradually withdraws and is replaced by the Self, with whom the patient establishes a growing relationship.’
Although they proceed in tandem, and the division is essentially artificial, in psychosynthesis we consider there to be two mutually interdependent aspects of therapeutic work. Firstly, there is personal psychosynthesis, fostering the development of a well integrated personality. Secondly, there is what is usually termed transpersonal (or spiritual) psychosynthesis, the aim of which is the realisation one’s higher nature and purpose in life. Both these aspects of the therapeutic process are important for harmonious development of the personality, and both are necessary for a ‘full’ psychosynthesis that includes all of Assagioli’s four fundamental stages of the process.
Often, perhaps usually, a client is not aware of these stages, partly because, as said, the division is artificial as both are happening concurrently, but also because it is a principle in psychosynthesis not to impose any kind of spiritual belief system or affective requirement on the client. Indeed, some theorists avoid using any of the more ‘spiritual’ or ‘esoteric’ descriptions in their psychosynthesis work and have found ways to express these aspects in a neutral way. For instance, describing its purpose, Whitmore states ‘Assagioli maintained that the purpose of psychosynthesis is to help integrate, to synthesize, the multiple aspects of the individual’s personality around a personal centre …’ In many cases this is all the work that is attemptable or desirable. A psychosynthesis psychotherapist will always keep in mind, however, the possibility of working towards an alignment with the higher Self. Whitmore continues: ‘… and later to effect a greater synthesis between the personal ego and the transpersonal Self.’
Kabbalistically, I don’t think it is a matter of whether I (or anyone else) approves or not … The bottom line for kabbalists is whether the message has a relevant and credible meaning within your life – does the message serve you in some way, move you on in your understanding of yourself and/or the cosmos, give you insight … Or maybe even if lacking all that, is it poetically beautiful and enriching to your creative spirit?
Apply those questions for yourself to any messages, whatsoever their source.
Another test: It may seem like nit picking, but I don’t believe that any ‘real’ spirits have to speak in old fashioned or bad English to make themselves convincing – in fact, if they can speak English at all 😉 just a joke 😉 then surely they will speak good modern English.
“… a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
Psychosynthesis Avalon was founded on May 1st, 1996 by Will Parfitt and Patti Howe with the byline ‘the quality we choose for ourselves’. At that time in England there was much concern over proposed regulation of the healing therapies and our purpose was to secure an outlet for Psychosynthesis: which was not just aimed at getting students through the hoops required (or imagined to be required) for accreditation; which offered psychosynthesis as a way of personal and spiritual development for everyone; and which aims to follow the vision and values of its founder, Roberto Assagioli. Of course it is really important to have safeguards in place regarding the practice of counsellors and psychotherapists and both Will and Patti are registered psychotherapists. At the same time, however, we hold a concern that too much standardization and regulation-meeting training can stifle or even annul the intuitive, instinctive and naturally wise aspects of each individual that an open, truly person-centred, psycho-spiritual training can provide.
PS Avalon Publishing was set up in 2003 to publish quality books in the field of personal and spiritual development and psycho-spiritual poetry and to date has produced twenty-two titles. We ceased publishing books by other authors after around 25 titles were published; they generally sold well enough but I haven’t the time or energy to be a publisher anymore. Most of the books we published have gone on to be published either by other publishers or the authors themselves (which these days is a good path to follow.) PS Avalon Publishing still exists for my books.
Roberto Assagioli described Psychosynthesis as being essentially about ‘…the genuine living experience of interpersonal and inter-individual communications, relationships, interplay; by cooperation between individuals, and among groups – and even by a blending (italics his), through intuition, empathy, understanding and identification.’
Kabbalah teaches that men and women are created equal but have been divided from one another, and within themselves. Sex is considered a holy sacrament which can bring the divided back together. A Kabbalistic metaphor says that the vessels God used during creation were broken and our work in life is to repair these vessels. Sex undertaken in a loving context is a powerful method for such repair.
Particularly important is sexual contact between a couple on Friday nights when, during sex, the feminine aspect of god manifests and helps bring extra energy to the love- making. To make a baby, the Kabbalah teaches the couple should focus their attention on god during their love-making and open themselves to being a channel for the manifestation of a new soul. Any and all other procedures – which might include candle lighting, prayer, ritual chanting, bathing for purification, and so on, are considered useful extras but the real focus is on two people coming together to create a new being, thus mirroring god’s original creation.
Kabbalah stresses that parental responsibility to the new soul does not end with the procreative act but should include the upbringing and guidance of the child to adulthood, helping the child to feel at one with him- or her-self and not fragmented within. Thus the work of ‘repairing the vessels’ is not just accomplished through sex but through a life of dedication to the power of love and unity.
When we relate the concepts and practices of different traditions to the Tree of Life, we find there are considerably more similarities than differences. The Tree of Life therefore has the potential to bring harmony where previously there may have been discord and mistrust. Through the Tree of Life, even fundamentalists might be able to better understand those who hold differing beliefs.
When, for example, we understand the ‘gentle’ and ‘strong’ aspects of Jesus’ character as corresponding to Chesed and Geburah, we find a correspondence with the compassionate and courageous aspects of Mohammed’s life. Further correspondences include the Buddhist meditations on joy and nature; the Hindu deities Indra and Vishnu; the Greek deities Zeus and Ares; the Egyptian Osiris and Isis; and the Scandinavian gods Wotan and Thor. Even ancient cosmologies can be of value, for an understanding of the gods and goddesses of our ancestors not only gives us an understanding of our roots, it can assist in making sense of the mythical aspects of dreams and visions.
If we look within any particular religion, we find different aspects of the religion correspond to different areas of the Tree of Life. In the case of Christianity, we can see how the different components of the Christian faith correspond to the Tree of Life.
It is also possible to relate various aspects of the story of Jesus’ life to the Tree. The forty days and nights he spent in the wilderness, for instance, may well relate to the experience of being in the abyss. The Devil who tempts him is equivalent, in this case, to the demon of Daath. If Jesus had succumbed he would have failed what Kabbalists call ‘the ordeal of the abyss.’ This involves giving up everything that has gone before, giving up all sense of power, fellowship, hope and connection. Jesus did not succumb, however, and his experiences in the abyss strengthened him for his subsequent journey. When he said ‘My Father and I are One’ he was uniting the Supernal Triad with the middle triangle of the Tree. United, these two triangles form a hexagram, used by both Jewish people and occultists as a symbol of the greatest spiritual truth.
The whole life of Jesus can also be seen to correspond to the Tree of Life in different ways. For instance, one way is to place the various stages of his life on the Tree, working from the bottom to the top as the diagram shows. The purpose of relating Jesus’ life or that of any other religious leader to the Tree of Life, or of relating different religious ideas to the Kabbalah, is primarily that it offers us a greater understanding of our own beliefs and interests. It may also profoundly affect the manifestation of tolerance and understanding between different religious traditions.
Christianity, like all religions and spiritual systems, can be related in these ways to Kabbalah, but there is also a specifically strong link between mystic and esoteric Christianity and Kabbalah. Indeed, Jesus is sometimes described as the greatest Kabbalist to ever have lived.
Extra-Terrestrials: A Kabbalistic Perspective
Kabbalah emphasizes that we can find the deepest expression of our spirituality in our ordinary, daily lives and my latest book, Kabbalah for Life, aims to make Kabbalah alive in everything you do, even in your communications with ‘extra-dimensional’ beings. This may appear strange, even ridiculous, until we consider that any being or entity outside of ourselves can be considered in this way, even other human beings. Whether these ‘beings’ actually exist outside or whether they are figments of our imagination, projections, or parts of us that we do not recognize, we all have the experience that they exist.
Most cultures throughout history have described beings, some angelic and some demonic in nature, that exist in other realities or dimensions parallel with and sometimes interpenetrating our world. Some mainstream psychologists claim these ‘extra-dimensional’ beings are the impersonal forces of nature which we personalize in an attempt to gain control over them. According to some more far-sighted psychologists and those aware of the new physics, however, these beings are representational of real forces. Behind our everyday perception, when we enter the world of sub-atomic particles, there is a level of existence where different laws apply, but which is no less real because invisible on a mundane level. The same applies to all ‘levels of existence’ which we cannot perceive with our usual senses.
The question arises why anyone would want to make contact with any of these other ‘beings’, particularly the demonic ones! If we are to be whole, to include rather than exclude all of ourselves, one way of achieving this is through making contact with all the forces within our universe. We are usually quite willing to include the ‘good guys’ – if I suggest that you talk to your Guardian Angel you would probably have little resistance (assuming you believed it possible). On the other hand, once we discuss communicating with demons we are entering the realm of the shadow which includes those parts of ourselves that we would rather not face.
Any aspect of our being that we exclude from our awareness becomes part of our shadow which has been usefully described as being like a big bag we drag round behind us. The more shadow we have, the heavier our bag becomes and the more it restricts our free movement. Conversely, the more material from this ‘shadow bag’ we can dredge out, face, and integrate, the lighter the bag becomes and the more energy we have available to fulfil our life functions, from the loftiest sense of Divine Purpose through to everyday functions that help us survive in the world.
If we do not face our anger over, say, a poor work situation, this suppressed anger and the associated anxiety will become part of our shadow. If we find ways of expressing the anger, we will no longer be pulled down by the weight of it, and will free our energies, perhaps to make a life-enhancing decision about the work. On the other hand, if we do not express our anger, it is pushed deeper down into the shadow bag until we are no longer even aware of its existence. As a result there will be tension and holding patterns in our body which will cause pain and disease later in life. We might start smoking tobacco to alleviate the stress from denying the anger; we might over-eat in an attempt to suppress the attendant feelings. We can then say that our behaviour opens us up to the influence of the corresponding demonic force. For instance, a demon whose presence brings ‘cancerous mis-growth of cells’ might be allowed a foothold in the body which then leads to illness or death. We do not have to believe in demons to understand the process of what is happening. Perhaps what we are dealing with is a personification of the suppressed material in an individual’s subconscious. Whatever we believe, however, what we can do is to start communicating with the demons or ‘suppressed energies’, find what they need to express, and through various appropriate actions, dispel the demons through releasing the pent-up anger.
On the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, the sphere called Daath is the access point to the reverse side of the Tree where all the demons that bring ‘dis-ease’ into our lives exist. Whether these demons represent aspects of our own shadow nature or whether they are actual entities with a life of their own is irrelevant as we can communicate and affect our relationship with them as if they are real. Thus we can affect a healing through communicating with demons as much as through contacting our Guardian Angel. Kabbalistic healing includes work with both spirit and shadow, bringing us closer to a wholeness that heals not just ourselves but all the extra-dimensional beings in our world.
Article first appeared in Watkins Review, summer 2006
The Western Mystery Tradition describes several levels of energy bodies thus:
– the etheric body; is closely associated with it the ‘physical body’ (the etheric is basically the ‘energy field’ of the physical form) (Malkuth)
– the astral body: is closely associated with the emotional realm; this doesn’t mean emotions are ‘astral’ but that just as the physical life creates an etheric double or energy field, so similarly the emotional life creates an astral double or energy field (Yesod)
– sometimes the astral body is split into two levels, described as the ‘lower astral’ and the ‘upper astral’ … what we are calling the ‘astral’ is then equivalent to the ‘lower astral’ and the ‘higher astral’ has more association with the ‘mental body’ which I’ll describe next (it is not the same, but closely linked)
– the mental body (better termed the ‘causal’ body): is closely associated with what Jungians call the ‘rational functions’ i.e. thoughts and feelings (the plane of Netzach and Hod)
– the spiritual body: is an energy field corresponding to (or ‘created by’) the deeper soul connections or finer energy within us (loosely equivalent to the middle triangle)
People sometimes (often?) make up different versions of these, but if you want to work real magic, if you want to work within the Western tradition, then these attributes are really pretty well non-negotiable.
Very roughly speaking, if you perceive these energy bodies, then the etheric is seen as very close to the physical (maybe like just a centimetre away); the astral then extends outwards around that (in a resting healthy body to a distance of about an arms length); the mental body then extends beyond that (and has a diffuse outer edge that blends into its surroundings which are, after all, created in form through the operation of this body); the spiritual body doesn’t exist in this time/space continuum. (… and these distances vary, for instance: the etheric body can sink to the level of the feet and be merely a remnant of its former glory; the astral body which expands and contracts continually, depending upon the energy level of the person, their physical and emotional health etc; the mental body sometimes becomes so enmeshed in the outside world it is indistinguishable from its surroundings; sometimes even the spiritual body recedes and the person might be then considered ‘soul dead’)
‘Inside the body, outside the body’ are artificial descriptions especially when referring to energy. If you take a physical body and consider just its physicality, without any life force (probably dead, though not necessarily) then it is useful to call this physical ‘lump of substance’ the corpse; then if you consider the physical body when it is animated, when it is ‘wet with living functions’, then it is useful to term it the soma.
For more details of the components within a physical body look up the body systems charts in my Kabbalah books.
There are so many complex ways to describe the correspondence of frequency to the spheres, but it can be useful to consider the frequency in terms of the musical scale (and from this you can then easily work out the correspondences)
Malkuth/ base chakra: C
Yesod/ sexual chakra: C sharp
Hod-Netzach/ belly chakra: D/D sharp
Tiphareth/ heart chakra: E (collective); F (personal)
Daath/ throat chakra: F sharp
Kether/ crown chakra: B
Some people like to make an equivalence here to doh, ray, me, so, far, teh, do etc., but this is a mental construct – the reality is far more complex – just as the colours of a rainbow do not really equate to the chakras (you know, red for base chakra up to violet for crown chakra) … in fact the colours for the spheres as described in my books is not arbitrary but it based upon the true esoteric tradition as based on the work of psychics who really see colours in this way (and don’t just create fantasy mental attributes.)
With various Kabbalah ‘centers’ and the increasing pop world popularity of Kabbalah, there are many people (often claiming to work within a Jewish tradition) who make up more or less plausible but fantastic stories around their attributions etc., which are not based on the true traditions. There are also many so-called psychics who are not really psychic at all but completely wrapped up in astral fantasies (for instance, any so called psychic who tells you your chakras are coloured as in a rainbow is making it up because if they really saw the energy they would know that is not true!)
The only place you can find out for yourself is in inner silence which is not the same as inner stillness nor is it just a case of sitting quietly, it is in fact indescribable in words because it is truly beyond words, but it is an awesome place that paradoxically is not silent at all!
Focus your efforts on achieving inner silence, then you will know, and understand (consider that carefully from a Kabbalistic perspective)
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A selection from written feedback, presented here anonymously.
If you want to leave me some feedback, send me an email
Feedback from individual clients
‘Thank you for two whole years of insights – enjoyable, compassionate, supportive, kind and wonderful supervision.’ (KT)
‘Wise, clear-sighted, silent, listens, challenges; glides, lands, gathering all senses, all with gratitude.’ (CN)
‘I’m so immensely grateful to you for all the healing you facilitated in my life … you have brought me to a space, a strength, a life energy and to the edge of joy again.’ (OJ)
‘We were most fortunate to have found you to facilitate us. Your expertise, sensitivity, perspective and integrity guided us through the complex of issues and averted a disaster.’ (EC)
‘Many thanks for the years of attentive listening, genuine concern and gentle support.’ (DD)
‘Enjoyable, exhilarating, astonishing.’ (MG, Consultant)
Feedback for retreats and workshops
‘As a group leader you certainly have a great skill, your warmth, sensitivity and enormous integrity to the needs of the group and individuals made the experiences totally inspiring.’ (MB)
‘A wonderful course offered with kindness, sensitivity and enormous love.’ (BB)
‘Thank you for guiding us round the bend, further than we can see … or dare to go ourselves, to reconnect with the rhythm of true love.’ (WT)
‘Excellent, challenging, painful and exciting… Will is gentle with his sense of humour, he is very skilled at his job and very easy to understand.’ (PM)
‘The retreat opened up for me a new way of looking at my life, a new way of peace, it was a wonderful experience – the teaching, the sharing – to be okay who I am and where I am.’ (MD)
‘I appreciate the utterly non-judgmental acceptance that you consistently demonstrate towards all people.’ (BM)
‘The box of delights is well and truly open – nothing can be the same again!’ (NK)
‘Thank you for a marvelous retreat filled with insight!’ (DH)
‘I enjoyed it very much and I have learned that love is so easy! I opened my heart – I was waiting, looking for a way to do so and I didn’t know it would happen with your help! Overwhelming!’ (WC)
Feedback for Psychosynthesis Distance Learning Courses
‘For me the course has been a gentle yet powerful examination of my life and psyche … that has had a balancing effect. Sending the lesson off to a person I have never met but who obviously reads my work with attention and who gives helpful and supportive feedback adds to the power of the course.’ (VB)
‘Your lessons are a great gift to me, I cannot thank you enough.’ (KB)
‘I must express my deep gratitude… I have yet to fully comprehend the effect the course has had on my nature… I have been able to make peace with obstacles and difficulties that I had long experienced.’ (KD)
‘I feel so thankful you have given me time and help to move on into another world… I gradually woke up to a feeling of contentment, it’s okay to be myself, I don’t have to go looking for things to do!’ (MD)
Feedback for Kabbalah Distance Learning Courses
‘I have thoroughly enjoyed myself doing the course, and have got all that I wanted from it and then more… I found each lesson rich and full of opportunities for insight. Each lesson was well designed, with a good mix of reading and activities…and the real bonus has been your feedback as you are a wonderful and encouraging teacher. I really get a sense of your specific and personal care for me as a pupil.’ (BD)
‘What I want to say is how much thanks I have in my heart for the course. .. Your comments kept me going through to where I am now – a much happier bloke! I see on reflection that your insight and suggestions were apt and brilliant.’ (SE)
‘A big change has happened over the time of doing the course. Thank you for your skill as a teacher and Kabbalist.’ (CC)
‘The joy of this course was that I could go at my own pace…. I began to find increasingly not only was the course teaching me a lot of new knowledge it was bridging and linking with knowledge I had in the past which had fallen into disuse.’ (AA)
Divination works on the principle that everything is connected to everything else. Through investigating one thing we can glean information about something else. Divination takes a divination tool the tarot cards, stones, sticks, patterns in tealeaves, and so on and relates the information revealed through its use to the life of the querant (the person for whom the divination is done.) The idea that pictures on cards or patterns of stones, for instance, might reveal information about someone’s life is strange to the Newtonian linear world view that has so influenced Western science for centuries. That world view is changing, however, as ideas from the New Science become popularised. Many people world-wide have heard of the notion that a butterfly beating its wings in, for instance, Hanoi could cause a hurricane in, say, Ontario, even if they don’t fully understand why. That is the nature of modern Quantum theories, we do not nor cannot understand what happens with our linear thought, not even the scientists who make up the theories can do that, but the theories describe things that do happen. As Fritzjof Kapra says in his book ‘The Tao of Physics’: ‘Particles are not isolated grains of matter, but are probability patterns, interconnections in an inseparable cosmic web.’ This statement forms the basis of the theory of how divination works, it is just usually described in more esoteric language.
To be able to understand the message received through divination, the diviner has to change her or his consciousness in some way. Following a particular practice, usually shamanic in some way, the diviner receives messages from spirits from another world. Such messages are interpreted by the diviner in a way that helps the querant deal more effectively with their future life. Sometimes this information takes the form of fore-knowledge and prediction, but usually it is more ambiguous and unspecific warnings, suggestions, images, portents, possibilities and so on. In divinatory systems such as the tarot, a dialogue between the diviner and the querant often adds more information, fleshing out the message from the tarot thus enabling the revelations to be more specifically applied. In other systems of divination, such as from oracles, the messages are usually more ambiguous and open to a wide variety of interpretations. Sometimes they are non verbal messages, definitely aimed at affecting the unconscious mind of the querant. Part of the individual seeker’s work is then to use this knowledge to guide them in their subsequent life events.
There are many practices undertaken by diviners to put them in the right state to receive inspiration. Most if not all aim in some way to still and empty the mind of the practitioner. Through ‘turning off the inner dialogue’ we open ourselves to other realms of being and understanding from whence we can return with the new divinatory knowledge. Whilst we all innately have this ability, some people are more skilled at achieving this stillness and openness. Everyone can undertake a divination, however, because the work is not about having psychic abilities per se, but more about being able to put one’s own concerns and interests aside for a few brief moments and concentrate on another person’s life journey. Whilst sometimes it is difficult to do this, even the most basic counselling course shows how easily people not only can but are willing to listen to others.
Once we are in this position, of being attendant to another, we do not need to develop psychic abilities. Such powers emerge as and when appropriate. The second major skill for a diviner, after being able to still the mind, is not to be attached to psychic powers but to let them come and go as needed. When individuals become attached to psychic powers it can lead to all kinds of delusion, glamour, and dishonesty. There is an old joke about a psychic who says, ‘I see nothing’ but such honesty is a refreshing aspect of a true psychic. There is nothing wrong with developing psychic abilities, or in making oneself a suitable receptacle for psychic powers if they come. The point is, however, that we become good diviners not through developing powers but through developing ourselves. We are then ready when such powers emerge, which they will do, using an effective divination tool such as the tarot.
For divination to work we need what I call the ‘three ‘p’s’ provision, preparation and procedure. Provision is simply having the time and space in which to do a divination and the required tools, in this case a pack of tarot cards. Provisions might also include a candle, incense, a cloth to lay the cards on and so on, all of which can help focus the energy of the diviner. This is where preparation comes in, for to be effective the tarot reader has to:
– be centred
– be tuned in to her or his intuition
– be not attached to the results of the divination
– have no personal preference for how the cards unfold
– honour all living beings, and trust her or his inner sense of what is right or wrong
– be willing to trust in their ability to be a diviner.
Before laying the cards out, the diviner simply holds the cards, using her or his senses to ‘feel’ what might be present, to get a sense of the energies waiting to emerge. This might sound very mystical and difficult but really it is just a matter of being quiet and focussing your attention. After the diviner has held the cards, and taken a moment to centre her or himself, the cards are then handed to the querant. The querant then shuffles or in some way mixes the cards up, all the while focussing on the here and now moment, and any specific questions being asked. He or she then places the cards down in the pre-arranged pattern (if necessary with the help of the diviner.) The diviner then turns over the cards and begins the interpretation. Once the cards are laid out, the most important thing for the diviner is to simply just see what is there without expectation or judgement. Not to get caught up in trying to finds answers or meaning, just looking for what is obvious and clear, without complication. It is important to get a sense of the cards and what they depict for instance, looking at the posture and gesture of any figures on the card can reveal much, as can which cards appear to be in or out of relationship with other cards.
The basic procedure of divination can be summarised in five words:
When the cards are not being used they should be kept in a safe place that you treat as sacred that simply means, not to use the cards for other purposes, but to treat them with respect. One way to do this is through using your will and imagination and keeping the cards in a temple of the tarot. You create this temple through a visualisation. Then whenever you pick up the cards, you imagine you are taking them up from the altar in the temple of the tarot. Similarly, whenever you finish using the cards you place them in imagination, back into their sacred space in the temple.
Please contact me if you feel your site or any sites you like would fit into this listing
Kenneth Sorensen’s website: books about psychosynthesis and meditation, including 70 articles about psychosynthesis, integral meditation, and energy psychology.
A Comprehensive Psychosynthesis Home Page
Transpersonal Psychology Directory
Association for the Advancement of Psychosynthesis
Sweet Track Counselling (Courses in Glastonbury)
New York Psychosynthesis Institute
Schule Fur ERwachsene (Psychosynthesis and Astrology Courses)
HumaNova (Psychosynthesis in Sweden)
Dutch Institute of Psychosynthesis
New Zealand Psychosynthesis
Sao Paulo Institute
Melanie Reinhart (Quality Astrology)
Kabbalah and Esoteric Links:
Recommended Individual Practitioners
You can see a range of books on these subjects written by me if you go to the Books link above.
Books by others? There are so many and I recommend reading widely, but amongst modern titles by other authors I particularly recommend:
What We May Be by Piero Ferrucci
Your Inner Will by Piero Ferrucci
Psychosynthesis Counselling by Diana Whitmore
The Chicken Qabalah by Lon Milo Duquette
A Woman’s Kabbalah by Vivienne Crowley
Kabbalistic Healing by Jason Schulman
Other titles you may find particularly instructive:
The Fire Within and Art of Dreaming by Carlos Castaneda
Magick, Book of Thoth and Book of Lies by Aleister Crowley
(with both these authors ignore the rumours and hype and read for yourself)
Awakening Osiris by Normandi Ellis
Grace Unfolding by Johanson and Kurtz
Body Spirit and Democracy by Don Hanlon Johnson
The Way of the Lover by Robert A Masters
The Inner Light by P T Mistleberger
The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby
Lost Christianity and Why Cant We Be Good by Jacob Needleman
Body Stories by Andrea Olsen
Self Observation by Red Hawk
For information about courses please use the Courses link above.
There are many people offer courses on these subjects, the vast majority of whom I’m sure have good intentions, but really check their credentials carefully before signing up for anything. If you ask questions you should get relevant answers, if not be cautious. Trust your own ‘feeling’ about someone and never agree to anything which you feel uncomfortable about.
There are many different kinds of therapies, and different aspects of all their practices may be related to the Tree of Life. Whatever the school or type of therapy, whether a talk-only type or one using hand-on techniques, there are three basic aspects to their practices. These are the principles behind the work (The Supernal Triad), the relationship between the therapist and patient or client (the soul triangle) and the methods and techniques used (the bottom triangle.)
To take psychotherapy as an example, through relating psychotherapeutic practice to the Tree of Life we can better understand the processes involved. Of course, there are many different schools of therapy but, generally, psychotherapists do not judge, although they may interpret (Hod); they do not lead, although they may challenge (Yesod); they do not touch, although they do offer support (Malkuth); and they work alongside the unfolding process of their clients, trusting in what manifests as being right for that person at that time (Netzach). Psychotherapists also generally work within the container of the therapeutic space, using the time of the session to be in deep relationship with their client (Tiphareth), involved and witnessing at the same time.
Using the Tree of Life, a therapist can truly work in an integrative way, and not just offer a hotchpotch of borrowed techniques. The Kabbalah is the perfect model or map for this work for, through its simplicity and clarity, it can act as a central synthesising agent for methods and techniques, other systems, maps and models of consciousness development. Whatever methods are used, however, the principles behind the therapy remain basically the same. There is an attempt to share in an experiential understanding of the relationship between the therapist and client. The use of the Kabbalah as a tool in psychotherapy allows the practitioner to develop his or her own style in accord with universal principles, develop relationship in line with these principles, and apply techniques where and as appropriate to each relationship.
Different methods of psychotherapy concentrate on different aspects of the process. For example, Jungian therapists usually work up to Daath, concentrating on the dynamic between Chesed and Geburah (love and will archetypes) through the medium of dream analysis (Hod and Yesod). Traditional psychoanalysis works with the lower Tree, attempting to normalise the personality (and at its worse denying the deeper or higher aspects of the psyche). This is the opposite pole from the worst forms of transpersonal therapies which work up to Daath or above but not down into Yesod or Malkuth, potentially leaving their clients spiritually connected but totally ungrounded. The differences between approaches become clearer when related to the Tree of Life, which then offers us the possibility of integrating them so the common purpose becomes more apparent.
To use the Kabbalah as a tool in therapeutic work, whether counselling, psychotherapy or other forms of one-to-one or group healing, it is vital the therapist has someone who can work with them in a supervisory capacity, to help them see what is going on in the work in terms of the model being used. If no such person is available then you can supervise yourself, but the work will lack the holding and challenging functions that are possible when working with the help of another.
Of most importance is the awareness of where and how you and your client are relating or not in terms of the different planes of the Tree which represent different aspects of the psyche. For therapy to work it is important to be working on creating relationship at all times; to be establishing ‘mindfulness’ or focus; to make space for the individual experience of the client and the unfolding experience of his or her relationship with the practitioner. The diagram helps show how some of the major issues in such work correspond to the Tree of Life. Through study of the Kabbalah, a therapist could apply the understanding gained for working with groups and individuals.
First published in the Conjunction Journal, 2005.
A brief introduction to the founder of Psychosynthesis
Roberto Assagioli (1888-1974) was the founder of Psychosynthesis, an approach to human spiritual and personal development intended to make the best of Western and Eastern magical teachings applicable in a grounded psychological context.
Assagioli was Jewish and because of the anti-Semitism rife at his time, chose to keep secret the more esoteric aspects of his system, except to a select few. Despite this avoidance of quoting mystical sources, Assagioli, in creating Psychosynthesis, constructed a psychological system that is clearly in tune with the ancient wisdom of Gnosticism, Hermeticism, and particularly Kabbalah. Many of the main principles of psychosynthesis reflect those found in Kabbalistic teachings, especially the central importance attached to the presence of love and the act of will, and the inclusion of a ‘transpersonal will’ (or Purpose) as well as the individual will.
Assagioli’s writings are full of a depth of wisdom and understanding that is rarely matched.
If you would like to read articles by Assagioli, you can find lots at various sites on the internet.
Basically there is no difference between ‘Qabalah’ and ‘Kabbalah’, they are simply alternative transliterations of the Hebrew word composed of the letters Qoph, Beth, Lamed and He. As these are usually written as QBLH it makes sense, in one way, to use the transliteration QaBaLaH. On the other hand, more people use the word Kabbalah than use Qabalah, and maybe it makes sense to stick to one spelling that, although strange, isn’t as weird looking as a word with, for instance, a ‘Q’ without a ‘U’!
It used to be the case that the transliteration Qabalah was applied to the version of the work associated with the Western Mystery Tradition, whereas Kabbalah was applied when the version being used was associated with the Jewish Mystery Tradition. Taking this even further, the transliteration Cabalah was used when it was the Christian version being applied. This quite useful difference was never fully accepted however, and never rigidly applied to. In more recent times it has completely broken down and the words are often used interchangeably.
Qabalah/Kabbalah working in the Western Mystery Tradition uses the same correspondences, or very similar ones, to those given in my books. That includes some ‘modern Jewish’ traditions. Traditional Jewish Kabbalists use several different, but fairly similar, versions of correspondences which are not too dissimilar to many used in the Western Mystery Tradition. Some Western Mystery Tradition Qabalists and some Jewish Kabbalists make up completely different sets of correspondences, etc., which are highly personal connections of varying value to the rest of us. Some far out Qabalists/Kabbalists are just plain crazy/wild!
At the bottom line, it seems to me it is what is being described that is important, not the way you spell the word. How you transliterate the Hebrew letters QBLH doesn’t make one iota of difference to the Magical Hebrew Alphabet itself which remains infinitely mysterious and excitingly revelatory when it is used by a Kabbalist, Qabalist or cabalist.
The same applies to the pronunciation of Hebrew words. Should GBVRAH be pronounced Geburah or Gevurah? As what we are dealing with is an ancient holy alphabet, not a modern language, I prefer to say Beth is ‘B’ because it avoids any misunderstanding. And from a magickal viewpoint, when we say Geburah we are not using a modern Jewish word (meaning power or strength) we are pronouncing individually and together a string of sounds which create an effect. Perhaps ultimately with spelling and pronunciation, the important factor is in the intent.
Having said all this, I have generally moved over to using Kabbalah for my work rather than Qabalah, despite a long association with the latter. This is a mainly pragmatic decision (the word with a K is more widely recognized and used.) The reification of language is an vital part of the work of a Kabbalist and magician; petty disagreements on how to transliterate words is of no value in the journey to come to OneSelf.
There is no orthodoxy in Kabbalah despite some (usually Jewish) Kabbalists trying to assert there is. Mystical and esoteric practitioners in most religions hold views at odds with the orthodoxy and Kabbalah is no exception. The idea, as some assert, that all Kabbalistic ideas outside of Judaism may be dated to the rise of Christian Kabbalah, mainly during the early renaissance, and that there is no evidence of any continuous Kabbalah tradition outside of Judaism is ludicrous. Indeed, to suggest that all developments of Kabbalah that are not within Judaism are unreal or corrupt is a one-sided and bigoted position. In reality, many of developments within Kabbalah since the early renaissance have happened because of non-Jewish interest in a system that clearly transcends any specific religious belief.
Because a tradition has different streams within it, to assert that one is authentic and another not so reveals biased opinion not factual evidence. Thank God and Goddess that the Kabbalah is beyond such limited and partial positions. Kabbalah has always had a pragmatic side and the proof of the pudding is in the eating. My Kabbalah teachings are an attempt to transcend fundamentalism and make a rich and rewarding system available to both Jews and non-Jews alike.