Another scorching afternoon in Florence, Italy. Thirty pilgrims have gathered at Casa Assagioli, the home where the founder of Psychosynthesis Roberto Assagioli lived, worked, taught, and wrote. It is 2012 and the first International Meeting at Casa Assagioli. The guests hail from all over the world — Canada, Australia, Sweden, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, France, Haiti, Spain, Poland, Ireland, the USA and, of course, Italy.
Upon arrival, we are warmly greeted by the members of Gruppo Alle Fonti (roughly translated as the “Group at the Well Spring”, the dedicated curators of Assagioli’s materials. After introductions, we divide ourselves into two groups for the house tour. Soon English, Italian, and French fly up and down the two-story villa. Hung on walls throughout the house, white boards display Assagioli’s handwritten words and diagrams, beckoning all to reflect, know, love.
tOur first task is to stop at a small round table full of wooden blocks. These blocks are stamps especially made by Assagioli to imprint his evocative words. Bang! Bang! We select a block and carry a word into the day. Vitalità is now stamped onto my soul.
I enter Assagioli’s study to find it dimly lit with the shutters drawn. On the desk is a kitchen timer, a small U.N. flag, model ship, a photo of Assagioli meditating under a tree, and a postcard of Mount Fuji. I try to still my mind, but I am soon drawn to his bookshelves. I run my finger along The Art of Expression by Atkinson, A la découverte du Yoga by Adams Beck, Unità Creativa by Tagore, and The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche by Jung.
You can watch a beautiful 10-min video of the 7th International Conference at Casa Assagioli on Facebook.
Our group then moves outside into the garden where Assagioli would meditate on his roses. A pungent smell of wild ground mint fills our senses, and a tree bares green susine prunes ready to ripen. The trills and swishes of various languages float above me as the frenetic Florentine traffic rushes by. Cicadas vibrate their rhythmic song, a resonance of midday heat.
After lunch we are instructed on how to approach the archives: Take care of the energy his handwritten material evokes. Move slowly. Allow for the paper and words to touch you. Breathe and know this is only a taste.
The archives – accumulators of energy
After lunch, we sit at tables in the rooms where Assagioli and his wife Nella Ciapetti once slept, ate, received guests. Windows are open and dry hot breezes waif in from the street and neighboring courtyard. At first, we buzz with excitement along with a touch of anxiety –like kids in a candy shop – amongst the boxes of his notes.
Reverently I open a folder. Staring back through time are onion-skinned papers lined with typed quotations, handwritten notes, various pamphlets and letters all concerning superconscious material. Suddenly I stop shifting through these pages, frozen by a simple note of Assagioli’s: “The Will of God.” It is paper-clipped to a small book on prayer written by an American minister. The book’s margins are full of his penciled notes. Some words in the text are underlined for emphasis.
Other guests around me are filled with determination, a kind of hurried mission. Some scribble notes, others run the pages through their hands. A Parisian woman gasps. I look up and our eyes meet across the table in acknowledgement of the profundity before us. She is weeping.
I am now surveying a small yellow folder on the ‘Will’. There seem to be endless slips of small, sepia-stained pages, 8×12 cms in size. Some have been visibly torn to size, others are purposively folded together to form small, loosely-bound books. Assagioli’s hand varies from dancing loops, to bold strokes, to indiscernible scratches. His notes appear in Italian, English, French, or German.
I discover quotes from Dante. The verses float before me, anchored between my fingertips. “Luce intellettual piena l’amore. Intellectual light full of love” (Paradiso XXX:40). I remember Assagioli’s quoting this verse in his essay on the synthesis of polarities when he discusses Logos verses Eros.[i]
Turning away from Dante, I am delighted to discover a small drawing of the egg diagram, a brief sketch concerning inner obstacles to the will. I wonder, what made Assagioli consciously select this size paper? A week later I find the answer in Massimo Rosselli’s article “Roberto Assagioli: A Bright Star.” Andrea Bocconi, one of Assagioli’s youngest students, once posed the same question. “They are accumulators of energy” was Assagioli’s smiling answer.[ii]
I am so full, I hardly know what to do anymore. Half of the three hours allotted to this encounter has flown by. I move again to another room, sit at an empty table, allow my thoughts to soar out a high window open to the greenery across the street. Where did he find the time to write all this? We are thirty students all engaged with our own box and still more material lines the bookshelves. What a great scholar he was, carefully quoting others, meticulously studying all that he read. How much life flowed though him!
Sadly, the time is soon over. As I leave Casa Assagioli for the day, I find that I already miss Assagioli’s presence, whole in my hands.
At the end of the three days together, we share our impressions and experiences. We are tired, overwhelmed, grateful, inspired. A final card is taken from underneath an illuminated candle that is shaped like the egg diagram. A gift from the archives, scanned and printed for us to take home. Mine is Solution written in Assagioli’s hand, a small token of his accumulated energy.
I am laughing inside. Of course, I would receive the ‘Solution’. Why not?
versality, in – dependence
attention — painstaking
training and perfecting
Analogy: a good actor
who studies carefully
puts his life into
the roles he plays, into
the characters which
he “represents” – but
remains ever himself —
ever conscious of not being
those characters – of having
his own independent life.
You can also visit Casa Assagioli
Don’t miss the 8th International Meeting at Casa Assagioli from 13-16 September 2018. To register or for more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Afterwards, you can also join Catherine and Kees for a five-day Journey to Places of the Higher Self. The focus of this journey is to calmly and peacefully allow for encounters of the Higher Self in majestic forests and sacred places found in the beautiful region of Umbria, Italy.
[i] Roberto Assagioli, L’Equilibramento e la Sintesi degli Opposti (Firenze: Instituto di Psicosintesi, 2003), p. 12.
[ii] Massimo Rosselli, Roberto Assagioli, a Bright Star, International Journal of Psychotherapy, Volume 16, Number 2, 2012, p. 18.