Category Archives: Italy

The Virtuous Circle of Gratitude and Abundance

olives

Abundance. This is a difficult word for most of us to swallow. Our entire economic system is based on our desiring what we don’t possess. We often feel like we need more, that we never have enough, that tomorrow we will nothing left. As Assagioli wrote we are driven by Original Fear – fear of not having enough food, fear of hunger – and by Original Greed, which fundamentally is the desire for unlimited growth. So we consume and purchase, possess, save and hoard.

I live in a small Italian village that is slowly dying from the effects of globalization. This story is not new nor limited to the confines of Italy. Only 40 years ago the town was thriving with 1000 inhabitants, a shop, cafe, and school. Now only 100 people live here, many of them over 80 years old. The shop, cafe, and school are all gone. Only the church remains open (just because the 73-year-old priest has chosen not to retire). Continue reading

Places of the Higher Self

Five-day Journey Through the Green Heart of Italy

September 18-23, 2017

Assagioli at camadoli

We will visit the Camaldoli Hermitage near Florence. Here is a photo of Roberto Assagioli (fourth from the left) outside of this same hermitage (courtesy of Fernando Maraghini).

In our everyday lives we are often too busy, distracted, or caught in the mundane to be open to the places of the Higher Self. Throughout history and across cultures, our ancestors have always created ritual space and time for the transpersonal to enter into the ordinary. Such holy places are often located on mountaintops and deep inside caves, in silent havens and in nature. Churches, temples, and mosques have been built to hold the polar tensions of spirit and matter, inner and outer space and light, as well as the community that shares the transcendent experience. As an expression of beauty, awe, and awakening, art has also always played a great part along this journey to our Higher Self.

La Verna, Italy

La Verna, Italy

Continuing with the theme of “Synthesis,” after the International Meeting at Casa Assagioli, we embark on a Journey to the Higher Self. Starting from Florence, we travel east to visit medieval churches and mountain hermitages, allow our souls to soar from La Verna, discover beautiful villages and, of course, enjoy the cucina locale. During this five-day journey, you will have a chance to discover places of transcendence in the green heart of Italy – in the forest-covered Tuscan and Umbrian Apennines, the home of many generations of seekers and saints of the transpersonal.

The journey is especially meant to be an open voyage of discovery and a direct personal experience of all that presents itself during its various stages. We will go slowly and quietly, allowing you the time and space necessary to directly experience the reality of the Higher Self, the key part of you that connects the personal with the transpersonal and, hence, the personal with the universal.

DSC01520This journey promises to be a fonte of inspiration for anyone seeking the Higher Self in the natural beauty and surroundings of Italy. We hope to provide you with a journey that might help transform and strengthen you when you ultimately return to your daily life.

This trip is organized and hosted by Catherine Ann Lombard and Kees den Biesen, the guides and facilitators.

Cost: € 985.00 per person. For more information and registration, see A Journey to Places of the Higher Self.

Beauty – Where Spirit and Matter Converge

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As an expression of beauty, awe, and awakening, art has always played a great part along our journey to our Higher Self. Throughout the world, holy places have been built to hold the polar tensions of spirit and matter, inner and outer space and light, as well as the community that shares the transcendent experience within the architectural space.

Assagioli noted that:

“Matter is the highest form of Spirit and Spirit is the lowest form of Matter.”

In this way, spirit seeks matter to express the full beauty of the transcendent. Assagioli also noted that Plato, Plotinus, and Christian mystics have recognized and proclaimed that “beauty is the essential attribute of the Supreme.”

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Your Jail Cell Reading List

jail reading listImagine being at home and the police come to arrest you without any criminal charges. You are taken to headquarters and interrogated; they ask you to describe your work. You answer by offering an elaborate and lengthy description of psychosynthesis. After you finish, the interrogator shouts, “You are a pacifist!”

You try to explain that you are not a pacifist in any political or legal way. “I don’t believe that peace can be secured by making war on war. I am deeply convinced that peace is fundamentally a psychological problem.” More questions come, but you decide to stay present to yourself and remain silent. At that point, you are handcuffed and put into solitary confinement. However, you are allowed to read.

What books do you choose?

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Tasty Bites of Wisdom

Archive announcementRoberto Assagioli, the visionary founder of psychosynthesis, left a treasure trove of thoughts when he died in 1974 at the age of 86. A great scholar, linguist, educator, and philosopher, Assagioli’s creative ideas compelled him to handwrite his reflections onto small pieces of paper which he would then assemble under subjects just as Joy, Compassion, and Will.

I have visited Assagioli’s Archives three times in his home in Florence, most recently this September, as a guest of Gruppo Alle Fonti (The Group at the Well Spring). This time they also launched their new website www.archivioassagioli.org. Everyone can now register for free and, with the aid of an excellent search engine, delve into Assagioli’s fascinating, invigorating, and moving archived papers.

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Meeting at the Well Spring – Part II

Assagioli’s archives – accumulators of energy

Roberto AssagioliThick blue boxes wait for us at various tables throughout the villa where Assagioli once lived, worked, and studied. Some of us move to rooms where he and his wife once slept, ate, or 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, dividing ourselves amongst the boxes like kids in a candy shop or at the school library.

Boxes labeled: “The Will—Italiano,” “Transpersonal Self—English,” “Writings of others,” “Handwritten Notes of Assagioli—English” call to us. Without much thought, I sit in front of the first free box I find, one labeled “Superconscious Material—English.” I unsnap the box’s clip, unwind the protective blue cover, and discover folders and folders of material.

Reverently I open each 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 penciled notes. Double vertical lines run along the edge of a paragraph he once noted, some words in the text are underlined for emphasis. The Will of God. I shudder and cry.
It is all so much, so I stop, climb the stairs to the apartment where his principal collaborator, secretary, and the first president of the Institute of Psychosynthesis after his death, Ida Palombi, once lived with her cats. I sip black coffee, ease myself into a chair on the terrace and breathe in the room’s empty silence.
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Meeting at the Well Spring – Part I

Casentino ValleyThis is a two part series about my visit to Assagioli’s archives in 2007. In October, my husband, Dr. Kees den Biesen, and I will also spend a day at Casa Assagioli on our guided trip In Dante’s Footsteps: A Psychosynthesis Trip to Florence and the Casentino Valley. For more information, see PoeticPlaces.org.


Another scorching June afternoon in Italy. The bus descends the winding road down from Rocca di Papa onto the autostrada as we head north to Florence. We are thirty pilgrims on our way to Casa Assagioli, the home in Florence where the founder of Psychosynthesis Roberto Assagioli lived, worked, taught, and wrote. The first group to directly encounter Assagioli’s archives, we come from all over the world—Canada, Australia, Sweden, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, France, Haiti, Spain, Poland, Ireland, the USA and, of course, Italy.

Our hosts are Alle Fonti della Psicosintesi, translated as “At the Well Spring of Psychosynthesis.” Since 2007, this international group has been sifting and sorting through the boxes of material that Assagioli accumulated during his lifetime. Initially gathered and examined after Assagioli’s death in 1974, his notes, international correspondence, appointments, articles, books, pamphlets, hand-written reflections, and scholarly assessments were later stored in the “Esoteric Room” of his house.

We about to spend the day visiting Assagioli’s house, study, and garden. In addition, we would have the unique opportunity to experience the archives ‘hands on.’ An afternoon would be devoted to our reading, studying, and perusing the cataloged files including original handwritten material by Assagioli.

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