Category Archives: Italy

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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