Tag Archives: psychosynthesis

Books, Books and More Galore!


At first glance, you might think that life coaching, shamanic soulfulness, short stories about Japan, and a textbook on psychosynthesis might not have much in common. But they do! All have come into my hands (literally) during the last year in the form of books, and I would like to share them with you now.

In addition, I am planning to publish a series of short books based on my blogs. So this list ends with a preview of my first book in the series. But before we peek inside all these book covers, I would first like to introduce you to a wonderful new resource…

Search Engine for Psychosynthesis Articles

The Istituto di Psicosintesi has recently launched a search engine to help you find articles published in their magazine Psicosintesi. The search engine is easy to use and offers students, scholars, and admirers of psychosynthesis a valuable resource with direct links to the magazine’s published articles. It’s free and easy to use. You don’t need to sign in or try to remember yet another password. Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to this link:
  2. Click on “Enter the Public Area”
  3. Enter your search term. For example, here I searched on “Assagioli” which you see circled in red.

Screenshot of Florence Search Engine

A list of all his articles published in Psicosintesi magically appears. This list has all kinds of interesting information, which I marked with a blue arrow. You can see whether the article is written in English, Italian or both and even directly link to articles published after 2003.

Now for the books…

The Way of Psychosynthesis: A complete guide to the origins, concepts, and the fundamental experiences

Petra Guggisberg Nocelli

Book cover A complete Way of PsychosynthesisThis book is truly a gift to the English-speaking psychosynthesis community. Petra has thoroughly read, organized and compiled a multitude of psychosynthesis material available in Italian only, including various works by Roberto Assagioli. It is really a textbook, which means you need to read it in small chunks, like nibbling on rich pieces of dark chocolate. I found it a real revelation to see what my Italian psychosynthesis colleague has been up to all these years! Petra has also included a comprehensive biography of Roberto Assagioli. This book is an invitation to anyone who wants to gain a broad and deep overview of psychosynthesis concepts, theory, and history.

The Call of Self: Psychosynthesis Life Coaching

Edited by Dorothy Firman

Book cover call-of-self-book-psychosynthesis-life-coachingIn this book, authors from around the world offer their expertise in specialty areas of coaching within the psychosynthesis context. Each chapter is a little gem, showing you how psychosynthesis coaching can not only enable world leaders to activate their values and will, but also how yoga teachers, activists and organizers, career guides, and sports coaches – just to name a few – have experienced psychosynthesis life coaching in their daily practice and lives. This book is a rich tapestry of experience, practice, and theory especially for coaches who are unfamiliar with psychosynthesis.

I’m particularly fond of this book as I contributed the chapter “Robert Assagioli: A Multifaceted Life”. It’s way in the back (starting on page 399!), but I hope somebody manages to find their way there and read it! Click here for an excerpt..

Soulfulness: The Marriage of Shamanic and Contemporary Psychology

David England

Book-Cover-SoulfulnessWhen Shamanic and psychosynthesis practices become integrated, they can transform the power and wisdom of psychotherapy. With psychosynthesis as its psychological context, this book brings together the wisdom of the ancient healing practice of Shamanism and the insights of present day psychology. David, who is a formidable storyteller himself and co-author of two books of folktales, weaves along with his text a fascinating reflection on the Russian folktale “The Bold Knight, the Apples of Youth, and the Water of Life”.

Finding Land: Stories of Japan

Marian Pierce

Book Cover Finding LandSpeaking of tales, this collection of stories about Japan by my dear friend Marian is a joy to read. Marian and I actually met in Japan in 1988 and have been friends ever since despite my constantly moving around the world. Marian is a gifted and award-winning writer, and this book is entertaining, witty, and fun to read. Full of poignant moments of reflection on identity and belonging, the stories dance with delightful dialog and are steeped with cultural insight. You enter another world through the eyes of a Jewish girl from Cleveland as she tries to decipher, not only the maps in Tokyo’s train stations, but her own inner quest to find land.

A Free and Wild Creature: Women, Service and Motherhood

Catherine Ann Lombard

Book Cover I am a Wild CreatureLast but not least, I am excited to announce my upcoming book series based on a selection of blogs that you have all been faithfully reading over the years. If you love my blog, you will love these books. (For sure!) I am also hoping that you will find it the right gift for people dear to you, those souls who have no idea what you’re up to or talking about!

Thanks to all who have encouraged me to put this small book series together, and to the Istituto di Psicosintesi, Florence, and Gruppo alle Fonti for giving me permission to include many of Assagioli’s handwritten notes.

Available soon in print and as an ebook at a website near you!

A Wild and Free Creature
Women, Service and Motherhood

Love and Will in a Tea Cup
A Little Book about Psychosynthesis
and Roberto Assagioli

Bread and the Art of Synthesis:
Love, Balance and God

The Dark Days before Christmas


The Bamboo Whisk

Tea Bowl with Tea

Today we celebrate the Celtic festival of Samhain, when the division between this world and the otherworld is at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through. Christians celebrate November 1 as All Saint’s Day and November 2 as All Souls. To mark this numinous time of year, I would like to share a story about Kikuchi-sensei, my Japanese tea ceremony teacher. A longer version of this story was originally published in Ascent Magazine, Issue 36, Fall 2007

The morning I went to the mortuary to see Kikuchi-Sensei, a cold wind whipped around the medieval cobblestone streets of the tiny Umbrian village. She had been fighting cancer for nearly a year and had finally surrendered at the age of 79. Dressed in a pale cinnamon kimono, she appeared so tiny in the lacquered coffin, framed by wild spring flowers that her daughter had picked from their garden, Sensei’s face was strong and peaceful; her mouth, set in her soft, unlined skin, was ready to break into one of her rare, indulging smiles.

Since Sensei had refused visitors during her treatment, I had just managed to accept life without our weekly tea ceremony lessons. But looking upon her still, frail frame, I hardly felt ready to surrender her forever. As I stood by her coffin, in my heart I thanked her for all she had taught me during the years we had spent together. I felt tremendously honored to have known her. Continue reading

When No Money Talks

Assagiolis writing about jail

Assagioli’s writing about his time in jail.

One of my favorite anecdotes from Assagioli’s time in prison is when his prison money was running out. He wrote in intimate detail about this experience in his book Freedom in Jail, under the chapter “An Incident and a ‘Test’”.

From the time of his arrest, Assagioli’s wife Nella was making sure that there was enough money in his prison account to warrant his receiving special treatment. In 1940, Regina Coeli prisoners could buy a more comfortable, private cell and more varied and higher quality food. Continue reading

The Prodigal Daughter


Detail from Rembrandt’s “Return of the Prodigal Son”.

I have always loved the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32), yet at the same time, struggle with it. The story seems so male in context. A young man returns home repentant and humbled after squandering his inheritance on a life of debauchery. His father is moved with pity, and runs to welcome his son home, clasping him in his arms and kissing him.

“Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. We will celebrate by having a feast, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.”

Meanwhile the elder son who always slaved in the fields and obeyed his father grows angry and refuses to enter the celebrations. But the father says:

“My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”

What would the story of the prodigal daughter be, and what would her return to the welcoming mother reveal? Continue reading

Snapshot of the Philosophical Library

Note that this blog is an excerpt from my published article: A Snapshot of the Philosophical Library: Florence, Italy, 1922)

Figure 4 Herron-george-1900

George Davis Herron in 1900.

While conducting research, I often become like Alice and Wonderland, chasing rabbits down the garden path. Most recently, I came across a fascinating book, written by George David Herron (1862-1925), an American clergyman, lecturer, and writer from Indiana. In his book The Revival of Italy, published in 1922, Herron has a beautiful passage describing Roberto Assagioli as the inspiration for the Biblioteca Filosofica. (Philosophical Library) in Florence.

A lively center of philosophical discussion, the Philosophical Library was started around 1903-1905 by those studying theosophy. Wanting to deepen their understanding of Oriental philosophy, library members loaned books, organized classes, conferences and published a bulletin.

Assagioli was one of its more frequent visitors.[1] The Philosophical Library’s intent was to create a “free university for philosophical and religious studies” where the public could come and learn more about the current cultural movements such as Pragmatism, Idealism, and Modernism in a non-academic setting. Continue reading

In Compagnia (Part II)


Two of the youngest gnocchi makers.

August is here again, and as part of our summer break, I offer you a story I wrote about making gnocchi for our village festival. This is long story for a blog and comes in two parts. To read Part I, click here. I hope you enjoy it and your summer!

I had been on my feet all morning rolling strings of dough and cutting them into bite-sized gnocchi, when someone arrived with a tray of sliced prosciutto crudo on fresh bread and thimble-sized cups of strong black coffee. Both never tasted so good!

But truly, my inspiration and energy only arose from the compagnia of the women around me. At one point, I was standing next to Eleonora, a young woman who had spent seven years in Boston and New York studying music. She started singing “Close to You” by the Carpenters and we sang together for a while, with me helping her with the lyrics. Then suddenly Adelaide threw up her arms and waved them around as she sung, and the rest of the women joined in. She then recited a short poem that she had just invented:

Chi al mare e chi al monte
A fare gnocchi, ci sono tonte

Some are vacationing at the beach, others in the mountain sun.
Those who make gnocchi are the stupid ones.

Continue reading

The Only Way Out is Up!

Assagioli wrote the motto of psychosynthesis as:

000193 the only way out is up

Motto of Psychosynthesis: “The only way out is the way up”

During Journey to Places of the Higher Self, September 17–23, we will be doing just that… As we descend into the Frasassi Caves, some of the largest in Europe, we will have no choice… the only way out will be the way up!

grotta di frasassi

The Frasassi Caves, Italy

Assagioli often wrote about how mountain climbing can be a symbol of ascent to spiritual heights… And we promise to bring you to 1000-year-old mountaintop churches in the Apennines. But he also wrote about how caves can be a symbol for “going deeper, descending to the ‘bottom/depths’ of our being.” Don’t worry, we won’t be too long inside the Frasassi Caves, just long enough to “get ready to transform”! Not to mention the promise of a delicious picnic lunch in the Italian countryside afterwards.

Places are still available for this special Journey to Places of the Higher Self. Why not join us? If you have any questions, please contact Catherine at: