By Jeanne Fiorini

If you’ve ever taken a look at my official bio information, you may have noticed the mention of two years of training in psychosynthesis counseling. Rarely does anyone ask me what that might have to do with the Tarot, let alone question what “psychosynthesis” is in the first place.

I was, therefore, thrilled when Beckah Boyd of the Tenacity Radio Network included the topic of psychosynthesis in her review ( of my new Tarot Spreads and Layouts book.  She did an excellent job in describing psychosynthesis as: 

… an eclectic mix of classical, existential, and transpersonal psychology and the perennial philosophy, in its intent to map the full spectrum of human experience. Psychosynthesis, simply described, is a holistic approach to counseling which honors the uniqueness of the individual and their life’s journey.

The discipline of psychosynthesis was founded in the early 20th century by an Italian psychologist, Roberto Assagioli. Working at the same time as the analytical Dr. Freud, Dr. Assagioli understood the importance of one’s spiritual life and integrated it, along with other more-conventional themes, into his philosophy and practice. 

When I first got the Tarot bug (c. 1990) but did not yet believe it could sustain mortgage payments and grocery bills, I decided that the next-best option was to become a psychotherapist….I could imagine that to be possible. However, I did not envision sitting in a classroom of stiff wooden chairs and having to learn the names of various psychoses (or a long and complicated list of approved pharmaceuticals), or perusing the finer points of the PDR, or understanding the intricacies of counseling legalities within the State of Maine. UGH! It still makes me tired just thinking about it. 

So, off I went in search of a non-traditional source for counseling skills. Lo and behold, it wasn’t that hard to find!  

Through an act of synchronicity (duh) I came upon The Synthesis Center in Amherst Massachusetts, an organization which at that time had already been in existence for 15 years, training people from all walks of life in their particular brand of counseling. (Happy to report they continue to be active and thriving in the Pioneer Valley; I heartily recommend any and all of their programs. Visit Looking back at the decision to sign up for their training, it must have been the blend of the practical with the spiritual that struck a chord with my as-yet unarticulated worldview. (And PS – we sat on the floor, not in stiff wooden chairs.)

The major impact of the training at the Synthesis Center was the resounding confirmation of the archetypal nature and pervasive significance of the symbols of the Tarot. The instructor would be talking about a tenet of psychosynthesis and I’d be frantically making note of its Tarot counterpart in the margins of my papers: the “Ideal Model” is The Empress, the “I” is The Emperor, the “sub-personalities” are the Court Cards, the visualization exercises invoke The Star card, and the entire process integrates the High Priestess with The Magician, The Moon with The Sun, and The Fool with The World.

It all made so much sense! Each discipline reinforced the other. I make use of psychosynthesis’ techniques and principles in my Tarot readings—and in my life -- to this day.  Like the Tarot, the principles of psychosynthesis contain a kaleidoscope of ever-changing yet relevant meanings, and there’s one particular notion I’ve been turning around in my mind lately that I’d like to share. 

The most basic ideogram for the core principle of psychosynthesis is “The Egg Diagram.” Although there are subdivisions within the diagram, the two essential divisions within “The Egg” are the elements of conscious/personal awareness (the egg “yolk”) and the various levels of unconscious energy such as The Collective Unconscious and the Higher Self (the egg “white”). Psychosynthesis counselors strive to be aware of both aspects when working with clients, in order to honor the whole of a person’s experience. (This technique of holding both aspects is called “Bi-Focal Vision.”)

The readily-made conceptual leaps between the Minor Arcana and “the yolk” and between the Major Arcana and “the white” are apparent and are, for the most part, accurate both in terms of psychosynthesis and the Tarot. But there’s another leap I’ve been mulling about, one that has less to do with Tarot and more to do with the experience of being human. Maybe not surprisingly, this musing started while observing my granddaughter in the early weeks of her life. 

It’s hard to look at a newborn baby and not wonder how it all happens: how all those fingernails and toes and eyelashes and internal organs manage to come together so perfectly; and beyond all that, where does the “spark of life” come from?  Maybe it’s an immediate physiochemical reaction that creates something new as soon as the sperm hits the egg---pa-bam! Or is it what happens when the individual Soul comes into physical form, or is God at work, or some combination of all the above….What?

Even though it’s in a pretty close race with the brain, the heart is the first fully-developed organ in a human fetus. Miraculously, this occurs within four weeks after conception. The brain will be coming in close behind since it is the required component for sending messages to other functioning systems of the body as they grow and develop. 

After innumerable hours of watching new little Vera stretch and expand herself into the world over the past eight months, I’ve come to these conclusions: Her eternal Soul resides in her heart, at least while she is here with us on this physical plane. Her “God-spark” rests in her chest, is very much present, is fully-developed, and expresses itself with each and every heartbeat. 

Her temporal personality, her thoughts, her motives and principles that is to say her “sense of self,” is yet to come and will be developed in her brain. The unique expression of her God-spark, the part of her that most people will come to know as “Vera,” is a work in progress and will be translated in her brain through language, learning, enculturation, and her own “internal process.” 

In this Grammie’s version of how things work, although they have differing functions both physically and spiritually, the heart and the brain/ the Soul and the Self are the “conjoined twins of awareness” in this physical existence. Not quite the yin/yang relationship one might expect, but more that there are two full “Beings” within each of us, each “being” a unique and true version! It all makes me wonder if we will ever fully recognize all the ways in which the brain and the heart share, communicate with, and inform one another. 

This complex duality of interwoven purposes reminds me of the Egg Diagram and of the Major/Minor partnership in the Tarot: the notion that “the yolk”/Self/brain/personality/Minor Arcana and “the white”/Soul/heart/God-Spark/Major Arcana mingle in an essential psychological as well as physical way within our experience. We are at the same time human and divine, earthbound and angelic, rooted and transcendent. The Tarot has always recognized this, and so did Roberto Assagioli.

Sacred and Profane. Heart and Head. We often experience them as opposing forces. (“I really want the chocolate but I must stick to my diet.”) Rather than engaging them in constant battle, it might help us to recognize that, while they speak different languages, each one is a true and real part of us and each one contains its own piece of wisdom. It’s our job to listen with honest hearts and open minds to discern the messages. 

When I’ve tried to express this idea to others lately, some folks have commented, “Oh that sounds like HeartMath” or “I think Gregg Braden has written about this.”  Here’s the link to their respective sites: and I’m going to leave it to you to make one more leap with this notion, my brain is tired.

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