The Great Work: Self-Knowledge and Healing Through the Wheel of the Year, by Tiffany Lazic
Llewellyn Worldwide, 9780738744421, 399 pp., 2015
Tiffany Lazic has been practicing spiritual psychotherapy for more than 16 years. She is also a presenter and keynote speaker and owns the Hive and Grove Center for Holistic Wellness, where she offers individual, couples and group therapy. In The Great Work, she has woven together her experience of transformational psychology and spiritual arts with our Western mythological inheritance to create a workbook for personal development; one that functions on psychological, spiritual and emotional levels.
The foundation of the book and its practices is the notion of “essence.” This refers to the spark of divinity that each of us carries within us, that essential truth of personal experience that makes us unique individuals. Due to past experiences, this essence can be plunged into a darkness that at best obscures our unique potential, and at worst causes us debilitating pain.
The Great Work is intended as a map or guidebook to accompany us along life’s journey, to help us overcome the monsters that may be lurking around the next bend. In order to do so Lazic has developed a calendar inspired by “eight key ancient seasonal festivals.”1 These are based on the Celtic sabbats and esbats: Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh, Mabon, Samhain, and the lunar cycles. Each cycle has a dedicated chapter connected to in-depth meditations and practices. Cycle six, for example, extends from August 2 to September 12 and is the cycle of “visioning self.”2 During this period, the reader is invited to meditate on ancient cultural archetypes of wealth and prosperity, beliefs and discernment, the brow chakra, and I Ching. While this may initially appear to be a random and unconnected list of topics, Lazic ties them together with a grace and expertise that enthrals and inspires depth of thinking.
There are many pathways to using this workbook, which is its main attraction. You have the option to dip in and begin at any cycle, work from the month or season you are in and continue in sequence, or begin with the cycle that most aptly fits your current emotional and spiritual needs — you are invited to work through cycle four: union and partnerships, if you are experiencing a lack of passion for your current endeavours, a lack of compassion for those around you, or unhealthy dynamics in your relationships.
The exercises throughout each cycle are a blend of psychology, divination, alchemy, meditations, and elemental working. Don’t worry if you have never tried any of these things before, this is a great way to learn. Each exercise touches on the deepest aspects of our inner being so that we can dig out the shadowy aspects of ourselves such as childhood trauma, rejection and pain. For example, one of the exercises in cycle three — which is all about nurturing empowerment and self-esteem — asks you to reflect on ways in which connecting with nature helps you to experience the spirit. Added to this are journal questions that allow the exploration of what has been uncovered and what has been learned.
This is a book that you will have to take your time with, but you will want to in order to develop your inner psyche. Working with The Great Work has the potential to change your life; it’s a great book to work through individually or as a group.