Remembering Harry Achilleos
September 12, 1955 – September 25, 2002
Suddenly, with no forewarning, in the early morning of September 25th Harry Achilleos died peacefully in his sleep from natural causes.
If one dies as one has lived, then Harry’s death holds the memory of a life dedicated to confronting its mysteries and seeking its truth and meaning. His life was a continuous quest for spiritual understanding, yet it also revered the dark and the mysterious. Hence the fertile fields of psychotherapy be-came the place where the seeds of his eclectic and experiential background developed into his own unique and creative work, forged from a synthesis of many practices and inspired by a collective of many mentors. As a psychologist Harry fostered and helped his clients in their dark night of the soul while as an educator he was influential in inspiring many students to follow and respect the vocation of psychotherapy. Harry was especially gifted in demonstrating the powerful techniques of counselling and animating psychological theory.
Harry’s formal education was in psychology where he developed both a penchant and a talent for counselling. This was second nature to him and for nearly 20 years he continuously taught counselling skills both through educational institutions and a variety of human development programs. Harry was especially loved by the students at The Melbourne College of Natural Therapies where he engaged them in the experience of being a healer and counsellor.
Harry taught counselling techniques to astrological students in the Astro*Synthesis program helping astrologers to become more proficient with expressing the complex symbols of the horoscope. Up until the day he died he had taught thousands of students the art of being a counsellor and inspired many others to listen intently to the language of the unconscious through recognising its symbols, images and feelings. One of the ways Harry demonstrated this was through the mystery of the dream. In his seminars on dreams as well as in his ongoing dream groups he facilitated access to the participant’s internal world through working with dream images and feelings. It was in this area where Harry’s mastery of the inner world and its symbols was apparent; he facilitated the marriage of the dream images to the individual’s experience which in turn created the opportunity for the individual to be better acquainted with the psyche. Harry could facilitate this union in many ways.
Yet whether it was through gestalt techniques, psychodrama, mythic motifs, astrological images or creative visualisation the individual was supported in self-discovery. It was Harry’s vast library of experience and knowledge, coupled with his courage to be in the moment free of jargon or judgement that made his work unique.
Harry Achilleos also revered the art of astrology and merged this with his work. While studying to become a psychologist he supported himself as an astrologer. From then on he continuously used both models, working with astrology in his own unique, imaginative and revealing way. Harry facilitated the workshop on Gestalt Therapy and Astrology at the 1992 FAA Conference Astrology and the Healing Arts as well presenting at the 1995 Astro*Synthesis Conference Pluto in Sagittarius: Revisioning Astrology. For twelve years from 1987 Harry facilitated a workshop on Gestalt Therapy and Astrology in the Astro*Synthesis advanced program as well as taught many astrologers counselling skills and psychological theory. His unique gift when utilising astrology was to create an experiential space where the images of the horoscope could emerge through a natural dialogue that would evoke recognition and awareness in the individual he worked with.
But it was also Harry’s informal training and personal quest, which underpinned the value of his therapy and teaching. His familial and cultural traditions in the Greek Orthodox faith laid the foundation stones for a rich spiritual life filled with ritual and symbol. Whether it was his experience in the Indian ashram or with the psychic healers in the Philippines, a conversation in an inner city café or a fragment of a lyric from a Beatles’ song, Harry wove them all into his unique psychological tapestry, which has inspired many to become more of who they are. He was a keen musician and ardent music fan, loved animals and nothing better than a philosophical discussion. He was a devoted father and loyal friend and we all miss him terribly.
Mysterious enough is death, but when it visits one so young and so vital its sacrament becomes even more difficult to fathom. Such a sudden death tears the fabric of our world, as we know it. But the fabric spun in the worlds that knew Harry is more colourful and vibrant because of him. His death was too abrupt yet those he touched have become richer for his being here. Remembering Harry will be unique to each soul he fostered, as this was Harry’s way; in embracing the spirit of his own uniqueness he validated our own.
Harry is survived by his beloved son Aled, his brother Andrew and his family.