THE SYMBOLISM OF SEASHELLS IN SANDPLAYAND ANCIENT VENERATION OF SEA SHELLS IN RITES OF FERTILITY, BIRTH, BURIAL AND RENEWAL
Journal of Sandplay Therapy, Volume 19, Number 1, 2010
KEY WORDS: sea shells, death and rebirth, ancient talisman, clinical examples, shell, sandplay, symbol, low self esteem, female, mother, Holocaust survivor, divorce, Sandplay therapy, clinical examples, common themes, symbolic, mourning, depression, anxiety, shell assemblage, single unique shell, shell combinations, sculpted sand spiral, relationship to the Self.
ABSTRACT: Early humans attributed meaning to the forms of specific shells, and wore, hung or buried them as talismans connected to birth, death and creative renewal, or safe passage of the soul to rebirth. In sandplay therapy, when different people use specific shells in similar ways, common themes emerge and a link is forged to the ancient symbolic role of marine shells. In sandplay specific shells express mourning, depression, anxiety, or longing for fertility, creativity and new life. Four categories of sandplay shell use are presented: shell assemblage, a single unique shell, shell combinations in a sandplay process and the sculpted sand spiral relationship to the Self. Examples from archeology and mythology create a dialogue between ancient beliefs, divine power and sandplay therapy.