Sharp, Carla

Journal of Sandplay Therapy, Volume 9, Number 2, 2000

KEY WORDS: lighthouse, symbol, sandplay therapy, Self, process, clinical example, child, children, ego-self axis.

ABSTRACT: The lighthouse rises from the sea toward the sky, thus uniting the opposites of father sky and mother earth, the primordial depths with spiritual heights, the unconscious with consciousness, the darkness of the subterranean world to the light atop the house itself. The lighthouse therefore unites two great symbol systems of heaven and earth. The lighthouse expresses the totality of nature by uniting the water at its edge, the earth of its foundation, the air it rises up into and the fire burning at its zenith. All four elements are united in one structure, which thus represents the quaternary and its numinous aspects. The lighthouse contains a spiral staircase: its cross-section reveals a mandala. The mandala is the symbol for absolute wholeness, uniting opposites and representing a synthesis of the four elements. The spiral staircase suggests growth; the unfolding life-cycle is well conceived of as a spiral staircase, each stage of the cycle being a landing which provides a temporary resting place before yet another round of growth. The lighthouse can appear at the beginning of the process suggesting a more positive prognosis or at the end as a signal of arrival at wholeness. When I see the lighthouse in any sandplay, I feel encouraged and hopeful about the outcome of the journey.