Course Overview:
These three topics, which contain a great deal of significant symbolic content, are often overlooked or not given sufficient emphasis in many sandplay training courses.
Using a series of presentations and partly directed sandplays we will develop our understanding of animal and sand sculptures, hand images, shell symbolism and spirals and how these relate to our therapeutic development, our True Self and our spiritual progress.

Participants will be given the opportunity to discuss their sandtrays (if they wish to do so) and relate their sandtrays to their self understanding, spiritual development and world view.

Course Content:
Animal Sculptures
Since ancient times humans have looked to animal for guidance, spiritual knowledge and direction. Sculpturing in sand is a creative art that can activate feelings, emotions and sensations in a much more powerful way than using an ‘off the shelf’ symbol. When we spontaneously sculpt an animal in the sand the conscious, unconscious and collective aspects of the animal are potentially present. These unconscious aspects can be a source of strength and wisdom which can be gradually activated and integrated into the personality.
Animal instincts are however often archaic, primitive and dangerous and depict the dark unconscious aspect of the psyche as well as a source of vitality, and energy.
Mythical beings that are part animal and part human such as the mermaid, centaur, Cyclops and Ganesh may symbolise the inner conflict between our instinctual self and our super ego and spiritual ideal.
Alternatively these beings may symbolise the reconciliation and integration of the instinctual self and shadow with the True Self with a consequent release of vital and creative energy.
Hand Images
Placing our unique hand print in the sand says ‘I am here’. The hand print is personal mark that can connect us to the earth, to a deep archaic aspect of the Self and the divine. But the hand print is in the sand and the sand slowly obliterates the impression suggesting the limited nature of our time on the earth and the futility of our material and worldly ambitions.
Handprints can be found in caves in quite inaccessible places in many parts of the world. Some of these caves are still visited by indigenous people with each generation leaving their imprint with those of their ancestors.
At an unconscious level they were connecting to their ancestors, honouring the continuation of life and asking for divine protection.
In some parts of the world the hand is a symbol for protection. Talisman jewellery in the shape of a hand, sometimes with an eye or a spiritual symbol on the palm can be seen from North Africa to India. The hand shaped talismans are intended to protect the wearer from evil and access the divine. In Islam the five fingers are said to represent the basic precepts of faith, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, and charity.
Shells symbolise the original container, the womb, protection, survival, fertility and life. (Eliade, 1991). In the Paleolithic age our ancestors wore shells as body decoration, status symbol s and tribal identity symbols, used them as cave decorations, for banter and buried them with their dead.
Shells were used in ritualistic practices such as ancestral veneration, fertility rites, transition state practices; birth marriage and death rites and healing practices.
In several myths Gods, Goddesses and humans are believed to emerge from shells into life.
In Africa, the Middle East and America there is evidence of active shell commerce between cultures with common beliefs in the importance of specific shells in religious and social rituals.
This suggests the possibility that our ancestors travelled and communicated over large distances and at some levels had shared cultural values.
Shells such as Abalone, Clam, Conch, Spider Conch, Cones, Corarie…and the oyster were believed to have special qualities by our ancestors.
Some shell combinations were also of importance, particularly those that represented balance between the religious/ spiritual dimension and the natural world.
These shell combinations can be seen in South American Temples of about 600 BCE. These combinations may be seen in our sandplay work with clients as well as shell combinations that suggest conflict.
A combination that indicates balance is the Conch and the Clam. The Conch shell is used in the call for prayer and symbolises when blown the sound of creation. The Clam symbolises the womb, the image of creation and birth.
A Shell combination indicating conflict is the Spider Conch and the Abalone. The carnivorous Spider Conch suggests dangerous disturbing energy. The Abalone combines the hollow womb like interior of the mother with the developing spiral of spiritual transformation.
The Spiral
The spiral is an essential element of the decorative motif of many families of shell. The importance of the spiral was identified by Jung who defined the therapeutic path as a spiral that revolves around a central point.
The spiral is a universal and ancient symbol for the progress of the Soul (the True Self) towards eternal life (Individuation). The spiral also symbolises the Hero’s’ journey to the still centre where the secret of life is found.

Course leader: John Daly B.Sc., M.A.(Couns & Psych)., Dipl. Supvn.
After training as a scientist John worked in industry for ten years before moving to the US where he studied counselling and psychology from a transpersonal perspective at JFK University in California. He subsequently worked as a psychotherapist and lecturer in San Francisco and London. John lived in India for several years and travelled extensively throughout the Himalayan regions of Nepal, India and Bhutan, and studied with Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi and Christian Mystics in India and in the West. He designed and taught Masters, Degree and Diploma courses for CCPE, PTUK and Canterbury University and is the founder of the Association of Integrative Sandplay Therapists.
Who should attend:
This is a three day programme suitable for students and practising therapists.
Timings & Logistics:
The course consists of one 3 day weekend costing £420, lunch will be provided each day.
Details of the 2019 venue and dates will follow soon.