According to David Fontana in The Secret Language of Symbols, “Number are far more than a convenient measure of the physical world. In many traditions they are considered to be the primal organizing principle that gives structure to the universe.” Many believe numerical relationships govern the lives of animals and plants, influence seasonal cycles, are the templates of creation, and dictate the movement of the planets. Universally believed to hold magical powers or sacred attributes, numbers are a part of many cultures and belief systems, with the number two having both historical and current significance. In researching the number two, I was curious how “two” might appear in sandplay and what “two” might represent.
In Gertrude Jobe’s Dictionary of Mythology Folklore and Symbols, the number two is defined as active and passive, woman and man, summer and winter, good and evil, heaven and earth. Two also symbolizes change, creation, duality, and marriage. Jobe lists kinds of twos and their meanings as follows:
Two Circles: celestial twins; emblem of Asvins (Vedic deity of light); Dioscuri (Greek twins of divine friendship, Castor and Pollux); and Gemini
Two circles linked: lovers, marriage, reconciliation
Two eyes: divine duality; mother and father; sun and moon; in Egypt, light (Horus) and dark (Set)
Two serpents: good and evil, male and female
Often in sandplay work, clients will use two of the same object or choose items or miniatures that represent “two” and its symbolic meaning. After an interesting and informative discussion with Harriet Friedman, Jungian analyst, at a sandplay consultation group, I found my curiosity peaked. I began to use the information presented to the group to understand ways in which clients use “two” or its many symbols to express the essence of “two” in the tray. My research on the number two and the understanding of “two” in the tray shared by Harriet coalesced and led to new perspectives and insights regarding sandplay.
Two objects intensify the meaning of a single object and has seemed to me a simple explanation of clients’ trays. Yet, there is so much more to “two”; representation of unification of the opposites through the transcendent function, the emergence of something new, the transference and countertransference, duality, and the tension of the opposites.
Clients may use a bridge or create a path or road to connect two parts of a tray or two scenes. According to Kay Bradshaw and Barbara McCord in Sandplay – Silent Workshop of the Psyche, this represents the client’s process of transformation leading to unification of the opposites with the bridge as a “physical manifestation of the transcendent function.” Connecting two parts of the tray, two parts of one’s self, may indicate transformative energy and the unification of opposites.
(continued in The Number Two: In the Larger World and the World of Sandplay Part 2)
Bibliography at the end of Part 2.