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Engaging the Feminine Archetype through Play by Lynda Joslyn, LCSW-C

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 9:30 AM | Jung Society of Washington

A key to recovery from oppressive and repressive compulsions and complexes induced by familial, social and cultural norms and influences lies in the deliberate and consistent engagement and processing of signs, images, fantasies and symbols that appear over one’s lifetime. Reckoning with and movement away from the edge of the spectrum to include the feminine perspective and the enlightenment that soothes, requires the agency found in running water.

During the last ten years, the resurgence, prominence and acceptance of the value of the expressive arts in psychotherapy reveals a worldwide orientation towards the feminine and its strengths of relatedness, compassion and empathy. The evolving spontaneity of play in the expressive arts inspires the participant with confidence, courage and the joy of discovery, thus enriching a life.

...I have succeeded, or so I believe, in finding at least an indirect way of approach to the instinctual image.  ...observed patients whose dreams pointed to a rich store of fantasy-material.  ...they were stuffed full of fantasies, without being able to tell me just where the inner pressure lay.  ...I suspected these configurations of harboring a certain purposefulness...     (Vol. 8, 202)

When one suspends thinking and allows the body and hands free rein, one can witness and participate in a state of curious observation of “the inner pressure,”  ...”never stepping beyond the bounds of the picture lying before me.”  The child archetype of the collective unconscious exists at all stages of life.  Validating the reoccurring patterns of dysfunction and problematic behavior, that can recapitulate the experiences of childhood, allows a confrontation and engagement at the roots of issues and conflicts. The darkness restores truths that life can not repair, a rescue from meaninglessness, informing an “individuation process.” Initially a blur, amplification restores clarity and color.

Sandplay, an expressive art, uses a shallow tray of sand with a collection of miniature figures representing all facets of life from many cultures, to create a safe and protected space for this “free rein of fantasy.”   A form of active imagination in which a dialectical relationship develops between the interior world and the exterior presence i.e. the unconscious and ego consciousness.  Sandplay is a buffer against the suffering of painful, angry and confusing elements that surface to communicate what has been locked inside.  The process of individuation yields to the mystery, magic and miracles of discovery.

 As a bridge, the connectivity, established and honored, engages the realm of the Self with the original potential of wholeness and a home of spirit.  Three-dimensional worlds created in the sand, with the miniature images contribute over time, “harboring a certain purposefulness.”  Thus, the transforming and healing nature in creative play and the journey through an unfolding myth allay “the inner pressure.”

Photo: Ometepe, Nicaragua, August, 2017

Lynda Joslyn, LCSW-C, Jungian Analyst, trained at the C.G. Jung Institute of New York and is a Teaching Member of Sandplay Therapists of America (STA). She is in private practice in Silver Spring, Maryland.


  • Sunday, November 19, 2017 9:28 AM | Oxana Holtmann
    This article confirm to me the importance and the joy of play no matter what our age is. Play rejuvenates us and makes us more creative. Thank you, Lynda.
    Link  •  Reply
    • Friday, December 01, 2017 12:45 PM | Jane Byerley
      In our very academic and intellectual environment, it is wonderful to think of a "safe and protected space for the 'free rein of fantasy.'” It is wonderful to think that our instinctual and feminine elements can break through the intellect to provide us guidance through play.
      Link  •  Reply
  • Sunday, January 28, 2018 3:37 PM | Anonymous
    I adore sand play and paint play and writing humorous play. Thanks for colorful essay.
    Link  •  Reply


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