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Signs of Life: The Five Universal Shapes and How to Use Them

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"The soul never thinks without an image," claimed Aristotle. Indeed, as Angeles Arrien displays in this reissued edition of Signs of Life, shapes have significant psychological and mythological meanings embedded in our minds. Understanding the messages they convey and our attraction to them opens up a door to the secret workings of our inner selves and to a fuller apprecia "The soul never thinks without an image," claimed Aristotle. Indeed, as Angeles Arrien displays in this reissued edition of Signs of Life, shapes have significant psychological and mythological meanings embedded in our minds. Understanding the messages they convey and our attraction to them opens up a door to the secret workings of our inner selves and to a fuller appreciation of the art itself.As in her widely popular The Tarot Handbook, Arrien applies her background as a cultural anthropologist to the import human beings attribute to shapes. Examining her results, she has developed an effective tool to determine the connection between a person's preferences for certain shapes and the same person's inner, subjective states. In the course of using Arrien's book, individuals, parents, teachers, and therapists will experience the universal processes of growth embodied in images and myths.Life, we discover, is art, and through Arrien's fascinating journey in Signs of Life, we gain a new perception of the omnipresent patterns and symbols that surround us. Illustrated throughout with drawings and photographs


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"The soul never thinks without an image," claimed Aristotle. Indeed, as Angeles Arrien displays in this reissued edition of Signs of Life, shapes have significant psychological and mythological meanings embedded in our minds. Understanding the messages they convey and our attraction to them opens up a door to the secret workings of our inner selves and to a fuller apprecia "The soul never thinks without an image," claimed Aristotle. Indeed, as Angeles Arrien displays in this reissued edition of Signs of Life, shapes have significant psychological and mythological meanings embedded in our minds. Understanding the messages they convey and our attraction to them opens up a door to the secret workings of our inner selves and to a fuller appreciation of the art itself.As in her widely popular The Tarot Handbook, Arrien applies her background as a cultural anthropologist to the import human beings attribute to shapes. Examining her results, she has developed an effective tool to determine the connection between a person's preferences for certain shapes and the same person's inner, subjective states. In the course of using Arrien's book, individuals, parents, teachers, and therapists will experience the universal processes of growth embodied in images and myths.Life, we discover, is art, and through Arrien's fascinating journey in Signs of Life, we gain a new perception of the omnipresent patterns and symbols that surround us. Illustrated throughout with drawings and photographs

30 review for Signs of Life: The Five Universal Shapes and How to Use Them

  1. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    I bought this book at my friend’s leaving-town-to-become-a-lady-truck-driver yard sale. The gold symbols on the turquoise cover and the beautiful imagery inside made the book worth owning. I didn’t realize at first that Signs of Life is a vehicle for readers to determine where they are on their life paths, and to integrate their strengths and weaknesses to achieve calmness and clarity. The process uses five shapes: circle, square, triangle, cross, and spiral. The odd thing is that this symbol te I bought this book at my friend’s leaving-town-to-become-a-lady-truck-driver yard sale. The gold symbols on the turquoise cover and the beautiful imagery inside made the book worth owning. I didn’t realize at first that Signs of Life is a vehicle for readers to determine where they are on their life paths, and to integrate their strengths and weaknesses to achieve calmness and clarity. The process uses five shapes: circle, square, triangle, cross, and spiral. The odd thing is that this symbol test seems to give surprisingly accurate results. The test is simply drawing each of the five symbols, then rating them 1-5 from most favorite to least favorite. The characteristics of each symbol are described, as well as the significance of each position (1-5) in which one might put them. Then each symbol is described briefly as it is expressed in each position. A simple art process is offered to integrate one’s challenges and strengths. The symbols are universal, so this test works across cultural, gender, age, and lifestyle variants. The answers that a reader gives are expected to change throughout his or her lifetime. I rated this book 4.5 stars, but upgraded to 5 stars because of the beautiful illustrations on every page. These depict ancient and modern works of art that incorporate circles, squares, triangles, crosses, and spirals. Everything from Amish quilts to 10th century Native American bowls to ancient Mexican clay stamps to Zulu wood carvings to Tlingit shirts to Ashanti jewelry to Celtic bronzework to Egyptian artifacts to Etruscan vases and more are included. This variety gives the reader plenty of ideas for completing their own art process. People who like symbols and simple art-based self help tests will enjoy this book. Anyone who is interested in universal symbols and their depiction in fine art and craft will enjoy taking a look.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Hall

    Anything Angeles Arrien writes is a gift.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Ho

    Interesting, if a little short--about the "five universal shapes" that she says she's identified (from an anthropological perspective) as existing in the art of cultures around the world: circle, square, triangle, cross, and spiral. "I wanted to know what meanings, if any, human beings attribute to these shapes and whether the meanings are similar in various cultures," she writes. "I wondered whether there are collective human experiences that are consistently recognized and deepened when these Interesting, if a little short--about the "five universal shapes" that she says she's identified (from an anthropological perspective) as existing in the art of cultures around the world: circle, square, triangle, cross, and spiral. "I wanted to know what meanings, if any, human beings attribute to these shapes and whether the meanings are similar in various cultures," she writes. "I wondered whether there are collective human experiences that are consistently recognized and deepened when these shapes are expressed artistically by people of different times and cultures." She introduces the shapes through a "Preferential Shapes Test," whereby you rank the five shapes from 1-5 (i.e., your number one shape would be your most-preferred at the moment, and number five your least-preferred). She then explains each shape and its meaning across cultures and through history. Based on your order of preference for the shapes, she provides an interpretation (e.g., what it could mean if you ranked the circle as number one, and so on), not unlike other reading methods. It's new age-y at times, but I didn't mind it too much. I would have liked more in-depth explanations and examples from history and myth. Still, I enjoyed the book and appreciated the thinking and approach. I can see coming back to this book for ideas in the future.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    Distilled,thoughtful account of the universal shapes across cultures and what importance they code for us in their positions relative to each other at any one time on the life journey. It stands to reason that we are influenced by shapes that convey archetypal images, given we are daily impressed by images. Though the test of shapes is simple, the interpretation of what they really mean is not. Variety of cultures represented in the images that amply illustrate the small volume. I did find the t Distilled,thoughtful account of the universal shapes across cultures and what importance they code for us in their positions relative to each other at any one time on the life journey. It stands to reason that we are influenced by shapes that convey archetypal images, given we are daily impressed by images. Though the test of shapes is simple, the interpretation of what they really mean is not. Variety of cultures represented in the images that amply illustrate the small volume. I did find the text on images difficult to read whenever this occurred.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Shroyer

    Appreciate the insights. The design of the book is beautiful but it made it difficult to read in many places. I wish they’d kept white space under the text.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lance

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bgriffithcoopergmail.com Griffith-Cooper

    Very interesting, self-awareness development type book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ellen H. G. Culpepper

  10. 4 out of 5

    Donica

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Allen

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aria

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Morgan

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Tarr

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell Wade

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pat Allen

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marisa

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

  20. 5 out of 5

    Guy Conner

  21. 5 out of 5

    Debra Mathis

  22. 4 out of 5

    Hope

  23. 5 out of 5

    susanna suchak

  24. 5 out of 5

    Berna Labourdette

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robin Mayther

  26. 4 out of 5

    Annie Kuhn

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Krista Wyatt

  29. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shariana Mundi

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