One of the many great blessings in my life has been the opportunity to study with cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien, author of Signs of Life. Again and again I have returned to her work and teachings, and now my daughter has begun to do the same. Perhaps it was the recent recognition of the seeming importance of the circle in my life that drew me to picking up the classic favorite. It had been years since I had taken the Preferential Shapes Test therein, and thus the book held particular opportunity to renew my experience. In Signs of Life Angeles, ever seeking and honoring cross-cultural perspectives and links through the myths, fables, fairytales and values in world cultures, examines the importance of five universal shapes found naturally in all cultures, often with similar interpretations and meanings, reflecting their archetypal nature. The five shapes examined in Signs of Life are simply the circle, the square, the triangle, the (equi-distant) cross, and the spiral. As gardeners we are all well familiar with the repetition of these shapes in our natural landscapes, as are we well versed in our recreating them through our various avenues of creation.
What Signs of Life does so simply and eloquently is to invite the reader to arrange and value the five universal shapes in order of current personal preference. Is it the square you are most drawn to? Or the triangle or circle? What follows is an enlightening process whereby one may examine what this might actually mean in your life today. Why are you drawn to the square, a symbol of foundation and consistency? What might it might mean that the triangle holds no interest for you at the moment, thus placing it in the fifth position? What unfolds is a fascinating tool for not only illuminating your own current process and priorities, but also for objectively reflecting what a loved one might be focused on at the moment in his or her own process, allowing for greater understanding, respect, acceptance and compassion for those we love. Don’t you just love it?
“The soul never thinks without an image.” Aristotle
Very briefly the five shapes represent the following:
The Circle–symbolizes wholeness and the experience of unity
The Equidistant Cross–symbolizes the process of relationship and intergration
The Spiral–symbolizes the process of growth and evolution
The Triangle–symbolizes goals,visions and dreams
The Square–symbolizes stability, solidity and security
After deciding in what order you are currently attracted to the five universal shapes Signs of Life illuminates the significance of the position in which you have placed each shape. I once again found this to be a fascinating process, as did Antonia when she was here for Christmas. I will now be examining how I can honor this realization in my everyday life. And, frankly, would it not be utterly fascinating for an inspired gardener to use this book and then to employ his or her findings in planning next spring’s garden? Oh, I do hope so. I will not be one bit surprised if one of you is already thinking in terms of triangular beds for herbs or a square raised bed for strawberries. Is it you? Signs of Life might be a fun way to find out what is brewing below the surface as you are imagining your new creations! Do tell!
Love and New Year’s blessings,
Posted on January 3rd, 2009 by Kathryn
Filed under: Book Notes