One very slow Saturday morning at a branch library where I was working years ago, I looked up from the reference desk and noticed a book cover glinting in the BF698s. Intrigued, I got up and retrieved the book from the shelf, and spent a fascinating hour reading the book, which had seemed to wink at me from its shelf. The book in question was Signs of Life: The Five Universal Shapes and How to Use Them by Angeles Arrien. Arrien is an anthropologist whose studies of cultures around the world yielded five shapes which tended to be used repeatedly, and whose fundamental meanings stayed consistent from culture to culture.
Arrien took these five symbols and devised a ‘Preferential Shapes Test’ which she administered to over two hundred of her graduate students, and then to over six thousand workshop participants from around the globe and every age. Over ninety percent of the people confirmed there was at least one positional choice of shape in this test which was valid and helpful to them in their current life situation. The preferential shapes test turned out to be a good barometer of what’s going on inside a person at the present moment.