Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Inner Landscape Mandala - (Reflection Series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2008
source image - shrubbery

Angeles Arrien is a cultural anthropologist who wrote a book in the early 90's called Signs of Life. She wondered if all cultures had common symbols in their art and what meanings were attributed to them. After seven years of study she discovered that five basic shapes appear in the art of all cultures: the circle, square, triangle, spiral and equidistant cross.

From this research Arrien developed a Preferential Shapes Test as a tool for self discovery. I first took this test in the mid '90's and found it spot-on. If you are interested in trying this yourself, this is what you do:

After drawing the above shapes on a piece of paper, rank them according to preference. Do not spend a lot of time thinking about the order.

At this time in my life my preference ranking is 1) square 2) triangle 3) spiral 4) equidistant cross 5) circle. I know my preferences are different now than they were10 years ago (as they should be). I do remember at that time the square was in last place. The rest I don't really remember.

This mandala started out being about using the square as the primary shape in my mandala, but then it morphed into the equidistant cross!

Don't worry. In the days to come I will explain more about what Arrien ascribes to
the ranking and meaning of these shapes.


yertle said...

That's beautiful. The preferential shapes test is very interesting.

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healingmagichands said...

When I did the test, my ranking was 1. spiral, 2. circle, 3. triangle, 4. square 5. equidistant cross. I will be interested to see what the meaning is.

Meanwhile, today's mandala made me catch my breath because of its beauty. It doesn't hurt that my favorite color is green! I think it is interesting how it morphed from one focus to the other, and yet the original form of interest is still hiding in and around the equidistant cross. Very nifty.

cheryl @ mandala oasis said...

You are amazing! This mandala is indescribable...but I'll try. The continued energy is that of "alive". I see it in your doodles and in your mandalas. Some way you're able to make one even more alive than the previous one. But hey, it's coming from the inside out...so it's all you!

When I look at this I feel like it's calling me into it..like it's a portal to another time and place. Not to mention the Signs of Life information, which I will have to come back to.

You've inspired me to create a link list of favorites posts I want to return to (otherwise I'd never sleep)...this will be the first entry.

You rock!!


marianne said...

An award is waiting for you on my blog!
Love >M<

Lisa said...

This is so interesting. Patrick and I have a circle, triangle and square engraved on our wedding bands. They each represent, for us, particular ways of responding to the Creator and one another. I can't wait to hear more of what Arrien has to say. Thank you for taking the time. I love this mandala. I just got photoshop a couple of weeks ago and when I get it figured out, I'm going to try my hand at some digital mandalas.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful and crisp. Quietly deep and pure.

Is this anything like a paternity test? My lawyer says not to volunteer for any more tests....


Thalia said...

I see three shapes there, ones that end up in a lot of mandalas--cross within circle within square.

The Artful Eye said...

i'm trying to catch up. eek.. my preferences

this is fun. now i'll find out I need therapy. :) moving along

Hope you are doing well.

dianeclancy said...

Hi Sue,

At last I have come to read .. this sounds fascinating!!

I have done my drawings and will move on.

I still have the give-away ...

~ Diane Clancy