Welcome to Art and Healing Wednesday!!
When I first went back to school a few years ago, the first class I took was “The Nine Muses” with Angeles Arrien. If you don’t know Angeles Arrien, she is one of the most inspirational cultural anthropologists and teachers in the country if not the world. She’s insightful, inspiring, and one of the best storytellers I’ve ever been privileged to hear. It was interesting to me that prior to taking her class on the Nine Muses, I had read her book “Signs of Life: the five universal shapes and how to use them.”
Early in the book Arrien quotes Isamu Noguchi, designer of the Unesco Gardens in Paris. I want to share his words with you:
I don’t think that art comes from art. A lot of artists apparently think so. I think it comes from the awakening person. Awakening is what you might call the spiritual. It is a linkage to something flowing rapidly through the air, and I can put my finger on it and plug-in, so to speak. Do artists need a spiritual way or do they need art? You can say that one is the same as the other. Everything tends toward awakening, and I would rather use the word awakening rather than use the word awakening than a word that derived from some system- because there are so many systems. (p. 18)
The book goes on to identify the five universal symbols and explains that we all have a primary symbol that is in our consciousness. After ranking the symbols, Arrien goes on to share her thoughts on how the order of the preference/prominence of the symbols impact our conscious and unconscious processes. The five symbols are: the circle, the triangle, the square, the spiral, and the cross.
Think about which of these symbols you’re drawn to the most. Consider where and how this symbol shows up in your life? Learn how these symbols influence your experience of this life. This isn’t about creating a masterpiece. Recognizing shapes and symbols is an easy and fun creative process. It’ s something you’re probably doing without even realizing it. Look at things in your home. Look at the patterns on the fabric of our clothing. Look at your jewelry and see what shapes/symbols are present. These are small clues that can give you unprecedented information.
I encourage you to read Angeles Arrien’s books, but going one step further, if you have the chance to take a class, attend a lecture, go on one of her retreats, I highly recommend the in-person experience. She is truly a treasure.