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oliverho
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On a recent visit to a local second-hand bookshop, I found an item that sparked an idea I wanted to share here. My apologies if it's old (or dumb), and also if I'm posting in the wrong place.

I picked up a book called, "Signs of Life" by Angeles Arrien. She's written about the tarot before, and some of you might be familiar with her work in that field. This book is 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.

This started me thinking the book might be of interest to people here. For example, you could present someone with the five shapes (say, drawn on five business cards/billets), and give the person a reading based on a "preferential shapes test." Then you could reveal (using whichever method you like) that you predicted the person's number one symbol, or the entire order for all five. Or, after you read the spectator, you could have the person choose what he or she thinks would be your order of symbols, and show that this person has read you (and/or your mind).

It seemed like an alternative to tarot or ESP cards (not that there's anything wrong with them). Anyway, I thought it might be of interest and just wanted to share the idea.
Last Laugh
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Thanks, that's very interesting and it would be a great alternative to ESP cards.
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ddyment
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I have long been a great fan of this book. Angeles Arrien was a respected anthropolgist who had much to say about symbology and related topics. I draw heavily on several of her ideas in my Zenermancy book, including the use of symbological readings.

I also make available a free tool for practicing symbological readings.
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Woodfield
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Dan Strange has a reading system based on this.
You can also find some ideas regarding this work in
the Martin Baukin epic on Cold Reading.
funsway
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Check out the Vinca Symbols -- recognized as the oldest pro-lanquage

I have used these in place of Rune or standard shapes to advantage and the storyline is intriguing.

Now the digs at the giant pyramid in Croatia and "tepe" in Turkey suggest connects of basic symbols other than depictions of nature.

If you look a at photograph of the new "Kagan" tomb (5000 years old) I can find all five basic designs in the structure.
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1KJ
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Oliverho,

This is really excellent! Thank you for sharing. I have an effect from Magic Wagon called Elite Premonition. If you are not aware of it, the participant selects the order of five ESP symbols. The unit has five drawers. You open the drawers and there is a small tablet inside with ESP symbols that match their selection. I think this book would provide ideas to turn this prop into a good routine.

KJ
IAIN
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Always thought with this kind of thing, it makes it more fun if you get a small group of people to make a little drawing using any amount of those shapes to make 'something', could be an abstract thing, or something real...

With standard esp shapes, you can draw a knight!

Star for body
Square for helmet
Circle for shield
Cross for sword
Wavy lines for ground or flag
NEW - the bear tear

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jaizon
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Thanks for posting.
StevenScott
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There is also a book on the market called psychogeometrics by Susan Dellinger. The book is full of excellent personality readings based on 5 universal shapes. These include the circle, square, triangle Squiggle lines and rectangle. With some slight modifications (like use the triangle as the star reading) you have an almost taylor made system to do readings with zener cards. The premise of the book is the that the person gets to select what shape they feel best describes them and then the author tells them all about themselves and how to better function in the world and communicate better with the other "shaped people." I know people who attended her coporate training functions back when the author was doing seminars and they still remember how amazing and accurate her "readings" were. I started having people select a zener shape they felt best described them. After that I would turn the cards face down and have them select 3 more cards using their intuition only. The first card would have to do with love and relationships, the next would be all about goals and aspirations, the 3rd would have to do with energy and spiritual matters in their life. The final card which their psychic abilities or subconsciouness steared them away from might represent either warnings ahead or something they need to deal with but are pushing aside or repressing. People by into these readings in a big way because they are the one making the choices of cards representing their lives and that's very important for the forrer effect to work to full capacity if you remember the research. There only a few minutes long and perfect to do at parties.
ddyment
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The problem with methods like "Psychogeometrics" is that they are simply made up from whole cloth, with no basis in either anthropological meaning or divinatory history. So while they may be fine for "quickie" readings, they fall apart very rapidly when one attempts to do readings of any length or depth.

The late John Wells once wrote, "The readings possible with a given 'system' are only as effective as the capacity of that system to interact through its symbols with real life. Life is complex; the oracle must be also." I think that anyone planning to put in the time to learn a divinatory system should bear this strongly in mind.
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StevenScott
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I do agree with Mr. Dyments post above that this system is not conducive to longer readings but Iv'e found it ideal for short personality type readings to entertain people. In fact iv'e transposed some of Richard Websters material from 'quick and effective cold reading" onto the symbols as suggested by Webster in his book by the same name. It has worked really well for me. Iv'e found that the people I read for never ask me if there is any anthropological evidence or divinatory history behind the ESP cards to validate my readings. They believe in it because they are ESP test cards and I'm psychic. That's all most people need.
ddyment
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For those interested, though, it's certainly possible to incorporate Zener cards into a fully realized (and historically and anthropoligically valid) divinatory system for giving longer readings, while still retaining the simplicity of the symbological approach for short readings.

This is fully addressed in my aforementioned book on the topic.
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StevenScott
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Doug, Just to be clear, when I said "the system" is not really conducive to longer readings I was referring to the system I outlined above. I realize that zener cards can be layered with more meaning and turned into a much more comprehensive reading system than the one I described. In fact, I found your book "Zenermancy" to be an excellent source for anyone wanting to do readings with Zener cards. I was just throwing out an idea I have used for anyone who may not have explored this topic before.
ddyment
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I understood this; I just wanted to make sure that those with an interest realized that it's possible to go well beyond the Arrien ideas to use Zener symbols as a fully-fledged oracle.
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bdekolta
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I expanded on the "Signs of Life" system and explained that expansion in "The Lens". That is the system I use with private readings, readings at parties, etc. Doug's book was helpful and I actually lost it before I finished it.

Someone mentioned using Webster's "Quick and Effective Cold Reading" (QAECR) with symbols. That directly supports Doug's point. The "QAECR" by Webster is actual palmistry. He took a complex topic and boiled it down to an effective system. Moving that to symbols or another oracle cheapens it in my opinion. Most magicians and mentalist think cold reading is just tossing lines out that "make sense to anybody". Webster did not do that. In his system you say what you say based on the lines on a person's hand. Not trying to impress them but telling them what the lines say.

In "The Lens" I share how I expanded the "Signs of Life" system. Basically I let the person draw the symbols. The variations in what they draw allow a broader variety of interpretations.

The interpretations still mesh with Arrien's ideas. Just give some variation. I have also incorporated some of Rudy's "Draw Me a Tree" system which is just fantastic.

If anyone is interested in "The Lens" you can find it here:

http://deepersecrets.com/the-lens-workshop/

The live followup is coming up very soon so you can still get in on that.

Doug - wasn't Richard or maybe Rudy the person who was putting the Zener symbol readings in "Magick"?

Hope something is useful here.

~ Dan
ddyment
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Rudy Hunter published a very simple Zener reading approach in Magick (issue 413, pp 2067-2068). Alan Strydom sells a more ambitious expansion of the Hunter method as Simple ESP Card Reading System. Both of these, though, are quite arbitrary in their choices of interpretations, and as a consequence, neither holds up very well for extended readings.

Bob Neale takes a more imaginative approach in his piece from Mystery School entitled "Systematic Creativity Stimulation". Again, though, he just makes up interpretations, and there is no real attempt to be able to handle serious readings.

These are the only published attempts at using Zener cards for readings (other than my own) of which I am aware, except for the star-studded 2000 film The Gift, with Cate Blanchett, Keanu Reeves, Katie Holmes, Greg Kinnear, Hilary Swank, Giovanni Ribisi, and more.
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Philemon Vanderbeck
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After seeing "The Gift," I played around with creating a more formalized oracular system using Zener cards. In the film, it becomes clear that Cate's character is just using the cards as a prop and isn't interpreting any "meanings" from them (except for the moment when three wavy lines cards appear). The problem, of course, is that you only have five symbols to work with, so I thought that a system would require interpretation of each combination of three symbols, which gives you 125 different possibilities. While most readers have no problem memorizing the 78 tarot card meanings, the pictures help with the mnemonics. The abstract imagery of the Zeners would make using them much more difficult. However, if there were sufficient interest, I would be more than willing to dust off my initial notes and take another stab at it. As it turns out, there would be some clever mechanisms at play since you would interpret not only the three rows laid out, but also the three columns and the two diagonals.
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StevenScott
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Someone mentioned using Webster's "Quick and Effective Cold Reading" (QAECR) with symbols. That directly supports Doug's point. The "QAECR" by Webster is actual palmistry. He took a complex topic and boiled it down to an effective system. Moving that to symbols or another oracle cheapens it in my opinion I was aware this comment would open up THIS can of worms. If your doing short reaadigs for entertainment than transposing some good cold reading patter from one system to another is fine in my opinion. I don't really believe in palmistry so I don't feel like it cheapens anything. MR Webster even suggest doing this in one of the chapters of his book. He uses rune stones as an example and says you can pretty much transfer his patter to any system. I'm MUST say again this is for short 5 minute pieces of entertainment.
Robb
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Quote:
On May 22, 2016, oliverho wrote:
On a recent visit to a local second-hand bookshop, I found an item that sparked an idea I wanted to share here. My apologies if it's old (or dumb), and also if I'm posting in the wrong place.

I picked up a book called, "Signs of Life" by Angeles Arrien. She's written about the tarot before, and some of you might be familiar with her work in that field. This book is 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.

This started me thinking the book might be of interest to people here. For example, you could present someone with the five shapes (say, drawn on five business cards/billets), and give the person a reading based on a "preferential shapes test." Then you could reveal (using whichever method you like) that you predicted the person's number one symbol, or the entire order for all five. Or, after you read the spectator, you could have the person choose what he or she thinks would be your order of symbols, and show that this person has read you (and/or your mind).

It seemed like an alternative to tarot or ESP cards (not that there's anything wrong with them). Anyway, I thought it might be of interest and just wanted to share the idea.


Thanks for the tip... It's difficult sometimes to find the gems in the New Agey literature.
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