In this intriguing paperback, cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien (The Four-Fold Way: The Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary) explores the meaning and significance of the five basic shapes in the art of all countries. She believes these are external symbols of internal psychic states. Readers can take a preferential shapes test to read the significance of these signs in their lives. Throughout the book, Arrien includes evidence of the shapes in art, nature, literature, architecture, advertising, religion, and myth.

The circle stands for wholeness and can be found in the Native American medicine wheel and Hawaiian Menehune rings. The cross symbolizes the process of relationship and integration. The spiral points to growth and evolution. It can be found in the spinning and weaving stories from all cultures. The square stands for stability, solidity, and security. It appeals to those who yearn for consistency. The triangle points to issues of self-discovery and revelation; it reveals an interest in goals, visions, and dreams. Arrien concludes with some suggestions for using the five universal shapes in professional situations and settings.