A Conversation on Morphology, Dreaming & Imagery | Lucia Dang and Millicent Lai

Lucia Dang and Millicent Lai, respective leaders and teachers in SOI China Mainland and SOI Hong Kong, recently had a conversation about Morphology from a their perspective. We share their open, illuminating exchange with you here.


Lucia (L): So how are your students receiving mythology, I mean, the Greek myths?

Millicent (M): A student asked me why it is necessary to learn Morphology as part of the SOI curriculum. When some of them just jumped into the midst of it, they didn’t understand how face/body reading is connected to dreaming or imagery.

Most students came to the school because they are always fascinated by their dreams. But then they don’t necessarily understand why they need to learn about Morphology or the relationship between them. Why is it important to understand human shapes? The way I teach about dream opening is about forms and shapes because dreams are the interface between energy and manifestations. It’s when we see energies being conjured into forms. So to understand the language of dreams is to understand the functions of forms and the stories and experiences that they give rise to. Therefore, as humans, we are also energy manifested into forms. By understanding our own forms and shapes, we can gain insight into our life stories, complexes, and limitations but also our potentials.

L: In my experience, it’s easier to introduce the basics of Morphology to people, to embody all sorts of shape to feel and know how different forms hold different energy, and understand how the shape of the body brings unique life experience. It is exciting and fun for the students to recognize through their body what they would be attracted to in a certain form, how they would move in the world, what encounters, enjoyments and challenges they tend to have.

It is not as easy for the Chinese speaking students, though, when it comes to Greek myths. There is not a strong sense of connection with the Greek Gods and their stories. Even though with reading and explanation, people can dive into the stories to learn, the names and types of gods are still a bit foreign to them.

M: It is a big challenge indeed because they feel that they are just some foreign stories that they cannot relate to. But in fact, we share many similarities in the myths from different cultures, such as the creation story and the hero’s stories, and about life and death. They are actually an internal process within us. Even the idea of nirvana or enlightenment is expressed in different cultures – for example, we all share “here and now.” It’s not like you follow a harsh practice your whole life, then you die and then there’s the moment of enlightenment. Enlightenment is something that happens suddenly, here, when you can feel that you are timeless and you are beyond all the earthly needs and desires;  at that particular moment, you are enlightened. It’s like an athlete who is in the zone. In that split second, you are in it totally.  

L: In that sense, I came to understand why Morphology is an advanced teaching at the school. When learning about human forms through the body, we expand our consciousness to all the forms of creation, the universal energies that weave the world into being, including our lives. On one hand, it is about knowing ourselves; on the other, it is a process of transcending personal limitations to reach a broader understanding. There are always some aspects of this world, and of others, that we feel hard to connect with, to accept or embrace. But when we embody their forms and live the stories deeply from inside, we understand each form, each being has its irreplicable position in the whole creation. We learn to respect and have compassion for each part and for the whole of creation.

M: Yes, especially since the way the school teaches this seems like the other way around.  Instead of teaching you the shape first, we teach you the stories of the type – and why the stories are important.  It’s because the stories are like the blueprints and the complexes that the prototypes carry with their lives and within our lives.  So for example, a Venus type always feels that she is at the center of the limelight and she take for granted that she will get all the attention just because she believes she is a most beautiful woman. She needs adoration and she simply should have it. It’s not like a desire or yearning. It’s simply because she is that, she never questioned it. Before I understood this, whenever I had met Venus types, sometimes it was infuriating to me because I found them to be so self-centered. But when I understood the myths and the stories, I realized that they cannot help it. It’s just part of their form.   It was really liberating for me –  and probably for them (even if they did not know how it changed my reactions!)

L: Every form exists or is created for a reason. It’s the same when people look at astrology charts, with one planet in a certain sign. The story, tendency, challenge, resources, and potential are all written there.

M: Yes, I understand why Morphology is being taught in the school like you said: because it is all about form.  It’s an understanding of how the world is constructed. However, Asian people tend to look at morphology, and to use it as a…

L: ….a way of fortune telling.

M: Exactly. It’s like, here is your destiny, so you need to prepare yourself to avoid certain people or you just have to accept things in a certain way.

L: I haven’t studied the Chinese way of face reading, but there’s some general knowledge, for instance, about the three zones in the face. The mental zone (forehead) is considered to be showing one’s early life, the emotional zone (nose) is about the middle period of life, and the physical zone (chin) is about life in old age. For example, if you have a very short forehead, or there is some disturbance in the forehead, it would indicate that you will have (or had) a tough childhood or there’s other difficulty in the early part of life. I wonder why they see it that way.

M: Probably it’s because everything begins with the belief system. The forehead is the mental zone. Everything is the manifestation of the brain. It’s all starting from there. This is why the emotional zone is in your middle age. The nose is especially important if it is high or low, pointy or rounded in Chinese face reading. And a fleshy round chin ensures that you have a good retirement life in this belief system and morphology system.

L:  It’s a different way of reading energy. But it should be the same energy because it’s the same face.

M: Yes, but I think it is different somehow. It shows the different ideologies between the East and West. For example, the cheekbones. In the Asian way, we usually say that the cheekbones have to be covered with flesh. It is about how one shows willpower. If they are too bony and obtuse, that means you could be too intimidating, especially as a woman. It is a belief here that if a woman has very high cheekbones, it’s difficult for her to have a happy marriage.

L: Because the value system are different. Recently I read an article about how to apply the traditional Chinese morphology knowledge to modern life. The author took the widely known “Wang Fu Xiang” for example. It is about certain facial features in a woman’s face that are believed to be helpful to the husband. It shows the tendency of dedicating oneself to the family, giving all the energy to help the husband to develop his life. It is considered good traditionally, in the value system of a patriarchal society, but not necessarily all positive for a woman in modern time, when independence is much valued, and women have rights to pursue fulfillment and a life of their own.

M: Yes,  I mean, traditionally they value a more rounded body, right? You know, so that you can have a bigger pelvis to bear children.

L: And this makes me think of the argument I had with the Chinese doctor I work with. He’s working on the physical structure. I brought a friend to him. She has a lot of Sun, and she always stands on one leg. It’s her natural way, the Sun’s signature. But it makes the body unbalanced physically, especially not good for the structure because it’s not centered. So, the doctor worked hard to make her back handle standing on two feet. For me, I have a belly, it’s the Moon belly. The doctor considered it too big, not good for health, and aimed at flattening it. He didn’t appreciate me cherishing the Moon. In his eyes, there’s ideal healthy shape of the body with little stuckness, where blood and Chi flows easily and smoothly. Apparently, in his view, my Moon belly is in the way.

M: That is really funny! We perceive life in such a different way.

L: Yes. Another interesting theme I got asked a lot is about losing weight. Whenever I talked about the shape, the energetic form and how it enters into manifestation, at least one person in the audience would ask for suggestions on losing weight, and usually it would be someone with a Jupiter body. They have tried a lot of methods but had little effect. The suggestion I give is always “For you, please don’t fast, carefully choose what to eat and when to eat. Instead, make sure the foods you eat are delicious.”

M: This is why basically most of my private sessions with Catherine are about. I cannot lose weight, and I feel as if I am such a failure. For me, I gain more weight when I exercise a lot and I cannot lose any even when I go on a fast. My sister, who is a Chinese herbalist doctor, said I cannot lose weight because I don’t have enough Qi (“Chi” to our friends), my body is hanging onto such a delicate balance that it just refused to let go of the weight.

L: I have a friend who also has a Jupiter body, and she has lost a lot of weight, especially around the belly using Chinese medicine. And it’s about getting out all the dampness. She had diarrhoea for days, for weeks. Then her body became much healthier afterwards.

M: In fact, according to Hippocrates, the temperament of Phlegmatic is like Lymphatic in Morphology, it’s having too much fluid and cold dampness in the body. The elements of this year are Wood and Fire, and we can feel the heat of the summer earlier than usual. The climate is causing the fire of the body to rise, but if you are damp and cold inside the heat gets stuck around the neck, the throat and the gums. And then when you go back home, you are in heavy air conditioning and then it’s just impossible for the dampness and the heat to go away. Morphology is difficult for our students to understand. It’s probably because it is not necessarily in sync with our culture or our geographic climate.

L: I’m not sure. It’s developed in Europe, in the north too. The climate is similar. The difficult part about Greek myths, I guess, is still the language barrier. They are much easier to read in English. To be honest, it’s so hard to read them in Chinese. You will mix up everyone’s names after three pages, and it becomes hard for people to really understand what’s happening in the story. They don’t even know who is who.

M: Because a lot of the English words have origins that come from the Greek myths. So it’s about the difference in languages too. As a teacher, I try to explain more about how these stories are related to us on a personal level.

L: Last year, in one of the sessions after the workshop, one student asked Catherine to give her a mythology reading. She did and she was so happy. “For the first time, I feel all the energies in me find their place.” That’s the words she used, “everything falls back into place.”

M: I think the good thing about morphology is that it is much more systematic than the Chinese face reading. It’s more holistic. The principles are basically consistent with how the world is constructed by forms and shapes. And it is not limited to saying “this shape of the face equals something fixed.”  In this morphology system, we  get to consider and we have to consider a person as multi-faceted, with no judgment involved. Also, we share a similar concept of elements in the temperaments.

L: Yes. It’s a good way of knowing ourselves, not only recognizing, understanding and accepting, but more importantly, mastering the vehicle we are born into to its higher potential.

Lucia Dang is leading Morphology | The Four Grids in Mandarin this July, and Millicent Lai is leading Morphology | The Four Grids in Cantonese this August.