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Guide to the Four Arrows / 16 Variables in Your Human Design Chart

Learn about the four Human Design arrows, also known as Human Design variables. Discover what they mean, and how they manifest for you personally.

What Are Arrows In Your Human Design Chart?

Human Design arrows and variables | Pink candle in the shape of a brain, reflected in a mirror.

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Once you’ve learned about the basics, you may be curious about some of the more complex elements involved in Human Design.

Discovering and examining your Human Design chart is a great starting point for learning about the system. And if you’ve got this far already then you’ll likely be familiar with some of the more common terms and concepts, such as:

But once you’ve learned about the basics, you may be curious about some of the more complex elements involved in Human Design, such as:

Going to a deeper level still, variable is an advanced component of the Human Design system, developed by Ra Uru Hu. This post will walk you through exactly what variable arrows and variable are all about.

Each arrow points either left or right.

An individual’s variable is calculated based on both personality and design sun and earth, as well as the north and south nodes of the moon.

You’ll find yours by looking on your body graph or chart near the head and Ajna centers, and it simply looks like four arrows. Usually they will be coloured red and black, according to the design and personality lines of your chart.

Not got your Human Design chart yet? Download it for free using our Human Design chart calculator.

Each arrow points either left or right, and it’s the specific combination of their orientation which provides your personal variable.

With four arrows, each with the potential to point left or right, there are a total of 16 possible variables.

Learn how to read your Human Design chart in our post covering the various components and terminology.

Order Your Human Design Report!

If you’re intrigued by what you’re reading and would like to delve further into your Design, why not order a thorough Human Design reading report for yourself or a loved one? 

Hot tip: Use code HD963K2 for a 25% discount when you purchase two or more reports!

Child reports, unique to the market, are now also available to help strengthen your connection with your child, and support their wellbeing.

Unlike the free reports typically available online, the offering from Supernatural Coaching is a 120+ page comprehensive deep-dive into your unique Design and type, also covering profiles and themes and providing a quick reference guide and workbook.

Mother and child reading their Human Design reports.
Just getting started with Human Design? Get your Essential Human Design Report for just GBP 10.00!

Left-Facing Arrows vs Right-Facing Arrows in Human Design

So what does it actually mean if a variable point left vs right?

The arrows in Human Design are based around the concept of being left or right-brained.

You’re likely aware of the concept of people being either left or right-brained, with masculine traits attributed to the former, and traditionally feminine traits attributed to the latter1.

The arrows in Human Design are based around the same idea and work in exactly the same way: left arrows symbolise more masculine energy while those pointing right symbolise more feminine energy.

Typically left / masculine qualities are said to be:

  • Logical
  • Structure
  • Analytical
  • Competitive
  • Objective
  • Results-oriented
  • Urgency
  • Head-focused

On the other hand, the following are said to be more right / feminine traits:

  • Values
  • Intuition
  • Openness
  • Collaborative
  • Subjective
  • Process-oriented
  • Patience
  • Heart-focused

Most people will have a combination of left and right facing arrows in their design.

When it comes to Human Design, each arrow represents a specific area of life and its orientation determines, or rather demonstrates, whether an individual’s personal energy and approach to that area is male or female dominant.

Most people will have a combination of left and right facing arrows in their design, but of course there are some who will have all left or all right-facing, and they are known as quad-left or quad rights.

What Do Each of the 4 Arrows Denote in Human Design?

Now we understand the difference between left and right facing arrows, let’s take a closer look at what each different arrow represents:

Digestion 

Top Left ArrowRefers to the way in which we take in, learn and digest external stimuli from the outside world, and provides clues to the correct way to structure routines for our individual needs.

Environment 

Bottom Left ArrowRepresents our preferences for the physical spaces we inhabit, and how we use our energy to influence our surroundings and make them more physically and mentally comfortable.

Awareness 

Top Right ArrowRefers to how we learn, assimilate, and recall information and knowledge.

Perspective 

Bottom Right ArrowRepresents how we’re designed to view the world, and our approach to manifesting our goals and intentions.

What Does Each Arrow Variation Mean in Human Design?

Let’s take a look at the two variations of each arrow, and what they mean individually…

Diagram of Human Design arrows: digestion and awareness.

Active Digestion (Left-Facing Arrow)

They thrive on consistency and predictability.

For somebody with a top left-facing first arrow, they are designed to actively digest information and respond to it in a traditionally masculine fashion.

This might look like a need for planning, structure, and routine, in order to operate efficiently. They thrive on consistency and predictability.

Passive Digestion (Right-Facing Arrow)

These people are happy to go with the flow.

Passive digestion indicates a more feminine approach to processing information. 

People with top left right-facing arrows are more flexible and versatile. Relying on intuition and adaptability in order to flourish, these people are happy to go with the flow.

Observed Environment (Left-Facing Arrow)

They find comfort in familiar surroundings.

People with observed environment will have preferred spots they return to again and again in order to recharge and recalibrate.

Frequenting the same favourite places repeatedly does not feel boring or like a chore, rather they find comfort in familiar surroundings.

Observer of Environment (Right-Facing Arrow)

New adventures feels like freedom for this type of person.

Travel and exploring new places and different cultures is important to anyone with a right-facing arrow in this area of life.

Variety and embracing new adventures feel liberating for this type of person, for whom it is correct to be an active participant in the right environment.

Diagram of Human Design arrows: environment and perspective.

Strategic Awareness (Left-Facing Arrow)

Processing in this way helps these people to effortlessly recall information later.

When it comes to learning and sharing information, meticulous detail helps anyone with strategic awareness in this area to remain focused and on the ball.

Studying and processing in this way helps these people to effortlessly recall information later.

Receptive Awareness (Right-Facing Arrow)

Receptive awareness is about taking a step back to grasp a broad view.

Those with a right-facing arrow in this area prefer to absorb information in a more complete way, taking more of a big-picture approach to learning.

If strategic awareness is about zeroing in on specific piece of information, receptive awareness is about taking a step back to grasp a broad view.

Focused Perspective (Left-Facing Arrow)

They thrive on precision and getting super clear about their intentions.

Known as Specific Manifestors, Specificity and detailed planning and defined goal-setting is what lights up very exacting people with focused perspective! 

They thrive on precision and getting super clear about their intentions and how they envision manifesting them.

Peripheral Perspective (Right-Facing Arrow)

These people hold so much wisdom and are all about the sense of fulfilment.

Known as the Non-Specific Manifestor, for those with a right-facing arrow in this area, rigorous planning can get in the way of something far more important: how their purpose feels.

Instead of focusing on the victory itself of accomplishing a goal, these people hold so much wisdom and are all about the sense of fulfilment derived from their achievement. In this way, those with peripheral perspective are less intensely pressured, but no less driven towards their goals!

To summarise, you may be designed: 

  • To have an active or passive brain
  • To be the observed or the observer in your active environment
  • To have strategic mind functioning, or receptive mind functioning
  • For your awareness to be focused or peripheral

The 16 Variables in Human Design

Human Design variables.

With the above in mind, there are a total of 16 unique combinations of arrows, one of which will apply to your personal design:

  1. Active digestion, observed environment, strategic awareness, focused perspective.
  2. Active digestion, observer environment, strategic awareness, focused perspective.
  3. Passive digestion, observed environment, strategic awareness, focused perspective.
  4. Passive digestion, observer environment, strategic awareness, focused perspective.
  5. Active digestion, observed environment, strategic awareness, peripheral perspective.
  6. Active digestion, observer environment, strategic awareness, peripheral perspective.
  7. Passive digestion, observed environment, strategic awareness, peripheral perspective.
  8. Passive digestion, observer environment, strategic awareness, peripheral perspective.
  9. Active digestion, observed environment, receptive awareness, focused perspective.
  10. Active digestion, observer environment, receptive awareness, focused perspective.
  11. Passive digestion, observed environment, receptive awareness, focused perspective.
  12. Passive digestion, observer environment, receptive awareness, focused perspective.
  13. Active digestion, observed environment, receptive awareness, peripheral perspective.
  14. Active digestion, observer environment, receptive awareness, peripheral perspective.
  15. Passive digestion, observed environment, receptive awareness, peripheral perspective.
  16. Passive digestion, observer environment, receptive awareness, peripheral perspective.

Manifestation of an individual’s variable is dependent upon their specific configuration.

Awareness is a physical practice of a mechanical process. Type is to Form what Variable is to Awareness.

Dr. Andrea Reikl-Wolf, Geneticist and Differentiation Degree teacher at the International Human Design School

Manifestation of an individual’s variable is dependent upon their specific configuration of the four arrows and how their orientation fits and works together as a whole.

Once you’ve assimilated the four arrows, one of the next areas of Human Design you may like to look into is radical transformations.

Ready to Order Your Report?

Curious to find out more, or order a reading for yourself or a loved one?

A comprehensive report can be an excellent tool to help deepen your relationships. And, newly unique to the market, child reports are now also available to help strengthen your connection with your child, and support their wellbeing.

Hot tip: Use code HD963K2 for a 25% discount when you purchase two or more reports!

Unlike the free reports typically available online, the offering from Supernatural Coaching is a 120+ page comprehensive deep-dive into your unique Design and type, also covering profiles and themes and providing a quick reference guide and workbook.

Woman in a coffee shop reading her husband's Human Design report. She has long dark hair and there's a cup of coffee in front of her.
Just getting started with Human Design? Get your Essential Human Design Report for just GBP 10.00!

What the Science Says

The concept of having left or right brains is fascinating, and yet it transpires that research has largely debunked this notion as a myth2

With this in mind, the more complex and nuanced idea of leaning one way or the other in multiple different areas is appealing.

Signature reading Kate, with a heart.

Sources

  1. Masculine & Feminine, Left- & Right-Brained Thinking Compared, medium.com
  2. University of Utah Health Sciences. (2013, August 14). Researchers debunk myth of ‘right-brained’ and ‘left-brained’ personality traits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2023 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130814190513.htm

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