Posts Tagged ‘Enneagram


you and me and the enneagram

When once again I brought the Enneagram into a conversation recently with my dear friend OM (as I am wont to do every now and again), I received a straightforward reply: “Despite that being the second most popular post on my blog, I still don’t really know anything about the enneagram. You’ll just have to tell me about myself.” Thank you dear friend for pushing that button. It is time for me to present this system that has been a major component of my intuitive knowing for many years.

The Enneagram is an ancient (Sufi) system of human development based on 9 personality types. Because the types are defined by a particular emotional passion, each one has its own fixation of attention or habitual internal bias. My study of this system began sometime in the 1980’s with Helen Palmer, one of the pioneering teachers of this intuitive system for understanding one self and others.

For the most part, psychology and spirituality are merged together for the purpose of identifying one’s particular style, thoughts and feelings associated with that style—one’s worldview, if you will. Once identified and acknowledged, movement in the direction of good health—emotionally, physically and spiritually can occur. The Enneagram is currently being taught in seminaries of various theological affiliations across the country, as well as through independent schools of spiritual formation.

Enneagram Circle_Colors 2x2

The system arranges itself in a circle with 9 universal traits that are found in each person: goodness, helpfulness, efficiency, uniqueness, wisdom, loyalty, joy, strength, and peace or in other terms: perfection, compassion, energy to succeed, beauty, quiet withdrawal, faithfulness, happiness, power and stability. The 9 are divided into 3 basic groups  containing a common predominant feature, e.g., the anger group is composed of 8-9-1; the emotion group is composed of 2-3-4; the fear group is composed of 5-6-7. Within this, there is a central, prototypical triad of 9-3-6 that touches into each of the three sections, as in the diagram to the left. Of course, anger, fear and emotion are felt by everyone, but are a predominant energy in these groups. In other words, these are baseline energies and can be thought of as lenses through which experience passes and out of which we greet the world.

Each of the nine has two sides, called “wings,” that lend aspects of their particularity to the center point. In other words, a person whose basic traits fall in 3 will have aspects of 2 and 4.

Enneagram Arrows 2x2Another interesting point to this system is that each of the nine will have a direction of integration and disintegration. When relaxed, the positive traits of the personality type the arrow points toward will be taken on, while under stress, the negative traits of the type whose arrow points away will be taken on.

Here are the 9 types in a nutshell:
1 – Perfectionist        2 – Giver                   3 – Performer           4 – Romantic
5 – Observer               6 – Loyal Skeptic     7 – Epicure               8 – Protector              9 – Mediator

The Enneagram is not an analytical system and cannot be compared to the Myers-Briggs typology system. It is my understanding that the basis of the 9 types are developed in the fetal brain and not purely a function of nurture. In other words: we are hard-wired  genetically toward our basic disposition.

I will give a very brief sketch of each of the 9 in coming blog posts, but this might be enough for now. Please remember that the purpose of this system is not to pigeon-hole your neighbor but to understand him/her and to grow and learn. For Christ followers, it is a tool for becoming acquainted with our shadow sides, so that light may dawn and faith deepen. The system is basically oral/narrative and has many proponents and approaches. Mine is based in Helen Palmer’s intuitive teaching.

More next time.


half full / half empty

Today is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.*  The sun has returned and no rain in sight…I think. Of course, I am a city girl and don’t really know one cloud from another, but it sounds good to say it…uplifting…positive after the gloom.

Have all the troubles and cares resolved themselves? No, but the sunshine really does help to think more creatively about them. All my life I’ve had people passing judgment on me for one thing and another, especially for the way I am wired and how my brain functions. Have heard enough about pessimism vs. optimism and want to say clearly that according to contemporary scientific research there is a good reason for people being at either end of that spectrum—or if they are lucky—in the middle of it (that is where I try to reside). My partner is reading a book called, “Fingerprints of God, The Search for the Science of Spirituality,” by Barbara Bradley Hagerty. In the pages of this book are  interesting accounts of cellular and genetic brain wave reasons for people (like me) being difficult, i.e., unlike most—or as my partner would say: “A handful!”

Although I try to balance in the middle of full and empty, I am basically a glass half empty person. My sensory perceptions are tuned way up high most of the time. I resonate with people who have neurological disabilities. I don’t try to be pessimistic, it’s the fall-back state that takes over after enough blows to my person overtake my fragile equilibrium. So what does one do when perceptions flood the senses? In terms of people and place, this is pretty much how I have always been: flooded with perception and sensate knowing. The thing is that where people are concerned, I am more often on target (or close to target) than not, so it is difficult to let go of what others may term merely a hunch, but for me is a lead to understanding.

I am 70 years old and have been tuning in to behavior and motivation (mine and that of others) since I was 12. That’s a long time.  I was once headed for clinical social work, i.e. to be a therapist. Church discipline got in the way of completing that  course of study. I believe I am gifted of God in this area and would have made a very good therapist, but I also have a streak of impatience and don’t know how long I could have hung in with clients who need coaxing and cajoling to do the work of seeing, accepting and working with their shadow selves. People don’t like change, especially when it comes to their own personal sacred cows—myself included. What I think, has given me a handy edge on this is my use and knowledge of the Enneagram—a personality typing tool whose sole purpose is to bring awareness of the shadow defenses in ourselves that get in the way of becoming all that God intends for us to be.

Raven 1x1.5 Well…as my luck would have it (half-empty, right?) while I’ve been waxing eloquently here about shadows, gifts and sacred cows, the sun has once more disappeared and dark gray gloom descends upon my backyard, surrounding my lovely windowed studio, and crying: “Nevermore, Nevermore.” Looks like I will have to be extra creative today to stay ahead of Mr. Gloomy day. It’s just too bad chocolate upsets my stomach!

*(Psa 118:24)

Blog posts

October 2021

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 204 other followers