The universal meaning of numbers is an esoteric topic of great importance. The Enneagram, as an instrument of self-knowledge, helps us to understand which thoughts and moods block us from operating fully in our authenticity and which can be our strengths to evolve on the path of personal transformation.
What is the Enneagram?
Enneagram literally means “9 graphs” or “9 point” or “9 drawings” and describes 9 types of personalities characterized by a particular mental model or psychological core.
It determines why we are the way we are, why we do what we do, what our main character traits are, including defects and virtues; what external elements we base happiness and unhappiness on, what we are afraid of, and what we run away from; what our strengths and innate qualities are, how we would like others to see us; including what is the emotional pitfall that deceives us many times in our lives, and the root of most of our emotional problems and conflicts.
A fundamental idea behind the Enneagram is that all human beings have two important aspects: essence and personality.
This means that, on the one hand, each of us has a True Self ( different from the Ego), and a True Essence that goes beyond classifications, social, family, and professional roles.
On the other hand, some aspects of our personality can be traced back to experiences, traumas, and circumstances common to several people, and for this reason, they can be grouped together in a system of learning behavior and character.
Although this esoteric topic has very ancient origins and is found in different spiritual and religious traditions, in our modern era it has been (re)brought to light since 1915 by the work of the Armenian Master and philosopher George Ivanovich Gurdjieff and his disciples.
Later in modern psychology, its use as a psychological technique for the classification of personalities dates back to the 1960s by the Bolivian Oscar Ichazo and the Chilean Claudio Naranjo.
The modern use of the Enneagram has evolved from the work done by these three researchers and has been further developed by teachers including, just to name a few, Helen Palmer, Russ Hudson, Kathy Hurley, Jerry Wagner, and Richard Rohr.
How does it work? The Symbol, the Personality Types, the Arrows, and the Wings
The Enneagram symbol consists of 9 lines marking 9 points on a circumference.
The circle symbolizes the idea that everything that exists is connected. The central equilateral triangle symbolizes that each creation is in turn composed of a trinity. The six-sided figure shows that change and evolution remain in time.
In addition, the nine types are grouped on the basis of three Centers: Instinct or Body (8,9 and 1), Emotion or Heart (2, 3 and 4), and Rationality or Head (5, 6, and 7), with the relative dynamics that will not be explored in depth here.
We can briefly describe the characteristics of each personality type as follows:
1. Personality Type 1: The Responsible Perfectionist – Ethical, Strong-Willed, and Centered. Is convinced that they must be perfect before getting what they want, denies imperfections and tends to be hyper-critical.
2. Personality Type 2: The Generous Helper – Considerate, Communicative and Warm-Natured. Also focuses on getting the approval and gratitude of others to feel like a good person, is often self-referential.
3. Personality Type 3: The Mover and Shaker – Driven, Sensible and Ambitious. Thinks that in order to be valid they must be successful, which is why they are often competitive, workaholics or eternal students.
4. Personality Type 4: The Independent Creative – Self- Aware, Passionate, Sensitive. Is secretly convinced that they have something that makes them unlovable, so they use introspection and creativity to feel special.
5. Personality Type 5: The Quiet Observer – Passionate, Analytical, Self-Sufficient. Takes refuge in the mind and knowledge to avoid intimacy, denies their needs and is often hyper-idealist.
6. Personality Type 6: The Devoted Skeptic – Loyal, Charming, Apprehensive. Is afraid of loss, often imagining negative scenarios, tends to be afraid and seek security.
7. Personality Type 7: The Enthusiastic Adenturist – Active, Flexible and Future Orientated. Tries to compensate his inner emptiness with distractions, fun, passions and excesses; has problems with really engaging in projects and relationships.
8. Personality Type 8: The Protective Challenger – Self Assured, Influential, Strong-willed. Tends to dominate to avoid being dominated, has a very abrasive style and shuns vulnerability and weakness.
9. Personality Type 9: The Harmonious Mediator – Laidback, Patient, Supportive, Open-Minded. Does everything to avoid conflict and maintain a semblance of harmony; can be lazy and have problems acting towards self-imposed priorities.
It is normal to find a bit of ourselves in all nine personality types, but for each of us, there is one that is dominant and can remain the same throughout our lives.
As we grow and develop, the characteristics of our type may become more pronounced but also less marked. This happens because, in addition to our dominant type, there are four connection types for each of us that provide additional qualities to our personality. These connections are defined by the Arrows and Wings.
A brief example:
Type 1 has a tendency to go towards “the worst” of type 4, which is its negative characteristics, while it tends to receive “the best” of type 7, which is its positive characteristics.
His wings are type 9 and type 2, which means they may have some characteristics typical of one of these two figures, even without movement.
Also in this case the dynamics and variables that intervene are numerous and of delicate importance; for example, each of us can have one wing, two wings, or no wing at all. It is also very common to have had a very active wing when you were younger, which then turned into the opposite wing in a more mature phase.
In short, this symbol of millenary origins is condensed much of the universal wisdom that comes from different spiritual and religious traditions and, although it is in the public domain and easily accessible in today’s globalized world of knowledge, its full use is only used by an enlightened few.
Remember, there are many personality type tests out there that are very sophisticated and reliable, yet it alone cannot shed definitive light on who you really are as a whole. The Enneagram, however, is a very useful means to start shifting attention to aspects of ourselves that need healing and help shine a light on subconscious beliefs that are materializing as unwanted patterns in your life. The Enneagram Test has greatly helped many people (including myself) on their path of self-actualization, spiritual sovereignty, and soul healing.
If you want to go deeper, contact me here.
The test is well worth the information and comes with a consultation to discuss your results and support your growth journey!