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Enneagram: a map, a path, a key

Enneagram’s esoteric origins have still a negative impact on the overall vision of this powerful tool, which is nothing less than a key to understanding ourselves and the others. Let’s find out what is and how does this mysterious but fascinating map work.

By Beatrice Jennifer Tagliabue


The word Enneagram comes from two Greek terms: ennea that means nine, and gramma that means sign.

As a matter of fact, the enneagram is a symbol composed by a circle into which is inscribed a 9-sided star polygon. The points of the star that touch the circumference correspond to the nine different personality types, also called archetype of the human consciousness.

A very important thing that has to be clear is that the enneagram is not a static tool, but a dynamic one instead.

Inside the circle, that already indicates a continuity in the path, there are some lines that crosses all the personality types. The various archetypes are, in fact, connected between each other as they do not symbolize the arrival but the departure of the journey inside our inner self to amplify our consciousness and personal growth.

Despite men have the tendency to putting a label on everything, it is difficult when it comes to us to identify ourselves in just one archetype.

This happens due to the fact that actually all the nine personality types are present inside us, but there is only one that dominates on the others.

Moreover, recognizing ourselves in more than just one persona is seen as a positive characteristic because it shows openness and evolution.

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Some history pills

It is complicated to define exactly when the enneagram was born since it was originally something mysterious and hidden used mainly in esoteric appliances.

Sure, is that it is extremely old: it can be linked to the Pythagorean school and later on to Jesuits, but since its divulgation had been forbidden for quite a few years, the strong oral tradition postponed its diffusion.

However, it is thanks to Sufi Masters (from the Sufism, a more philosophical and spiritual branch of the Islamic religion) that the enneagram reached the wider audience. They used this tool to help their disciples to spiritually grow in a personal way.

Why all this mystery around the enneagram?

The veil of darkness that seems to cover the enneagram is probably the reason why still today there are a lot of prejudices on this tool, and the link with Esotericism does not help deleting this negative connotation.

Not only, as the enneagram is a very powerful way to understand people’s behavior and fragilities and if applied correctly it can forecast their moves.

This is why it is used mainly in psychologic and effective communication practices.

Concretely, what does the enneagram reveal and what is its goal ?

Well, it is not easy to make a list of all the features the enneagram investigates, explores and reveals.

As previously said, the enneagram is a key to understand human consciousness, and once identified the nine personality types with their own compulsions – the unknown and unconscious behavior that forms the whole type – there are no limits to the information you can discover.

The enneagram doesn’t just show us how are we like, but also how to move to become the best version of ourselves.

Thanks to the geometry that composes the symbol, we identify the Three Centers of Intelligence of mankind: the Gut Center, led by our instincts, the Heart Center, guided by our emotions, and finally the Head Center which corresponds to our rational side.

This intriguing tool studies also how the personalities relate to the essence, meaning our spiritual tendency.

The personality is correlated to our most dysfunctional features, that bring to illness and unease, while the essence is where our qualities and virtues are.

Another interesting thing that the enneagram investigates are the basic fears that characterize each archetype. These fears do not allow us to grow and evolve, but thanks to our journey we can get over them and elevate in order to live unconditionally.

Not only, this ancient tool illustrates how and why different types enter different depressive states: they all have a singular perceptive of the world and react differently to the urges they receive.

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Un post condiviso da Enneagram Explained (@enneagramexplained)

Its goal? On a personal level, the enneagram allows us to better understand ourselves with our virtues and weaknesses, showing indeed how to work on our fragility to reach our best state. On a broader level, it gives us the tool to understand others and the dynamics of their behavior.

An extremely important thing not to forget is that the personality type is just a reference, never a label. The enneagram does not put people in a box but wants to make them grow and discover their trues and purest identity.

Two people having the same archetype might have some characteristics in common, but have also a lot of different shades: it’s their life experience, which is unique for each person, that forms people authentically.