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About the Enneagram

The enneagram is an ancient diagram which represents ideas that go back perhaps 4500 years.  Its source is the Middle East, where many spiritual philosophies and beliefs originated.  Its influence can be seen in many of the world’s great religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  It was brought to the western world by G.I. Gurdjieff, an Armenian mystic who studied throughout the Middle East.  In the 1920’s and 1930’s, Gurdjieff wrote and traveled throughout Europe and America, teaching his ideas to groups of people.


Most recently, the enneagram is associated with a personality typing system which employs nine different personality types based on the nine points of the enneagram figure.  This came about because of Claudio Naranjo, a South American psychiatrist at the Esalen Institute in the 1970’s, who used the principles of the enneagram to formulate a personality system based on nine different ways of being in the world.  Naranjo taught this system to his students, who have branched off into several schools of enneagram thought.


I have studied with many of these teachers, and was certified in 2000 to teach through the Hurley/Donson tradition.  They use the example of the Jewish mystical wisdom of the Kabbalah, which teaches the Sefirot, the ten faces of God.  The first is Crown (Keter) and is eternal; it is the nothingness or no-thingness of God.  Consequently, the next in the list is considered the first, and after it follow the faces of God in Enneagramic order.  Thus each person is one of the nine enneagram types, manifesting one of the divine faces of God in the world.  The nine enneagram types represent nine ways of being in the world.  Everyone is one of the nine types, with a particular focus of attention.


The enneagram can be extremely valuable as a way to better understand oneself and others.  It can help educators understand the different learning styles of students, and those in business can better understand the different working styles of employees and associates.  It’s helpful in understanding family and community dynamics.


I can teach the enneagram and how to use it in whatever amount of time is available.  I can compress it into a brief three-hour introduction, or cover more territory in one-day, two-day, or three-day workshops.  I have given one-day workshops on enneagram dynamics for a midwifery practice, discussing how each of the nine types might be expressed in midwives and their clients, and for a co-housing community, discussing the needs, gifts, and challenges of each of the nine types in a community relationship.

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