It is no doubt that the enneagram has roots in Western mysticism with one of its threads being traced to Kabbalah. Kabbalah is a system of Jewish Mysticism where the Creator (En Sof – one that’s unknowable and inaccessible/Yahweh) and the Creation are not separate beings that forms duality but rather we immanently find the Creator within his Creation and the Creator reveals aspects of himself through the Tree of Life. The tree of life is the most important symbol in Kabbalah. Each of the circles are called sephirah (plural sephiroth) which can be described as centers of god-consciousness while the 22 paths connecting the sephiroth together are energy channels. There are many ways to divide The tree of life and one way is through the 4 worlds model. Each world is symbolized by one of the Hebrew letters of the Tetragrammaton or the Divine Name of God. Each world corresponds with an element and the minor arcana represents the signs and planets traversing down The Tree of Life. These worlds corresponds to the removal, differentiation, and undifferentiation from En Sof. These worlds can be viewed from two directions – from the top down – the direction of creation or from the down top – the direction of man’s transcendence to the Divine. I’m going to proceed via the direction of creation. A friend and I discussed the Kabbalic and Buddhist influences of the enneagram. She proposed that the 4 worlds of the Kabbalah corresponds with the head, heart, and gut triads, and the 4th world is the world of enlightenment. But from here on out, I’ll go into detail into how this works.
Figure 1: http://www.soul-guidance.com/houseofthesun/treeoflifetraditional.htm
“ATZILUT, fire, the holistic world of deep divine intuition and of beingness with God. Reality is merged; all is one. This is the world of essence, where we recognize ourselves as being a spark of God’s fire. It is not we who pray; rather, God prays in us. With God’s own eye we see ourselves. Chaya and Yechidah soul aspects.” – This is the realm of enlightment/Living Daylight. From the top-bottom model, we are born into this state, but our holding environment (to use Almaas terms) precipitate our fall from this state. From bottom-top direction our goal is to reach this state.
“BRIYAH, air, the symbolic world of the intellect, of contemplation, of pure thought. Everything is part of a pattern in this world; everything has a meaning. We understand ourselves as being the result of intended, loved, and continuous creation. Here we are commanded to exert ourselves to know and to reach the very edge of what is thinkable and understandable. This is the reality of poetry, wonder, intuition, and visualization. In this world, we can work with symbols and with dreams. Neshama soul aspect.” – this corresponds to the head triad
“YETZIRAH, water, the subjective world of vital feelings; the world of affect, of nuance, of aura, of sensitivity, of visceral and proprioceptive feelings. Things are seen as synchronistic in this world. This is the world of interdependence and relationship issues. Here is where our emotional being is attuned, where negative feelings of resentment, frustration, vindictiveness, and paranoia can be replaced by an attitude of gratefulness, appreciation, and joy. Here we can learn empathy, humility, and awareness of our own mortality. Ruach soul aspect.” – heart triad
“ASSIYAH, earth, the objective world, where we live with our bodies in the physical world of action, including action for spiritual purpose. This is the world of sensible, concrete facts and their data. Here we are conscious of the physical realm and the laws of nature as we observe them. Here we are aware of being a creation of God. This is the world of duality, in which everything is seen as separate, and subject to cause and effect. This is also the world of the life force, the senses, the breath, experiencing freedom and love of life, being the God-wrestler. Guf (body); Nefesh soul aspect.” – gut triad
In an older thread I have written this – In the Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot by Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Briah is associated with water and emotions (and intellect) while the Yetzirah associated with air and form. The associations are switched:
Atziluth is the first of the 4 worlds and it is the domain of the Primordial Fire. This fiery domain activated and gathers the other three worlds. This is associated with the Suit of Wands and the fire signs traverse this world. This the realm of pure divinity and the worlds are birthed by fire. Masculine energy. The cause or spark.
Briah is the world of creation and the domain of the Primordial Water which represents the fluid, inventive Min. This is the world of Pure Intellect. Feminine Energy. This world is associated with the Suit of Cups and water signs. The cause gives way to creation.
Yetzirah is the third level known as the world of Formation and the domain of Primordial Air resides here. The etheric blueprint behind the material universe is found here. The suit of swords and the air signs are associated with this world. From the creation of the universe we are able to get the form of the universe. This is also the most unstable world of them all as the suit of swords traverses through it.
Assiah is the final world, the world of Action. Primordial Earth resides here. The four elements both physically manifest in sensation and in the hidden properties of matter. Form makes room for action. This world is associated with the suit of Pentacles and the earth signs.
Each world, except for Assiah, contains 3 sephiroth which can be loosely associated with the 9 types. There are a lot of structural issues with this nonetheless. The worlds’ associated sephiroth don’t neatly correspond on a one-to-one basis with the types associated in each triad but rather the association is more general.
In the future, I would like to explore the structure and actual mathematics of the enneagram.
The Self Preservation instinct brings out a great dichotomy between indulgence and abstinence.
Self Preservation is connected to earth and hearth. It seeks to preserve the flame (of life): both metaphorically and literally. Self Preservation with the Social element (Sp/So) applies social order and -currency to this endeavor. Acquiring resources via trade and commerce.
In contrast, Self Preservation with the Sexual element (Sp/Sx) lacks this interactive quality. It is less ‘available’ – harder to reach – when it comes to the dynamics of the man-made clock and other media of such nature (including Facebook and WordPress). I am not speaking of frequency here, otherwise extroverted people could not be of the Sp/Sx variety – no, I am speaking of style: conversations do not follow the social code and relationships can seem to vary wildly in both status and approach. They lack social structure.
Where the Social element introduces order, the Sexual element introduces chaos: a reverence of the eternal, a union with the cosmic consciousness. Sp/Sx is identified with the Self above all, and because of this, a surrender to the all is unlikely (this is territory of Sx/So and So/Sx). Sp/Sx, singular in its nature -being ‘blind’ socially – then seeks to employ this desire for chaos and the eternal through an identification of the self as the sole object. In other words, it seeks to be(come) immortal.
Where Sp/So seeks immortality via the passage of tradition and culture, passing on the flame if you will, Sp/Sx seeks it by ‘merging’ the flame with itself. Absorption of life essence, vampiric in nature, with similarities to Sx/Sp: the greatest difference being that Sx/Sp employs one’s own mortality on the quest for union – showing a desire to replace the self with the other. This is sacrilegious to Sp/Sx, as the development and nurture of one’s own qi (ch’i, life force), regardless of belief system, is paramount for the Self Preservation instinct. It is not something to “waste.” (Waste, indulge/binge <> abstain, ascetic.) Surrender, then, becomes difficult.
Self Preservation is attuned to life, and as a natural consequence of this, to death. It concerns the cycle of life and death. Growth, birth, health. Sickness, death, decay.
As Sp/So establishes the continuation of this cycle via transactional means, Sp/Sx seeks to continue it via self-obsession/-possession. Even when obsessions can lead one’s focus astray, it will not shift the general comfort of a way that is primarily oriented towards the self and one’s toil. This includes a way that orients itself towards rejecting said toil. The toil necessary for growth, birth, health, and the toil necessary to fight sickness, death, decay.
Abstinence is the barren grey/white/ivory limbo in-between the luscious indulgence of black death/void and red/blue life/breath/flame. It is the realm of stoicism and lonely statues. It consumes without absorbing. It doesn’t live, nor does it die. It is a state of unnatural immortality: undeath.
Thread: I would be curious to hear whether others relate.
Gut types, how does “Powerless” and other central 9 issues, resonate with you?
Head types, how does “Unsafe,” and other central 6 issues, resonate with you?
Heart types, how does “Worthless,” and other central 3 themes, resonate with you?
Edit: There is a current debate regarding whether “Unseen” is central to 9, or is an image issue. 9s and others, how does “Unseen” resonate with you?
Response: Not too long ago, I finished watching the HBO miniseries Chernobyl. The biggest threat wasn’t the nuclear radiation but the lies and the cover up for lies perpetuated by the USSR that ultimately led to the disaster and the attempted cover up of it. Whether it be a nation or an individual, lies are perpetuated to maintain one’s pride and power. As you know, pride(2) is the other face of deceit(3), and to maintain one’s pride, one must sometimes construct a personal mythology (4) in order to maintain the coveted, niche position. A sense of worthlessness is the crack in my own personal mythology that feeds my pride. In essence, I’m not as great, special, or indispensable as I thought I was therefore I’m worthless.Twos in general have an inflated sense of self, and I’m no exception. However, that self-inflation is built upon a foundation of defense mechanisms, fragile pride, and an intense personal narrative that I feed through imagination and action.
I’d rather be unseen than misconstrued, unheard, or worst of all, unveiled. To maintain a certain mystique and control over my image is to confer a sense of power and glamour to other people not unlike Soviet propaganda. The power comes in people buying into your propaganda. Once lies and half-truths take a life of their own, they become propaganda, and once propaganda gets reproduced and perpetuated enough times, it eventually becomes the Grand Narrative. Deceit requires more deceit in order to perpetuate itself, however it only takes one, core truth to destroy the whole edifice. The Chernobyl disaster exposed the incompetence, weakness, and lies of the Soviet Union and it was one of the events the catalyzed the dissolution of the USSR.
Imagine yourself alone in the middle of a field. The field is surrounded by dense forest and you can’t see beyond the first lines of trees and foliage. You are prepared: you are wearing your favorite boots, resilient pants, flexible top. You brought a good knife to pave a path through the forest and ward off any attackers. You feel strong and attractive. But… where do you go? Just go in blind? No, you need to know where you’re going, lest you spend all your good preparation on a wasteful journey. And worse, it would take twice as much from your resources to turn back around and start cutting a different path if you were to change your mind. No, better to know upfront, so you don’t get stuck with any mistake you may make. Let’s not move until you figure out what destiny awaits. In the meantime, you hear noises coming from the forest and you see some movement in the leaves. What’s that? Friend or foe? If foe, can I ward them off, or perhaps avoid? If friend, is their path a good one to follow also? Perhaps we could journey together. Do I stay or do I go?
This little story is a metaphor for a state of mind that I have endured for many years of my life. It is analysis paralysis, fueled by depression and great angst. It is the ‘freeze’ response to imagined danger, and this imagined danger is, at heart, a fear of the world. A fear that great cannot be fought, it cannot be fled from, and it cannot be waited out. There is no solution to it, as long as we remain fixated on this fear. Faith in the world, in the self, or in any other ‘thing’ is not the solution either, as trying to find a solution is, in itself, the problem, and is still a fixation on fear. Faith is no solution at all; instead it simply is. We are where we are on our journey because it is exactly where we were meant to be. With this understanding, – and it is an understanding one can only experience, not read or be told – you can respect the world, this includes oneself, within its bounds, and lose the egoic need to control the outcome.
Today, I have found that going anywhere at all – as long as I am moving with intent – is the answer to this dilemma. It matters not if I ‘know’ what lies ahead. In all likelihood, I’d be wrong anyway. We cannot predict the future, and attempting to do so is delusional – we are not God, we cannot know – and that is the work of the type 6 devil in each of us. So be afraid, nod at it knowing that it is there to trick you, and step forward anyway.
The world is a stage upon which I can act out my inner drama. The way I see it, I was exiled from Erosia, and my life’s purpose is to embody its essence and channel it here on Earth.
I don’t have conscious awareness of eyes on me moment to moment – as I am focused on my own passion and desires, and honing the talents which allow me to channel them. Since I don’t actively think about others’ reactions, I never thought of myself as ‘self conscious’ until I realized I was a four, and then I saw that self-conscious “look” pervading all my photos… and felt sick. This tells me the self-consciousness may be so pervasive and constant that I don’t even notice it.
What is conscious for me is channeling what lies within. Most people associate themselves with certain symbolism, passions or hobbies – but for me, there’s a deep dive into my internal world, and a need to wear it on my sleeve, to embody it. Throughout my life, I photograph myself, write poetic diary entries, and write songs to encapsulate my emotional journey. When things are most dramatic – breakups, arguments, trauma – I feel the most pressing need to capture that suffering in art. This process is cathartic and sacred: it helps me follow my deepest experience, discover who I really am, shape myself into an ideal, and ultimately, connect to others.
I don’t want people to remember me as ‘some random nice person’ – I want to be known as the embodiment of Erosia – my own creation. I want my inner world to be symbolized in my actions, outfits, and art; and ideally, I want others to find parts of themselves in it. They associate me with desire, passion…. and whatever else Erosia evokes for them. When this happens, I approach ‘Holy Origin’ – as it shows that, in some way, my audience and I are cut from the same cloth. My expression of origin resonates with their experience of their own. In turn, I tend to bring the people I love into Erosia, and express my experience of them with symbols in my art.
I don’t do this in a calculated fashion: I don’t think “how do I want to affect others?” — instead I find a way to wear my inner world on my sleeve or mirror it in art. Ideally, the expression would match the inside to the outside – and make it beautiful in some way, even if only in its rawness or brokenness.
When I lost my voice and could no longer sing & perform, I felt like my pipeline to others was cut off and my inner world could no longer be ‘heard,’ which made me worthless, nothing special, nobody. I’ve shared this poem from back then, many times…
am ii too jagged
or is the world too perfectly round?
sometimes ii feel like everyone else is lost
and ii, alone, am found.
but if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it
does it make a sound?
that question is what keeps me
so tightly bound.
So, to translate – I’m fine with being different, fine with being ‘alien,’ I don’t get lonely or have some need to change myself for ‘them’ — I am found and they are lost. But I need them to hear me, to see me, to behold me. This need keeps me ‘bound’ to “them.” I need an audience or else there is no show.
Art is a lifestyle and a state of mind, but my work is not limited to expressions of ‘self.’ My magnum opus is a fantasy series in another galaxy- which has little to do with ‘me’ or my personal history. The protagonist is nothing like me, and Erosia, as a planet, is not a major focus of this series, though it does tie in ultimately. The art is not always directly about me; but I live as a vessel through which my passions and visions emerge. I sacrifice everything for my art, and I see this as an expression of the lines to 1 and 2: I am a martyr. The expression of my passions is my mission, and I live for something greater than myself. I hope to tap into something timeless and eternal that will outlast my body, my feelings, or my tribe – something so deeply primal that it’s universal. My art would ideally function as a mirror in which others can see themselves, stripped bare.
Tennessee Williams sp/sx 4w3 wrote deeply personal plays about people,
The “attachment types” are 3, 6 and 9 – so when these come together into a tritype, it makes the “triple attachment” tritype.
Here’s the basic breakdown:
You can see that the most basic, primal points of enneagram are 3, 6 and 9 – the ones that are connected by a triangle.
9 is the “central ” gut type, between the gut types 8 and 1.
6 is the “central” head type, between head types 5 and 7.
3 is the “central” heart type, between heart types 2 and 4.
9, 6 and 3 can all struggle with being “out of touch” with the center, but the classic explanation is kind of.. unrealistic. So, the classic explanation is that 9 is out of touch with anger (gut), 3 is out of touch with their shame (heart), and 6 is out of touch with inner mind, thus looking for an authority (head).
This explanation is “classic” but it has to be taken as a ‘dichotomy’ or a jumping off point. Humans are complex. So some 9s have anger and some don’t, but the anger tends to be misdirected. There’s a struggle to pin down the source of anger and aim it DIRECTLY at the problem. So people might not type at 9 because they’ll claim “I’m angry all the time.” “I feel my anger.” Etc. But they might be repressing anger at the REAL core of the issue, while having all this other anger floating around.
Likewise, each of these types are slippery in the core. 6 is out of touch with its inner authority, but is also the biggest SKEPTIC, refusing to believe input coming from others without first putting it through questioning filters. At other times, sixes will have ‘blind faith’ and just latch on to an apparent authority. Three can attach their sense of ‘value’ to accomplishments and certain other premises “out there’ that make people give them applause, like being hot, smart, or other things that appeal to a specific audience they want to attract; and thus lose sight of the shame (of having no worth) that is driving the whole thing; or they can be very aware of feeling worthless and fearing failure.
But either way, there’s something slippery there. For 9, as Robin has taught me, they can “know and not know.” At the same time. And this tritype can be like that.
Now, let’s look at the triangle.
3 integrates to 6, which integrates to 9, which integrates back to 3.
3 disintegrates to 9 which disintegrates to 6 which disintegrates back to 3.
So if someone is triple attached, all their fixes integrate and disintegrate into their other fixes, and they can get into a loop where you can’t tell which one is core.
– by Erica Xenne
I’ve increasingly been seeing parallels between the 12th house and sx 9. Not unlike the 9, the 12th house is the karmic house of endings and the origin. It is the primordial soup, the cosmic womb to which we return to and are birthed from. It forms a polarity axis with the 6th house which is the house of practical service and work and in the 12th house that service is manifested as a cosmic sacrifice not unlike Jesus’s crucifixion. My sun AND venus are in the 12th house, I have a sx 9 fix, and I’m getting my associates in mortuary science to become a mortician. I chose this path because there’s something ceremonial, ritualistic, and primordial about presiding over of the transition from one phase of life into another. For me, this is the closest profession in the industrialized modern world that gets me closest to something so atavistically universal. I help the dead, like Charon transporting the newly deceased into Hades, return back to the cosmic womb. In some ways, through this, I myself vicariously return back to that cosmic womb where I finally reach a dissolution of my boundaries and identity.
“On the day I die, when I’m being carried
toward the grave, don’t weep. Don’t say,
He’s gone! He’s gone. Death has nothing to do with going away. The sun sets and
the moon sets, but they’re not gone.
Death is a coming together. The tomb
looks like a prison, but it’s really
release into union. The human seed goes
down in the ground like a bucket into
the well where Joseph is. It grows and
comes up full of some unimagined beauty.
Your mouth closes here, and immediately
opens with a shout of joy there.
One who does what the Friend wants done
will never need a friend.
There’s a bankruptcy that’s pure gain.
The moon stays bright when it
doesn’t avoid the night.
A rose’s rarest essence
lives in the thorn.
Childhood, youth, and maturity,
and now old age.
Every guest agrees to stay
three days, no more.
Master, you told me to
remind you. Time to go.
The angel of death arrives,
and I spring joyfully up.
No one knows what comes over me
when I and that messenger speak!
When you come back inside my chest no matter how far I’ve wandered off,
I look around and see the way.
At the end of my life, with just one breath left, if you come then, I’ll sit up and sing.
Last night things flowed between us
that cannot now be said or written.
Only as I’m being carried out
and down the road, as the folds of my shroud open in the wind,
will anyone be able to read, as on
the petal-pages of a turning bud,
what passed through us last night.
I placed one foot on the wide plain
of death, and some grand
immensity sounded on the emptiness.
I have felt nothing ever
like the wild wonder of that moment.
Longing is the core of mystery.
Longing itself brings the cure.
The only rule is, Suffer the pain.
Your desire must be disciplined,
and what you want to happen
in time, sacrificed.”
– Rumi, “On The Day I Die”
-Sarah, 2w1 9w8 5w6 Sp/Sx
Image Source: Unknown – It is not mine and credit goes to the artist who made it.
Image Header Source: https://deannewolfgram.com/2014/02/08/the-cosmic-womb-is-birthing-us/
I’m a NiTe core 2 which if we go by the lay person’s understanding of 2, this combination would be paradoxical as the peasant understanding of 2 reads like a FeSi (ESFj) stereotype (NiTe’s conflictor). But if we frame 2 as a pride of place rather than some histrionic helper, then this combination is feasible. The helper archetype is just one face of pride of place. I take pride in what I can offer and it’s definitely not through emotional displays or being a martyr. I love being recognized for what I do because it validates who I am and what I can offer. It can be intellectual, psychological, sexual, romantic offerings etc. I instinctively laser in on the gaps and liminal spaces that need to be filled and make a niche for myself as someone who’s the best at filling in those gaps. I make myself indispensable however I can. I’m also very possessive of my role and the people I give my offerings to. I don’t like to share, so if I see someone usurping my niche I become extremely competitive and belligerent. I’ve always fashioned myself as a queen without a queendom, a place from which I was exiled from because I wasn’t worthy enough for the throne. My life has been a fight to earn and reclaim that throne however I can.
– Sarah, 2w1 9w8 5w6 Sp/Sx NiTe
The type assumptions denoted in tests are of the stereotypes of the types: 1s are merely perfectionists, 2s are Mother Teresas, 3s are overachievers, 4s are artists, 5 are introverted intellectuals, 6s are anxious skeptics, 7s are fun, 8s are aggressive 24/7, and 9s are doormats. Most importantly these tests measure personality not ego fixations. Each of the 9 types represents a viewpoint and angle on reality and the human condition with each having its specific fixation. These fixations are most importantly a distortion of each type’s holy idea, the higher octave and fully-actualized orientation to reality. Fixations represent a fall from the original holy idea. We all have an innate desire to reach it and unconsciously or subconsciously perceive the gap between where are and what could be but we do so in a distorted and fixated ways in order to preserve our ego attachments. Essentially we are all exiles to some degree. Personality is just the surface presentation of the ego hence I would refer to enneatypes not as personality types but as ego types. But I realize the confusion this can cause as the types are subdivided between ego, superego, and id types. However when I talk about ego, I’m referring to the attachment to the narratives we have of ourselves and the world around us. In reality these tests don’t even test what they are supposed to test, and not to mention, what they’re supposed to test, ego fixations and their associated passions, can’t be done through multiple choice and likert style testing.
This begs the question, can enneagram be codified through scientific and empirical standardization. Possibly. But it’s tricky. Should those methods be used to identify type? The only plausible method I can see is vultology, the study of facial expressions and body language, the same method to decipher someone’s Jungian cognitive type. But unlike JCF, there are more variables to factor in: core type, tritype, and instinctual variants, and isolating, finding the relations between these variables, and the codifying them. would be a Sisyphean task. It should not be forgotten that the while some systems can be based on empiricism their premises can still be built on shaky theoretical foundations which compromises the integrity of the whole enterprise. Enneagram is primarily a psycho-spiritual phenomenological system in which we look at the structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view with intentionality being the linchpin of our consciousness: the directedness of experience toward things in the world, the property of consciousness that it is a consciousness of or about something. It only lends itself to scientific methods via statistical trends between type and various phenomena. While they are trends and patterns as to how certain types express their fixations those patterns needs to be individually contextualized (and vice versa). There’s no easy and fast way to learn this system and to decipher type. Growing is putting in the work and effort, and uncovering the patterns yourself. The backbone of enneagram is Socrates’ saying of know thyself. Not your autobiography but the ways in which you inquire and discover what triggers you, what gives you your raison d’etre, what fills you with dread, and the bullshit you tell yourself.