~Inscription on the
Temple of Apollo at Delphi
The history of the Enneagram is an interesting read for another time, but for now, we’re just going to explore one aspect of it in this post: the Enneagram Symbol.
The symbol used now is a combination of three concepts:
A Circle, representing the Oneness of life, and the container within which we as humans live out the context of our lives. It represents the Wholeness of a humans, before we were seemingly fragmented by ego and after we have become aware that we have never lost that Wholeness.
A Triangle, representing what is known as the Law of Threes, which states that every whole phenomenon is composed of three separate sources: the Active, the Passive and the Neutral. It’s easy to find examples of the Law of Threes: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one. Another is the concept of The Perceiver, the Act of Perceiving, and The Perceived. In his Fourth Way teachings, George Gurdjieff applied the Law of Three in a process of transformation which required, as he saw it, affirmation, denial, and reconciliation.
And lastly, the Hexad, a six pointed figure that follows seven points from beginning through six changes in momentum, and then back to its origin, which is the seventh point. The Hexad represents the Law of Seven, which considers the path of movement toward and away from anything in our world as not a straight line, but rather periods along the journey of striving, failing, and striving again…a rising and falling of energies along the path. The Hexad has its origins in Sufi tradition.
The Enneagram symbol overlays the three elements onto each other in a way that, symbolizes a path to a fuller, richer life for anyone willing to step back from the triggers of personality and into self observation. The lines on the Enneagram symbol show that path.
As the numbers get added onto the symbol, representing the 9 personality types, the relationship between the numbers are indicated by the lines that connect them (the numbers are connected to only two other numbers, for reasons we’ll explore later). The symbol below shows the 9 personality types of the Enneagram. It also illustrates a basic use of the Law of Three, showing the three triads with three personality types in each,