The Enneagram: A Short History

Johan Slabbert

19 Posts Published


10th Mar 2021


The Enneagram is old. It has roots in several wisdom traditions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Seven of the nine Enneagram types are associated with the “deadly” sins which originated with the Desert Fathers and Mothers. In the late 1960s, Oscar Ichazo began teaching the Enneagram as we know it today. A group of Jesuits (Society of Jesus founded by St Ignatius of Loyola) learned the system from Ichazo’s school in South America and brought it back with them to the United States. 

The Enneagram is a dynamic system primarily developed in a narrative tradition, between students and teachers. A “dynamic system” allows for the complexity and nuances of human nature, which do not fit easily into simple categories; it, therefore, supports the evolving, maturing human journey.

The Enneagram is a powerful tool for self-discovery and spiritual transformation and is most helpful when used in combination with other practices like study, contemplation, reflection, spiritual direction, and life in community with others.

The Enneagram is meant to help you over a life-long journey and is not simply to be used as a personality typing system.

The purpose of the Enneagram is to help us uncover our subconscious addictions that drive how we show up in life.  It also helps identify the unconscious traps that keep us from living fully and freely as our True Self.  We are then enabled to use our unique, authentic gifts for the greater good of others and the world.

  • The Enneagram as a Tool for Your Spiritual Journey  

The Enneagram identifies core types and motives but includes in-depth explorations of the three centres of expression and intelligence, namely headspace, heart space and body space. The Enneagram shows the importance of compassion, grace, and the awakening of the soul to reach our full potential in God.

  • The Enneagram: The Discernment of Spirits  

Each of the nine Enneagram types with their virtues, compulsions, and paths are instrumental towards spiritual growth and is often used as a tool within spiritual direction.

The Enneagram is taught as a way of understanding motive, personality, addiction, relationships, and vocation.

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