What Is An Enneagram?

If you've ever wondered, "What is an enneagram?", here's a simple, but very useful, overview. 

Whenever I introduce anyone to the Enneagram system, one of the first things I point out is the rather odd star-shape that goes with it, (usually referred to as the Enneagram symbol).

Outline of Enneagram Symbol

The multi-pointed star (inside the circle) is an example of an enneagram.

Understanding this shape is an important part of getting the most out of the Enneagram system.

Once you understand the dynamic flow within the Enneagram symbol, you'll find that it's easier to understand the relationships between the Enneagram personality types.

So let's address the enneagram question by starting at the very beginning, (a very good place to start), and getting just a teeny bit mathematical.

Please don't ignore this bit.

I promise I'll make it as painless as possible! 😉

So, what is an enneagram?

An enneagram is a geometric shape.  The name originates from the numeric prefix, ennea, which means nine, and the Greek suffix, -gram, which refers to a line or that which is drawn.

The enneagram we use combines a triangle (points 3-6-9) and an irregular six-pointed figure referred to as a hexad (points 1-4-2-8-5-7).

When these two elements are enclosed inside a circle, they form the Enneagram symbol.

Image of triangleTriangle
Image of hexadHexad
Image of circleCircle
Image of Enneagram symbolEnneagram Symbol

So what is the significance of this combined shape?

Well, this irregular-enneagram-inside-a-circle can be used to illustrate lots of different things.

It is best known as a way of illustrating the relationships between different aspects of the human psyche, i.e. the Enneagram of personality types.

But it can actually be used to demonstrate the connections between discrete elements in all sorts of areas such as creative processes or group dynamics.

It can also be used to illustrate work flows.

A quick search on Google reveals that there's a whole range of uses out there - not just an Enneagram of Personality, but also.....

  • an Enneagram of Virtues
  • an Enneagram of Parenting
  • an Enneagram of Eating
  • an Enneagram of Holy Ideas

........to name just a few!

But, getting back to our Enneagram, the first thing to do is pay attention to how the lines within the shape connect the numbered points to one another.

As you learn more about the Enneagram, you will come to understand the significance of the symbol.

"Helen is totally awesome and an absolutely brilliant trainer. 

I so enjoyed being on her training course!"

Patricia S.

RN, Health Care Instructor - San Diego

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