“The Integrative Enneagram Questionnaire draws on the collective body of knowledge and experience from many pioneers in the Enneagram field and as the developers of the iEQ9 we would like to acknowledge the experts, philosophers and practitioners for their contribution to the development and application of the model as we understand it today.”
Dirk Cloete | Founder Integrative Enneagram Solutions
History of the Enneagram
Enneagram → Nine
Gram → Model / Points / That which is written or drawn
The roots of the Enneagram are disputed and unclear, but seem connected to different spiritual and oral traditions as well as specific mathematical and philosophical traditions. Some authors claim strong Sufi roots, while others point to connections to early esoteric Christianity. It should be noted, however, that it is definitely not common to all Sufi traditions.
The origins of the Enneagram
- Some authors believe that variations of the Enneagram symbol can be traced to the sacred geometry of Pythagorean mathematicians and mystical mathematics.
- Plotinus, in the Enneads, speaks of nine divine qualities that manifest in human nature.
- It may have entered into esoteric Judaism through the philosopher Philo, later becoming embedded in the branches of the Tree of Life in the Kabbalah (Nine-Foldedness).
- Variations of the Enneagram symbol appear in the Sufi tradition, with specific reference to the Naqshbandi Order (“Brotherhood of the Bees”).
- Possible relationship with Christianity through medieval references to the Evagrius’ catalogue of various forms of temptation (Logismoi) which much later, in medieval times, was translated into the seven deadly sins.
- Franciscan mystic Ramon Llull taught a philosophy and theology of nine principles in an attempt to integrate different faith traditions.
- Jesuit mathematician Athanasius Kircher has an Enneagram-like drawing that forms part of a 17th-century text.
(Adapted from Wagner, 2010)
The 21st Century Enneagram
The more recent evolution of the Enneagram, in the form and shape that is known in the 21st century, is much clearer. Gurdjieff, a Russian mystic and teacher used the Enneagram to explain the unfolding of creation, calling it a symbol of perpetual motion. Movements, or sacred dances, constitute an integral part of the Gurdjieff Work. Gurdjieff sometimes referred to himself as a “teacher of dancing”. He alludes to the fact that he was introduced to the Enneagram in the 1920s during a visit to a monastery in Afghanistan, but he does not definitively explain the symbol’s origin.
In South America, Oscar Ichazo, the Bolivian-born founder of the Arica School established in 1968 also taught the Enneagram. During the 1960s Ichazo’s Enneagram of Personality and related theories formed part of a larger body of teaching that he termed Protoanalysis.
Claudio Naranjo, a Chilean psychiatrist was exposed to the Enneagram through Ichazo and brought the Enneagram into the modern psychological tradition. Individuals such as Ochs, Almaas and Maitri studied with Naranjo, who still teaches the Enneagram to this day. Through Ochs, the Enneagram was introduced into numerous Christian communities in the United States where authors such as Wagner, Riso and Hudson were exposed to the teachings.
Since its introduction into the world of psychology, the Enneagram has been partially validated through experiential and empirical studies (for a summary see Sutton (2012) and cross-referenced with other constructs of psychology such as the MBTI). Enneagram teachers have also drawn on the work of psychologists outside of the Enneagram community to enhance our understanding and application of the framework. An example is the work of Karen Horney on psychological forms of defence which has led to Riso and Hudson developing the fractal pattern of the Hornevians or social styles.
We acknowledge the rich contributions of all the Enneagram authors and practitioners that have contributed to the cumulative understanding and continue to inspire our application of the Enneagram.
The Integrative Enneagram Questionnaire draws on the collective body of knowledge of the field and as the developers of the iEQ9 we would like to acknowledge the following Enneagram experts and practitioners for their contribution to the development and application of the model as we understand it today:
We also acknowledge contemporary theorists and developers of the field: David Daniels, Don Riso and Russ Hudson, Jerry Wagner, Mark Bodnarczuk, Sandra Maitri, Beatrice Chestnut, Ginger Lapid-Bogda and many more.