The History of the Enneagram

The origin of the Enneagram is quite mysterious. There are many different claims made about it. This intent of this article is to thoroughly examine these various claims.

The Enneagram is a personality system that categorizes individuals into nine distinct personality types based on their motivations, emotions, and behavior patterns. This article will explore the history of the Enneagram, including its origin, development, growth, and criticism. The purpose is to provide a comprehensive overview of the Enneagram’s evolution and significance in modern times.

Brief Overview of the Enneagram of Personality

The Enneagram system is based on the idea that each individual has a core personality type that influences their thoughts, feelings, and actions. The nine types are represented by a 9-pointed geometric symbol, the Enneagram, that depicts how each type is interconnected with others. The Enneagram is used for self-discovery, personal growth, and improved relationships.

The Origin of the Enneagram

Where did the Enneagram come from?

History of the Enneagram in Ancient Cultures

The Enneagram symbol and its associated personality types have roots in various ancient cultures. It is believed that the symbol originated in Babylonian, Egyptian, and Gnostic cultures, where it was used to understand the relationship between humanity and the divine. In these ancient cultures, the Enneagram was used as a tool for spiritual and mystical purposes, such as meditation and self-reflection.


In Babylonian culture, the Enneagram symbol was used in astrological and divination practices. It was believed that the nine points on the symbol represented the nine celestial bodies and the patterns they formed in the sky. This was used to understand the connection between human beings and the cosmos.


The Gnostic tradition was a mystical sect of Christianity that believed in the pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment. The Enneagram symbol was used in Gnostic teachings to understand the nine aspects of the soul and their relationship with the divine.

The Enneagram symbol has also been found in various other ancient cultures, including Hindu, Chinese, and Native American cultures. These early references to the Enneagram suggest that it has been used for thousands of years as a tool for spiritual and personal development.

Influence of Various Spiritual and Philosophical Traditions

The Enneagram has been influenced by various spiritual and philosophical traditions throughout its history. These traditions have helped shape the Enneagram’s understanding of human nature and the nine personality types.


Sufism is a mystical tradition within Islam that emphasizes the direct experience of the divine. The Enneagram symbol was used in Sufi teachings to understand the nine stages of the spiritual journey and the nine aspects of the soul. This helped individuals develop a deeper understanding of their own nature and their connection to the divine.


The Enneagram symbol has also been influenced by Christian teachings, particularly in the Gnostic tradition. In the Christian tradition, the Enneagram symbol was used to understand the nine fruits of the Spirit and the nine aspects of the divine nature.

The nine fruits of the Spirit are a concept in Christian theology that refer to the qualities or attributes of a person who is filled with the Holy Spirit. These qualities are seen as evidence of the presence of the Spirit in a person’s life and are considered to be hallmarks of a mature Christian.

The nine fruits of the Spirit, according to the apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23, are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Each fruit of the Spirit is seen as a manifestation of God’s character and presence in a person’s life. For example, love is seen as a reflection of God’s love for humanity, while peace is seen as a reflection of God’s peace in the world.

The concept of the nine fruits of the Spirit is central to the understanding of Christian spirituality and is often seen as the goal of the Christian life. It is believed that as a person grows in their relationship with God, they will naturally exhibit these qualities in their life and become more like Christ.


The Kabbalah is a mystical tradition within Judaism that focuses on understanding the relationship between God, humanity, and the world. According to George Gurdjieff, The Enneagram symbol was used in Kabbalah teachings to understand the nine sefirot, which are the nine aspects of God’s nature.

These spiritual and philosophical traditions helped shape the Enneagram’s understanding of human nature and the nine personality types. The integration of these teachings into the Enneagram system helped create a comprehensive and holistic approach to understanding the human experience.

Emergence of the Enneagram as a Personality System

The modern Enneagram movement can be traced back to the work of Oscar Ichazo, a Chilean psychiatrist and spiritual teacher, in the mid-20th century. Ichazo developed a system of personality types based on the Enneagram symbol, which he called the “Enneagram of Fixations.” This system sought to map the nine distinct personality types to the nine points of the Enneagram symbol, with each point representing a different type of fixation or ego defense mechanism.

Ichazo’s work was later popularized by his student Claudio Naranjo, who introduced the Enneagram to the Western world in the 1970s. Naranjo adapted Ichazo’s teachings to fit within a spiritual and psychological framework, and he began to offer workshops and training programs to teach the Enneagram to others.

Since then, the Enneagram has gained widespread popularity as a tool for self-awareness and personal growth, with thousands of books, workshops, and training programs available worldwide. While the Enneagram has been adopted by many spiritual and religious communities, it is also widely used in secular contexts, including in business and management, therapy and coaching, and personal development.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Enneagram gained more widespread recognition through the work of two American psychologists, Don Riso and Russ Hudson. Riso and Hudson had both studied under Ichazo and were inspired by his teachings, but they expanded upon the system and developed a more comprehensive approach to understanding the Enneagram.

Riso and Hudson emphasized the importance of the “wings” and the “security points” of each type, which helped to provide a more nuanced understanding of each type. They also developed a comprehensive system of development for each type, which they called the “Levels of Development.” This system provided a roadmap for growth and transformation for each type.

In addition to their teachings, Riso and Hudson also wrote numerous books on the Enneagram, including “The Wisdom of the Enneagram” and “Personality Types.” These books helped to introduce the Enneagram to a wider audience and cemented its position as a popular and widely recognized tool for personal growth and development.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who invented the Enneagram?

The Enneagram was not invented. Rather, it was discovered. The Enneagram represents a certain pattern that is found in many places in the universe, including human personalities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *