in this age of the spiritual supermarket, certain signs indicate the irreversible entry of esoteric knowledge into popular awareness. Take this personal ad from a weekly newspaper in California:
Enneagram 9, gentle, fiery, svelte, and rare, seeks 35 to 37, good-looking Cancer man with Leo moon, evolved Enneagram 9 or 8. Richness, depth, passion and partnership possibilities.
This ad suggests that knowing the answer to “What’s your sign?” may soon no longer suffice as standard singles bar repartée. Hipsters on the make had better be ready with a reply to “What’s your Enneagram number?” — and the cognoscenti should be able to furnish their dominant “wing” as well.
To the uninitiated, this may all sound
like so much gobbledygook. Those familiar with the history of the
Enneagram may shake their heads in dismay at the apparent corruption
of yet another profound spiritual legacy. But for better or worse,
the Enneagram is doubtless here to stay, and spread, in popular
What is the Enneagram?
Strictly speaking, the Enneagram is a nine-pointed star, a symbol of ancient and uncertain origins that may have once served as a mathematical map of cosmic reality. According to J.G. Bennett in Enneagram Studies, the symbol “could be used to represent every process that maintains itself by self-renewal, including, of course, life itself.” Most scholars trace it back at least 2500 years to the secret Sufi society known as the Sarmouni Brotherhood.