Enneagram Origins

From the Abbas and Ammas of the Egyptian Desert

Each morning I recite Psalm 95 and am faced with a daily challenge: 'O that today you would listen to His voice, harden not your hearts!'.

Each day I find my heart will have hardened even if only a little. I am challenged by these words of St. Irenaeus: 'Keep thy heart in a soft and tractable state, that thou losest not the impress of His hands.'

It has been my experience that The Enneagram is one way to help us with the ongoing task of keeping the clay of our hearts moist.

Ossification of the heart has always been a challenge for people on the contemplative path. Saint Evagrius discovered this in the deserts of the 4th Century. He is perhaps one of the earliest people to gain insights into the human condition.

In the lives of the desert father's and mother's St. Evagrius observed 8 specific obstacles to God's revelation which he identified as the PASSIONS. We know them from the Western tradition as the 7 Deadly Sins of Pride, Anger, Lust, Envy, Greed, Avarice, Sloth. Evagrius also noticed Vainglory and there is the ever present ninth Passion of ‘Doubt’.

The Enneagram is a Nine pointed diagram just as an Octagon is a diagram of eight. It is one window into human nature revealing 'Nine' essential manifestations of the Passions in humankind. It helps us to understand why we do what we do and with a guide, it can also help us to relieve the Psychological Distress our patterns create within us. Its as if we each have one of nine software programs running our show and if we can get a handle on how we are programmed we can begin a path of incredible growth.

We all have a home base passion. As an Enneagram Type 4 – mine is ‘Envy’ – in the sense that others seem to have got their act together better than me! ‘To see ourselves as others see us’ – as Robert Burns reminds us – would be a gift but often we don’t like our truth. Our home base passion will always be our bête noir, and yet to know what particularly hardens our heart, is like Adam and Eve's 'Felix Culpa' - a Happy Fault!

These obstacles to God's Grace call us to the work of the ongoing softening of the heart. The process of the Enneagram Informed Spiritual Direction I practice, is intended to help the directee under God's guidance to re-wire their attitudes, thinking and behaviour, and thus open pathways to HIS annealing touch.

As an accredited teacher of The Narrative Enneagram (www.enneagramworldwide.com) and an Anglican priest, I have put this together in an attempt to help fellow Christians to realise what a gift lies in the Enneagram. These pages are a prelude for people who might like to explore their spiritual life in God. I am hoping the data this generates might help us to preparing for a typing interview which I can conduct to help you get a gist of your Enneagram type preference. It isn't a parlour game of 'nailing your type' (which causes unnecessary irritation for people) but a way of helping 'YOU' set your magnetic North in order to navigate with God at the centre of our lives rather than our egoic selves which, for most of our lives has a tendency to run the show.

Nathanael's words to Jesus in John 1.48 'How do you know me?' and the Typing Interview I offer will help you get more of a sense of your personal wiring. If you would like a Typing Interview or discuss Enneagram Informed Spiritual Direction further, please email me at alanhodgetts@btinternet.com.

With every blessing

Alan Hodgetts

Ignatian trained Spiritual Director

International Enneagram Association Professional


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