“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
“What’s your sign?” This used to be a bar pick-up line back in the dark ages. How do I know it’s not still used? I don’t. Is it?
Then the answer was “Stop.”
But I wasn’t in a bar when I last heard the question. A friend of a friend asked. I answered.
“You like to be in charge.”
“Not really. I’m an introvert.”
“No you’re not, you just think you are.”
“Hmm. So all Leos jostle for the spotlight? Impossible that one might be terrified of public speaking?”
“You just haven’t discovered your true self.”
I’m a Type 9, the Peacemaker, on the Enneagram of Personality chart, so I answered with: “You might be right.” In truth, I felt annoyance prickle at the back of my neck.
In my town astrology is discussed matter-of-factly as if there is no other way to view the world. Generally I’m ok with that even if I am skeptical. I make an effort to keep an open mind. A belief system that’s been with us since the 3rd millennium BC is not for me to disavow. In China and India astrology is so revered an astrologer is consulted to determine companionable marriage partners, to divine the most opportune day for weddings, funerals, any auspicious occasion.
I read my horoscope. Not every day, but it’s the first thing I look for in a magazine or a newspaper. I try to find meaning, like when the stars might align for me to purchase the winning lottery ticket.
Astrology, in the broadest sense is about control. We want to understand the forces at work that make us who we are. Whether it’s the gravitational pull of the planets, or mercury in retrograde what makes us do what we do?
A good friend of mine introduced me to the Enneagram. The word is derived from the Greek for nine. It represents 9 personality types. As with astrology the goal of studying your type is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your personality.
The origin of the Enneagram is young, 1960’s, but its roots stretch from the ancient traditions of astrology, Taoism, mystical Judaism, Greek philosophy. A gentleman by the name of Oscar Ichazo, a Bolivian philosopher and mystic devoted his life to the study of personality in an effort to unlock the mysteries of ego and consciousness. You know, the Who Am I? and Why Am I Here? mysteries that we’d all like answers to.
The symbol for the Enneagram reminds me of the supernatural horror movies of old that depict a pentagram on the floor that suddenly bursts into flame when the bad guys recite an incantation. The symbol is ancient, the system more recent.
The Enneagram scholars believe we are born with a dominant type, and that determines how we adapt to our environment. Each type thinks differently, has different values and approaches. People don’t change without a great deal of effort. If we’re cranky at 20 we’ll be crankier at 80, but if we understand why maybe we can mitigate it.
On the Enneagram model I am a Type 9 with Type 6 following very closely.
Type 9 is The Peacemaker. Easygoing, Self-Effacing. At their best: Receptive and Reassuring. At their worst: Repressed and Stubborn.
Type 6 is The Loyalist. Committed, Security-oriented. At their best: Engaging and Responsible. At their worst: Anxious and Suspicious.
What if you are a 9 and married to a 4? Have you ever had the feeling your child is a total stranger? What if your child is a 3 and you are a 7? Understanding our dominant type offers an understanding of how and why our ingrained reactions spill out of us with little control. It’s a key to self-discovery.
The popularity of the Enneagram is ever increasing. Writing classes are now offered to teach how to model characters based on the nine types. Several books take us on a ride of self-discovery.
In the end astrology and the Enneagram might just be ways to avoid therapy bills.
Socrates believed that the purpose of human life was personal and spiritual growth. If we desire a greater understanding of our nature we can take the time to examine and reflect upon our life. When we understand our motives, and the motives of others by learning about our “types” maybe peace will prevail within us, and within our own small circle.
That’s a good start.
Take the free 10-minute test here. What type are you? Does it seem accurate?