Find your Enneagram Type by number, not name

I may have lost count of how many Enneagram books I’ve read, but I feel like I’ve learned at lot. It is both surprising and helpful to find that different authors apply different names to the nine personality types. My stance is that it is much better to find your Enneagram type by number, not by name – even though you’ll come across many, many names.

number of enneagram type books from library
Thank you, library, for the never-ending stream of reading material.

Here’s why:

  • Numbers are value neutral here. There are no points. It is no better to be a One than an Eight or any other number.
  • The Enneagram is not personal: that’s kind of the whole point. You are not claiming an identity to cling to when you discover your type. You are simply identifying a pattern in your personality structure. It is not the whole story of you. Not even close.

Each type is defined by an emotional habit, a characteristic pattern of thought, and a style of relating to others, which together produce a distinct point of view.

Helen Palmer
  • Name types cater to stereotypes. They can be helpful when you’re first learning what the different personality patterns are like, but if you stop there, you’ll be sorry. Each Enneagram number has three subtypes based on their primary instinct (self-preservation, social or sexual), and just to keep things interesting, one of these three types always runs counter to the type. This means 1/3 of all Enneagram Fours will look *nothing* like the stereotype summed up by the names Romantic, Artist, Individualist, etc.
  • The most popular and accepted Enneagram names overlap with titles and roles that we all fulfill as humans at different points and in different ways: The Helper, The Artist, The Achiever. This can make it easy for us to choose a type based on how we *want* to see ourselves, or who other people see us as, rather than who we actually are. For example, not all artists are Enneagram Fours. Not all Enneagram Fours want to be artists. Not all Enneagram Eights show up in life as The Boss, etc.

Labels are hurtful and limiting – even when they appear positive and affirming! So limit the hurt and limitations by looking at your Enneagram type as just a number. Of course, the more people refer to Enneagram numbers, the more they become a shorthand or stereotype in culture. Resist the urge to think you can know someone just because you know their number.

Still looking for your Enneagram number?

Find your Enneagram type by number by reading lots of different descriptions of the Enneagram Types. The audio and video clips on Helen Palmer’s website are super helpful. Pay attention to how you react. Strong feelings of like or dislike are excellent ways to learn about yourself, even if finding your Type is not as quick and easy as taking an online quiz. (It might be. But don’t worry if it raises more questions than answers.)

There are many people you can consult with to determine your type, but since that isn’t the path I took, I can’t offer you recommendations there. However, if you’re looking for a book to read, I’m your pal. (I hate, hate, hate the term “gal.” WTF does it even mean? Part of a gallon?)

the Enneagram is witchcraft

I’ve read a lot of books on the Enneagram in the past year, and a surprising number take the time to assure readers that the Enneagram fits within what it means to be a Christian. At first, I kind of scoffed. Why would anyone think personality types are the devil’s work? But the more I learned, the more I’ve come to believe that the Enneagram is witchcraft – in the best possible way. (Disclaimer: I don’t believe in the devil, so this is an easy leap for me.)

Witchcraft, the exercise or invocation of alleged supernatural powers to control people or events…
hand drawn enneagram symbol looks like witchcraft
My first attempt at drawing the Enneagram looks like some devilish child casting spells, I’ll admit.

My theory is simply that people who pay attention to the interconnected world we live in are able to move in ways that the average bear can’t grasp. Witches don’t have supernatural powers, in my view. They just take note of patterns other people would rather ignore. The ability to predict an outcome and control an outcome can look awfully similar, from a distance.

Crows are beautiful creatures in my book – which is good, since I see hundreds of them commuting across the sky every morning and evening. Imagine if I knew someone thought they were bad luck? The power!!!

Resistance is futile: the Enneagram is witchcraft

Pattern recognition lies at the heart of new artificial intelligence technology, the stuff of sci-fi dystopian futures run by machines. But the truth is, we humans are facing our own dystopia right here and now by ignoring some patterns (hi there, global warming!) in favor of others.

The solution is not to wait for machines to save us. The solution is to widen our perception of the patterns at play in the world – starting with the ones inside our own little skulls. Here is where the Enneagram is a magical realm of patterns to explore.

Where do you go in stress? How do you react to the expectations of others? What do you need to feel safe in the world? How are you going to show up in a crisis? What are your strengths? We don’t give much thought to these questions in our daily lives – but we should. The Enneagram helps turn our attention towards what really matters.


A friend of my discovered that one of her ancestors was prosecuted during the Salem witch trials. In her research, she found this in the court records regarding her long lost female relative:

Her crime was not witchcraft. But an independence of mind and an unsubmissive character.

It is my sincere wish that we each cultivate independence of mind and a character that knows when to be stubborn or submissive, as the situation warrants. With the Enneagram, we find a way to sort through all the confusing layers of family expectations, cultural conditioning, job responsibilities, personal preferences, ego defenses and all the rest, to figure out who we really are, and what we really find important.

There’s nothing supernatural about it: the Enneagram is witchcraft.

do crystals have healing properties?

My answer to the question of whether crystals have healing properties is short: maybe.

I’m not saying there aren’t people who can feel a different vibration from different crystals – I’m just not one of them.

We live in a world where trained dogs sniff a person’s breath to diagnose cancer, and monarch butterflies manage to find the one milkweed plant in an entire neighborhood on which to lay their eggs. There is all kinds of information – chemical signals, radiation wavelengths, etc. – that pass right through us, every second of every day. Not noticing them doesn’t make them not real.

Given all that, its likely I really am missing something when it comes to the healing qualities of rocks and crystals. For awhile, I tried to fill this gap by learning about the metaphysical properties of the gemstones I use to make my jewelry. But here’s the thing:

I just don’t care.

I like what I like (in jewelry, at least) simply because I like it. It is an instinctual or sensual thing. That doesn’t make it wrong to choose jewelry for intellectual reasons. I just don’t (maybe because I’m a 9w8 on the Enneagram). And since I can’t actually discern whether rose quartz (which is almost always dyed pink, regardless of the claims) holds a different vibration than rock quartz or tourmalinated quartz, I’m uneasy about passing along information about how a rock can change your life.

To me, it feels like a game of telephone. The message we want to hear might not have any actual relationship to the information source. It has been passed through too many dealers, advertisers, wholesalers and retailers. In short, there is just as much pressure to move product in the “holistic” or “spiritual” realm as there is in any other marketplace.

I’d rather stick to what’s real to me: the color, the shape, the words.

Your affinity for a color or message or design is what makes it special – not the other way around. If you want to wear red to call attention to your root chakra, great – but it is your intention that has magic. All the rocks in the shop can’t do a thing for you if you are moving unconsciously through the world.

copper pendants with gemstones crystals healing properties
The words on these pendants are far more healing to me than the gemstones (turquoise, agate, kyanite, jasper & quartz) they are adorned with.

The question “do crystals have healing properties?” is interesting, but it might not be the most useful one. After all, everything we come in contact with has the ability to be healing or distressing. It is all a matter of degree. Some better questions might be:

Does it matter whether or not this crystal/rock/etc. has healing properties?

Would I want to wear it if it didn’t?

And if it does, is it the most effective way for me to get the healing I’m seeking?

I sincerely hope that the jewelry I make is meaningful to the people who give it, receive it, and wear it. However, healing intentions are not something you buy – they’re something you live, whether you love crystals or hate them.

The Power of Threes

The world is full of opposites: light or dark, good or bad, wet or dry. These categories are simple and easy to understand – but they aren’t the whole story. What about all those shades of gray? The neutral? The moist? Seeing the world as either/or means we often get ourselves trapped between a rock and a hard place, when to an outside observer, it looks like we should be able to climb out pretty easily. The power of threes is like a mental rope we can use to haul ourselves to a more expansive viewpoint. But first, you have to know what obstacle you’re facing. Enter the Enneagram.

enneagram chart

The Enneagram divides people into nine archtypes. Each type also has a wing (one of the adjacent numbers on the Enneagram circle). For many people (me!), this explains an inner conflict or confusion since the pattern of the dominant type is often very different than that of the wing. For example, I am a 9w8. Nines are all about going with the flow and avoiding conflict – but Eights like to take charge and challenge the status quo. I have often felt trapped between my two habits – either I ignore my feelings so I can avoid upsetting anyone, or my Eight wing takes over, and I am too forceful in asserting myself. Friendly or fierce. It feels like I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t. But thankfully, that false dichotomy isn’t the whole picture. The power of threes, as I’m calling it, means there is a third choice.

What’s behind door #3

As a Nine, that third option is to really pay close attention to how I feel. Sounds simple, and it is, but it isn’t always easy. I’d rather not be bothered by uncomfortable feelings. It takes a conscious effort to stay present to my own experience and not get swept away by other people’s (often louder, or more insistent) needs. Anger scares me – I had some pretty amazing “what not to do” role models in my life. But anger is my friend, now. I finally see that anger is just an invitation to pay attention, and when I do, I get to solve the puzzle. How do I stay true to myself and allow other people that same freedom?

Harness the power of threes

The real wisdom of the Enneagram is when you are able to see the patterns within yourself – your typical type response, the wing you turn to when needed AND – the hard part – your third and least developed type of intelligence. The part of you that might as well not exist, for all the attention you’ve paid it. When you start to see that third option, it can feel miraculous. It isn’t. It is just how we are meant to live, as fully functional humans, with our heads, hearts and bodies all communicating within ourselves.

When we learn to use all three, magic happens. You can call it whatever you like: thinking, feeling, doing. Mind, body, spirit. Mental, emotional, instinctual. Head, heart, gut. If you look into the Enneagram in any detail, and I hope you will, you’ll find that each teacher uses a slightly different framework. In this blog, I’ll explore different perspectives – not to decide which one is “right” – but to make connections and expand my own understanding of myself and the world.

If you don’t know your Enneagram number, reading over the type descriptions on Enneagram Institute website is a good place to start.