This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The spiritual enneagram

Our attention was drawn to this event, advertised on the Leeds diocesan website. Note that Leeds has been sede vacante for over a year, since Arthur Roche moved to Rome - it seems that when the cat's away, the mice like to play.

Catholic paganism in Yorkshire?

For those who might find this event too exciting, other alternatives offered include "Day with Margaret Silf - The Other Side of Chaos" and "Circle Dance Weekend".

Many readers have asked me, "Eccles, what exactly is an enneagram, and how will it bring me spiritual nourishment?"

An enneagram - not to be confused with an enema.

"Yes, very helpful, Eccles," you are saying, "but what do I do with this nine-sided figure? Is it a map to help me with my liturgical dancing at Mass? Or do I wear it to repel demons?"

Well, this is tricky. Wikipedia tells us of the Enneagram of Personality, but it also says that it was criticised in a 2003 Vatican document Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life. A Christian Reflection on the 'New Age', so of course the good Catholic folk of Ilkley, however much they may like dancing round stone circles, are not going to touch the "Enneagram of Personality" theory. No, that's right out.

How bishops are appointed. The nuncio uses the enneagram to make a random choice.

I continued my investigations, but the number 9 occurs rather rarely in the Bible, unlike, say, 7, 12 or 40. Certainly, Og of Bashan had an iron bed nine cubits long, but it was not particularly spiritual as beds go. Much later, Jesus healed ten lepers, of whom only one came back to say "thank you", prompting the words, "Were not ten made clean? and where are the nine?" Probably they were out circle-dancing.

More worryingly, there are nine circles of Hell in Dante's Inferno. But surely the damned do not indulge in circle dancing when they get there?

Just the place for some circle dancing.

We may be getting nearer the truth if we sing a popular hymn, "Green grow the rushes-O", with its reference to "Nine for the nine bright shiners". Except that nobody is sure whether these are planets or orders of angels.

The nine orders of angels. In Ilkley they speak of little else.

Certainly, nine is an important number in Hinduism (symbolising perfection) and Norse Mythology too. So if we take an ecumenical viewpoint, nine-ness is certainly something we should strive for. Perhaps it will help us to levitate...

A man with no visible means of support, except his stick.

No, I'm sorry, the whole thing smacks of New Age mumbo-jumbo. Perhaps I'm too old-fashioned - and need to accept that the world is changing. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, after all. All our cultural heritage is disappearing, as the following pictures show.

Traditional (L) and modern (R) vestments.


  1. Like many oddities of an esoteric nature, the enneagram started off as a simple piece of practical advice.

    It first appeared as a diagram in a French cookery book, explaining the perfect way to whisk an omelette. You should direct the whisk around the mixing bowl in the sequence indicated. Unfortunately, the recipe was spotted by a Jesuit doing cookery lessons in a recovery unit for alcoholics, and he later re-launched his religious career with a new spiritual method. He first called it the Eggeagram but quickly changed the name after hearing the new age music of Enya.

    My advice: if you are tempted to try it, discipline yourself with a whisk or you will end up with egg on your face.

  2. I always thought it was along the lines of a Gorillagram - chiz!

  3. As a 5-4, I especially have enjoyed the post.

  4. Perhaps 'Nine bright shiners' are 9 black eyes?!?
    God Bless you Eccles.

  5. The Germans are always saying "Nine" so I think it must be a very important number there.

  6. I thought Aquarius dawned in the 1970s. Must be long one then.

  7. I assumed it was one of those "mode of incensing the altar" diagrams you get in Fortescue & O'Connell, adapted (in a spirit of ecumenism) by ACTA to accommodate the round altars which are apparently favoured by Wiccans and Satanists.

  8. The N-agram is a spiritual message sent by Tielhad de Chardin from the Noosphere and only the initiated can decipher it.