The emerging Enneagram perspective of this workshop comes from the “Back to the Future” spiritual guide, Ignatius Loyola (1491 – 1556). Ignatius may not have used the Enneagram but the wisdom he describes in “motions of the soul” radiate Enneagram wisdom. While recovering from a war injury, Ignatius discovered engagement of head, heart, and gut in order to make decisions that lead to abundant living. “Motions of the soul” has been called “discernment of spirits” in history and modernity. These motions are the interior movements of desire, emotion, imagination, intellect, and gut reactions of repulsion and attraction. Ignatius categorized these as “consolations and desolations” or “good spirits – bad spirits”. Intentionally practicing the discernment of spirits, opening to the flow of the motions of the soul, includes reflection of the affective motions of heart/gut and cognitive understanding of where these motions come from and where they lead us.

Fr. Richard Rohr has done a comprehensive study in the Enneagram’s roots in his book The Enneagram: a Christian Perspective. I highly recommend his work for the historical and spiritual perspective. From testing standpoint as well as psychological expertise, Jerome Wagner PhD has offered brilliant psychological understanding for the professional and freshman of the Enneagram. His book titles and Enneagram testing site are offered in the Resources section of this article.

The following is a very brief description of the Enneagram from my beginner’s course on the Enneagram:

The name Enneagram comes from two Greek words: “ennea” meaning “nine” and “gram” meaning “points”. The Enneagram conveys a system of knowledge about nine distinct but interrelated personality types, or nine ways of seeing and experiencing the world. The Enneagram of personality types is a psychological-spiritual system for mapping the nine personalities. The Enneagram is a psychological explanation of what the Bible describes about “the fall of man” although it is not primarily psychological. Richard Rohr describes it this way: “All problems in America are interpreted today psychologically, but the real solutions are spiritual”. This typology uses 9 basic shapes to reveal both the essence/true self and the shadow/false self. When a person is humbled by the truth of who they are, both their essence and shadow, they are able to bring themselves to the transforming power of God. It is a celebration and a humiliation to discover who we are and how we wound our lives and the lives of others. Unlike other personality typologies, it is a model that sees the shadow or wounded personality as the false self and the true self being your God-image or the essence or God.

Let me offer you my personal journey. I was introduced to the Enneagram while on a two-year quarterly retreat journey of spiritual transformation for leaders with the Transforming Center ( I continued my learning through various tracks and certifications. Meanwhile the 2-year retreat/course at the TC included academic and experiential learning including: Ignation practices of Examen, Ignatian Meditation (Finding yourself in the story), and practising the movements of Consolation and Desolation (motions of the soul). In the meantime, my coursework at Christos for Spiritual Direction certification dedicated a portion of the training to the Ignatian Exercises. Subsequently, my Ignatian Instructor became my own Spiritual Director. As an open and transforming Three, I found Ignatius and Enneagram informing one another in an efficacious, productive, truth bearing process that would motivate individuals to open themselves to the work of transformation and transformational discernment! Thus, the commitment to provide an Ignatian Enneagram spiritual direction process for discernment was born.

Back to Ignatius… In his early life Ignatius did not have much formal education. As a young man while recovering from a war injury, he began to engage his imagination and affective experiences of mind, heart, and gut to discern God’s will for his life. He also began to write what is known as the Spiritual Exercises before his formal theological training. He believed that God was present in ordinary life. God was present in the decisions that face us every day. He believed that the discernment of spirits and the ability to making good-God choices were possible for every person, not just those who were clergy. The Ignatian Spiritual Exercises were finally accepted by the church after beatings, imprisonment, and the formal education of his theology. Even though Ignatius was now a scholar and eventually a Saint, the simplicity of his knowledge remained digestible for everyone.

I will refer to the Ignatian Enneagram (iEnneagram) throughout the writing and workshop. So what is the iEnneagram? The iEnneagram is all about transformational discernment or conflict transformation. When a person is faced with the choices between good and evil or even more challenging, choosing between two good things, motions of the soul is a way to open ourselves to a way that brings about a decision that is most true.

In the beginning of discernment Ignatius talks about consolation and desolation on His bed of recovery. When he imagined continuing on as a soldier, the energetic feelings of desire, joy, and excitement were enacted; but afterward he felt empty and desolate. When Ignatius began to imagine the life of the Saints and offering his life in service to God he had the same affective responses, but afterward the consolation remained. Through this imaginative practice (head), attention to desire (gut), emotional feelings (heart), Ignatius determined that it was God’s best that he leave the life of war and give himself to a religious life. This was the first of many discernments between good things. Ignatius teaches us to discern good and evil and teaches us to choose between two good things. Choosing between good and evil requires a conscience while choosing between two good things requires spiritual discernment.

Dr. Ruth Haley Barton prolific author and Founding President of the Transforming Center, defines discernment this way: “Spiritual discernment by definition is a process that takes place in and through the Trinity. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, “comprehends what is truly God’s” and interprets the deep things of God to us (1 Cor 2:11-12). The Holy Spirit has been given to us by God, at Jesus request, to lead us into truth (John 16:7-15)” (Haley Barton, Pursuing God’s Will Together, p. 53).

So we see that the Trinity has given a place of honor to the Holy Spirit as a guide in discernment. The three person community of God isn’t limited to just the Holy Spirit. We also see The Father and the Son invited into the discernment process. Jesus says, “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing” (John 5:19); we hear the Father say this about including Jesus in a time of making decisions “This is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mark 9:2). Asking a client/directee who is informing them in this discernment process or who do they feel most comfortable talking to about this decision is a powerful way to engage.

At this point, I would like to offer a way of see the Trinity in the Enneagram Triads—Spirit as the Gut (instinctual discernment), Jesus as the Heart (emotional discernment), and the Father as the Head (intellectual discernment). The sensitivity, acumen, judgment, and leadership of each of the persons of the Trinity are the guiding Light in decision-making processes. Where one begins with the question for discernment is of little consequence, however, allowing each center for discernment to speak is a way to wholeness in the process. Building relationship with the Trinity and these Trinitarian parts of ourselves are holistic and holy. The transformation that takes place in ones soul is as important as the decision itself. A decision of wholeness is directly related to the (w)holiness of one’s own soul. This (w)holiness integrates God’s ways with our own.

Unfortunately we live in a culture that’s attitudes and freedom of choice are not in accord with the way of God. God has made each of us in His image and likeness and as Dr. Jerome Wagner has said, “at some point along the way we lose the likeness”. Ignatian practices can keep us open us to the likeness and truth that dwells within us. Jesus said “I am the Way the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6 NRSV) and CS Lewis responds to that statement with, “Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic or He is who he says he is.” In his book Mere Christianity Lewis says “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. Let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (Lewis, C.S. (Clive Staples), Mere Christianity, revised edition, New York, Macmillan/Collier, 1952, p. 55 f)

So if we can’t just make Jesus a good man, a teacher or a prophet, but God, than allowing God to be our Way, Truth and Life gives decision making a Leader that will guide us into our very best life.

Discernment belongs to the life that is able to connect with the Truth deep within. Discerning, simply put is “What God is doing in me — how is God moving — what I desire to do is what the Truth wants done in me and through me — what the Way wants done — what Life wants done.” What we find in the iEnneagram is that when we connect with our Image and Likeness in all 9 of the Enneagram styles we feel completely at home and at peace with our life choices. Furthermore, when we are able to connect head, heart, and gut we will make decisions that defer to our discernment centers in ways that bring our very best life to others! The commitment to find what God is doing moment by moment, doers of what God wants done, results in alignment with The Cosmos and enjoying abundant life. Jesus said it this way, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NRSV)

Even though we live steeped in the attitudes of this culture – greed, envy, pride, gluttony (found on the Egram as the shadow/false side of our true self/essence), the Apostle Paul exhorts us this way, “Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. Sounds like the way to freedom described by Paul has many of the true-self false self-descriptions the iEnneagram does!

Another challenge in our modern day is that the language of spirits has degenerated into verbiage like team spirit, Christmas spirit, and patriotic spirit. In Ignatius day it was clear that we were led by good spirits – love, joy, peace, etc. or bad spirits, lust, envy, anger, pride, etc. Freedom can come if Paul’s self examination and confession to the Romans becomes our own, “I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Paul was aware that good and evil were at work. Whether the evil spirits were described through the culture, his own human frailty, or direct work of the Evil One, Paul didn’t shrink from the language of good and evil, Jesus certainly didn’t and if we do… we do it to our own peril. If we only use psychological language we miss the power of Enneagram, which is a powerful tool for spiritual direction and transformation. The iEnneagram asserts that power.

We must move beyond seeing good and evil in its raw form. We must choose among good things and realize that the subtlety of choosing the good is more practiced; choosing which good to do is discernment. It calls for a process. We must turn from sin, examining and nourishing our interior life through prayer, meditation, self examination (examen), confession, giving and receiving forgiveness… resulting in living out the Great Commandment that everything hangs on: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (gut, my own interpretation), and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (MT 22:36-40NRSV). Discernment will always result in loving God and others.

The iEnneagram purports that you have been created and are creating God’s will on the earth. Living in the Image and Likeness of God, becoming yourself as Kierkegaard states, “with God’s help I shall become myself” is living in the will of God. The becoming of that self includes engaging all three centers of discernment. Some Enneagram teachers such as Katherine Chernick and David W. Fauvre MA, ( teach the tri- type theory in a highly acclaimed researched method that is brilliant and worthy of attention. What I am offering in the iEnneagram utilizes a diagram I saw in the “Managing Conflict” seminar with Dr. David Daniels, later to be expounded upon in the September 2011 Enneagram Journal Hidden in Plain Sight: Observations on the Origins of the Enneagram by Virginia Wiltse, Ph.D., and Helen Palmer, M.A. I will not be talking about the historical or astronomical information. I will use the diagram as template for a way to look at a head heart and gut space for the purposes of engaging Ignatian practices. I am not trying to prove the authenticity of the diagrams roots, just the wisdom it offers to the iEnneagram. We will use the Motions of the Soul on this diagram to pray as Jesus taught us: Your Kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. God’s Kingdom comes through the discernment process.

The Enneagram industry is booming in secular arenas. The areas of business and psychology have given it contemporary veracity. iEnneagram offers ancient-modern wisdom; providing ways to open to God and God’s will in this new day with a process that has stood the test of time. Because I see the Enneagram and Ignatian spirituality as a way to know love and serve God and Gods purposes on the earth, I will us the language of God, God’s purpose, good and evil spirits, relationship with God, transformation, redemption, spiritual experiences with God and evil spirits. In its pure form I see the Enneagram as deeply Christian, teaching the need for identifying the blind spot (or sin) opens the soul to continual transformation. I will impress the work of the iEnneagram as moving people from compulsive living to contemplative living, from information to transformation, from false self to true self, from evil to good, from good choices to God choices, and finally from death to Life.

On a team, Transformational Discernment in individuals can move into corporate achievements that result in abundant joy for the individual, the organization/business, and the people they serve. Throughout the years I have found the iEnneagram a must have for discerning the next steps in the life of groups and individuals. I am so grateful for my own 3-6-9 wisdom and soul motion and feel a calling to help every space harmonize all three centers for personal and team conflict transformation and discernment. I believe every space as having the grace-given ability to access all three centers of intelligence in a divine, purpose-filled life.

Whether I am facilitating decision-making processes for a food pantry or world missions, an advisory board member to our local Sexual Assault Services, or raising funds for our community free-medical clinic, the iEnneagram approach is my guide. As an Enneagram Practitioner/Teacher, Spiritual Director, and Lead Pastor I use this understanding to bring spiritual guidance to individuals, organizations, and my own staff. Over many years I have witnessed motions of the soul resulting in individual and team conflict transformation and discernment. This transformation and discernment allows right decisions to be enacted in critical moments.

In this workshop we will be covering and practicing:

  • Ignatius Rules for Discernment
  • Movements of Consolation and Desolation
  • Examen
  • Attachments that keep each type from interior freedom
  • Ignatian prayer and meditation practices that engage head-heart-gut wisdom for each typeThis workshop seeks to equip individuals, teachers and practitioners in guiding themselves and the souls of others in a decision making process that will honor all three centers of discernment. We will practice discernment individually and with others in your head-heart-gut discernment space. You will also take home tools that are easy to use and profound in their outcomes.The iEnneagram helps navigate the journey of life in, “asking what the good way is so we can find rest for our souls”. These motions of the soul unfold a heartfelt, wise and purposeful life excursion.If you come to the workshop with a question for discernment you may just leave knowing what your next step is in the decisions you are facing now. You will definitely leave with tools that will serve you in a decision making process for yourself and those you will be guiding in the future. Ignatius is the “back to the future” guru in this session… I will be the facilitator!Rev. Clare Loughrige, M. Min, is a Certified Enneagram Teacher through Enneagram Spectrum, and Practitioner through Aspell Empowerment Enterprises. She serves as the Co-Founder/Lead Pastor of Crossroads Church and Ministries in Marshall Michigan and as a Spiritual Director for Christian leaders at The Transforming Center. Clare can be reached at: [email protected]