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Observations placeholder

Correspondences between The Enneagram and the Tarot – Enneagram No 6 and the Hierophant



Type of Spiritual Experience



It is worth noting that where the number 6 is merely a faithful follower or simply a loyal follower of some belief system, the only redeeming action needed is that symbolically represented by the Strength Tarot card.  They need to balance all that male intellectual energy [the lion energy] with some feminine emotional energy to become a more balanced and open minded person.

In other words they need a 'lion tamer'.

A description of the experience

The Personality of type six in the Enneagram is at the best a disseminator of ideas derived from the Hermit and possibly the High Priestess .  A teacher able to interpret what may be discovered by the Hanged Man [the spiritually gifted and open] as well as that discovered through the High Priestess.  In the Tarot, the Personality is the Hierophant.

At the worst however, the person becomes a control freak, a dogmatic preacher and fanatic.  Occasionaly the preacher/fanatic is needed.  If things have become extremely bad, some ranting and raving, and vitriol may work when nothing else succeeds.  But in times of reason and calm, the teacher and explainer emerges.

The ranting and assuredness of the preacher in times of major change is actually an asset.  To convince a mob of wavering sheep, it does not do to appear timid or uncertain.  The Hermit and High priestess are often timid and quiet and uncertain and thus need the Hierophant to explain the message more loudly and assertively.  Jesus needed a St Paul, quite possibly if St Paul [for all his faults] had not appeared, Christianity would have stayed a very pleasant but fringe belief system carried out in a small area in the Middle East.

John Wesley was a Hierophant.  Martin Luther could be a Hierophant .  George Fox, founder of the Quakers was a Hierophant

The symbol of the Hierophant is the barking dog.  They never stop barking - or snapping away at people's heels.  The Hierophant is the little dog who barks away at the Fool [the eternal optimist], who in the Enneagram is on their left hand, the number 07

George Fox – quoted in The Varieties of Religious Experience – William James and an accompanying article
“It was winter, but the word of the Lord was like fire in me.  So I put off my shoes, and left them with the shepherds; and the poor shepherds trembled and were astonished.  Then I walked on about a mile, and as soon as I was within the city, the word of the Lord came to me again, saying cry ‘Wo to the bloody city of Lichfield!’  So I went up and down the streets, crying with a loud voice Wo to the bloody city of Lichfield!  It being market day, I went into the market place and to and fro in the several parts of it, and made stands, crying as before Wo to the bloody city of Lichfield!  AND NO ONE LAID HANDS ON ME”

What does it feel like to be a Hierophant when they are out of control?

Friar Richard Rohr

the need, the underlying need is a compulsive need to feel that I am right - it is so constant [now remember you all have it we just made an art form out of it],  we somehow got the message that if we were right, we would be on top of the situation we would be in control we make this uncontrollable world just a little bit controllable so we are driven toward ‘moralisms’ toward ‘righteousness’ toward arrogance, toward absoluteness.  ‘I am right is what we're always saying’

The real danger with Hierophants is that they never find or take any notice of the quiet voice of the teachings of the High Priestess or the Revelations of the Hanged Man [number 4].  And at times they can be extremely dismissive.  Revelation goes and dogma replaces it.

The fanatical preaching of the Hierophant No 6 takes such a moral tone that's it's crucially important that somewhere in the middle of this person’s life, they get a major wake up call.  Symbolically, this is the Tower - number 6 in the Tarot.

One of the best known religious people to undergo such a conversion was a catholic priest,  Jan van Ruysbroeck.  He was a Flemish theologian, born in 1293 in Ruysbroeck near Brussels.  He took orders in 1317.  Before he was converted, he was a lonely, judgemental, intolerant, bigoted, strident and almost fanatical priest.  He campaigned against ‘heretics’, and  was quite happy to support torture of those found to be against doctrine and dogma.  Then something happened to change him and it happened in 1343 when he was about 50. He went to live in the old hermitage at Groenendael which was a retreat in the woods near Brussels and there he softened and acquired compassion.

Remember that the symbol of the number six before redemption is the barking dog.  And he figuratively bit people.

But a redeemed number two can be a good teacher, because they have been through a process that helps them sort out their ideas and they channel their need for perfection into their teaching, always honing their writing or lectures, always changing and improving on the words used to better express the ideas, and they work very hard at it.  The fanatical drive is turned into a workaholic drive. 

Friar Richard Rohr

we're hard workers we are workaholics really, sixes and threes are both workaholics , where we've got a heroic self-image - a muscular self-image - I'm not muscular physically, you know, but we'll try to find other ways to be muscular. I'm a muscular teacher, so you feel you have to be in some way strong and heroic and significant.  We don't trust any voices that feel soft and sloppy and you know they've got to be self sacrificial voices.  The  self-image is ‘I am a good boy’,  ‘I am a good girl look at me how good I am’.  Imagine if you really keep trying to maintain that into your 40s, 50s and 60s how unreal you're gonna become how rigid you're gonna become, how anal-retentive you're going to become.  A lot of sixes are attracted to fundamentalism.

They are focused, very focused and anything that keeps them from their focus they tend to resent, so it's very hard to stop a six, once they are into full flow – preaching, preaching ,criticising and preaching.  They tolerate no interruptions.  As I said, St Paul was a number six.  Martin Luther was once a number six.

Inside, a number six is actually begging for unconditional love, begging for justification by faith, but few sixes before conversion believe this is possible, most believe you have to earn it.  They find it impossible to believe that you get anything for nothing.  “ I only get it, I only deserve it, if I work hard, if I work damn hard” and they can deeply resent people who they perceive are wanting “a free lunch”. 

Friar Richard Rohr

what makes you think you deserve that? my gut wants to say.  You know you didn't pay your dues, you didn't work , you didn't try harder, we try harder and you should try harder; if the truth is told we don't respect people who don't try hard

Their whole life is a search for grace and if they receive it, it hits them like a ton of spiritual bricks. 

Friar Richard Rohr

when it overwhelms me I could just weep ;  the world is finally reconfigured into a beautiful world and I can finally be happy.  You see this meritocracy - tit for tat, quid pro quo, you only deserve something if you work hard,-  is not a happy world.  You never live up to your own expectations and no one else is ever allowed to live up to your expectations we're forever fighting a cosmic war

and of course they can be wrong – very wrong. “We want the world the way we want the world” and in the end of course this is entirely selfish, and very very dangerous.  Maybe there are other people who would like to have a different world and imposition of one person’s will on another is in most religions a very serious ‘sin’.

To find any sort of redemption all sixes have to let go of the ‘imperfection’ they think they see, soften, respect the views of other people who may want another world and recognise that they don't need to change everybody and fix everything, it is enough to point out the things they think they see need fixing and leave it to be discussed.  They should be defending what they value and explaining why it is of value, rather than trying to change others or worse – far worse – imposing their solutions, beliefs and values on others. 

Occasionally, however, biting heels still works

The source of the experience

The Enneagram - The Discernment of Spirits

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Science Items

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