If you’ve been a reader here for a long time, you’ve seen past posts where I referenced the Enneagram. You may have even read an entire post I wrote to share the resources I was loving. I identified as my number, helped my husband identify his, and helped dozens of friends figure out their subtypes or discern which childhood wound they resonated with. I bought and read numerous books, listened to several podcasts, shared memes and social media posts, and worked the Enneagram into conversations on a daily basis.
So what happened, and why did it lead to this?
Let Me Set The Scene
In April of 2020, with news all around us about the COVID-19 pandemic, I had an urge to read about the 1920s. The Spanish Flu pandemic and the Roaring 20s got the fiction side of my brain a-churning: what if, my typing fingers mused, a young woman got swept up in religious fervor shortly after that pandemic had made its course through her community? What if people around her, hungry for meaning and purpose after the loss and fear of pandemic life, started following every misguided word she said? What if somebody accidentally started a cult? I really –and I mean really– wanted to write that story.
So I started reading other novels that include fictional cults, and I started researching real cults. That led me to the “Cultish” podcast, with a huge back catalog of fascinating examinations of cults and cult-like groups. I listened fairly regularly, worked on a novel outline, and stayed hunkered down with my family through the spring round of shutdowns in our area.
It Started With An Innocent Question
Fast forward several months. One summer day, I was on the phone with my brother, who lives in Atlanta. We have always been close, but during COVID lockdowns we began texting and calling each other way more often. I love our relationship, because we have a similar sense of humor and although we don’t share every interest in common (for example: he loves wrestling and doesn’t care a whit about planners), we can talk for hours about everything and nothing.
“Hey, sis, so have you read about this– I dunno, this report that the Enneagram came from some demon named Metatron?”
(Here, dear reader, please imagine me fondly rolling my eyes at my ridiculous brother’s obviously confused notions.)
I’m pretty sure my response was something like, “I don’t think that’s right. All my books talk about an ancient origin. From the desert Fathers. Of CHRISTIANITY. Besides, isn’t Metatron a transformer?”
Later, I pulled several books off my shelf and read the introductions again (or the early chapters where the authors explained the origins of the enneagram and how they’d first learned about it). Every single one either attributed the origins to an unknown ancient source or to the desert fathers; every one pointed to the work of Naranjo and Ichazo in bringing the enneagram to more widespread knowledge through their retreat center.
I knew it wasn’t anything crazy. I knew there was nothing about an otherworldly being named Metatron giving this system to anybody! But all the same, I felt a little uneasy. I moved my Enneagram materials from my nightstand to a less prominent spot on a bookshelf.
Entering the Kingdom of the Cults
One day in the early fall, I pulled up some older episodes of Cultish. In August 2019, Jeremiah and Andrew interviewed Doreen Virtue, a former New Age teacher who shared her testimony. Although she’d been an extremely successful author and speaker, when she met Jesus her life changed. She renounced her books and products, and now uses her platform to share the gospel and to help others avoid the deceptions she was once blinded to.
“What a cool story,” I thought. Doreen is well spoken and engaging, and I really enjoyed the three-part series she was included on.
No big deal, right?
You know how social media algorithms love to suggest a Next Great Thing? Whether you’re reading an article, watching a video, or listening to a pod… the platform loves to display something similar or something that they know will grab your interest based on your previous views and clicks.
On the evening of October 17, 2020, the Georgia Bulldogs played Alabama. My husband and daughters were watching the game, and I was in the living room with them, but –since I’m not the world’s biggest football fan– I wasn’t really paying attention. I had one earbud in place so I could watch a planner video on my phone instead!
The planner video ended, and YouTube served up a thumbnail to entice me to keep watching. The video? “Why I Quit the Enneagram” – from Doreen Virtue’s channel.
My interested was piqued.
I clicked the video.
Over the next hour and eight minutes, I was skeptical, shocked, horrified, and utterly broken-hearted in repentance.
Far from an ancient origin, protected and upheld by the first Christians… the Enneagram is rooted in occult practices. Before he died, Oscar Ichazo said that an “archangel” named Metatron, who was his spirit guide, revealed the nine points of the enneagram to him. And Claude Naranjo explained to a live audience that the nine “enneatypes” were revealed to him through automatic writing, a form of demonic communication.
There’s more, of course. Doreen’s video is linked at the bottom of this post, and I encourage you to watch it for yourself. But the main crux for me was this revelation about a demonic spirit guide and automatic writing.
This was not a simple personality test. It was not a path to understanding myself (or anyone else) better, and it was not a way to discover which spiritual disciplines would make me more like Christ.
It was demonic.
I spent several hours that night in prayer and in tears. I’d been the one to read about it, to buy the books and bring them into our home. I’d been the one to start the conversation at our supper club, with eventually all four couples discussing it frequently. I’d shared memes on social media, and written about it on this blog.
I’d been decieved.
The Morning After
Sunday morning, October 18th, my husband rose early to make rounds at the hospital. When he returned home, I was waiting on the couch to talk to him. I shared the whole story, and asked him to forgive me for bringing this into our home. (He’s kind and gracious and did absolutely.)
His one question, though, was, “But– it worked. I mean, you would read that stuff and it seemed so right. If it’s fake, how did it explain so much about yourself?”
Sure, that’s a point. The Enneagram DOES seem to contain a lot of hidden knowledge. A lot of people say they feel seen & known when they begin to learn about the types. They feel understood, sometimes for the first time ever. But that doesn’t mean it’s good, Godly, or beneficial.
Other than the Godhead, who’s been in existence and concerned with the activities of humanity for a long, long, lo-o-n-g time? Our enemy, Satan. It seems reasonable to me that the enemy of our souls could create a system that looks good on the outside and predicts a lot of human behaviors and emotions. He’s been watching humans for a long time (that’s what stalkers who want to steal, kill, and destroy you do).
Even in the Old Testament, God’s people had to discern what to do when something mystical seemed true:
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.” –Deuteronomy 13:1-5
To be clear: I am not calling for a literal application of this passage. We live under the covenant of grace, and thanks to Christ’s saving work on the cross, we don’t need to apply the penal system of the Old Testament today.
However, the principle of this passage does apply. How do we as believers judge a miracle, a dream, a prophecy — or an insight that claims to explain our whole entire lives, like the Enneagram? Well, the fact that it looks true isn’t the primary factor. Instead, we must examine unflinchingly: to what god is it pointing us?
The Enneagram isn’t pointing us to the one, true, living God of the Bible. It’s pointing us in an ever-tightening spiral of self, and it’s made all the more insidious by the way it has infiltrated the church and used “Christianese” language to look baptized.
We must purge this evil from our midst.
Cast Out, not Dunked
Some will say that Christians can use the Enneagram because they can redeem it, sanctify it, baptize it somehow and use it for the glory of God. “It’s just a tool,” you know.
But, dear friends, as far as I can find in my reading of Scripture, every time Jesus met a demon he did not play around.
He never redeemed the demons, baptized them and gave them angelic names. He cast them out.
He redeemed PEOPLE by casting out the demons that plagued them.
What’s more, when people learned the truth about the gospel of Jesus, they wanted nothing more to do with the occultic tools they had formerly embraced.
Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. –Acts 19:18-20
And that’s how I found myself sitting outside by our fire pit on the afternoon of Sunday, October 18, 2020, burning a stack of books and papers.
My home was cleared, I’d sought forgiveness from my husband and from each of my kids in turn. What was next?
After a few days of prayer, I decided that the Lord was leading me to take three more steps.
- I made an appointment with our senior pastor. I wanted to share with him the truth I had learned, not only so I could share my heart of repentance but also by way of warning, because a number of people in our church family are just as swept up in the Enneagram as I had been.
- I began to earnestly pray for the opportunities to speak face-to-face with friends whom I’d formerly “evangelized” for the Enneagram. I needed to humbly seek their forgiveness, and by God’s grace He has already given me the chance to have a few of those conversations. I believe that He will open doors to more.
- And last, I needed to be just as public in my renunciation of Enneagram as I had once been in my acceptance of it. This blog post and social media sharing is a big part of that step. It’s my humble apology to you. If you investigated the Enneagram or dove deeper into it because of my words or actions, I’m sorry. I believe I’ve sinned against God and against you by doing so, and I ask you to forgive me. I also ask you to consider the truths I’ve shared and read more from the resources below.
Does This Mean:
- if I still use the Enneagram, you’re gonna judge me?
- if I still use the Enneagram, you think I’m not a Christian (or not a good enough Christian)?
- you’re going to unfollow me if I use the Enneagram or post about it on my social media?
No, no, and no.
I love you. I’m not sharing this information to exalt myself or point fingers at you. I’m sharing it because when I learned it, one of my gut reactions was wishing I had known it sooner.
We can still be friends. I’m just not going to participate in Enneagram chatter, memes, and book discussions anymore.
But if you ever want to talk about these points or anything else related to the Enneagram, I would love to have that conversation with you. (Unless you want me to help you find your sub-type. I won’t do that.)
For more information:
Watch Doreen Virtue’s interview with Marcia Montenegro and Jillian Lancour: “Why I Quit the Enneagram”
Watch long video of Claudio Naranjo automatic writing video, referenced in Doreen’s interview:
Listen to the Cultish podcast “Decoding the Enneagram”: Part 1 and Part 2
Buy Marcia’s book: Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret
Read Theology Think Tank’s detailed look at the history of the Enneagram.