Gurdjieff is said to have introduced the Enneagram to the West, having learnt about it in the context of Islamic esoterism and the Sufi tradition.
This article, however, will demonstrate that this belief is in fact mistaken, with proof that the Enneagram was already known in the West, as far back as the 18th century.
Having said this, it is not our intention to minimize the value of Gurdjieff's work, but rather to raise it higher, establishing it in the framework of the spiritual legacy of the Western world from which he came.
The word “Enneagram” is derived from the Greek words, “ennea” meaning “nine” and “gramma” meaning “sign”. The main problem facing esoteric iconography experts is the complete absence of books or written materials concerning the subject. In reality the system for interpreting the Enneagram has always been that of direct transmission: “word of mouth”.
Via certain sources of information, also based on the Islamic culture, it is possible to
discover the wide range of symbology related to the Enneagram.
The Enneagram was used:
to describe the processes of nature;
to study the Holy Scriptures;
as a system of cryptography
and as a summary to explain psychological mechanisms.
This last point is the most well-known aspect of the Enneagram nowadays. This is a result of the interpretation of modern scholars, who know very little of the historical and cultural roots of the symbol. The value and importance of the symbol of the Enneagram will never be clear without knowing its foundations.
The Enneagram demonstrates, to open-hearted people who become interested in it, a wide range of correlations of concepts, laws and symbols.