As an Enneagram trainer and coach, one of the most common questions I get asked is: “Is the Enneagram connected to astrology and the Zodiac?”
It’s an interesting question and ever since the Enneagram entered the mainstream back in the 1970s, there seems to be an almost irresistible desire to link the Enneagram with the Zodiac. It’s a hot topic with a wide range of opinions. Some go as far as to claim the Enneagram is a simplified version of astrology while others say it is ridiculous to even look for a connection.
Let’s explore the two systems and how they might, or might not, correlate to each other.
The Enneagram is a personality system with ancient roots and modern applications. The Enneagram offers nine distinct habits of attention and asserts that your experience in life is based largely on where your attention goes. This habit of attention is given a number and a label (an Enneagram “type”), and behavior characteristics are assigned to each of these nine types. Does your habit of attention go towards improvement and seeing how things could be better? You might be a Type 1, the Perfectionist. Does your attention gravitate towards the needs of others? You might be a Type 2, the Helper and so on. For a description of all nine Enneagram types, start here.
The Enneagram has a wide spectrum of uses ranging from personal growth to corporate training, from counseling to literary character development. The Enneagram can be used narrowly, for basic self-classification, or more deeply as a psycho spiritual growth tool offering a full and detailed path to greater consciousness. Because it has a wide range of use, it is accessible to a broad audience. From Fortune 500 CEOs to priests and from therapists to creative writing teachers, people use the Enneagram in many different ways.
Astrology and the Zodiac
The Zodiac is an astrological system that, among other things, outlines 12 primary signs based on the placement of the stars and planets. The Zodiac details different character traits for each of the signs and offers a systematic way to understand the influence of the planetary placements. Are you a Pisces, gentle, caring, and creative? Or are you a Taurus, hard-working, dependable, and stubborn?
Astrological readings based on the Zodiac are used to offer insight into the personality and life path of an individual. Most often people go for an astrological reading to get advice on a specific situation or relationship, and people use the Zodiac to gain insight and make better personal choices. An astrological reader can interpret the momentum of energy and how that plays out in a person’s life. These readings can help answer questions not just about your individual path but about the momentum of the planet as well. Is this a good time for you to look for a new job or find a new relationship? A good astrological reading may give you clues.
Both the Enneagram and astrology can be used to improve self-awareness and to gain insight. In this way they are similar. However, there are some major, fundamental differences between the systems. Let’s explore three major distinctions.
1) How you determine your Enneagram type and your Zodiac sign
The method for determining your Enneagram type or Zodiac sign is one of the most foundational differences between the two systems.
The Zodiac is an astrological system and as such, classification is fairly straightforward. Your sign is based on your birth date, time, and location. These details create a set of coordinates for where you fit into the celestial world with all its influences. While different systems of astrololgy may classify you differently (i.e. Western and Vedic astrology have different calculations to determine classification), your Zodiac sign is calculated based on quantifiable data points.
The Enneagram is a map of human consciousness that does not rely on outside factors. With the Enneagram, you “self-type,” meaning you recognize which of the nine habits of attention aligns with your way of thinking and your core motivation. Self-typing is a central factor in the Enneagram and as such, you need to recognize yourself. Enneagram types are based on motivation and only you know the real reason why you do the things you do. Behavior patterns are used as clues, but behavior is secondary to motivation.
This is a key difference. The Zodiac points towards pre-determination based on your birth date, time, and place, while the Enneagram points to self-determination based on a personal and accurate assessment of your habit of attention. An astrological reader can tell you your Zodiac sign. Only you can identify your Enneagram type.
2) Is the lens turned inward or outward?
Both systems are used to gain greater self-awareness and to address life or relationship questions. But while this is something astrology and the Enneagram have in common, their focus is different.
The Zodiac turns the lens outward and uses the stars and the planets to gain insight. The time and space continuum is important as the stars and the planets move through the universe and orbit around each other. Your self-understanding is based on these relationships, and insight is predicated on an understanding of external, observable celestial factors.
The Enneagram, conversely, turns the focus inward. The map is one of human consciousness, and external factors like the stars, the planets, and the time continuum are not relevant. Instead, the Enneagram focuses instead on your own habit of attention and how this influences your decision-making and interpretation of events. The system offers insights into how to relax this habit of attention to widen your perspective.
So while both the Zodiac and the Enneagram seek to give you more insight, they turn the lens in opposite directions.
3) The groupings – 12 Zodiac signs and 9 Enneagram types
At the most basic level, the number of Zodiac sun signs is twelve and the number of Enneagram primary types is nine. This indicates that if there were a correlation, it wouldn’t be a one-to-one direct correlation. This is at the most simplistic level, but students of astrology or the Enneagram know that both systems are richly complex and offer much more than just your basic Zodiac sun sign and your basic Enneagram primary type. When you take into account all the complexities of each system, it becomes even harder to map a direct relationship between the systems.
This doesn’t mean people haven’t tried. You will find lots of articles mapping the nine Enneagram types into the twelve Zodiac signs. Some go further and assert that astrology is based on nine planets and there is a direct link between the two systems. From my perspective, these links are based on a very two-dimensional interpretation of the Enneagram and don’t account for the complexities of subtypes, wings, arrows, and so on.
Correlations between the Enneagram and the Zodiac are based on high-level behavioral mappings, but the Enneagram at its core is not about behavior. It is about motivation.
When people ask me if there is a correlation between the two systems, my answer is “no, there is not.”
I explain that both systems have some similarities: they are both tremendously complex and thus easy to misunderstand. Both can be used as tools for greater self-understanding and insight. They both have ancient roots and modern applications. But their methods are different, their focus is opposite, and their basic classifications are foundationally divergent. Both the Enneagram and astrology are useful in their own right, but at least at the moment, there is no substantiated correlation between them.
But I always keep an open mind.
To learn more about the Enneagram, start here.