By Craig Branch
Some of the most prolific growth of the New Age Movement has been in the areas of psychology and medicine.
One significant factor in understanding this is that these are helping professions. People who are in pain, physically and emotionally (and there are millions), are the more vulnerable because they are more desperate for help.
Humans are fallen people with a sinful nature and are intensely interested in themselves, egocentric. And in their insecurity people are also very interested in knowing about themselves, others, and even the future, in order to have more control.
But instead of looking solely to God and his revealed wisdom and truth in Christ Jesus, humans tend to look instead to the creation and Satan's counterfeits. Someone astutely commenting on the New Age distortion observed that man, instead of pursuing God, is pursuing the image of God.
This can be seen in many concrete examples. Millions of Americans believe that astrology is scientific, and over half of Americans read their horoscopes daily. People believe in I Ching, Tarot cards, palm readers, crystals, reflexology, iridology, color therapy, subliminal tapes, etc.
People are flocking to New Age self-help, human potential seminars like Scientology/Dianetics, Tony Robbins Seminars, S.A.G.E., John Bradshaw's Inner Child seminar, etc. In this same vein, a growing number of Americans are expressing an interest in the study of the Enneagram.
The Enneagram is an occult oriented chart or diagram with many points and lines inside and touching a circle. The chart purports to describe nine different personality types, and therefore, nine approaches to the perception and response to reality.
Well-known psychic Helen Palmer writes in her book, The Enneagram, that "The teaching can help us to recognize our own type and how to cope with our issues, understand our work associates, lovers, friends, and to appreciate the predisposition that each type has for higher human capacities such as empathy, omniscience, and love". Enneagram is one of the few models of consciousness that addresses the relationship between personality and other levels of human capability.(p. 3).
Although the Enneagram has a few variables depending on which authority is used, the trend is to present nine intuitive styles of personality, and the nine psychological diagnostic categories which appear in the DSM III (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual III). This is an attempt to give the enneagram scientific credibility and validity.
Workshop participants are given a series of personality assessment questionnaires which are standardized with the program, over a period of 3 days to a week. The questions and resulting analysis are part of the esoteric/occultic tradition of the enneagram.
The participant is then asked if the analysis, and other corresponding number on the chart, fits their perception or personality. Most will agree and then the lessons on behavior and perceptions are given.
The goal is supposed to lead to self-enlightenment which leads to authentic personal freedom on a level never before experienced.
These enneagram workshops are being offered in more and more Catholic parishes and retreat centers throughout the country.
The roots of the enneagram can be traced to two men: George Gurdjieff and Oscar Ichazo. Both men were involved in occultic pursuits. Guurdjiieff learned of the enneagram from a sect of Sufis (mystical Islam). The Sufis used the enneagram for numerological divination. Oscar Ichazo later developed a personality theory around the enneagram and added it.
Ichazo was deeply involved in psychedelic drugs, shamanism, yoga, even studying mysticism in India and Tibet. Ichazo has received instructions from a higher entity called Metatron and members of his group are guided by an interior master, the Green Qu'Tub.
Another leading figure in the enneagram movement was psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo, associated with the New Age experimental Esalen Institute.
There are many myths associated with the enneagram. One myth has to do with the alleged antiquity of the program when it actually dates in the 1960's. Another is that it is scientific. Like many New Age practices, its leaders are always trying to assign scientific credentials, but none exists.
And the most important myth is that it can be adapted to fit Christianity. Catholic charismatic lecturer Dorothy Ranaghan has written a well-researched booklet, A Closer Look at the Enneagram, and asks the important question, "If the enneagram is unscientific, esoteric, taken from a contemporary sycretsit version of Islamic mysticism and tainted with the occult, how is it that many Christians have bought into the system so wholeheartedly?" (p. 37)
One obvious reason is that Christians are not students of the word of God, the source of all truth for matters of faith and practice.