Harry Potter and the Ancient Enneagram

What’s the number one rule of the Enneagram?

Everybody say it with me now: “I will not type other people.”

Learning the Enneagram is a journey of self-discovery. No one can tell you your number. Only you can know your own motivations, fears, and desires. It’s not some party trick, Oooh, let me guess everyone’s number and tell me if I’m right!¬†You can make assumptions, but you’re better off keeping them to yourself. If you tell someone what you think their number is, you are robbing them of a valuable part of the experience.

But while I won’t sit here and tell others what I think their type is, it can be a lot of fun to discuss the types of fictional characters. You can’t really be “wrong,” and even if you are you aren’t hurting anyone in the process. When it comes to literary figures, we are often given a glimpse into their inner thoughts, motivations, fears, and desires. We can make certain conclusions about them that we can’t for our friends and family.

So let’s start with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, shall we?

I’m currently re-reading the entire series. I’m about midway through book 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. If you’ve never read the series, then what are you waiting for, ya Muggle?!

The characters in Harry Potter are incredibly well-written and developed. JK Rowling makes you fall in love with these characters. You genuinely care about what happens to them. By the end of the series, they feel like close personal friends. She also brilliantly writes some positively unlikeable characters apart from the main antagonist.

Her characters are so great and relatable because they are consistent within themselves. They grow and develop in a believable way. They respond to situations in ways that are in line with what we already know about them. And this makes the characters a good case study for Enneagram Types.

Some of them are rather easy to pin. Let’s begin with those.

  • Hermione Granger – a textbook ONE if there ever was one
  • Hagrid – a TWO all the way
  • Severus Snape – most likely a FIVE with a dominant FOUR wing
  • Professor McGonnagal – most certainly a ONE
  • Luna Lovegood – almost stereotypically a FOUR
  • Gilderoy Lockhart – a very unhealthy THREE
  • Draco Malfoy – also an unhealthy THREE with a strong FOUR wing
  • The Weasley Family…
    • Ginny – EIGHT
    • Fred & George – SEVEN, do you really need to ask?
    • Percy – ONE
    • Mrs. Weasley – TWO
    • Mr. Weasley – probably a FIVE with a strong SIX wing
    • Ron – phobic SIX
  • Neville Longbottom – most likely a NINE
  • Sirius Black – SEVEN with an EIGHT wing or vice versa, it’s difficult to say
  • Albus Dumbledore – many lists like this have him as a FIVE, but I think he’s most certainly a NINE
  • Tom Riddle/Lord Voldemort – learning his back story makes me believe he is an unhealthy FOUR with a dominant THREE wing
“THE CHOSE ONE”
You may notice I have left someone off the list. What about Harry Potter? Most sources I’ve seen have him as a NINE. I don’t see that. He is far too openly aggressive with his anger to be a NINE. So some sources list him as an EIGHT. That makes some sense. He seems to be driven by anger. He has a knack for defending the underdog. But I don’t think that’s the whole picture.
Look at this Type description from the Enneagram Institute:

To compensate for insecurities, they become sarcastic and belligerent, blaming others for their problems, taking a tough stance toward “outsiders.” Highly reactive and defensive, dividing people into friends and enemies, while looking for threats to their own security. Authoritarian while fearful of authority, highly suspicious, yet, conspiratorial, and fear-instilling to silence their own fears.

I believe that description fits Harry perfectly, especially throughout book 5, The Order of the Phoenix. And that is the description of a Low-Average type SIX.

Enneagram SIXES can be split into two subtypes: Phobic and Counter-phobic. SIXES are driven by fear and a need to feel secure. The subtypes are split based on how they react to fear. Phobic SIXES exhibit a flight-response (like Ron). Counter-Phobic SIXES instinctually exhibit the fight-response. They are more openly aggressive and confrontational. These SIXES can often be mis-typed as EIGHTS, but there are key differences.

Let’s start with the Loyalty aspect of SIXES. Harry is fiercely loyal once you have earned his trust. He is loyal almost to a fault. Think about his devotion to his friends – Ron, Hermione, Neville, Luna, Ginny. But even more so, think about his devotion to the trusted authority figures in his life – Dumbledore, Sirius, Hagrid, McGonnagal. He’s even over-the-top loyal to the very institution of Hogwarts.

But he is also inherently distrustful of most people until they have earned his trust. And those who have not earned it or have broken it, they are almost certainly viewed as his arch-enemies. This is particularly evident in his relationship with Snape. It doesn’t matter how much Dumbledore trusts Snape; Harry won’t give Snape one ounce of trust – not until the very end at least.

When Harry is afraid, his instinct is to fight. He fights against Malfoy and Voldemort and Umbridge and all his general critics and nay-sayers. He even fights against his own friends and mentors when he feels threatened. Here’s another description of Counter-Phobic SIXES from the Enneagram Institute:

Sixes become aggressive because they do not want to be pushed around anymore; Eights become aggressive to push others even more.
The essential difference is that Sixes eventually will yield and their defenses will crumble if enough pressure is applied to them, whereas opposition to Eights only encourages them to remain defiant and to meet their adversary with renewed aggression.

Harry’s opposition to Dumbledore and others ultimately crumbles. He finally yields and lets Dumbledore take more of a leadership role in his life. Even though he felt like his trust had been betrayed, he is eager to mend those broken relationships for the sake of his devotion and loyalty. An EIGHT wouldn’t do that so easily.

Also, we must look at the paths of Stress and Security. In stress, SIXES go to the unhealthy side of THREE. We see this play out in Harry’s life, especially book Five. He takes it upon himself to lead the D.A. (Dumbledore’s Army) in response to the oppressive Umbridge regime. More than that, Voldemort takes advantage of 1) Harry’s loyalty and 2) Harry’s arrogance to trick him into going to the Ministry of Magic. When Harry is a state of stress or “disorientation,” he responds by doubling down on his own self-worth and arrogance. He begins to think of himself as more important and more capable than he really is. He develops a sort of “Messiah complex,” believing that he is the only one who could save Sirius. He stops relying on the help of others. He begins to believe himself to be more skilled and more qualified than others. He becomes more self-focused and less group oriented.

But in times of security, SIXES go to the healthy side of NINE. We often do see Harry in a peacemaker role, bridging the gap between Ron and Hermione or bringing together different groups of people who would otherwise never work together. As I read through book six again, I’m reminded of how important it is to the story that Harry find out more about Voldemort’s past. Harry needs to understand Voldemort, and he can do so in a way that most people can’t. Harry feels most secure when he is in the presence of Dumbledore, who himself is a NINE. Dumbledore helps Harry to develop empathy even for his greatest enemy.

I don’t think Harry is a NINE, but he does move towards NINE. I don’t believe Harry is an EIGHT, although he does display a lot of the same aggression and fighting spirit of an EIGHT. The type that makes most sense to me is that Harry is a Counter-Phobic SIX.

What do you think? Would you argue that Harry is a different type? What about the other characters? Let me know in the comments below!

Biblical Enneagram Types: SIXES

According to some Enneagram teachers, there are probably more Sixes than any other Type. The world needs Sixes, also called Loyalists, to ensure that the community is preserved and that we’re prepared when disaster strikes.

Trust is a big issue for Sixes. If you have earned their trust – as a leader, friend, or spouse – then they will be with you through thick and thin. They won’t jump ship. But Sixes can also be some of the more skeptical people in your life. Often Sixes find themselves playing “Devil’s Advocate” – asking probing or even accusatory questions. They aren’t purposefully trying to be obnoxious or derail the whole system. They just want to know that those in charge have everything under control and have planned for anything that can and will go wrong.

Perfect gift for the Sixes in your life!

Sixes are worst-case-scenario thinkers. They live in the world of “mights”, “coulds”, and hypotheticals. If there ever is a real disaster or problem, you want a Six around because they’ve already gone through the scenario multiple times in their head.

Sixes are more likely to actually count the number of rows to the exit on the airplane and pay attention to the safety briefing before takeoff “just in case.”

There is safety in numbers. Always be prepared. These are the mantras that get a Six through the day.

Every number on the Enneagram lives in some sort of inner tension. For Sixes, that tension comes in their relation to authority. As children Sixes picked up on the fact that the adults in charge can’t always be trusted. So as adults they are inherently skeptical of those in power. At the same time, through, their greatest need is a sense of safety and security. Some Sixes end up trusting too strongly in human authority figures and are inevitably let down at some point. Other Sixes end up distrusting nearly all authority figures in order to protect themselves from that same disappointment. This is the difference between “Phobic” and “Counterphobic” Sixes. All Sixes must deal with their fear. Phobic Sixes tend to have more of a “flight” response, whereas Counterphobic Sixes have a more aggressive “fight” response.

ON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH

An excellent example of a Six in the Bible is Simon Peter.

Peter was the foremost among the disciples, not because he was the most loving or most knowledgable, but because he was the most committed to Jesus and the group. Peter latched onto Jesus as an authority figure like none other. Peter definitely had his share of screwups – recorded for us to laugh at 2,000 years later! – but he is also the one primarily entrusted with carrying on Jesus’ mission after the resurrection and ascension.

Who was the first to confess true belief in who Jesus was? Peter.

Who played “Devil’s Advocate” when Jesus told the disciples he was going to be killed? Peter.

Who jumped out of the relative safety of the boat during the storm into the certain terror of the raging sea in order to be near Jesus? Peter.

Who was the closest friend and confidant of Jesus? Peter.

Who was the leader of the disciples? Peter.

Who was willing to fight and die for Jesus? Peter.

When push came to shove, who gave into fear time and time again? Peter.

Who did Jesus want the women to specifically tell about his resurrection? Peter.

Who was able to overcome his fear and deliver one of the most powerful sermons in recorded history? Peter.

Peter attached himself to Jesus, but he also had his own fears and anxieties to overcome. Peter had a hard time coming to grips with the fact that Jesus was going to leave them. When Jesus said “let not your hearts be troubled – you believe in God, believe also in me,” I’m sure he was speaking directly to Peter. As a Six, Peter needed as much reassurance as he could get that everything was going to be ok. Jesus is basically telling Peter, “You’ve trusted me this far. Trust me a little more.”

All those times that Jesus had to say, “Do not be afraid,” I’m sure he was speaking directly to Peter.

That conversation that Jesus and Peter had on the beach after his resurrection always gets to me. Three times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” And three times Peter replied, “Yes, Lord. You know I love you.” Jesus’ response to Peter’s affirmation of love is an instruction to take care of the others. Jesus made it clear that he wasn’t planning on sticking around for a long time. He had to leave. But he promised that he would not leave them as orphans.

Side note: I think one of the worst things that can happen to a teenager in the church is to go through multiple youth ministers over the course of a few short years. Teens need someone who is going to be there for them through it all. It takes a few years for them to trust their youth minister, and by then he’s already moving on to the next church. That can be absolutely devastating, especially for Sixes who already have trust issues.

Back to the point. Jesus is redirecting Peter away from a single point of loyalty to a more group-oriented commitment. Jesus is encouraging Peter to step up and commit not just to Jesus but to the group. Jesus knew that Peter, the Loyalist, was going to be the glue that held the group together.

Peter was stronger than he knew. Jesus saw that from the beginning. That’s why he changed his name from Simon to Peter in the first place. Peter was going to be that solid bedrock, that foundational member of the group. It took some time for Peter to see in himself what Jesus had seen all along.

Sixes, you must know that you are stronger than you think. You are more capable than you think. We value your leadership, your loyalty, your commitment, and even your questions. You are the bedrock of our churches and families and organizations. Without you we would all tend to simply drift apart from each other. You keep us grounded and secure. You help provide us with the security you so desire for yourselves.

Sixes, hear again the words of the Master, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God – believe also in me.”
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Check out the song “Six” by Sleeping At Last