Type 9

Nine of Wands-- "Ignoring One's Aggressions Out of Existence"

Nine of wands.png

It's time to go back to tarot cards, specifically the nines.  I'm going through this phase in my life where I seem to be surrounded by people who are Enneagram type Nines on all sides, and if you read this blog, you know I make a correlation between the Enneagram and the tarot.  And if you are surrounded by Nines like me, you probably know exactly what it feels like living inside a vacuum bag when the vacuum is on: they don't allow anything to affect them so everything you project outward to them gets blown back in your face.  Either that, or the opposite happens: they stick to you psychologically and agree with and copy everything you say and do. There’s a resistance to being affected because they know that if they allow themselves to be touched, they will glom onto you and not be able to separate. So resistance is their only way of holding onto a semblance of individuality, and what powerful resistance it is. The picture at right does nothing to show how fiercely their heels can dig into the ground.

Three weeks ago, I covered how I interpret the Nine of Cups card, and today I want to cover the Nine of Wands because I had a frustrating "Nine of Wands" encounter last night.  It was a casual catching up conversation with a friend over text. The halting conversation took place over 3 hours and 20 minutes.  I took a 1.5 hour walk in the middle of it, and the rest of the time, we stayed on the surface of about 3 conversation topics, often with a good 10-20 minutes between texts.  Not easy for a chatty Type Four like me who likes to go deep and tackle difficult subjects, but I know he was trying, and I understand the reasons for the difficulty in navigating conversation with me- which to him was full of landmines- so I tried to stay upbeat for him, and I give him big kudos for his efforts to connect despite the difficulties.

The core problem for Nines is that they are seekers after internal and external peace, but are so fearful of creating conflict that will disrupt their peaceful connection to people that they insist on ignoring their assertiveness and personal boundaries away. Don Riso is one of the masters at describing the Enneagram types so I’ll let him describe their inner mechanism:

The Nine is the primary personality type in the Instinctive Triad— the most out of touch with their instinctual drives and their ability to relate to the environment. This occurs because Nines do not want to be affected by the environment. They have established within themselves a kind of equilibrium, a feeling of peace and contentment [my edit: hence the nine of cups card] and they do not want their interactions with the world to disturb them. Similarly, they do not want to become unsettled by powerful feelings that their instincts would stir in them. Nines have sufficiently dissociated from the intensity of their passions , their drives, and their anger to allow them to remain tranquil and even-tempered.

This dissociation from their aggression gives Nines a false peace that comes with the cost of being out of touch with reality, and by ignoring their problems, they create even more conflict than if they had just given voice to their desires and impulses in the first place.

But they have a choice. Riso describes the outcome of either taking the high road, or taking the low road— continuing to react unconsciously to the fear of separation:

Thus, when they are healthy, they work to create a peaceful, harmonious environment around themselves. They may do this directly by soothing others and healing conflicts and hurts, or indirectly through creativity and communication which appeals to the idealistic side of human nature, to innocence and gentleness. In this way, Nines contribute to their world, but also influence it so that it will support their inner peacefulness. When Nines are less healthy, they maintain peace for themselves by ignoring those aspects of the environment which they find disturbing or upsetting. Eventually, this can lead to a highly dissociated approach to life in which Nines to not relate to others or the environment as they really are, but instead relate to an inner, idealized image of others which is more pleasant and less threatening.

The more you try and provoke them into action to solve the problem, the more they retaliate by disappearing into a wall of stubborn silence and denial.  You can't really win unless the Nine in your life is fated to see the red flags that their behavior is seriously ruining their life and destroying their relationships, and takes conscious action to change their behavior. (I say fated because I’m also a student of astrology, and some of us are not going to develop our spiritual side because there is no indication in our birth chart for it.)

Anyway, I hope that provides a fuller definition of the Nine of wands card. Tarot readers for the most part get it right when they interpret it as “defending against” or “defence”. It’s not as bad as the Nine of Cups that is always misunderstood, but it’s nice to know the inner psychology of the actual Type Nine person to give you a fuller picture during a reading.

Nines: "You're Not Really That Sick"

A couple years ago, a woman I know developped a rare condition.  The symptoms of her condition, affecting a mere 6,000 people in the world, are mostly invisible, so her regular doctors had a hard time believing she was really in pain.  After about year of physical pain coupled with the psychological torment of watching her life unravel, no longer able to work, drive, think straight, or get enough sleep, and not knowing why, she eventually- and incredibly- found a specialist a mere ten hours away who knew about her illness, a massive comfort after encountering hostility and skepticism from her general practitioners. 

Do Children of Type Nines look like them?

It's a long weekend and I don't feel like writing something serious this morning, so I'm posting something fun.  As my girlfriend has sent me pictures of her babies for the last year and a half, I can't help but notice they both look so much like her and not her husband, who is a Type 9.  I know this is totally subjective, but I wonder if that's a thing with Nines,

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats

I discovered Nathaniel Rateliff a couple months ago and still can't get enough of his music.  He has a wide range of vocal styles from ballad to blues, and he has a powerful command of words- he can paint a stunningly vivid mental picture of a scene with a guitar, a microphone, and a couple back-up musicians. 

What I love about his story is what he's overcome to get where he is.  He's originally from a musical family from Hermann, Missouri where he would play the drums for the family band.  Originally he thought of himself as a future drummer, but then started writing, and because his dad had taught him how to sing the different harmonies, he had that under his belt and eventually, he moved to Denver, Colorado to pursue his musical career.  He almost gave up on his dream while still in relative obscurity, and he struggled with an alcohol addiction for decades before one day going into a delirium and begging people to take him to a place to dry out, nobody believing that he really needed help.  Once he got clean, he had "a lot more time to write songs", he says.  He put together the Night Sweats, the back-up portion of his band, and has now burst out onto the scene, appearing recently on Jimmy Fallon for an unbelievable performance.  I've heard him while working out at GoodLife Fitness and blaring in the car next to me at a red light in downtown Regina.

His most recognizable song is Son of a Bitch, about his drinking, and you can tell in his voice that he's aching from being so tired of his addiction, but it also just makes you want to get up and dance. 

Rateliff seems to be an Enneagram 9w8 because in his interviews he's quite self-effacing like a Nine, dumbing himself down a bit, but he has a subtly smart, unassuming, driven focus to his work like a powerful Eight would have.  According to Riso and Hudson, there aren't as many 9w8's in the world, so when you find them it's a special treat (although they do say George W. Bush was a 9w8- which I guess makes sense because there's that "oh I'm just a dumb ol teddy bear" exterior with a powerful laser focus underneath that is aimed at getting exactly what he wants.  You just know people are [mis]underestimating him and he's smarter than he portrays himself to be.)

Anyway, I'm glad Rateliff is using his powers for good, I just love his story of overcoming and I hope he goes far.

Americans and their Tension-Filled, Multi-Layered Crossroads

Thousands of Charleston, SC residents formed a human chain in solidarity against racism last week

Thousands of Charleston, SC residents formed a human chain in solidarity against racism last week

America's got some pretty entrenched and bitter divides going on.  Whites and blacks, rich and poor, creationists and evolutionists, gun-control activists and gun-owners, immigration-lovers and immigrant-haters, LGTB supporters and conservative Christians.  So it was a pretty powerful week in terms of the Supreme Court decision to make gay marriage legal in every state, the Confederate flag coming down, the Affordable Health Care act being spared a blow in the courts, and Obama giving such a moving tribute at Clementa Pinckney's funeral. Those crisscrossing divides were in the spotlight all week highlighting the complex layers of loyalties in politics, religion, and race in America.

Last week for Father's day, I went to church and learned my own lesson about religious divides.  Going to church was the last thing I wanted to do that morning, but my dad had requested it as his Father's day gift, and then the Saturday night before, I had a dream that he was waiting for me to come to church.  When I dream about stuff, I figure it must mean something, (and I also have an abiding fear of regretting things on my death bed), so off I went.  As I was getting dressed that morning, I was cynically thinking I could use the morning as breathing practice.  For example, I get provoked by closed-mindedness, and it's my practice to sense into my body and connect with my breathing when provoked so I don't get lost in mental fantasies of strangling this person.

The speaker that morning was a counsellor at a religious pregnancy centre.  She stood up there and told the story of her life, basically, how she was given up for adoption by a man who denied being the father and didn't want her.  She had great adoptive parents, but then, after getting their permission, sought out her birth dad later in life.  When she found him, he was open to meeting her, but was dying of cancer, and just didn't have much vocabulary to talk about any of his pain with her.  He had been an alcoholic all his life, married to an older woman with 7 kids, and never had any kids of his own apart from her.  She was able to be with him when he died, but she still felt incredibly bitter and angry that her time with him slipped through her fingers.  She did get one bonding experience at the very end, but it wasn't enough.  Then after that, her son-in-law (father to her grandkids) died in a motorcycle accident.  She talked about how dads are super important in a kids' life, and I didn't agree with all the religious interpretations of everything she went through, but I found I couldn't be cynical anymore with this woman's sad story.  It's like when you hear of pain like that, you just can't get caught up with religion at that point- you just see a really vulnerable person trying to make sense of the shit that got thrown on them.

At some point, I forgot my plan to work on my breathing- I just wans't compelled to strangle anyone despite the religious overtones of the message.  I thought about that later- pain has to speak louder than religion if you're going to be a decent person.  You can believe in God, or you can believe in evolution, but a story of abandonment and love lost has got to touch you.

It is worth noting that there is a good chance Obama is an Enneagram Type 9, a type with great peacemaking abilities, with a natural gift for validating many perspectives.  Here, he breaks out into Amazing Grace for the 9 people who were shot in Charleston.  Watch the complete funeral for South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney here: http://cs.pn/1GNNMzs

This past week, Obama proved he's a great person for bridging America's divides.  A half-black, half-white man, a Democrat and a Christian, a powerful politician who himself has been the victim of racism (and someone whose own dad also abandoned him at an early age), brought several groups together just by virtue of giving the eulogy for Clementa Pinckney, the pastor at Emanuel African Methodist in South Carolina last week. 

This past year has seen incident after incident of ridiculously violent actions directed at African Americans going about their daily business, which has been met with wave after wave of anger at the police force.  A lot of that anger obviously comes from the Black community, which has a high proportion of Christians to athiests, but which is mostly made up of Democrats.  White Democrats have also been vehemently angry against the police force.  I think this is statistically valid, (but I'm also writing this at 2:09 AM) but I believe White Democrats tend toward agnositicism.  So when nine black Charleston residents were violently murdered last week while studying the Bible, it brought a lot of agnostic Democrats to the table to stand up for people they're usually separated from by an idological divide. 

Even as an agnostic, it wasn't too hard to want to join in with Obama when he started singing Amazing Grace during Pinckney's eulogy.  As one youtube commentor summed it up, "I'm a strident athiest, but I approve of this message." Maybe someday it won't take a tragedy for us all to see people on the "other side" as a vulnerable human too, trying to make sense of their world with the best they've got.

Being A Type 9 Is Like Being Stuck In Groupthink

A Type 9 in my life has been going through some issues, so I thought I'd read about them this morning.  Type 9's, at the top of the triangle, represent the archetype of "going along to get along"- that part in all of us that wants to accomodate whatever's happening around us so as not to cause any conflicts.  But whereas other types are vulnerable to the phenomenon incidentally, Nines self-absent on a meta-scale with their very lives. 

"By accomodating others", says Beatrice Chestnut, "and avoiding conflict in order to achieve comfort, they end up becoming deaf to their own inner voice".  Nines have a naturally good beat on the energy in their environment and it pulls them away from their home of the self ("the root of all wanting and choosing" Chestnut quoting Homer) toward fusing with the group's goals.  It is very difficult for them to know what they want, and would prefer just to acquiesce to the group's decision.

Image from innovategov.org

Image from innovategov.org

I was thinking about groupthink the other day, and it provides a good analogy for how insanely difficult it is for Nines to pull away from the another's energy to their own "ground".   In the 1970's, Yale research psychologist Irving Janis demonstrated the tendency to suspend our own way of thinking for the sake of the group's cohesiveness with several studies, one of them being the American Soldier Project.  In it, he found that American soldiers' main motivation on the battlefield wasn't pride in their country or devotion to the idea of freedom- it was the connection the soliders felt with each other, having forged bonds under intense stress.  The unity they forged provided the foundation for subsequent decisions that they as individuals, they probably wouldn't have carried out had they not been part of the group. 

Where there's a cohesive group, there's pressure to acquiesce and ignore dissenting ideas.  Riso-Hudson's wake-up call for a Nine is when they outwardly accomodate themselves to others, but unconscious melding can happen to any one of us, and it's an invitation to be aware of when your voice may be needed.