The Sacred Dance of the Enneagram

The History and Meanings Behind G. I. Gurdjieff’s Enneagram Movements


  • Johanna Petsche University of Sydney



G. I. Gurdjieff, enneagram, Movements, esotericism, P. D. Ouspensky, symbolism


This article explores George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff’s (c.1866-1949) Enneagram Movements. Gurdjieff used the symbol of the enneagram in his teaching to demonstrate the ‘perpetual motion’ of his cosmic Laws of Three and Seven, which govern his cosmological system. The symbol is composed of a circle encompassing a triangle representing the numbers 3, 6, and 9 (the Law of Three), and a six-sided figure representing the numbers 1, 4, 2, 8, 5, 7 (the Law of Seven). This article sets out to investigate the meaning of the enneagram and the significance of the Enneagram Movements, which enact the motion of the symbol. As well as examining primary and secondary sources on Gurdjieff, the author draws from first-hand experience of the Movements, particularly her work studying the Movement ‘Enneagram 5’ in a Movements class in Sydney, Australia.


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Author Biography

Johanna Petsche, University of Sydney

Johanna Petsche graduated with a PhD in Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney in 2013. Since then she has been a casual lecturer at the University of Sydney and Australian Catholic University, in Studies in Religion, Theology, and Professional Communication.


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How to Cite

Petsche, J. (2016). The Sacred Dance of the Enneagram: The History and Meanings Behind G. I. Gurdjieff’s Enneagram Movements. Fieldwork in Religion, 11(1), 53–75.