An introductory note from the Herbstalk team:
Welcome to our new series The Herbs of the Enneagram! The Enneagram is a fascinating and insightful way of describing personality patterns. In this blog series Enneagram expert Herb Pearce will explain each of the 9 personality types and a plant that corresponds with each. (And yes, his name is really Herb!)
We are delighted to welcome Herb, a faithful Herbstalk participant, to share his wisdom and insight of the Enneagram and connect it back to some of the beloved plants that we talk about at Herbstalk.
Read on to learn how the patterns of the Enneagram match up with the patterns of various herbs. You will also learn how the plant itself can help to bring balance and harmony within each personality type. Enjoy and stay tuned for more Herbs of the Enneagram each month!...
The star-shaped Enneagram (Ennea is Greek for "nine" and gram for “type”) is an amazingly accurate system of understanding personality that groups human motivations and patterns of feeling, thought and body experience into nine personality types. Everyone has elements of all nine types, but one is almost always dominant and is a stronger perceptual lens. This lens flavors how you see the world and therefore, to a large degree, how you think, feel, and act automatically.
The nine types are: The Perfectionist, Helper, Achiever, Romantic, Observer, Questioner, Optimist, Boss and Peacemaker. Each style or type has amazing strengths and also limitations. Knowing this information is wonderful for personal clarity, relationship building, and team development.
Blue vervain (Verbena hastata) is such a “perfect” plant for Type 1, The Perfectionist. Perfectionists, sometimes called Reformers, tend to see the world from how it should be. They want to improve, reform, correct and fix things to the ideal of how it “ought” to be. They can be rigid, overzealous and black and white in their thinking, and can have a hard time with gray tones, mistakes, and the imperfection of things and people, including themselves. They tend to notice what’s missing instead of the perfection of what’s here with its limitations, flaws and quirks as part of the package.
They can push people to a point of view that doesn’t offer the flexibility of personal choice and nuance. 1s can’t handle crooked pictures or dead leaves on plants without fixing them. They may clean up the forest when the dead, fallen down trees are exactly what the insects, birds and soil need for nourishment.
Blue vervain is a strong plant and a favorite among garden lovers. The bluish flower heads are beautiful and bright yet small in comparison to the stems. No drooping flowers here! The unique square stems fit the Type 1 personality, sharp angled with exact edges. The root, being a perennial, is deep and strong.
Enneagram 1s make lists and tend to work hard to accomplish their tasks. Things need to be defined and acted on. No idle hands here! My grandmother was a 1 and I didn’t always look forward to visiting her as she “encouraged” me to work in her garden pulling weeds when I was a child. For 1s work and accomplishment tends to be more important than play.
“I choose Blue Vervain to be second to none when it comes to muscle constriction caused by nervous tension especially in people who are intense by nature and overdriven. It's cool blue medicine eases and relaxes not just the musculature, but the soul… Blue Vervain is considered an antispasmodic and relieves spasm caused by overwork that is not so much physical in nature, but that is intellectual or mental activity with a perfectionist tendency. This high intensity is more than the individual’s body can maintain and so it produces a tension throughout the viscera causing the muscles to tense and knot. I see this plant as being appropriate for those of us who don't have the physical container or constitution to hold the nervous and mental energy we are inclined to create.”
Lisa Fazio, Earth, Root & Flower: An Herbal Blog
1s tend to face reality head-on with responsibility and hard work, handling the toughness of life so taking bitter medicine is in alignment with their personality. Blue vervain can filter out some of the anger that 1s have with the imperfection and irritation of others not doing what’s right.
Taken as a flower essence, Blue Vervain can help Type 1s learn “tolerance, patience and broadmindedness…and that the big things of life are done gently and quietly without strain or stress.”
Blue Vervain balances the Perfectionist who tends to over-work, over-effort and over-think the right thing to say or do. Blue Vervain adds flexibility, being in the moment, ease, acceptance of imperfection, allowing for the world and individuals to be as they are without forcing anything to live up to a pressured idealism.
Herb Pearce is an expert on the Enneagram with 28+ years experience. He has authored four books on the Enneagram including his most recent work, Presidential Profiles: Washington to Trump - Enneagram and Myers-Briggs Perspectives. Herb has taught over 2000 Enneagram workshops and has worked with hundreds of organizations, individuals and couples using the Enneagram in his counseling practice. Herb resides in Arlington, Massachusetts where he is a practicing psychotherapist and life coach. He emphasizes developing the strengths of all 9 Enneagram types and is known for his exacting insights, moderated by gentleness, humor and compassion. You can learn more at www.herbpearce.com or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.