The common Violet (Viola sororia) is delicate but strong, abundant, casting a deep purple carpet upon springtime lawns and gardens. With its heart-shaped leaves this is the plant that represents Type 2 in the Enneagram — the Helper/Giver who needs to give to thrive, but also needs appreciation to flower themselves. They tend to hide their inner selves while giving their maternal wealth to others.
The violet is unique as it has two flowering stages, the more obvious showy flowers of early spring and the small hidden flowers of fall (these latter flowers are the ones that actually produce the seed of the plant.) This two-stage process is botanically unique and few flowers claim this special distinction. Violets also have runners that spread easily, as our lawns attest to. It’s hard not to notice them!
Likewise, Type 2’s can be quite assertive when it comes to giving and spreading their abundance. They are excellent hosts & hostesses and their honey personalities sweeten whatever they touch.
Being the giver can be a controlling position, while the receiver might be more connected to their vulnerability, risking being hurt or mis-given to while in a “need” position. 2’s would rather be givers who manage the situation, but they equally need to learn to be on the receiving end and be more defenseless. They need help and support, too, like all of us.
Type 2’s certainly are beautiful, adorning themselves with color and attractive scents. They can be like seductive goddesses and gods, wanting their allure to magnetize others to their offerings and gifts. 2’s can tune into what you need and offer your wildest desires to be met. However, if you reject or don’t receive their gifts, they can get angry! Sometimes your independence can be squelched with a 2.
The forward violet thus did I chide:
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,
If not from my love’s breath?
Shakespeare named the leading lady of Twelfth Night after this herb, and like the flower, Viola hides her beauty in plain sight, posing as a boy and falling in love with the Duke she serves.
Violet is a bridge between the world of the 2’s outer sweetness and their inner shyness, risking whether to reveal their needs or not. The Giver is strong in generosity to others but not always to themselves. Violet shows 2’s how to balance their inner and outer worlds and gives strength to support time alone to nurture one’s self and discover their own self-love.
Herbalist Asia Suler writes of the flower essence:
“Violet essence opens a space of deep self-acceptance, contentment, and individual wellbeing. Calming, steadying, and maternal, this unassuming, yet sweetly robust flower helps you to feel comfortable and supportive of yourself as an individual. Letting go of negative attachments and patterns of relating (especially to oneself) Violet helps you to foster good connections that come from a deep recognition of self-importance.”
Violet is associated with the skin, breasts and glands, all elements of nurturing and giving. Drinking or taking Violet in its many forms, balances over-giving to others. Eating its beautifully contrasting dark green, heart-shaped leaves and its richly delicate saturated flowers, is also a remedy. The plant is traditionally used for soothing coughs and sore throats — with this affinity for the throat & voice it can help 2’s speak up about their own true needs.
Violet symbolizes both the giver and the receiver, showing us that at its core giving and receiving are exactly the same -- for we are all in relationship with -- and interdependent upon -- one another.
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.