Thursday, October 22, 2009

As If You Needed Another Excuse to Watch Star Wars Again

Note: This was originally published on 8/30/08

Where was I? Oh right. I was telling you all about the IEA conference, before I got distracted by other matters. After Edward Morler's presentation, Mary Beth went to sleep and I went to Rachel Weeks' presentation on "The Hero's Journey."
Here's a piece Weeks' bio:

"Rachel Weeks is a corporate lawyer and an accredited Enneagram teacher. She has assisted in developing the Enneagram community and certification program in Brisbaine, Australia, and also been involved in develioping alliances with Enneagram communities in the United States, Brazil, and South Korea."

I was interested in Weeks' presentation because, as it so happened, I was teaching a class on Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth at my church. The first episode in this series is called "The Hero's Journey." Anyway, I learned a lot from Week's presentation. She even explained the Law of Seven in language I could understand. I was so inspired that I prepared a handout based on her material for my class. Here it is:

The Hero’s Journey and the Law of Seven
(This material is adapted from a presentation made by Rachel Weeks at the International Enneagram Association’s 2008 annual conference.)

What is the Hero’s Journey?

From Wikipedia: “As used within the field of comparative mythology, the term monomyth (often referred to as the hero's journey) refers to a basic pattern supposedly found in many narratives from around the world. This widely-distributed pattern was described by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).”

The hero’s journey has seventeen recognized stages. Go to for a summary.

These can be pared down to six broad steps. They are: (a) the ordinary world with its rules; (b) the call to adventure, including the kick by fate when the call is rejected; (c) supernatural aids and companions; (d) the road of trials, also called “the belly of the whale”, (e) apotheosis; and (f) the ultimate boon and return home.

What is the Law of Seven?

To understand the law of seven, you will need to know something about the Enneagram. You have probably heard me (Cindi) or Mary Beth talk about the Enneagram’s application to personality psychology. This is the most popular modern use of the Enneagram. However, the Enneagram is, at its most basic level, an ancient symbol that can be applied to an understanding of any process or phenomenon. This is the Enneagram symbol:

The symbol consists of three parts: a circle, representing the unity of all creation; a triangle, representing the three component forces (action, reaction, and mediation) in any phenomenon, and an irregularly-shaped hexad. This is where the law of seven comes in.

Here is a picture of just the hexad:

Comparing it to the Enneagram symbol above, you can see that, starting at point 1, the hexad connects 1 to 4, 4 to 2, 2 to 8, 8 to 5, 5 to 7, and 7 back to 1.Dividing 7 into 1 yields the sequence . 142857142857....

In Enneagram lore, point 1 is connected with order (the associated personality type is the judge, stickler, perfectionist, or reformer); point 4 is associated with identity (the associated personality type is the individualist or tragic romantic); point 2 is about needs (associated with the helper); point 8 is about action and the call to arms (associated with the challenger – the overexpresser of the gut triad); point 5 is about knowledge or analysis (associated with the thinker, observer, or investigator); and point 7 is about celebration and future planning (associated with the epicure or adventurer).

The law of seven describes the necessary steps for completing any process. For instance, in the process of harvesting wheat, one must first go to point 1 to prepare the field and get everything in order. Then, point 4, the place of identity, is for planting seeds. Point 2 is for fulfilling their needs by watering them, etc. Point 8, the place of action, is the actual harvest. Point 5 is for measuring and reflecting on the harvest, and then point 7 is for enjoying it and planning for next year’s crop.

For much more information about the Enneagram, visit or Mary Beth and Cindi’s Holistic Enneagram Agency –

How does the Hero’s Journey connect to the Law of Seven?

The hero’s journey, like any process, can be mapped onto the law of seven.

First, at point 1, the hero exists within the current order. This is Luke Skywalker on Tattooine.
Next, at point 4, the hero hears the call to adventure. Something within him longs to be more than what he is.
Then, at point 2, he is joined by helpers and companions. In this case, R2D2 and C3PO, as well as Obi Wan Kenobi as a spiritual guide.
At point 8, he enters battle and must fight for what is right. Luke even has to challenge Darth Vader -- his own father.
At point 5, understanding is required. In order to destroy the Deathstar, Luke has to “use the force”. He finally understands the secret knowledge he possesses as a Jedi.
Finally, at point 7, the hero triumphantly returns home to celebrate and look ahead to his next adventure.


Anonymous said...

Re this so-called "Law of Seven": (1) Why is it a law? And (2) why of seven? After all, there actually are only six positions on the star, or personality types, involved, not seven. Indeed, you acknowledge this yourself, since your refer to the figure obtained by connecting those positions as a "hexad," not a "heptad."

The fact that these six positions are arrived at by dividing one by seven is the obvious answer, but the facts remain that there actually are only six positions involved, not seven, and that the series of six repeating digits that results when one divides one by seven only shows up when one does this in base 10. A rather arbitrary basis for any sort of universal "law," don't you think?

I'm not trying to be a pest (though obviously I am succeeding anyway!), but I do find this genuinely puzzling.

Pedantically, . . .

Cindi said...

From the definition:

15. (in philosophy, science, etc.) a. a statement of a relation or sequence of phenomena invariable under the same conditions.
b. a mathematical rule.

That's the meaning of law we're going for -- an invariable sequence of phenomena. The idea here is that all processes actually follow the same energetic sequence.

Seven, rather than six, for the same reason that musical notes constitute an octave, even though there are only seven of them -- do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, (that will bring us back to) do.

The idea is the sequence 142857 (that will bring us back to) 1.

Keep in mind also, that while I have made a small attempt to relate the concepts in this post to the Enneagram of personality, because I think that is what most readers are familiar with, the law of seven is actually about the Enneagram of process.

I think the principle of the law of seven is simply being described in this way because we use base 10, rather than being derived from base 10. If we were using another number system, the description would be different, but the underlying principle would be the same.

As I keep saying, the Enneagram is a cognitive model. Arguing about whether it's "true" or not is just meaningless.