Masonry to Gardening: the Tower & Enneagram 7

The Holy Idea of Enneagram type 7s is that of Holy Work or Holy Plan, and this is related to the Tower, card 16 (1+6=7).


The Tower is a deeply complex card and is one that’s often met with a lot of apprehension because it signifies upheaval. In fact, in ‘Meditations on the Tarot’ the chapter on this arcanum is titled “The Tower of Destruction”. But this archetype doesn’t just come along to tell us that things are falling apart. Its message and lesson for us is about our entire approach to the work of our lives.

‘Meditations’, being a Hermetic Christian text, of course refers to the Tower as analogous to the Tower of Babel, and it has much to do with intellectual hubris. “Every man builds a kind of ‘Tower of Babel’ which is his own. His actions, opinions, and aspirations.....replace revelation from heaven.”

Type 7s can “become intoxicated by the power of their own imaginations” (Helen Palmer), and are constantly making plans, mental lists of potential, possibilities, options. Of course, this is rooted in fear, and is indicative of a basic distrust in the Universe/God to provide for them. Richard Rohr says that “unredeemed 7s think that they are the fashioners of their own happiness.” They build towers of the imagination, in other words, in which they are safe.

But in card 16, the Tower is being struck by a thunderbolt and is falling. This is the Holy Work; the liberation from our toil as “masons” to the cultivation of the “gardener”, in the language of ‘Meditations’. In the destruction of the Tower, 7s learn to “cooperate with God...confronting the reality of the world, which is always a combination of joy and pain. It is a step from idealism to a wide-awake realism.” (Rohr).

The Towers that we have built give way to gardens, where we work in concert with the Universe. “It is the way of humbling oneself to the role of the seed, in opposition to that of exalting oneself by building towers.”(Meditations)

To grow or to build is the lesson of the Tower. From believing we are the sole masons of our own happiness and must wall ourselves from pain and the wider world, to being humble gardeners who experience all weather and tend to all manner of experiences and emotions. From human work to Holy Work.