Herbs of the Enneagram Type 8: Nettle

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!
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Herbs of the Enneagram

Nettle is often considered a weed but don’t overlook it as one of the most nutrient rich plants in the world! Type 8 in the Enneagram is called the Director, who tends to be bossy, in charge and strong in willpower. They tend to speak up, act on instinct and like things direct. Indirectness, roundabout statements and hinting can drive them crazy. I chose nettles as my Type 8 herb – with its strong flavor, richness in color and stinging hairs. Roman soldiers once rubbed stinging nettle on their skin to stay warm and be tough!

8s are strong but sensitive underneath their tough exterior. With their flat-out honesty they can hurt people without wanting to, as their directness can be abrasive and stinging. However, 8s are also nurturing like nettle and will take the shirt off their backs to help those in need.

Nettle is both a food and medicine. It has a widely spreading rhizome and stolon underground (like the underground strength of an 8). The roots and underground parts are bright yellow, contrasted with the dark green of the leaves, abundant in Northern Europe, America and much of Asia. It grows especially in the Pacific Northwest but also in moist climates throughout much of the world.

Herbs of the Enneagram

There are many literary allusions to nettle. Shakespeare's Hotspur urges that "out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety" (Henry IV, part 1, Act II Scene 3). The figure of speech "to grasp the nettle" probably originated from Aesop's fable "The Boy and the Nettle". In Seán O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock, one of the characters quotes Aesop "Gently touch a nettle and it'll sting you for your pains/Grasp it as a lad of mettle and soft as silk remains". The metaphor may refer to the fact that if a nettle plant is grasped firmly rather than brushed against, it does not sting so readily, because the hairs are crushed down flat.

In German, to sit in nettles means to get into trouble (as 8s can do without meaning to because they are outspoken and impulse action oriented). In French there’s an idiom that means “don’t push grandma into the nettles,” which means be careful not to abuse a situation.

Nettles when cooked tastes like spinach and is rich in Vitamin A, C, potassium, manganese and calcium. It has plenty of amino acids and is rich in antioxidants. Soaking or cooking removes the stinging hairs. At peak time, the leaves can be 25% protein which is high for a leafy vegetable. Nettle recipes often are used in polenta, pesto and soups. There’s even a World Nettle Eating Championship (8s tend to love eating and competition).

Nettles has been used to treat just about everything. As a tea, tincture, extract or capsule, it can help to detoxify the body through its diuretic action. It also can promote healthy blood circulation and cardiovascular health.  Nettle is also well known for helping to alleviate allergic reactions due to environmental irritants.

So gather your nettle (with gloves) and go into action. Don’t be shy. Nettles can be great for 8s to remember their vulnerability and that stinging can hurt themselves or others. This is also a great plant for non-8s to remember to be strong and direct.

Herbs of the Enneagram


Reposted with Permission from Herbstalk.org

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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 Herb@HerbPearce.com.
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