In Loving Memory of Carole Whittaker

July 14, 2022 | By TNE

Carole Whittaker: In Loving Memory

On June 30, our community lost a beloved visionary, teacher and friend, Carole Whittaker. Carole’s deep love for the Enneagram and belief in its power as an unparalleled tool for inner work, combined with her gifts as a leader, thinker and organizer leave an indelible imprint on The Narrative Enneagram as an organization and in the hearts of her many students and friends.

When her interest in the Enneagram began to emerge in the late 1990s, she attended the Enneagram Professional Training Program with Helen Palmer and David Daniels. She then reached out to Helen and invited her to teach regular workshops at the Franciscan Renewal Center (informally known as “The Casa”) in Scottsdale. Following Helen’s workshops, Carole and her colleague Gloria Cuevas-Barnett offered continuation classes to the Arizona community. Through their work, interest in the Enneagram flourished. In 2008, Carole and a group of “Founding Mothers” formed the nonprofit Arizona Enneagram Association (AEA) to continue expanding their Enneagram work by providing opportunities to grow in self-awareness, compassionate understanding and better relationships. Over the years, the AEA supported many national and local teachers offering courses on a variety of Enneagram-related topics.

Carole held a PhD in physical chemistry and was a serious student of many spiritual traditions. Her deep knowledge of both science and spirituality gave her a unique vantage point from which to bring the Enneagram and spiritual method together, a journey she articulated with clarity and brilliance. Carole’s wide-ranging curiosity also provided a foundation for many of the courses she and others taught. Her most significant contribution is the Spiritual Freedom Curriculum, which she collaborated and co-taught with Gloria and Robin Cameron. This body of work is dedicated to “awakening our development of modes of perception that can interact with the spiritual world.” 

In 2021, the AEA joined TNE and donated its body of work. Carole worked tirelessly on the process of uniting the two organizations and transferring all AEA’s intellectual material to TNE. There is some magic and grace in the timing that allowed the transfer to be completed just months before her death.  

We are so grateful to have worked with her over many years and will miss her greatly. Thanks to her wisdom and commitment to the Enneagram, Carole’s work will live on in each of us and for those who will come after us.

Read Carole’s obituary. A Funeral Mass will be livestreamed on Wednesday, July 20 at 10:30 am PDT for those of you who wish to attend.

We also invite you to share a tribute, a memory, a story or a reflection below so that we may all share in Carole’s continuing legacy.

In loving memory,  

Erlina Edwards, TNE Board Chair and former AEA Board Chair

Jaye Andres, Former AEA Executive Director and TNE Adjunct Faculty

Terry Saracino, TNE Founding President and Core Faculty



Jaye Andres says

It was through our 13 years of work together at the AZ Enneagram Association that I came to know, respect and love Carole Whittaker. She was our foundation in our early years and our scaffolding during difficult times. Carole had an absolutely brilliant mind, a big, kind heart and a huge impact on my life. I so appreciated her direct and wise counsel, insightful teaching and ready (and musical) laugh. I’m deeply saddened at her passing – and forever grateful for our years of friendship. I’m truly honored to have known you, Carole.

Erlina Edwards says

Carole Whittaker, one of the most outstanding scholars of the Enneagram, was a magnificent Teacher. She was also intelligent, purposeful, deliberate, funny, visionary, and deeply contemplative. Her desire to know the deepest levels of the Spiritual realms made her teachings most effective. The Creation of The Arizona Enneagram Association and Spiritual Freedom Retreat will remain her lasting legacy.

Carole was my Spiritual Director Supervisor during my training and beyond. Her generous nature challenged my assumptions about almost every topic we discussed, increasing my capacity to explore higher truths. Her impact on developing colleagues, especially during the last decade of her life, inspires us all. We are grateful that the heavens placed her in our lives.

Terry Saracino says

Carole Whittaker had a profound influence on my life. Our relationship took hold in 2006 when we began sharing ideas and visions about all matters Enneagram. Her articulation ignited my own inquiry into the integration of the scientific and spiritual worlds as they related to the Enneagram. Together we brainstormed how to use this system for transformation. She shared her brilliant mind willingly in a co-creative process. It was a rare privilege to be in extended dialogue with her.

Both a guide and fellow traveler on the path, she brought a perspective to which I otherwise never would have had access. I was the beneficiary of her brilliance, kindness, curiosity, and openness. She offered me wise counsel and support. Her grounded presence increased my own capacity for depth and clarity.

These words don’t really do justice to the place she holds in my heart. I deeply miss her. A memory I carry, standing side-by-side with her beneath Adams Falls in the Rocky Mountains in the great mystery and beauty of this life, is and will always be very precious and immensely comforting. My cherished friend, may you rest in peace knowing your life was a gift to me and our world.

Michael Mathews says

I met Carole through the learning community. It was easy to see that she had long ago developed a purpose and had followed it with all her wisdom and energy. It was always a pleasure to be in the breakout rooms with her. I am grateful for the time I was in her presence.

Christopher Copeland says

I was deeply inspired and moved by Carole’s teaching of the spiritual freedom curriculum, which I took in 2017. Her passion for the transformative power of the Enneagram and her gifted teaching offered a space for a newfound spiritual freedom in my life. A teacher, a mentor, and a friend, Carole holds a special place in my heart and I miss her powerful presence.

Renée Rosario says

Words feels small for the breadth and depth of Carole’s wisdom and presence. I met her at a retreat with Helen at Esalen in 2000. I was a moth to a flame. The generosity of her kindness, humor and curiosity was nourishment to my soul. Irreverent and reverent, she embodied this paradox with her full self and with laughter. I will miss her and my heart overflows with gratitude for the gift of knowing her.

Robin Cameron says

I met Carole when she brought Helen Palmer to the Casa in the 1990s. To start she was my teacher and friend. Though I learned the Ennenagram from Richard Rohr’s first set to tapes in the 1980s, it was when we invited Carole to Sedona to teach an Intro class in 1998 that it all came together for me and jump started my own teaching of the enneagram. We worked together as Founding Mothers of the AEA where I became acutely aware of Carole’s sensibility and intellectual ability to help guide us through those first foundational years. And it was her love of the Welcome Practice that held us together and formed us throughout that time. I was fortunate enough to become part of the Spiritual Freedom teaching team where the bonds went even deeper in our never-ending inquiry and time spent together with Gloria fine-tuning this amazing Freedom-work. This is where I watched Carole learn to receive and become more and more vulnerable as well as to lead. She lives on in my heart and has become one of my Guides. I praise God every day for Carole Ann Whittaker for her place in my life, in the community of practice we all developed, and in the lives of countless others. Her impact lives on …

Mira Barbara Rossman says

Kent and I met Carole in the late 1990’s when she first met the Enneagram. Her enthusiasm for it propelled her into deep examination of the Enneagram through Helen Palmer and David Daniels. Her connection to them issued an invitation to the Casa where Carole took Helen’s conference teachings and brought them more fully into 6 week courses. All of those basic teachings then became a foundation for the Spiritual Freedom retreats. Her desire and need to understand how “it” all fit together expanded. Through the ensuing years, I remember listening to her when she had exuberantly discovered where a piece of the “puzzle” fit; she was radiant and filled with even more curiosity; which perpetuated even more inquiry. And all the while, I watched with awe as her strong personality softened and allowed love in; the slow removal of armor. I don’t have the sense of losing Carole’s presence. She becomes alive once more as I think of her, with her wit, occasional teasing, and delighted chuckle. The softness became a bridge of Presence that I could feel. I have great gratitude in having even a small token of Carole Whittaker connected to my life; it is like gold treasure. Rest softly, Carole. You have left a footprint that others can use to find their way. I love you.

Joyce Plaza says

Carole was my first enneagram teacher, along with Gloria Cuevas-Barnett, in 1998, at the Franciscan Renewal Center, Paradise Valley, AZ. Even though I later moved to the east coast, I continued to attend AEA workshops in Arizona, and attended the first Working with the Barriers to Spiritual Freedom (2015) retreat in Tucson, followed by Experiencing Spiritual Freedom (2016) and Personifying Spiritual Freedom (2019).

I had the honor of working and teaching with her, and the Spiritual Freedom faculty, on the spiritual freedom retreats in 2021 and 2022.

I came to appreciate her teaching and her spiritual freedom work and seeing how brilliant her contribution is using the Enneagram of Personality to work towards experiencing our higher qualities.

Dear Carole,
I miss you and love you and wish you were here. No one can replace you!
Joyce Plaza
PS:I can still hear your laugh.

Evangeline Welch says

I met Carole in 2005 when attending my first Narrative Enneagram teachers conference at Asilomar, CA. I had recently been hired as the marketing director for the Enneagram Professional Training Program. She invited me to walk with her along the boardwalk through the beautiful sand dunes of Asilomar State Beach. As we shared a bit about our life experiences, I remember being in awe of Carole’s inner strength, clarity, intelligence and generosity. As a newcomer to the Narrative Enneagram, I was deeply touched that this amazing teacher took the time to walk and listen to me with respect and curiosity. In recent years, I had the pleasure to plan and co-host several online events with Carole, and she frequently attended our TNE Member Gatherings. I will miss her powerful presence but am so grateful that her life work will continue through the Spiritual Freedom series.

Jennifer Glazar says

I met Carole through the Arizona Enneagram Association (AEA) first as one of the AEA teachers and then worked side by side with her when I joined the Board of Directors for the AEA. Carole’s dedication, curriculum and work she created shaped our Enneagram community in ways that will continue on and on. A mentor, a leader and a friend, Carole and I had a special bond sharing the same birthdate, identifying with the same Enneagram Type and Subtype, and conversations that we had. I will cherish my memories I have of Carole and the lasting imprint she made, not only in my life, but to anyone who crossed paths with her.

Marion Gilbert says

As I reflect on my time in Arizona with deep fondness and welcoming reception it stands out how Carol was a quiet and vital force in the Arizona Enneagram Association. She was profoundly reflective and wise. She also was deeply learned with an inexhaustible curiosity.
I deeply respected Carol when I was invited to come and teach with Terry and where the Somatic Enneagram was cultivated and deeply received by her with her keen observation and feedback.
Her transition is most likely experienced as a loss to her partner and the Arizona Enneagram Community and the newly established merger with The Narrative Enneagram.
It is with great respect and love for her as a beautiful human being serving the greater good in the world that I would like to extend my gratitude for having known her and having had the good fortune to spend time with her. I learned a great deal from her presence.
Blessings on her journey!

Nancy Wolter says

This past spring, I felt I had reached a crisis in my spiritual path. I didn’t think the Enneagram was opening me in the ways it had in the past. I reached out to Carole for Spiritual Guidance and of course, she helped loosen the knots, introduced new teachings to me, encouraged me to attend the workshop she and the gifted Mothers had put togher on the Enneagram and Spiritual Freedom. Looking forward to seeing her at tje retreat, instead were all stunned to hear she was not doing well. But knowing Carole, of course she’d pull through. On June 21, I woke with a jolt and felt I had to write something to her and sent this poem to her the same day:

Carole, what I want for you now is to know how loved you are.
How your wide smile and penetrating mind changed mine
How you showed that acceptance isn’t facile or transitory or dependent
How you embraced what is not for its potential but for its mystery
How you stood in the tears of truth and never flinched
How you tore open your heart for love
How you gave your heart for grace
How you shared your heart with wisdom

What I want for you is to know your presence has brought God’s grace to all
Who have gathered to hear your teachings
Who have shared your love of life
Who have pondered the truth of God’s divinity with you
Who have crossed your path in a classroom
In a church
In a park by a lake
In a store
In any space you’ve alighted
And in those moments,
Have known forgiveness
Love, joy, grace.

What I want for you is to know you are held in the safety of so many hearts.
And will always.

Jenmarie Eadie says

I met Carole in my very first Enneagram retreat in Arizona, and her steadfast presence and resonant voice guided me through the intense weekend. I left that weekend feeling so much gratitude for her in my life. One knows when one has encountered a force of nature, and I certainly did with Carole! She is awe-inspiring and I wish her much peace in her transition to the beyond.

Jane Kroll says

I fondly remember her directness, her good spirit, and her good humor. She will be missed.

Pat O’Hanrahan says

To me Carol was a force of nature who brought an enormous amount of conviction, curiosity, intellectual discourse, and awakening to those she touched with her spiritual teachings… I got to 1st meet her in AZ at the enchanting Franciscan Renewal center and then Asilomar in CA & it was a gift to reconnect over the last few years Zooming in the Learning Community plus more recently in the Member communities… big gratitude to the fruition of her vision.🕊

Debra Janison says

It was January 1996 when Carole and I happened to both be at Vallombrosa attending the first week of our teacher certification training together. How can anyone be anything but immediately drawn to her warmth, intelligence and presence? But I had the additional draw of realizing that Carole’s connection to the Franciscan Renewal Center in Paradise Valley meant that my family connections in the Scottsdale area would allow me to spend additional time seeking out her friendship and guidance. Carole mentored me in launching as a neophyte teacher, providing the nudge that got me thinking about training as a spiritual director. For years, every visit to Arizona to spend time with family also provided the opportunity for a visit with Carole. We spent many mornings sitting out in her garden patio, drinking coffee, engaged in far-ranging conversation. Contemplating “the missing middle” of the Enneagram curriculum, the need for teacher development beyond providing introductory classes. Exploring the interface between study of the Enneagram and our shared Catholic faith. Discussing how the various work schools each brought important insights to consider. And discourse on the latest books she had discovered that quickly landed on my reading list. I deeply appreciated the force she was for communicating an expansive understanding of the Enneagram. She was a sure guide to those for whom the flame of the search was ignited by her teaching. While we ache with the loss of her presence in this life, we are blessed that the guiding light of the Spiritual Freedom Curriculum in which she was a collaborator, will continue to shine through the Narrative Tradition community. My heart can only smile at the thought of all she now can see in the realms of clearer light.

Sandra Etemad says

When Mira Rossman commented that she could still hear Carole’s laugh, I got an incredibly bittersweet pang in my heart. Her humor, intelligence, an extraordinary teaching charism, and her powerful, grounded, kind, and honest personal presence drew me to her as she did to so many others. She gave me the most beautiful experience of how someone of her type who integrated and transcended the smaller box of her “type” into a welcoming, encompassing essence — one which showed me how one’s essence can be both minutely particular and individual as well as divinely universal, if that makes sense. She really showed how escaping our bondage to one point on the Enneagram (or, I suspect, for any other system) leaves a unique and brilliant gem. Even though I live across the country, there’s a strong pang in me that I won’t see and experience her again in this life, at least not in person. I pray that the angels have flown her straight into the courts of heaven!

Arlene Guina says

Carole has had a stabilizing impact on my life for the last four years. I met her through my husband, Art Guina, who encouraged me to attend Enneagram seminars and finally Spiritual Freedom Retreat no 1. In the process she was willing to become my Spiritual Director, as she was to many others. And that’s where her loving, truthful, and stabilizing influence came into play. We had enlightening conversations about spirituality, centering prayer, and the Enneagram types, including mine and my family’s. She was a good balance for me! Carole, I will miss you and believe you are rejoicing with the angels and your Heavenly Father. It’s a comfort to know that you had so many wonderful friends and coworkers and especially your partner, Melinda.

Sheila Grant says

February, 2016 I walked into the first day of an Enneagram Intensive, my very first Enneagram class. As is usual, I was the very first to arrive and was met by a lovely woman who introduced herself as Carole. When I told her I was brand new to the Enneagram, she was a bit taken aback but after visiting a bit and discovering that, as a Five, I had already taken a deep dive into the subject, she warmly welcomed me. I fell in love with her immediately and told her so. I soon joined the staff of the Arizona Enneagram Association and had many interactions with Carole. It was always amusing to both of us for me to tell her “I still love you, Carole”. I always meant it and I still do.

Julia Lemke says

Carole was such a persistent light in the Enneagram community. Her loss will be felt. Thank you, Carole, for your years of service and for our brief time working together. You are a kind, generous soul and you will be missed.

Leslie Hershberger says

I met Carole at our Bergamo learning community 20 years ago and commented on her compassion after we had an exchange and she belly laughed and said, “That’s not usually the first thing people say about me!”

I was drawn to her presence, wit, curiosity and intelligence, She was a generous teacher and friend. We shared an interest in Integral Theory and she spent hours sharing her take (and drawings) on the Trinity, the Word and the intersection with Integral Theory. Before I knew she was ill, I was replaying the recordings of our conversations and thought of reaching out to her. These recordings are a treasure to me.

In one of them, she says, “One of the questions I’m now sitting with is, ‘Does the soul retain it’s individuality after death?’” I’m imagining Carole’s being fully opening to this mystery. I will miss her and am so grateful we crossed paths. I love reading these reflections…I can feel her presence in each of them.

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