5 types of spiritual personalities and how to recognize yours

What type of a spiritual person are you?

Everybody’s spiritual composition is different, and it’s important to find our your unique spiritual identity.

By doing so you can anticipate many of the challenges you’ll face and pursue a path to truth that works for your type.

Let’s take a look at the five types of spiritual personalities and how to recognize yours.

1) The mystic 

First up in the types of spiritual personalities is the mystic.

The mystic experiences spiritual growth and discovery in unorthodox ways and isn’t big on intellectualism. 

It’s not that their experiences don’t make sense or are hare-brained. 

It’s just that the mystic prefers to contemplate beauty, truth and transcendence in ways that surpass mere words. 

In the Christian Scriptures this is referred to as “the peace that passes all understanding.”

Many mystics write books, texts or music. Many others don’t. Each has his or her own way. 

Many mystics throughout history have had incredibly intense experiences, with or without the aid of spiritually-activated potions and plants. 

The key for a mystic is experience and worldless awe. 

Think of Sufi mystics dancing endlessly in a circle until they should fall down but continuing anyway in a divine trance to get closer to experiencing God and the mystery of existence. 

This is mysticism. 

As medieval French mystic Marguerite Porete put it

“Ah, Reason, says Love, you will always see with one eye only, you and all those who are nurtured by your doctrine.”

You’re a mystic spiritual type if: 

  • Spiritual experiences mean more to you than spiritual theories.
  • You find it hard to communicate your spiritual theories or fit them into an overall path or ideology.
  • You’re open to many spiritual ideas and journeys as long as they aren’t overly dogmatic and leave room for personal exploration and interpretation.
  • You are drawn to people who others may consider strange or bizarre, but who you find profound and wise.
  • You tend to be deeply creative and express your spirituality through projects like music, art, writing, filmmaking and crafts.

2) The mentalist 

The mentalist is the next of the primary types of spiritual personalities.

The mentalist may have mystical experiences and awe-inspiring insights, but he or she wants to make it make sense. 

The mentalist is particularly interested in maximizing his or her consciousness and self-awareness in order to develop the will and a unique, real identity. 

The mentalist may have other spiritual gifts as well, but wants very much to have a way to sort through lies and truth.

As the great Armenian-Greek spiritual teacher George Gurdjieff put it of his book Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, the purpose is “to destroy mercilessly, without any compromises whatsoever, in the mentation and feelings of the reader, the beliefs and views, by centuries rooted in him, about everything existing in the world.”

In other words: to be willing to let go and destroy every false belief we have that seems true but actually may be completely untrue and harmful and to do this by at least temporarily letting go of every strong preconception we have and rebuilding from the ground up.

Gurdjieff himself believed that our conscious mind was actually mostly delusional and that our potential for true existence and consciousness is buried in our subconscious. 

He argued that most of us exist in a waking state, partly because we don’t keep our mind switched on and don’t use the small amount of consciousness we do have in waking life to hold ourselves accountable. 

As Gurdjieff said

“In order to understand the interrelation of truth and falsehood in life, a man must understand falsehood in himself, the constant incessant lies he tells himself.”

You’re a mentalist spiritual type if: 

  • You are drawn to spiritual teachings and paths which challenge and excite your mind.
  • You are put off by overly simplistic pop culture spirituality or feel-good ideas about spirituality such as the “Law of Attraction,” which strike you as misleading or incomplete.
  • You are willing to open yourself up to ideas that seem counterintuitive or challenging if they intrigue you.
  • Emotional spirituality and religiosity turns you off and tends to fill you with a certain amount of distrust or aversion.
  • You love to read and watch informative and complex materials about spiritual ideas and to consider and reflect on them while digging deeper into their origins and implications. 

3) The pragmatist 

The next of the important types of spiritual personalities is the pragmatist. 

The pragmatist is interested in spirituality, wisdom and meditation, but he or she isn’t very drawn in by transcendent beauty or intellectually demanding texts and exercises. 

The pragmatist wants to know why and how. 

The pragmatist wants an actual roadmap for how to get from point A to point B, or whatever point is the desired goal. 

He or she wants actual reasons to follow a spiritual path that will directly impact daily life and improve it. 

The pragmatist is willing to put in a strong effort and really dedicate, but only if spiritual teachings are making sense to him or her and seem grounded fully in observable reality. 

As Chinese spiritual leader Confucius said

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

You’re a pragmatist spiritual type if: 

  • You are drawn to spiritual ideas and paths that have a more practical application or promise real results in your daily life.
  • You feel no need to dig deeper into esoteric or advanced theories and wisdom and are much more interested in spiritual teachers who can break complex things down into simple lessons.
  • You are put off by arcane knowledge and ideologies and find both mystical and mentalist spirituality to be a turn off because it gets too much into personal experience and subjectivity.
  • You don’t feel a desire to belong to any spiritual group or particular identity and just prefer to extract the lessons and wisdom of various schools of thought.
  • You’re willing to overlook the popularity or rumors about any spiritual path or religious ideology if you feel it offers a more helpful guide for your daily life, material success and mental and physical health. 

4) The tribalist 

The next of the key types of spiritual personalities is the tribalist. 

The tribalist is exactly what it sounds like: a person who prefers or even needs to be part of a tribe or collective in order to experience spiritual awakening

The tribalist may have all sorts of mystical and amazing experiences, but he or she prefers to share them. 

Even if others are having different experiences, the tribalist wants to be around them and in communion with colleagues and friends. 

The tribalist needs to know where he or she fits in the big picture, not just in their individual life. 

They want to share ideas, spiritual paths and growth alongside fellow people, not in isolation or individual, internal struggle. 

The tribalist feels strongly about how interconnected we all are in the natural world and how human beings need to share and communicate if we are to move forward and be part of a world that’s worthwhile. 

As Chief Seattle of the Squamish and Duwamish people noted

“Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. 

Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

You’re a tribalist spiritual type if: 

  • You crave and need friends and colleagues to feel a sense of meaning and forward momentum in your life.
  • You long to be part of a spiritual path that gives back to the community or world around you in tangible ways.
  • You find it hard to respect any spiritual or religious path that relinquishes responsibility and care for other human beings or for the natural world.
  • You find that you feel most like yourself and most empowered and spiritually evolving when you are among other people who are also on spiritual journeys and interested in spiritual and profound questions.
  • You are somebody who others turn to for spiritual answers and seek solace in your companionship and in the camaraderie and solidarity you provide.

5) The sovereign 

The last of the types of spiritual personalities is the sovereign. 

The sovereign doesn’t fit in the previous four categories. He or she has explored almost every path out there, from Voodoo to Mormonism to atheism to mystic Hinduism. 

The sovereign is somebody who is obsessed with spiritual exploration and spiritual quests, but can’t decide for sure about which one is the right path. 

The sovereign may experience a lot of confusion and suffering, partly because they long for one path or to find a leader or religion that really is “them,” but they never quite seem to stumble on it. 

In the end, the sovereign tends to pursue a path of self-knowledge and come by some form of enlightenment or redemption internally. 

Take someone like occult author and mystic Israel Regardie, a definite sovereign who struggled enormously in his spiritual quest. 

independent thinker 5 types of spiritual personalities and how to recognize yours

Regardie grew up Orthodox Jewish and went through a range of paths including Thelemite, Crowley-led sex magic and New Age spiritism before eventually becoming a kind of non-affiliated Christian mystic.

As Regardie put it:

“Redemption is only from within and is wrought out by the soul itself with suffering and through time, with much endeavor and strain of the spirit.”

You’re a sovereign spiritual type if:

  • You have gone through many spiritual evolutions but have never quite found “your path” or “your group” in a way that stuck.
  • You have a bit of a contrarian instinct and find that as soon as people try to put a specific label on you, you get the urge to do the opposite or confuse their attempt to categorize you.
  • You go through deep and sometimes painful experiences on your own, but you aren’t always sure what they mean, and unlike the mystic you find it hard to translate them into accessible creative work.
  • You have a bit of spiritual ADHD and like to jump around among various ideologies and paths to have a kind of DIY spirituality that only you may be able to fully understand and grasp.
  • You get easily bored by people who are too firmly within any one category or spiritual path and are not willing to explore or entertain ideas from different schools of thought or traditions.

What if I don’t fit in any category?

If you don’t fit in any one category, including the sovereign type, then there are two main options:

The first is that you’re just not that spiritual a person or not very interested in spirituality.

The second is that you’re in a raw process of evolution and you’re not currently able to break apart or analyze what kind of spiritual person you are because this is in the process of occurring and is very much fluid.

Here’s what to keep in mind:

In the first case there is absolutely nothing wrong with not being a spiritual person.

Spirituality is not for everyone, and the kinds of experiences and emotions associated with spirituality aren’t always something that people have the time, energy or interest to pursue.

Why are we here?

What is the purpose of being born and dying?

What is love, really?

Is there a creator? Many creators? No creator?

These kinds of questions occupy the soul of the spiritual person all the time, but some folks prefer to let these questions fade a bit into the background as they live their life and focus on more concrete tasks.

If everyone was into spirituality all the time, homes wouldn’t get built, airports wouldn’t function and fields wouldn’t get tilled.

In the second case, this is a time to get excited and continue your journey. Don’t worry about your spiritual type right now. 

Come back to this article in a few months and see if some experiences have clarified and settled on one type more than others. 

We are all evolving in many ways every day. 

If you’re undergoing a kind of spiritual awakening or journey and find that you’re not really in a place to reflect on it, there’s nothing wrong with that. 

Enjoy the ride and keep growing. Answers will come in time, and not always in the form you expect either. 

Making sense of your spiritual type 

Knowing your spiritual type is important in order to have insights about what to do next and what to focus on in your spiritual journey. 

No matter what type you are, there are two aspects that are going to be important to you. 

These are: 

Seeking spirit homes

We all need a place to call our spiritual home. It could be a geographic place, a home, a community, a peaceful spot by the river where we walk daily or an inner home we go to in meditation or prayer. 

So let’s take a look by type:

The mystic: the mystic belongs in a creative, free environment where he or she can pursue a spiritual journey that’s more about inner freedom and growth than outer structure and rules. 

The mentalist: the mentalist belongs in a rules-based environment that makes sense, has rules and is based on a defined ideology or at least gives the option to base one’s life on a definite set of beliefs.

The pragmatist: the pragmatist belongs in an action-oriented environment which is about getting things done and always puts real world results ahead of inner contemplation and wisdom. 

The tribalist: the tribalist belongs in a group environment where people are tied by more than just friendship but also by shared responsibility. This could be a commune, a housing development with a lot of neighborly involvement, a spiritual community, a cooperative farm or many other ventures. 

The sovereign: The sovereign does not belong anywhere. However, the sovereign is well-placed in almost every environment because they give him or her a chance to internally grow and become even more of an individual. 

In a very group-focused community the sovereign will feel stifled and suffocated; in a very free and open environment the sovereign will feel isolated and abandoned, and so on. But each is a chance for the sovereign to grow and walk their unique path.

Seeking spirit mates

We all need spirit mates of some kind, even those who sometimes rub us the wrong way. 

As Gurdjieff said

“Remember you come here having already understood the necessity of struggling with yourself — only with yourself. Therefore thank everyone who gives you the opportunity.”

Spirit mates by type: 

The mystic: The mystic is best paired with friends and partners who are a bit more down-to-earth. The mystic needs somebody supportive and open, but also with a mind to fulfilling practical obligations and getting things done in the real world. 

The mentalist: The mentalist is often paired well with somebody who is more on the creative or mystical side such as a mystic or sovereign. That said, the mentalist is generally quite amenable with most spirit types. The mentalist can be well matched with any spirit mate who respect his or her need for rationality, rules and logic. 

The pragmatist: The pragmatist is best finding spirit mates who are similarly pragmatic, which is often fellow spiritual pragmatists, mentalists or tribalists. Getting overly involved with others on the spirit spectrum can be stressful for a spiritual pragmatist, since they find it so hard to be around theoretical or overly emotional, personal spirituality. There are exceptions, of course. 

The tribalist: The tribalist is open to spirit mates of all types, except for sovereigns. Tribalists can get along with anyone who’s willing to be more of a group environment along with them, but find it hard to relate to sovereigns or those who don’t really gel fully within a group setting. 

The sovereign: The sovereign tends to have unique spirit mates which are hard to predict. He or she may experience big ups or downs in love and friendship, but will generally attract most types except for tribalists. Sovereigns may have conflicts in their relationships, however they often grow from such strife, as the Gurdjieff quote notes. 

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.