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September 14, 2022 — 10:32 AM
There’s no shortage of ways to assess our personalities, from astrology to numerology to Myers-Briggs—and if diving into your subconscious is your shtick, you’ll want to know about human design. While perhaps not as popular as reading your weekly horoscope, calculating your human design “type” can give you deep insight into who you truly are.
Here’s an introduction to the five human design types (manifestors, generators, manifesting generators, projectors, and reflectors) and what makes each one tick.
The practice of human design was created by a Canadian man named Ra Uru Hu, born Alan Robert Krakower, after he had a mystical experience in the late ’80s. He describes hearing a voice of supreme intelligence and receiving information from this voice over the course of eight days and nights.
The information he received then became human design, as Ra recorded his experience in a book called Rave I’Ching. And in the decades since, human design has steadily gained popularity around the world.
But as human design experts Dana Stiles and Shayna Cornelius of DayLuna tell mbg, human design actually combines a number of different ancient systems. “It’s using elements from Western astrology, from the I Ching, from the Kabbalah Tree of Life, and from the Hindu Brahmin chakra systems,” Stiles says, adding, “They’re weaved together in this one system that gives you a really detailed blueprint of how your energy is designed, how you are unique, and what your gifts and life purpose are.”
How does human design work?
Similar to mapping your astrology birth chart, all you need to calculate your human design chart is your birthday, your birth time, and the location of your birth. (You can plug them in here to figure out your type.)
As human design expert Nikki Brafman previously explained to mbg, this information is applied to a human design chart that represents a snapshot of the cosmos at the moment you were born—and three months before that when your brain was developing in utero. “Human design composites those two and layers them on top of each other and then looks at how [their] energy interacts,” she explains.
According to human design expert Emma Dunwoody, when you can understand your human design chart, you understand your truth. “Oftentimes when we’re trying to change our lives, we’re doing it the way we think we should do it. Whereas with human design, it’s literally our energetic blueprint, and it flips the transformation process… You take a look at your energetic blueprint, and through that process, you can shed your conditioning and then create a mindset that supports the blueprint,” she says.
The 5 human design types.
There are five distinct “types” in human design (or four, depending who you ask—which we’ll get into). Here’s a breakdown of each, according to Brafman, Cornelius, and Stiles.
Set yourself up for success with a good night’s sleep.*
Manifestors make up less than 10% of the world’s population, and according to Brafman, they’re here to “get the ball rolling, to initiate, and then to back off and let other people take over.” They operate through deep bursts of energy followed by deep rest, with Brafman adding that “they might be able to outrun a Generator or Manifesting Generator, but they can’t keep that pace.”
And as Stiles notes, these are individuals who have an energetic aura, or energetic body, that is “closed and repelling.” This basically means they have a very strong presence and their energy can be felt by everyone around them. “Their energy is here to initiate, to start new things, and to be a catalyst of change in the lives of people around them,” Stiles says. “And they’re really people who are designed to have freedom and independence—to be trailblazers and create new things in this world and in their own life,” she adds.
The caveat, however, is Manifestors can deal with burnout and shame when they feel they can’t keep up. “Their energy is like a slingshot,” Brafman previously explained. “They pull back and then they catapult forward.”
The Manifestor’s “strategy,” (aka how they’re meant to respond to life) is to inform others. Their life theme is finding peace, which Brafman defines as a place where their initiations can start to roll freely.
Strengths and weaknesses:
“Their strengths really are being able to impact people and being able to make change really easily,” Cornelius explains. However, she says, “Their weakness is feeling that they don’t want to inform. They don’t want to tell other people what they’re thinking or what they’re wanting to do because they don’t want to be controlled.”
When a Manifestor can combine their ability to effect change without resisting the opportunity to inform others, that is when they are most in alignment, Cornelius says.
Over 30% of the population are Generators, and if you include Manifesting Generators in that percentage, it gets bumped up to nearly 70%. While some consider Generators and Manifesting Generators to be one and the same, Cornelius and Stiles explain that there are some important distinctions between the two.
We’ll get into those distinctions shortly, but we’ll break down Generators in general first. As Brafman previously told mbg, Generators are like the workhorses of the world, and their “strategy” is to respond. “They respond to things like gaps in the market, or inequities in the world. They’re propelling the world forward with their work and energy, and they access that energy by doing things that light them up,” she explains.
Strengths and weaknesses:
When things don’t light them up and they do them anyway, that’s when Generators become burnt out. These people have strong sacral energy from their sacral chakra, compelling them to extend their energy and create. But that fire easily gets depleted when Generators don’t know how to tune into their sacral energy.
“They’re really here to use their body to show them how they’re meant to use their energy, what they actually want, and what they actually love,” Stiles tells mbg. This is part of the reason their theme is satisfaction, which will be achieved, according to Brafman, by “continually responding to things that are a ‘yes’ for them,” she explains.
You can think of a Manifesting Generator as a hybrid between Generators and Manifestors, Stiles says. The main difference, according to her, Cornelius, and Brafman, is that Generators tend to be more focused in one area (i.e., having one area of expertise), while Manifesting Generators are jack-of-all-trades kind of people.
“In the end, Manifesting Generators are really here to use their energy creating and building what they want, the same way a Generator is—and they’re here to use their body’s responses to guide them toward those things. But they’re also designed to be trailblazers and to be super impactful and inspirational, just like a Manifestor,” Stiles explains.
Overall, the thing to know about this type is that they love variety. As Stiles tells mbg, these people are not going to be satisfied without constant change and evolution.
Strengths and weaknesses:
Because this type combines many of the strengths of Manifestors and Generators, both types’ “weaknesses” may also come into play. Burnout is possible when this type neglects their body’s messages, and difficulties arise when they don’t inform others of what’s going on with them.
“People can feel like they get whiplash from Man-Gens, [thinking that they’re] flaky or quitting things too soon,” Cornelius says, “but if you just inform them of your process and what you’re thinking and feeling, they’ll be on board.”
Next up we have Projectors, who make up 20% of the world’s population and offer wisdom and guidance to the rest of the world. “These are individuals who are here to guide the energy use of others. They have this sacred role of seeing other people and really being able to offer advice and efficiency gains and tweaks,” Cornelius explains to mbg.
Projectors have the ability to see others on a deep level, and as such, they are helpers who love offering up advice. But, as Cornelius adds, Projectors can run into problems when people become frustrated by their unsolicited guidance.
Strengths and weaknesses:
“They have this intense sampling energy where they sample the energies and auras of everyone around them,” Brafman previously explained to mbg, adding that they can make great leaders.
“A Projector’s work is to wait for recognition, and in the meantime,” Brafman says, “elevate themselves and share things so people can understand what they’re all about.” Or, as Cornelius puts it, “It’s about holding your tongue, focusing on your own fascinations and your own wisdom, and letting people come to you so that energy exchange feels easy and harmonious instead of repelling or forced.”
Stiles also notes that projectors are “non-energy” beings, and thus do not create the same consistent energy we see from Generators and Manifesting Generators. “So it’s really important that they’re working efficiently and working less maybe than other people,” she adds.
Last but not least, we have Reflectors—the rarest of the bunch, making up less than 1% of the population. These are your empaths, who act like sponges for everything around them. “Reflectors have no consistent and reliable energy for their own—they basically just reflect the energy of their environment,” Brafman previously told mbg.
“They’re like the unicorn in human design,” Stiles says, adding, “Their energy, their aura, is like sampling. It’s like a sponge—they’re drinking in other people and temporarily mirroring that person’s energy back, experiencing the world around them in their own body and in their own being.”
Strengths and weaknesses:
Reflectors hold the purpose of acting as that mirror and are exceptionally good at discernment because they’re so open, understanding, and healing for other people. “They can discern who is authentic, who is healthy, and who is not,” Stiles says.
Interestingly, these folks operate best when they’re living in attunement to the 28-day lunar cycle. They require “an entire 28 days to find clarity before making their own life decisions,” Stiles explains, adding, “The reason for that is they’re constantly taking in the ideas, thoughts, feelings, and emotions of people and the world around them, so giving themselves that much time gives them an opportunity to make sure they find their own clarity.” It’s no wonder the “strategy” for Reflectors is patience.
And as Brafman previously noted, the life theme for Reflectors is surprise. “Ideally,” she says, “a reflector would always be in an environment that would continue to surprise [them], bring them joy, and help them understand the area that they’re in.”
Other important factors in human design.
Just like your entire astrological birth chart can’t be summed up by your sun sign, there’s much, much more to human design than knowing which of the five types you are. Upon a closer look at your chart, you’ll see where your “inner authority” lies and what your best “strategy” is:
- Your inner authority is essentially your decision-making principle, Brafman says. “It’s the way you’re guided; Some people are meant to make quick decisions, some are meant to take their time, some listen to their intuition, and so on,” she explains.
- Your strategy, then, helps you cross the bridge between syncing that inner authority with how you actually behave. As Cornelius adds, “The more that you understand your type, strategy, and authority—those are the first three places we recommend—the more you’ll start seeing these big shifts happen and more ease.”
While there are a lot of online resources to do your own research on human design, Brafman says working with a professional can be really helpful. “A reader can translate it into more actionable items,” she says, adding that every reader has a different style, so find one that’s right for you.
Whether you want to understand yourself on a deeper level or make more aligned decisions in your life, human design could be just the tool you’ve been missing. There’s a lot to unpack within this new-age practice of self-discovery, and as any human design fan will tell you, knowing your “type” may just help you align with your highest potential.