Wagele was raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, until she was ten, when her family moved to Berkeley, California. She spent much of her time drawing, playing the piano, or making up stories with her dolls as a child. Music played a major role in her life as a friend and spiritual guide, especially Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Bartok, Charles Mingus, Billie Holliday, and other classical and jazz composers. A gifted pianist who majored in music composition, she studied piano with Tanya Ury and Bernhard Abramowitsch and composition with Andrew Imbrie and graduated cum laude from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1961. She studied, taught, and performed piano while raising her four children, and began writing books in 1993 with her friend, Renee Baron. Wagele partially supported herself in college by playing in a jazz combo. She still occasionally presents musical events.
Wagele now lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband, Gus. They have seven grandchildren.
Wagele is one of the best selling authors on the subject of the Enneagram and has written about the Myers-Briggs system, especially introversion. An award-winning cartoonist, she also illustrates her books with many cartoons and is known for her humor in her writing.
Baron and Wagele broke ground in 1994 with the first book on Enneagram personality typology geared toward the general reading public: "The Enneagram Made Easy", which has been translated into 17 languages. This book was on the San Francisco Chronicle’s Best Sellers List for Quality Paperbacks in the Bay Area in November, 1994.
"Are You My Type, Am I Yours?" was published in 1995. In 1997, Wagele wrote "The Enneagram of Parenting", the first book to suggest that teachers and parents use the Enneagram to broaden their acceptance and understanding of children.
"The Happy Introvert — A Wild and Crazy Guide for Celebrating Your True Self" was published, in 2006. She included a section on the movie, “Napoleon Dynamite,” along with chapters on relationships, children, Jung, neurology, personality, and creativity.
"Finding the Birthday Cake — Helping Children Raise Their Self-Esteem" is a unique book for children, published in 2007. It helps children build high self-esteem.
"The Career Within You" came out in 2009, co-authored with Ingrid Stabb. It has been touted "the perfect career book". David Daniels, M.D., Clinical Professor Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science Stanford Medical School, and author of The Essential Enneagram called The Career Within You "a groundbreaking work." He described how the book provides for nine personas "thoughtful and clear descriptions, how each style relates to the spectrum of career choices, and a powerful method to determine the path that best fits you. You will discover what career best fits for your style and in the process a more fulfilling life."
On Wagele’s CD, "The Beethoven Enneagram", 1999, she discusses Beethoven’s personality and life and plays from his piano sonatas to demonstrate her belief that the nine Enneagram types can be heard in his music.
On her CD, "Enneagram Variations", 2006, she improvises variations on “Jack and Jill” and “Chop Sticks”, playing them in ways that that she believes expresses each of the nine Enneagram styles. Both of these CDs were performed at international Enneagram conferences.