by Israel Regardie
This is one of the sub-divisions of the Angelic system of Tablets about which, sad to say, very little can be said. No one in the Order, or my Temple, seemed to know anything about it. Whether this same condition applies to other Temples is hard to say, though, from conversation with certain of the Adepti of those Temples, I gather the same conditions there prevailed. Nothing that was of practical value, as throwing any light on the nature and function of the game, was thrown on the subject by any of the Order members within the sphere of my acquaintance. It is probable that the knowledge of this system died with the early members. All that I ever heard were fulsome praises of its remarkable divinatory capacity, together with quite a few amusing comments by those who manifestly knew nothing about it, though no precise indication was conveyed as to its procedure. On two of three occasions I have asked Adepti of the rank of 7=4 to play a game with me using my chess pieces and boards, though each politely backed out of the invitation. Also the unmounted state of the Order chess-pieces was a clear indication that they had never and could never have been employed--like other aspects of the Order teaching. And the actual documents on the subject that were shown to me were vague and obviously incomplete, giving no indication as to the true nature of this matter. No doubt it was intended, by those who wrote the papers and devised the system, that the Adepti should apply his own ingenuity to the bare-bones provided of the game, and formulate from that skeleton outline, as from the Enochian Tablets themselves, a complete system of initiation, and a profound magical philosophy. It is not there-fore my intention to say very much about Rosicrucian chess, although it can be stated that the perspicacious student will divine ideas of great import and discover a depth of magical significance hidden under the cloak of an apparently trivial game.
However, the student who has mastered the foregoing sections of the Book of the Concourse of the Forces will no doubt be able to divine the relationship existing between the profundities of the Enochian Tablets and this chess-game. It will have been necessary as a preliminary step to have become perfectly familiar with the attributions of the Squares, so that any pyramid can be built up instantaneously in the imagination too. By this, I mean, that while playing a chess-game, the movement of a piece from one square to another should provide much material for thought, for the squares on the boards, as on the Tablets, may be formulated as Pyramids. Some experience, also in employing the Pyramids for skrying in the Spirit-Vision will be required before any real appreciation of Enochian chess can be acquired.
In this game, the pieces are Egyptian god-forms, and the boards are certain adaptations of the Enochian Tablets. The Tablet of Union, however, is not used. Tablets are reproduced as Chess-boards minus the Great Central Cross, the Sephirotic Cross, and the Kerubic Squares over the Calvary Cross in each Lesser Angle. This leaves only the Servient squares in each of the Four Lesser Angles--sixteen in number, which gives us sixty-four squares per board--the number of squares in the ordinary chess-board.
One of the papers written by Greatly Honoured Frater N.O.M., gives a short history of Chess as it was derived from the Indian Chaturanga, the Persian Shatranji, and the Arabic Chess. But since it contains very litle that is of any practical import, I have thought better not to include it.
A few words now as to the nature of the Boards. The Boards consist of the purely elemental part of each Tablet. There is nothing in the symbolic structure of the Board to suggest the operation of the Spirit in any of its aspects through the Elements. This operation of the Spirit and its potencies, however, is indicated not by the squares, but by the pieces and their movements over the board.
To be of any real magical value, the board should be a sort of Talisman or Flashing Tablet. That is, it should be fully painted, showing all the triangles of the Pyramids as brightly and as flashingly as possible. The little flat squares shown at the summit of the Pyramid, indicating the throne of the god-form, are not necessary on these boards. The triangles are completely formed, and the resulting pyramidal shape is not truncated. The four Angles of each Tablet will thus stand out quite brightly, since the elemental colour of the quarter will show its nature, even though the triangles of yellow, blue, black and red will jostle each other by cheek and jowl. When fully painted, the board is most impressive as a flashing Tablet. The student may know he has done his work properly when there appear white flashings at the angles of the squares. This is important, for the object of a flashing Tablet is to attract an appropriate type of force. And if these chess-boards are made as Flashing Tablets, they will automatically attract force and their utilisation will become the more significant. In brief, each square is, as it were, the name and symbolic address of a different Angelic force. The flashing squares will attract the commencement of the operation of that type of Angelic power, and the movement of the Chess God-forms over the squares may produce even bright-er flashes and indicate the operation of the divine forces therein. With these hints the student is left to work this out for himself.
There will be, in short, four different Boards. Each is representative of one of the Four Quadrangles or Watch-towers of the Elements, and the Angelic Names on the latter will be implied on the Boards even although no letters or Names are painted on them. The use of any of the four Boards will depend upon the particular purposes, and the attributions of Elements as in the diverse schemes of Divination will determine which of the four boards must be used at any given time. In Tarot, the Element of Air, the Sword suit, indicates Sickness and Sorrow and unhappiness generally. Hence, in Enochian chess, for divining for some such question as touches upon trouble or unhappiness the Air Board would be employed. The Fire Board will represent the Tarot suit of Wands, implying swiftness, energy, activity. The Water Board indicates the Tarot suit of Cups of pleasure, happiness, merry-making, and marriage. The Earth Board will refer to all material plane matters of money, work, employment, occupation, and so forth.
The Four Boards of the Rosicrucuian game, although different, nevertheless agree in certain particulars. In each board it is convenient to speak of the arrangement of the Lesser Angles as an Upper and Lower Rank--Air and Water forming the Upper Rank, and Earth and Fire the Lower.
It is evident that the columns of the one Rank are continuous with those of the other; and in this continuity a certain regular rule is observable. Every column of eight squares commencing in the Upper Rank is continued below by a column of the opposite Element.
Thus the Fiery columns below invariably stand on the Watery columns; the Watery on the Fiery; the Airy on the Earthy; and the Earthy on the Airy.
A different arrangement of the horizontal Files or Ranks of Squares is observable, and there is a difference in the Upper and Lower Tablets.
In the Upper Tablets the Kerubic Rank of squares is continuous with the Elemental Rank; and the Cardinal is continuous with the Common sign Rank, whereas in the lower Tablets of Earth and Fire the various Ranks--Kerubic, Cardinal, etc., are continuous right across the board.
The pieces employed are, as previously remarked, Egyptian God-forms. A full set of chess-pieces numbers twenty men and sixteen pawns. (Note the possible relationship of the thirty-six pieces to the thirty-six decante cards of the Tarot.) The game is played by four players, representing the Four Lesser Angles of the Board, thus giving each player one set of five pieces and four pawns. The five pieces represent the operation of the Spirit and Four Elemental Rulers--the Five points of the Pentagram, the five letters of YHShVH, and the Tarot Ace and Court Cards. The pawns are their servants or vice-gerents. Strictly to be in order, each of the twenty principle pieces represents a different God-form, thus:
However, this tends to confusion, creating in practice far too complex a game. It will be found that four sets of the same five god-forms will suffice. There are only five major god-forms, the others being variations or different aspects of those types. These are:
Osiris, bearing crook, scourge, Phoenix wand. he is represented as sitting on a throne, silent unmoving. He is the King and represents Spirit, the operation of the Great Cross in the Tablets. He corresponds to the Ace in Tarot, the root-force of any element.
Horus, a God with Hawk's head, double mitre, and standing upright, as though to stride forward. He is the Knight of Enochian Chess and represents the operation of the ten-squared Sephirotic Cross in the Fire Angle of any Tablet or Board, and corresponds to the King in the Tarot, the figure astride a horse.
Isis, an enthroned Goddess with a Throne symbol mounted on the vulture head-dress. In Rosicrucian Chess, Isis is the Queen, and represents the operation of the Sephirotic Cross in the Water Angle of any Tablet. She corresponds to the Tarot Queen who is shown seated on a throne.
Aroueris, a human shaped God, with a double mitre. He is Bishop in Enochian chess, and his form is that of a standing figure, to indicate his swift action. He represents the operation of the Sephirotic Cross in the Airy Angle of any Tablet, and represents the Prince or Knight of the Tarot--the figure driving a chariot.
Nephthys, a Goddess with an Altar or Crescent symbol above the vulture head-dress. She is the Castle or Rook of the Chess game. This piece is always represented as somewhat larger than the others, and is enclosed within a rectangle frame, within which she is enthroned. Her office is the representation of the operation of the Sephirotic Cross in the Earth Angle of any Tablet, and represents the Princess or Knave of the Tarot--the Amazon figure who stands alone.
These are the five principle forms used for each of the four angles of the Board. Some differences should be made in the tone of the colouring of the front or face of the piece to indicate its angle on the board. Coloured bands may suffice for this purpose. Moreover the back of the piece--for it is customary to use flat pieces, not round as in ordinary chess--should be painted in the appropriate colour of the element it represents so as to avoid confusion in the recognition of its power. Thus the back of the King, as Osiris form, should be painted white to represent Spirit, and this rule applies to all four Kings in the four Angles. The Knight, Horus, should be coloured red. The Queen, Isis, should be be blue; the Bishop, Aroueris, yellow, and the Castle, Nephythys, should be black and set in a large frame. Each piece should be cut about three inches high.
For practical use, these pieces should be mounted on square wooden bases, and those bases painted in different colours. It will be by the bases that their place on the board may be recognised. For example, there are four sets of Chess pieces to be set out in the four corners of the board. Each piece is more or less like its corresponding piece in some on of the other corners. The pieces placed in the Air quarter of the board, there-fore, will be mounted on yellow bases. Those in the Water Angle will have blue bases. The pieces in the Earth Angle will have black bases, and those in the Fire quarter will have red bases. Thus, as in the Four Angelic Tablets, there results a minute sub-division of the sub-elements of the Tablet. There will be an Osiris piece, a King with a white back, on a yellow base, indicating that he is a King, belonging to the Air Angle. He represents the sub-element of Spirit of Air, the most spiritual and subtle phase of that element, the Tarot Ace of Swords. A King with a blue base indicating his place in the Watery Angle. A Queen, an Isis figure with a blue back, set on a red base, shows that she is the Queen of the Fire Angle, representing the Watery Aspect of the Fire sub-element of any Tablet, the Queen of Wands. A Bishop, yellow backed, mounted on a black base, shows that he belongs to the Earth Angle, as against a Bishop with a yellow base whose place is in the Air Angle and who, therefore, corresponds to the Prince of Swords in the Tarot pack. And so forth for the rest.
With but one or two slight exceptions, the pieces move exactly as do the corresponding pieces in Chess. The Queen here does not have the full liberty of the board as she does normally, nor is she the most powerful piece on the board. Here she can only move to every third square. This she can make in any direction, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally--but only three squares at a time. She can leap over intervening squares, and take pieces on the third square from whereever she stands. The other exception is that no Castling is permitted.
The Pawns in this Enochian chess represent the God-forms of the four sons of Horus, the Canopic Gods. Their attributions are:
Fire. Kabexnuv, mummy-shaped, awk-headed, the Knight's pawn.
Water. Tmoumathph, mummy-shaped, dog's head, Queen's pawn.
Air. Ahephi, mummy-shaped, ape-headed, the Bishop's pawn.
Earth. Ameshet, mummy-shaped, human-headed, the Castle's pawn.
The same rule for colouring the other pieces applies to the pawns. Their backs should be painted in the colour of the piece they serve. Thus the back of the Knight's pawn will be painted the colour of the Knight, red. The base will be coloured according to the Lesser Angle in which it is placed. So that in each of the Four Angles you will have four pawns on bases in the colour of its sub-element. The Airy Angle, for example, will have four pawns mounted on yellow bases. Those pawns will have four different coloured backs to indicate the piece, and therefore the element, which they represent and serve.
The pawn moves only one square at a time, and not two for the first move as in modern chess. The rule of en passant does not apply here, although the regular method of taking with pawn, via the diagonal, either to right or left, holds equally well.
It will be noted that the King has no pawns. Since he is Osiris, the other four pieces and their pawns are his personal servants and vice-gerents. His place on the board is always on the corner of the Lesser Angle, where the corresponding Letters of the Tetragrammaton would be placed on the Angelic Tablets. On the four corners of the board as a whole, therefore, will be found the Four Kings. Identical in every way, they yet differ in the colour of their bases, the colour of the Angle which they rule. Some variation might be made as to the posture of the God. For instance, the Fire King could be cut as a standing figure, the Water King sitting, and so forth. Let it be noted that on the corner squares, two pieces will always be found. The King and the piece corresponding to the Letter of the Angle will occupy the same square.
A piece or pawn threatening, that is giving check, to the corner square also checks the King as well as whatever other piece happens to be upon that square.
In setting up the pieces for play, the rule of Tetragrammaton on the Kerubic Square of the Tablets, has application. That is, the order in which the letters of the Name YHVH are placed on the uppermost squares of the Servient Squares of any Lesser Angle, as reflected from the Kerubic Squares above, also govern the placing of the pieces. The Bishop will be placed on the Vau Square, the Queen on the Heh Square, the Castle on the Heh final Square, etc. The student who has thoroughly assimilated the principles involved in the attributions of the Enochian Tablets will find all this perfectly straightforward, and experience no difficulty herein.
With regard to this injunction to set out the pieces on the board following the prime player's setting, whose chessmen are arranged according to the order of Kerubs, note that the remaining three sets of pieces are arranged, on any board, exactly in that order regardless of the order of Kerubs in their Angle. That is to say, if the prime player chooses an Earth of Water setting, his pieces will be set out: King and Castle on the corner square, then follow the Knight, Queen, and Bishop. The other three sets of Air, Water and Fire pieces on that board, are set out precisely in that order, either horizontally or vertically as the case may be.
It thus follows that there may result sixteen possible arrangements of pieces. That is, since there are four Kerubic ranks on each board, and there are four seperate boards, the chess-pieces may be arranged on the board in sixteen different settings. The reason for any particular setting--if divination is the motive for play--must depend on the prime player's synthetic grasp of the Order teaching. Let him remember that there are sixteen figures of Geomancy, each with a special and specific divinatory value. It should be remembered that these Geomantic figures are each under the influence of a Zodiacal genius and a planterary ruler. Not only so, but each is attributed to a Hebrew letter, therefore a corresponding Tarot Trump, with its allocation to a sign and a constellation in the heavens with all the hierarchical ideas that the latter implies. Thus the playing of this game resumes the whole philosophy of Magic.
The prime player must be guided in his selection of boards not only by choice of element as previously described, but by any one of these six-teen root significations of Geomancy. For each one of these sixteen figures may be applied to the sixteen Lesser Angles of the Enochian Tablets and chess-boards. So that each angle comes under the operation of a Geomantic ruler and genius, and under the dominion of that portion of the starry heavens corresponding to its Tarot trump. The method of attributing the figures to the Angles is identical with the process described for the squares of both columns and ranks in the Lesser Angles. Thus the Airy Lesser Angle of the Air Chess-board would be Mutable (Airy) Air, referred to the Zodiacal sign Gemini, and hence to the Geomantic figure of Albus, which is a mercurial figure under the presidency of Taphthar-tharath. The Watery Angle of the Air Tablet would be Kerubic or Fixed (Watery) Air, which is the Sign Aquarius, and the Geomantic figure of Tristitia, attributed to Saturn, and the ruler over it is Zazel. The Earthy Angles of the Air Tablet, is elemental Air, referred to the Geomantic figure of Fortuna Minor, also a solar or Leo figure, ruled by Sorath. The fiery Angle is Cardinal Air, the Zodiacal Sign of Libra, and Puella would be the Geomantic figure, with a Venusian nature, ruled by Kedemel.
The same principle is involved in allocating the Geomantic figures to the other Tablets and angles. The magical and divinatory value of the Geo-mantic figures must therefore decide the choice of Chess-boards and Lesser Angle settings.
The yellow and red men are so placed that they advance to the attack of the black and the blue respectively by the columns; while the latter advance by the ranks. That is, the Actives are shown as a vertical force, while the passives are shown operating horizontally, shewing the Cross of Life, corresponding to the forces of the Court Cards and the Zodiacal Trumps in the Tarot.
The central squares of the board contain the 16 signs that are allotted to each Lesser Angle. And it is only from these 16 squares that the pieces--except the Rook and the King--develop their full influence or defensive force.
The Watery and Airy Boards are counterparts of each other, so far as the arrangement of the signs, etc., of the squares are concerned. And the same is true as regards the Earth and Fire Boards. Every Board has its uppermost and lowermost ranks of the passive or female element; and its two central ranks are of the active or male element.
The most striking difference between the Air and Water, and the Earth and Fire Boards is in the fact that in the former the ranks are broken, whereas in the latter they are not only continuous across each board, but they are continuous right across both boards when in situ. To this is due the greater balance and eveness seen in the play of the pieces in the lower boards.