This paper examines the esoteric properties of the Chess Board and the Chess Pieces, identifies the underlying spiritual meanings of the game and reveals the close ties between Chess and esoteric Freemasonry. Each decision has a consequence which affects the response of the opponent and future moves of the decision maker, thereby influencing the outcome of the game. In its symbolism chess is the most significant of all games. It has been called “the royal game”–common sense in chess pdf pastime of kings.
Like the Tarot cards, the chessmen represent the elements of life and philosophy. In Chess, the playing field is defined by the chess board upon which the chess pieces operate. The physical constraints of the board, combined with the limitations of movement prescribed for each chess piece on that board, and together with the rules and conventions of the game constitute the totality of the tools used equally in common by each participant. The tools unique to each participant are the mental and spiritual processes brought to bear during play.
This paper will deal primarily with the physical characteristics of the Chess board, the functions of the Chess pieces and the esoteric symbolism which these game elements exhibit. It will address the intangible spiritual elements in the context of the physical. The premise of the paper is that not only is there a strong esoteric symbolism present in the game of Chess, this symbolism may be positively correlated with Esoteric concepts found in Freemasonry. Since I have taken the approach of dividing the physical elements of the game into the board, and the chess pieces respectively, I will discuss these elements in that same order. First however, a brief summary of the history of the game is offered. The conditions of this reward were that the amount of grain received would be equal to that which accumulated by placing one grain on the first square of the chess board, three on the second, six on the third, ten on the fourth, etc.
In an allegorical sense, the secret number of the chess board is not 64, but 65, because all other numbers are related to it. It is interesting to note that by using dice, the element of fate was introduced as a factor in the game. Chess in which the Game is portrayed as an allegory of the Zodiac. The representation of the Chess board in this fashion brings to mind similarities of the Vastu-mandala and the Kabalistic Cube of Space.
Still other sources identify that the game of Chess was invented by Mercury, also known as Hermes or Thoth. Regardless of its origin, the game of Chess became extremely popular in the Arabic world, thereby spreading to Spain and eventually to the rest of the Western world. The board is commonly viewed to be divided into four zones. The first zone is the division of the board into the White v. Black Half into groups of four Ranks. Black’s Half includes all the squares from Ranks 5 to 8.
A similar, but vertical division creates a second zone delineating the Kings Side versus the Queen’s Side of the board. In this transcript, a Table is provided which gives correspondences between the Chess Pieces, Cards of the Tarot, and the Elements. The 8 major trigrams of the I-Ching coincide with the 8 ranks and 8 files of the Chess Board, and the six lines in a hexagram may be correlated with the 6 types of chess pieces. There are also similarities between certain of the Chess Pieces and the cards in a Tarot deck. As is frequently the case when exploring true esoteric symbolism, there is a great deal of similarity which can be found between different, seemingly unrelated systems. The Masonic allusion most commonly associated with the Chess Board is that of the Mosaic pavement, and the allegorical representation of the dark and light squares as symbols of opposites. During our later discussion of the Chess Pieces further astrological allusions shared in common between the game and the lodge will be explored.
A somewhat lesser-known allusion concerning both the Chess Board and the Mosaic Pavement also exists in the Masonic allegory of the 3, 5, and 7 steps leading to the middle chamber. 9 is not a prime number. As will be shown, only the 3, 5, 7 sequence is accommodated by the Chess Board. The Chess Board may be discovered to have a common center, which can be located at the point of intersection of diagonals constructed from the four corners of the board. 3, 5, 7 sequence shown in Figure 3. This is a plausible consideration since the number 12 which describes the cube and the sequence 3, 5, and 7 are related.
We have visible three faces, and nine external lines, drawn between seven points. Thus, if we consider each nested square to have a height equal to its length and width them stacking the nested cubes results in a four-stepped Ziggurat as shown in Figure 5. The natural symmetric division of the Chess Board into four quadrants taken in the context of astrological symbolism represent the four opposing seasonal cycles. Theological basis of the Christian Trinity. The game is played with a total of thirty-two pieces, sixteen pieces are black and sixteen are white. In each set of sixteen there is one King, One Queen,, Two Bishops, Two Knights, Two Rooks, and Eight Pawns. Figure 8 provides an illustration of the initial placement of the Chess Pieces on the Board.
The symbolism of the Chess Pieces is largely found by examination of their function and the range of freedom with which they may move on the board. Chess Pieces as representative of the spiritual constitution of man. The pawns are the sensory impulses and perceptive faculties–the eight parts of the soul. The pieces may be found to have analogy to planetary bodies, the elements, cardinal direction, and many other forms. The Hexagram is itself a common symbol of planetary order. In the Astrological scheme, as already noted, the King represents the Sun and the Queen represents the Moon.