Chess is a game with impossibly ancient origins. The mists of time rise around any such thing, obscuring sources and foiling the efforts of even the most dedicated seekers. But it is always possible – if one tries long enough and hard enough – to find a repository of information sufficient to reveal the unknown.
Its “official history” is treated to a good overview here. What I am about to explain is the Occult understanding of chess, which differs considerably from the mainstream. Much like Wizard-writing is filled with weird phrasing and metadiscourse, so too is chess as you know it today filled with complex metaphors and expressions of ancient secrets.
It is in fact so full, that a move has been underway among Wizards for some time to transfer away from the old analog chess data system and begin using the more digital Chinese version.
The greatest secret of the Occult is the one that must be kept perennially in the mind of the true seeker. The Occult is viewed by many as nonsense. The reality is that the Occult is simply very difficult. It takes a great deal of work. The validity and value of the labor is debatable. Lawyers will tell you not to go to law school, and doctors will tell you not to go to medical school. Wizards will tell you not to be wizards. We are often the first people in a group to deride the Occult and demonstrate the myriad reasons that things Occult have no truth in them at all. There are reasons for this. It is important to protect the proprietary information of any essential profession.
One of the oldest Occult means of data storage and transmission is to utilize a mundane thing in a unique way. This was learned long ago by Babylonian priests who discovered that the Jewish populations transplanted to their cities were overtly participating in the state religion, but covertly maintaining their own beliefs. One of the legendary techniques was the use of the dreidel, a child’s top now associated with the Festival of Lights, or Hannukah, to teach Hebrew letters and by this, the spoken tongue. But the true secrets went farther than that. It is possible, utilizing a shared code, for individuals to comprise a kind of living internet. This last statement was deliberately ironic. If you understand this, then you understand the true message of chess.
Chess is perfectly Occult. Mastery of the game takes a huge investment of time and effort, and even at her or his best, the average person will never be able to challenge a truly profound chessmaster. But the true greats of the game – Kasparov, Deep Blue, and that Other Guy – have very probably missed the point. Among mortals, life is a game and that game is about winning. Among immortals – both the divine kind and the merely human kind – experience generates understanding and understanding always outweighs victory. Game theory is a discussion of how mortals are controlled. Immortals have no tolerance for games. Existence is too important, and it is too unending. Games make far better tools than they do diversions. And into a simple space of 64 squares, one may encode vast amounts of data. Chess is an elaborate and interconnected system of coded messages for those who are trained in its interpretation.
Master: Describe chess to me.
Acolyte: Thirty-two symbols arranged by alternating forms into 4 families; the occupied space is a golden 7. The contested ground is a golden 5.
The Acolyte is telling her Master that there are 16 pieces on each side, and there is one distinct form for each side. If you are wanting to be binary about it, one side of the board are the 1s and the other side of the board are the 0s. White moves first. White is emptiness. Emptiness must move first, or there can be no fullness, which is 1, which is black – and this is why dark symbols on white spaces are an iteration of the same principles. Chess is a language. So too is mathematics; Occult mathematics recognizes that our concept of “number” is a fallacy. Unoccupied space is neutral; it is nul; it has no mathematical value. Emptiness does not exist, or else it cannot be emptiness. The contested ground (a “golden 5”) is a numerological conflation of the 32 open spaces in the middle of the board. The four families are the Great Houses of Man, into which all roles are gathered and by which all ordination is established. “The occupied space is a golden 7,” is Occult-talk for the number 16. I know that it could also theoretically be Occult-talk for numbers like 43, thirty-four, and LII, but the fact that we know there to be thirty-two symbols divided into two camps tells us 16 on a side in two ranks. Ergo, the space described is 8×8. So, here, our normal number 16 is transported into the mystical realm. It is a numerological conflation of a single ten with six ones into 7 ones – an impossibility where 9 of our ones have simply ceased to exist. There is no mathematical rule guiding any of this: it is mystical thinking, certainly logical and certainly ordered, but obfuscated to all but the initiated. The reasons behind it are the same reasons why a carefully observant reader will have noticed by now that I render some numbers in their word forms, but others in their numeric symbols. And if I want to get really serious, I tell you that 4 is not a four at all unless it is IV.
Somewhere, a Wizard is laughing so hard that she just peed a little.
The point is that Wizardry – magic – the Occult – these are symbol sets and secret languages for conveying ancient secrets. The majority of the Hidden Orders engage in manipulation of events and persons by removes. Literally, the goal is to appear to be uninvolved while maintaining near-total control of your variables; the control is never total, so the variables never become constants. But the art of the Occult depends upon mastery of the uncertain. It is puppetry of human beings, plain and simple. The difference between the good guys and the bad guys lies in what is done with the puppets. Chess reflects who a player is. How do they protect their pieces? What are they willing to sacrifice? Which pieces does an opponent favor? What arrangements do they prefer? How much are they willing to sacrifice?
If this sounds like nonsense, it’s because it really is nonsense in the absence of a codex by which to translate. I can wave a stop sign at you all day, but if you lack a frame of reference for knowing what the stop sign is, and in any case you do not recognize my authority, then you will not stop. Symbols are useless in the absence of meaning. Meaning is derived from cultural context (authority). Meaning is programmed into receptors by repetition and reinforcement. Welcome to the Matrix that is no Matrix, and is therefore all the more bizarre. You are a biological entity running according to a mechanistic code that absolutely controls you, but for the fact that you have an active and self-aware role in the simultaneous writing of that selfsame code. For a useful frame of reference, consider reading The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin.
Infinity is a pretzel. DNA is a pretzel. Superstring Theory suggests a mandala, and a mandala is a cross-section of the Serpent of Eternity. The Serpent consumes himself at the tail; he is a toroid that suggests toroidal infinitude: a pretzel. The toroid space-time distortion thought necessary to produce a “warp-field” is a pretzel. They play three dimensional chess on Stark Trek, and Merlin was a chess... well… wizard. So too, Gandalf. All the best Wizards are super good at chess. And it is worthy to note that Spock is not better than Kirk at the game. But in the Occult world, that means that it is Spock who is likely to be the master. The point is that you cannot play chess with pretzels, but pretzels do play chess with you.
No less, consider Disney’s Sword in the Stone. Now, I know it is widely held that Disney is a puppet of the Illuminati, but I think it is amazing that all of the uninitiated believers in the Great Game have not yet widely recognized that Occultism is shattered into thousands of splinter cells, all penetrating and inter-penetrating each other, competing with one another, cooperating where necessary and then, only briefly. Somebody thought up the wonderful Archimedes. I ask you – who is the real wizard? Is he the one dressed as the Wizard, or is he possibly the talking Owl? Wrong question, and wrong answer, of course: welcome to the universe of the Occult. The truth is that both Wizard and Owl are the same creature. Gemini was one mind in two bodies, as are we all. This is precisely how one could explain chess – or at least what it represents. Some would see a sexual metaphor, others a spiritual interplay betwixt dualities. Some see battlefield tactics. The answer is, “Yes.”
All of these things are the same thing. Love is a Battlefield, and We Are Everywhere. Principes autem timeat.
Chess was designed as a metaphor, and it evolved from similar games that were equivalently designed. The common interpretation of the game in its modern form is that it reflects a battlefield dynamic and serves to train thinkers in tactics and strategy. The application of chess and its predecessors to battlefield and theater-of-war training is as old as the game itself. As my Master taught me, “This is the game of Kings.” Most people who have gotten serious about chess at one point or another in their lives will have heard this. But in the Occult, “This is the game of Kings,” is only the first part of the teaching. It is the prefix to a complete wisdom-teaching – a saying that reveals truth to the spirit.
How does a pawn bring a King to checkmate? Either the world has turned upside down, or else a Master of pawns has been very cunning.
Wizard’s describe chess thusly: “This is the game of Kings. By this, we learn how to rule Kings.” All cosmic laws in the Occult are self-negating. We say, “Fortune favors the bold, and discretion is the better part of valor.” The synthesis of two totally divergent forms is the essence of spiritual alchemy. This is why both the chess board and the Masonic floor are identical.
Acolyte: Master, what is the Universe?
Master: Simultaneously co-occurring mutually exclusive impossibilities. We need more wood for the fire.
Chess is played on a checkered board. Those of you with knowledge of at least the more pedestrian Masonic secrets will understand immediately what that means. More advanced readers should seriously rethink doing business with those operations they encounter that employ the Masonic pattern… Except, if the pattern is working, you won’t be able to rethink it. Dualities generate fascination; alternations of form and absence mesmerize. This is the reason for the dichromatic approach to chess design. The pieces are divided into teams defined by shade; the traditional colors are black and white, but nearly all of the many alternatives to this color scheme embrace the essential element of dualities. Pieces may be light gray and dark gray, brown and cream, red and blue… Howsoever the maker of the set thought it would be best rendered, the duality is always present. The point of chess is defined by this fundamental duality. It is both the union of opposites and a representation of the pantomime of war that conceals the active commingling of divergent positions. Where there is a later convergence of divergent themes, we see one part of the Cosmic wave. Time is a wave. We either ride or we are subsumed by it.
A game of chess invokes the almighty wave-form. It is a series of exchanges of initiative. All things are either 0 or 1.
“Move me onto any black square.” Do you recognize the line? Far be it from me to call out a pair of wizards carefully concealed within the fold, but when you sing this kind of stuff and call your band, “Yes,” you are not hiding all that well. Of course, that was probably the point. Many guises were shed for the Aquarian Age.
For the sorcerer who works in light, there is no other answer than, “Yes“. They’re a fairly good band, too. But it is, as always in all things magical, the words that matter most.
Start here. By this kind of learning it is possible to apprehend a great truth of the Way: There are bad people running society. They always have done so. But they do not ever truly have their way of things, because there are good people also running society. There are a great many ways to “rule”. So it is in chess. There are a great many ways to win, and an equally great many ways to learn from your experiences.
Everything you do and know and believe in has been infiltrated by various competing forces seeking to condition your thinking. This essay seeks to condition your thinking. I say, “Look at how I think about the world. I don’t expect you to do what I do, but you should really do what I do.” Like any Wizard, I promise the initiate, the acolyte, and the apprentice, power in varying degrees. But in truth, I know that this power only grows within a person if they will it. I cannot convey it to them. A Wizard shows the path. In terms of the chess metaphor, we teach the rules. By this, we are justified and our beliefs are verified. This is, in the end, all that any human being wishes: to be valid, to be justified. We may deride and act with cruelty, or we may embrace and act with kindness. Which is better?
Why does white traditionally move first? Because in chess, white is the representation of the occult principle of Positive Praxis. Praxis may be Light or Dark, as Lichte Reiziger still teaches those few who can find him. Fewer still understand the significance of his work, NIE (as evidenced by the reviews [or as Socrates put it, “the majority is always wrong, and I thank the God for that”]). Also, a good Wizard knows when to counterforce program. The thing everyone tells you is wrong is very often the only thing that is right, depending upon context. Easily accessible pop-occultism is readily available, and often at least as useful for serious study as Wikipedia articles are for advanced graduate research. The good shit is insanely hard to track down. I’ve personally spent fifteen years looking for two books I am not substantially certain actually exist. If you want to truly understand the Occult secret of chess – or of anything containing true power – you have to find the proper literature. There are many of these arcane, sort-of hidden-books. This means they are not a matter of sales and marketing, or writing for profit. NIE is notoriously hard to get hold of. You can put in an order for it and actually get rejected by the author, like I did… twice – and there are more books out there like this than most people would even imagine. Truly powerful Occult things are hard to come by for a reason.
NIE is just one example of a clear recitation of the Occult rules of chess, however, where these can be aligned to rules for living. Expressed as poetic reflections on mostly blank pages, the purpose of such a work is precisely reflective of the purpose of chess: A game is of little use to you unless you play it. NIE suggests the same to the cunning Occultist: A book is of little use to you unless you write it. By this, we learn that only life matters, and it only matters when we live it. We cannot be functions of roles and tasks, or economic functionaries only. We must live, and the direct routes to basic needs are more or less cut off in our age, for better or for worse. Make money, certainly, but do not be money. You must be moved, you must have a process. In the Occult, we call this Praxis.
All principles balance, if one knows enough about the occult to understand a work like NIE in the first place. As with all things Occult, it is useful only to those with the requisite foreknowledge. So it is that a book masquerading as experimental poetics can in secret be a decoding system for the Occult code contained in a “simple” chess game. There have been many such works, and I remind any of you interested in true mastery of the Occult that you must find the hidden works, not the publicly marketed ones.
The game itself can be used as an information storage system. Occult orders have done this for centuries; my teachers claim that some form of strategic game reflecting dualities has existed since the dawn of man. Games are the very first human inventions. They begin in utero.
The King most directly represents the Monarch, the Autocrat who stands at the pinnacle of an order. That order may be a nation. This is perhaps the simplest way to express the metaphor.
In a nation, regardless of the era or the trappings of that period, there will be 4 Estates. The 4 Estates compose the four elements of chess. These are the people (pawns) who comprise the Estate of Drudgery or – more modernly – the labor class. There is the Estate of Death – or more modernly, the military/industrial/technological complex. This is represented in chess by the castles and the knights. There is the Estate of Faith, represented by the bishops – who always enter at weird angles. Note also this – in taking, a pawn acts like a bishop. In taking life, even a peasant is elevated to the level of the sacred. But we can as readily render a “bishop” as a “high priestess” or “grand poo-pah”. It matters little what we call a thing. Lastly, there is the Estate of Law, represented in chess by the King and Queen. The King represents the philosophical bedrock – his movement is versatile, but limited. He is better when on defense; the tactical ideal is that his enemies come to him, that he may dispatch them. His wife, the Queen, is infinitely more powerful, from a certain point of view. Haven’t women always been the dominant force on this planet? To the Wizard, this has always been true. We have been blending the masculine and the feminine for a very long time. A state may take any form it wishes, provided that the citizens and the governing class recognize that there is only one State, and only one true organizational structure. If you make up enough new terminology, it is possible to make a tribal society appear very sophisticated.
Political power is the act of getting things to roll downhill.
Magic is the power to get things to roll uphill.
Like the Masonic checkerboard floor, the games of chess and checkers adopt this pattern because the alternation between points over time generates a wave, and the wave form is the most sacred of our truths. There is a pattern of variance, a regular fluctuation, to all things. Five thousand years ago, mystics in northern India discovered that discolored tiles on a temple floor fell into alternating patterns, owing to the way in which parishioners dragged their feet during ritual processions. Staring at this weird patterning, thinking it a message from on high, one priest or another had a revelation: the pattern is not in the floor. It is in the people.
People operate according to exactly predictable patterns. Master magic: master the patterns.
The moves of chess are designed to not only reflect this; they also instruct us in the great permutations of meaning and use that result.
Anyone who doubts that chess is some sort of Occult mechanism need only to seriously consider its elements to realize that there is something else going on beneath the surface. Like so many icebergs, this game is an echo of itself down through eternity; identity is a complex of repeating variables that appear without pattern or purpose close up, but from a great distance, there is only a checkered floor, an alternating procession of light and dark. There is a code underlying everything. It is the conceit and error of mathematicians to believe that they have identified the code and can describe it mathematically. The Great Occultists know better. The code is beyond our comprehension because we are of the code. The grain of sand knows nothing of the beach.
Chess is designed to show this to the Initiate and Acolyte. “Tell me, on this board, which piece is most like you?”
The unmoved mover must one day awaken to the truth that she too was once moved.
“Don’t surround yourself with yourself
Don’t surround yourself, move on back two squares
Send an instant comment to me, send an instant
Initial it with loving care Comment to me, don’t surround yourself”
Yes – I’ve Seen All Good People: Your Move Lyrics | MetroLyrics
It is interesting to find a rock band writing about “instant comment[s]” in 1970, isn’t it? For a moment, not so long ago, there was a conclave of philosophers in the Western world, deeply motivated by the ancient bonds between faith, enlightenment, and entertainment. The term, “instant comment” is of course a misappropriation of Instant Karma. It also happens to be prophecy. This is how magic works.
Chess is an important tool in Occult circles. True divination is done using a chess board, so too true interaction with the Otherworld when an inhabitation or infestation is suspected. Leave out a chess board with pieces properly placed, and some Otherkin simply cannot leave it alone. But you have to know the right arrangements of pieces, and for those secrets, you cannot pay in money.
Court teachers and lawyers and doctors of ancient times through the modern day have sometimes been members of Occult orders. I need not lay out an extensive list before so well-educated an audience. Let us say, John Dee, and have done with it. But when we judge the behavior of the past and the teachings of the Occultists, we must apply the same careful and judicious suspicion that our own perceptions have the power to lead us astray. This view informs a Wizard always – he or she must ask, “What is here that I do not want to see?” Chess is designed to teach that skill above all others, and if its mystical allegories are understood by the players, the skill comes to apply in very profound ways.
This conceit that I am a Real Wizard is both fun and convenient. It allows me to say things to you like, “I am not authorized to tell you the real secrets of chess in total. If I reveal too much, I’ll get into big trouble with the other Wizards.”
But I can probably get away with this sacred key:
The Knight = 1.618
What is the Occult meaning of chess? It is the first mystic calculator. It is the magical equivalent of the computer. As Genji taught, “For the man who has climbed the mountain, watching a game of shogi between two old generals is like watching children threshing rice after the fashion of their elders.”
The most important secrets were never secret to begin with. What is here that your mind does not want to see?
After editing Vicar Lee’s meditation upon chess, we had the following conversation.
Chris: dude, black always goes first. coal before fire.
Vicar Lee: I was thinking about this the other day: everything is a hypothesis. Either that, or it’s a rumor. Hence, white goes first.
Vicar Lee: Except in cases where house rules may apply.
Vicar Lee: Offer good until expiration, basically.