A mention of chess is sure to halt me in my tracks; add the name Rosicrucian to the word chess, and I’ll do a double take; and expose to me the notion of a Rosicrucian chess set on the anniversary of William Butler Yeats’ birth, and I’ll take a minute to blog about it. And that’s what happened today. Perusing my favorite social media site, I happened upon a link to a vendor of such chess sets, sometimes also known as Enochian Chess.
Designed by MacGregor Mathers & Co. in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the nineteenth century, Rosicrucian Chess retains all of the chess piece names that you know, and most of their freedom of movement (the queen is afforded one different capability from what we have in standard chess), but the pieces are pyramid shaped and as many as four players may compete. With sets of pieces for four players, the pieces are in four colors, and they represent the Elements. Red for fire; blue for water; yellow for air; and black for earth. The purposes of this chess variant are divination, meditation, and recreation—which some of us could say of traditional chess!
The chess board has more to offer than the two-tone surface reminiscent of the floors of Masonic lodges, as you can see in these photos borrowed from icehousegames.org that show a Golden Dawn symbol within each of the 64 squares.
Don’t ask me about the rules of the game. I haven’t a clue, but Israel Regardie writes of them in his The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic.
(For the record, Golden Dawn is not my thing. While I believe intuitive acceptance complements our pursuit of the rational, most systems of esoteric teaching are beyond my abilities and interests. HOGD is one of them, but if you’re so inclined, I would steer you toward here, the order led by Chic and Tabatha Cicero, although I do not know if they play this chess.)
Well, I’m off to lodge now. Will be visiting Cincinnati Masonic Lodge No. 3 in Morristown, New Jersey to greet Chris Hodapp on his current speaking tour.