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CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess

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CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess

The history of this game is lost in the mist of time. Already present in the tombs of the Egyptian Pharaohs, known in the Nordic cultures, there are a lot of artistic representations about its presence in different civilizations.

It is said that rajah Balhait asked the wise Brahman Sissa to conceive a game in which the power of the mind should be prevailed and not that of fortune. More, he wanted it to develop the intellect and to have educational valences. Sissa invented a game in which different pieces had to be moved on a square-checkered board formed of 64 squares and it is obvious that this was a forerunner of chess.

The word ‘CHESS’ derives from the Persian ‘SHAH’ meaning King, the original word is supposed to be ‘ASHA’, the Cosmic Order.

The legend says that King Vishtaspa of Persia became extremely bored by life because he had accomplished everything he had wanted: he was full of triumph in wars, sick of hunting, tired of the intrigues and the pleasures at his court. The King suffered of boredom and finally he offered an unlimited reward to the one who had made him recover his interest for life.

CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess

Zarathustra prophet, religion coordinator in archaic Iran

No one managed to, until Zarathustra appeared with the original game board, different from the chess board nowadays. He taught the king the rules and how to play it and, through it, he proved to the king all the rules of the universe and of life. He interpreted them like no other, like no chess player nowadays could and the king was very satisfied and his interest for life reborn.

After that he told Zarathustra to ask him everything he wanted and promised that his wish will be accomplished. Zarathustra wanted to teach the king a lesson through which he would stop being a megalomaniac so as to think that he can really offer someone anything he wishes for. Zarathustra said to the king that he wants a simple and modest thing:

A grain of wheat on the first square of the board, 2 grains on the second, 4 on the third and so on doubling the previous quantity until the 64 squares will be filled with wheat grains. The king laughed and promised to Zarathustra that he will send him the wheat in a couple of days, thinking that he was stupid to ask for some wheat grains when he could have asked for gold and a real treasure.

CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess

He told his men to calculate the quantity of wheat and to send it to Zarathustra. He was surprised when, after a couple of weeks they came and told him that they should send a quantity of wheat that wouldn’t exist in the whole empire. Even if they had would have amassed the entire wheat in the entire empire it would have been the hundred part of the hundred part of the quantity promised to Zarathustra. The King was shocked to hear this one and realized that he cannot keep his promise. He sent for Zarathustra and he told his how ashamed he is. Zarathustra told him that he doesn’t want the wheat and that he only wanted to teach the king a lesson and then he retired back to his forest.

In the Orient there are several types of Chess, but the principle is the same.

An interesting form of chess can be found in India. The elephant, considered sacred in the Hindu culture, is used here as vehicle carrying the Man, who models his destiny. Like this he becomes more than a simple game.

That is why it is interesting to discover – through the keys of gnosis – that this game transposes cosmic archetypes, truths about the initiatory road and talks about the ingredients necessary to efficiently fight against the Ego.


It also makes the synthesis of the interior work outline inside us and it has the capacity to develop faculties useful to this one.

The board game symbolizes the eternal fight against Spirit and matter; good-evil; values-ego; Being-Nonbeing.

The black and white squares that alternate on the board and on which we move the pieces show us that step by step we find ourselves in the position to take decisions.

We must decide ourselves every moment if we choose the Being or if we deny it. There is the vertical way crossing with the horizontal one.

This way the whole life transforms itself in a land of decisions and fights.

The old Cathedrals, temples, were transmitting this symbol through the model of the floor.

CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess

The Game Board resembles to the esoteric life – each step made will determine the adversary to move according to our move and contrary, we will take into account our adversary’s steps. Example: if we work on a flaw, it is very possible that he feels threatened and to retire for a period. And if we pass through a period during which an aspect in us moves, our work must orientate towards this Ego.

Watching the board game from a Cabalistic point of view we discover that there are 8 squares in one direction and 8 in the other that give the Cabalistic number 8x8=64, 6+4=10 that is the arcane nr. 10 ‘The Wheel of Destiny’. In order to defeat the Samsara the nr. 8 arcane comes in our way – the sword and the balance; the initiatory tests.

CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess

The Master reveals us the initiatory steps and tells us that in the first stage there are 8 great tests – 7 fire serpents and the Initiation in Tipheret.

Then 8 light serpents follow dissolving the evil and the created vehicles and later to definitively eliminate the root of the flaw the 8 years of Jove are lived. Like this it is definitively freed from the danger of the iron teeth Wheel that grinds the souls.


The fight we must take is given in the interior and in the exterior – white and black combat.



CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess, PIONII

The 8 pawns are the fighters in the first line, they make the first step (exception – the knight), they conquer the first – they make us remember the 8 virtues necessary to the awakening of the sacred fire.

The pawns represent the neophytes of the road – men and women that launch themselves to conquer the soul.

They can make only one step forward, or diagonally when they conquer. They don’t have powers, they have to earn them.

Many times they are sacrificed in order to defeat or protect a more valuable piece. There are no battles without defeats and sacrifices.

Protected (as any valuable thing) in the second row are the valuable pieces.


CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess, Regele

The King represents our being for which the battle is given. He is anyway capable to take only a single step in any direction. Through this is shown that in order to reach the being, which distributed the powers in its derivations, all these must be regained step by step.

The Black King (Beast) – counterpart of the White King (Being).

Its counterpart is the force and the intelligence of the Beast, profoundly hidden inside us – represented by the black king.


CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess, Regina

The Queen, (The Inner and Particular Divine Mother of each one) is the most powerful on the board game, has full freedom of movement in any direction, is the most valuable – like it is shown in esotericism: the Fire of the Divine Mother, without which we can’t destroy the evil in us.

On the board the pieces are disposed symmetrically – they indicate us the order in the interior work. According to their order the rook, the knight and the bishop indicate us very important aspects on the road.


CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess, Turnul

The rook represents the fact of watching, of observing our inner world. (example: the way ancient fortresses were built – strategic points in order to be able to observe everything).

It moves linearly – back-forth or left-right: We see here two types of observation: the one oriented towards the exterior and the auto observation (oriented towards the interior). It must be piercing, in the use of the Being.


The only move in which the King can move more is called Castling – big or small; and here he makes a change with the Rook. We could interpret this as a symbol in which the Being and the auto observation demonstrate their co-operation.

The rook also appears as a symbol of the vertebral column (the wise men’s stick).

CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess, Calul

5. THE KNIGHT – ‘L’ (ley, law, lav, lex, lege)

The Knight represents the Divine Law which we have to take into account in all our actions.

It makes a ‘L’-shaped move – is the Divine Law that is the only piece in the game that can leap over other pieces. (We recognize the aspect of the piercing Divine Law of which we cannot hide).

Its counterpart, are the mechanical laws and rules that condition us more as we move away from the Father.

CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess, Nebunul


The bishop represents the erotic force. It can cross the board diagonally and its moves form the symbolic X. The Cross or the X calls us to crucify the egotistical wishes – as the Apostles of the Gospel wrote. (St. Andrew crucified in X shape).


The white and the black pieces are face to face. The two opposite forces dispute their fight outside and inside us. We are familiar to our allies’ antithesis from the Works of Master S.A.W. – the Great Beat; the Kundartiguador organ; the egotistical powers – all those forces that feed on sexual energies badly canalized.


CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess

But the forces are equally divided, the fight is equal – it makes us realize the fact that everything depends on us, on the way we move. A wrong move can jeopardize the whole work.


We can win, we can lose or there is a third possibility: dawn called TIE. What are we transmitted through that? That it is possible that nor the Being, neither the Beast wins and that happens when we devolve, when we descend in Hell. We lose the soul, the Being gives up the Soul because it is irrecoverable, and the Beast loses because it will disintegrate in Hell. The new evolution of the essence will be very far from the Father and in the same time with the reintegration in the human kingdom, the Beast will again become step by step human.

So the great fight returns on the board, only a new game will decide the victory of one of them.


The aspect that appears regarding the pawns is interesting: easily and hardly they can reach to the last row but if they get there they retrieve the Queen – they transform in a piece with the greatest power. This happens in the interior worlds – the fight and the efforts are rewarded by the gift of the Divine Mother – the Sacred Fire.

Totally it is possible to retrieve 8 queens (8 fires of light).


CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess

Check - is when we attack the enemy’s peak. This doesn’t mean victory but this aspect is worth analyzing: Esoterically, for example when we work on an Ego but the law doesn’t yet allow its elimination, we still continue with the discovery and the understanding on the Ego, we will be able to keep it in ‘CHESS’ by controlling it. Meanwhile we work on new strategies.

Among the many fighting modalities, one of the strategies proves to be very efficient: forming a nucleus of pieces that defend one another and which to occupy the centre of the board. This way this will be hard to defeat. This is how things are in our interior work – once a strong nucleus created and controlled in the centre of the physical anatomy and of the ether (the sexual centre) will make the interior work more efficient.


CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess

16 pieces – allusion to 32 pieces = 5 auto realisation, according to transfinite mathematics +=5 (the book ‘Tarot and Kabala’, Arcanum Nr. 5).

Even if the rules are the same, the board and the pieces the same, every game is different, offers infinite possibilities. This shows us that the road is particular for each one even if we all have the same flaws, we are governed by the same laws etc.

The purpose is one: TO WIN – this is all.

Many, through training became real athletes of the Chess – named it a sport because it makes the ‘muscles’ of our mind work.

CHESS - the symbolism of the game of Chess

It is important to understand that we have an ingenious instrument, left by the old wise instructors of humanity, who transmit through it (Chess) cosmic truths, objective, eternal, knowledge about the structures above us and underneath us, keys that we can use for our own salvation.

We must recognize that the interior fight between good and malign intelligent forces is found also outside us, in the world, in Cosmos, and they combat ceaselessly...

...that is why let’s understand that each one of us is nothing but a pawn on the board of life, and it is urgent to define ourselves to which force we serve, on what side we work To be or not to be.

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Comments (9)add comment

Akiba Rakil said:

I love the game of chess!
February 22, 2013

Sean said:


Thank you for all the information through this web.
I am working on my sculptures. I was doing a research about the chess game. I found out that the chess game is intrinsically about the power.
Thank you.
March 08, 2013


I'm a huge fan of chess and this article was very helpful, especially the bit where you described the esoteric meaning of chess and each move is a battle with duality--a great lesson to be learned throughout our lives. Great stuff!
February 26, 2015

Betty said:

This was fascinating to read and made ME think. It pointed out to me that I can do a much better job in my daily choices by thinking carefully and not being so ego driven. I enjoyed the article very much. Thank you.
November 29, 2015

sumeksha said:

Thanks u for provide this historical information.i lv playing chess.... this game is also helpful for doing a much btr job in our day to day lyf.
March 19, 2016

Gail lara said:

I LOVE the CHESS GAME♠:-) ♥♥:-D
July 08, 2016

Matt said:

Great article, thank you!
I have a question about the 8 virtues... are there not 7 virtues to be attained in the conquest of the soul, just as there are 7 capital sins?
August 19, 2017

Kirsten Murray said:

I have more reverence now for the designer of the game, since gaining a deeper insight into the gnosis behind it and potential for teaching us about life.. I used to think it was promoting war and opppdition, heirachy etc, and it annoyed me that the aim was to WIN. But now I see that we can choose to play a different game in real life.. Aim to do no harm and just keep playing without attacking..
March 23, 2022

Kirsten Murray said:

Very deep! Wow. Thanks for that education!
March 23, 2022

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