I begin this post with some good news. Twenty-five years ago, while I was deeply studying the teachings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, I was looking for aspects of the tradition that few people were researching. I came across a complex divination system used by that Order known as Enochian Chess. Enochian Chess is a completely unique system. Although it uses a standard-sized chessboard, each square was seen as a “truncated pyramid,” looking like a pyramid with a square bottom and its top cut off. That resulted in each square having five spaces for information on it.
Truncated Pyramid as Seen from Above
But that’s not all. Enochian Chess has four players instead of two, the pieces are Egyptian deities, two pieces begin in one square, and moves are determined by the throw of a standard, six-sided die. You begin by placing an additional piece on a square associated with the question you have in mind and play the game. Each movement has divinatory meaning, much as each card you put out in a Tarot spread has a meaning. If this sounds a bit bewildering and complex, it is. So naturally, I wanted to make a set.
There are actually four Enochian Chess boards, each associated with one of the elements and all of them derived from a large image used in Enochian magick, the system developed by John Dee and Edward Kelly in the sixteenth century. I figured that I could get four chess boards and, uh, a lot of styrofoam or wooden pyramids. I’d then cut off the tops of the pyramids, paint them the appropriate colors, and glue them to the boards. I wanted to go in full 3D. I soon realized this was going to be an enormous task, and I hadn’t even begun to work on the pieces that would balance on my pyramids.
In these early, pre-internet popularity days, communication among occultists was challenging. But as a result of buying a magazine from England, I found out about a company known as Aztral Games. They were actually making a full set of Enochian Chessboards and pieces. I saved up my money and ordered a set. They came several weeks later.
The boards were simple and flat, colored appropriately (but with no guiding written words or symbolism). The pieces were outlines printed on cardboard. I had to paint them, cut them out, and insert them into the included wooden supports. When finished, it looked amazing. Just one problemâ€”it required four people. Where would I find four people interested in this obscure game/divination system?
I finally found some people and we played a few times. The owner of Aztral Games, Steve Nichols, had also devised a way to play Enochian Chess as a much simpler game. We tried that and we also tried the divination. It was still very complex.
I had been living in San Diego, and moved up to the Los Angeles area. My new apartment looked rather empty, so I mounted the boards on the living room walls, each on its appropriate direction (Fire board on the south wall, etc.). Almost instantly I could detect a powerful flow of energy coming off of each board, meeting in the center of the room. I would often put a chair there and meditate, bathed in the energy.
When guests would come over they’d remark about the boards. If they weren’t involved in the occult I would just describe them as some artistic pieces I had picked up. It so unnerved some people that I eventually had to take them down.
I still have the boards and pieces, although I haven’t used them in awhile. If you are interested in learning more about Enochian Chess, you can read about it in Israel Regardie‘s classic book, The Golden DawnÂ (see the section of the book that starts on page 683).
It turns out that since those days, Mr. Nichols has been hard at work looking at the history and development of Enochian Chess. My guess is that he is currently the world’s leading expert on the subject. It turns out that he has discovered one of the most famous members of the Golden Dawn, William Butler Yeats, became deeply involved with the system and created a form of Enochian Chess based on Celtic Mythology and symbolism. I am very honored to publish the good news of Â his announcement:
Steve Nichols was the first to publish the four Mathers-WestcottÂ board Enochian chess sets back in 1982. After much furtherÂ research, Steve is now delighted to be able to make public WBÂ Yeatsâ€™s sixteen (16) Sub-Elemental Enochian chessboards. TheseÂ ’Celtic’ twilight board designs look and resonate very differentlyÂ from the four Golden Dawn â€˜Egyptianâ€™ pyramid Enochian Chess boardsâ€¦
The boards can be used for game-play or ‘active’ divination (usingÂ standard Enochian Chess pieces), or used ritually for CeremonialÂ work (when placed on the 16 compass points they form an ‘astralÂ temple’ or protected space). They can also be used for Skrying. InÂ addition these boards can be framed and hung or displayed asÂ striking art-works when not in use. All of the distinctive andÂ highly colorful 16 chessboards are printed and hand-numbered byÂ Steve on the reverse (this FIRST edition is limited to 500). EachÂ set of sixteen is supplied with a Certificate, plus some basicÂ information about the boards not given here.
On the inevitable eBay listing (LINK), Mr. Nichols adds, “â€¦[T]he specialist high-gloss printing inks used should remain colorfast indefinitely. These boards are both thick (260gms) and flexible.”
I have not seen these boards yet, and of course, neither I nor Llewellyn can guarantee their quality to you. But the price (less than $10 per board) seems reasonable, and this could be an entirely new development in the history of Enochian Chess and Enochian magick, one that is of great value for Celtic Pagans as well as ceremonial magicians and Yeats aficionados.
It was years ago, at a book convention, that I had the honor of meeting Nevill Drury. An art publisher and occult writer and movie producer, his brilliant books covering the history of modern occultism and sharing information on occultism in Australia are important for historians and researchers. He single-handedly brought to the public’s attention that astounding art and occult beliefs and practices of AustralianÂ Roseleen Norton. I would encourage readers to go to this LINKÂ to view his many valuable books.
It is with a sad heart that I must announce his passing on October 15. His full obituary can be found HERE. He will be missed by occult students around the world.Â Requiescat in pace.
Finally, I’d like to remind you about two appearances I’ll be giving over the coming week. First,
Hear Me Interviewed LIVE
Saturday, October 19, 2013
11:00 p.m. Easternâ€”â€”8:00 p.m. Pacific
Live Interview with me onÂ The Church of Mabuse Radio
Tune in and listen:Â http://churchofmabusradio.com
Iâ€™ll be talking with host Jeffery Pritchett on a variety of occult topics, leading edge politics, and more.
Be sure to listen in!
Do you live in Los Angeles?
Come to Llewellyn Week at
Mystic Journey Bookstore!
Wednesdayâ€“Saturday, October 23â€“26, 2013
Llewellyn Week at Mystic Journey Bookstore
1624 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
Celebrate Llewellyn Week at Mystic Journey Bookstore, the favorite metaphysical bookstore on the Westside of Los Angeles. There will be four nights of fun with Llewellyn authors. Come hear them talk and meet them in person. Here is the current schedule with their topics and times:
â€¢ 10/23, Wednesday, Tess Whitehurst -Â Magical FashionistaÂ 7-9pm
â€¢ 10/24, Thursday, Â Lon Milo DuQuette -Â Low MagickÂ 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
â€¢ 10/25, Friday, Karen Page -Â My Life Across the TableÂ 7-9pm
â€¢ 10/26, Saturday, Donald Michael Kraig -Â Modern MagickÂ 7-9 pm
Iâ€™ll be giving a workshop there Saturday night, but be sure to attend all four evenings. I may pop in to see my friends! I hope to see you there, too!