The Star Game, Chess, and the Nine Angles: An Introduction to Chess Hermeneutics

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Grandmaster © Nameless Therein 2022

– “Grandmaster,” © Nameless Therein 2022

[Repost of: https://luxlycaonis.com/index.php/2022/04/14/chess-hermeneutics/]

The Star Game, Chess, and the Nine Angles:
An Introduction to Chess Hermeneutics

Much attention is given in the Order of Nine Angles to the importance of learning and playing the Star Game. At its most basic level, the Star Game can function as a learning tool or “game” to familiarize oneself with various Septenary correspondences and refine certain imaginative, creative, rational, and abstract faculties. At one of many esoteric levels, the Star Game functions as a way of magickally apprehending “the nine fundamental ‘alchemical’ forms,” which “re-present the acausal manifest in the causal.”[1] These “nine fundamental forms” are represented by the pieces of the Star Game, where each alchemical combination represents an “angle” with respect to the Septenary Tree of Wyrd, alluding to one esoteric meaning of the term “nine angles.”[2] These forms are said to “exist in many combinations within the nexion which the ‘Tree of Wyrd’ represents,” where such combinations “are abstractly symbolized by the placement of the many pieces of the Star Game over the seven boards (‘Spheres’) of that game.”[3] The aforesaid abstraction “makes the [nine fundamental] forms understandable on a level higher than using words and ideas,” which is in turn meant to cultivate “a new form of thinking” – a form of thinking referred to as “acausal thinking.”[4] The symbolism of the Star Game is essentially “a new tool to assist and develope our understanding, and it is via this symbolism that the meanings of the nine angles may most easily be understood without confusion.”[5] The simple or Septenary form of the Star Game is meant to be an introduction to its advanced form, which is a “complete and full representation of the septenary system.”[6] In more advanced applications, the Star Game functions as a “sophisticated magickal ‘clock’” with respect to the Wheel of Life;[7] and in its advanced form, the game can be used for Aeonic magick.[8]

While many associates have some understanding of the esoteric significance of the Star Game and its basic applications, I find it bewildering how so many associates attempt to learn the Star Game while completely neglecting training and experience in the game of chess.

CHESS AND THE STAR GAME

Like the Star Game, chess can be played as nothing more than an entertaining game, rich with complexity and a deep cultural history over the course of its long evolution. But from its longstanding cultural origins, its tangible influence on world history,[9] its influence on global technology,[10] and its usefulness in developing certain higher-level faculties in the individual, the significance of chess has broader socio-cultural implications. Unlike the Star Game, chess is merely a game. But it can be an invaluable tool to develop, refine, and expand the necessary faculties required for applying the Star Game to its many esoteric and magickal contexts. At a practical level, the study of certain fundamental patterns in chess provides a foundation for navigating the boards and pieces of the Star Game. With care, experience, and creativity one can find correlates between the patterns found in chess and the nine fundamental alchemical forms represented by the pieces of the Star Game, which again represent one esoteric meaning of the “nine angles.”[11] Insofar as these nine alchemical forms “are the basic apprehensions of magickal energy … [representing] the acausal manifest in the causal,”[12] and given that these forms can manifest in many ways, the study of correlative fundamental patterns in chess is a worthwhile and important activity. At a more advanced level, discovering correlations between the patterns in chess and the forms of the Star Game can aid in the development of the imaginative, creative, rational, and abstract faculties required for their magickal apprehension and application. At more advanced levels of chess, experience with these fundamental patterns not only finds application in real life – in navigating interpersonal conflict, strategizing, and identifying complex networks of meaning, for example – but can form a bridge between instinct and what with respect to the Star Game is referred to as an “intuition” – a lower form of abstraction that can arise with “acausal thinking.”[13] The capacity for acausal thinking arises from the relation between the abstract symbols of the Star Game and “conventional representations,” such as “archetypal forms; the energies of the pathways; the symbolism of the Tarot and the many and various Occult symbolisms.”[14] This capacity thus arises, in part, from the formation and implementation of the meaningful associations and “deep roots” that I described elsewhere (see my previous articles, “‘Deep Roots’ and Meaningful Associations: Musical Tarot Continued, Auditory Sigils, and Aeonic Chant Magick” and “Techniques for Doing a Musical Tarot Reading & Creating Auditory Sigils”). Thus, in forming the aforesaid correlates between the patterns of chess and the forms of the Star Game, in establishing a bridge between instinct and “intuition,” and in developing and then refining the necessary faculties to apply said patterns to more advanced esoteric and magickal contexts, training in chess is an invaluable tool for learning and playing the Star Game.

Colloquially, the number of possible chess games that can be played is sometimes said to exceed the number of stars or atoms in the known universe. More precisely, the number of possible legal positions was estimated by Claude Shannon in 1950 to be “of the general order of 64!/32!(8!)^2(2!)^2, or roughly 10^43,” which is now referred to as “Shannon’s number.”[15] More recently, Victor Allis estimates this to be around10^50,[16] additionally estimating the game-tree complexity of chess to be 10^123.[17] Again, given this immense number and given the even greater complexity of the Star Game when accounting for the variables involved in its advanced magickal applications at the Aeonic level (which, like our “normal” understanding of the septenary, reflects not just a “‘map of consciousness and the cosmos,”[18] but a dynamic of the universe), it is difficult to imagine how one can approach the Star Game, let alone the advanced form of the game, without some experience in chess.

That said, while one can play the Star Game without any experience in chess, it is my opinion that high-level chess players, including those at the Master and Grandmaster levels, would be of assistance in developing the Star Game. Such players could assist in developing a consistent notation to record and then analyze games, in addition to determining how to approach tactics, strategy, openings, and calculating accurate moves in specific positions. Eventually, we may be able to develop Star Game engines, both to analyze our games and to play against. Without these and similar developments, the Star Game will likely encounter obstacles over the course of its evolution, highlighting an asymmetry between the potency of its magickal applications and the practical limitations of playing and studying the game. It is hoped that in emphasizing the importance and usefulness of studying chess in relation to the Star Game, others will take up these tasks. With the esoteric and magickal applications of the Star Game in mind, it is also hoped that a confluence between chess and the Star Game can aid Internal Adepts and Masters/Mistresses in constructing and then employing new empty formal structures of magick to employ at the Aeonic level. These function as formal structural “models” that can then be populated, directed, and implemented according to a specific magickal or esoteric technique.

With those aims in mind, I will be regularly introducing various chess patterns or puzzles in relation to various levels of meaning relevant the Order of Nine Angles. I call these “chess hermeneutics.” To make sense of what I mean by this phrase, in addition to how these chess puzzles will be applied to the ONA, I will say a little more about the origin and meaning of “hermeneutics.”

A BRIEF HISTORY OF HERMENEUTICS

The word “hermeneutics” comes from the Greek infinitive hermenuein, which means “to interpret.”[19] Hermeneutics is an ancient field with a long history, one that was revived in the modern age and particularly in the nineteenth century. In the ancient world, hermeneutics developed in two contexts: one was Greek and the other was biblical. In the Greek context, hermeneutics took shape with respect to the work of Homer, who is sometimes regarded (and explicitly referred to) as the teacher of Greece. Through Homer we find the ancient myths conveyed in epic poetry, which provided a context for the Greeks to understand the world they inhabited. Though there are disagreements about when to date Homer, we can see from the fourth and fifth centuries that his work guided the Greeks over the course of several centuries. With this guidance and as history began to run its course, the question concerning how Homer’s work could come to bear on the current circumstances of individual lives took shape. The response, broadly speaking, was that some dynamic or process of interpretation was needed. This was also the case in the biblical context of hermeneutics, both with respect to the New Testament and the Old Testament. Hermeneutics was the name given to that process or dynamic of interpretation.

Hermeneutics made its way from the ancient world to the modern one through works like Aristotle’s On Interpretation, which was devoted to the task of analyzing sentences, to the work of St. Augustine in the early medieval period, which was concerned with the question of how the word of God could be understood by human beings. Hermeneutics saw a revival in the nineteenth century through the work of the theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher, who was interested in the question of scriptural interpretation. Schleiermacher developed a mode of hermeneutics characterized as “romantic,” which in effect concerned a type of understanding or communion between the interpreter and the historical source of the text. Hermeneutics began to branch out from theology as Schleiermacher became interested in the character of understanding generally. Around this time, we also find contributions to hermeneutics in the work of the philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey, whose name comes up in Heidegger’s Being and Time when Heidegger distinguishes his own hermeneutical project from that of philosophical anthropology. Dilthey essentially draws a distinction between the natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften) and the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften), which includes the social sciences developed in the nineteenth century.

Dilthey may have been looking for a way to work within the human sciences that was more appropriate for them than that of the natural sciences. We find, in turn, that the type of thinking appropriate for the human sciences is understanding, which brings along with it a question of meaning. This is contrasted with the type of thinking appropriate for the natural sciences, which is explanation. In short, Dilthey concluded that hermeneutics is the method appropriate for the human sciences.

At this point, hermeneutics began to re-emerge prominently as a development that continued and intensified into the twentieth century. Additionally, the distinction between the natural sciences and human sciences created a division between those who approached the human sciences with respect to understanding and meaning versus those who attempted to work within the human sciences as if they were natural sciences. This essentially involved a division between a hermeneutical approach (sometimes called interpretive social science) and a calculative methodology (sometimes called calculative social science). This division can still be seen in, for example, the difference between Continental philosophy and Anglo-American analytic philosophy, broadly speaking.

Though there are other fields that take a strong interest in hermeneutics – hermeneutic interpretation finds a strong presence in law and jurisprudence, for example – today the term usually refers to philosophical hermeneutics, and specifically philosophical hermeneutics after Heidegger. Heidegger brought hermeneutics into philosophy in a major way through his analysis of Being. In analyzing the structure of the type of being that we are (which Heidegger calls “Dasein”), Heidegger finds that we are “always already” interpreting. This discovery – that a hermeneutical interpretive dynamic is always already at play with respect to the ontological structure of our being – was a major contribution to the Western intellectual tradition and carried hermeneutics into the modern world.

CHESS HERMENEUTICS: SHAPESHIFTING, SATANISM, AND MIMESIS

With respect to what has been written here on the Star Game, chess, and hermeneutics, the phrase “chess hermeneutics” is thus meant to refer to a specific way of interpreting the correlations between certain fundamental patterns encountered in chess and the nine fundamental alchemical forms in the Star Game, which represent one of the esoteric meanings of the “nine angles.” In keeping with the role of the “shapeshifter” in the ONA, studying certain recurrent, fundamental chess patterns in their myriad configurations can help illuminate the many ways these dynamics are interpretive and require interpretation – not just on the board, but in real life. Like the “nine angles,” such dynamics are operative in consciousness and throughout the cosmos, requiring a kind of reflexivity between the operator and their environment: before one can identify the many ways such dynamics manifest in the world, they must first develop the faculties required to identify and then imitate these primordial patterns, thereby “shifting their shape” or “shapeshifting,” to illustrate one esoteric sense of the term.

Many who claim the title “Satanist” have not developed the faculties required for this kind of imitation at even the most basic level – faculties required to approach any magickal apprehension of “shapeshifting.” Beyond Satanism and with greater experience, one learns to approach this basic form of imitation through the more advanced interpretive dynamic of mimesis, which, in one advanced form, alters by way of complex forms of “imitation” certain formal structures of the narrativity of wyrd. This is a clue to what “shapeshifting” actually entails, here approaching the Aeonic level. At that level, “‘Mimesis’ is one method of aeonic magick that has come down over the centuries,” involving the imitation of “some aspect of cosmic/Earth-based movement/working, and then either following the natural pattern or slightly altering that pattern to bring about a subtle change.” Additionally, given that it is this “alteration” that “forms the basis for ‘black’ magick,”[20] it is quite telling that so few “Satanists” have a sense of what that means.

In an attempt to remedy this, and as a practical way of encouraging others to develop the faculties required for advanced magickal applications of the Star Game, I will thus be introducing a series of “chess hermeneutics.” These will involve specific puzzles and positions in relation to certain interpretive dynamics. Those dynamics may include (but are not limited to): 1) relations to certain energies, forces, paths, spheres, and Dark Gods on the Tree of Wyrd; 2) applications in certain interpersonal scenarios in real life; 3) connections to other magickal and esoteric ideas, techniques, or correspondences; and 4) potential connections to the Star Game, when and where applicable. While these are not intended to be comprehensive, they will offer a few ideas on how to identify and then utilize such dynamics with an eye toward broader, more advanced esoteric, magickal, existential, and cosmic applications.

In turn, I will try to select puzzles and positions requiring varying levels of skill and experience on the chess board, ranging from intermediate to advanced. These will be created as I find puzzles and positions worthy of constructing into a “chess hermeneutic,” which may take some time.

In closing, I encourage those interested or experienced in the Star Game to supplement their knowledge with chess. Though there are many online resources to begin studying and playing the game – chess.com is an excellent resource, for example, and has a “puzzles” trainer that includes over 150,000 different puzzles to solve at different Elo ratings – what is important, as with all things, is to get started.

Nameless Therein
Scothorn Nexion
April 13, 2022

NOTES

[1] Anton Long and the Order of Nine Angles, “The Nine Angles – Esoteric Meaning,” in Hostia: Secret Teachings of the O.N.A., Volume I (Shrewsbury: Thormynd Press, 1992).

[2] Long and ONA, “The Nine Angles.” The Tree of Wyrd itself “possesses nine causal angles and nine acausal angles in the causal geometric sense,” which the author notes “can be represented as formed by the corners or angles of a causal and acausal tetrahedron, one a reflexion of the other, the base of both lying in the plane of the middle sphere (the Sun). This double tetrahedron encloses in three-dimensional space the path from causal to acausal – the ‘Initiate journey’ from the sphere of the Moon to Saturn via the other spheres, this path being helical (cf. ‘The Wheel of Life’). The direction of this path is ‘counter-clockwise’.” Regarding the nine angles themselves, the author adds that, “In essence, the acausal is a reflexion (and vice versa) of the causal, so the single term ‘Nine Angles’ describes what is our normal (i.e. un-Initiated) view of the septenary, this septenary being a ‘map’ of consciousness and the cosmos. The realization of the dual nature of the spheres (for example, Mercury is the ‘shadow’ of Mars) arises from Initiation and is the first stage of an esoteric understanding of the term ‘nine angles.’”

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid. The author notes that the higher-level understanding of these nine fundamental forms “arises from playing the Star Game and relating the abstract symbols to conventional representations (e.g. archetypal forms; the energies of the pathways; the symbolism of the Tarot and the many various Occult symbolisms) – this developes the capacity for what may be termed ‘acausal thinking’: when the conventional representations are abandoned and collocations are viewed abstractly.” The author emphasizes that this abstraction is “not a dry, academic process,” but a “new ‘insight’ (a lower form of which is often described an ‘intuition’),” whereby consciousness is extended “into new and important realms and pre-figures the development of a symbolic language which eliminates the confusion, both moral and linguistic, which exists in words and the translation of complex ideas into such words.”

[5] Ibid.

[6] Long and ONA, “Advanced Star Game,” in Hostia I.

[7] Long and ONA, “Star Game: Addendum,” in Hostia I.

[8] For more on this subject, see, Long and ONA,“Aeonic Magick – General Notes,” in Hostia I. Also see the final section of “The Septenary Star Game” in Hostia I, which elaborates briefly on what “Aeonic magick” in part entails with respect to the Star Game. The author notes that, “It is important to understand that the most important and practical aspect of an Aeon is the associated higher civilization – magickal Aeonic workings shape the ethos of this during the transition period between the ending of one Aeon and the beginning of another.” Elaborating further, the author states:

Hitherto, Aeonic workings – when they have been undertaken at all – have concentrated on opening the Gate that presences the power of a new Aeon. Yet is possible to extend by such workings a … [higher civilization] into the … [sulphur] stages. For the present, this implies the end of the Western as c. 3090 AD instead of 2390 AD. This is the first time in history that such a change is possible, since heretofore the process of Aeonic change has not been consciously understood by Adepts – it was approached mainly via mythological symbolism. It is through the abstract symbolism of the Star Game that full control is possible.

However, the following comments from Hostia I, “Aeonics” should also be kept in mind when approaching these advanced esoteric topics: “These are ‘esoteric’ teachings – of necessity, because their understanding requires the insight and knowledge which an External Adept and Internal Adept has attained. Without this insight and knowledge, there is liable to be mis-understanding and a failure to appreciate the finer points (or even any of the points at all).”

[9] Chess has seen many historically significant events over the course of its history. The defeat of the Soviets in the 1972 world championship between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky is one of many notable examples. See David Edmonds and John Eidinow, “Match of the Century,” ch. 1 in Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How the Soviets Lost the Most Extraordinary Chess Match of All Time (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005). The authors colorfully expound upon the historical significance of this event as follows:

To Western commentators, the meaning of the confrontation seemed clear. A lone American star was challenging the long Soviet grip on the world title. His success would dispose of the Soviets’ claim that their chess hegemony reflected the superiority of their political system. The board was a cold war arena where the champion of the free world fought for democracy against the apparatchiks of the Soviet socialist machine. Here was the High Noon of chess, coming to you from a concrete auditorium in Iceland.

[10] As evidenced in, for example, the 1996 match between IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue and Garry Kasparov, which demonstrates the lasting influence chess technology and chess engines have had on global technology. One can trace these developments to related subjects in, for example, the analytic tradition of philosophy of mind, particularly with respect to consciousness (see, e.g., David Chalmers’ zombie argument), physicalism (see, e.g., Frank Jackson’s Mary argument on qualia), dualism (see, e.g., Descartes’ Meditations and the mind-body problem), epiphenomenalism (see the entry linked here), and, more recently panpsychism or Russellian monism, which is thought to be a resurgence of vitalism and is a rich development in philosophy of mind. On the subject of panpsychism, see, for example, some of the recent work by Sam Coleman, David Chalmers, Thomas Nagel, in addition to Galen Strawson et al., Consciousness and its Place in Nature (Charlottesville: Imprint Academic, 2006). All of these areas of research have more or less had some influence on the concomitant development of artificial intelligence, and thus have some bearing on the rise of chess engines. See, for example, David Chalmers’ work related to “strong” and “weak” AI with respect to consciousness, as well as the famous thought experiment by John Searle referred to as “The Chinese Room Argument.” A great (illustrated) overview of this thought experiment, in addition to notable criticism of it, can be found here: https://mind.ilstu.edu/curriculum/searle_chinese_room/searle_chinese_room.html. For an overview of one of the more famous critiques of this thought experiment, see the “Robot Reply” found here: https://mind.ilstu.edu/curriculum/searle_chinese_room/searle_robot_reply.html. In terms of the rise of chess and artificial intelligence, many of these subjects are relevant to early ideas on Turing machines. See, for example, Claude E. Shannon, “A Universal Turing Machine with Two Internal States,” in Automata Studies (AM-34), eds. C. E. Shannon and J. McCarthy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1956). On the question of whether chess computers can “think,” see Claude E. Shannon, “A Chess-Playing Machine,” Scientific American, 182, no. 2 (February 1950): 48-51.

[11] Long and ONA, “The Nine Angles.”

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Quoted in Stefan Steinerberger, “On the Number of Positions in Chess without Promotion,” International Journal of Game Theory 44, no. 3 (August 2015): 762, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00182-014-0453-7. Steinerberger clarifies what this number calculates as follows:

The number is known as Shannon’s number: it counts the number of ways to arrange all chessmen (henceforth simply called med) taking into account that no two men can occupy the same square and that furthermore any two identical men of the same color are indistinguishable. This number does not consider the possibility that not all the men need to be on the board (some might have been already captured) and … it also does not account or the rule of promotion whereby a pawn must be promoted to a more powerful figure if it advances to the end of a file (column of the chessboard). However, it also accounts for all sorts of illegal positions that can never possibly occur. This combination of factors makes it difficult to say whether Shannon’s argument over or underestimates the actual state space.

[16] See Steinerberger, “Positions in Chess,” 762.

[17] Victor Allis, “Searching for Solutions in Games and Artificial Intelligence” (PhD diss., Maastricht University, 1994), 171.

[18] Long and ONA, “The Nine Angles.”

[19] Brian Gilchrist, “Questions Concerning Ge-Stell: Heideggerian Confrontations with Technology,” Explorations in Media Ecology 14, nos. 3-4 (December 2015): 240.

[20] Long and ONA, “Aeonic Magick – General Notes,” in Hostia I.


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