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Tarot Chess Divination

Subject: Tarot Chess Divination

				alt.magick.gems/Misc/Tarot.Chess.Divination ]

Copyright (c) 1995 by Jamie Andrews.

     Interesting that there has been discussion here about the
use of chess in divination.  Lately I have been working on a
method of using Tarot and chess to do divination.  I thought I'd
share what I have discovered so far.

     The method of divination I'm going to describe has to do
with situations where you feel out of control of some aspect of
your life, as if the forces of the world are making your
decisions for you.  One suit of the Minor Arcana represents your
free will and control, and the Major Arcana represent the
"opposing" forces of the world.  (Of course, we must try to
accept the fact that we can't control everything.  This is for
those times when you feel that the situation has to do with
getting a handle on your free will.)

     You do pretty much have to know the rules of chess to do this.

Preparing the deck.

1. Choose a Significator Suit from the Minor Arcana.  This will
represent your choices, and will be assigned the White pieces.

Pentacles       if your problem has to do with money, health,
                pleasure, shelter, sex rather than love
Cups            if your problem has to do with emotions, anger,
                fear, love rather than sex
Wands           if your problem has to do with spirituality,
                creativity, plans, carrying out plans
Swords          if your problem has to do with thought, logic,
                understanding/analyzing past events

2. Remove the Emperor and the King of your significator suit and
set them aside for now.

3. Shuffle the rest of the deck, concentrating on your problem.

4. Deal off the first 14 cards into a pile, and set them aside.
They will play no more part in the divination.

5. Put the Emperor and the significator King back into the deck.
You now have a deck of 64 cards.

Dealing and Setting Up the Board.

1. Shuffle the 64-card deck, concentrating on your problem.

2. Deal the cards out in 8 rows of 8 cards each, starting at the
top left and working across each row from left to right.

3. Put an empty chess board beside the layout of cards.

4. Place black and white chess pieces on the board on the
squares corresponding to positions where certain significant
cards appear:

Emperor...              Black King
Empress...              Black Queen
Hierophant...           Black Bishop
Chariot...              Black Knight
Tower...                Black Rook
Fool...                 Black Pawn

King of significator suit...    White King
Queen of suit...        White Queen
Knight of suit...       White Knight
Page of suit...         White Bishop
8 of suit...            White Rook
Ace of suit...          White Pawn

Note that the Black King and the White King must appear on the
board, since the Emperor and the significator King are
guaranteed to be in the deck.  But none of the other pieces are
guaranteed to be there.  Also, there is a maximum of one Knight,
Bishop, Rook and Pawn of each colour on the board.  This seems
to be the best, to make a sparse enough board to interpret.

5. If the Black Pawn appears on the farthest rank of the board,
remove it.  If it appears on the closest rank, replace it by a
piece representing a Black Queen (e.g., a turned-over Rook).
This is to eliminate impossible situations and to promote a pawn
that has "made it to the last rank".  Do the reverse for the
White Pawn, removing it if it is on the nearest rank and
queening it if it is on the farthest rank.

Now that you've set up the board, the cards don't play much
further part in the divination; but you might want to keep them
there in order to relate what you find out about the pieces back
to the cards.  Also, if you play around with the pieces to
figure out how the game proceeds from here, you might want to
keep the cards around in order to get back to the original position.

Interpreting the Board.

The position that you have on the chess board now is usually
pretty wild, not something that looks as if it would come
naturally out of a chess game.  But then again life is pretty
wild sometimes too.  I'll just give some thoughts on how to
interpret various properties of the board position; I'd like to
hear your thoughts about it too.

You should start out by seeing which Black pieces are attacking
which White pieces, and vice versa.  Play out the game for a few
moves, first assuming that it's White to move, then assuming
that it's Black to move.  This will give you a rough idea of how
the situation will go if you exercise your free will first, or
if the forces of the world move first.  You might not be looking
for a win; in fact, you may be actively looking for a draw, to
symbolize some kind of compromise between yourself and the
forces of the world.  You can try different things, first
assuming that both sides want to win, then that one side wants
to win and the other to draw, or even seeing whether both sides
can cooperate to achieve a draw, possibly exchanging some pieces.

It seems that quite often the two kings are side-by-side,
attacking each other. This cannot arise in a normal chess game,
but here it indicates that there's a tense battle between you
and what you see as opposing you, and the first one to make a
strong, decisive move (capturing the opposing king) would be
able to win.  This would indicate that the place and time to
exercise your free will is here and now.  To analyze the
situation further, you might want to set aside the rules of real
chess and start by moving one of the kings away, or play the
game out after one of the kings is captured, to see if one side
or the other ends up with more material.

Similarly, if both kings are in check (another impossible
situation in real chess), it indicates that the first one to
make a move is able to win; but here the situation seems less
urgent, and there is the implication that many other factors
come in to the analysis.  The particular pieces that are putting
the kings in check, when you relate them back to the Tarot
cards, may give a clue as to the aspect of the situation that is
causing you trouble, and in what way you can exercise your free
will to succeed or achieve a draw.

If the White king alone is in check, this again indicates that
you may have to move first to avoid defeat.  You should see
whether you can escape check and/or whether you can turn it
around to a victory or a draw.  Usually you aren't in checkmate,
but if you are this indicates that the forces of the world have
pretty much won this battle, and the best you can do is accept it.

If the Black king alone is in check, this indicates that you
have the upper hand, and can turn things to your favour if you
so desire.  But watch out as to what happens if Black is able to
move first.

Otherwise, just treat the position as a chess puzzle, seeing
which side, if any, can win, or whether it's a draw, depending
on whether it's Black or White to move.

The amount of material that each side has can be important,
though position is important too.  If some of the piece cards
have been set aside in the 14 you dealt off, this indicates that
those forces or decisions or personalities are out of the
picture, and can't help or hinder you.

If there's some crucial square on the board that doesn't have a
piece on it right now, but that you want to get to, take a look
at the card that corresponds to that square in the 64-card
layout. That may give you a clue about what your move should be.
This is the only time that the other cards may come into the


You might want to vary the setup I have described above.

- Feel free to exchange White for Black if for any reason you
think that's appropriate.

- Instead of setting aside 14 random cards, you might instead
want to pick a "non-significator" suit -- one that you don't
think is involved with the question -- and just pick those cards
out of the pack and set them aside.  Then you will be guaranteed
to get one King, Queen, Knight, Bishop, Rook and Pawn of each
side on the board.

- I just picked what I thought were the most likely cards to
correspond to each of the Black chess pieces.  Some obvious
variations are:  choose the High Priestess instead of the
Hierophant for the bishop, or have two bishops; choose the
Chariot for the king, and/or Strength or the Magician for the
knight; choose the Hierophant and the High Priestess for the
king and queen; choose the Magician, Star, Hanged Man or Death
for the pawn.

- The White pieces were even harder to choose, except for the
King, Queen and Knight.  It seems that the Page should be in
there somewhere; but as the Bishop, the Pawn, or the Rook?
I chose the Page as the Bishop because the Bishop is a major
piece close to the King, Queen, and Knight; I chose the 8 as the
Rook because in the Rider-Waite deck the 8s all seem to imply a
certain amount of solidity, and two of the images contain
towers; and I chose the Ace as the Pawn simply because it's
associated with the number 1 (the traditional "value" of a
pawn).  Maybe the 2 would be better as the Pawn, the 5 as the
Rook, or whatever.  You may have your own ideas.

     OK, that's it.  I worked this out just by experimenting
with the cards and the pieces.  I encourage you to do the same
and share your knowledge!

Copyright (c) 1995 by Jamie Andrews.  Permission granted to
distribute on Usenet.

"Simon Fraser University would make an elegant ruin" -- Bruno Freschi


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