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M Winther wrote on 2006-05-18 UTC
Jeff, concerning divination, this phenomenon of how the divine coincides with the profane is evident in religious history. Prof. Rangachar Vasantha says that '...[c]hess was genetically linked to magical and religious rituals, which have been known in India from ancient times. Chess and other board games were derived from, and the moves of the pieces are being closely related to the movements of the celestial bodies and their numerical symbolism.'

We modern people tend to see chess as simply a martial game for entertainment. But such a simplistic view was unthinkable for the ancient people. Pavle Bidev discusses these issues and how Murray, typically, rejected the notion that original chess was 'based upon certain fundamental conceptions of the Universe.'
http://www.goddesschess.com/chessays/bidev1.html

Game depictions notoriously appear at holy places. They could, in some sense, have been deliberate sacrifices to the gods, and the spirits of the dead, for their pleasure and entertainment. Hence, the gods are drawn to the temple. It is similar to the well-known food-sacrifice. In the Christian context the encircling of the Fox, in Fox and Geese, could be viewed as an expression of the cloister community's continuous work to encircle Christ. I mean, it could be viewed as an unconscious expression. Thus, it is not wholly profane.

A good example of a 'holy game' was the Egyptian Senet. The '...stratagems of the game reflect nothing less than the stratagems of the gods, [and] senet, when properly understood, can reveal essential Egyptian religious beliefs about the afterlife.'
http://www.gamesmuseum.uwaterloo.ca/Archives/Piccione/index.html --Mats
(link updated today)

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