This is a two-handed enneagram game. It is rather like the Decalinx type of game proposed by Charles Cameron some years ago, but it is played by two players on a board in the shape of an enneagram.
There are 9 positions or stations or slots on the enneagram board. This is to be visualized as a “blank” enneagram board, with no reference to personality types; the numbers begin at the bottom and go up the left side 1-3-5-7 (these are the slots for “White”) and up the right side 2-4-6-8 (the slots for “Black”), meeting at the top in slot 9.
The game could be “staged” in a circular space with nine designated positions. It could also be played in a memory palace having nine positions, like Chur Cathedral with its 9 altars.
The theme of the game is given in advance so the players can meditate on it and plan moves. The two players play by occupying successive positions on opposite sides of the enneagram and assigning content to each. They can also make links between the content of the position they are currently occupying and the content of other positions already occupied by either player.
“White” and “Black” get five moves each. Each move is worth 5 points. The players score extra points by making links to the content of other already occupied positions: 1 point for a link to one of your own positions, but 2 points for a link to one of your opponent’s. At the end, Black has to move onto position 9, picking up on what White has put there and so summing up the game. So Black has more of a challenge than White, for which reason they have some procedure at the beginning like in chess to determine who is White and who is Black. The player with the most points accumulated wins.
In a “staged” version of the game (ludus sollemnis), there is a Magister Ludi who instructs the two players in their task, announces the theme to the audience, presides and adjudicates whether moves and links are legitimate, and declares a win or draw at the end.
What follows is a description of the moves and links in a sample game.
Theme of the game: Hebraists and the study of Hebrew in European history.
Move 1 („White“) to position 1
The study of Hebrew is a constant force in the history of the Christian West.
Move 2 („Black“) to position 2
Anti-Semitism is also a constant force in Western history.
Move 3 (white) to position 3
Western scholars studying Hebrew were always struck by the organisation of a Semitic language into roots. A root is typically a string of three consonants, and depending on the vowels attached to it, it can be any one of a number of verbs, nouns, etc. clustered around a root meaning. E.g. k-t-b gives us „write, wrote, book, scribe“, etc. There is nothing like this in Indo-European, except for the phenomenon of ablaut.
link to the study of Hebrew (posn 1).
Move 4 (black) to position 4
Ralph Cudworth, English divine, advocated tolerance in an intolerant time. An intolerant time, but one in which Cromwell allowed the Jews to return to England, whence they had been excluded since the days of King John. Cudworth was involved in this initiative. In A Sermon preach’d to the Honourable House of Commons in 1647, he says:
„If we keep the Fire of Zeal within the Chimney, in its own proper place, it never doth any hurt; it onely warmeth, quickeneth and enliveneth us; but if once we let it break out, and catch hold of the Thatch of our Flesh, and kindle our corrupt Nature, and set the House of our Body on fire, it is no longer Zeal, it is not heavenly Fire, it is a most destructive and devouring thing.“ (p. 63).
link to anti-semitism (posn 2).
Move 5 (white) to position 5 ¨
Fludd, in his Mosaicall Philosophy , 1659, p. 161, writes that all the kinds of creatures are expressed in and by the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet; not the letters in common use among men, which are mere shadows of a celestial original, but by ineffable letters of fire which were „ingraven on the face… of the dark hyles“ by God during the seven days of creation. „The language which was framed out of it was called Lingua Sancta , a Language, I say, much spoken of by the learned Rabbies of our age, but little known… by them.“
link from creative Hebrew letters to Hebrew roots generating meanings (posn 3)
link from letters of fire to Cudworth’s uncontrollable fire (posn. 4)
link from Fludd to Cudworth (posn 4) by time and place
Move 6 (black) to position 6
In Doktor Faustus, Thomas Mann tells a story of a pogrom in an Imperial German city, in the course of which all the Jews in the ghetto were massacred. Only one survived, by hiding up a chimney.
link from pogrom to anti-semitism (posn 2)
link from chimney to Cudworth’s destructive fire escaping from chimney (posn 4).
Move 7 (white) to position 7
The Abbé Richard Simon was a student of Hebrew and of Jewish tradition who by his intervention in 1670 saved the life of a Jew condemned to death in Metz for supposedly murdering a Christian child. The Abbé Simon saw that the study of Hebrew is key to understanding of Bible, but that Western scholarship had been kept back by anti-semitic attitudes. He pointed out that the correct interpretation of the sacred text depended on the vowel pointing or cantillation, which alone gives life to the consonants. He wrote the first book of modern Biblical criticism, the Histoire critique du Vieux Testament (written about 1680, and suppressed on the order of Bossuet).
link from condemned Jew to sole survivor of pogrom (posn 6)
link from Hebrew consonants to Fludd’s letters of fire (posn 5)
Move 8 (black) to position 8
The Abbé Grégoire was the great champion of Jewish emancipation during the French Revolution. He brought forward his Motion en faveur des Juifs at the National Convention in 1789. Already in 1788, however, he had won a prize from the Academy of Metz for his Essai sur la régénération des Juifs. It turns out that Grégoire wanted to emancipate Jews into the values of the Enlightenment, which meant getting them to give up Yiddish (in Alsace) and speak French. He was a linguist.
link to Simon (posn 7) by place: Metz
link to Simon (posn 7) and Cudworth (posn 4) by profession: clergy
Move 9 (white) to position 9
A. Fabre d’Olivet was the last esoteric interpreter of Hebrew. His treatise La langue hébraïque restituée dates from the early 19th century. He purports to find a hidden underlying meaning in Hebrew roots which will unlock the meaning of the whole sacred text and indeed of all languages.
link to Simon (posn 7) by linguistic analysis of sacred text to uncover hidden meaning.
Move 10 (black)to position 9 with link to Fabre d’Olivet
Fabre d’Olivet cannot be understood without the Cabalistic tradition. Cabalism is the age-old tradition of esoteric interpretation of the Bible based on the hidden significance of Hebrew letters and their combinations. Cabalism is what arouses the curiosity of Christian scholars about the hidden meanings of the Bible, but also arouses the suspicion of the Christian authorities in terms of necromancy. It sums up the alternate attraction and repulsion for the Christian West of the Jewish Other.
Link to Simon (posn 7) by linguistic analysis of sacred text to uncover hidden meanings.
In this sample game, White got 25 points + 10. Black got 25 + 10. So the result is a draw.