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You might be (or not be) familiar with “The game of the Goose”. It is a well-known game among people in Europe, and it has been played for Centuries. The game, consists of a board. On it, there is a spiral-shaped track divided by around 63 numbered spaces. The game is very simple. Basically, the players have to role the dice and move their piece forward. Each space, has an image on it, depending on where the piece falls, there might be some rules to follow (role your dice again, go back to the start,advance a specific number of spaces…) It is called “The game of the goose” because many of the spaces on the track have a goose on it. If your piece falls on one of these spaces, then it means that you can role your dice again.
There are different theories that try to explain the origin of the famous “Game of the Goose”. One of these theories states that, the game was created by the Templars, and it would not only be a game but also a secret or encrypted guide to the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago). Each numbered space would represent a stage of the Camino. What makes it more exciting is that, hidden messages would be not only on the board but also on the monuments along the way.
And why or how did they come up with this theory?
Formerly, geese were house guardians by warning their owners of the presence of intruders. Also, gueese were considered as sacred guides, sent to advise humanity.
Wild geese have their seasonal and stable migration routes, and they have defined the known “Way of the gueese“. This way matches with The Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint-James) and “The Way of the Stars”. It is believed that because pilgrims didn’t have maps, they used to follow natural indications to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. For this reason, it would make sense that pilgrims followed “The geese route” during the day and were guided by the stars at night to get to Santiago de Compostela.
Along the way, it is common to find the symbol of “the leg of the goose”.
According to Carlos Sanchez-Montaña, specialist in Romanesque architecture, the board is a map, what today we can understand as a travel guide. This guide leads us through the ancient “Callis lanus”.
The “Callis lanus” route between Cabo de Creus and Touriñan, was divided in 63 stages (15 Miles each), that correspond the 63 stages of “The game of the Geese”. Because of the christianization and transformation of the way, people who knew the original way decided to preserv it in the form of a board-game. To make sure that pilgrims would get to Santiago safe, the creators of the game included a number of dangers on it, that according to Sanchez – Montaña, corresponded with real difficult places along the way, some of them located in Castilla y Leon.