The Magician's Hidden Library Mansion of Madness Tarot

.: The Mansion of Madness Tarot :.




The Hermit
The Mansion of Madness

The Emperor

High Priestess

The Devil

A Screenplay Directed by the Tarot

Juan Lopez Moctezuma’s phantasmagorical film The Mansion of Madness (1972) is loosely based upon Edgar Allan Poe’s “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether,” in which inmates take over a mental institution and change places with the doctors.  Within minutes of the film, it becomes obvious that Moctezuma used Tarot cards to develop his story, character by character and scene by scene.  Every archetype of the Major Arcana appears in the film, as do several court cards.  A Hermit character is dressed in a brown robe and holds a lantern.  A self-proclaimed Emperor sits on a throne, in full regalia.  An effigy of a Hanged Man is used to stop a horse-drawn Chariot.  A High Priestess with a bejeweled third eye performs a ritual dance.  A self-described Magician creates the illusion that a man has three shadows (two of which end up belonging to the goons who carry the man to his cell; this scene symbolically communicates the profound wisdom that one’s convictions make one a convict).  A scythe-wielding Death figure threatens the Fool who stumbled into this truly insane asylum.  Moctezuma’s love of the Tarot was presumably fostered by his collaborations with fellow director and Tarot enthusiast Alejandro Jodorowsky (who worked with Phillipe Camoin to restore the Marseille deck).  The film adaptation of Poe’s story is all the richer for being imbued with Tarot imagery.



Deck Imagery - Major Arcana (with alternates)

Star
Star
The Star maiden kneels before an elongated conch.
Moon
Moon
The half-lit moon appears to the Fool in a nightmare.
Devil 3
Devil 3
He crystallizes human heat into a miraculous drug that kills inactiveness.
Hermit
Hermit
This cloaked figure raises his lantern in the misty forest.
Hanged Man 2
Hanged Man 2
Two hanging figures: one on a spit and another over a shoulder.
High Priestess 2
High Priestess 2
Her crown features a jeweled third eye.
Temperance
Temperance
She poses in an alcove above the High Priestess’ ritual.
Chariot
Chariot
One of two chariots in the film, the other pulled by people.
Tower
Tower
The King of Swords will try to knock the Fool off this tower.
Fool
Fool
Our protagonist is unaware of what he’s stepping into.
Strength
Strength
A strong man lifts a fallen tree blocking the road.
Lovers
Lovers
A moment of tenderness in the forest.
Devil 2
Devil 2
He leads the Fool to the imposter director.
Devil 4
Devil 4
He presides over a fantastic machine that creates luminous matter.
Death
Death
An ominous reaper wields a scythe.
Sun 1
Sun 1
The rooster is associated with the breaking of dawn.
World
World
Mother Earth.
Magician 1
Magician 1
A sorcerer in red waves his wand to conjure chaos in the forest.
Empress 1
Empress 1
Her official mouthpiece.
Wheel of Fortune
Wheel of Fortune
A circle of inmates peer through a trap door.
Judgement
Judgement
A figure on high calls to awaken the inmates.
Devil 1
Devil 1
He welcomes the Fool to the asylum.
Justice
Justice
A caped judge presides over a rowdy jury.
Emperor
Emperor
"Hear me beloved subjects," he proclaims.
Hierophant 1
Hierophant 1
A Falstaffian hierophant pontificates.
Magician 2
Magician 2
The asylum’s imposter director calls forth hidden forces.
Sun 2
Sun 2
Sunlight penetrates the forest surrounding the asylum.
Hanged Man 1
Hanged Man 1
A hanging effigy is set to entrap the chariot.
Magician 3
Magician 3
“Maillard is a magician,” the imposter director says of himself.
High Priestess 1
High Priestess 1
She prepares for a twilit ritual.
Hierophant 2
Hierophant 2
He presides over a bacchanal.
Empress 2
Empress 2
The ventriloquist and her dummy.




Deck Imagery - Royalty

King of Cups 2
King of Cups 2
He is here a Bacchus figure.
Knight of Swords
Knight of Swords
A dandy Knight of Swords guards the asylum gate.
Page of Wands
Page of Wands
He jubilantly twirls his baton.
Queen of Cups
Queen of Cups
She has a secret agenda in the asylum.
King of Cups 1
King of Cups 1
He maniuplates his visitor.
King of Swords
King of Swords
He protects his tower.




.: Your Spread :.

09 Hermit
Royalty 03
08 Strength
Choose My Spread


An eccentric lexicographer and scholar, Craig Conley is author of the Tarot of Portmeirion, Magic Words: A Dictionary (Weiser Books) and One-Letter Words: A Dictionary (HarperCollins).  His website is OneLetterWords.com.

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