The Magician's Hidden Library Tuten Tarot

.: Tarot Cards Drawn By the Unconscious Mind :.

by Craig Conley

It’s well-known that an author can draw Tarot cards to inspire a literary work (see James Ricklef’s Tarot Tells the Tale and Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies).  But does the dreaming mind draw upon Tarot archetypes to formulate a dream narrative?  An intriguing example in point is the apocalyptic nightmare recounted in Frederic Tuten’s Self-Portraits: Fictions (pages 177-203); no fewer than six Tarot archetypes figure into the story, in the following order:

  • The Lovers
  • Death
  • The Tower
  • The Hermit
  • The Hanged Man
  • The Fool

We’ve worked the pertinent quotations into a mini deck of Tarot card images.  If you aren’t familiar with Tuten’s dream narrative, you're in the perfect position to objectively read the spread of Tarot archetypes drawn by his subconscious.  What story behind the story is lurking in the shadowy recesses of Tuten’s dormant mind?  If you’re intrigued to learn about the context of these archetypes, see Tuten’s chapter entitled “The Park on Fire,” one of several anecdotes comprising what author Cynthia Ozick calls “an amazing, glittering, glowing, Proustian, Conradian, Borgesian, diamond-faceted, language-studded, myth-drowned Dream.”

The Lovers


The Tower

The Hermit

The Hanged Man

The Fool

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

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