The Arts

Tarot of Marseilles the Holy Mountain

This clip is by Alejandro Jodorowsky on the Tarot. From the psychedelic, and comfort pushing film The Holy Mountain. The Holy Mountain has explicit scenes and is therefore not posted here. However, this scene shows an interesting arrangement of artwork dedicated to Tarot symbolism during an explanation of the Tarot by Alejandro Jodorowosky.

From the film:

The Tarot will teach you how to create a soul.

I have always been drawn to things I found interesting, but I couldn’t understand. The tarot fascinated me because it was very strange.

I started studying the tarot, card by card. I saw it’s structure – 22 major arcana, and 56 minor arcana. I saw the suits – swords, wands, cups, pentacles. I identified them and so on. But I didn’t understand the tarot. Then I started mixing the cards. I saw I could put them together, and I realized that the 78 cards could be joined in a mandala, in just one image. You see all the tarot at once, you realize it is a unit. And then you study the different parts. Onc e you analyze this you learn to see the tarot. You must not talk about the future. The future is a con. The tarot is a language, it talks about the present. If you use it to see the future you become a conman. You are just a charlatan, For me, the tarot was something more serious. It was a deeply psychological search. When you work with the tarot, you see that cahnce exists, synchronicity exists, everything is linked. But nothing is a matter of probability. If you set your spirit to something that phenomenon will happen. When you are determined, when you deeply enter that dimension that I call the dance of reality, the world dances around you and gives you what you seek.

One day a dumb man came to see me. I don’t know how old he was. He said, “I am a descendant of the Camoin family, who have been printing the tarot for two centuries. I need you to help me restore the Marseille tarot.”

He had the wooden sheets of the old tarot, he had tarot collections… He gave me all the material I needed and we restored the tarot. We left if exactly as it was in 1400. We couldn’t go any further because there is no data. But it’s as ancient as you can get. We restored the 11 colors, the symbols, everything.

Everything symbolizes something the tarot. It’s an encyclopedia of symbols, its’ a great optic language. All the card games you know come from the tarot, even the poker cards. It’s a card game. It doesn’t have 78 cards, it has 26 cards less. In the Kabbalah, 26 is the number of God. Poker is a card game without God.

Everywhere I went I found a different tarot. I got to have about 1,500 different tarots. I had a collection. But I knew there was a tarot that all the others came from. Breton said. “I don’t understand it, but I respect it.”

So I studied the Marseille tarot. The Madman – total freedom, no limits, no definition. The Magician is the beginning the choice, the right choice. The Papess – gathered experience. The Empress – an explosion of creativity with no sense of direction. The Emperor – material stability, total stability. Stable. The Pope – one step beyond stability, the beginning of spirituality. The Lover – to finally do what you enjoy, to establish a relationship with the world. The cart – action in the world. Complete action in the world. Justic – to get what you deserve. The Hermit – deep connection with yourself to go through a crisis to rise the lamp, that is, to find your inner light. The Wheel of Fortune – the end of a cycle. We need something to help us pass on to another dimension. Force – to deeply feel your libido, your animal forces and to materialize them. Twelve, the hangman – to deeply get in touch with your spiritual side, to stop choosing, to momentarily get away form the world, to stop the world and get in touch with yourself. Thirteen – the Arcana with no name. It’s not Death. It’s the Arcana without a name. It’s the big, big revolution and transformation into something new. Fourteen – healing. To heal yourself. To get in touch with your creativity without fear of seeing yourself. To be aware of your drives and make them materialize. The House of God – what used to be closed is now open. To push the boundaries to go beyond your mental limits. To go beyond your emotional limits, beyond every limit. To open up. Seventeen – the Star. The star means finding a place, and once you find it, to act in the world. To receive from the cosmos and give to the Earth, to purify life. Eighteen, the Moon – the great archetype of receptivity, the Mother Goddess. Poetry, madness, receptivity. The Sun – the beginning of a new life, total love. Twenty, the Judgment – the whole work, at last, when you have discovered the animus and the anima, your feminine side and your masculine side. The creation of an androgynous though that leads to a superior mind. And the World – total awareness. Your feminine side, your masculine side, your intellectual side, your sexual side, your emotional side and your earthly side.

We go from the Madman, who symbolizes total freedom… We go through all the Arcana until we get to the World, to complete union. Union, yoga, religion… All of that means union. A cellular organism is alive when it’s linked to its environment. The same is true of the human spirit. If you don’t have links, if you don’t relate, you die. The Madman goes to the World to get linked to it. When you are linked to everyone, there are no enemies.


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