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The Arcanum is an ancient book written in the 15th century by the astrologer Basileus while he was under demonic possession and it is an item featured in the 2001 supernatural horror film Thirteen Ghosts (also known as Thir13en Ghosts). It contains spells, profiles on the 13 ghosts of the Black Zodiac, and blueprints for creating a mansion-like machine with which to open and gain control over the Ocularis Infernum (in Latin: "Eye of Hell").
Over the centuries, many people died trying to obtain the Arcanum, before it eventually fell into the hands of Kalina Oretzia. She and Cyrus Kriticos used the blueprints in the Arcanum to perfectly reconstruct Basileus's Machine, and to gather twelve of the thirteen spirits needed to power and activate the machine.
The Arcanum was most likely destroyed, either when it and Kalina were trapped between 2 closing glass walls in the machine, or otherwise, when the machine exploded.
The Black Zodiac (also known as "Niger Orbis IN Latin) is a fictional constellation in Thirteen Ghosts. It consists of thirteen earth-bound spirits which will activate Basileus's Machine and open the Ocularis Infernum.
The order in which the ghosts are placed on the zodiac seems to be based on how dangerous they are (with the exception of The First Born Son, who is threatening, regardless of being the first ghost, while the next three seem benign, or at the very least unable to do any damage).
- The First Born Son - The first ghost in the Black Zodiac. The First Born Son is the ghost of a little boy who dies of a shot through the head or some form of head injury. It may possibly also represent an infant ghost or a firstborn, male child. Cyrus chose the ghost of Billy Michaels as the First Born Son.
- The Torso - The second ghost in the Black Zodiac. The Torso is missing his legs, and/or his waist, it possibly represents a severed or mutilated ghost. Cyrus chose the ghost of Jimmy Gambino as the Torso.
- The Bound Woman - The third ghost in the Black Zodiac. This ghost is of a woman who died having been tied-up in some fashion, but in the Arcanum, the only bound ghost is the Angry Princess (in which case, it just represents general suicide), so it is entirely possible that instead of being physically bound, this ghost had, as a prerequisite, sealed her own fate, as seen by how her infidelity led to her demise. Cyrus chose the ghost of Susan LeGrow as the Bound Woman.
- The Withered Lover - The fourth ghost in the Black Zodiac. This ghost is of someone who died having a withered or worn appearance, it may also represent someone who had her future, dreams, or relationship, destroyed or broken, like being separated from one's mate. Cyrus chose the ghost of his niece-in-law, Jean Kriticos, as the Withered Lover.
- The Torn Prince - The fifth ghost in the Black Zodiac. This ghost has much of the skin on the right side of his body missing, leaving the bones and muscles exposed, it possibly represents a "prince" (spoiled, popular, loved, etc), who's pride was taken down, or had his ego destroyed, (hence the "fallen hero" statement seen in his story). Cyrus chose the ghost of Royce Clayton as the Torn Prince.
- The Angry Princess - The sixth ghost in the Black Zodiac. This ghost apparently is of a young woman who dies by committing suicide, and, as the name suggests, is that of a woman, either popular, spoiled or beatiful (just like a princess) that couldn't see her privileges, and, as such, she would be unhappy with her blessings. Cyrus chose the ghost of Dana Newman as the Angry Princess.
- The Pilgrimess - The seventh ghost in the Black Zodiac. It appears to be the ghost of a female pilgrim or a primitive woman, it may also represent an outsider or stranger, not appreciated by the town, seeing the implications of her alien origins. Cyrus chose the ghost of Isabella Smith as the Pilgrimess.
- The Great Child and The Dire Mother - The eighth and ninth ghosts in the Black Zodiac. The Great Child is the ghost of a very large and obese child, and the Dire Mother is that of a very small stature, they probably are ghosts of a child, spoiled even to its maturity, and a mother bad enough to let it happen. They may also be the ghosts of related mother and child. Cyrus chose the ghosts of Harold and Margaret Shelburne as the Great Child and the Dire Mother.
- The Hammer - The tenth ghost in the Black Zodiac. This ghost is that of a muscular, heavy-set blacksmith who wields a large hammer, further or deeper implications are unkown. Cyrus chose the ghost of George Markley as the Hammer.
- The Jackal - The eleventh ghost in the Black Zodiac. The Jackal is the ghost of a dishevelled man wearing a cage on his head, which probably represents bestiality or wildness, seen how much of a savage and how aggresive the ghost is, as well as his depraved sexual implications. Cyrus chose the ghost of Ryan Kuhn as the Jackal.
- The Juggernaut - The twelfth ghost in the Black Zodiac. This ghost is that of a tall, ugly and incredibly strong man. Cyrs chose the ghost of Horace Mahoney as the Juggernaut.
- The Broken Heart - The thirteenth and final ghost in the Black Zodiac. This ghost dies by leaping into the core of Basileus's Machine out of an act of pure love. Cyrus chose his nephew, Arthur Kriticos as the Broken Heart.
- The book's name "Arcanum" is Latin for "arcane".
- The First Born Son:
- The ghostly whispers which signal the First Born Son's approach are the sound of an arrow whistling through the air.
- Whenever the First Born Son is present, he tends to whisper "I want to play".
- His name in life, Billy Michaels, may be a reference to Billy the Kid due to the fact that he loved cowboy films in life.
- The First Born Son is equivalent to Aries, which is the first sign in the Black and Traditional Zodiacs. They tend to be reckless, dare-devils, irresponsible, youthful immaturity, and stubborn.
- For some reason, despite always dressing as a cowboy, his ghost is seen dressed as an "Indian", even carrying a tomahawk as a weapon.
- Whilst other ghosts appear to only travel across the ground (Cyrus being sure to put spells on the floor and the Hammer being incapable of chasing Arthur through the ceiling) The First Born Son often appears standing on walls or hanging from the ceiling.
- The Latin inscription beneath the First Born Son's symbol in the Arcanum, "Primus Filius", translates to "The First Son". His current name is translated in Latin as "Filius Primogenitus".
- He is the first of the ghosts in the Black Zodiac that is male.
- His ghost file is represented by a toy gun.
- The Torso:
- The video narrated by Cyrus that explains The Torso's backstory states that he was killed by Larry "The Finger" Vatello, his gang and his fighter right after he came to from fainting when he lost the bet. However, most other, less direct sources state that he was killed when he tried to renege his bet with Vatello and slip out of town.
- The sounds that signal the Torso's presence are muffled screams.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Torso's symbol in the Arcanum, "Truncus," translates to "Trunk", which is another name for the human torso. His name is translated in Latin as "Abdominis".
- The Torso appears to be one of the weaker ghosts encountered, as he cannot harm anyone, as he's never seen harming anyone.
- He is the second male ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- His ghost file is represented by poker cards.
- The Bound Woman:
- The Bound Woman's hands are almost always tied behind her back. However, when she and the other ghosts murdered Cyrus Kriticos, her hands are untied.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Bound Woman's symbol in the Arcanum, "Soror Dira" translates to "Dire Sister". Her current name is translated in Latin as "Mulier Terminos".
- Interestingly, much like the Jackal, the whispers which signal the Bound Woman's presence appear to be insane screams and rapid, high-pitched laughter.
- For some reason, it seemed as though in one scene, The Bound Woman was shown hanging, but in other scenes, she was quite able to walk.
- In the film's early script, she was called "The Buried Maiden" ("Ecce In Consepulti" in Latin).
- The Bound Woman is the first of the female ghosts in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by a prom tiara.
- The Withered Lover:
- Of all the ghosts in the movie, the only ghost with no hostility whatsoever is Jean Kriticos, Arthur's wife. Mostly due to her kind nature and lack of hostility, as well as not having a dark past like the others, and she was the only one seen that elects to help her family whenever possible.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Withered Lover's symbol in the Arcanum, "Amator Marcidus", translates to "Languid Lover". Her current name is translated in Latin as "Amator Aridam".
- In the film's early script, she was called "The Withered Maiden" ("Ecce Aridam" in Latin).
- She is the second female ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by the damaged photo of herself.
- The Torn Prince:
- In his containment cube, the overturned car which killed Royce can be seen behind him.
- The video narrated by Cyrus that explains the Torn Prince's backstory states that his car exploded and that this is what killed him. However, most other, less direct sources state that it flipped over, dragging Royce under it. The overturned car behind the Torn Prince in his containment cube would indicate that the latter source is how Royce truly died.
- The noises associated with Royce's presence are violent and angry wails.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Torn Prince's symbol in The Arcanum, "Eques Scissus" translates to "Rent Knight". Rent is another word for "Torn". His name is translated in Latin as "Princeps Scissa".
- He is the third male ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- His ghost file is represented by a baseball trophy.
- The Angry Princess:
- In the film's original script, she was called "The Suicide".
- According to the DVD subtitles, the whispers which signal The Angry Princess's approach are her whispering, "I'm sorry."
- In the bathroom scene, "I'm sorry" is written in blood on the floor behind Kathy Kriticos.
- Usually, an area that the Angry Princess is currently present at is covered in blood (visible only through spectral viewers), most notably her containment cube and the bathroom.
- The whispers associated with the Angry Princess usually resemble soft, feminine moans.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Angry Princess' symbol in the Arcanum, "sibi mortem consciscere," roughly translates as "Suicide" ("Suicidium" in Latin) in English. Her current name is translated in Latin as "Et Iratus Principem".
- She is the third female in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by a razor.
- The Pilgrimess:
- If one looks closely when Dennis Rafkin comes across the imprisoned Pilgrimess, her containment cube is covered in thick cobwebs and dead leaves, giving it a somewhat witchy or ghastly facade.
- As noted by Cyrus Kriticos, it is unknown whether or not Isabella really was a witch in life.
- In the film's original script, the Pilgrimess was called The Buried Lady ("Sepultus Est Domina" in Latin).
- Being from the 17th century, this most likely makes her the oldest member of the other 12 Ghosts.
- The Pilgrimess is the only ghost not to have a Latin inscription beneath her symbol in the Arcanum, but her current name might be roughly translated as "Et Pilgrimess".
- The Pilgrimess' name is a word describing a female pilgrim and it can translated as "viatrix".
- She is the fourth female ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by a damaged Holy Bible.
- The Great Child:
- Originally, Harold died when he choked on his own vomit. However, the producers changed this as they felt it was too weak a backstory.
- It is unknown why The Great Child, as a ghost, appears as he did in life, while most of the other ghosts normally appear as they looked like after or at the moment they died. However, according to Cyrus, when Harold was killed his body was mutilated "beyond what you or I could comprehend"; this is probably the reason the Child appears as he did before he died.
- Naturally, the sounds associated with the Great Child are infantile whimpers.
- Strangely, the Latin inscription beneath the symbol for The Great Child and the Dire Mother in the Arcanum, "Mures", is the Latin word for "mice". His current name is translated in Latin as "De Puero"
- He is the fourth male ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- His ghost file is represented by a baby rattle.
- The Dire Mother:
- Originally, Margaret died when Harold choked on his vomit, and fell on and suffocated her. However, the producers changed this as they felt it was too weak a backstory.
- It was shown in Thirteen Ghosts that Margaret was blind in one (the left) eye. But it is unknown if this occurred before or after death.
- Strangely, the Latin inscription beneath the symbol for The Great Child and The Dire Mother in the Arcanum, "Mures", is the Latin word for "mice". Her current name is translated in Latin as "Mater Saeva".
- She is the fifth and last female ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by a shoe.
- The Hammer:
- The whispers which signal The Hammer's approach are deep growling.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Hammer's symbol in The Arcanum, "Malleus Ignis", translates to "Fire Hammer". his current name is translated in Latin as "Malleus Est".
- He is the only African-American ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- There was a scrapped ghost character in the early script for Thirteen Ghosts called "The Rat" (roughly translated as "Mus" in Latin).
- His ghost file is represented by railroad spikes.
- The Jackal:
- According to Kalina Oretzia, The Jackal is the sign of the fictitious "Hell's Winter".
- In the film's original script, the Jackal was called "The Hyena" ("Hyaenis" in Latin).
- The Latin inscription beneath The Jackal's symbol in The Arcanum, "Canis Aureus", literally translates to "The Golden Dog". His current name is translated in Latin as "Draconis".
- Similar to The Bound Woman, the whispers which signal the Jackal's approach appear to be psychotic screaming and/or insane laughter.
- Based on the damage done to the cage helmet, it is implied that the Jackal either managed to break out the helmet or this damage was done during the fire that killed him.
- He is apparently another ghost that committed suicide.
- If one were to listen carefully, it sounds like the Jackal says, "Leave me alone" when Bobby Kriticos is hearing the voice of his mother.
- According to Dennis Rafkin, the Jackal is the Charles "Charlie" Manson of the 12 Ghosts.
- His ghost file is represented by the jaw of a human skull or dentures.
- The Juggernaut:
- The whispers which signal The Juggernaut's approach appear to be roaring wind.
- The Latin inscription beneath Horace's symbol reads "Titan", referring to his great size and strength.
- Besides The Jackal, The Juggernaut is the only ghost who was proven a criminal in life.
- According to Dennis Rafkin, he is the only ghost that required bait to lure out.
- He is the only known ghost to continue killing after being killed.
- Quite possibly the most violent of the ghosts.
- His ghost file is represented by shotgun shells.
- The Broken Heart:
- The symbol of The Broken Heart (the ghost Arthur was meant to become) is on the key to the front doors of Basileus's Machine.
- Arthur, like his daughter Kathy, was attacked by the Jackal.
- Therefore, Kathy's little brother, Bobby, was the only character to have not seen, let alone been attacked by the Jackal.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Broken Heart's symbol in the Arcanum, "Corda Tacita", translates to "The Silence of the Heart". However, this is an error revealing that Corda Tacita actually means the plural "Silent Hearts" in English and the non-plural name "Silent Heart" can be translated in Latin as either "Tacitum" or "Ave Maria". The final Ghost's current English name can be translated in Latin as "Contritos Corde".
- Because he was never a ghost, he has no ghost file or an item to represent him in life.