“This Tower card represents destruction, but the destruction of a tradition that may have held you prisoner…You are strong enough to weather the storm” – Sam Kahn (Pride Tarot Guidebook, © US Games Systems, Inc)
Suggested Archetype: 9-11
I had a very hard time writing “9-11” without a surge of painful memory, even as the tenth anniversary of the events of that day in New York City looms. One of the other decks I am currently working with, New Era Elements outright depicts the first plane crashing into the Twin Towers to evoke The Tower. There is nothing evil or unnatural to The Tower. However, it is intended to represent the Very Bad Things that happen in both the microcosm and the macrocosm, the events that are personal and social trials by fire. Unlike most of the Major Arcana, The Tower is more often about a transformative event vs. an aspect of our personality. In a sense, The Tower is the catastrophe or setback or betrayal that makes us have to choose between a state of perpetual victimhood or learning a powerful life lesson and finding the courage and tenacity to rise up and create something better than we had before.
The crown: This specific crown is borrowed from a painting of Queen Christina of Denmark (1650-1655) by an unknown artist. I wasn’t able to locate a copy of the original painting via Google. The falling crown represents the destruction of a governing institution, regime, or truth. The crown is still materially there, but it has lost its power, its legitimacy.
The witness: This figure comes from “Hamlet and his Mother; The Closet Scene” (1846) by Richard Dadd. A good explanation of that scene in the Shakespearian play can be found here. I believe that using Hamlet as the shocked witness is a good metaphor for what it like for any of us discover a horrifying truth. Each of us, like Hamlet, has to make very hard choices with what we do next. Each of us, like Hamlet, cannot simply return to the life we had before.
The tower: Italian Coast Scene with Ruined Tower (1838) by Thomas Cole is a beautiful painting and I really appreciate how Kat Black was able to artfully craft it’s tower into this card. Towers, in general, can represent aspects of ourselves or our environment that we cherish and protect; we don’t want them to be lost or changed. In this tarot card, that is exactly what happens, however.
Reading The Tower (In General)
Upright this card could mean something like:
- Something Very Bad and life-changing is about to happen.
- Stop. Do not proceed forward with whatever action or activity you were considering in regards to this reading.
- Dramatic and painful action has to happen first in order to have the eventual outcome you desire.
- Something Very Bad just happened. Take the time to grieve, assess the situation, process everything and then decide what comes next.
Reversed this card could mean something like:
- It is very important in this situation to rely on your own instincts and determine the true motives of other parties involved.
- Question your beliefs, especially if you are being presented with evidence that contradicts them.
- Let yourself have fear, doubt, grief, rage, all the hard emotions- but process them first, then act, otherwise you will make a bad situation worse.
- Everything you are going through inside your heart and psyche is awful and painful but you are also growing and evolving, becoming a different person who won’t need to learn this same life lesson the same way ever again.
The Tower In Questions About Relationships
You as the Tower Upright: This is a good time to cut ties with someone abusive or toxic; you will discover a lot more personal security and happiness without them. A new relationship will greatly benefit from you permanently ending an old one.
You as the Tower Reversed: There is a lot to process from some recent crisis inside yourself before you can fully engage in a new relationship. However, this is a good time to start rebuilding connections to other people and accept the help that is sincerely offered from others.
The Other Person as the Tower Upright: Take a careful look at this person’s entire life circumstances. What has been going on for them in terms of family, career, lifestyle and their general relationships with others? Are their life circumstances compatible with your own? Do you feel safe and welcome as part of their daily life?
The Other Person as the Tower Reversed: This person has some dramatic changes going on, internally. They might be in a place of transition. A relationship with you might be part of that transition. They may not be able to keep promises or commitments right now, however. You will need to successfully adapt to the changes going on with them in order to have a good relationship.
The Fool Reversed can be very irresponsible, reckless, (possibly an addict), or suffering from a condition that interferes in having a healthy relationship. If this is a family member or close friend? You probably already know the flaws in their personality. Those flaws are probably currently active. This means that if they have a bad habit (lying, stealing, spending money compulsively, acting irrationally, etc.,) it’s probably going on in whatever situation you are asking about in the reading.
“Life delivered me a catastrophe, but I found a richness of soul.”
― Michael J. Fox
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