Sup, sorcerer/esses? Ready to open up wide for your dose of Tarot Tuesday? Here we go!
Few Tarot cards inspire as much trepidation as the Tower, and it’s not very challenging to understand why. I mean, look at that illustration! It’s one of the most extra cards in the whole damn deck. But we’re going to go there, because this card is especially relevant to our collective human experience right now.
To state the obvious, the Tower card depicts a breakdown. This breakdown can be represented in the world around us or within ourselves (or both). But if you look a little closer at the Tower’s foundation, it looks a little unstable, doesn’t it? The implication: what is collapsing was never built to last. This card represents the crumbling of what was not meant to be to make way for what is.
Located just after the Devil card in the Major Arcana (remember: these signify major life events!), the Tower depicts a different type of darkness to work through. To quote one of my all-time favorite Tarot books, Amber Jayanti’s Living the Tarot: “After the Devil asks you to confront your shadow, the Tower is your own Higher Self purging you and allowing you a glimpse of the process’s higher purposes: to increase wisdom and understanding, the cleansing of hubris and the opening of your eyes to reality.”
So what is it that has been built to collapse? We can certainly see structures in our society that are buckling around us due to current events, and the argument can be made that there are better systems that could take their place. But let’s turn our focus inward to the self for now. The Tower is said to appear in our life when we stray from being true to the self. When we are living in a way that is at odds with our true selves, sometimes the universe throws us a curveball to knock us over to another path. Depicted as a lightning bolt coming down from the sky, this “hand of God” can be thought of non-religiously as “forces or circumstances outside our control.” In the traditional Rider-Waite deck (card pictured above right), clothing is usually suggestive of something being repressed or hidden, while nudity represents truth, or seeing things as they truly are. This is why the people being thrown from the Tower are shown fully clothed (as unhelpful / untrue thoughts and behaviors are being dislodged and dismantled), while the next card in the deck, the Star, is shown fully nude – embracing her truth.
Another point of interest in the Tower’s design is its window situation. Jayanti mentions that “the three flaming windows… signify the supernal triangle, or top three Sephiroth on the Tree of Life, the Crown, Wisdom, and Understanding. When other means fail, Wisdom and Understanding are brought about by the Divine Force.” So basically, if you’re living in a way that is subtly or not-so-subtly compromising your relationship with your true Self, sooner or later (or now) your shit is going to get rocked until you open your eyes to a truer path. The crown being knocked off the top of the Tower symbolizes the ego, which may have previously dominated one’s mental state, getting thrown aside to make way for a more balanced perception of reality.
As scary as this collapse can feel, it is a necessary step in the process of self-realization. To come home to one’s true self, one must first shed the layers that don’t belong. What is left behind is what is truly meant to be there, and will provide a solid foundation from which future prosperity can grow.
Another interesting reflection from Jayanti’s book references this process from the perspective of Hinduism: “Hindus term our present era of time the Kali Yuga – Age of Kali, the dark goddess – during which destruction and explosive transformation will precede the next era, the Satya Yuga – Age of Truth and Enlightenment. This is a hidden yet fundamental aspect of the Tower card.”
And sure, everywhere I look it seems that many spiritual minds are associating our current collective Tower experience as the precursor for a more enlightened era. I think and hope they’re right – I just wish it didn’t have to be so harsh, man. I’d like us all to be here to see it.
As we move forward through this restructuring of reality, I would like to bring up the Dave Hollis quote I have seen circulating through social media: “In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” What parts of our former reality are best left in the past? What kind of future are we truly meant to live in? Let’s reflect and move forward consciously to create a future that will support the life we are meant to live.