Upright: Disaster, upheaval, sudden change, revelation
Reversed: Avoidance of disaster, fear of change
The Tower shows a tall tower pitched atop a craggy mountain. Lightning strikes and flames burst from the building’s windows. People are seen to be leaping from the tower in desperation, wanting to flee such destruction and turmoil. The Tower signifies darkness and destruction on a physical scale, as opposed to a spiritual scale. The Tower itself represents ambitions built on false premises. The lightning bolt breaks down existing forms in order to make room for new ones. It represents a sudden, momentary glimpse of truth, a flash of inspiration that breaks down structures of ignorance and false reasoning. Notice the lightning bolt is oriented left to right (from the perspective of the card), from heaven to earth, and from Spirit to material. The falling figures correspond to the chained prisoners in the Devil card. They fall headfirst, because the sudden influx of spiritual consciousness represented by the lightning flash completely upsets all our old notions about the relations between subconsciousness and self-consciousness. The flames are actually the Hebrew yods. There are 22 flames, representing the 22 Major Arcana. The gray clouds are the clouds of misfortune that rain on everyone indiscriminately. The ruling planet of this card is Mars.
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How many times have you sat safely within the narrow confines of your life, comfortable in your current thoughts, beliefs and expectations? Then, out of the blue, something ‘shocking’ happens that completely destroys your picture of peace and harmony. It blows your mind or throws you for a loop. There is a sudden realisation that your comfort was based on an inadequate foundation of false thought, belief and action. This is a humbling, frightening but necessary experience.
When you see the Tower in a reading, you may feel afraid, shaken and insecure. It is a time of great turmoil and destruction as you seek to understand how you could have been so wrong, so naive, or so blind about a particularly situation. And now, what will you do and how will you manage in the face of this shocking truth? You may be experiencing sleepless nights, depression, grief, anger and confrontation. These are normal reactions to major changes in your outer and inner worlds.
A Tower experience is any experience that shakes the foundation of your current sense of security and/or forces you to question your strongly-held beliefs, perceptions, attitudes and behaviours. It may be a divorce, death of a loved one, financial failure, health problems or job loss, or any event that penetrates to the core of your inner being, affecting you spiritually, mentally and physically. It is often descriptive of a major upheaval, disruption, emergency or crisis, and is likely to bring chaos in the aftermath of such an event.
If the Tower appears in your reading, ask yourself, “What structures in my life are breaking up?” No doubt you will already be very aware of where there is turmoil and destruction but sometimes it can be on a more subtle or subconscious level.
The most important aspect of the Tower is that with any destruction there comes creation. Thus, the Tower card represents an awakening and is about inspiration, freedom, reality and the release from bondage. It is a truth and honesty card that comes as a bolt of lightning to you through a shocking and impactful life event. It represents a necessary experience that forces you to get out of your comfort zone and to grow beyond your present level. The sudden destruction of the Tower represents the immediacy of change, and the often disorienting effects of that change. Once you hit rock bottom the choice is yours. You can revert to the self-defeating, restrictive Devil, or reach for the transformational and inspirational Star. When you begin to reach for the Star, you will come to realise that your true security and strength lies within yourself and your relationship with the Universe, and not in some false belief system or artificially-created world. Following a Tower experience, you can rest assured that you will grow stronger, wiser and more serene as you begin to develop a completely new perspective on life that you did not even know existed. These moments in time are necessary for spiritual growth and enlightenment. Truth and honesty will bring about a positive change, even if you must experience pain and anxiety throughout the process.
The Tower also represents the inner and outer structures that you have built. These structures represent your personal defences, defences that create a more socially acceptable ‘you’ by hiding your true, inner thoughts and feelings. It is like laughing politely when your boss tells a joke, or, on a deeper level, disguising your sexual feelings, particularly if you feel that they are socially inappropriate. In times of great pressure and stress, these structures will be tested and are at risk of shattering, finally revealing your true inner self to those around you. So, you need to be very careful how much of yourself you attempt to hide, knowing that one day, all will be revealed.
The Tower therefore asks you to break down the structures that you have surrounded yourself with. This can be a painful and difficult process if you resist against the external forces that are pushing you to reveal more of yourself. Breaking through this pretence can cause a great deal of anguish but remember that the Tower will fall, whether you like it or not, because you have reached your limits in this area and can no longer live with it.
Similarly, the Tower can signify your ego and the illusion of considering yourself to be superior to others. When the Tower of ego, deception and illusion is destroyed, you are free to face truth and reality without the trappings of false attachments. Are you undergoing a major shift in consciousness? Are you beginning to see things in a new way? Embrace the opportunity to accept change and move forward into a more positive psychological state, where personal freedom is the rule.
Upright, the Tower indicates a time of great turmoil and destruction, which will eventually bring with it change and regeneration. Reversed, however, the Tower card indicates that you are simply delaying the necessary ‘destruction’. You need to go through this difficult time in order to learn an important lesson. Do not resist it. Even though it is shocking and hard to deal with, it is a very important part of your life journey.
Similarly, the Tower reversed suggests that, while you consciously want change and transformation, you seem to be afraid of these two things. You may feel that change and transformation may bring with it destruction and pain, and thus you are resisting this. You may be aware that in order to create the BIG change you are seeking, you need to go through a period of significant discomfort but you seem to be afraid of this discomfort. Now is the time to think BIG and to not be afraid of taking BIG leaps ahead of you. Sure, the stakes are high and it is risky territory but if you really want to achieve the scale of change you aspire to, then you need to take some risk.
The reversal of the Tower can also lessen the degree or impact of change that is about to enter your life. You may be forewarned or you may have an intuitive sense that something major is about to happen, and you can therefore plan in advance and avoid the destruction that lies ahead. You may be lucky enough to narrowly avert disaster.