Reflections on The Tower

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed a reduced number of posts in recent days, and for that, your humble blogger apologizes while explaining that his weekday time has been spent of late working at a new job that is actually paying him money. A good thing! Though obviously it takes time away from writing about the Tarot and performing other labors of love. Anyway, I had a little downtime in the workshop today, so I laid down a “daily guidance” spread, and the last card dealt—the so-called “outcome” card—was this:towerNow, in a reading, this card is often viewed as a cause for consternation, given the violence implied in the image—a fiery explosion, a forceful uprooting, and a calamitous end to our ambitions. But this is when we must remind ourselves that there is no such thing as an intrinsically “bad” or “evil” Tarot card; we manufacture these malign impulses within our own heads, and if the card triggers this kind of reaction from us, perhaps we should pause to ask ourselves why this should be the case. Perhaps we are pursuing something in our lives that is not in our best spiritual interests. Perhaps we have adopted an arrogant or superior attitude to others, or we have somehow isolated ourselves from humanity in an “ivory tower” of our own design. Perhaps it is simply the case that our ambitions are simply not realistic and that we need to “downsize” our expectations of ourselves. In all of these cases, a radical change of course may be necessary if we are to become fully individuated and self-actualized beings, and The Tower advises us to be prepared for the eventuality—because sooner or later, it happens to nearly everyone.

As with many of the cards of the Major Arcana, The Tower’s meaning in a spread is greatly influenced and modified by the cards surrounding it. A preponderance of Pentacles could suggest some unforeseen material problems such as the possibility of a bad investment or business deal, or even the loss of one’s livelihood. The presence of Swords could imply an impending mental breakdown or “ego-death”  brought about by some cathartic, and even violent, event. A abundance of Cups might suggest a rocky romance, a nasty divorce, or even sexual abuse. Wands paired with The Tower could signify an abrupt change in outlook, a workplace dispute, or some sudden—and not necessarily welcome—news for the querent. In tandem with other cards of the Trumps Major, it could signify a turbulent time in the querent’s spiritual life, perhaps even signaling the advent of a “come to Jesus” moment that may seem initially overwhelming.

Reversed, of course, The Tower could suggest the exact opposite of these things, or simply a modification of their meanings—a reduced impact, in other words. In any event, we are well advised to take The Tower as a word of caution, reminding ourselves to exercise circumspection and humility in our dealings with others, and to be mindful to avoid boasting and haughtiness. One thing we can say for certain: Just when we’ve reached the point in our spiritual development where we’re convinced that we’ve learned all of life’s lessons, along comes something to “cut us down to size” and remind us of how little we truly understand the wider world. It’s never a bad idea to expect the unexpected.

Dante DiMatteo

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