Reflections on The Tower

Q: What should I be most mindful of today?

A: This.towerAs a rule, this card is not a welcome sight in a reading as it often portends a sudden turn of fortune, and generally not for the better. As a cautionary allegory, however, it can play a very instructive role, reminding us that we as individuals are not the measure of all living things, that we are all inextricably connected to the wholeness of Creation, and that any attempt to separate ourselves from it—as represented here by the unfortunate couple being evicted from their “proud tower”—is ultimately doomed to disappoint. As with the citizens of Babel who thought they could construct their own heavenly edifices out of base brick and mortar, The Tower brings us “back down to earth” whenever we get a little too full of ourselves, as well as advising us to be flexible in our dealings, and to be willing to adapt to any sudden changes that may befall us. Pride reinforced by complacency breeds arrogance. If such is the state of our inner lives, we should expect at some point to be “cut down to size”—the karmic law of the universe will demand it!

It’s good to keep in mind, also, that the sequence of the cards of the Major Arcana form a kind of “endless cycle” of  creation and destruction, death and resurrection, and descent and ascension along the “royal road” that comprises the 22 paths of the Tree of Life. To arrive at their proper context, therefore, it’s sometimes smart to examine where each individual card “fits” within the sequence, in this case by examining the cards that immediately precede and follow it:Screen shot 2015-12-01 at 9.49.28 AMViewed in this light, we can interpret The Tower as a “bridge” that connects the material world of The Devil to the celestial world of The Star. Its destructive powers, in a way, are only transitory (if not utterly imaginary), for The Tower represents an evolutionary gateway of consciousness through which we all must pass if we are to liberate ourselves from the bonds of (Devil) earth-consciousness in order to become more fully actualized as spiritual (Star) beings. For most people, this takes the form of some cathartic event that triggers a psychic “dark night of the soul,” a time of reflection and soul-searching that can be either tragic or transformative, depending on how willing we are to “do the hard work” of self-examination needed to transcend the limitations of hard-headed ego-consciousness. This obliges us to unburden ourselves, over time, of a great number of our most dearly held pretensions, preconceptions and prejudices; this can be a painful process, and it is effected most usefully through acts of meditation and prayer, and through psychoanalysis or other counseling under the supervision of an experienced “spirit guide” who can keep us from getting lost in the psychological wilderness. Ideally, once we have “learned the lessons” that this experience imprints upon our psyches, we can apply our newfound understanding to helping others who have fallen out of their personal towers—their “comfort zones”—and who are now beset by the devils of alienation and isolation that once frightened and paralyzed us. Thus we affirm our interconnectedness as we share the light of healing.

In reality, the process of individuation is a lifelong journey, but it is a journey we all must undertake. As a symbolic beacon in the darkness, The Tower offers us a direction toward the light if we would but approach it in humility and with a willingness to be led by a power greater than ours. Assuming that we can entirely “make it on our own” is an invitation to a comeuppance.

Dante DiMatteo

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