The Tower

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The Major Arcana Tower card shows a scene of chaos, destruction and awakening. A burning tower perches precariously on shaky foundations while a lightning bolt strikes and shatters its top, causing the entire structure to crumble. Two figures, desperate to dodge disaster, are falling or leaping from the burning building – what fate awaits them when they reach the ground is still unclear.

When the upright Tower Tarot card appears in readings, it indicates a rude awakening of some kind, caused by a sudden, shocking revelation or turn of events. Your spouse dumping you without a warning, or you boss letting you go from one moment to the next are all examples of Tower moments – moments where something you thought was solid and built to last suddenly disintegrates before your very eyes. The Tower brings a certain a mount of chaos into your life – but also, inevitably, a new perspective.

The Tower card can be a blessing in disguise. Few of us like and are able to fully embrace sudden, dramatic change right when it happens. But somewhere further down the line many of us might look back over our shoulder and retroactively identify getting laid off or being left by a romantic partner as one of the best things that ever happened to us. The Tower often talks about these kinds of experiences – the kind that feel awful in the moment, but turn out to be the very experiences our souls were craving. When we are comfortable, we don’t seek change. Instead, we get stuck in our comfortable and comforting routine, while all spontaneity, playfulness, intensity and even truth slowly drain away from us. The Tower represents a rude and unpleasant awakening from that half-slumber we as adults so easily fall into. A Tower moment is like having a bucket full of ice water thrown in your face. Initially, the experience is deeply unpleasant, but later on, it becomes quite a story to tell.

When the Tower card appears in its reversed position in a Tarot reading, it can mean that you are fearful of change and are clinging to your comfort zone with all of your might – never mind that change might enrich you. When the reversed Tower Tarot card comes up, it can be a nudge from the universe, telling you to stop resisting change, to open yourself up to new experiences and perspectives. Sometimes, the reversed Tower Tarot card might come up when you have had a near brush with disaster and have narrowly managed to evade it.

The Tower, the 16th trump card of the Major Arcana

The Tarot is divided into the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana, meaning the ‘greater’ and ‘lesser’ mysteries respectively. While the Minor Arcana deals with everyday situations, experiences and questions, the Major Arcana talks about the truly pivotal, transcendental and life-altering lessons and moments we experience in life.

The Tower is the 16th Major Arcana card. According to numerology, the number 16 is one of introspection, of seeking and ultimately finding hidden truths and answers.

The Tower Tarot card description

Although depictions of the Tower card differ between Tarot decks, but most versions are based on the classic Rider-Waite Tarot deck and includes its essential symbols and details. Let us take a good look at the card’s key symbols.

The tower

The Tower card depicts a tall tower perched on top of a rocky mountain. The tower looks deceptively solid and imposing – it is easy to imagine that it might stand there for a thousand years. And yet the tower is falling, crumbling and collapsing, shattered by the light of some searing insight or a rude awakening.

The lightning

Lightning strikes the tower, causing the entire structure, so seemingly solid, to come tumbling down. The lightning bolt hits the golden crown on top of the tower, knocking it clean off and setting the tower itself aflame.

The crown represents the crown chakra, and the lightning sticking it represents a deep, spiritual and universal truths or insights. The lightning is coming from above, from the realm of the divine, from your higher self.

The falling figures

Two well-dressed figures are falling or leaping from the tower in a desperate bid to escape the flames. Suspended in mid-air, their fate is uncertain. Where are they going to find themselves when the dust settles and the tower they created is no longer standing, no longer protecting and supporting them?

The 22 flames

Twenty-two flames are falling through the air, surrounding the two figures. The number of the flame indicates the 12 signs of the zodiac, as well as the ten spheres on the Tree of Life. The flames serve as a subtle reminder that, even when our old beliefs or old ways crumble and give way, the universal and spiritual truths and laws are still in place. They are the true foundation for all life and all understanding.

The Tower Tarot card meaning

Whether upright or reversed, the Tower card always spells trouble. Here are the primary upright Tower Tarot card meaning.

Unexpected, dramatic, sudden change

A significant upright Tower Tarot card meaning is sudden change, change that is unexpected and comes out of the blue, striking your life like a bolt of lightning from a clear blue sky.

The Tower might indicate a sudden job loss, sudden illness, a natural disaster, or some other kind of dramatic and perspective-shattering event. In extreme cases, the Tower Tarot card can indicate disaster and even death. When the upright Tower card appears, it may be as a warning for you to be careful and watch out for sudden accidents swerving into your path, so that you stand a chance of avoiding them.

Upheaval

The Tower might indicate a necessary and unavoidable period of upheaval.

Whether you have recently graduated, moved to a new city or a new country, welcomed a new family member or left a long-term relationship, the Tower indicates that you are undergoing a period of upheaval and change. Envisioning your future and making clear plans might be either very difficult or impossible at this time.

Chaos

The upright Tower Tarot card can indicate a period of chaos in your life.

If you have recently experienced a sudden and dramatic shift – for example, the sudden and unexpected end of a romantic relationship or the termination of a stable job – a chaotic chapter might be part of the fallout. Something or someone you thought was a reliable and more or less permanent fixture in your life has suddenly gone up in smoke. You may be feeling disoriented and unsure of what direction your future is going to take.

Epiphany

The Tower Tarot card can signify an epiphany, a true Eureka moment – or, if you will, a Tower moment.

Once you have experienced this profound realisation or discovery, you know you can never again go back to life the way it was. A true epiphany is a paradigm shift, something that forces or inspires you to change forever.

Spiritual awakening

In some cases, the Tower represents a spiritual awakening. Your previous belief system might have been shattered by a profound discovery or realisation, and as a result, you are now headed down a new spiritual path. There is no telling where this new path will take you, or what powerful lessons you are going to learn on the way.

The Tower reversed Tarot card meaning

When the reversed Tower Tarot card comes up in Tarot readings, different layers of its meaning come to the forefront. Here are the primary meanings of the Tower reversed.

Fear of change

The Tower card reversed can indicate a fear of change, and a holding on to the status quo without questioning whether or not the way things are is desirable or positive.

The Tower structure can represent the small, safe world you have built, as a way of protecting yourself agains life’s uncertainties. Your attempts at avoiding tragedy and bolstering yourself against any possible unforeseen event, you have also managed to abolish adventure, spontaneity and a sense of wonder from your life.

Averting danger or catastrophe

The Tower reversed can sometimes indicate that you have narrowly avoided danger or some kind of disaster. You might have successfully pulled back from the brink of serious health problems, or listened to your intuition when it told you not to go on holiday to a particular exotic location that you later learn has been ravaged by natural disasters.

The Tower Tarot card interpretation

The Tower Tarot card, like any other, contains multiple layers, shades and facets of meaning. Which aspect of the card stands out in any particular Tarot reading is always going to come down to a number of factors, including the card’s position, any other Tarot cards in the spread, and the individual Tarot reader’s style of interpretation.

In other words, the Tower card offers multiple possible interpretations – all of which may be correct, depending on the context. The following are a few examples of how the Tower Tarot card might be interpreted in the context of different Tarot readings.

What the Tower card means when it indicates you in a Tarot reading

Upright

Life might have thrown some serious punches lately, but you are rolling with the changes as best you can. You have not yet landed on your feet – it’ll be a while before you can – but you are not resisting or denying the changes that are happening all around you or within you. The situation you are finding yourself in may not be wished-for or expected, but you are determined not to let that get you down.

Reversed

Most likely, you are fearful of change and resisting it with all your might. You may have reason to worry the something you know, some aspect of your life that you believed was stable and secured, is going to crumble and disappear.

The reversed Tower indicates that the change you fear is inevitable. No matter how hard you cling, powerful external forces are moving the situation along. In the long run, you will not able able to dam up the tides of change.

What the Tower card means in a love Tarot reading

Upright

The Tower spells disaster when it appears in a reading about your love life. It is likely that the Tower indicates the sudden and unexpected death and destruction of your romantic relationship, which you thought was solid. Still reeling from the event, you are perhaps not yet able to see how your romance might have been built on shaky ground, or that a fundamental pillar was missing, which made it easy to topple.

Once you have made it past the initial shock and grief, you might come to appreciate that you are now free to build a new relationship on more solid ground.

Revered

When the reversed Tower comes up in a love reading. You are resisting and holding back something that is inevitable. Your romance may have long since fizzled out, but one or both of you may still be clinging to the false beliefs that it can be resurrected, that everything can be forgiven and mended. As a result, you are prolong the suffering of ending things and moving on.

In rare cases, the reversed Tower could indicate that you manage to pull your relationship back from the brink of destruction, just in time to salvage it. However, the relationship will be forever changed, transformed by the shock, revelation or tragedy the two of you endured together.

What the Tower card means in a career Tarot reading

Upright

The Tower card is bad news in career and money matters.

The Tower can signify getting fired, losing a client who is vital to your business, or circumstances beyond your control taking you down the path to financial ruin. as a result, you will experience a period of chaos, upheaval and uncertainty, as your primary source of income has suddenly given way to nothingness.

On a positive note, losing your job or assignment may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. When we are financially comfortable, we tend not to question the direction of our lives, or the true contents of our ambition. A comfortable income may make us settle for less creativity, less self-expression, less inventiveness than what we are truly capable of and truly desire. Suddenly finding yourself at a loss, cut adrift on the waves, you will inevitably have time to reconsider your options.

Reversed

The reversed Tower Tarot card meanings are decidedly gloomy when it comes to work, career and finances.

The reversed Tower can indicate that you are unable to let go and move on in the wake of a sudden and dramatic change to your work situation. For example, your company may have been bought up by a bigger one that likes to do things in an entirely different way – one that doesn’t sit well with you. You might resent the changes, but your attachment to the stability your job provides, or the fear of having to fumble through the dark for a while until you find a new direction, might not allow you to walk away, even if doing so would be for your own highest good.

Lucius Nothing

Lucius has been slinging tarot cards professionally since 2014. He’s taken the tarot to places most wouldn’t think of: His best-known patrons include Torture Garden, The Dark Circus Party, Handel & Hendrix, A Curious Invitation and The Candlelight Club, where he has been resident tarot reader for the past half-decade. His writing on divination, magic and creativity has been published in Sabbat Magazine and on Medium.

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