THE TOWER is the 16th card of the Major Arcana. When this card comes up in a reading, you don’t have to explain any hidden mysteries of what it means. Almost every person for whom I’ve pulled THE TOWER immediately displays a visible sign of anxiety or annoyance when this card gets turned over. This goes both ways, as THE TOWER also arises in a large percentage of the Tarot readings I’ve performed on myself. “What a nice Tarot reading I’m having…ohh great, THE TOWER. Now what?”
A somber stone tower, build upon a mound of rough rock stands etched against a cloudy blackened sky. A zig zag bolt of yellow lightning strikes the top of the tower, tossing off the golden crown that seems to have been resting atop the tower’s pinnacle. Flames erupt from the striking point of the lightning bolt, spreading throughout the body of the tower and spilling out the windows. Falling down from this catastrophe are a man and a woman. Both figures are cloaked in flowing garments, and the woman wears a crown. Their faces show expressions of almost comically caricaturized fear and surprise.
Traditionally, THE TOWER represents dramatic change. Just as the lightning disrupts the monarchy of the crown and burns up the inside of the tower, swift alterations will also come into your own life. Forget peaceful transitions! THE TOWER is like a slap in the face. Most often, you find yourself assuming that this predicted change will be a negative once. But guess what? Change can be most excellent. If you’re focusing on making your own life a better experience, than have no fear if this card shows up in your Tarot spread.
Maybe you’ll suddenly realize that a friend you thought you could trust has actually been spreading nasty rumors about you. Or perhaps you’ll get fired from that boring yet steady job that paid the bills but drained your artistic spirit. Situations like these can be stressful, but try to force yourself to be grateful for these experiences (I know, it’s easier said than done.) Your lightness and good is unable to flourish if you’re surrounded by negative people or negative things. If a close friend is actually a backstabbing gossip, then what true encouragement or support could they offer you? Take such a falling out as an opportunity to become more aware of hidden motives, but also as a moment in which you can lay fresh earth for new seeds of friendship to grow. If you lost your day job, think of your newfound free time as a well to zero in on personal goals, learning new skills, or cultivating your creative skills and hobbies.
THE TOWER does not symbolize change that is wholly positive. These aren’t the kind of changes where a wonderful lover walks into your life out of the blue or a vocational door randomly opens. THE TOWER is filled with fire. Fire cleanses. If you don’t want this fire to demolish what you want to remain in your life, then you must bring forth something for the fire to consume. You must give something up. In order to gain, you must make a sacrifice. And sometimes the sacrifices you must make aren’t in the power of your own will. If change a la THE TOWER seems to be happening to you right now, try to focus on the empty spaces that have been created due to this alteration. Fill these empty spaces with good things, better things. It may take time, but your future self will thank you for it. Weeks from now, months from now, or even years from now, you’ll look back on this time in your life and be able to give thanks for what THE TOWER means.
Photos by Tifani Truelove.