The Tower Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretations

The Tower Tarot card meaning and interpretation

The Tower has a complex and varied history in its depictions from the early days of tarot to the present day as well as in the mythology behind those many depictions. The biblical Tower of Babel is one of many mythological man made constructions that were fabled to have been built in an attempt to reach heaven and God(s). Nearly every ancient culture has a comparable myth from the far east to Africa and central and south Americas. If there is a common moral to each of these myths, which relates to the meaning of this card, it is that those who are arrogant enough to believe they can stand high on their own constructions and reach heaven, or know God, will eventually fail and fall.

The Tower of the myths is a psychical construction but The Tower in tarot is more often a metaphor for beliefs that we hold in high regard or that make us think we know best. It can be a card that warns us of being sanctimonious. Everyone has their own set of beliefs that they hold to be true because they are part of our identity, or because we have been taught them at school or church or through reaching our own conclusions. Those beliefs are sometimes tested and, like the lightening bolt striking The Tower, they crumble and fall. In a more positive light this card may have the meaning of testing a hypothesis. We make an assumption on limited data and then test it to see if it fails or holds firm. Mistakes are one of the greatest teachers we can learn from but too often the fear of failure keeps us from that class room. This is the core meaning of The Fool, which urges us to take a risk. In contrast The Tower pushes us off the edge un-willingly.

In Tarot The Tower is card number 16 of the Major Arcana which numerology reduces to 7 (1 + 6). The number 7 is the number of rest, inaction, study, introspection, research and spiritual life. The major religions of the world all have a day of rest and prayer on their 7th day. The Tower represents the negative characteristics of the 7, ignoring its restful nature and trying to commune with God via other unnatural or man made methods. The number 7 symbolises the search for God, faith or spiritual enlightenment. Sometimes spiritual awakening is forced upon us through traumatic, or unexpected, events and changes in our life. A near death experience, the loss of a loved one or some sudden change that shakes us out off our routines and beliefs to what is most important in life. The card following The Tower is The Star, the card that is symbolic of spiritual enlightenment.

The Tower is the card of false beliefs, sudden changes, nasty surprises, unexpected events or natural disasters. This card maybe a warning of pride coming before a fall. How long can someone ignore the real truth before it brings them, and their beliefs, crashing down to earth? The appearance of The Tower will more commonly signify that an assumption or belief is about to be proven incorrect. It can occasionally be literal and warn of damage to the home from adverse weather or relate to the home more metaphorically like unexpectedly losing the lease on a rented home and having to find another.

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By Arthur Edward Waite (1911)

Occult explanations attached to this card are meagre and mostly disconcerting. It is idle to indicate that it depicts min in all its aspects, because it bears this evidence on the surface. It is said further that it contains the first allusion to a material building, but I do not conceive that the Tower is more or less material than the pillars which we have met with in three previous cases. I see nothing to warrant Papus in supposing that it is literally the fall of Adam, but there is more in favour of his alternative--that it signifies the materialization of the spiritual word. The bibliographer Christian imagines that it is the downfall of the mind, seeking to penetrate the mystery of God. I agree rather with Grand Orient that it is the ruin of the House of We, when evil has prevailed therein, and above all that it is the rending of a House of Doctrine. I understand that the reference is, however, to a House of Falsehood. It illustrates also in the most comprehensive way the old truth that "except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it."

There is a sense in which the catastrophe is a reflection from the previous card, but not on the side of the symbolism which I have tried to indicate therein. It is more correctly a question of analogy; one is concerned with the fall into the material and animal state, while the other signifies destruction on the intellectual side. The Tower has been spoken of as the chastisement of pride and the intellect overwhelmed in the attempt to penetrate the Mystery of God; but in neither case do these explanations account for the two persons who are the living sufferers. The one is the literal word made void and the other its false interpretation. In yet a deeper sense, it may signify also the end of a dispensation, but there is no possibility here for the consideration of this involved question.

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