Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
~ Thomas Jefferson
This week’s card is not what I would have wished for in the week of Beltane, and (personally) for my annual visit to the internationally acclaimed Reader’s Studio. It is with real misgivings that I must tell you The Tower has come to call.
It has only visited us three times before now, in the thirteen years I’ve been blogging the Card of the Week. It most recently appeared in November last year, and before that, not since 2010.
I wish I had better news.
It’s not rocket science to see that this is not a particularly easy or enjoyable influence. Especially at risk are the “sacred cows” that we hold dear — the ones that we expect to protect us, to keep us from having to deal with life’s more challenging aspects, or which we hope will insulate us from difficulty.
Yet, The Tower, arguably the least congenial of all the Tarot cards, is as necessary to our liberation and growth as pleasurable experiences. Sometimes, even more so.
In a reading, it is traditionally about misfortune, violence, betrayal, and loss. A more modern approach still sees The Tower as explosive, sudden, radical change, in which the status quo is about to take a tumble.
This rich, disturbing image has many layers of meaning, including the overthrow of someone in power. Note that a large, domed crown similar to the one The Emperor wears is toppling from the top of the tower. And the woman in the blue dress falling towards the rocks is also crowned.
Arthur Waite (author of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot) writes at length of what The Tower is not, but is somewhat obtuse (even for him!) as to his direct interpretation. He does say, however, “…it is the ruin of the House of Life, when evil has prevailed therein, and above all that it is the rending of a House of Doctrine.”
The black sky and the falling man and woman link this card to the previous one in the Majors, The Devil. It is as if the stagnation in the XV Trump has been abruptly overturned.
The lightning zig-zags from the heavens to The Tower, and culminates as an arrow pointing into its uncrowned center, implying intention and perhaps even a judgment.
This is reinforced by the presence of yods — those little yellow fire sparks in the air. Yod is the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and symbolizes a direct command from the Divine. It is interesting that in this card, and no other, there are 22 yods, the same as the number of Major Arcana cards.
The Tower card may remind us of the story of the Tower of Babel in the Judeo-Christian traditions. This tower was struck down by the God when He was angered by humanity’s arrogance. The result left mankind in a chaos of foreign languages.
It may also be like the lightning bolt of insight that struck Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, as he sat beneath the bodhi tree.
Challenges from the Heavens
The Tower is also a perfect snapshot of the ongoing revolution of our generation, of Pluto in Capricorn and the continuing fallout from the series of Pluto-Uranus squares, no longer exact, but still transforming life as we’ve known it.
As astrologer Sarah Varcas says, while we wait to catch our breath and get back to normal, we need to understand, there is no longer any “normal.”
Because even as we begin to absorb the changes as a result of that event, we are already well underway with the Next Big Challenge: the Saturn-Neptune squares.
In fact, The Tower last turned up last Fall, right before the first of these three exact squares hit. The next one comes in June, so the buildup is underway.
And as you probably know, when the big outer planets have their showdowns, the repercussions go on and on — before, during, and after their exact squares. To read more about this revolutionary astrological influence visit Sarah’s link (above), or my friend Elisabeth Grace’s post for last November (scroll down a bit to get to the relevant discussion).
Also, this Thursday, Mercury will join Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and Pluto in retrograde. If you’ve been having trouble getting your projects off the ground, it’s no wonder.
The Mars-Pluto combo, in particular, is a recipe for big upsets and violent upheaval.
Now adding Mercury retrograding in the sign of Taurus, Lance Ferguson notes that we have potential trouble in “the money sign, kicking on the caution lights around major purchases and financial decisions. Accidents, breakdowns, power failures, and all kinds of mischief are of Mercury’s doing.”
Hubris Spells Our Doom
The Tower warns that what has seemed inevitable or permanently fixed may be blasted open for a higher purpose. It often warns us when Mystery is about to rudely and necessarily shatter our consensual reality.
This is the revolution that, while perhaps quietly, invisibly building for ages, now suddenly explodes all around us.
My own experiences with The Tower over the years have been complex, even contradictory. But almost without exception, I have seen it speaking to how we must let go of the fortresses we have built to shield ourselves from some inconvenient part of reality.
Brick by brick, we insulate ourselves: our gated communities, our exclusive cliques and clubs which so easily morph into Us vs. Them.
The Tower visits when we become toxic with the myth of our superior separateness — our economic class; our race; our country; our religion. All wrapped up in our inflated, distorted pride.
We tell ourselves we and only we are the chosen ones. We create myths about how our nation is especially favored by God(s). We rationalize exploitation of others, of the Earth’s resources, and turn a blind eye to our personal and cultural addictions. We even begin to believe that our Gods are the only true ones.
It is so easy for humans, as needful as we are for security, to close our eyes to the blinding truth of All That Is. But hubris invites the lightning strike.
If we refuse to let go of the fears, attitudes, habits, and relationships that thwart our growth (again, The Devil card), the Universe will make us do so. If we will not get ourselves unstuck, we will get pushed. Perhaps pushed very hard indeed.
Clean Your House of Life
This week, look carefully at your life and your priorities. What needs to go? What have you been holding onto for too long? What in your world has become so rancid that it is now dangerous to perpetuate its presence? What wounds need to be lanced before they can be healed?
Be prepared for an important, fond illusion to be suddenly shattered. Be ready, at the very least, for sudden, important change. Literal upheaval, such as those we are seeing more and more in correlation with predicted earth changes, are also to be expected.
The bottom line, though, is that if we refuse to open our hearts, it becomes inevitable that the Beloved must break them open for us.
Thus, you can see that even as the lightning strikes the Tower’s crown of worldly power, and the fires burn, this downfall comes by the command of Divine Love. This act of destruction is also an act of creation.
Change is coming. If we are not willing to change willingly and gently, we will change painfully or dramatically. Yet we can trust that these changes are exactly what the Divine One knows we need.
They will, ultimately, be our saving Grace.