Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.
— John F. Kennedy
The Tower, probably the least pleasant of all the Tarot cards, is our card this week. Although we humans are not usually fond of being struck by sudden, irrevocable change, sometimes it is as necessary to our liberation and growth as enjoyable experiences. Sometimes, even more so.
The Tower is explosive, abrupt, often painful. Traditionally, it represents misfortune, violence, betrayal, and loss. No, this is not likely to be very much fun.
The complex, disturbing image of the Tower has many layers of meaning; from the overthrow of someone in power, to the downfall of those who have been too materialistic or aloof, to the destruction of certain beliefs, illusions and perceptions.
It may remind us of the Tower of Babel in the Judeo-Christian traditions – which was struck down by their God who was angered by the arrogance of humanity, leaving mankind in a chaos of foreign languages. It may also be like the lightning bolt of insight that struck Siddhartha Gautama as he sat beneath the bodhi tree.
My own experiences with the Tower over the decades have been equally complex. But given the current state of affairs, this week I see it as a lesson in tough love. Often, in order to shield ourselves from some unpleasant part of reality, we insulate and rationalize. The Tower is the hand of Love that strikes down that which enables us to remain in our comfy, deadly prisons of denial.
We build our gated communities, we lock our doors and look the other way. We tell ourselves we don’t need to change the status quo, we just need to drill for more oil — polar bears, climate change and the environment can just be damned. We cultivate and tolerate fear and hatred for the outsiders, the “others.”
Just this past week, some 70 newspapers around the United States delivered a terrifying video, paid for as (desperately needed) advertising revenue. It portrays the followers of radical Islam as monsters, intent on world domination and the destruction of all we hold dear. Is this a factual wake-up call to help us protect ourselves? Or is it carefully edited propaganda to whip up a convenient demonization of Islam?
What ends do such confrontational, polarizing messages support? Who is served by holy war from any point of view? On this week of the Harvest Moon, what harvest do we reap from the decisions and actions that we have been making?
The Tower is a warning that if we refuse to let go of the fears, attitudes, habits and relationships that thwart our growth, the Universe will make us do so. If we will not get ourselves unstuck, we will get pushed. Perhaps pushed very hard indeed.
If we refuse to open our hearts, we invite the Universe to break them open for us.
Note that even as the lightning strikes the Tower’s crown of worldly power, and the fires burn, and the people fall, in the air there are Yods, symbols of the Word of God. 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 Beloved knows we need. They will, ultimately, be our saving Grace.