16. The Tower

Revolution hurts

The Tower has a simple meaning: The crumbling of the status quo.

The Tower – whatever it represents in your reading – comes crashing to the ground. All that you held to be true is suddenly…not true. The world looks different, and it can feel like a disaster. This card’s usual image of lightening destroying a tower is incredibly scary – destruction is all that we can see. The ground is unsteady beneath our feet. We don’t know what to hold on to.

It may point to something external – like a power structure being toppled – or it might be internal, like the overcoming of a personal struggle through a momentous and destabilising change. It may be the result of a long and bloody battle, finally over. Or it may be completely out of the blue.

One thing is for sure: life will never be the same again.

As Death showed us, change can be hard. With the Tower, it can be brutal. The Tower’s particular brand of change normally occurs as a crisis (whereas Death’s can often be slow, organic, gentle). It hurts. People get hurt. You don’t know what you’re going to do next. It might feel like all is ruined or lost.

The Tower can point to such an event – a seismic shift, internal or external (think of the Devil, the Wheel, etc), but in doing so it is asking a pressing and important question: What next?

Built into this shattering of all that is known, this shaking of once-solid-seeming foundations, is the possibility of starting over. Many tarot readers talk about their own ‘Tower moments’, referring to those huge and very challenging moments in our lives where everything shifted. It was terrifying in the moment and the fallout might have been tough too, but later, when the dust had settled, things became better than they had been before.

It’s time for a revolution.

Advice from the Tower

Being outed, quitting your job, getting fired, getting dumped. Getting totally called out (and being able to learn from it). These are all examples of Tower moments. Shock events that feel incredibly painful, but that ultimately move us forwards, to a point of no return.

The dust will settle. And you will be standing in the rubble, watching the air clear. There may be some mourning to be done, some goodbyes to say or loose ends to tie up. People, including you, may be scared or lost. But. The tower that was dominating the landscape is now gone, and there is space for something new.

There is a gentler side to the Tower too, where it can simply bear witness to your pain. You are not obliged to start ‘rebuilding something better’ after the loss of a loved one or a truly tragic event. Where the shock was not one that opens up exciting possibilities, but instead only leads to grief (and, eventually, healing), this card puts a hand on your shoulder and says “this is tough. It really is. It’s okay if you feel knocked sideways.”

But, when you are ready, the Tower is also about those next steps. Preparing to rebuild. Ask yourself, what was wrong with the old way? How can we do it better this time? Dig deep and find the confidence to build a new world that is kinder, juster, more honest, or whatever it needs to be.

Key words and concepts

  • Revolution
  • Disaster
  • Shock
  • Mourning
  • Blowing apart old structures, demolition of the status quo
  • Toppling systems of power (on small or large scales)
  • Potential
  • Making way for the new
  • Finding a new way
  • Rebuilding after disaster
  • A blessing in disguise as a disaster
  • Rehabilitation. Regeneration

Some common symbols

  • Lightening (a sudden shock, disaster, destruction)
  • A tower (the old establishment, the old way)
  • Falling people (fallout, harsh consequences)