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The Meaning of
"The Tower" Tarot Card

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What is the inverted meaning of
"The Tower"?

The Meaning of "The Tower"
Tarot Card

The Symbolism of the Tower Card

On the Tower card, a powerful bolt of lightning strikes the top of a mysterious stone tower. The golden crown which capped the tower is blasted aside, and flames leap from the tower windows.

The tower itself was built upon a stark mountain peak. The clouds around the tower suggest that it has reached high into the sky.

A couple plunges from the doomed building, falling through the clouds; arms reaching out to grasp at nothing. Are they the same couple seen in the Lovers card and the Devil card? That interpretation is up to the reader.

... no earthly storm is responsible for this destruction by lighning bolt. Divine power is bringing the tower down

Filling the air like tiny yellow sparks are 22 yod symbols — which are used in both the Kaballah and in Freemasonry as a shorthand to represent the divine.

Like the Biblical Tower of Babel, the suggestion here is that no earthly storm is responsible for this destruction by lighning bolt. A divine power is bringing the tower down.

NOTE: The 22 yod symbols are significant for numerological reasons. In numerology, the number 22 is arguably the most important number there is. Often called the number of the Master Builder by numerologists, the number twenty-two it is indicative of someone capable of turning the most ambitious goals into reality. It is a number of creation and infinite drive. The suggestion here is that it was this insatiable drive and desire which built the tower in the first place — but like the Tower of Babel, in the end the real "Master Builder" has knocked it down.

How to Interpret the Tower Card

Many of the traditional interpretations of the Tower card describe its meaning as ruin and collapse. While that may be true in some cases, it's usually a bit too catastrophic for the average reading.

On the simplest level the card may reference a time of chaos and upheaval — particularly one caused by too much ambition. But that too is usually too simple an explanation.

Generally speaking, the Tower card refers to a crisis caused by a disconnect from the spriitual self. A disconnect due to a focus on ego and superficiality rather than buidling something for the good of others or the true betterment of our lives.

... the Tower card refers to a disconnect from the spriitual self. A disconnect due to a focus on ego and superficiality ...

As with the allegory of the Tower of Babel, the ruin we see pictured in the Tower card is the result of vanity, arrogance and a distorted sense of self-importance. We all know people who display these traits — and we ourselves may be guilty of some of these flaws at times.

The Tower card may refer to a person who's actions are driven by conceit and egotism — and the downstream conflicts that this type of energy creates in a group or in society. Or the card may point to a foolish action which is driven by similar character flaws.

Team projects, group efforts and even relationships can easily be destroyed by conflicting egos and pride, each with their own self-interested agendas and personal vanities. When the Tower card appears in a reading it may either point to such a case — or point to similar personality conflicts on the horizon.

The card may also point to a foolish purchase which was driven by ego or pride: Perhaps someone purchased a house, a car or a status symbol they could ill-afford, and that purchase is leading to conflicts in a group or relationship.

The Tower is generally a negative card, but it may also be taken as a warning of an avoidable outcome. The card asks us to consider what it is we are working towards — and whether we're doing those things for the right reasons. If we ignore that warning, or fail to be conscious of hubris, pretension or egotism, a greater relationship, entity or construct may indeed fall into ruin.

The Tower Card Inverted

The reversed Tower card is a generally positive card with a number of possible interpretations:

The simplest interpretation of the card is that it points to a time of personal transformation and change. But in most cases the card carries a more nuanced message than just transformation. As with the upright card, it typically references the idea of destruction as well:

... the reversed card often suggests that the outcome of such destruction will prove to be positive in some way

While the upright orientation of the Tower suggests chaos, ruin and collapse due to arrogance or an inflated sense of self, the reversed card often suggests that the outcome of such destruction will prove to be positive in some way.

Creative destruction is defined as the opportunities for creation and growth which appear when something else is destroyed. Like the upright Tower card, the inverted orientation also points to a time of chaos and destruction — but with surprisingly positive results.

If the card references a past event in a tarot spread, it may point to a time when the collapse or destruction of an entity or a relationship ended up being a beneficial event.

Lastly, another interpretation of the inverted Tower card is internal growth after an internal collapse or breaking point of some kind. Perhaps some internal walls have finally broken, or perhaps an internal crisis has finally crested, creating opportunities for spiritual growth and positive personal development.

The inverted Tower card is a generally positive, but potentially painful card. While creative destruction is ultimately beneficial, it can also be difficult, chaotic and extremely uncertain.

Common Symbols Found On the Tower Card

Tarot cards often use a a common symbology to convey additional information about how each card should be read. The Tower contains at least three common, repeating Tarot symbols. Each of these common symbols can add additional dimensions of meaning to the card.

The symbols which appear on the Tower card are:

  • Yod Symbols

    Yod symbols appear on the Tower card:

    "Yod" (or "Yodh") is most basic of all Hebrew letters. For such a tiny letter, it contains profound Kabbalistic and mystical significance. It's also a revered symbol in the mystic rites of Freemasons. Two Yod symbols written together are often used to represent the name of God in ancient Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts. The abbreviation is used to show respect, rather than writing God's name in full.

    NOTE: The Tower card has 22 Yod symbols. It's notable that the number 22 in numerology is the number of the 'Master Builder'. 22 is one of 3 important Master Numbers. The juxtaposition of the number 22 and the collapsing Tower is intentional — reminding us who the true Master Builder is.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Yod Symbols" in Tarot  

  • Couples

    Couples symbolism appears on the Tower card:

    Couples are a frequent symbol appearing on Tarot cards of both the Minor and Major Arcana. Among the Minor Arcana cards, couples are a generally (but not exclusively) positive symbol — associated with ideas from growth and happiness, to prosperity and security.

    NOTE: One of the most negative representations of a couple in the entire deck of Tarot cards is the couple shown in The Tower card. This couple is plunging to their terrifying fate. Their vanity and outsized ambitions have brought them to this end. How might this crisis have been avoided?

    Read more about the symbolism of "Couples" in Tarot  

  • Night

    Night symbolism appears on the Tower card:

    In much the same way that visibility is better during the day than it is in the nighttime, Tarot cards which depict a dark, or nighttime scene generally share a a feeling of mystery or the unknown. The level of darkness in "nighttime" Tarot illustrations varies. Some "night" cards feature pitch-black scenes, while others depict an evening setting or a setting lit by moonlight.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Night" in Tarot  

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