Tarot cards and, more recently, oracle cards are outstanding tools for psychological and spiritual work. Each year they become more and more a part of the common vernacular and readily available in mass-market venues, especially the online retailer, Amazon. The number of decks available in and out of print is mind-boggling, easily in the thousands, especially if you go do a search for decks on eBay.
Once shrouded in mystery and a “tool of people with questionable character, dark intentions, or acolytes of heathen beliefs”, tarot and oracle cards are enjoying widespread, if still hesitant acceptance. In this article, I will write about one of the most challenging cards to draw and face, the Tower.
78 Archetypes to Awareness
When people seek me out for a reading, they will often ask me, “what are tarot cards and how does tarot work?” Over time I have developed a consistent response, which is, “each tarot card represents a common archetype of the human experience. All 78 cards are happening in your life right now, in one way or another. When you sit down and draw cards for a reading, you are ‘bringing to light or awareness’ specific archetypes for you to think about in the moment.”
Life is a constant ebb and flow of positive and negative experiences, in varying degrees of intensity. The Two of Coins or Two of Pentacles represents daily change, the normal flow of energy moving to make things happen in life. The Death card represents a dramatic transformation through a profound ending, which will create space for a significant new beginning.
The cards of the Minor Arcana represent the processes we experience with our emotions (Cups), our thoughts (Swords), material actions (Coins/Pentacles), and our creative or spiritual actions (Wands). The cards of the Major Arcana represent major life energies and events: The Fool is the experience of life itself, The Magician represents the most significant decisions we make in our life journey, The High Priestess represents the hard lessons we have to go through to grow spiritually, and so on.
The Tower Card
One of the most powerful change cards is The Tower, which represents sudden, dramatic, and unexpected change, like getting fired from a job when we thought we or the company was doing great, only to find out unexpectedly that our job is now gone. Or, it could be finding out you have the winning lottery ticket and are suddenly extremely wealthy.
In each case, the loss of the job could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you and winning the lottery could be the worst; The Tower is the unexpected, both in the moment something happens and the possible outcomes.
While the Tower can represent an event outside you that you have to deal with, it can also represent you as The Tower event for someone else. You might find yourself going to your spouse of 20 years and telling him or her that you want out of the marriage and he or she has no idea why or hint that it is about to happen. You might be the head of the company who just blew the pension on a gambling bender in Vegas.
The Tower is all the experiences in life that are not gentle; they are shocking, which is why the card is often shown with a lightning bolt striking a tower and setting it on fire, or some kind of explosion:
Receiving the Tower in Your Reading
No two ways around it, this card is not easy to face, even when the Tower moment is something as potentially exciting and game-changing as winning the lottery or meeting the love of your life. There are essentially three ways to receive the Tower. You immediately recognize what the Tower event is and it is happening to you right now. You immediately know that you are getting ready to cause or have just caused a Tower event for someone else.
If it turns out that you are not in the middle of a Tower event or causing one, then the card wants you to reflect on how you do handle the unexpected or how you would handle it. Let’s say your parents have done well enough in life to be able to leave your assets and money; if they were to die suddenly, is everything in place to help with that part of the life transition or is it a complete unknown to you. If you were to suddenly lose your job, do you have savings or resources to help you through a period without the income to pay your bills?
Like the Death, Lovers, and Fool cards, this card is one that immediately forces you to take notice and address whatever it represents or could represent in your life journey. The more Tower moments you face and navigate, the better you can become at dealing with the future ones that will inevitably show up.
Reading the Tower Card for A Client
If you happen to be a professional or practicing reader, who reads cards for others, then you definitely want to train yourself to be ready to address this card in a helpful way for the client. Most people who have some idea about Tarot cards will usually say, “I just don’t want to draw the Death card”. Equally, they may not realize it, but the Tower card is in the same category as a card of dramatic and profound change.
Death can come quickly or slowly; the Tower always comes quickly and unexpectedly. It is the archetype for the unexpected. As a reader, you need to make sure and ask the client if they are in a Tower moment or causing a Tower moment. Their answer can help guide your advice and interpretation for them.
If they tell you that life is currently smooth sailing (Temperance), then you need to ask them what could be the most disruptive thing that could happen in their lives. Job loss? Betrayal by a romantic partner? Significant illness? You cannot prevent the unexpected, but you can have strategies in place to help you through, which is why the insurance industry and savings accounts exist.
The Tower, like any Major Arcana card, calls our attention to the significant and serious moments of our lives, and the better and more willing we are to face this card or the other Major cards, the better we will enjoy and appreciate our life journey.