The Tower – Tarot

The Tower in the Tarot depicts a zig-zag lightening bolt strikes a tower, knocking its fiery crown off. Two people, one a king, are depicted falling from the tower, red flames coming out the three windows. The tower is grey, built upon a rock and the background is black. Grey clouds color the background along with twenty two pieces of flame.

Upon first glance The Tower can be dramatic. A lightening bolt winds its way towards the tower, knocking off its crowing glory and casting the inhabitants towards the ground. Within the tower, they probably thought they were safe – they had built it upon rock, built it high, with windows high up to ensure it was difficult to gain entry. Yet they find themselves torn asunder. The figure with the red cloak looks horror struck, the figure with the crown – possibly a King – looks sad as they fall. The card could be suggesting that both Kings and paupers can be cast from their castles.


It has been said before that the Tower in the card may represent the Tower of Babel from the Bible – a tower built by man to reach the Heavens of God which is destroyed by him.

There are a myriad of meanings to the card but the most striking one is that even in our towers, we are vulnerable. We can build our defences high and strong and lock ourselves within, but there is always something that can breach those defences – in this case a lightening bolt. Traditionally, lightening was seen as something mystical and divine and the twenty two bits of fire (shaped in the Hebrew letter of Vau which symbolises the divine connection and the joining of heaven and earth) allude to the significance of the fire in this card. Also of note is the division of these twenty two vau – 13 on the left and 10 on right, resolving to four (Chesed on the Tree of Life – condensation, growth) and One (Eternal, the Divine) – For a student of the Tree of Life, Four is the beginning after the Trinity, it is One repeated.

It may be that literally a ‘bolt out of the blue’ hits us – something we could not have planned for even though we thought we were safe. Despite our best preparations, we will find ourselves in turmoil, cast from the towers and plummeting towards the earth. An event is disruptive to our lives and should not be underestimated in terms of how it will affect us.

In business, this could mean difficult financial times or the failure of a project or venture. In love, we may be let down. Emotionally, we may find our feelings plummeting. Our lives will take a stumble, we will experience a set back, we will undergo a shock to the system and The Tower in the Tarot warns us that we should not dismiss this shock blithely as something that will be easy to get over.

This card may also be a forewarning for us – locking ourselves up in towers and fooling ourselves into thinking we are safe can only result in a false sense of security. Perhaps we would be better camping on the open ground and moving quickly rather than being a sitting duck in a tower awaiting our end!

The Tower is card sixteen in the Tarot and sixteen resolves to seven – this is the number of creativity but in an anarchic sense. Despite the turmoil depicted in this card, there is something new being formed. A new chapter in our lives, a new day, a new life outside of The Tower. In the next card, the Star, the brightness that beckons even before the dawn is depicted strongly, the Star guiding us along.

Reversed: While the Tower upright warns us of sudden and disruptive shocks to our lives, the Tower in the Tarot reversed is one of those cards in the Tarot where its meaning reversed is less severe than the upright version! The figures are the right way round in the reversed card of The Tower – they fall upwards, almost as if jumping out of the way of the lightening bolt. The card reversed suggests that we may have time to avoid the worst of the upheaval – if we can bring ourselves to leave the ‘safety’ of the tower and venture into the open. It warns us that if we act now we may just avoid the bolt to our lives – though that bolt will still hit the tower, we ourselves will escape its worst affects.

If we see danger signs around us, The Tower reversed says we should not ignore them. Health concerns should be looked at, warning signs about business or cashflow heeded. Stop spending money you don’t have. Save for the rainy day. Don’t ignore the small leak – get it fixed before it washes the house away! The Tower reversed gives us a small opportunity to avoid the worst case scenario – being struck by lightening and cast from our stronghold.

The Tower in the Marseilles tarot
The Tower in the Marseilles tarot

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