The Tower: Its Energy In Action
The Tarot may be seen as much more than a system of divination or fortune telling. A full deck consists of 78 cards. They are divided into the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana and people cards. The Major Arcana consists of just 22 cards. They encompass the major archetypes and milestones of human existence and spiritual growth. They represent a cosmic timeline of the lessons a Soul encounters and the patterns a human being creates.
There are twenty-two cards in the Major Arcana of the Tarot, twenty-one of them hold hidden messages that are the key lessons or steps necessary for a person to grow spiritually as they develop emotional stability. Each step is important and when you look at them in order and study the meanings, it's not difficult to see the progression.
I said twenty-one steps, but there are twenty-two cards. The remaining card is called the Fool and it represents the innocent Soul as it moves through life's journeys. When I teach the Tarot, I start the class out with The Fool, and then we follow him or her through the journey of awakening. The Fool has some secrets to share, also.
This is an extraordinary time we are living through, so due to the situation in the world right now, I'm writing about card number 16: The Tower. I will briefly mention several other cards that come before and after The Tower, in order to give it some context and to take a look at what comes next.
Humans each share the same lessons: as individuals, as families and as societies. We all go through the same sequence of twenty-two steps, again and again, although at different times and with different levels of understanding.
As we cycle through the various levels and lessons of these archetypal experiences, we can, and do, get stuck: for days, weeks, months, years and even lifetimes.
We are all human and therefore, are all stuck somewhere. In fact, we could be stuck at several places, at the same time. If we want to benefit and learn from the hidden lessons of the Major Arcana, we have to be willing to look at our own position in the series honestly. There are clues and hints for us to study and ponder in the images of the cards. To get the full benefit, we have to face and then deal with our own biases and defense mechanisms. That is really difficult. Defense mechanisms are built to protect us from the brutal truth of our own failings; they don't work well anymore, when we become aware of them.
True change is always thorny; sometimes it's devastating. As I write this, much of the world is going through the shared experience of a number of very difficult alterations to the routine of their daily lives. This has taken place within a very short period of time, however, the energy that drives the materialization of intense change builds over a long period of time. As it begins to manifest, few pay attention at first; those who notice the signs and try to say something about it are ignored, ridiculed or even executed. Once the process begins, there is no stopping it.
This is The Tower energy at work.
In every generation there are always some people who believe that big changes are necessary. Some believe in total anarchy, although most are not willing to go to those extremes.
Some don't want to believe it's really happening at all, and will grab onto anything they can find that will support their denial, even as various aspects of society and their daily lives deteriorate around them. Some try their best to do everything they can to hold it together, so that their lives can go back to "normal" someday. Many, regardless of belief systems, look for anything or anyone that they can blame for the situation, often coming up with fantastical reasons that this is happening. Divisions arise and fanatics are born; they are found at both ends of the spectrum.
Some see this upheaval as the result of centuries of behaviors that we have brought upon ourselves. Whatever the cause, the fact is that these changes are inevitable and unrelenting; after this, there will be a new normal.
At this moment, a literal force of nature is altering our way of life and transforming global cultures in ways that were unthinkable, just a few months ago. At the same time, big Cultural shifts are taking place. Entire countries, as well as individuals, are being forced to change standards of behaviors, beliefs and viewpoints that have been internalized and taken for granted, for as long as anyone can remember.
Death, The Devil and The Tower: these are the three images from the Tarot that show up in the media, accompanied by the appropriate tense soundtrack, to titillate and disturb people. Death and The Devil are frightening to many, but at least they are somewhat known quantities; The Tower presents as something both mysterious and terrifying. The scene on the card shows a tall tower sitting high upon a mountaintop. It is night and the tower is being struck again and again by lightning. It begins to crumble, as two people fall to their death, having jumped to save themselves from burning or being crushed.
The Tower symbolizes change; sudden and irreversible change. That's terrifying to many, if not most, people. This image foretells destruction of some kind. It is no less than the annihilation of a closed system of patterns: habits, biases, belief systems, prejudices, relationships, fears and dogmas.
These are the things that we cling to emotionally and often irrationally; these are the things that imprison us and separate us from others.
Some Ancients called The Tower "The House of God." This Tower is not the house of the Creator - far from it. This Tower is the house of a "little g" god; it's a god we ourselves have created and sustained, feeding it our deepest fears, anxieties and inadequacies.
In many cases, we've inherited this puny god from our ancestors and accepted it because our culture, family and/or loved ones have said that this is what is correct. We do not question; heretics are severely punished.
No, The Tower is not the house of a powerful and compassionate Being. What lives up there doesn't want to be looked at; it's hiding up there, far from prying eyes. This is the house of a petty god that we believed in and feared, when we were younger or less aware. The Tower is our Tower; a home that we have fashioned of our own weaknesses. We are who lives at the top of this Tower.
There is usually someone up there with us; they may be a family member, friend, a lover, or an enemy. Sometimes we have an entire group of people living in The Tower with us. Then we can congratulate each other on how we are truly 'chosen' ones, living above the rest. We are secure in our knowledge that we that we know what our god wants for us - and for everyone else. We are far seeing, watching over the world from the top of our tower.
If our companions start questioning us or disagree with what we 'know' to be the truth, we might pity them, at first. We try to convince them that they are mistaken and need to repent. Eventually, though, we lose patience with the unbeliever; maybe we begin to fear that our god will think we are also sinners. In that case, there's not much left to be done; we throw the other person off The Tower and in this way, prove our faithfulness. We hold tight to our beliefs and our righteousness.
The Tower is not a house of God: it's a prison. Anyone in The Tower is stuck, trapped and afraid. Above all, they are afraid to even begin to think about such things. It's beyond terrifying to consider that you've lived a life of major self-delusion, although we all have done so, at one time or another.
There is no exit from that Tower; no sensible way out of it. We can only choose to jump, or wait for it to collapse upon us.
For eons we can't bring ourselves to jump. We are so very afraid... Of course we are. So we stay there, hoping and hiding, unable to accept or face anything less than our 'god' coming to save us. Hopefully, with a generous reward for our faith.
At some point, though, it's time. The Soul has learned everything it can learn from its time at the top of a Tower of illusions. Our Soul is not afraid: we could say it's been getting bored with this pattern and it's ready for the change. We may not be consciously aware of this, but perhaps something lurks in the back of our mind, making it difficult to concentrate. Although there are numerous warnings of the inevitably of the coming cataclysm... All are ignored.
The fateful night comes when we are awakened from our sleep as The Tower is battered by lightning, striking over and over. It begins to sway and break apart. Fire erupts, and starts consuming everything inside. As the flames get closer to our hiding place at the top, there are only two simple choices left: stay and die a horrible death by fire - or jump and end it quickly. It is finally a clear choice, with a clear ending; just not the one we had hoped for. So simple at the end.
We humans often prefer to wait for a disaster to force us to face what we have created.
As The Tower crumbles, and we tumble, so do our ego patterns and built up belief systems. They are consumed in the fire.
The Tower energy exists to destroy the things that we cling to with every fiber of our being; the patterns and behaviors that are harming us or holding us back, in a significant way. These are the things we will never easily and willingly let go of; we believe we cannot exist without them.
In the order of the Major Arcana of the Tarot, it's no mistake that The Tower comes right after cards that are named "The Devil" and "Temperance." At first they man seen unrelated, but they are part of an archetypal sequence of events and an opening of awareness - and temptation - that leads up to The Tower.
The Temperance card is a complex card and energy. It embodies purity, as well as alchemy and the magic and mystery of Life.
It shows a beautiful Angel in a pale blue robe, performing a miracle that is at first, unseen. The Angel pours the water sideways, in order to mix the contents together, and the liquid moves against the natural law of gravity.
The cards references balance in several ways: the Angel is both masculine and feminine; one foot is on the earth and one is in the water. It also takes perfect balance to hold the cups as they are. A golden triangle within a square is on the Angel's robe: a symbol in alchemy, that has a metaphorical meaning: attempting anything that seems impossible. The Square represents the Earth and the natural laws we are bound by when incarnated; it surrounds the triangle, which in this case, represents the human being.
The triangle can also represent the importance of maintaining a balance between Love, Power and Wisdom. It is also a symbol of the Holy Trinity. Above it on the angel's chest is the four letter Hebrew word for God: Tetragrammaton.
There is a path, going off into the distance, leading to a golden crown, filled with Light. Follow your path to find enlightenment.
Yellow irises symbolize passion wisdom, hope, trust, and valor. You need them all to follow your spiritual path.
Get out of balance too far one way or another, and this card can symbolize an obsession.
The word temperance means self-control and restraint, yet, there is another meaning. When we experience the energy of Temperance, as represented in the Major Arcana, we also experience the lessons we've created out of the extreme experiences we sought out in our search for hidden truths and the Magic that enlivens the Universe.
We are as strong as steel in our determination to solve the great mysteries, but the steel that we are at this point, cannot bend without breaking. Without any true understanding of what we've asked for, we beg our God, Guides and Angel's to help us to grow and evolve into what we are meant to be.
Their answer is "yes." And so it goes.
Our spiritual steel is thrust into a forge of spiritual fire.
We are beaten and folded and tempered in that fire, again and again, as the Master Bladesmith forges our spiritual energy into a strong, yet flexible, ethereal blade.
When finished, we hold a matchless edge that will withstand the stress of many battles: most of them with ourselves.
Our layover at Temperance is where we get our first glimpse of the awe inspiring beauty of our spiritual selves. Our Soul is truly "like unto God."
The problem starts when we forget that we are NOT God; we are still only human. We are still sampling a smorgasbord of experiences on the Wheel of Life. This is just another step in our evolution and as always, we can easily get stuck here.
Here is where we start to believe the delusion that the world needs us and our powerful insights in order to survive: we have an important 'Mission.' When this fantasy worms its way into our belief systems, we begin gathering followers to us, in the mistaken belief that we can prop up our illusions by surrounding ourselves with "true believers."
Now we set down our fine blade, only using it to inspire others to gasp in awe of the power we hold, or to cut people who anger us when they don't see things as we do.
Our beautiful blade becomes something repulsive.
When we finally leave this step of our journey, we see just what we did with our spiritual power and are disgusted. We are then inevitably sucked into the vortex of our next opportunity to learn: The Devil.
In The Devil card, we find darkness and two, possibly damned, people chained to the fearsome figure of The Devil.
Here, we will practice a self-designed regimen, where we live only to experience one self-indulgence after another.
We re-made our beautiful ethereal blade into the heavy chains of self-destruction that hold us trapped there, captive to our passions and vices. We spend our time doing empty things that ultimately leave us hating ourselves. There is no love at that level, only a ravenous lust that never satisfies.
We quickly forgot that the chains we wrapped around ourselves are loose, and always have been; we are so very afraid to take them off.
When we gain enough awareness to finally begin removing the chains and to embark on the contemplation of what we have wrought, we start to realize that we have behaviors and patterns that need serious adjustment. Now we are faced anew with fear and self-hatred, as we contemplate what we have created with our prior acts and actions.
We wallow in self-pity, and give ourselves more credit than we deserve, for good or ill. Our emotions teeter back and forth, often in complete opposition to one another. We look at how we behaved when we were immersed in our encounter with Temperance, going out of balance and losing compassion for others; moving into our ego and out of our heart. The result is our behavior while visiting with The Devil. We will take the self-pity and self-importance that we cling to with us, as we try to find some self-forgiveness or at least forget what we have done, up in our Tower.
Instead of seeing clearly from such a height, we will chain and imprison ourselves in a new way, with our despair, doubts and dogmas. Eventually, we enter a state of great fear and spend all of our time trying to keep our Tower from being destroyed, even as all the signs point to the fact that it's impossible to stop the destruction. We expend a lot energy in disguising our fears, so we don't have to hate ourselves.
Those that live in the Tower often hide behind anger instead of fear; anger is often easier to express than fear and less threatening to our defense mechanisms.
As I said, some will pretend none of this is real or that the cataclysm will never touch them.
After all... they live in The Tower, where their little g 'god' will arrive in time to save them.
Possibly, their god will even smite, destroy and teach a hard lesson to those who are not true and dedicated believers. That's what we Tower dwellers self-righteously wish to happen to any who don't believe the same things as we do.
The fear that is loose in the world is worse than it has been for generations and at this moment, many people's fears control them. The Tower will fall, and no one can stop it. It's not possible to predict exactly what will happen to any one person or group. It's only possible to predict that many things WILL change and that there is no going back. The Tower is falling.
While this process of falling continues, some people will communicate with others only as a means to spread their bitterness, feeling justified in letting out their formerly repressed anger. Some will cloak this fear in a victim mentality. They will blame anyone that's handy for their disappointment and anger. They are ones who will build a new Tower to hide in... and if they do, they will likely waste the rest of this life stuck there, again.
Some people will allow their fear to paralyze them to the point that they are unable to function in a changed world. Their energetic subtle body defenses may fail or shred. If their depletion of vital energy becomes too great, they will end up depressed and worn out. This can cause a suppressed immune system and possibly physical symptoms that have no known physical cause. That is what happens when this kind of fear is loose in the world.
Those ways of coping are not the only ways that a person can react to The Tower energies. Living in fear no longer serves a useful purpose. Some people will take this time of change as an opportunity for renewal and to grow emotionally and spiritually. There is an increasing awareness that we are all living on the same planet, dealing with the same issues; we can mitigate the changes by starting to work together. The way forward is to m beyond a divided and self-centered approach to life.
Yes, there is still a lot of hope in the world, even during the fall of our Towers.
The Tower is an extreme situation; the lightning destroys our self-made prison and blasts open what was repressed or painful. In doing this, The Tower liberates us with its revelations.
After The Tower, comes The Star. We can start again with the luminous star of Hope.
We can choose get our spiritual selves ready to build again. Even though this is a chaotic period, we have been given a gift: we can choose to become aware of our ingrained societal, cultural and personal patterns that do not serve us, or any of humanity. We can awaken now, before The Tower falls and resolve to make the necessary adjustments; afterwards, we will be ready to build again.
This is a difficult time, but after The Tower falls, we will have a chance to gather together the surviving bricks; we can rebuild and refocus. Perhaps the result will be something that is better for the planet and the humans and other Beings who we share it with.
The Tower represents a shocking time of change and destruction.
The Star represents what comes next: Hope, and the expectation of a marvelous achievement.
The Hope card shows a nude woman on one knee, pouring water from two vessels: one onto the fertile land and one into a pool of water.
A small bird is in a tree: an ibis, associated with the concepts of transition and trust. The woman is vulnerable, her purity shines in the light of the stars. Behind her eight stars shine in a clear sky. The largest star represents Venus, the planet as well as the goddess of Love. There are seven smaller stars surrounding it.
In Temperance, the angel miraculously pours water back and forth between the two cups, never losing a drop.
The Star pours out her waters, holding nothing back, as she kneels. She gives us a powerful image of healing. She is a human being, not an idealized Angel. She reminds us that we must work on healing and transforming ourselves, not wait for a miracle to come and save us.
In order to transform and renew, we must let go of old ways of thinking, feeling and acting: understanding that The Tower will fall, no matter how we wish otherwise. We must dig deep within and have the courage to take the first step: jump off and start again.
It's been said that Hope may be the most precious thing we have; even more precious than love. For if we love, but cannot hope, we truly live in a bleak world.
As The Tower energy shakes the world, remember that even while we are in the light, the dark exists but in order to see the stars, you must be in the darkness. The Star is the energy of Hope, renewal and optimism and it shines through the darkness.