ALTERNATE NAMES: The Lightning-struck Tower, House of God, Lightning Flash of Inspiration, "shaking off the fleas"
BASIC DESCRIPTION: A tower stands on a
pinnacle, surrounded by a black, cloudy, stormy sky. A zig-zag
lightning strikes the top of the tower, knocking off the crown and
setting it on fire. Two people fall head first from the tower,
trailed by flames in the shape of yods.
FIRST THING THAT STRUCK ME: lightning (Ha, ha!) Actually, I did get struck by a firework rocket Aug. 1st (Swiss National Day), 1998. Does that count as a "Tower" experience? Sure seems like one.
TIME: Lammas, 'cause of the firework thing
TRADITIONAL MEANINGS UPRIGHT: Misery, distress, indigence, adversity, calamity, disgrace, deception, ruin. It is a card in particular of unforeseen catastrophe. (Waite) Disaster in the home or business. Floods, natural disasters. Sudden realization or inspiration that upsets old ideas. A sudden catastrophe that changes everything. The sudden ending of a way of life, business, or relationship. Realization that things can no longer continue the way they are. Traumatic but inevitable change. Blow to the ego. A burst of insight.
TRADITIONAL MEANINGS REVERSED: The same, but with less intensity. A warning. Lack of insight. Imprisonment. Enforced visits. Problems left unsolved will escalate to gigantic proportions. Enduring difficulties.
Biblical Towers page.
MYTHOLOGICAL/KABALISTIC: Tree of Life, on which lightning descends and serpent ascends, representing spirit's descent to matter/multiplicity and matter's ascent back to spirit/unity. The emanations of the Sepiroth driven by the creative fire.
HISTORICAL: Palladini's Tower brings to my mind the lighthouse at Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the first lighthouse ever built. It's recently been discovered undersea off the shore of Alexandria, Egypt. Through the fire in the top, it guided ships safely into the harbor for 1600 years, and is believed to have been felled by natural disaster. But Bob would know more.
ASTROLOGICAL: (1) Scorpio, the "catalyst." (2) Pluto--death, unavoidable change; (GD) Mars
ANIMAL/INSECT: "The thunderbolt is symbolic of the eagle, and in
many cultures, including our own national insignia, the eagle
clutches thunderbolts in his talons." -- Richard Roberts; rooster, scorpion; mosquito, fire ant
PLANT: marijuana, 'shrooms
MUSIC: Wagner's "Götterdammerung," Pink
Floyd's "The Wall"; goth or crashing cymbals
PUBLIC PEOPLE OR EVENTS: King Ludwig II of Bavaria--he built the most amazing castles ever, the "fairy-tale" castles that inspired Walt Disney. He also was a friend and fan of Richard Wagner. Ludwig designed his Neuschwanstein castle (interior and exterior) after themes from Wagner's music, and built a concert hall there, where Wagner could premiere his works. Ludwig and Wagner deserve credit for some of the most outstanding artistic achievements of mankind. In the end, the advisors claimed that Ludwig was unfit to rule (he was a "fool") and imprisoned him. He was found a short time later floating in the lake, along with is doctor, and it was never proven whether it was murder or suicide or what.
OCCUPATIONS: mason, demolitionist, architect?; diver, stunt man; fireman; bankruptcy court officials and attorneys, insurance industry, seismologist
SITUATIONS IN MY LIFE: Losing all my
possessions after I moved to Switzerland. Not just material, but
intellectual as well, as I lost hundreds of books, 12 photo albums
(ego!), etc. Think of all the stuff you would have to leave behind if
you only had the Fool's pack/bundle. But if you want to be able to
have the freedom of the Fool . . . .
Also lost were all the letters from my man, which were the foundation of our relationship for the first three years, when we lived across the world from each other. I expressed my distress about this to a friend, who said: "Why worry about the letters? You've got the MAN." Okay, I can see that point, but it doesn't make the loss any less painful.
PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Growing up in the Lightning Capital of the World, I always knew that the tallest structures attract lightning. Natural forces can bring destruction, but can also bring benefits. For example, when a thunderstorm would come up, we would have to shut down the computers in our office, and couldn't work. Whether this was a hindrance or benefit depends on your perspective! Definitely a bummer for the "king" (boss)! Also, controlled burning carried out by foresters destroys the clutter of the undergrowth, but makes way for new and healthier growth. This is actually one of the benefits of lightning in Florida, as it is nature's way of getting rid of the old to make way for the new.
OTHER DECKS: I loved the description of the The Ancestral Path Tower, which (for me) ties the Tower of Babel with the concept of society building on itself. . .
Thoth deck includes the Eye of Shiva. Also, Crowley's states in _The Book of Thoth_: ...all manifestations, however glorious, however delightful, are stains. To obtain perfection, all existing things must be annihilated. The destruction of the garrison may therefore be taken to mean their emancipation from the prison of organized life, which was confining them. It was their unwisdom to cling to it.
COMPARED TO OTHER CARDS: I think, as "House of God," this card relates to the traditional ("doctrines of men") aspect of the Hierophant.
OTHER: Even Chickens Struggle--baby chickens have an "egg-tooth" which they use to break through the shell of the egg when they hatch. During an experiment, scientists helped the chicks break out of the egg. All the chicks died. They needed the challenge to give them the strength of life force to survive.
MISC. SYMBOLISM: Words in quotes from Mary Summer Rain on Dreams.
TOWER--mind--"exemplifies the superconscious aspect of the mind where spiritual talents and gifts await to be awakened and utilized" (awakened, perhaps, by a flash of divine inspiration?); also defense, ambition
In Waite's day, towers were used as lookouts (watchtower), and prisons (Tower of London, Bastille), but mostly for defense (lookouts and prisons being aspects of this).
Lightning--"a connection with spiritual forces," finger of God (as in that which inscribed the Ten Commandments in stone), inspiration
Fire/flame--"extreme emotional intensity," also creative force (Wands), purification (alchemy)
Mountain--European fortresses/castles are always built on the highest ground. How does this summit relate to the ones pictured in the Fool and Hermit cards?
Yod--first letter of Tetragrammaton; 12 on left and 10 on right (too long to go into now)
In English, the letter "I"--ultimate symbol of EGO (***The bigger they are, the harder they fall!***)
Crown--"warns against egotism or goals of grandeur"; Kether, top of the Kaballistic Tree of Life
King and Queen; royalty--"egocentric authority"
Fall--Lucifer, Adam; incarnation--spirit's descent to matter
This page is excerpted from my original contributions to an online
Tarot course discussion of this card graciously sponsored by