The Lightning-Struck Tower.

When folks think about scary cards in the Tarot, usually the Devil and Death are the ones that come to mind.

The Tower – DFW

Of course, this makes sense. But if I were to select the card which held the scariest implications for me, I would pick the Tower.* Everyone knows the Devil is to be feared. That very fact, to me at least, tends to lessen the fear a little bit (I doubt I would feel that way if I were actually faced with the demon, but from my spot of comfortable safety, that’s how I feel). And Death isn’t so scary from a certain viewpoint. It’s inevitable, anyway, so to fear it is useless. The Tower, on the other hand, represents security; confidence, even. It’s an impenetrable fortress from which you can see any danger far before it reaches you. Or so you think.

You know to fear Death and the Devil. In fact, you count on your Tower for protection from these things. No one ever expects that his or her Tower will fail. But if you pull this card, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. And that, to me, is far scarier than the things you hide from in the dark.

Like all the cards, the Tower is really just a metaphor. It’s symbolic of rigid worldviews that you might use as a crutch to help get you through this chaotic existence. Once it’s formed, it’s very difficult to get rid of, and most people wouldn’t ever care to get rid of it, anyway. People build their walls, creating a comfort zone, and most are incredibly reluctant to make even a slight change to it.

And of course, despite all self-imposed illusion, the Tower cannot stand up face-to-face with the Devil. That’s why it’s place in the sequence of the Major Arcana is directly following the Devil, and that’s why it’s shown being blown apart. That’s a scary thought.

But things aren’t always as they seem, especially with the Tarot. I’ve already written about the ambiguous nature of the Devil; eventually, if you follow the path set by the Majors, you’ll come to a point when you realize the Devil isn’t to be feared at all, but embraced (with more than a little caution, of course). And it is that realization which shatters the Tower, not the Devil himself. You might notice that it is not always a lightning bolt which levels the Tower; sometimes it’s a column of flame from the Sun. Either way, it’s coming from above, a sign that a higher power is taking control. An act of God, if you will. If you’re the type to believe in acts of God, you’re probably also the type to believe they don’t happen without reason.

Nobody ever enjoys the destruction of their Tower. It can be quite traumatic. But it’s ultimately liberating. People tend to think of their Tower as protection, never realizing that it’s actually a prison. The lightning bolt tears across the sky, striking down with divine force the Tower you’ve worked so long to build, but which you’ve outgrown in the process, like a snake shedding its skin.

So yes, it is pretty scary when the Tower shows up in a reading. But it’s not the end of the world, no matter how much it may feel that way for a time.


There is so much more to be said of this card, but I’m going to sign off for now. I think each of my thoughts would be better addressed on their own, rather than trying and failing to make a coherent post here stringing all of them together. Think of this as an introduction.

Some of the things I intend to discuss in the future are deck-specific, like the Eye in the CHT.




*Actually, I might select the Moon, because while the image of the Tower is scarier on the surface, I think the Moon can be downright terrifying in its false light and illusion. But I’ve already written about the Moon, so here we are with the Tower.


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