16:   The Tower

Scan through
the Tarot cards


The Tower tarot card
BOTA (Builders of the Adytum)
The Tower tarot card
The Tower tarot card
The Tower tarot card
Universal Waite

        The key word for this card is disruption.   The Tower stands for:

1.   Disaster; ruin; destruction; loss; catastrophe; revolution; failure.

2.   Sudden change; violent upheaval.

3.   The downfall of long-established institutions; the "shaking up" of one's belief system.   "An internal shift."

4.   False structures, false institutions, or false beliefs that come tumbling down, suddenly, violently, all at once.

5.   A shocking revelation; a "rude awakening."


"Things are not as certain and secure and predictable as you think."

One writer says that this card means the same thing whether it is upright or reversed.

This is the most negative card in the deck; you can think of it as the "Twin Towers card."   Other Tarot cards may stand for setbacks that are overcome, or trials that become a learning experience; the Tower can represent a disaster that has no "positive spin."   It can indicate a disaster that doesn't have a meaning or "higher purpose."   The only thing you "learn" is that bad things happen sometimes, and you are able to survive them.

In some of the Medieval Tarot decks, this card was called "Fire" or "The House of God."

NOTE:   When this card appears in a reading, it does not necessarily predict a disaster.   There are other possibilities:

      1.   perhaps the tragedy has already happened (and the other cards are telling the Querent how to deal with its aftermath) or

      2.   perhaps the surrounding cards are showing the Querent how to avert the disaster.

The imagery for this card may be related to the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11.

Pertaining to the Craft Tarot Death Contact Home

Here's what Arthur Edward Waite says about this card (in The Pictorial Key to the Tarot):

Occult explanations attached to this card are meagre and mostly disconcerting. It is idle to indicate that it depicts min in all its aspects, because it bears this evidence on the surface. It is said further that it contains the first allusion to a material building, but I do not conceive that the Tower is more or less material than the pillars which we have met with in three previous cases. I see nothing to warrant Papus in supposing that it is literally the fall of Adam, but there is more in favour of his alternative--that it signifies the materialization of the spiritual word. The bibliographer Christian imagines that it is the downfall of the mind, seeking to penetrate the mystery of God. I agree rather with Grand Orient that it is the ruin of the House of We, when evil has prevailed therein, and above all that it is the rending of a House of Doctrine. I understand that the reference is, however, to a House of Falsehood. It illustrates also in the most comprehensive way the old truth that "except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it."

There is a sense in which the catastrophe is a reflection from the previous card, but not on the side of the symbolism which I have tried to indicate therein. It is more correctly a question of analogy; one is concerned with the fall into the material and animal state, while the other signifies destruction on the intellectual side. The Tower has been spoken of as the chastisement of pride and the intellect overwhelmed in the attempt to penetrate the Mystery of God; but in neither case do these explanations account for the two persons who are the living sufferers. The one is the literal word made void and the other its false interpretation. In yet a deeper sense, it may signify also the end of a dispensation, but there is no possibility here for the consideration of this involved question.