Tuesday 11 May, was a New Moon in Taurus. A New moon is the optimal time for new launches, say the lunar calendars, while Taurus is all about beauty, security, and the sensory delights and material comforts of life, also the status quo.
There were plenty of new launches all right, and challenges to a current status quo. Lightning struck more ways than one. A new peak of tragedy in Gaza, seemingly never to be resolved, no peace without an agreement on justice, the skies raining missiles, the death toll rising, children killed inside Gaza, a whole family today,and a little baby.
Locally, close to my own home in Lancashire in the UK, a little boy was tragically killed, struck by lightening, while he was out doing football training. Jordan was only nine, clearly a very nice little boy, and well known locally, and a big Liverpool FC fan, already known for his charity endeavours. RIP, little lamb.
Junior Sprog’s young man meanwhile, had been up to his waist in his fish pond about half an hour before this horribly tragic event, doing a spot of DIY, installing a new filter for his beloved koi carp. I told her, half- joking, he needed to come out of there. He was at risk of being struck by lightning. But the storm’s gone, she said. Well, yes, it had, just about. The hail had stopped but the sky was peculiar, ominous, the conditions ripe.
It looked like that scene from Independence Day, said Il Matrimonio, the scene when the aliens arrive, creating clouds as they hover on their coordinates across the world’s cities, waiting the moment to strike.
I have written about The Tower card more than once before in previous postings here on this blog.
Well, it’s a biggie, and generally, I am not pleased to see it. The Tower card and I have had direct encounters before, and they were not fun.
But that’s by the by. Keep your friends close, as they say, and your enemies closer. Let’s take another look at it today, The Tower, Major Arcana number 16. Sandwiched -entirely by design between The Devil, Major Arcana 15, and its obsession, dependency, desire, frustration and rage, and The Star, Major Arcana 17, cool, impersonal, harbinger of hope and recovery, humanitarian but oh, so logical at times, prone to abstractions and ideological dogmatism (as today Saturn moves out of Aquarius; an ideologue’s dream and dogmatic stellar combination if ever there was one, but sadly moves back in again during July 2021.)
Countless numbers are living The Tower experience right now.
Some high profile practitioners have made it something of a mission to intellectualize and sanitize the Tarot, and to educate other readers to present its manifold truths in purely metaphorical or psychological, sometimes Jungian terms.
So The Tower card symbolizes a great awakening. Pride comes before a fall and the truth will come out. And ultimately, this is good, they may say, because what is lost can be scrapped as not fit for purpose or rebuilt on better foundations. It is for the spiritual good. Good for one’s soul.
I agree, up to a point. I am all in favour of looking for the silver linings in any cloud, and of the notion of putting myself and others in charge of our own destinies, at least assuming responsibility for our own decisions and the consequences of those decisions.
But readers of the Tarot limit themselves in stipulating HOW the Tarot is to be used. The Tarot is a tool kit. A flying carpet for thinking and feeling beyond the normal personal and social boundaries.
There is no standardization in this field, and it needs to stay that way. There is no such thing as ‘A’ Tarot reader. There is only the particular individual reader and their own service remit and their own way of working.
There is a difference between articulating the professional ethics of reading and promoting an ideological agenda to ditch the Tarot as a futurist or fortune-telling vehicle in favour of its use in counselling, or for ‘spiritual development.’
It needs to be recognized, or else the reader risks being guilty of hubris themselves, not every ‘Tower’ (or Devil) experience, not every destructive event necessarily has a beneficial outcome or valuable Life Lesson attached, or indeed anywhere in prospect. What were the ‘lessons’ for the parents of the child victims of the Moors murderers?
Grace is the sacred Grail in greatest grief that no-one can deliver to another person. No counsellor can do that, no priest and no psychic reader, though a reader may perceive occasional intimations.
Not every question has an answer. This was how I came to study the Tarot, after years wrestling with a seemingly insoluble and relentlessly invasive health problem after my right knee went out from under me one day, and I went down on my face in the road. Sometimes there are no solutions for the cards that Life may deal us. There are only our own, unique responses in coping, which cannot be prescribed by a reader, but may possibly be divined.
The ‘higher truths’ of our existence are not intrinsically more sacred than the bottom line. And, ‘God does not disdain to serve the body’, as Julian of Norwich once said.
People ask about money, work, homes, jobs, travel, studies, prospects, family, other real people they know. They want to know about outcomes, timings, reasons -specifics, if this is possible.
The Tower may also mean:-
–A Tower– literally, as in the Tower of Pisa
–Tuesday- named after Tyr/Tew the Norse god equivalent of Mars which rules Tuesdays. If your question is when and you draw the tower, it maybe a Tuesday or during Aries late March-late April or Scorpio late October-late November because these signs are ruled by Mars. Or it may mean that it will happen very suddenly.
–Rain, wind or storm not only has The Tower card forecast rain or a thunderstorm on more than one occasion, -and once this was very welcome, during a heat-wave. One Friday evening it forecast a storm which turned out to be an actual tiny, typically British tornado, which came screaming down my road next morning at 8.30 and neatly, tidily flattened a neighbours garden wall.
-Bad news, a quarrel, shocks, earthquakes, traffic accidents, the collapse of building or other large structures, bankruptcy, job loss, relations breakups, marriage breakdown, accidents, sudden medical emergencies eg stroke, heart attack.
-Stroke, heart attack, fit, seizure
The Tower might be saying, ‘dognabbit, you need to check your tyre/tire pressures!’
The Origin Story
The Tower card, derivative of the Blasted Tower, the House of God or War, is ruled by the red planet Mars, ruler of the zodiac signs of Aries and Scorpio, with powerful mythic and archetypal associations, not least The Tower of Babel.
Mars is the planet of outward activity, high animal spirits, passion – courage and sometimes -a state of war.
The Tower of Babel or The Tower and the City is an origin myth from Genesis though actually older, that tried to explain why the world’s peoples speak different languages.
According to the story, a united human race in the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating eastward, comes to the land of Shinar, in Northern Mesopotamia.
They build a city, so far so good. But then they decide to build a tower tall enough to reach heaven. God doesn’t like that, and confuses their speech so that they can no longer understand each other, babbling on…and now they are at cross-purposes and can’t complete the building works, and they fall out with one another and go their separate ways, and end up scattered around the world.
God is reacting to an act of hubris. The word Hubris is from Greek, and means “excessive pride, violating the bounds set for humans.”
Greek myth was very big on hubris.
BUT still readers need to face it, working with the full range of possibilities, that The Tower may be speaking, not figuratively, not metaphorically, but entirely literally, whether we are talking past, present or possible future.
If a reader draws The Tower, they carefully examine the surrounding cards, and if they perceive clear and present danger, may not say so in such terms, but may present any advice for risk reduction or risk avoidance in a calm, matter of fact manner, ‘talking in terms of ‘just to be on the extra safe side.’
I once drew The Tower alongside The Knight of Swords reversed, and, based on other cards, including the Four of Wands (home improvements) got a sinking feeling that the client was at risk of a nasty fall. I asked her, was she doing any decorating? She was. And had she been climbing up on a ladder to do so?
Yes, she said, but she had not come to see me to discuss this. She wanted to know about Mr X.
I persisted with a warning to be extra careful if climbing up on anything. I would have felt negligent in my responsibility towards her had I detected this risk and not said anything. She expressed mild impatience. I left it there and we continued with the analysis of the main issue of the day.
About three weeks later, she was painting, standing on a windowsill, and slipped and fell, fracturing her hip, and had to go to hospital as an inpatient. She was many weeks in recovery and months in physio afterwards (she was a lady in her late sixties) How do I know this? She came herself to tell me.
Life is just deeply sad sometimes. When something life changing has just happened to someone, and they have experienced a Tower experience at full blast, they may not be ready to hear that it was for the best, that it will prove to be a liberation, a blessing in disguise, that their previous existence had outworn its purpose.
It may be a time for on the one hand, practicalities, possibly deeply unpleasant, and on the other, well, in such times we reach for comfort, warmth, solace, beauty. Poetry, essentially. The common treasure chest of poetry, music, hymns, prayers, I will lift up mine eyes, The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, a season to every purpose under heaven, and so on, depending on the person’s own cultural background.
When someone dies, they leave behind mourners, living memories and a dead body, to be handled, dealt with, honoured, visited if there is a grave site, but ultimately, to be reclaimed by the earth or the elements, just as we were first made from the elements released from dying stars.
The Tower, like The Death card reminds us that nothing is for ever. Suffering is part of life, and is the price we paid not to live forever as single- celled organisms. Clones. Death was the first ever Faustian pact, the price of evolution and specialization into personal individuality. Suffering was the price of individual consciousness and sensation. Fear was the price of suffering. Hunger was the price of appetite. Grief and anxiety were the price of love.
‘This too shall pass.’ the saying goes. This, from a speech by Abraham Lincoln in 1859, “It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words `And this, too, shall pass away.’ ‘How much it expresses!” Lincoln went on, “How chastening in the hour of pride. How consoling in the depths of affliction!”
Lincoln was so right. But it’s not like that at once. Not at first. The bucket must first hit the bottom of the well before it can be drawn back up again.
That is why in a tarot deck, The Tower card is followed by the healing of The Star. But healing and recovery, new Hope, like Truth, like Nature itself, can be as stern in its honesty and its travail as it is a marvel, mysterious and beautiful.