Last night, 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.
There were plenty of new launches all right. 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 filled with missiles, the death toll rising, children killed, so far all of these inside Gaza, and locally, close to my own home, a little boy was killed, presumed 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 various charity endeavours.
Junior Sprog’s young man had been up to his waist in his fish pond about half an hour before this tragic event, doing a spot of DIY, installing a new filter for his beloved koi carp. I told her, only half joking, 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 sometimes it means nothing more than simply, ‘Tuesday’ but generally, personally, I am not pleased to see it.
Let’s take another look at it today, 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.
And what a shocking, challenging turbulent card it is, The Tower. But we need it there in the deck. Life can be like that. Some get a raw deal, the worst of everything, right from the start.
The Tarot is a complete portrait of the entirety of the human condition. Some high profile New Age readers have made it a mission to intellectualize and sanitize the Tarot, and present its truths in purely metaphorical or psychological,sometimes Jungian terms. The Tower card symbolizes a great awakening. Pride comes before a fall and the truth will come out. And ultimately, this is good, they say, because what is lost can be scrapped as not fit for purpose or rebuilt on better foundations. It is for the spiritual good.
I do not disagree. And 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.
But readers must take care not be too prescriptive. Not every bad thing has a benefit attached. What were the higher learning lessons for the parents of the child victims of the Moors murderers? Not every aspect of our destiny is of our own personal making or choice. Much is legacy. Much is accident, or down to wider world events.
Not everyone who wants a reading is looking for psychotherapy, or is seeking to be illuminated by a guru, though they may be seeking comfort, reassurance or a sense of the divine, while the bottom line remains ever present. Stuff happens to all of us, and we have to find ways to deal with it. 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.
People ask about mundane, material things as well as abstract or emotional. They ask about money, work, homes, jobs, travel, studies, prospects, family, other real people they know. They want to know specifics, if this is possible.
Physical things happen in the real world. When it comes to The Tower, Earthquakes happen, and volcanic eruptions. Lightning strikes. Missiles are launched, bombs dropped. Cliff edges collapse naturally and fall into the sea. Planes fall out of the sky. People fall downstairs, or things drop on their heads. Boilers pack-up, vehicles break down or get into collisions, windows get smashed. People get attacked or get into fights. Any of these kinds of things may be picked up by an appearance of The Tower card.
(The Devil card may be jail.)
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 – 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 and then 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 they can’t complete the building works, and then they fall out with one another and end up scattered around the world.
God is being shown here 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. And this is a key concept associated with the Tower Card –pride before a fall.
The Tower may be perfectly harmless in meaning or simply refer to the weather or other natural events. It may 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
Even here, The Tower MAY still be positive in its meaning. A health problem may be a shock, but the better news may be, it has been discovered in good time. Or, another possible example, no-one likes going to the dentist, but it’s a relief to get rid of a rotten tooth. Or a divorce may be miserable, but in time it may prove a blessed escape.
BUT still readers need to face it, The Tower could be be speaking not figuratively but entirely literally, past, present or possible future.
It might be saying, ‘dognabbit, check your tyre/tire pressures!’
Tarot readers across the world reported that they drew The Tower card just ahead of the catastrophe of The Twin Towers. They probably did not envisage the full horror in its factual exactitude. Prescience is not the same thing as omniscience, not by a long chalk. No-one can look everywhere at once, and we tend to see where we are looking. The same goes for Tarot reading. The reader looks this direction or that, and places their attention there. Additional psychic insights may arise in the readers peripheral vision -or not.
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) felt a sinking feeling in my gut that the client was at risk of a nasty fall. I asked her, had she been decorating? She had. 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, because I would have felt negligent in my responsibility towards her had I detected this risk and not said anything, and we continued with the analysis of the main issue of the day.
About three weeks after this 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. How do I know this? She came herself to tell me.
Life is deeply sad sometimes. There isn’t always an answer. 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.
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!”
He was 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 wonderful, mysterious and beautiful.