The Tarot Tower card meaning in a nutshell:
A spectacular ambition
that ends with disaster.
The Tower is evidently a card indicating disaster. The picture shows that clearly. But what leads to the disaster? One legendary tower explains it - that of Babel, surely inspiring both the image and the meaning of the Tarot Tower card. Babel was built to reach heaven. This megalomania angered God, who crushed the tower completely - and made people strangers to one another, so that they would never be able to repeat the feat.
The flash from the dark sky on the Tower card image is God's anger, and the people who fall from its height are punished for their hubris, comparing themselves to God by wanting to reach his abode. The crown thrown off the top of the tower is the symbol of utter human vanity. Great plans invite great failures. If the plans are too great, failure is certain. We invite it by aiming far too high.
On the other hand, what's the point of being human if not pushing the limits, aiming as high as we can ever imagine? If we never did, we would still be running from sabre toothed tigers somewhere in the wilderness. Our fantasy compels us to pursue our dreams. Sometimes it leads to disaster, as shown by the Tower Tarot card, but sometimes to wonderful success. So, how can we stop ourselves?
If the Tarot Tower card relates to a person, it's someone capable of destroying things that seem as solid as mountains - and hurrying to do so. It's the destructive instinct. Although costly, it's necessary in the grand scheme of things. What goes up must come down, and someone has to make sure of it.
If the Tower card refers to an event, it's the unfortunate end to an ambitious project. Failure. Probably, you aimed too high and lifted a weight that was far too heavy. It couldn't last. Should you insist on your ambitious goal, you must be prepared to do it all over from the start, and there will be additional obstacles to overcome.
Below is the famous painting of the Tower of Babel made by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1563:
The Tower of Babel. Painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1563
A. E. Waite's Texts
16. The Tower struck by Lightning. Its alternative titles are: Castle of Plutus, God's House and the Tower of Babel. In the last case, the figures falling therefrom are held to be Nimrod and his minister. It is assuredly a card of confusion, and the design corresponds, broadly speaking, to any of the designations except Maison Dieu, unless we are to understand that the House of God has been abandoned and the veil of the temple rent. It is a little surprising that the device has not so far been allocated to the destruction Of Solomon's Temple, when the lightning would symbolize the fire and sword with which that edifice was visited by the King of the Chaldees.
About the Tarot Tower Card
The Inner Symbolism of the Tarot Tower Card
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.
Divinatory Meaning of the Tarot Tower Card
Misery, distress, indigence, adversity, calamity, disgrace, deception, ruin. It is a card in particular of unforeseen catastrophe. Reversed: According to one account, the same in a lesser degree also oppression, imprisonment, tyranny.
The Tarot Major Arcana
- The Magician
- The High Priestess
- The Empress
- The Emperor
- The Hierophant
- The Lovers
- The Chariot
- The Hermit
- Wheel of Fortune
- The Hanged Man
- The Devil
- The Tower
- The Star
- The Moon
- The Sun
- The World
- The Fool
This book by Stefan Stenudd presents an imaginative reading of the divination cards, i.e. focusing on what impressions the images and their symbols give. Several spreads are introduced, as well as the meanings of all the 78 cards and their pictures. Also, it gives many examples of symbolic and allegorical imagery within and beyond the Tarot. This book will help you find your own intuitive way of making inspired Tarot card readings. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.