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The Tower According to A. E. Waite

The Tower

The Meaning of the Tower Tarot Card in Divination


Here is what the occultist Arthur Edward Waite, co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, had to say about the Tower Major Arcana card in divination.





The Tower Tarot Card

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.


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.


More about the Tower Tarot card



The Major Arcana Tarot Cards According to A. E. Waite

  1. The Magician

  2. The High Priestess

  3. The Empress

  4. The Emperor

  5. The Hierophant

  6. The Lovers

  7. The Chariot

  8. Strength

  9. The Hermit

  10. Wheel of Fortune

  11. Justice

  12. The Hanged Man

  13. Death

  14. Temperance

  15. The Devil

  16. The Tower

  17. The Star

  18. The Moon

  19. The Sun

  20. Judgement

  21. The World

  22. The Fool






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