The Tower Tarot Card Meaning
Keywords for the Tower Card: Change – Revelations – Breakdown
On a dark night, a chaotic scene unfolds. Lighting has struck a stone tower, sending its denizens into a free fall. The building begins to be consumed by flames as the storm rages on. The spontaneous lightening suggests an act of God created this natural disaster. There won’t be much, if anything, left of the old structure after the dust has settled. It will be the job of those who remain to rebuild.
The Tower is the sixteenth card of the tarot. It represents shocking revelations, changes, and paradigm shifts.
Upright Meanings for the Tower Tarot Card
The powerful Tower card brings with it a profound shock to the querent’s reality. Things are not as they seem. A new facet of your reality will be revealed. This card’s energy can manifest in the form of surprise revelations or unexpected news. In my experience reading for both myself and clients, it doesn’t always bring negative news. But whatever it is will be without a doubt surprising.
The Tower card can indicate a chaotic situation that often arises from nowhere. It can be news or events that turn your world upside down. In truth, the Tower reveals a flaw in a foundation. It’s like a tree that falls over because the roots have rotten. While everything may have appeared healthy on the outside, there was a lot going on beneath the surface. There is an opportunity for you to rebuild stronger. Start again and do it right.
As the Tower card brings new realities to life, it also provides an opportunity for immense spiritual growth. This is especially true if what you’re experiencing feels like a trial by fire. On the other side of this, you’ll be a wiser, stronger person. This card indicates that you’re experiencing a spiritual awakening. Your eyes are being opened to the truth.
This card is sometimes compared to being knocked off of an ivory tower —meaning don’t let your ego blind you to reality. It can be a humbling experience. You may get called out on bad behavior or find yourself in the midst of a controversy. Take a look at whether you’ve been upholding an oppressive system in your actions and beliefs. Coming to the realization that you may have acted in poor judgment or even selfishly, allows you to make it right.
In world events, this can indicate political or societal upheaval. Traditionally, it’s tied to natural disasters and calamities. In the Marseille tarot, it’s often called “La Maison Dieu” or “the House of God”. Historical depictions and understandings of this card often suggest that its imagery is a reference to the Biblical Tower of Babel.
Love and Relationships: The Tower Card
If the Tower shows up in a love reading, be prepared for surprising news. Generally speaking, it’s not a pleasant card to have appear in a relationship reading.
In love readings, it’s traditionally associated with shocking events such as divorce or deaths. Of course, this is by no means always the case. Often these events occur outside of your relationship. For example, a surprising divorce among a close group of friends can have a ripple effect on how you view your own relationship. It can cause other disruptions such as changing the dynamics of a friend group if people begin to choose sides.
For new relationships, it’s a red flag for potential partners or friends. This romance may come with some baggage that will bleed chaos into your life. It also speaks to an instantaneous, intense spark of passion that sets off a new relationship. This could represent love-at-first-sight that starts a whirlwind romance.
Career and Work: The Tower Card
The Tower often brings a shake-up to career readings. This card can be a big red flag for both a potential job or your current one. For example, it could indicate that there have been underhanded dealings that are about to come to light —with serious ramifications for everyone involved.
It can suggest that a business or organization is on fundamentally shaky ground. Expect to restructure, if not outright collapse. This could be a positive indicator of bad management or leaders getting ousted.
But just to be clear, even if your workplace cleans out all the jerks, there will still be a period of dealing with the chaos. For example, your toxic coworker may get fired, but you’re temporarily burdened with part of their job responsibilities. On the plus side, this too will resolve itself.
This card can appear when new information has come to light that forces you to dramatically switch your priorities. An example could be reducing your working hours to care for a sick family member. Or, sometimes a sudden change in your family or friendship circle puts things into a new perspective that challenges you to reconsider how you spend the majority of your day.
In terms of potential careers, it could indicate that you’re suited for high-pressure work or jobs where you’re the bearer of potentially jarring news. Such jobs could be an auditor, a process server, debt-collector, lawyer, or investigator. It speaks to exposé journalism as well. With its ties to overthrowing the establishment, it could indicate a political career and protest. It also represents a “tough-love” type of counselor, psychologist, or coach.
People and Personalities: The Tower Card
People represented by the Tower card tend to be provocateurs and iconoclastic. Watch out for being too argumentative only for the sake of stirring the pot. Vocal outliers are important for social discourse. But, if these rebellious urges aren’t channeled into something productive, it can cause you to alienate the people around you. Taken to a toxic level, it can represent chaotic, dramatic, and dysfunctional relationships.
The Tower Reversed Tarot Card Meaning
Reversed Keywords for the Tower Card: Opposition – Denial – Rebuilding
Reversed Meanings for the Tower Tarot Card
The Tower reversed can signal that you are resisting inevitable change. Of course, who wants to have their proverbial boat rocked when everything appears to be sailing smoothly along? But the fact is that change happens to us all. The Tower card whether upright, or reversed, represents a foundation that was always flawed to begin with. Even if you ignore it, it’s still not going to go away. In fact, it can make things much worse.
The Tower card reversed can suggest that you may have been part of the issue from the start. This is especially true if you let your ego get out of hand. We’re all only human, so don’t dwell on it. Act with integrity now and in the future.
Sometimes the Tower card reversed softens the energetic blow of the card. The event that was supposed to be cataclysmic wasn’t so bad after all. Count yourself lucky this time!
Reversed Love and Relationships for the Tower Card
The Tower card reversed can indicate that you’ve dodged getting into a bad relationship. Trusting your gut instincts has led you to rightfully doubt a potential relationship or friendship. This can be a missed connection that luckily didn’t turn out to be anything. Sometimes the Tower reversed represents leaving a toxic relationship because things blew up. Where you are right now is exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Of course, it can also represent resistance to leaving a comfortable, but unhealthy partnership that you know isn’t for your highest good. Don’t be afraid to challenge the dynamics of the relationship or just… get out. You’re strong enough to weather any subsequent storm.
Reversed Career and Work for the Tower Card
The Tower reversed in a career reading often deals with the aftermath of a shocking moment. It can suggest that you jumped ship before things got too bad. Or perhaps you’re the one left dealing with the remaining pieces after the structure has fallen. Either way, something new is on the horizon. You will recover from any setbacks related to this event.
It can represent a workplace where the old guard is still present and strong. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to risk being the one to rock the boat. Trust your gut whether suggestions for new ways of doing things would be well received. It might require you to be more subtle in your approach in making suggestions for improvement.
Reversed People and Personalities for the Tower Card
Individuals represented by the Tower are stable, and generally speaking, lucky! They might err on the side of being too cautious. They make great friends because when things get tough, they’ll often be there to help rebuild.
Numerology: 16 and 7 (see the Chariot Card)
I embrace the growth that comes with change.
Some of My Favorite Examples
The Fountain Tarot’s Tower card is modern and atmospheric. It reminds me of the Broken Obelisk sculpture by Barnett Newman located at the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas. There are three other similar pieces by Newman. One is in Washington D.C. and the other in NYC. It would be a fitting inspiration, considering the pieces were created in response to the 1960’s civil unrest in American (the top of the Broken Obelisk is the Washington Monument). Besides my curiosity about the inspiration, I like the strange perspective of the card. The top of the monument appears to glow, possibly it’s on fire from within. But there’s also a sense of the inverted pyramid having fallen from above onto the base. This disorientation certainly speaks to how it feels to be in a Tower moment.
The Linestrider Tarot’s Tower card is another ominously atmospheric card. I’m struck by how fortified the Tower is. It evokes the ancient feudal castles of Japan. These towering sentinels served as strongholds in the face of invaders. On the other hand, they’re also serving to keep those in power protected. The Tower is connected with the upheaval of those who would abuse their privileged positions. The scene we witness in the Linestrider’s depiction might be an insurrection by rivals or the common people.
I love the surrealist Tarot del Fuego, Marseille-style deck, by Richard Cavolo. Not only do we have the traditional motif of lightning striking a tower, but we also have at least six, possibly more, volcanoes exploding in the background. To the left-hand side of the image, an animal seems to flee the scene. And below the Tower, has that skeleton always been buried there? Was he the victim of the chaotic scene we’re witnessing? Despite this card’s dark imagery, it’s contrasted with vibrant colors and a playful style. Here the Tower card’s upheaval is transformed into the wildest ride ever!
If I had to choose a favorite out of all these examples, I think the Everyday Witch Tarot might win. Here we see an old structure freshly toppled by a mischievously smiling witch. Here’s the thing: some institutions need to be overthrown. Some monuments need to be toppled. Sometimes in your life, you’ll be asked to be the one delivering such radical change. Rather than resisting, why not be an active participant in change?
The Wild Unknown Tarot features many motifs and symbols from nature. It reimagines its Tower card as lightning hitting a tree. While this is the extent of the damage that we see in the scene unfolding on the card, the truth is that lightning strikes can be a catalyst for potentially devastating forest fires. Climate change and the expansion of society into once-wild areas has put us in contact with this force. Still, it’s an important process for the natural world. Fires allow old, dead growth to be converted into new nutrients for the forest. Some flowers and trees will only sprout after a fire (seriously, google pyrophytic plants sometime). It’s an apt metaphor for the life that renews and strengthens after destruction.