The Tower

Number: 16 | Element: FIRE | Planet: MARS

Upright: Crisis, Failure, Revelation
Reversed: Resisting Change, Delaying the Inevitable, Rupture


Following The Devil, well-known by excesses and strong manipulative features, is The Tower, in which we find the results of all of the Devil’s misdoings.

As the picture illustrates, a big solid tower is destroyed by divine thunder and a couple of figures fall into the ground. The scene itself gives us a gloomy feeling of chaos and destruction. The downfall in the card expresses the result of one’s selfish, egoistical ambition.

The Tower reflects the ruining of our structure and stability due to our previous conduct, so the people falling are projections of our spirit and soul, both condemned by our carnal gratification.

The stormy rage that hits the Tower is linked to the consequences of our unhealthy acts that push us out to the abyss. Similarly, that fury of God signifies our moral consciousness and self-punishment when we realise the course that our lives have taken, often presenting symptoms of internal and external disaster such as friends and family turning against us.

The lightning flashes as a sudden epiphany, realisation or significant growth in our lives during this period – new revelations will come after the downfall. What comes afterwards is the vision of truth.

Sometimes the Tower pertains to a very tall building, erected over shaky foundations and the more it grows bigger, the more unstable it turns. Collapse is certain (it is sometimes stated that the growing tower could also symbolise our Egos).

When we speak of these foundations we describe our goals and projects made of false premises and unrealistic hopes – The Tower comes to our lives as an unexpected bomb.

The Tower is said to be the materialist conception of the Universe, and the lightning is the destruction that comes to life based on purely materialistic principles. The Seeker’s Ego will be struck down to humility and there will be a lesson that brings wisdom in the end.

In the Bible we find the famous tower of Babel that was built to be so tall that could reach Heaven. The construction of the tower was a hubristic act of defiance against God ordered by the arrogant tyrant Nimrod. In the Tower of Babel, you will see that its destruction is far from being a catastrophe. Rather than a punishment, the destruction of the tower is a solution to a problem. Instead of cultivating the soil that was abundantly irrigated by the water of the deluge, the humans joined forces to build a tower. The Creator, destroying the tower, forced the humans to get back to fertile land, allowing them to have an improved life and to grow as a civilization.

We also find parallelisms with the story of Lucifer, the first and most important fallen angel who defied God’s authority. To pay for his act of rebellion he fell from Heaven and he became an icon of Pride and Arrogance.

Another similar myth is Icarus, who fled with his father from the Minotaur’s labyrinth with wings glued with wax. While they flew through the skies, Icarus desired to go closer to the Sun and the wax melted with the heat – as a result he fell and died in the Aegean sea.

These two characters, Icarus and Lucifer, are both portrayed at the bottom of the card, falling from the Tower. They are symbols of Hybris, the challenge to conventions or to the gods, naming a quality of extreme or foolish pride or dangerous overconfidence, often in combination with arrogance.

These figures are facing the ground while they fall, just like The Hanged Man, which suggests  that they see the world from a different perspective, a synonym of personal growth.

This abrupt failure gives us the opportunity to rebuild ourselves in order to rise much stronger and tougher.

Upright Meaning and Interpretation

Crisis, Failure, Revelation.

The Tower is generally a reflection in a moment of crisis.

When this card appears in a spread it suggests an unexpected failure. The breakdown could affect even the most stable levels in your life.

This Tower you built was made of unrealistic goals and illusions.

The building that is now in ruins was full of lies, not only from the outside influence, but mostly from the lies you keep saying to yourself.

The more corrupted layers you add to yourself, the more destructive the outcome.

The old ways are no longer useful, and you must find another set of beliefs and values to take their place.

Reversed Meaning and Interpretation

Resisting Change, Delaying the Inevitable, Rupture.

The reversed Tower can be a sign that you are delaying a necessary destruction.

You may be in denial that change is occurring and keep refuging yourself on your fortress of illusion. If that is the case it is urgent to let it collapse so you can make progress in your life. You need to let it go and focus on creating something new.

The impact may not be as severe to you as it would be if The Tower appeared upright, so there are great chances to succeed at rebuilding a new one.

In reverse, The Tower can also show yourself breaking old and persistent structures that were barriers in your way. You must call into question some beliefs and systems that were imposed over you and somehow could be poison for your personal growth.

The time has arrived to find these negative aspects in your life and break them down. Confronting them will not be easy, but sometimes rupture is the only way to a new beginning.