The Tower is actually a really interesting card and pretty complex if you take the time to get to know it. There is so much more than simple destruction going on here. In fact, I broke The Tower down into three distinct energies or phases. (ha ha, ha ha. I “broke” The Tower down…that’s a really bad pun…ok moving on.)
The Brewing Storm: The first aspect or phase of The Tower energy is what I call the brewing storm. In this manifestation there is pressure building. Something is being held in, or is going unaddressed. Its causing a build up of energy, anger, frustration and if that pressure isn’t alleviated in a constructive way its going to reach a boiling point with disastrous and dramatic results. Think of the pressure that builds in a volcano before it erupts.
This energy shows up when someone is repressing something. It can also indicate passive aggression or when someone is bating another, trying to get a reaction. This could represent the cognitive dissonance that occurs when long held values are threatened or when constructs about who one is as a person are revealed to be not as stable as one thought. Another instance where this type of energy often happens is when you are pushing yourself too hard and are getting dangerously close to burn out.
This image of The Tower from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot represents this type of energy. The storm is coming, the lightening has begun, but it hasn’t struck anything yet. Nothing has been destroyed, but the danger is there and is becoming more imminent with every minute that passes.
The Lightening Strikes: At this point we see The Tower energy in its most common form, the destruction when the lightning strikes and The Tower is destroyed. This occurs when the energy that was building can no longer be contained or held in. It is released, suddenly, violently and the effect is devastating…or at the very least profoundly jarring. This is the volcano when the pressure grows too great and it blows, spewing red hot lava, ash and smoke.
This energy shows up in our live when our temper gets the better of us and communication devolves into expletives and blaming. This energy occurs when a truth won’t be repressed anymore and it is blurted out without forethought. This phase of The Tower is when belief systems come tumbling down and ideas of self and ego are demolished. This is also burnout at its most dramatic.
I love the image from the Tarot Illuminati to illustrate this aspect of The Tower because it is so dramatic. The brilliant colors bring an extra dimension to the experience of this card. You can almost feel the heat of the flames that engulf the structure.
The Aftermath/Reconstruction: Once The Tower has been destroyed and the fire burns out and the storm has passed, we are left with a ruin. It is uninhabitable as it is, so begins the phase of The Tower I think of as The Aftermath or Reconstruction. The choice is to either to rebuild on the foundations that are left, or to abandon the shell that remains and rebuild fresh, or to abandon what’s left of The Tower and not to rebuild at all.
This phase requires a great deal of mindfulness and a willingness to learn from what has just occurred, or else you run the risk of repeating the cycle that led to the destruction in the first place. When values and belief systems come crashing down what replaces them? What will you choose to replace them with? When harsh words are exchanged and tempers flair, how do you reconcile…or can you? When a truth is declared that shakes your life and the lives of those close to you, how will you navigate the new reality that emerges afterwards. These are all questions that come up when we are trying to pull things back together after a Tower event.
In the midst of this turmoil, its helpful to remember that this is a time of great potential and that is the blessing of The Tower. The Tower can be a powerful catalyst to create change, to shake loose from harmful patterns, to commit to doing things differently next time. It is the chance to cast aside old constraints of expectations and start living more authentically, to set you on a path to find your truth. Once the Tower is demolished you choose how to rebuild it, or if you even want to rebuild it. That’s some pretty empowering and exciting stuff.