Tarot Hero’s Journey: The Tower

RWS_Tarot_16_TowerThe next step on our journey to awakening is The Tower. Lightning strikes a tower and flames fill the building. A golden crown is dislodged from the top of the tower and people fall to the ground. This is card number 16 which reduces to 7 symbolising power and positive action.

The Tower is the reverse side of the previous card. The Devil as Dionysus is lord of darkness and irrationality, but The Tower is Apollo, lord of light and reason. Instead of Satan, we have Lucifer, the light-bringer.

Lightning is also related to Zeus, and to Mahayana and Tantric Buddhism where it symbolises the truth blasting falsehood and duality out of the mind. It is the inner illumination which brings the freedom of enlightenment.

The crown falling from the top of the tower represents the peak of consciousness, the crown chakra shattering open in awakening. The lightning is the primal energy of the psyche, the fire of divine consciousness, destroying the structure of the ego and freeing the hero from his bonds.

The hero has seen and accepted the true nature of the Devil, which then transforms into Lucifer who embodies the purity of divine truth. Lucifer then shatters all previous concepts and splits the hero’s mind wide open. The gift of Lucifer is the fire of enlightenment which descends in a flash, destroying everything which isn’t compatible with its own nature.

The hero has finally made contact with the hidden mystic Centre, the goal of his quest. But this isn’t the gentle light of intuition that has been guiding him from the depths so far. This is the full glare of God-consciousness, felt as a surge of power when all psychological blocks between the lower and higher selves are removed.

The alchemists saw this fire as the water of life, combining the opposite symbols of fire and water into one essential wholeness. This fire frees the mind from its attachments but only if the conscious mind is prepared. If the hero hasn’t built strong foundations, the lightning bolt may end in catastrophe causing the mind to dissociate and divide against itself.

The hero’s mind is irradiated in unity. All concepts are blasted away leaving him free to see the truth of who he really is.

Keywords for The Tower:
  • Awakening
  • Bolt from the blue
  • Liberation
  • Death of illusion
  • Shock
  • Illumination

Next step on the journey to awakening: The Star

>Catch up with the rest of the series here

2 thoughts on “Tarot Hero’s Journey: The Tower

  1. Wow!! You’re so knowledgeable in tarots! Maybe I should have read this before watching the knight of cups. You might appreciate it more than I did, although I still think it’s too disjointed and doesn’t effectively show the tarot themes well. Really interesting series and I love how you analyse the id and ego. It all feels quite confusing for me especially since there’s so many concepts in a single card…could you enlighten me on something? Isn’t Dionysus the ‘god’ of the id, so in being free from social bonds and chains, wouldn’t one be closer to his dionystic tendencies?

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    1. I haven’t seen Knight of Cups – maybe I should give it a watch and see what I think!

      Yes, Dionysus does seem to be connected with the idea of the id – the instinctual part of the psyche. So when you’re blasted out of your conditioning it looks like all that would be left is the seething mess in your unconscious. But there’s more to the unconscious than what Freud identified. For that you’d need to check out Jung and his archetypes.

      The idea behind the Tarot is about moving from the ego to a higher centre of functioning – the mystic centre or higher Self – which is also part of the unconscious. It seems confusing because they’re both irrational compared to our normal day-to-day thinking ego. But (to simplify it a bit) there’s a lower unconscious and higher unconscious. One is regressive and pulls you down and back into pre-rational madness (aka Dionysus) and the other is transcendent and moves you forward into post-rational integration.

      The thing is, Dionysus is the god of madness and mysticism, so he represents the dark and light side of the unconscious – hence the two sides of Satan and Lucifer. Interestingly, the only way to really make sense of all this is to retain access to your rational mind. And that’s the clue – Dionysus on his own equals dissolution and madness. But Dionysus plus the rational mind (aka Apollo) equals a mind that has transcended the opposites and so is free of its conditioning. That’s why the Greeks used to put Dionysus and Apollo together into one temple – you need both otherwise you’d go bonkers!

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