Monday, March 5, 2012

Card Du Jour- The Tower

Ah, the infamous Tower. Probably one of the most feared cards in the deck, it signals bad news. Or does it? This particular version comes to us from the Vertigo Tarot, published by Vertigo Comics, and making use of the characters of this publishing company for most of the Major Arcana. In the Tarot there is a division made in the 78 cards that comprise a standard deck. The Major Arcana cards are 22 in number, 0-21. They are not assigned to suits, of which there are four, as in a regular deck of playing cards. I use this deck myself more often than not, and despite the weird and sometimes grim imagery, it's a very versatile one.
Let's look at the imagery of this card- which is why I chose this particular one. What it shows, first and foremost, is destruction. And that's an important clue to understanding this card. The structure here is getting torn down, utterly destroyed. To the left we see a book falling down, also a symbol.In the foreground is the symbol of Mars, a symbol of conflict, destruction and war, among other things. Lightning strikes the top of the tower, and it seems that the lightning has struck the very core of the building, destroying it from the inside out. It looks like all the work, all the effort that went into constructing this tower is lost in a moment.
So from this optimistic imagery, we find the surface meaning of this card. The Tower tells of an "oh sh*t!" event. Sometimes in life we find what a professor of mine used to call the Hindenberg Effect- (not to be confused with the Heisenberg Effect, which is something different). The Hindenberg Effect comes into play when everything goes wrong all of a sudden. The world comes crashing down around our ears. It could be financial trouble, car trouble, loss of a job, ending a relationship... the list goes on. But this isn't your couldn't-find-a-good-parking-space variety of trouble, this is a little more severe. It may seem like there's no coming back from all this- all our ideas and assumptions about an organized, logical world come crashing down- all that we thought we knew, and all that we've built upon that (symbolized both by the book, and the tower itself) are uprooted and torn apart. Now, this isn't a very comfortable experience, and may take a while to recover from. But is it really that bad? There's another important symbol on this card- the rock the tower is built on. The lightning does not affect the rock; it just stays there. So the implication is, though destruction has come, there is still a firm, unchanging foundation. Though there is a definite sense of loss, and tearing apart, there are those things in life that will endure. To what do we look when things fall apart? This is important to remember when the events the Tower tells of happen.
Like most of the cards, these seemingly grim messages also have an upside. When the Tower appears, it tells us it may be time to do a little spring cleaning, mentally or emotionally. Consider what falls away, and what remains in this scenario. There are things that we cling to that no longer serve us, perhaps even hold us back. Sooner or later, we all face the Tower, and face the trouble it brings. Now, only an incredibly strong (or crazy) person would go through this situation without blinking an eye. But unfortunately, you don't get any guarantees that life will be free of difficulty. It's how you respond to difficulty that makes all the difference. When these things happen, you have a chance to rebuild. As the old passes away, it makes room for the new. So even in your darkest hour, there's still hope, even though it may not seem like it at the time. When you see this card in a reading, the best thing to do is not freak out! Stop and think about it- what this card is telling you is not all hope is lost, but rather to examine your own life. What things might need to be changed, what will need to be given up to make room for change? Your life is a lot like a house- you can fill it up however you choose. Sometimes it needs to be renovated; knock down a wall, pull up a floor, and replace it with something new. And what we put in that house is equally important- some people can't throw anything away. There's a show called Hoarders, which is on the bizarre side to a lot of us. Some people have a near-pathological obsession with accumulating stuff, and can't throw anything away. The Tower can be an antidote to this, in some ways. If something isn't part of that foundation, it will pass away sooner or later. The important thing is to know what's worth keeping- and what's not.
So what would this foundation be? It's easier to understand in terms of what it's not. Destructive relationships and habits, or past hurts and bad memories all fall into this category. I've always held to a philosophy of forgive, but don't forget. Not to say don't give someone a second chance, but history does repeat itself, especially where past mistakes are concerned.
So to sum up, the Tower is a painful learning experience. Life has them on occasion, and the best thing to do is learn what you can from that lesson, pick up the pieces, and rebuild. Every such event can be a stumbling block, or an opportunity to learn. I can't promise that this event will be fair or easy, only that by finding what's truly important in life, we can press forwards, and rebuild the fallen timbers.

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