The Tower | Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretation

The Tower

Keywords for The Tower


In the image on the card, we are confronted with a shocking scene. In the dark of the night, from amidst ominous gray clouds, a lightning bolt strikes unexpectedly. The tower is shattered in a flash, breaking apart the structures on which the King and the Queen are dependent, sending them flying out from their place of safety into the harsh cold of the night. 

The Tower represents our ego, and the structures we have built into our personalities to protect ourselves, as represented here by the man (our conscious mind) and the woman (our subconsciousness). 

The thunderbolt shows an experience of sudden “enlightenment,” which throws off the crown once worn by the rigid, egoic elements of our personalities, exposing what is contained within.

The two figures here are not just exposed, or needlessly endangered as they are thrown out into the night–they are also liberated

The ego may ultimately be protective in nature, but it is in many ways also a prison, keeping us trapped in past adaptations to our environment, limiting us through its insistence on outdated behavior patterns. To a large extent this is what inhibits us from fully and accurately experiencing the world around us as it is. 

Interpretation of the Tower in a Reading

When the Tower comes up in a reading, it will often refer to a period of upheaval, instability, and unexpected change. It can mark a period of time when we experience a shocking alteration] to our usual circumstances. 

We may find ourselves confronted by the loss of a job, the breakup of a relationship, or other similarly disturbing reversals of fortune. It can also signify the danger of collective traumas, such as an economic downturn, war, natural disasters, or a health crisis such as a pandemic. 

As a result, we find that often many people are troubled or disturbed by the appearance of the Tower in a reading. It is not an unreasonable response, either—this card often does indeed signal a profoundly disruptive change to the way we have been living. This type of change is usually far from easy, and can often be accompanied by intense discomfort, emotional pain, or distress.

However, the process implied by the Tower is not an unequivocally destructive one. Often, we fail to ignore the small warning signs that crop up in our day-to-day living until it is too late. 

Sometimes, it requires a shocking breakdown of the status quo before we are compelled to seek a meaningful change in our life circumstances. After all, the old must be destroyed before anything new can be created.

The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world.

Hermann Hesse

As a result, some of the more positive meanings associated with this card have to do with the themes of freedom, liberation, and enlightenment. 

If we are willing to go through the painful experience of allowing our illusions to be shattered, we may find that we come out the other side of it with greater wisdom, understanding, courage and power. 

The potential exists here to use the experiences indicated by this card in the service of a more authentic life, one lived with greater integrity and a deeper sense of alignment with one’s true potential. 

Although it is usually far from easy, we often will ultimately find that we can utilize the liberated energy set free by the lightning bolt of truth as the raw material for what we intend to create for ourselves next.