The Tower Card: A Symbol of Transformation (B.O.T.A. Version)

This morning I went to Sunday Service at Builders of the Adytum, and the speaker was giving a talk on one of the most challenging tarot cards in the deck, The Tower.

B.O.T.A is a modern mystery school that was founded in the early 20th century in Los Angeles that combines elements of Western esotericism, Qabalah, astrology, and Tarot. Paul Foster Case, the founder, was a highly influential figure in the Tarot and esoteric circles. The organization is known for its unique and profound interpretations of Tarot cards, including the Tower.

I thought that the timing of this talk was perfect for me, as I’m going through one of those Tower moments that always comes as an upsetting surprise. 

So I thought I would share more about what I learned today at B.O.T.A., as well as what the card means more generally.

The Tower

The Tower Card: A Symbol of Transformation

The Tower card is traditionally associated with sudden and often disruptive change. In most Tarot decks, it depicts a tall tower being struck by lightning, with figures falling from the building. This imagery is generally seen as negative, representing chaos and upheaval. However, B.O.T.A takes a more nuanced approach to the card.

In the Builders of the Adytum’s Tarot deck, the Tower card is imbued with a different energy. Rather than emphasizing destruction, the card highlights the concept of necessary change and transformation. The lightning bolt is seen as a symbol of spiritual awakening and enlightenment, shaking loose the old and stagnant structures in one’s life.

Key Elements of B.O.T.A’s Tower Card

Let’s go deeper into each of these key elements to better understand the symbolism of B.O.T.A’s Tower card:

The Tower 

This represents our ego, the concept we have created of ourselves and the world, and the structure of our personalities. We build this structure brick by brick, and it may  indeed serve to protect us and keep us safe for a time. But there comes a point at which this structure is more limiting than helpful. It is then that we may be set up to have a “Tower” experience that will destroy what is no longer real and liberate us from illusions.

The Tower in this card is also known as the House of God, or La Maison Dieu. It is built of error and delusion, but it is our home, where we live. In other words, our ego or our personality is the house that the Divine lives in. The light of God is expressed through us imperfectly in this way.

The Lightning Bolt and the Crown

The crown is the symbol of dominion and of mastery. Most of the time, we think that our personality or our ego is in charge, that we are really the ones in control. 

The lightning bolt comes from the Sun and throws the crown off of the egoic structure of the Tower. It shows that our Higher Self or God is always the one truly in control. There is nothing “negative” or “bad” which comes to us which is not ultimately without purpose, if we are willing to accept the truth and cultivate the seed of wisdom each disappointment carries within it.

In this interpretation, the lightning bolt is not a destructive force but a flash of divine inspiration. It represents the sudden insight or revelation that can shatter our illusions and complacency. It’s the spark of spiritual awakening that can be uncomfortable but ultimately liberating.

The Falling Man & Woman

Traditionally, the falling figures in the Tower card are often viewed as victims of destruction. 

However, in B.O.T.A’s interpretation, they represent aspects of the self that need to be shed. These figures symbolize outdated beliefs, ego-driven patterns, and emotional attachments that hold us back on our spiritual journey. The Tower’s upheaval is necessary for our future growth and transformation.

“Verily destruction is the foundation of existence, 

And the tearing-down thou seest 

Is but the assembling of material 

For a grander structure.”

–Paul Foster Case, The Book of Tokens: Meditation on Peh

The Spiritual Lesson

The B.O.T.A. version of the Tower card imparts a profound spiritual lesson: transformation and spiritual growth often involve upheaval and the dismantling of our old ways of thinking and being. It encourages us to embrace change, even when it feels disruptive, as a necessary step on our spiritual journey.

This perspective invites us to see the Tower card as an opportunity for renewal and personal growth rather than something to be feared or avoided. It reminds us that even in times of disruption, we can find a higher purpose and a way to continue on the path to spiritual enlightenment.

The Builders of the Adytum’s interpretation of the Tower Tarot card offers a refreshing and empowering perspective on a traditionally challenging card. It reminds us that even in times of upheaval, there is a higher purpose and a path to spiritual enlightenment.

By embracing change and letting go of what no longer serves us, we can rise like a phoenix from the ashes, ready to embark on a new and transformative journey in life. The Tower card is not necessarily symbol of disaster, but of the rebirth and transformation that can result if we look more deeply and integrate the lessons available to us to be learned from these experiences.

It is also important to keep in mind the Hebrew letter, Peh, associated with this card. Peh represents the mouth. It is the creative word: it is what we are saying, and how we’re reacting to other people.

I AM the MOUTH whence issueth the breath of Life;

I am the all-devouring one Whereunto all things return.  

“Beginning and End” Is my holy name, 

For the MOUTH is a sign of my self-duplication, 

Whereby I testify to myself of myself.

–Paul Foster Case, The Book of Tokens: Meditation on Peh

The Tower also links the 7th Sephiroth (Netzach, or Victory) with the 8th (Hod, or Splendor).

Netzach is associated with the planet Venus, and with all she represents: desire, beauty, romance, the erotic.

Hod is associated with the planet Mercury, as well as the power of logic, communication, and rationality.

I am the Word of Life 

Which exciteth all beginnings, 

The Word Which hath its own beginning in Victory 

And its completion in Splendour, 

And is the balance between them.

–Paul Foster Case, The Book of Tokens: Meditation on Peh

Tree of Life B.O.T.A.

This speaks to the fact that many of us experience these “Tower” moments when we are confronted by the disparity between our desires, Netzach, and what we think we know, Hod.

This card also lies directly beneath Key 14, Temperance, which is known as “the Intelligence of Probation and Trial”. It is through these disruptions in our sense of self and what we know that we are tested and made stronger. 

Whether we like it or not, we cannot reach the most elevated version  of ourselves if we are not continually tested and asked by our circumstances to reach higher and grow into the best expression of who we really are.

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