The Tower and The Fool – The truth shall set you free.

There is a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen

Of all the cards that could have come up the day I restarted the Daily Tarot, these are perhaps the most disconcerting.  Most of us who study Tarot get a knot in our guts when we see The Tower.  The image is, after all, terrifying in its implications.  Lightning bolts from the sky, the structure we think is so secure, so comfortable, tumbling down into rubble.  The knee-jerk reaction to this is to think, oh-my-god what have I done wrong?  What awful thing is about to be dropped upon my head?  But… If I’m honest with myself (and that’s really my new theme song these days anyway), I have to admit I rather like The Tower, if for only one reason: When we struggle with a major karmic cycle in our life, and no matter which way we turn there seems to be no good solution to a problem, The Tower can come along with the awesome power of Divine Intervention, and set things right.  It might not be pretty, BUT, it will be a major catharsis for our growth in a radically different direction.  Ready or not, here it comes.

And get this: The Tower came up twice for me today.  Once in the A.M. two-card draw, and again in the spread for my Tarot journal.  So, two different decks, two different spreads.  I pay extra attention when cards repeat.  It never ends well when I don’t.

Like all the cards — particularly the Majors — The Tower is chock full of powerful symbolism.  The lightning bolt representing the sudden ZAP of energy from Divine; the crown, traditionally representing the ego, popping off like the lid of a pressure cooker; the fire, burning to ashes whatever the tower itself contains; the yods, those little gold shapes in the sky, signifying Divine will — blessings in disguise, perhaps.

In sharp contrast, we have The Fool, the protagonist of the Tarot story itself, on his merry way about to fall off a cliff if he’s not careful (so it’s likely he will), under a sunny sky with his playful companion.  There is no tower in the fool’s experience.  There’s only the journey ahead to worlds unknown, a delightful naivete, greeting life with arms wide open, with an unsullied mind and joyful heart.  So, with all this frolic and fun promised in The Fool, how do we reconcile him with the destruction and agony of The Tower?

The way I’ll approach this is by examining the traditional meaning of the falling crown, and I want to consider what’s actually inside the structure of the tower itself.  It occurred to me that most of us only see the exterior of this card, the obvious shock and upheaval the falling figures are experiencing.  Do we ever really look at what it is they’re falling from?

I close my eyes, and imagine what it would have been like to live inside that tower, before the storm came.  In my mind’s eye is a long and winding staircase.  From the top of the tower, at the very tip beneath the shelter of the crown, I look down and see it spiraling down, down, down, doubling back upon itself at the base, spiraling back up, and up, and up.  I think, wouldn’t it be nice to travel those stairs, just to see where else they might lead?  So I put on a sweater, because the air is cold blowing through all those windows, and I start to walk.  And I walk, and walk… past creaky old furniture, photos of times way back, trinkets and baubles once treasured but long forgotten, empty rooms, jumbled up messes of rooms, empty thoughts.  Empty everything.  Full of “stuff”, but as abandoned as an ancient tomb.  Everything smells of wet stone and mildew, decay and rot.  The stairs wind on and on, so I think surely these must lead to somewhere outside this structure, there must be more to my life than these thoughts and things, beliefs and memories.  But there isn’t anywhere to go within the tower except further within my own fears and delusions.  The stairs lead to nowhere, except back up to the shelter under the crown.  I follow them up, and find myself back at the top again, where there’s a little room with a single chair in it, and a tiny window looking down over an expanse of fog.  I’m as alone as alone can be.  This tower, it turns out, is not my home after all.  It’s nothing but a construction of my false self.

My eyes snap open.  This is a horrible realization!  The pain of it is unbearable — worse, it’s laughable, because the understanding now is that it is all self created.  Every last bit of it.  The fortress of protection is only an illusion, a self-induced imprisonment.  The fortress isn’t a safe haven at all.  It’s a prison.

Let me emphasize this point: IT IS ALL SELF CREATED.

In this way I see the crown not as the ego itself, but as the crown chakra.   It’s through the crown that we receive Divine wisdom — if, that is, we’re open to it.  When the crown chakra is blocked, it often means that we’re living in our ego.  When we’re in ego, we’re in illusion.  So BAM! Off pops the top, and now the light can get in, and we now see our reality for what it is.  And the walls come tumbling down…

At this point we have two choices.

1) We can experience this event with exquisite suffering, desperately clinging to what we think we need, resisting and thrashing about, later emerging bloodied and traumatized, confused and angry about our sad lot.


2) We can see it as a glorious opportunity to shed what no longer serves us once and for all, to come out the other side with a sense of relief.  Whatever it was we were avoiding or scared of has now been dealt a final blow.  We can relax now, and move into our true purpose with gratitude for the wisdom that painful experiences have brought us.  And maybe we can even lighten up a little, and have a little laugh at just how ridiculous living in the false self actually was.

In the case of The Fool, we can take that even further.  We can emerge brand new, without attachments, without fears.  It’s true we could get ourselves into trouble again, but I guess that’s part of the beauty of life on Schoolroom Earth.  We make mistakes, and we grow.  Sometimes, we have to cut everything back and pull some weeds, but in time we understand that even the unwanted things serve their purpose.  Once cut down and mulched back into the earth, they feed the roots of our next experience.  And with every new leaf unfurling, we reach ever closer up to our Divine Source.  I’ll take that over endless circling in the tower any day.  In place of a supposedly safe wall of fog, I’ll take the open road, potholes and all.

I’m going for Option 2.

Love and Light,



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