The Tower Tarot Card Meaning
When pulled in a reading, the Tower Card means you’re about to face disruption. While you may be tempted to preserve the status quo, the best approach, in this case, is to accept change and conflict as an essential part of life. Let go, and accept change with grace and allowance.
This is the 16th card in the Major Arcana, and it is one of the darkest, most foreboding cards to be drawn.
Illustration Credit: Ilustrata Studio
- Planet: Mars
- Element: Fire
- Astrological Sign: Aries
- Key Dates: None
Visual Elements and Symbolism
Visually, the Tower card shows a church tower resting on a mountain peak. The Tower has erupted into flames, presumably due to a lightning strike. As the fire grows hotter, people are jumping from the Tower windows to avoid the burning blaze. Injury awaits them when they land, but they have accepted their fate as they feel they must escape the turmoil inside the Tower.
There are four important elements of symbolism on the Tower card, as illustrated in the Rider-Waite deck. The first is the Tower’s crown. The crown is circular, while the Tower is rectangular. This crown has been knocked aside by the lightning strike. Look a little closer, and you realize it never would have fit the tower securely, anyways. As such, the Tower’s construction represents a plan that was ill-conceived from the start. With the Tower destroyed, a newer, more stable Tower can be built in its place.
The second element of symbolism is the 22 flames in the drawing. Each flame represents one of the Major Arcana cards. All of the flames tumble to the ground alongside the jumpers.
The grey clouds in the sky are also symbolic. They stand for a deep secret that is about to be shared. The lightning, as the final symbol, represents the truth. It lights up the sky and the grey clouds as it reveals their universal secret. The lightning also symbolizes the mind, merging its consciousness with the subconscious to produce a sudden, unexpected awakening that is neither positive nor negative at its core.
The Tower as a Person
When read as a person, the Tower represents someone who routinely disrupts the order and challenges any peacefulness. Prone to drama, this person cannot settle into a restful, consistent state. Instead, they thrive on disruption and disorder. As soon as life gets too calm, the Tower has to start something big, often disturbing others in the process.
The Tower, as a person, may be someone who is emotionally unregulated, rude, or tactless. When entrusted with a secret, the Tower exposes the secret, regardless of how much damage their action may cause. This can be incredibly damaging to the individual or organization whose secret is shared.
While some appreciate the truths shared by the Tower, they are more often seen as painful and too heavy to bear. The Tower shares their truth in a brutally honest way that causes people to recoil – both at the secrets themselves and at the Tower’s happiness to share such information.
The Tower Upright
Typically, the Tower represents sudden change and disruption so serious that it shakes the very identity of the person to their core. However, the Tower can also be seen in a more positive light. In shaking up your reality, it prevents you from continuing to hide and ignore the unpleasant aspects of life. If there is something you’ve avoided facing, the Tower reveals it, forcing you to come to terms with it.
While disruption can initially be upsetting, you will come to see it as a positive change, in time. Once secrets are revealed, you will be more aware and better able to deal with the reality of this world. Spiritual and emotional awakening awaits you on the other side of the disruption. You’ll come to know your strength, and it will be the quality that moves you forward.
Love and Relationships
When the Tower is drawn in a love reading, it represents an unhealthy relationship rife with disconnection and disagreements. Usually, it indicates something dramatic is about to change in your relationship, often due to your actions or your lover’s actions. Perhaps your partner is about to cheat on you with a close friend. Or, if you have been cheating, your secret may soon be revealed by a confidant.
When the Tower is drawn for a single person, it often symbolizes emptiness. You may be feeling abandoned and alone outside of your previous relationship.
When the Tower is drawn in a career reading, it indicates a toxic workplace, marred with conflict and danger. You may be feeling a lack of job security, or perhaps your supervisor is unwilling to listen to your safety concerns. The Tower is also often drawn for those in dangerous occupations, such as firefighting and underwater welding.
On the positive side, pulling the Tower card means you’re about to face a change, career-wise. That toxic situation is about to blow up. Perhaps you’ll soon receive a promotion, or maybe you’ll find a new opportunity that starts off challenging, but rewards you in the end.
In financial terms, the Tower depicts a crisis such as business failure, bankruptcy, or loss from a bad investment. If you draw this card, be careful with your spending. Put money aside, if possible, so you can better weather the coming storm. Keep in mind that whatever disaster awaits is outside of your control. However, you can still strengthen your fortress and prepare to face it.
The Tower can indicate an upcoming health crisis. It is wise to get ahead of this warning and take steps to live a healthier life. Even if you currently feel well, schedule a checkup with your primary care doctor, and follow up with any tests or blood work they recommend.
The Tower Reversed
If the Tower is drawn in reverse, it means you’re about to experience a crisis or collapse. This crisis is something you cannot avoid, and it is just around the corner. Putting forth effort to avoid it is futile; you will just consume yourself trying.
While this looming crisis will likely be painful, it will still benefit you in the end – if you can gather yourself and push through it. You will have a bit of time to gather yourself and your thoughts before the destruction ensues, so use it wisely. Know that you will emerge from this scenario feeling empowered and more self-reliant than ever before.
Love and Relationships
In romance, the Tower reversed means your current relationship has reached its natural end. You may be delaying the inevitable and trying to cling to your partner, all the while knowing they have slipped away. The Tower reversed means it is time for you to gather yourself and move on. Keeping up the charade of happiness is not serving you any longer. Letting go and moving on will present you with new opportunities to make deep connections.
Your job is in danger. The Tower indicates that you’re handling the situation as gracefully as possible, but deep down, you know things are about to take a turn for the worst. You may, indeed, fail to save your job. But keep in mind that through every failure, the Tower also indicates a newer, more positive beginning. A job loss will inevitably allow new doors to open and new opportunities to present themselves.
Financially, the Tower reversed means you’ve been struggling to avoid financial devastation. Perhaps you’ve been scrambling to save before a job loss or a major expense. However, the Tower reversed also means there is a silver lining; things are not quite as bad as you think. If you’re facing bankruptcy, it may help to view it as an opportunity to start fresh and leave money stress behind. If you’re behind on your mortgage, this could be a chance to sell and move to a new city.
The Tower reversed is more about facing tough choices with money. Be proactive and look on the bright side, because in this case, there more certainly is one.
If the Tower card is reversed, you might be ignoring health-related symptoms in hope that your body will heal on its own. This is a dangerous thought pattern and one you need to leave behind at this juncture. Schedule a checkup, and face your health concerns head-on. You may not be as ill as you thought, but great relief will come from knowing.
Your Past, Present, and Future
When revealed in the past position, the Tower conjures up an event that you found traumatizing and life-changing. This trauma is still affecting you, although you may try your best to ignore it. The time has come to move forward from your past trauma. To do that, you must look it in its face, and then leave it behind you. It belongs in the past.
When revealed in the present position, the Tower symbolizes the coming end of a lifelong challenge or conflict. This often applies to your romantic life. Perhaps your relationship has long been in turmoil. The Tower means it’s time to step back, evaluate the situation, and put an end to the conflict by either bringing it to light or moving on.
In the future position, the Tower means you’re in the thick of it. You’ve struggled with conflict and hardship, and you’ve handled it with grace. The worst is in the past, but you have more challenges ahead. Just keep your head high, and maintain the grace you’ve been so elegantly displaying so far. Your future will be bright once you navigate the turmoil just ahead.
Important Card Combinations
While it is easy to pass the Tower off as a negative card, that’s not a complete description. The Tower does symbolize change and disruption, but always in a way that promises a light at the end of the tunnel. A profound change, such as a break up or job loss, will manifest as a positive change a little later down the road. You’ll find a stronger, more supportive relationship or a job better suited to your talents.
Tower and Strength
If you pull the Tower and Strength cards together, this combination symbolizes your own strength. You’re about to weather a tremendous storm, but like a hardy tree, you’re strong and determined to withstand it. You’ll gather your strength and rise to the occasion.
Tower and Star
The Star is a symbol of hope and positive thinking. When pulled in combination with the tower, these cards mean it’s time for you to rise from the destruction and take control of your own destiny.
Tower and Six of Swords
The Six of Swords is pulled during times of major transition. When pulled in combination with the Tower, this pairing means you’re in battle with a negative force. Be wary of others’ actions – especially partners and close friends. Protect yourself and prepare for conflict.
The Tower: Yes or No?
Your response here should be a confident “no.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does the Reversed Tower Mean?
When the Tower is pulled in the reversed orientation, this means you’re about to face a crisis. This crisis is inevitable, so you’d be wise not to tire yourself out as you fight its manifestation.
What Does the Tower Mean in a Love Reading?
When drawn in a love reading, the Tower is a negative sign. It represents an unhealthy relationship – often one rife with conflict and confusion.
Is the Tower a “Yes” or a “No” Card?
The Tower, overall, symbolizes destruction, conflict, and coming challenges. As such, it is a serious “no” card with overall negative connotations.
What Does the Tower Mean in a Future Reading?
When drawn in a future reading, the Tower card means you’ve already moved through a lot of hardship, but still have more to face. The worst is behind you, but it is not yet time to rest on your laurels.