The Meaning of The Tower [Card 16]

The Meaning of The Tower Tarot

At a Glance

The Tower Card #16 represents beginning again, a shift in power, impermanence, and a humbling experience.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

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  • How can you move on from an unstable world you artificially constructed to enter into a more rewarding and honest experience of life?
  • What is the bright side of a recent loss you experienced? In what ways has this loss liberated you, and what can you do with this newfound freedom?
  • Has your metaphorical tower recently collapsed or is it about to? Either way, consider getting back in touch with your roots, and use the strength of home to emblazon your journey forward.


  • Are you too scared to take risks because of the threat of failure?
  • Do you cling to earth, overwhelmed by the responsibility of building something lofty?
  • It is true that eventually all towers crumble back to earth, but it is through this process that you can get in touch with your humanity. What have you learned from a recent catastrophe or failure, and how can you use this knowledge to restart?

Interpreting the Symbols

  • Burning Tower : Hegemonic power, great success, or an understanding of the world that no longer suffices.
  • Explosion : A frightening change is coming, but it is also a liberating force.
  • Lightning : This coming change was brought on by a higher power or cosmic forces.
  • Crown : Being humbled; reverting to a more vulnerable state.
  • Figures : Being thrust into a new experience; caught off-guard; thrill-seeking and over-confidence.

Charmaine’s Take

What an image: The Tower, a symbol of pride and achievement, of transcendence, strength and loftiness, is being conquered. The Rider Waite deck illustrates a particularly dramatic scene compared to other decks, such as the Marseilles deck, which shows two men tumbling down below a series of juggling balls in what looks like an acrobatic dance. The Rider Waite deck, however, does not show such a jubilant scene. This card depicts a frightening and disastrous atmosphere. The top of the tower is aflame, having been struck by a lightning bolt. The arrow on the lightning bolt implies that the storm did not strike this tower by accident: a higher power sent the lightning to destroy the tower and all it stands for.

Behind The Tower are dark storm clouds. The crown at the building’s top is a reference to the fact that towers are generally associated with kings and palaces. That the crown is falling shows a shift in power is taking place. Perhaps the king has reigned for a long time, but now this empire is done for. The man and woman falling from the tower are headed down, presumably to earth, but the tower is up so high that they can not even see the earth at first. As they tumble, they are terrified, thrust into the unknown. A moment before, they were up in the tower, feeling on top of everything, feeling powerful and all-knowing. But now, as they launch back down toward the bottom, everything is in question.

When The Tower falls, it is a bewildering experience, but it is one all individuals and civilizations experience. The main idea here is impermanence. Nothing lasts forever - not one ruling party, not beauty, not a sunny day, and not a bad mood. When The Tower is destroyed, whether by (wo)man or a natural force, it is scary, but it is also liberating. It is a chance for the world or the individual to revise, to start over again, to readdress what may have been glossed over in the first run. It would be wrong to take the tower’s destruction as an act of war and, once landed, to seek revenge. This is because it is the heavens that destroyed the tower: the tower was destroyed specifically for the purpose of teaching you about yourself, of humbling you, of saving you from the danger that can come from being too prideful and complacent, too used to luxury.

When you fall back to earth from the tower, it is a gift. You get to see the world as if for the first time; it is a rebirth. You will feel vulnerable, but it is a genuine and authentic feeling worth so much more than the tower or any other luxury.

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