The Tower: Intellectual Destruction

Tarot Stories
3 min readNov 12, 2020


This card I picked today is probably the darkest I’ve encountered so far, because just as the Wheel of Fortune comforted me with the concept of fate and destiny, the Tower reminds me that it’s not always sunshine and roses. In its essence this card is a reminder that bad things happen and they are often out of our control. While vanity is a sure way to downfall, there are other ways that we can’t account for or even see coming.

While today is otherwise a quiet, uneventful day (so far), this card has put a bit of a pall over it for me. I am usually an optimistic person, but I can’t quite shake the feeling that something bad is brewing. This isn’t a foretelling of my future (hopefully!) but a reminder to be present and recognize the good things I’ve got going right now.


The Tower from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

What you see: The Tower stands in the dark, on the edge of rocky mountains, ablaze from being struck by lightening. A crown topples off the top of the tower, and two people are falling from it with their arms outstretched. Around them are 22 flames: 12 near one of them and 10 near the other.

What it means: The Tower represents ambitions built on top of a shaky foundation — faulty premises. The lightening symbolizes sudden insight or a break-through (generally from spiritual sources) that brings the tower down. The crown represents ego that comes down with the tower. The people (potentially the man and woman seen on previous cards) are desperate to escape, the flames represent the 12 Zodiac signs and the 10 nodes of the Tree of Life in Kabbalah.

The story: As a character, the Tower is conflict or destruction. As an event, it represents change that is often unexpected and chaotic. As a relationship, it signifies a break up or departure that may be painful. As a sign, it calls to surrender to the destruction, as it often means emerging stronger after.

As part of the Fool’s Journey: The Tower is the moment of divorce; a spiritual rupturing and a collapse of systems that are relied on.

Reversed meaning: When pulled upside-down, the card represents change that is initiated from within and occurs in a non-destructive way.

In mythology: The Tower card reminds of the Biblical Tower of Babel — the tower that Babylonians began erecting to reach the heavens, and that God disrupted by confusing their language and dispersing them all over the Earth.

Potential insights: Chaos and disruption can enter our lives unexpectedly and will be uncomfortable and even painful. Though it’s often hard to see the silver lining, there is always one if we go looking for it. Even if it’s just a renewed resilience that we hadn’t noticed before.

The Tower card seems to literally depict the idiom “pride goes before a fall”. In a sense, it is the intellectual equivalent of the previous card where the Devil stands for giving in to animalistic urges, the Tower stands for giving in to false beliefs or an inflated sense of self.

My research sources:
A Complete Guide to the Tarot, Eden Gray, 1970
Tarot Card Meanings, Biddy Tarot
Card Meanings, Labyrinthos

Deck: The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck®



Tarot Stories

A Canadian marketing strategist learning storytelling through the Tarot, and maybe finding the meaning of life along the way.