16 The Tower – Rider-Waite

Rider-Waite

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Occult explanations attached to this card are meagre and mostly disconcerting. It is idle to indicate that it depicts min in all its aspects, because it bears this evidence on the surface. It is said further that it contains the first allusion to a material building, but I do not conceive that the Tower is more or less material than the pillars which we have met with in three previous cases. I see nothing to warrant Papus in supposing that it is literally the fall of Adam, but there is more in favour of his alternative – that it signifies the materialization of the spiritual word. The bibliographer Christian imagines that it is the downfall of the mind, seeking to penetrate the mystery of God. I agree rather with Grand Orient that it is the ruin of the House of We, when evil has prevailed therein, and above all that it is the rending of a House of Doctrine. I understand that the reference is, however, to a House of Falsehood. It illustrates also in the most comprehensive way the old truth that “except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.”

There is a sense in which the catastrophe is a reflection from the previous card, but not on the side of the symbolism which I have tried to indicate therein. It is more correctly a question of analogy; one is concerned with the fall into the material and animal state, while the other signifies destruction on the intellectual side. The Tower has been spoken of as the chastisement of pride and the intellect overwhelmed in the attempt to penetrate the Mystery of God; but in neither case do these explanations account for the two persons who are the living sufferers. The one is the literal word made void and the other its false interpretation. In yet a deeper sense, it may signify also the end of a dispensation, but there is no possibility here for the consideration of this involved question.

RWS The Tower symbols

Divinatory meanings

Misery, distress, indigence, adversity, calamity, disgrace, deception, ruin. It is a card in particular of unforeseen catastrophe.

Reversed meanings

According to one account, the same in a lesser degree; also oppression, imprisonment, tyranny.


Etteilla

Misery

19 The Thunderstruck Temple Misery Prison The Etteilla Tarot The Book of Thoth

Distress, Indigence, Poverty, Dearth, Need, Destitution, Catastrophe, Adversity, Misfortune, Pain, Torment, Sadness, Affliction, Trouble, Punishment, Thrashing, Chastisement. Awakening, Disgrace. Severity, Inflexibility, Harshness.

Misery reversed meanings

Imprisonment, Detention. Arrest, Captivity, Oppression, Tyranny, Chains, Subjection, Constraint.


Thierens

XVI. Uranus

“Occult explanations attached to this card are meagre and mostly disconcerting.” (W.) The reason for this is easily seen: the principles of Uranus and Neptune were not much known in antiquity save that they were the general principles of the Heavens (the Air or also the atmosphere) and the Ocean, and as such we find them in the Pantheon and in the original Tarot, not yet as the much later discovered planets, which personify these general cosmic principles. Later ages added very little, if anything at all, to those original explanations. Still Ouranos and Poseidon were known in Greece as well as Dourga and Varouna in India.


Paul Foster Case

16. Le Feu du Ciel

16 BOTA Tarot The Tower

Corresponds, through the letter Peh, to Mars. The symbolism, which has, for a long time, been connected with the story of the Tower of Babel, has a direct bearing upon the divinatory meanings.

Le Feu du Ciel – Meanings

These meanings correspond also to the influence of Mars in astrology. As a rule an evil card, although in spiritual matters it may be understood as symbolizing the overthrow of mistaken conceptions, or the defeat of activities opposed to the Querent’s spiritual development. In material affairs it signifies ambition, unforeseen catastrophes, fighting, grave dangers, the ruin of the Querent’s plans, the defeat of his hopes.


Ouspensky

Tower of Babel

Sectarianism. Tower of Babel. Exoterism. Confusion of tongues. Fall of exoterism. The force of Nature re-establishing the truth distorted by men.

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