Thursday, June 4th, 2020: People continue to rise up all over our country and the world to demand change against racial injustice and inequality. The president of the United States is ramping up his efforts to sic not just the police, but the MILITARY against its own citizens. People are dying in record numbers from a deadly pandemic and the government that is supposed to protect its people is executing and imprisoning them.
As what was once at least masquerading as a democracy veers ominously towards a dangerous and evil dictatorship, a colossal bolt of lightning strikes the Washington monument. This display eerily mirrors not just the iconic imagery of the Tower Tarot card, but everything it represents.
While all Tarot cards convey aspects of the human experience, it is rare to see such a literal depiction, especially one SO fitting in its context. As the lightning struck the Washington monument, it created an iconic Tower Tarot card moment IRL. What is most poignant about this dramatic recreation of the Tower card’s symbolism is what it represents: the downfall of an infrastructure that was not built to last.
In traditional illustrations of the Tower card, the foundation on which the structure was built is clearly unstable. The most literal meaning of this card is the collapse of something that was flawed from the start. Seems almost TOO fitting.
The white supremacist system the United States of America was founded upon was flawed from the start. We are not witnessing the sudden crumbling of something that was working up until now; it was NOT working. The foundation was not just cracked, it was twisted as fuck and certainly not built to support its people. We are witnessing a breaking point that has been centuries in the making.
As scary as this imagery and the world around us may feel right now, there is some measure of hope to be found here. In the Tower card’s illustration, the “divine intervention” of the lightning strike knocks the crown of power right off, ousting those who previously ruled over it.
It is worth noting that in the traditional Rider Waite deck, those being booted from their seat of power are stuffy-looking white people. (Unfortunately the Rider Waite lacks diversity in general, but still.) One of them even looks eerily similar to Trump…
The people being thrown from the Tower are also traditionally depicted as clothed. In the Tarot, clothing symbolizes the truth being cloaked and hidden, not yet revealed. It is certainly fitting to say that our current leadership is not particularly fond of honesty.
Take a look at this quote from my favorite Tarot book, Amber Jayanti’s Living the Tarot, which was written in 1988, and tell me if you feel chills from how relevant it is today:
“The clothed people being thrust from the Tower portray the dislodgment of dishonest, unrealistic, immature, narrow-minded, supremacist, self-abnegating attitudes and behavior. Such behavior is expressed by stating things such as, ‘I’m comfortable as is. I don’t want to see. I’m scared of change. I’m better than everyone else.’ This comes as the end result of being dominated by… too much ego.”
Narrow-minded, supremacist behavior, huh? Sounds like the white supremacy that has been allowed to persist both in our governmental systems and more subtly throughout our society. And being “dominated” by “ego” sounds like our egotistical president vowing to “dominate” the streets.
(And he wasn’t referencing the fun kind of domination, in case you had your hopes up, freaks!)
It’s also important to note that the “I’m comfortable… I don’t want to see” part could also reference the white silence that has prevented white people from taking a good hard look at ourselves and the world around us. This is another part of the structure that needs to be broken down and unpacked so we can have real discussions about how we can be catalysts for change.
Holy shit. Read the next paragraph with me as it describes the meaning of this card, and consider this in relation to what is currently happening:
“The Tower shows that some basic law of life is either unknown or being ignored or violated. When an offender is unable or unwilling to pay attention, … make amends or be more discriminating, … the law is enforced from above. Lightning is an ancient Qabalistic symbol for the descent of divine energies into the physical world. Thus the lightning bolt, knocking the crown of immaturity, misunderstanding and mock wisdom from the Tower, indicates the [divine] intervention.”
Yeah. We need to keep going because what she says next is what we all need to hear right now:
“The Tower’s eroded foundation indicates that a life built upon unconsciousness and behavior that demean and alienate you from your Self and others must crumble. The Tower itself represents the human being, who, in the words of revolutionary therapist Wilhelm Reich, must ‘tremble and scream for health.'”
Humanity is trembling and screaming for health and justice louder than we ever have. With all 50 states and 18 countries participating in Black Lives Matter protests, we are in the midst of the largest civil rights movement in world history. The time has come for the Tower to fall.
To further emphasize the need to use our voices, note that “the Hebrew name for the Tower is Pet, meaning ‘the mouth as a vehicle for speech and communication.’ Your words have the potential to build and destroy things, yourself and others.”
To help destroy what was never meant to be, we must use our voices and speak up for the change in our politics and consciousness that humanity so desperately needs. We need to let the language of peace and unity speak louder than the corrupt politicians trying to divide and destroy us.
We cannot continue the way we have been going.
Echoing the cries of activists worldwide, this is a call for change – not just to police reform, not just to our political system, not just to your one racist uncle. We need to uproot the very nature of the consciousness that is allowing these issues to exist and persist.
For too long, American culture, specifically WHITE culture, has been centered around possession. What can we take? What can we have, and what can we have more of? Everything from the way this land was acquired to the way capitalism operates teaches us that to CONSUME is the goal.
Can we change our culture from CONSUME to CONTRIBUTE?
Can we shift the focus from what can we CONSUME to how can we CONTRIBUTE to others?
Can we move from POSSESSION to COMPASSION?
Can we stop focusing on what or who or how much of the world we can make our POSSESSION, and instead ask how much COMPASSION we can bring to it?
Can we stop trying to TAKE and start trying to GIVE?
With well over 100,000 dead from the pandemic and thousands of black people murdered by our own government throughout its blood-stained history, our leadership has made a career out of displaying the opposite of compassion.
Recently reading about ancient civilizations in Joseph Campbell’s Myths to Live By, I came across a sobering statement: that people who assert their authority with violence have generally been more likely to survive than their peaceful counterparts. And sure, throughout history, violent leaders have seized power with varying degrees of success.
Yet there still continue to exist people who wish for peace, who wish for unity, who care for others with compassion. So if violence is meant to reign, why do we have a record-breaking global uprising calling for peace?
We are learning that we must be more AGGRESSIVE in our demands for PEACE. LOVE is learning to speak LOUDER. There is no other way.
I quoted this excerpt from Living the Tarot in my last discussion of the Tower, and I’ll bring it up again: “Hindus term our present era of time the Kali Yuga– Age of Kali, the dark goddess – during which destruction and explosive transformation will precede the next era, the Satya Yuga – Age of Truth and Enlightenment. This is a hidden yet fundamental aspect of the Tower card.”
If there is any twinkle of hope in our future, let us hope it imitates the Tarot card that follows the Tower, the Star. This card depicts a naked woman in a much calmer scene with the stars aligning overhead, symbolizing truth and the order of things as they are meant to be.
In Jayanti’s words: “Once the self-defeating behavior is shaken or purged by the Tower’s fall, we accept that not living in accordance with the truth causes mishaps, and we realize that we must either live in closer alignment with the teachings of truth or regress to old patterns that will lead to more cataclysms.”
Let us break free of the latter, jolted by not just this recent prophetic lightning strike, but by the fiery need for justice that has ignited within our hearts.
Do not stop speaking up. Do not stop crying out for compassion, for justice, and for truth.
Together we will break down what needs to go so we can build something better. Even the sky agrees: it is time to bring this broken Tower down for good.