The Tower is the 16th card in the Major Arcana in most traditional Tarot decks.
This card bears the picture of a tower, possibly the Tower of Babel, with its battlements struck by lightning; two men, one crowned, the other uncrowned, are falling with the fragments of broken masonry; the attitude of the former recalls the shape of the Hebrew letter, Ayin.
Depictions in other decks
Some early painted decks, such as the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, do not contain The Tower.
In some Belgian tarots and the 17th century tarot of Jacques Viéville, the card is called La Foudre or La Fouldre, ("The Lightning") and depicts a tree being struck by lightning. In the Tarot of Paris (17th century), the image shown is of the Devil beating his drums, before what appears to be the mouth of Hell; the card still is called La Fouldre. The Tarot of Marseilles merges these two concepts, and depicts a burning tower being struck by lightning or fire from the sky, its top section dislodged and crumbling. Two men are depicted in freefall against a field of multicolored balls.
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.
The figures falling from the Tower are held to be Nimrod and his minister. It is assuredly a card of confusion. The lightning would symbolize the fire and sword with which that edifice was visited by the King of the Chaldees. Alternatively, the stone tower struck by a flash of lightning is a version of the legend of Ouranos mutilating his son Chronos, which means, that Heaven is not content with a body of fixed dimensions and form, nor any heavenly force with the limitations put to it by physical authorities or architects. This may warn man, not to build upon physical existence alone or to think himself safe upon a material basis, however high and solid it may appear from a material point of view
In divination, this card usually indicates misery, distress, indigence, adversity, calamity, disgrace, deception, and ruin. Unforeseen catastrophe.
In reversed position, it means: The same as the upright meanings to a lesser degree. Oppression, imprisonment, tyranny.
|Major Arcana||The Fool • The Magician • The High Priestess • The Empress • The Emperor • The Hierophant • The Lovers • The Chariot • Strength • The Hermit • Wheel of Fortune • Justice • The Hanged Man • Death • Temperance • The Devil • The Tower • The Star • The Moon • The Sun • Judgement • The World|
|Minor Arcana||Pentacles||Ace • Two • Three • Four • Five • Six • Seven • Eight • Nine • Ten • Page • Knight • Queen • King|
|Wands||Ace • Two • Three • Four • Five • Six • Seven • Eight • Nine • Ten • Page • Knight • Queen • King|
|Cups||Ace • Two • Three • Four • Five • Six • Seven • Eight • Nine • Ten • Page • Knight • Queen • King|
|Swords||Ace • Two • Three • Four • Five • Six • Seven • Eight • Nine • Ten • Page • Knight • Queen • King|
|Decks||Visconti-Sforza Tarot • Tarot of Marseilles • Rider-Waite Tarot • Thoth Tarot • Occult Tarot • Angel Tarot • Vlad Dracula Tarot • Hieronymus Bosch Tarot|