The Tower: A Pillar of Change in the Major Arcana

Most of my clients shrink in terror when they see the image of the Tower in their Tarot spread. I get it. Who is going to be at peace when they see a tower in flames and people falling from it?

But wait a minute. Let me show you the true meaning that the Tower brings to our consciousness. Yes, this card is a symbol of upheaval and unexpected change. But it’s not all doom and gloom!

The Tower represents necessary transformations, the kind that shakes us to our core and forces us to see the world in a new light. It’s the sixteenth card of the Major Arcana, detailing the Fool’s journey, a pivotal point where the Fool must confront sudden shifts and learn to adapt.

The Tower is a beacon of revelation, tearing down old structures to make way for the new. It’s a card that challenges us to face our fears and embrace the unknown. It’s a card that reminds us that sometimes, we must let go of what we know to make room for what could be.

The Tower Keywords and General Associations

The tower general

With an abundance of significance attached to it, the Tower card holds several profound meanings. Its essence is intertwined with concepts like unforeseen shifts, turmoil, revealing truths, and newfound freedom. Additionally, it represents the disintegration of antiquated structures—both tangible and figurative—to pave a path towards fresh starts.

  • Upright Keywords: Sudden change, upheaval, revelation, liberation
  • Reversed Keywords: Resistance to change, fear of upheaval, avoidance of disaster, delayed revelation

When considering The Tower tarot card’s association with the planet Mars, we can understand how it embodies attributes like action-taking ability along with determination and fearlessness. As a result, this powerful link to Mars itself holds deep meaning in terms of symbolism related to the flames atop the tower. Furthermore, it represents transformations and unleashing intense passions through association with fire. 

Lastly, with its association with Aries in astrology, the card carries forward this theme as an initiation towards new beginnings, reminding us of Arians’ pioneering nature.

Detailed Description of The Tower Card

Pamela Coleman Smith (d 1951), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Tower card in the Rider-Waite-Colman tarot deck depicts a tall tower perched on a rocky mountain, struck by a bolt of lightning. The top of the tower is ablaze, and two figures are seen falling from the structure, symbolizing the sudden upheaval and disruption that the card represents.

The lightning bolt signifies a sudden, divine revelation or disruption, while the fire represents transformation and purification. The falling figures suggest that this change can often feel like a downfall, but it’s a necessary step toward growth and transformation. The rocky mountain signifies the solid foundations that are being shaken, and the stormy skies represent the tumultuous circumstances surrounding this change.

Meaning of The Tower

In its essence, the Tower signifies revelation and transformation. It denotes an unexpected change that can initially be perceived as a catastrophe. However, fear of change is solely rooted in our ego. If we find ourselves deeply unsettled by the changes brought forth by this card it’s likely due to remaining firmly within our comfort zone for too long. Ultimately, these transformations lead to liberation and personal growth. Therefore, embracing them is crucial! The Tower challenges our insecurities head on while compelling us to confront avoided truths.

Furthermore, the Tower symbolizes the dissolution of established frameworks or convictions, opening doors for fresh outlooks and understandings. To me, this relays a sense of encouragement to embrace change wholeheartedly and bravely confront our deepest anxieties. 

Would you not agree that this perspective lacks excessive negativity? Although grappling with the Tower’s message might prove challenging at times, it stands as an essential component on our path towards personal development and self-discovery.

Interpretation of The Tower

Tarot interpretation

The Tower’s interpretation can vary depending on its position in reading and the context of the question asked. However, whether upright or reversed, The Tower always signifies some form of upheaval or change.

Upright Tower

When the Tower appears upright in a reading, it signifies a sudden, unexpected change or revelation. This change can often feel like a crisis or a period of chaos but be assured that it’s a necessary part of your journey. If your main focus at the moment is your relationship, the Tower can mean a sudden revelation or change that shakes the foundation of your relationship. It could be a breakup, the revelation of a secret, or a sudden argument that changes everything. Whatever it is, accept the lessons without too much resistance.

What about the context of career and work? In this case, the Tower can signify sudden changes such as job loss or a major shift in your career path. But before you start preparing for that raise, hold your horses! It can also represent a revelation that changes your perspective on your work or career. Despite the initial chaos, the Tower reminds us that these changes are necessary for growth and that a new beginning is on the horizon.

Reversed Tower

When the Tower appears reversed in a reading, it signifies resistance to change or a fear of upheaval. You may be avoiding a necessary change or denying an important revelation. In terms of love and relationships, the reversed Tower can signify a fear of change or a refusal to accept the truth about a situation.

In the context of career and work, the reversed Tower can signify a fear of change or a reluctance to face the reality of a situation. It can also represent a period of instability or uncertainty in your career. Despite the fear and resistance, the reversed Tower encourages you to face the change head-on and embrace the opportunities for growth that it brings.

Comparing and Contrasting The Tower with The Lovers and The Devil

Let’s take a look at how the Tower compares to other cards in the deck to see the nuances in each card’s symbolism and interpretation.

Compared with The Lovers

The Lovers card symbolizes harmony, love, and the act of making choices within relationships. On the other hand the Tower card signifies an unexpected and drastic upheaval. While The Lovers card hints at a balanced union or a decision that needs to be made in a relationship, the Tower brings forth an abrupt change that disturbs this equilibrium. Although both cards delve into topics of relationships and choices, they address them from contrasting perspectives.

Compared with The Devil

According to the tarot the Devil card symbolizes a state of being trapped by material desires or unhealthy habits. It serves as a reminder of the bondage and addiction that can hinder our growth. On the other hand the Tower card represents a catalyst for change and liberation. 

It signifies a sudden revelation that shatters our preconceived notions and leads us to break free from our self imposed limitations. Although both cards touch upon the theme of liberation they do so in distinctive ways offering alternative perspectives on personal transformation.

The Tower in Specific Readings

The tower tarot
William Thomas Horton (1864-1919), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Now let’s delve into the meaning of this card in different types of readings. Let’s not forget that its meaning can shift and adapt, providing insights that are as varied as they are profound.

Yes-no readings

The tower yes or no

When engaging in a yes-no reading, the Tower frequently leans towards providing a “no” response. The Towers’ symbolism of sudden upheaval and transformation implies that this may not be the most favorable timing for the current situation or question at hand. Nonetheless it is vital to refrain from becoming disheartened! Rather than viewing this outcome negatively, interpret it as an occasion for personal growth and development. 

It serves as a reminder that sometimes the universe has alternate plans, where what initially appears as a setback can potentially lead to an even more favorable outcome. The Towers’ message remains clear in these readings: prepare yourself for change. Therefore strive to release any rigid expectations you may possess and embrace life’s unpredictable nature wholeheartedly. Acknowledge that changes are absolutely acceptable! Even amidst chaos and disruption. There will always exist space for transformation and personal advancement

Love readings

The tower love

When encountering The Tower card in your love life, it carries immense significance by indicating a momentous shift or revelation. This can manifest in various ways such as a breakup transpiring or long-hidden truths being exposed unexpectedly leading to an alteration in the course of your relationship. It’s crucial to acknowledge that despite feeling startled and entering into chaos initially upon receiving this card; such changes often act as indispensable stepping stones on the path towards personal growth allowing for a new phase to begin within your romantic journey. 

If The Tower makes an appearance in your reading; interpret it as an awakening and express gratitude for its presence! Understand that this symbolizes something within your relationship needing alteration which is inevitable. Moreover, it is likely irrespective of whether you feel ready for it or not. This serves as a sign urging you to confront reality no matter how painful while embracing what follows next: transformation! Remarkably enough; you have all the strength required to do so! Love resembles life itself encompassing both highs and lows thereby affirming every conclusion is an opportunity for a fresh commencement.

Work readings

The Tower card has symbolic implications related to abrupt and unforeseen changes affecting one’s employment circumstances. For example, facing job loss or experiencing an abrupt deviation from one’s designated career trajectory – while also signifying big moments capable of transforming one’s outlook on their professional undertakings altogether. It is essential not to let fear consume oneself when encountering such situations. Even when set off with alarmingly challenging circumstances inside oneself stemming from crises situations at hand. 

It should be noted here that interpreting this card suggests embracing these changes as being vital for self-development since they have potential prospects leading towards invoking novel possibilities.

When drawn during work-related tarot readings, The Tower strongly advises an immediate reevaluation of outdated patterns or situations that are no longer beneficial to one’s professional growth. Reflect on this as an indication for dismissing oneself from a workplace, project or mindset that is stunting personal progress. 

Despite the possible initial shock, The Tower emphasizes the fact that this upheaval eventually clears pathways to far more enriching and rewarding professional aspirations. In fact it is ensuring one can find solace in the knowledge of better prospects ahead. 

Consequently, The Tower’s appearance during work readings can suggest moments of unexpected breakthroughs and revelations capable of transforming one’s work understanding dramatically. Therefore, there should be no apprehension surrounding potential career modifications. Rest assured that past investments in one’s professional endeavors should not hinder embracing the need for change since shaking things up every once in a while often helps unveil refreshing perspectives ultimately leading towards seizing enticing opportunities stemming from these unanticipated shifts.

Key Card Combinations

As you know, the Tower’s meaning can be significantly influenced by the cards that appear alongside it in a reading. These combinations provide deeper insights and add layers of complexity to the Tower’s interpretation.

Combined with The Chariot


When paired with The Chariot, the Tower suggests that despite the chaos and upheaval, you possess the strength and determination to navigate through the storm. The Chariot symbolizes willpower, control, and victory, encouraging you to take the reins and guide the situation toward a positive outcome.

This combination is a powerful one. It’s a reminder that even in the face of adversity, you have the power to shape your destiny. It’s a call to action, urging you to harness your inner strength and face the challenges head-on. Moreover, it’s a testament to your resilience and your ability to turn even the most tumultuous situations into opportunities for growth and success. Way to go!

Combined with The Star


On the other hand, when the Tower is combined with The Star, it suggests that a period of hope and healing will follow the upheaval. Let’s not forget that the Star is a beacon of hope, inspiration, and tranquility. This combination offers reassurance that the disruption and chaos brought about by the Tower will eventually give way to a period of healing, renewal, and serenity.

This combination is a beacon of light in the darkness. It’s a promise that after the storm, there will be calm, reminding us that even in the darkest of times, there’s always a glimmer of hope and a promise of better days ahead. It is also a testament to the healing power of hope and the transformative potential of faith.

Frequently Asked Questions about The Tower

Is The Tower always a bad card?

While The Tower often signifies upheaval and disruption, it’s not necessarily a ‘bad’ card. It represents necessary change and transformation, which can lead to growth and new beginnings.

What does The Tower mean in a love reading?

In a love reading, The Tower can signify a sudden change or revelation in your relationship. This could be a breakup, a revelation of a secret, or a sudden argument that changes everything.

What does The Tower mean in a career reading?

The Tower can signify sudden changes such as job loss or a major shift in your career path. It can also represent a revelation that changes your perspective on your work or career.

What does The Tower reversed mean?

When The Tower appears reversed in a reading, it signifies resistance to change or a fear of upheaval. You may be avoiding a necessary change or denying an important revelation.

Last Thoughts on The Tower

Are you still afraid of the Tower, or are you excited about the possibilities it brings to your life? The Tower represents necessary changes and transformations that might shake us to our core. However they also force us to align with a more authentic life path.

The Tower challenges us to embrace change and face our fears head on, and we should be grateful for that! Remember that every ending is a new beginning and every upheaval is an opportunity for growth. Trust the process and know that the Tower is a guiding light on your journey of self-discovery and transformation.

Learn the Tarot with Online Flash Cards

Are you looking to dive into the world of tarot and master the meaning of each card? We have a post, “Learn The Tarot Cards – Online Flash Cards” by our own Tarot expert Ersa Fay. With interactive flash cards covering all 78 cards in the tarot, both the Minor and Major Arcana, you will learn key facts and the symbolism and meanings associated with each card. 

With these flash cards, you’ll become more comfortable doing your own readings and dive deeper into the world of tarot. 

In the post, Ersa focuses on the iconic Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, known for its rich imagery and profound symbolism. The captivating illustrations in this deck draw from various sources such as mythology, astrology, alchemy, and the Kabbalah. Together it is creating a visual language that resonates deeply with the human psyche. So, if you’re ready to start learning, don’t miss out on this fantastic resource. We hope you find it useful and remember to have fun with it!

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Maria Figueroa

Maria is a multifaceted individual who wears the hats of a professional astrologer, licensed psychologist, tarot reader, and angel number enthusiast. Since 2019, she has dedicated herself to writing horoscopes and articles on a variety of topics, including spiritual growth, mental health, and self-development. Her insightful writings reflect her deep understanding of the spiritual and psychological realms, providing valuable guidance to her readers. In addition to her writing, Maria also runs a private practice where she combines her expertise in psychology with her intuitive abilities. She uses her knowledge of astrology, tarot, and angel numbers to help individuals unlock their hidden potential and navigate through life's challenges. Her unique approach blends her psychological training with her spiritual insights, allowing her to provide holistic support to her clients. Through her work, Maria connects with people from all walks of life, offering personalized birth chart readings, helping individuals overcome personal obstacles, and sharing her wisdom through enlightening articles. Her goal is to empower others by providing them with the tools and insights they need to lead fulfilling lives and embark on their own spiritual journeys. A lover of astrology, tarot and numerology, Maria embraces the mystical and symbolic aspects of life and uses these powerful tools to deepen her understanding and connection with the Divine. Her unique combination of skills allows her to provide guidance and inspiration to those seeking a greater sense of purpose and direction.