Way of the Hero – Part 9 – The Journey Through Tarot Cards
In the previous “Way of the Hero” article, I have explained one step, one level of the Hero’s Journey and mapped it out within Tarot Cards. We looked at: The Devil.
Now our Hero will journey through The Tower.
Dramatic Freedom – The Tower
Once the hero has reached the underworld, he must solve one more very important task – find the thief, take the lost treasure, and bring it back to his people.
The Tower corresponds to this task perfectly. It represents victory over the guardians of the gate, the defeat of a horrible monster, finding a lost treasure, saving lost souls, and the passage back through the gates of the dark world into the world of light.
The card shows the lightning hitting the tower and overthrowing its crown. According to ancient traditions a crown that is “closed from its top”, as it is on the card’s image, and with additional arcs, is considered royal or imperial. It symbolizes the rejection of a higher authority. This card is the personification of hubris, arrogance, and megalomania, which once used to be the Tower of Babel.
Lightning represents the anger of God as some kind of external event that causes the demolition or collapse of the old order. It can also be the inspiration that suddenly opens our eyes to the fallacy of our earlier beliefs and the impracticality of our plans. However, the importance of this card is revealed by comparing it to the Four of Wands, which is the opposite of The Tower in the Manor Arcane.
Both cards depict a large structure – a castle or tower. On both cards, we see people in similar clothes. But on the Four of Wands, they are going out of the castle with enjoyment. To better understand the relationship between these two cards, let’s imagine that the Four of Wands represents the ideal home and family we had during our childhood. The Castle in the background is our parents’ home and represents a reliable and secure environment, which we had when we happily left “to explore” the outside world, confident that we could always come back.
Thus, the Four of Wands means peace, openness, and security, which is exactly what we needed and wanted at that point in our lives. However, if we are 40 years old, still living with our mother who continues to make our breakfast, then it is definitely not what we need at this point because we already grew up. The walls that we used to live within, are now too narrow, too small, and need to be broken. Therefore, the Tower means that we must break what we lived for, what we used to hold on to, even though it once suited us perfectly well. It has now become outdated, small and cannot suit us any longer; it literally became our prison.
Hence this card represents the breaking of old foundations, the destruction of outdated beliefs and a naive value system, as well as the collapse of false self-esteem. At the same time, the Tower is our exit from prison, our release. The only problem is that we are used to being trapped within the walls of our own prison. Yes, we are in prison, but it is ours and so dear to us. We generally prefer to deal with something that we know, even if it is our own destruction. That is why the collapse of the old, symbolized by the Tower, is first perceived as something terrible, if not as a catastrophe. Only later will we begin to understand that it was our release.
In an effort to avoid unstable situations, to run away from the obscure and explain the unknown, and to take control of even the current moment, our Ego (or “I) creates a certain vision of reality. For example, placing boundaries within which it feels confident and safe.
The images that we draw, in regards to the world that surrounds us, create one big story that we like more than the reality itself. We do not even notice how the gap between reality and our story becomes wider and wider, gradually taking us farther away from the reality. We are fully confident that this story that reflects only our own thoughts, desires, memories and fears is the only reality there is. Our minds are much less inclined to understand objective reality. For it is better to hold on to a familiar and comfortable story.
Eventually, the point comes when reality breaks forth through our story and beautiful palaces, where our Ego is comfortably snuggling and crumbles it before our eyes. We are horrified and realize that reality is so much different than we had imagined it to be. And this is The Tower. The story we hold on to is not necessarily beautiful. It can be grim and frightening. The philosopher Epictetus, 2000 years ago said that what make us suffer is not the things themselves, but our opinions about them. And those views may become obsessions, through which we poison our life.
If the walls of The Tower prevent us from seeing the great whole, like any other boundary that separates us from unity, then they must collapse. And this, according to Krishnamurti, is the “emptiness” of consciousness, the liberation from domination from someone or something, and a cleansing from the past.
However, our Ego is usually tightly attached to its lousy views and it requires a strong shock to liberate it.
Numerology ties The Tower (XVI) and The Chariot (VII) together. If The Chariot symbolized the hero’s exit to the outside world, The Tower symbolizes the breakthrough from the Kingdom of Darkness to freedom.
© Rita Digilova 2010
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