What Does The Tower Card Mean In Tarot?

The key to understanding tarot cards is often in what's pictured on the card itself. The Tower tarot card is no different.

Traditional tarot decks, based off the Rider-Waite model, show a tall tower on top of a rocky mountain (via The Tarot Guide). Lightning strikes in the background illuminate two people jumping from the windows unknowingly into the fire that surrounds the tower. Contemporary decks can take different approaches to the illustration. For example, Claire Goodchild's "The Antique Anatomy Tarot" Tower card shows a tower made from human skulls. 18 bees hover over the top of the skull tower, while a stem of flowers grow from either side of it. If you already don't have a good feeling about what this card is telling you, you're right: The Tower tarot card is a warning.

To understand the Tower tarot card, you're going to want to start with numerology. In the Rider-Waite decks, 22 tongues of fire surround the tower. Biddy Tarot explains that the fire is meant to represent the paths in the tree of life. The tree of life in tarot is a diagram with 10 nodes connected by 22 paths, representing "the journey of the seeker that longs to return to the divine," according to Labyrinthos. In Goodchild's version, there are 16 skulls building the Tower, which is representative of the Tower card being the sixteenth card in the tarot deck. Sixteen, when you break it down to its base number, represents "change, evaluation, and patience" — key words at the heart of the Tower tarot card.

The Tower tarot card is not a great card to pull

No matter how you look at the Tower tarot card, one thing is clear: Change is coming whether you like it or not. Claire Goodchild of the "The Antique Anatomy Tarot" deck explains that when you pull the Tower tarot card, "[e]verything you thought you knew is now in a state of chaos, and you may have difficulty distinguishing what is real and what is illusion." The Tower card is telling you that you just need to let whatever is happening in your life right now happen. Don't resist it as it's out of your control anyway.

When the Tower appears in your tarot reading, something has happened, or is about to happen, where a "lightning bolt of clarity and insight cuts through the lies and illusions you have been telling yourself, and now the truth comes to light" (via Biddy Tarot). Something has seriously shaken, or is about to shake up, your life just with truth coming to light.

Reversed, the Tower tarot card is pointing to internal change. Sometimes, that change needs to be to stop resisting the external changes happening and just let go. Other times, this can mean "you are undergoing a significant personal transformation and upheaval."

Another way to look at the Tower tarot card is that it's a sign that growth is happening. You're going to be stronger on the other side of whatever is happening right now.