Tarot Tuesday and Towers of Destruction

I’m late. I’m so late!

I’m sorry.

I scored Jan Brett coverage yesterday, though, so I couldn’t get it done. Some things are mas importante. So.

The Tower is this week’s major arcana card. 


It’s another one of those dark and gloomy jobs.

I dig it.

It matches my soul.

Not kidding.

Okay. But The Tower, like all the other black background cards is not nearly so dire as it at first appears. Towers can serve a few symbolic purposes. Standing tall, towers can represent a bridge between earth and sky – between man and god. But a look at this tower gives some pretty clear clues that it is not that sort of tower.

Towers are also historically great places to put prisoners. And, with no doors and only tiny windows, this tower looks like it might be just that sort of a structure. Whether it’s a self-made prison or not isn’t immediately clear, but if the remainder of my philosophical conjecture is to make logical sense I think we’ll have to assume that it is.

One clue in particular stands out in support of that theory, and that is the crown being blasted from the top of the structure by a bolt of apparently quite precise lightning.


Crowns are symbols of human elitism. They are things that people who think themselves in charge wear. To place a crown atop a building seems to be a statement that the inhabitants feel as though they have achieved some level of mastery.

Literally, it’s perhaps a statement of mastery over the domain itself. “This is mine.”

Metaphorically, it’s a statement that one feels no concern for the legitimacy of one’s position. What position that is may vary, from person to person and context to context. But the tower itself stands in, on this card, for that position, regardless of what it may be.

For me, in the context of my marriage, the tower was absolutely a self-made prison. I’m kind of a commitment junkie. When I’ve finally given in and thrown my hat into a ring, it’s done. I can dig in my heels and, as I’ve been told by more than one person, in a variety of contexts, I can tolerate an inordinate amount of discomfort. Like the vicious intensity with which I will devote to avoid appearing weak, I tend not to let go of a clearly questionable plan of action once it’s been initiated.

Achilles had his heel. I have my pride. And neither of us has nearly enough humility, it would seem.

And part of how I maintain commitment is lying to myself.

I told myself, despite all I knew to the contrary, that yes, my husband had some serious shit in his closet.

But he was getting better.

Yes, pedophiles keep out of prison, and vigilante-dug graves in the woods, by mastering the art of deception and gaslighting.

But Mike was different.

How, I didn’t know. Didn’t need to know. Because all I had to do was construct a solid foundation of bullshit. I didn’t need the whole house built on top of it. Just enough weight to keep the doubt at bay.

Just enough to keep my common sense down far enough that I could ignore it in favor of the things I wanted to be true.

My very own, carefully crafted, towering prison of horse shit. And there I lived, even as I wept on the floor of my living room in abject, hopeless despair, on the day the knock-and-talks showed up.

Towers can protect but they can also imprison. Used wisely, and with the option to come and go from our towers as we please, the structures offer a great vantage point from which to gain a wide perspective. When we acknowledge the appropriateness remodeling when our lives and needs change – and they do – when our structures aren’t so rigid, and when we don’t crown them rulers over our lives, we can do well to maintain towers.

When they’re inflexible, isolating, and when we believe them to be infallible, we’re going to run into trouble. We can totally become prisoners of our own unhelpful beliefs. And when that happens we need to be ejected from them.

We need to be liberated.

By a bolt of lightning, perhaps.

Or a knock-and-talk team?

It’s going to be painful, and traumatic. But sometimes it’s necessary. Because we aren’t going to make necessary change ourselves. Everyone is resistant to change to greater or lesser degree. It all comes down to how much discomfort we can tolerate, and for those of us who can tolerate a lot of discomfort, we are the ones most likely to need an act of god to shake us into action.

Notice on the card that the tower itself isn’t destroyed altogether. The crown is knocked off. It’s a little aflame.

All fixable things. The structure itself appears solid and, now that the crown has been knocked aside the tower its actually open to wisdom and inspiration from above. Also, to rain and snow and shit from low flying birds but…inspiration too. Which isn’t always comfortable or pretty, and sometimes takes the form of rain and snow and bird shit.

If you know anything about me it’s that I love my rational mind. I love intellect. I love clinically dissecting things to identifiable, definable components.

This card is all about blowing that shit right up. And I hate it.

I am so, so guilty of imprisoning myself in towers. Towers of bullshit.

It’s not that I didn’t know my marriage was damaging me. It’s that I didn’t know how to let it go. I didn’t think I was capable of letting it go. I had fully integrated it into my identity, and trying to conceive of a world where I existed independent of this shitty marriage was impossible to me.

Asking me to leave the marriage, no matter how uninhabitable it became, would have been the same as asking me to jump out the top window to my certain death.

I am not a woman who relishes chaos. Based, probably, in large part on the way I grew up I came to despise and existentially fear uncertainty of circumstance. Uncertainty, in some cases, is extremely comforting to me. When it comes to big ticket philosophical conundrums I love uncertainty, because it essentially means I can never be wrong.

When it comes to not knowing whether or not something is going to hurt, or how much it will hurt, or if I will survive it or not, I tend to take a great big old step back. I’d rather live in filth than risk having nowhere to live.

It’s not logical. It’s fear-based.

It’s not a great strategy.

But it’s my nature.

Contrasted with The Devil, the two human figures in The Tower are slaves to their own intellect symbolized by the tower itself, as opposed to being slaves to their baser instincts, symbolized by the mish-mash of bat wings and goat faces that make up The Devil.

Either way, they are stuck.

And psychology is all about helping people figure out how to unstick themselves.

And if they would turn around they might see the lightening. They might notice that the crown is the only part of the tower that’s been truly destroyed. They might notice that things aren’t quite so bad as they look during that moment of free fall toward the earth.

Once they hit the ground they’re sure to assign blame for all the injuries to the lightning itself.

Guilty as charged.

I really, really, fucking really like blaming the trauma for my pain.

It’s not a fair assessment, but it feels better.

Looking ahead in the arcana, we see The Star, The Moon, and The Sun. All growing symbols of illumination. And if illumination in psychology signifies enlightenment, change, and progress, then the card immediately preceding those three cards – The Tower – is its initiation.

A flash of lightning.

A moment of insight.

Often painful, but always necessary if change is to occur.

Sounds about right.

Rigid mental constructs are towering prisons, that we’ve constructed ourselves, and in which we’ve imprisoned ourselves. Sometimes we build them out of fear, to protect ourselves from repeated painful experiences, of which the first was enough to scare us good and proper.

But they ultimately isolate us. And if we’re not going to leave on our own, the universe is going to find a way to evict us.

Either literally or figuratively, we’re going to be drug out of our inflexible mental prisons kicking and screaming. And while we need our towers, for protection and for safety and comfort from the world, to gain insight and perspective from a more aerial position in relation to our lives, we also need to construct them with the understanding that the ability to come and go at will is not optional.

When lightning strikes – or when the state attorney general’s child predator task force – knocks down your door it’s easy to feel personally targeted.

But the lightning isn’t aimed at the people in this card. Kathleen Kane didn’t want my ass on a platter. The lightning is aimed at the tower. The cops were after my husband.

I’m not going to go so far as to say that feeling personally wounded by the experience of their showing up at my house that day is illegitimate. It’s legitimate. There are serious questions that I think need to be asked. There are changes that need to be made in the way these warrants are served.

I fully, violently feel strongly that mental health and children and youth need to be on site during a search and arrest such as Mike’s. Not for the offender but for the people left behind.

They came to my house at my lowest point and they dug a little emotional hole up to my neck and they dumped me in it and left me there. That’s not okay. Part of the reason I want so desperately to write this book is because I want these conversations to happen. I want the families of men like Mike to have a voice in what becomes a fucking echo chamber following their arrest. The story is the offender. In the papers. In the courts. It’s all about the offender as a family has its arm cut off and attempts to stop the bleeding itself.

It’s not okay.

But it’s easy to turn the whole situation into a narcissistic pity party. Part of that could be that the supports I had weren’t as strong or as aware of the complex emotional situation I was experiencing. It’s really easy to feel righteous and persecuted when there really is no one – even the ones who actually want to – understands your situation.

The Tower is all about that moment following a traumatic ousting – an eviction of ourselves from our familiar albeit inappropriate and unhelpful comfort zones and into the uncertain and often uncomfortable moments following that trauma.

The people in The Tower aren’t ready to grow from the moment of illumination that’s just jarred their very realities and shaken them to their cores, but they will be. If they’re open to it, they will eventually be in a position to fix their tower and make it better, more useful, and far more helpful a structure than it was before the fall.


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