The Tower

aka The Blasted Tower
The House of God

The Tower: The Elum haateth man and waiteth The Tower, a thick-walled and apparently sturdy structure, is suddenly struck by lightning, disintegrates and bursts into flame. A situation is spinning out of control and only quick, decisive action will save the day:

Often we build (mental) walls as a self-defence strategy but they do not, in the final analysis, protect us:

"I've built walls, a fortress deep and mighty
which none may penetrate.
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb
I touch no-one and no-one touches me
I am a rock, I am an island ...

...and a rock can feel no pain
and an island never cries

~ Simon and GarfunkeL

In several packs the Tower is built on quicksand, meaning that anything which is not built on solid foundations must inevitably fall. Often the card is a warning against reliance on empty dogma or encouragement to escape a controlling relationship. Don't be afraid: release from the old restrictions means that you can develop your life. You will emerge from this situation better and wiser.

One interpretation, derived from the Cult of Shiva, is that the card represents the perfection of annihilation, by emancipation from the straitjacket of organised life. The other interpretation of the card is pure destruction of the old to make way for the new. Sixteenth in the major arcana, the Tower takes the Hebrew letter Ayin. In some packs the attribution is to the letter Pe, which means a mouth.

The Tower often indicates a time of deep transformation. While you may feel washed up on a foreign and unfamiliar shore you will find your hidden strength and your ability to cope with the most precarious situation.

This interpretation often applies to relationships. It is unfortunate that people often get into personal relationships where the two parties are simply not suited to each other. It doesn't necessarily mean that there is anything "wrong" with either of them, they are simply not suited. Often dissolving the relationship is difficult and painful but the longer it goes on, the worse things get and the acrimony starts. In business, the card warns about starting up without enough research; you may find that the customer base you were expecting simply isn't there. In family relationships, it may be that you have been holding back from saying what you feel just to keep the peace but you are beginning to feel that it is time to "speak out and shame the devil". In all of these situations it is often easier at first to say and do nothing and just go with the flow. however, as time goes on things will only get worse.

The Elm is ideally suited to represent the Tower. According to Tree Yoga (see references below), the Elm is attuned to the spiritual properties of communication, love, letting go and freedom but: :

"The elum hateth man and waiteth"

- as my grandma, born in 1996 and one of the last of the Victorians, used to say. Don't climb, or stand under an elm tree: they have a habit of dropping heavy branches, often weighing over a ton, without warning. Tragedy struck when I was a boy growing up in Ipswich. Two boy scouts, camping in a nearby field under an elm tree in a storm, were killed when the tree dropped a large branch on to their tent.

The illustration on the card shows The Camperdown Elm. This tree was found growing wild on the Earl of Camperdown's estate, near Dundee, in 1835 by his head forester, David Taylor. It is a natural mutation of Scotland's native Wych Elm. The tree provided early cuttings which enabled it to be propagated all over the world. However, the original still survives.

Alongside is an illustration of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which is about the best example of a suitable tower I can think of. The builders knew the tower was going to lean by the time they had constructed the first storey but they just kept on building. This was normal practice in the region at the time. The ground was marshy and the technology involved in creating firm foundations was not well developed. It was normal practice to expect buildings to lean, they just staggered the bricks in the opposite direction for the next storey. This compensated for the leaning and the builders zig-zagged their way upwards. The tower is often closed to visitors for safety reasons but when I visied a few years ago I was able to climb it, as they had anchored it to the cathedral to stop it leaning any more.

To view our article on the Elm CLICK HERE

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