One of my favorite tarot cards is the tower (you can see it below). I used to be afraid of it: the upheaval, destruction, the lack of control. But now when it shows up in a reading I have equal parts excitement and concern. To the card when it appears I say “thank you. Thank you for being clear and honest with me.” When the tower shows up with its shock, unplanned timing, its tearing down of what seemed to be so stable, it can be hard to orient, to breathe, to take action because the wind has been knocked out of us. When the tower is struck, we react because it is a crisis moment.
AND because the tower is a known card in the deck of life, we can have some safe rails in place when the tower appears. The card is a reminder that upheaval, chaos, renewal is a natural part of life. And for those of us who reside on shaky ground the reminder can be a welcome relief that we aren’t doing anything wrong and we are definitely not alone.
I have been afraid of thunderstorms my whole life. You won’t see me dancing in a storm, or admiring the light show. I am squarely hunkered down when the storm rolls in. But I do not question the usefulness of the storm. It exists for a purpose. A purpose I benefit from even if it doesn’t agree with my system.
For the last several years, the world has seemed like a never-ending tower card. The upheaval in culture, government, and climate. For most everyone the landscape is rocky. And this is the moment to embrace the lessons of the tower.
The card invites us into honesty. It strips away denial and false structures. It asks us to take an honest accounting of what is happening within and around us. What structures appear secure but are hanging on by a thread? What relationships appear strong but the red flags are there? What feelings do you notice again and again but push away? Once we have met the moment with compassionate and tender honesty, we can rebuild, hopefully integrating the wisdom we have learned.
To rebuild after a tower moment is to take Maya Angelou’s words to heart. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” This is a painful experience - we want so deeply to believe in the potential of everyone, and this can harm all involved.
Angelou's amazing gift of insight not only pertains to others and our ability to be an honest witness to their capacity, but we must also be an honest witness to our own. This is a path to enlightenment, liberation, and ultimate freedom. An honest accounting of ourselves and the world around us. Not with the awful truth, but with the compassionate truth. The truth that gives full honoring to each one of us in our most complex and multifaceted essence. Is it possible that what you judge yourself so harshly for is your greatest trait that the world needs?
My wish for us all is that we continue to know ourselves. That we meet ourselves with gentle honesty and a true awareness of our capacity so that we may offer this to others. My hope is when the tower strikes for each of us, some small aspect within you can see it for the gift it can be.
May this season’s storms be tomorrow's growth and stability.