rider-waite-smith-key 16- the Tower
The Tower Card-Key 16, is the Path of Peh (meaning Mouth), the 27th Path on the Tree of Life. Dr. Paul Foster Case calls the Tower card, the 27th Path of Peh," The Exciting Intelligence", as its vibrations excite matter and is simulated in the Mouth, that sends forth vibrations as sound or words.Hod ( Splendor), the Sephirotic center of the reasoning process is connected to the center of the intuition-desire nature, Netzach (Victory) by the Path of Peh-THE TOWER. This Path of the Personality brings into balance what is out of balance and is related to Mars, the Roman god of War and the North.
Traditionally the North was the quarter seen as the "greatest place of darkness", for when the Mysteries where initiated, the North side of King Solomon's temple was the darkest side. But all is not doom and gloom here, as any initiate in the Mysteries knows, it is from the darkest night that comes Light ( Dark energy) and that "enlightenment has its origin in the hidden sources of power which terrify the minds of the ignorant". To us moderns who are familiar with Quantum Physics Theory, it is said that from the Dark Energy and Dark Matter are the birthplaces of Light energy.
Thoth-atu 16-the Tower.
Peh, the Hebrew word, is called a double letter, for it not only means -Mouth but also-Grace-Indignation, a union of opposites. Double letters, are considered "gateways of the Soul", that have two possible directions of passage. It is also a fact that the mouth has two passages as well. One passage takes in nourishment into the organic system and another expresses speech. Thus, we can see the similarity between the two actions of the Path of Peh. For it not only is a devastating Path of the Higher Vibrations that burn away the dross of our Personalities, it is also the entrance that nourishes the consciousness with the Spiritual knowledge,( enlightenment) from the Real Personality...the one your soul built before you were reconstructed by your indoctrination and environmental reactions.
Many of us are familiar with chanting and the effects of the power of vitiation on the physical world and body. Many Mysteries expound on the use of "god names" or "Words of Power" to effect the destruction of "negative energies", in body and environment. (Relative to speech, we know that the Logos, is also called the Word). These "negative forces" of The Tower card, represents the destruction of our our own personal towers of false concepts and institutions that are commonly believed to be reality. By tearing down past reality, room is made for something new in perspective. When a mask is ripped off, the Real face is exposed; and persona, the root word for personality, is mask in Greek.
Now I know that Mars is the symbol of the war god of destruction but few remember that Mars is also attributed with the power of crop fertility. Again the process of destruction to build anew is seen here as the peace and calm of the soil is distributed in order to plant healthy crops. This really is the core of the message of The Tower-Key 16.
In both the Thoth Deck and Rider-Waite-Smith version of THE TOWER , we see stylized lightning or energy strikes knocking off the geometric shapes of human forms (Thoth) or anatomically accurate human forms (Rider-Waite-Smith) which symbolize the man-made personalities that see reality as a world of straight lines ; straight lines as in 'black and White" or "good and bad". The Man-Made personality, sees a reality foreign to Nature and the Universe, which is circular and/or spiral in nature, and is known for its lack of straight lines as its "I" sight is about I AM Me; Me being a circular creation of self- reflection that has no lines as it is all about the potentiality of "I Will Be".
The Tower symbolizes the construct that most people call "I" or Self, where perspectives of the Personality are being shattered by the influx of the Fiery Energy of Higher-Self -Knowledge . The toppling Tower also represents the destruction of man made institutions, government, religions, or any accepted values.
Yet this striking down, is not to be construed as the destruction of evil, rather it is a process of change, as "stepping stones" of perspective are built that contributes to the continual building up and striking down of concepts that lead into the Inner Realms of Higher Self; Kind of like the building up and striking down of miles as one travels. Another way to understand THE TOWER'S process, is that upon first approach to these "Higher Planes" of reality, many people anthropomorphizing the States of Conscious Energy, as Archangels or "Spiritual Beings", as that is how they "realize" them; However, these Creative Forces are formless, so in order to incorporate these forces into our own anthropomorphic "reality", we must destroy the previous false concepts of these angelic beings and know them as states of I Am Me. This is a necessary process of progressive and expanding Self-Awareness as we journey on the "Above all things, know thyself" Paths of the Tree of Life. Just to travel in the present, we must destroy the perspectives of our past! For if we are always looking behind, we never seen the present or the possibility of future. To have true "I" sight, we must always remove the blinding veils of yesterday's views. And yes, the Soul, whose shape is undefined by infinity, is I AM-anthropomorphizing itself as Me.
The Higher Self, is our True Ego which is not ours alone, but that of the Divine Creative, so The Tower's solitary destruction also represents the eradication of the false ego made by the survival consciousness of the animal body. That is why on both the Rider-Waite-Smith and Thoth Tarot cards, the Tower stands alone on a mountain top, as most individuals perceive themselves in this way; as totally isolated units of consciousness.
The lightning flashes are representative of sudden inspiration, or flashes of perception, that occur when we realize our Real Identities. The Ryder-Waite TOWER CARD, shows the Crown as an obvious reference to Kether at the top of the Tower; However, this also symbolizes the false crowns of our existence, those man-made values that we believe control us. To show this conflict with in the human,Waite, called the two falling figures who are wearing crowns, The Kings of Edan (the consciousness and the unconsciousness). The Striking of the Crown from the Tower, also refers to an older, more complex Hebrew mystery of the Circumcision. This is a most secret meaning of the Tower card, that is supported by Gematria as the Hebrew word for circumcision is the same value as the number 85. We also know that in numerology 8+5=13 which is the Death Card and that 13 in numerology is 1+3=4 which is the Emperor who is the Authority of Mars. There is much to research here so I would advise the curious student to do so.
To carry on, the fore-stated inner conflict of man-made values and spiritual values, is why A.Crowley subtitled THE TOWER as WAR. But this is not a new perspective on the inner conflict of survival persona and the Higher Self, as throughout esoteric literature are depicted these moments of "inner-war". For instance, in the Bhagavad Gita,, there is described symbolic battle of self perspectives, and/or component parts of Self: The Higher Genius is portrayed as Krishna (Solar Logos), guiding Arjuna (lower personality) onto his inner, and personal field of conflict.
We also have the storied example of the destruction of the Tower of Babel illustrating the fact that those who are locked behind the bricks and mortar of any system,culture and/ or religion, are unable to see beyond that system to the Divine Unity and purpose which is the Light of all true religions.
In Western literature, we also have Christ, going through his days in the desert, solitary and alone, while being continually tempted by the lower personality of Satan, which relates to the survival based ego trying to usurp the Rule of the True Ego.
Also, I previously mentioned that this card is about the destruction of the old order.
In the Thoth Tower card, the all seeing eye (I) observes and directs the destruction of the Tower, representing the old order, while Dis, the Roman god of the dead, belches flames against the tower base. The path of the Tower, is often considered to be an affirmation of the Primal Will that it alone is the True Crown that brings into balance the pure positive or male Chokma and the pure negative or female Binah. Neither of which are man-made definitions.
On one side of the card is the dove, representing one of the two forms of desire,"The will to die". On the other side of the card, is the Sacred Serpent, which represents the other form of desire, "The Will to Live". These are ancient symbols of Life and death, as the serpent sheds its skin, as a kind of resurrection and the dove flies towards the heavens as a "Holy Spirit". The Dove is also considered to be a Feminine symbol and the Serpent a Masculine one, as She is balanced peace of magnetism and he is the serpentine-lightning-electric force that is the "motion in all movement".
Hence, there are obvious sexual connotations to this card, in the past, these were broadly suggested so that "polite society" would not be offended. However, "God is Sex", the Tower itself is a phallic symbol, the Mouth, is the opening of the male reproductive male organ from which the Yod (seed of life), ejaculates. In Crowley's 1923 diary, he states that,"...the Blasted Tower which is really a Phallus shooting forth lightnings of seed". Hence, the forced transmutation of energy from one form to another is done by Fire's destructive nature. This initial activation of transformation ultimately leads to fruition as energy is released to be restructured into another. The Rider-Waite-Smith TOWER, shows the raining down of the 22 Yods (individual flames of spirit that are the number of the Hebrew letters and the Paths) in a less explicit illustration that proclaims the entire Tree of Life by recalling the fact that the lightning flash is the very means of creation of all Ten Sephiroth.
As a practicing Tantric and Qabalist, I know the Physical Male body is a type of capacitor of Positive electric force and the Physical Female body is a crucible (womb) of Negative Magnetic Energy (female Shakti), that captures the electric discharge of the Solar Logos (Male-Shiva),eventually producing active form. As in Tantra, Qabalah understands that the Tree of All Life, is a balancing of opposites; a balancing of Force and Form; of the Lady ( Anglo-Saxon for the Doler of Bread) and the Lord ( Anglo-Saxon for the Guardian of Bread).
In the Tower card, the Mars force is presented as the sexual energy of the Microcosm ( Microprosopus), and the image of the Tower is in some ways the phallus; All of which points to the all important understanding that, it is the Higher Sexual Energy ( that at first flows from Chokma to Binah, in the Upper Trinity of Kether, that is called the Supernal Triangle and/or the Divine Creative) that destroys the perception Personality about the nature of sexual function. There is a kind of destruction of the male sex organ itself in orgasm which relates to the destruction of the Singularity in the "Big Bang" (no pun intended)!
There is also an interpretation here, that the fall from the Tower, enables the sacrifice of one's perception of the sexual function. This reexamination and sacrifice, is continually required by human kind, in order to maintain the given Path by which one may return to the Source of All. However, the Path is initiatory as it prepares us for the Knowledge and Conversion of the Solar Logos of Tiphareth. What should be noted here, is that when you "ejaculate" electric energy into the magnetic crucible, you get electromagnetic energy; a place where the,"... male and the female are one and the same...", a partial paraphrased quote from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas.
Here's the whole quote: When asked by the disciples when they shall enter the Kingdom of God (The Supernal Triangle), : (22) "Jesus said to them,' When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then you will enter the Kingdom."
This completely explains the Qabalistic Tree of Life and will require an in depth study, skrying of the Tower card, and receiving the Self Knowledge to understand; However, I'll give you some clues, "eyes into an eye" refers to changing perspective of the reality of sight, from the separatism of eyes, to the All seeing "I" that the image of an eye is a symbol for. The turning of a hand into a hand refers to the Hebrew word Yod--meaning Hand (Hand of God) and also called the Fiery Seed of Spirit. The male female transformation has already been explained, in this blog. It should be noted that the Higher Mysteries are sexual, but in perspectives far beyond the libido of hormone besotted bodies.
The Path of Peh, The Tower, thus may be symbolically phallic, but this does not make it a "male only Path" as this Path exists prior to the differentiation of the sexes necessary for multiple and diverse incarnation. This Tower path is an amalgamation of both male electric and female magnetic force. However, on the path of Peh, one must focus on the male electric force, sexual force, that resides in all of us, as on other paths one must deal with female components. Only in working in groups are the different polarities of the physical male and female bodies considered as they both experience the Path differently, according to their polarities.
To the querent of a Tarot Divination, the Tower Card of both Rider-Waite-Smith and Thoth Tarot Decks, means:
- Ambition, fighting, war and courage.
- Unexpected events that require us to let go.
- The necessary toppling of existing forms to make way for new life and new ways.
If ill dignified by the cards accompanying it, the Tower can mean:
- Destruction, danger, fall and ruin.
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