Here’s a thing I say a lot: tarot is a map of the human experience. This map applies as much now as it did when the first decks appeared hundreds of years ago, and I believe its accuracy will be hold up even a few hundred more years in the future. As such, tarot reminds us that none of the stuff we’re going through right now is new, actually. We’re in a time of upheaval, yes. But this isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last.
The major arcana has long been described as archetypical. An archetype is an energy embedded in human consciousness, which appears again and again regardless of time or place or culture. The exact manifestation of the archetype DOES vary greatly with time and place and culture, but an archetype is the manifestation pared down to its essence.
The Tower is the archetype that might resonate the most with our current times, because at its essence the Tower is the archetype of upheaval. And right now it’s pretty important that we focus on working with this archetype.
Upheaval has occurred again and again throughout human existence, and even in the broader universe. The big bang itself was an upheaval. The births and deaths of stars are upheavals. The synchronous transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture that occurred in many human cultures 10,000 years ago was an upheaval. The proliferation of the internet has been an upheaval. Just to name a few, in very broad strokes.
To be clear, yes, the exact manifestation of our current upheaval is new. This exact set of circumstances IS “unprecedented.” But upheaval itself is a core part of the human experience. It can be an act of grace to acknowledge how unique this time is, but I think we do ourselves a disservice when we fixate on the unprecedented narrative. In an odd way, remembering that Tower energy is not totally unprecedented. It is a known point on the human experience map. This may not make Tower energy any more enjoyable, but it offers a more empowering and even spiritual perspective on our current reality.
Yes, we are uniquely tasked with navigating *this particular* upheaval. But navigating upheaval is something that always has been, and always will be, an essential part of existing in this universe. The Tower shows that upheavals can be scary, painful and destructive. I see plenty of that darker side of the Tower at work right now. But what we need to remember is that the Tower is not inherently a ‘negative’ card. Upheavals don’t have to be a bad thing, The Tower teaches that upheavals can be sacred. They can be a clearing.
As I recently wrote on Instagram, in the Spacious Tarot (pictured above) the Tower is a cairn: a pile of rocks sometimes used to mark a path. But here the rocks are struck by lightning, suggesting the old paths are no longer viable. This can be a frightening card, but it is also a card of opportunity. When an old way is no longer passable, we can choose to channel the energy of the tower, actively tearing down old systems in order to create new paths. What if we worked proactively with this energy? What if instead of fearing upheaval, we ushered in the types of upheaval that are so desperately needed right now?
Way back in 2014 I posted a video talking about how the Tower can represent breakdowns AND breakthroughs. This is a time of breakdown in so many ways, and we can’t bypass the difficulty of that. But isn’t it also a time of breakthroughs? I’d certainly fucking say so! This is something the Tower has in common with the Wheel of Fortune: both can sometimes be about external energies that you don’t have direct control over. But both can also be worked with proactively.
It’s okay to feel jolted and lost and like you’re in the midst of a breakdown because, well… we are. But where is your sovereignty in this moment? How can you actively be part of the breakthrough? Instead of just freaking out at the destruction and closed paths, how can we shift towards the paths that are opening?
So here we are, whether we like it or not, in the midst of upheaval. We’ve been here before and we’ll be here again. Turn to the lessons you’ve gleamed from past experiences of upheaval, both within your own life and within human history and the universe. And perhaps most importantly: stay open and present for the specific lessons that are arising right now. As I said in the reading for the collective last week, a new phase is just beginning. How bout we choose to be participants, co-destructing AND co-creating with the universe?
Lightning moves quickly but offers a flash of illumination for those who are perceptive. Let us be perceptive.
PS: Don’t forget to take care of yourselves and your crew when the shit hits the fan. Get outside if possible. Pet a cat. Hug a tree. Step awaaaaaay from screens for a while. Unless you are using the screen to watch funny videos or if you’re me, get back into Animal Crossing. Drink water. Scream into the void when you need. Eat a vegetable every now and then. Make art. All that good stuff. Upheaval is discomfortable as fuck so let’s have some empathy for self + others.