XVI The Tower
In The Millennium Thoth Tarot Created by Renata Lechner
Interpreted by Marv Machura
The Five-Card Pentagram Tarot
Dominating this card is the all‑seeing eye: large, luminous, and inscrutable. It is firmly placed at the top of the card in a dark sky. The all‑seeing eye dwarfs and overshadows the demolished tower and humans in the scene of devastation below. As a representation of the supreme power of the Universe, the message is clear. There is nothing we can do in times such as these. Our freedom and power have limits; the Universe is always in firm control of everything.
If our pride or hubris is such that we think otherwise, this card is here to remind us of how puny and pathetic we really are. It is always better to be humble, accepting, and cognizant in all of our actions, creations, and deeds that the Universe has infinitely more power than we can ever—and should never—assume for ourselves.
We have to trust the Universe even in times of complete and total destruction that the all‑seeing eye is watching and knows what is best, even when we are metaphorically or literally thrown from our towers of security, home, career, and even our temporal life. The over‑riding lesson of humility in the story of the Tower of Babel and as is visually referenced and represented in this card must be heeded. We are not gods, and we should never act as if we were.
This card is, as well, representative of the ancient wisdom contained in many sacred books and as written in the Biblical Proverbs, “Pride comes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:8). The Universe reserves the most intense transformation through sudden and complete burning, destruction, consumption for those times when we, as individuals, and we, as cultures or nations, not only forget our place in the divine and physical world but also seek to replace the supreme entity with our short, mortal lives, our machines, our technology, etc. When we do this replacement, it is not only a great mistake but also a great affront to the Universe that gave us life, freewill, and those gifts which we should be grateful for rather than prideful of.
The eye represents a part of the divine force of Shiva, the Indian supreme being of transformation, creation, destruction. Lord Shiva is the deity of both death and time. Shiva comprises those aspects of Yahweh (Hebrew) of the Old Testament: fearsome, protective, and all‑powerful. We can see how this representation of the all‑seeing eye on this card has this primal force of both benevolence and fear. It is painted such that the all‑seeing eye looks directly into our spirit. If our spirit is full of pride and sin, we want to run and hide, but if our spirit is pure and humble, we want to bow down in veneration and reverence.
The eye is blue. This blue iris surrounding the dark pupil suggests wisdom, faith, and trust. These are aspects of the all‑seeing eye that balance its more fearsome qualities and reinforce the over‑riding assurance that accompanies The Tower in the Tarot. There are times when we must trust what we may not understand, especially in the dark times of death and destruction where our faith can metaphorically fall, just like real tower pictured in the image.
Orange and yellow fiery light shines from the all‑seeing eye’s grandeur. This glorious light is the fire of divinity as in the ever‑burning alter, the burning bush of Moses, and the fiery finger that carved the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets as well as many other representations of the creative, destructive, and divine power of the Universe. In all these examples, as in this card’s imagery, we are right to be fearful, but we should also be in amazement, reverence, and awe. It is in times of tremendous transformations, such as these, that we have to leave behind the old and welcome in the new and better world that is promised and inherent in this spiritual and physical fire. As in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), we must not look back on the destruction of the old. Let it crumble and burn. Trust the Universe. Do not even turn around; this will assure that you will carry on and not go down with the tower.
Dominating the bottom right of this card is a fearsome, fire‑breathing beast blasting the tower from below. Its fire is as intense as an incinerator, and this contrasts with the holy fire coming from the Heavens above. This reminds us of the earthly nature of change and transformation. Just because our Earthly towers burn, break, and tumble, does not mean that same is true in the Heavens. This earthly destruction is temporal and necessary.
The grim visual imagery of this sharp‑toothed, wide‑gaping, and fiery‑mouthed beast reminds us of our powerlessness in times such as these. The destruction is rapid, complete, and painful. It is futile, vain, and pointless to stand in its way.
This fearsome mouth also represents the Hebrew letter Pe`. This letter is a reminder of the importance and holy nature of speech. Words have the power to cast spells of great goodness as well as great evil. The childhood notion of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” is only a victim’s somewhat effective healing spell. As we know, words and names used by the aggressor, bully, or anyone using them to destroy, hurt, and obliterate another are as powerful as the flames of Hell itself—and as represented in this card coming from the mouth of this beast.
A lone dove with an olive branch in its mouth hoovers, hanging in the sky above the falling tower. This dove alludes directly to the story of Noah and the Ark. Noah’s dove left the ark while it was still adrift with no land in sight; it returned later with an olive branch in its mouth. This was a sign that the great flood was receding and soon to be over. This dove also represents the peace and life to follow after the unreserved and widespread destruction of the present.
The olive branch represents forgiveness, peace, and general goodness. It is just a small speck of green in an otherwise completely apoplectic scene, but this green stands out beautifully on this card reminding us of that life will be reborn and carry on. It will be purified, peaceful, and cleansed of whatever needed to be destroyed in order to let this new life grow.
A large snake with a lion’s head swirls and floats above the beast’s head on the right side of this card. This is the ancient Chnoubis. The Chnoubis is the Egyptian and Gnostic solar icon found most often on gems and amulets used for protection against poison and disease. This Chnoubis on this card has a halo of 12 points representing the 12 signs of the Zodiac and the sacred circle of life in which we all live. This symbol is here to protect us through the destruction that must occur. It also is representative and a reminder to us of the eternal progression of life, death, and rebirth.
The Chnoubis is also associated with wisdom and rule. With its snake’s body and lion’s head it represents the connection between Heaven and Earth in fertility and order out of chaos. It stands up proud, fierce, and strong giving us the exact amount of courage and wisdom that we need to get through this time of dramatic, catastrophic, and far-reaching transformation.