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Intro to Tarot: The Devil & The Tower

Over the past few months I’ve been introducing you to the mystical and practical world of the Tarot. So far, we’ve journeyed bravely through the Major Arcana cards, meeting universal archetypes that resonate with us human beings at the soul level. Last time we came face to face with Death itself, and communed with a guardian angel, and now we’re well fortified for an encounter with two of the most challenging cards in the Tarot, the Devil and the Tower. Don’t be daunted, these cards ultimately bring freedom and illumination if you’re willing to see what they need to show you, and to take their healing message to heart.

Just in case you’re not familiar with the Tarot, here’s a quick snapshot of what the Major Arcana cards are before we dive into this month’s featured players.

A traditional Tarot deck has 78 cards. Every card in a Tarot deck is valuable and necessary. Each has a role to play in our readings and each reflects an aspect of our past, present or future. But it’s the Major Arcana that first captures the heart of a new reader, as the Major Arcana is the heart of the Tarot.

There are 22 Major Arcana, and they are numbered from zero (The Fool) to 21 (The World). The Major Arcana, or “Big Mysteries”, represent the lessons, milestones, initiations, opportunities for growth and transformation that we encounter as we live our lives on earth in these ephemeral physical forms. They support us, inspire us, challenge us, break our hearts, heal us, and help us to move towards our own highest personal development. When they appear in your Tarot readings, pay close attention to them, because they always deliver a significant and helpful message.

And now that I’ve sparked your curiosity, let’s move on to the next two cards in the Fool’s Journey. First, The Devil, Arcana 15.

It isn’t easy to look the Devil in the eyes and see the darkest parts of yourself reflected back at you. The Devil tells you that you’re powerless to make changes in your life, that you’ve sunk too low to rise up, so it’s better to do nothing, even if you feel like you’re in Hell. He controls through illusion, by throwing your fears and shame at you.

Two figures are chained to the Devil’s stone perch, and those chains are heavy, but they’re loose. They could lift them off, and walk away, but that would be difficult to dare with the Devil looming above.

The only way that you can vanquish the Devil is by loving and accepting the shadow side of yourself, and by having the courage to acknowledge that it’s time to free yourself from a negative influence that’s impacting your quality of life.

So what does it mean when The Devil appears in your cards?

From the Unifying Consciousness Tarot

You’re in the grips on an unhappy or unhealthy situation, person, or behavior. However, you’re not as powerless or trapped as you think.

It’s tempting to stay where you are, it may seem easier or more comfortable, but it’s time to remove those chains. Don’t listen to the voice that tells you that you can’t, whether that’s fear or shame or someone in your life. Choose to set yourself free and to restore yourself to a place of peace, vitality and joy.

And now, meet The Tower, Arcana 16.

The Tower

This is another one of those cards, like Death and The Devil, that evokes a strong response from the viewer, usually along the lines of, “Oh, great”, or “Now that can’t be good.”.

It is certainly an unsettling scene. Two people are falling headlong through the sky, perhaps having thrown themselves out of the burning windows of the Tower to escape the destruction. They have their arms raised, their hands try to grasp something solid but there is nothing but air, their eyes are wide, they are in a pose of complete helplessness and shock. Whatever it was, they didn’t see it coming, and now all they can do is ride it out.

The central figure on the card is the tall, grey Tower itself. It is perched on a craggy mountain peak, way too high in the clouds for stability or comfort. We watch as a bolt of lightning strikes it, starting a raging fire and sending the crown at the top flying off. That Tower was built on shaky ground, and now its’s going to come down; nothing can stop what that flash of lightning has put into motion.

So what does it mean when The Tower appears in your cards?

From the Unifying Consciousness Tarot

We’ve all had a Tower moment. We think we’re going along just fine; we may even feel like we’re on top of the world, and then everything blows up around us. Or, we may blow it up ourselves when the pressure of a particular situation becomes too much to contain any longer.

The Tower appears in times of disruption and upheaval, when your world is turned upside down and what you thought you could count on crumbles around you. This is often preceded by a sudden blast of clarity that changes everything. This is destabilizing to say the least, but believe it or not, the Tower sets you free. Rather than being trapped under the rubble of something that wasn’t working, you’re released, and when the dust settles you can start to rebuild your life from a much stronger foundation.

What do you think of The Devil? Can you imagine making friends with your own demons? And The Tower, what kind of freedom is it offering you? Can you release some pressure or do you need to let it explode?

Next time I’ll introduce you to two celestial cards that are waiting down the road, waiting to help the Fool to heal and shine again, The Star and The Moon. Look up, make a wish upon a star, howl at the moon, and join me then.

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