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Or LIGHTNING in this case. Lightning, sudden and irrevocable change, is number sixteen of the Major Arcana.

  • Symbolism: Chaos, unwanted change.
  • Element: Fire (see Tarot Elements)

What I See:

Definitely a Fire image. That red cloud makes me think of forest fires, explosions, and war. The lightning reminds me of blood vessels and natural disasters. At first glance, the three falling people remind me of 9/11 and I get sinking feeling deep in my gut. But they also look a little like skydivers. The burning tree (more of that forest fire) = the burning bush, a very biblical image. Yet there is also a Tree of Life feel promising everlasting life. I get a sense of how fast life can change and that each day is precious.

Light (upright) Reading:

An epiphany, a flash of insight, will change your life or how you look at the world.

  • Keywords: Awakening, Revelation, Purification, and Breaking Free.

Shadow (upside down or reverse) Reading:

Fear or avoidance may be postponing a needed change.

  • Keywords: Catastrophe, Chaos, Destruction, and Anger.


In traditional decks, the Tower might symbolize the Tower of Babel, Rapunzel’s tower, a guard tower, or a turret. Perhaps your story revolves around one of those? It can also be seen as a phallic symbol suggesting potency and/or sexual energy.

Lightning suggests a natural disaster. Or perhaps a wormhole in space? How about Zeus or Thor throwing their lightning bolts across the sky? The bodies falling could be from an attack. Or perhaps those people are falling through time? How about a fallen angel?

Perhaps your MC has survived a lightning strike and is now the village shaman. Maybe bits of that tree have been saved to draw good luck.

  • Themes: Sudden upheaval, Dramatic change, Revelation, Epiphany, Crisis, Disruption, Insight, or Chaos.


Lightning’s change can be catastrophic or illuminating, either way, life will never be the same.

  • Archetype: Destroyer, Avenger, or Ordeal.

“No matter what you came for, it’s Death that now stares back at you. Whatever the outcome of the battle, you are about to taste death and it will change you.” The simple secret of the Ordeal is this: Heroes must die so that they can be reborn. ~The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler

  • Mythical Figures: Shiva, Mars, Thor, Kali, and Pele.

The personality enneagram, a nine-pointed array of personality types, might also be a useful reference for character building.

The Tower is E7: Epicure, Enthusiast, Visionary, Dream, and/or Generalist

  • Self Image — I am happy
  • Passion — Gluttony, Over-indulgence, or Charlatanry
  • Virtue — Sobriety
  • Narcissistic Trap — Idealism
  • Avoids — Pain
  • Speaking Style — Garrulous or Story-telling

E7 people are ruled by their head. They need to understand the pattern of events, where all the pieces fit in the puzzle of life, and are often detached from their emotions. Their objectivity may hide feelings of isolation or confusion.

Additionally, look up one of the Fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) for personality traits.

For writers, the Tower illustrates a common creative phenomenon: the flash of inspiration that strikes in the middle of the night. ~Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner

Image: Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert from Llewellyn Worldwide