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The Magical Tarot–The Tower

September 18, 2013

Dark Tower

by Madeline Montalban

In the major arcana of the Tarot, No. 16, the Tower struck by Lightning, is to my mind the most fearsome card in the pack. It represents ruin in a peculiarly subtle way, for it works by striking at one’s inmost fears, and by taking away the very thing that is most precious to us.

It is often called the Hand of God, or even the Tower of Babel. The latter because it represents that force within man which drives him on to his own destruction, by making him over-estimate his powers in some way.

scan0003Because this card is the symbol of self-wrought ruin in some way, the ancient packs depicted it in many ways. In some, the symbolism was so tortuous that it could not be unravelled. In the illustration of No. 16 shown here, the tower and the lightning flash are surmounted by a crescent moon. The circles refer to various rites of old which were designed to help the student, not to avert the threatened fall of the tower, but to help him regain mental and physical equilibrium after the threatened ruin had occurred.

This is because most of the ancient occult philosophy is not in common use either. Today, people are inclined to believe that troubles come to them from a malign fate; that they are the victims only.

The ancient schools taught that man had no greater enemy than himself, and that he was often the cause of his own ordeals.

No. 16 in the Tarot supports this theory in every way. It maintains that whatever causes ruin arises in some way from within the victim.

Weakness of character leads to weakness of judgement, which in turn leads to ruin. Weakness of knowledge leads to weakness in handling affairs and people, which in turn contributes; but, above all, weakness with oneself, or self-indulgence, saps us most.

We are in danger of bringing some kind of ruin upon ourselves when we start to make excuses to ourselves for our actions or attitudes.

It is only human nature to excuse ourselves to others; but there are times when we cannot face ourselves, and the inner voice says: “This is wrong and you know it”.

Then we make excuses to ourselves for our wrongdoing and seek to whitewash it by lofty motives.

This is the first tremor of the Falling Tower; the first rumbling of the storm that precedes the lightning flash.

The four circles on this card refer to four pieces of occult advice. Reading from left to right on each line, here are the occult precepts to aid you.

1. Myrezyn-Myersin. Deceive not thyself.

2. Lahelha. Admit your knowledge is limited.

3. Orvich. Thou canst not deceive thy Maker.

4. Brielza. Learn from the Fall.

Myself, I’d interpret the names given above as Lahelha and Brielza as Halahel and Zabriel. But who can fathom the mind of Miss Montalban?! A.T.

Ancient occult schools taught that the terrors and trials brought by the Tower Struck by Lightning were initiations in the school of life.

Initiation is not, and never was, a matter of a few secrets whispered behind locked doors. Initiation is a matter of the subject being brought face to face with an ordeal so great that only the occult knowledge learned will stand him in good stead in his ordeal.

It is, in fact, a trial of strength, for when the Tower falls, man must face the worst that can happen to him.

This is comparative, of course. An experience that would be a terrible ordeal to one person could be taken in his stride by another.

Some fear illness; others accept its necessity. Some fear poverty; others regard it as a challenge – and so on. That is why no Tarot reader, however skilled, can tell you exactly just what the Tower will do to you. For it is the hand of God, and that hand alone can measure the limits of your endurance, and the need for your particular ordeal. Fortunately, they arise at very infrequent periods in the life of anybody.

The effect of the Falling Tower can last for years. In those years that particular weakness of character is gradually eliminated, through the subject’s having to cope with the result of it.

Just as lightning seldom strikes in the same place twice, so the next ordeal of the Tower, however many years distant, will not have the same effects, or come from the same causes.

That is why it is unpredictable, and why the card is feared when it turns up in a master place in any spread.

The ordeal one has in the twenties, for example, will be far different from the one you may know in the forties, for your own character and way of life will have changed and developed as the clock of life moves on.

Occultism teaches us that life is a school, with the first ordeal as birth, and the last as death – with a few others in between.

Nobody is exempt from the Law of Ordeal, for nobody is exempt from self-deception.

Self-deception is the worst deception of all. We can deceive others for a while only, as they are sure to find us out. But we can deceive ourselves all our lives, and the more often we do it, the more likely are the ordeals of the Falling Tower to occur.

Nobody gets away with anything. They may seem to do so, to outsiders, but their every deed is recorded, and one day the tower falls.

Vanity, self indulgence, trickery, and all the weaknesses of self-seeking mankind, are the paving-stones to the path of self-destruction, at the end of which is the terrible Tower, horned by the Dark Moon of Eclipse, and begirt by lightning.

Only when we cease to deceive ourselves can we step aside from that path; when we admit that we know little, and that nothing remains static.

Only when we learn to adapt to change by changing ourselves, do we learn that the Tower need not fall; and that is the beginning of wisdom.
[Prediction, January 1964]

From → tarot

  1. Sue permalink

    First let me say I LOVE your site! Such a wealth of knowledge and sharing the Montalban articles from prediction is just, well, I’m speechless at the resource you provide for us here. Thank you so SO much for the time you spend to provide this information to the rest of us!

    My question is, what deck is that used in the picture?

    • Sue,

      Thank you for your appreciation of the work that has been put into this blog.

      As to the illustration for the article on The Tower, it is not from a tarot deck. It is from a grimoire (a magical text book) called the Lesser Key of Solomon.


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