The Tower/ Schattenspiel Tarot
©Linda Dawn Hammond 1996/2003
The TOWER/ Schattenspiel Tarot
Meanings and Details
XVI The TOWER
The Tower can represent the shattering of illusion or false pride, which in its wake permits the entry of truth or illumination. Therefore, this card need not be viewed as negative, in spite of the destruction it depicts.
A lightning bolt is shown hitting the top of a tower, causing it to break apart. In Mahayana and
Tantric Buddhism, Douglas wrote, lightning is,
"...a symbol of the overpowering light of truth in which all falsehood, and ultimately, all duality, is destroyed." 19
The tower as a metaphor refers to the foundations we build to harbour and protect us, but which can also lead to the imprisoned mindset of dogmatism . All structures require continuous adjustments and if we are unprepared to comply, then the result can be the breakdown of our defenses. This is the shadow which results when our desire to maintain control exceeds our ability to compromise.
The Tower in my photograph is the old cathedral in Elgin, Scotland. In most Tarot decks, the tower is seen at a distance. I chose an untraditional view by standing within its hollow base and photographing towards the sky. This makes it less apparent that we are within a tower. It could be the interior of a well, a reference to the pagan practice of well-worshipping, were it not for the windows. Or Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole. The shadow of a falling figure is seen cast upon the stone wall. There is a dream-like quality to the image, a memory of falling, and the shadow cast upon the wall could be our own, suspended.
The original photo was taken during the day, and digitally manipulated to make it appear a night view. This enhances the sensation of unreality. Lightning is striking a falling figure, from whom golden coins or solar particles are tumbling.
Text and photography: Linda Dawn Hammond
19 Douglas, Alfred, The Tarot, (Penguin Books, Middlesex,England 1972) p.93
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©Linda Dawn Hammond, 2003. The images posted on this site are of lower resolution than the originals.
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