Mary El Tarot - The Tower

Bat Chicken

I would be inclined to say this Tower was inspired by the events of 9/11, but I am under the impression Marie created this card before that event. The image of sudden, destructive and irrevocable change seems to be more than physical, however, it would seem ideological. What could shake you to your core? What do you take for granted that might or has suddenly changed?

The Tower is an outer shell, a construct that represents something else. If the construct is destroyed, are we? Or are we left with something more pure? Looking inward, the Tower might be the Ego – our illusions of isolation, self and other.

Sorry about all of the questions, but that is what happens when I look at this card!



I think this is one of the best Majors, beautifully rendered. The crown-like shape on the tower is reminiscent of the older cards, where lightening knocks off the crown atop a brick tower. There's no ambiguity in the meaning of this card--it's Disaster.


I know the card is called The Tower, but I sometimes think I see a tree when I look at this card...this card affects me when I look at it, it's so really stirs up emotions in me.
It's the black and red I guess...I feel like a change is occurring, not that they are burning, though they maybe but that layers are being stripped away to reveal something raw beneath....


Maybe the card was painted before 9/11, but couldn't it more broadly pertain to similar themes? Perhaps it's a warning, of sorts, or a call for balance: Be wary of giving in too completely to the more negative aspects of American* culture, such as rampant materialism, greed, and narcissism.

Interestingly, I found this bit in Seventy-Eight Degrees: "The Tower is said to be the materialist conception of the universe, and the lightening the destruction that comes to a life based on purely materialist principles" (p. 118). Given that American culture is known for its materialism, wouldn't this be an appropriate way to represent the destruction that can result from a materialist ideology?

One of the purposes of art, I think, is to make us uncomfortable. This image achieves that, at least for me.

*Given that the artist is American...


I see Lady Liberty burning, completely consumed in flames.
I don't know the artist's intentions, but my intuition tells me it has nothing to do with 9/11.
The vibe I'm getting reminds me of her Hierophant... a comment on American society and values.


Me too. The first thought when I saw it was "lady liberty" in flames. One body falling down and a face that seems a mask on the bottom.