Atu XVI: The Blasted Tower
Letter: פ Pé (P), ף Pé Final
Number: 80, 800F
Proximity: Sephira #7 (Netzach) to Sephira #8 (Hod)
Pent #27 “Exciting”– Water of 離 (Li) The Clinging, Fire (Above/Below)
Earth of 坎(K’an) Abysmal, Water (Without/Within)
Berashith: “Elohim created man”
(Upper right) Fire: Hex #22: 賁 (Pi) Grace
(Lower left) Air: Hex #21: 噬嗑 (Shi Ho) Biting Through
(Upper left) Water: Hex #48: 井 (Ching) The Well
(Lower right) Earth: Hex #47: 困 (K’un) Oppression
Keywords (Dignified): Perilous, Collapse, Upheaval, Danger, Catastrophe, Deluge, Disaster, House-of-Cards, Frantic Shuffle, Shattered, Crashed, Sudden, Alarming, Unexpected, Titanic, Volcanic, Rupture, Breach, Calamitous, Chaotic, Abrupt
Keywords (Ill-Dignified): Misdirection, Calm Before the Storm, Averted Disaster, Shortsightedness, Blindness, Recklessness, Evil, Theft, Armageddon
Historical: Like the Devil, the Tower card is feared and shunned. It along with the Devil, was lost from the Pierpont Morgan-Bergamo Visconti-Sforza pack and recreated in the 20th century for inclusion in a reprint. One may argue that this is mere coincidence, but we think it is not. Tarot has a strange effect on the mind, and neither reason nor feeling are immune to the weird ways the occult challenges the human mind. In the dark days of Christianity in Europe the sinister was viewed with suspicion for all kinds of absurd and moronic reasons. The colorful House of Visconti of Milan, a liberal art-loving family (like the Medicis in Florence, and still to this day they continue to produce artists and cultural creatives of all kinds such as Luchino Visconti) produced Filippo Maria Visconti, who became Duke of Milan and commissioned the deck. The crest of the house is a blue gold-crowned and horned serpent devouring a Muslim, and this crest is included in the pack. Sometimes especially in the version associated with Milan the child is emerging from the serpent’s mouth and is crowned, inferring The Crowned and Conquering Child.
Whomever the cards passed to after Filippo Maria Visconti was probably more influenced by Christian Fascism than by Satanic Liberty if they felt the need to destroy the Tower and Devil. Today the crowned serpent is still a universal symbol for the Enlightenment (Although in Jerusalem, where one often finds them in jewelry, it represents the old Nachash, worshipped as a symbol of God’s protective force and wisdom, as in the old saying, “Be thou as wise as serpents” I own one made in Jerusalem inset with a green peridot for its volcanic properties.)
The Tower Card is possibly a reference to Proverbs 18:10 “The name Yod-He-Vau-He is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” and the people falling out of the Tarot Tower are not righteous. So the card is a warning of sorts, but also an image of security for those that are moral and good. The symbol of angelic force, a glowing disc from heaven, common in Renaissance art, is depicted in 17th century decks as shooting at the tower with lightning. The unrighteous, male and female, are pictured falling to their death. Often the figures will be crowned, indicating an abuse of power.
Golden Dawn: Called The Blasted Tower, Lord of the Hosts of the Mighty, the Blasted Tower card corresponds to the planetary Mars and places between Sephira #7 (Netzach) and Sephira #8 (Hod) in the Golden Dawn system.
The Golden Dawn keeps to the theme of a bright disc shooting lightning at a tower which is broken in half. This calls to mind, if one remembers, the old image of Strength as a woman breaking a pillar. Two Sephiroth, one dark and one light, flank the Tower in Godfrey Dowson’s The Hermetic Tarot, a progressive Golden Dawn imagery deck (based on Book T) from the mid-20th century.
Thoth: The Thoth portrays the tower being destroyed by some kind of bizarre and horrific worm representing the mouth of hell or lake of fire. This is the fiend of God represented in Heaven by the blazing all-seeing eye, called Dis by Crowley. It’s such a great image that it’s hard not to get chills for some occultists when pulling it in a spread. Strange little polygonal people are falling from the tower. The rays number 27 whereas in the MAT they number 22+5 lightning bolts. Equivalence to Siva is revealed by Crowley and what he calls “a direct reference” in the Book of the Law. “Invoke me under my stars! Love is the law, love under will. Nor let the fools mistake love; for there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well! He, my prophet, hath chosen, knowing the law of the fortress and the great mystery of the House of God.” (Book of the Law, Crowley 1904) He names the eye of God itself as the Eye of Horus and the Eye of Siva. The Lion-serpent is revealed as Abrasax or Xnoubis, “what Schopenhauer would have called the Will to Live and the Will to Die.”
Mutational Alchemy Interpretation:
The picture painted by the Hexagrams is fierce, cleansing, and dismal. Pi, Grace, in the position of Fire certainly indicates a kind of inner purity and innocence being protected by a much larger force. It is the image of fire on a mountain. It also indicates physical lava on a volcanic slope. It is a beautiful sight but also dangerous. Once again Aleister Crowley has given us an image very much in tune with the true core of the original and most authentic tarot. But here the tower is the fire on the mountain of technology.
Besides being attractive and beautiful, this Hexagram also indicates the process of working on some affairs. “But he dare not decide controversial issues in this way.” In the Wilhelm/Baynes edition of the I Ching the Sun is compared to the useful thing, and the stars and moon the beautiful, or graceful thing that is not practical. By balancing beauty with practicality there is success. So the Tarot is talking about an event where man is being punished for not keeping these two things in balance. It doesn’t take a genius to automatically consider the unnecessary and stark pursuit of profit for the sake of profit alone, practiced in crony capitalism and immoral, injust profiteering that does harm to people. This is not an indictment on business itself, no more than we would condemn the Sun itself for performing its duty. But it is clear that without a balance of beauty and practicality, the universe has no choice but to lay the fiends low by using their own brutality against them.
The Air Hex naturally follows and supports the Fire element as it should be expected to do when Fire is rampant, and the sages tell us #21 “BITING THROUGH has success.
It is favorable to let justice be administered.” The awful justice of a righteous war is to be administered.
The female elements of Water Hex #48 and Earth Hex #47 speak of difficult times for the just and upright individuals. Things are difficult and the people are suffering. It is advised to help one another and to follow the intimations from fate. Necessity rules. Times like this cannot last forever, as the rest of the I Ching teaches us, as the wheel rises so it must fall, and in this case the fall is very hard indeed for those at the top of the wheel. In the beginning of the Age of Hrw or Ra Hoor Khut the plight of the life and women are the most crucial issues that need to be address. Diversity is an important aspect of the Grace referred to in the Fire Hex and must be respected. Ra Hoor Khut and the male principle of God the Father is the only law that matters, no matter what laws that humans make for themselves, and the punishment for breaking those laws is much more severe. As for women, since they are the body of Nuit and one half of entire universe and the only thing the Fire element cares about, they have to be not only protected, elevated and given their proper place as warriors of the Nu Aeon, but also avenged. The souls of millions of of tormented souls cry out to be avenged and there will be an answer to it. There is not saying how the vengeance will come, but it is here. Ra Hoor Khut is first a god of War and of Vengeance, so this card is especially important to him and may be addressed as such.
In the Pentagram we have the result of the statement in The Devil, where Elohim creates Man. This underlines Man as an act of War. Against what exactly that is may have hints in Entropy and Choronzon but it is up to the adept to find out what that is for him or herself. The two cards of The Tower/War and The Devil may be considered two sides of one thought and action.
The Scene: This card began as a dream of a tall black tower in the middle of the ocean. When I encountered m1thr0s and the Abrahadabra formula, as a Bhakti practitioner I had been coming to what one would presume was the very first stages of Bhakti, that of being in tune with nature everywhere one went – without having to actually enter wilderness. A before unimaginable peace permeated my existence. Then the thought dawned on me to destroy whatever was disrupting this world. There was a man at the top of the tower that was not my proper ruler. I received a vision of the earth and came to the conclusion that whoever ruled this world was driving it towards ruin, and I needed it gone.
In my dream, at the top of my tower there was a light, and I swam towards it – I was a black serpent – Shakti. I crept up the side of this slick black tower of rock in the middle of a vast stormy ocean, and I found the man at the top – I knew he needed to go. And I decided then he was going to go, I knew it was my world and my time to rule as I pleased. I crushed the tower beneath my coils and the man fell into the ocean, screaming, and the rock slipped away to reveal a lovely, white, gleaming radiance. I gazed on the remains of the top of the tower and found my love there, The Emperor. Years later, I spoke with m1thr0s about the Emperor and we both agreed that the proper place of the archetype in the Tarot was properly 17 and the Star, 4. Tzaddi is not the star.