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Pulled The Tower Tarot Card In A Reading? Here's What To Know About It

Lauren David
November 23, 2022
Lauren David
By Lauren David
mbg Contributor
Lauren David is a Chilean-American freelance writer. She writes about gardening, food, health and wellness, and sustainability. She has been published in Allrecipes, Greatist, The Healthy, The Kitchn and more.
November 23, 2022
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A tarot reading can be a wonderful way to gain insight or clarity about a current situation or give perspective to something in the past or even in the future. Of all the 78 cards in the deck, the tower card is often one of the most feared—but this card isn't all doom and gloom.

Here's what to know about the tower tarot card and what it could indicate about love, relationships, work, finances, and challenges.

What does the tower tarot card symbolize?

The tower card is the 16th card in the deck and appears after the devil card. Although this card has an ominous image in the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the tower doesn't always have a negative meaning. In a nutshell, it represents unexpected changes and endings.

"The image certainly doesn't look good, with lightning striking the top of a building, fire coming from the windows, and people falling to the earth below in fear," Mark Horn, tarot reader and author of Tarot and the Gates of Light, says. But he explains that like every card, the meaning of the tower can be positive or negative depending on the question you asked your deck.

"The tower card symbolizes disruption, chaos, and the collapse of a faulty structure," says Theresa Reed, tarot reader, podcast host, and author of Twist Your Fate: Manifest Success With Astrology and Tarot. It means something is coming to a dramatic end."

Horn adds that "there's an element of surprise to the tower—it's a change you weren't expecting, usually because your idea about what is going on is either a fantasy or you don't have all the information you need." 

Oftentimes when the card appears, it may be difficult to accept that change is imminent, but it's important to know it's all part of the process.

"Keep in mind, this is a necessary ending," says Reed. She shares some questions to reflect on if the tower appears in a spread: "Have you remained in a situation too long? Are you holding on to something or someone because you fear change?" Once you can honestly answer these questions, this card is telling you that enough is enough.

"It's time to set yourself free—and that requires complete trust in the Universe, even if you cannot see a soft landing," says Reed.

What does it mean for love & relationships?

When pulled upright:

What does the tower card mean if you pull it during a reading about love? Reed tells mbg that this card suggests a shake-up or change. "This might mean the end of a relationship or a revelation that forces the couple to make a drastic change," she explains. "I've seen it come up in readings where infidelity was happening, but I've also seen it in readings where a couple felt like they needed to start over."

Horn adds that "The tower is a strong message for you to open your eyes and see what's real before the lightning strikes."

Now, if you're asking about a potential love interest, the tower may highlight different possibilities. "The tower can reveal that they're unstable," explains Horn. "Or that they like a lot of drama and get a kick out of stirring things up just for the fun of it."

When pulled in reverse:

When the tower comes up reversed in a relationship reading, there are several possible meanings and they'll be influenced by the question and other cards in the spread. One possibility is you don't want to see the truth. "In love, the tower reversed means you know things aren't what you thought they were, but you're closing your eyes to it, hoping that by ignoring it, it will go away," says Horn.

This card reversed can also indicate rebuilding trust or avoiding a breakup. Reed shares a few possibilities of what the tower reversed may indicate in this case: "If you're reconciling with your partner, this could mean you're ready to do the hard work," she says. "I've also seen the reversed tower mean being safe after leaving a toxic relationship."

What does it mean for professional & financial matters?

When pulled upright:

In a professional or finance reading, the tower highlights instability. "Nothing is solid at this time—and you might need to make some drastic changes if you want to feel safe," says Reed.

The question that is asked can also influence what the tower means. Horn gives an example that if you're asking about receiving a raise in your job, the answer is not only a clear "no," but you should be prepared for change. "The tower says, not only aren't you getting a raise, but there may be layoffs coming and your job could be in danger," explains Horn.

And if you're asking about a job possibility or working for a specific company, the tower is letting you know that not is all that it seems. "The tower reveals that this firm isn't, uh, firm at all—it may look like an exciting startup that offers a big payout, but it's probably built on a lie and is going to go bust," he says.

When pulled in reverse:

In reverse, the tower lets you know that all is OK for finance or career matters. "The tower says that danger is averted," says Reed. "Your job is safe, and your finances are beginning to settle." Sometimes this card can give you insight into where you need to be more proactive with your finances or career. "You can see where you need to tighten up your ship so you can continue to move forward gracefully," says Reed. "It can also mean you're rebuilding your career or perhaps declaring bankruptcy."

Horn sees this card a bit differently when it's reversed. He suggests that in a work setting, the card is telling you to be attentive, as things still may not be as they seem. "In business, when this card is upside down, it could mean there is someone you work with, whether a colleague, subordinate, or manager, who is secretly undermining your position," he says. "So it's important to keep your eyes open."

What does it mean for challenges that lie ahead?

When pulled upright:

If you're in the midst of a challenge, it's common to turn to the cards for guidance. The tower wants you to let go. "Surrender. Lean into it, no matter how scary it may seem," says Reed. The tower is letting you know that things will be OK, even if life doesn't appear that way. "This is your green light to be courageous," says Reed. "Things may hit the fan for a minute, but soon enough, you'll be through the hard part and wiser for it."

When pulled in reverse:

The tower in reverse often signifies that an issue isn't as awful as it may appear. "The tower reversed softens the blow and releases the pressure; it says: You got this," says Reed. "In some cases, this reversal could also mean you're going back to clean up a mess." 

The takeaway.

The alarming tower tarot card may stop you in your tracks. When it appears in a reading, it means that disruption and change are imminent. Instead of letting the card scare you, take it as a sign that it's time to open your eyes, ask yourself important questions, and be receptive to change—because it's coming whether you want it to or not.

Lauren David author page.
Lauren David

Lauren David is a Chilean-American freelance writer. She writes about gardening, food, health and wellness, and sustainability. She has been published in Allrecipes, Greatist, The Healthy, The Kitchn and more.

When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time in her garden, experimenting with ingredients in the kitchen, or spending time by the ocean. See her portfolio on her website.