the tower tarot card number 16

The Tower Tarot Card Meanings (Upright & Reversed)

Last Updated: December 4, 2022

The Tower is card number 16 (XVI) in modern cartomantic tarot decks and the 17th major arcana trump card (The Fool, number 0, is the first card). Divination practices such as cartomancy can help us make decisions, offer guidance, and help us tune into our intuition when we are at a crossroads in our lives. Understanding the meanings of each tarot card can help you sharpen your interpretative skills so you can get the most out of your readings.

For many tarotists, The Tower is infamously known for its strong negative connotations. In this article, we will explore the different meanings of the Tower card in various reading contexts.

The Tower tarot card

4 Quick takeaways about this card

  1. The Tower is a symbol of sudden change and upheaval.
  2. It can represent a major life event that shakes us to our core.
  3. The Tower can also be a sign that we need to make some major changes in our lives.
  4. Finally, The Tower can be a reminder that we need to be prepared for anything.
Table of Contents

The Tower tarot card key correspondences

Upright keywords

trauma, destruction, unexpected change, revelation, chaos, awakening, warning

Reversed keywords

delaying the inevitable, fear of change, resisting change

Yes or NoNo
Numerology

16 (XVI)

Element

Fire

Ruling Planet

Mars

Astrological Sign

Aries

Jungian archetype

Light aspect: The Victim / Shadow aspect: The Avenger, the Destroyer

Tarot timing

March 20th to April 20th, Tuesday

Associated deities

Loki

Other name(s)

The Beheaded Tower (Egyptian Tarot), and La Maison Dieu (Tarot de Marseille).

What does the upright Tower (tarot card XVI) mean?

In Latin, major arcana translates to “big secrets” and each of the 22 cards in this section of the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck represents an important life lesson we must all face at some point. The Tower, arcanum 16, is no different.

Sudden unforeseen change shakes you at the core of your very foundation. Chaos and upheaval. At first glance, this may seem like something frightening, something to fear, but that isn’t always necessarily true. Sometimes we must face a harsh storm to tear away that which doesn’t serve us in order to make room for greater things on the horizon.

Change is inevitable after all! Whether it’s ripping away false beliefs or unrealistic dreams, this almost certainly unavoidable change will leave you gasping for a breath of peace and harmony, but trust in the process! This is here to serve you, no matter how chaotic things get, remember that harmony will return.

On the other hand, this card can also represent great loss, pain, and unfortunate circumstances such as the loss of a loved one, a divorce, abuse, or loss of a job.

It’s important to remember that whilst The Tower can very much represent an unavoidable change heading your way, it may also appear in your reading to warn you about a potentially dangerous route you are taking.

upright tower tarot card

When pulled in the upright position, The Tower is linked with trauma, destruction, unexpected change, revelation, chaos, awakening, and warning.

What does the upright Tower mean in a love reading?

If you are in a relationship, then the appearance of this card can be seen as both a positive and a negative, depending upon how you view things. On one hand, it very much can represent a breakup, or a divorce if married, or it could show that either one of you will be undergoing a very difficult, hard experience that will result in pushing your relationship beyond its limits.

Granted a relationship being pushed doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll end, so if you wish for your relationship to survive this time then make sure communication between you both is clear and that you continue to support one another as best as you can. On the other end of this your relationship would have completely changed, but you will both be better off for it.

If you’re single, then the appearance of this card during a love spread suggests that you will be being made to face up to a potentially harsh reality of why you’re still single. Whether it’s your ego or that you have an unsavoury habit you need to break in order to begin welcoming and forming healthy relationships, you will most likely be made to feel very uncomfortable facing up to these personal truths, but the lessons you’re about to learn will change you for the better.

Additionally, the Tower card may be warning you about someone dangerous that has the intentions of harming you so just be wary when you’re going out there to meet up with new people! It doesn’t mean you can’t meet new people, just be cautious and trust your gut instinct.

What does the upright Tower mean in a career reading?

Unfortunately, this indicates that you’ll be feeling very insecure when it comes to your job and career. Whether this means you’ll lose your job or that you’ll be put into a new position which will bring a lot of uncertainty, or if you run your own business then it can also suggest failure.

 Whilst the road may be a long and difficult one – the outcome could very much be a better job, a better position, with more security. Make sure to listen to the advice this card offers you.

What does the upright Tower mean in a health reading?

It may be time to consider scheduling a medical check with your doctor if you’ve been having any concerns about your health, as the appearance of this card in a health reading can suggest an expected illness, complications with pregnancy, or serious mental health issues. 

Whilst what you will face won’t be a walk in the park, try and remain focused on how you can keep yourself going, and keep your life as easy as possible, instead of fighting what’s happening and just stressing yourself out. Go with the flow of what’s happening and adapt where you can!

However, this card may be pointing out that if you have any negative or unhealthy habits/coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse, it could be indicating an overdose.

The Tower as feelings/emotions

If you are asking the tarot how someone feels about you, pulling The Tower card suggests that what the other person is feeling for you is very intense and powerful, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad emotion. 

Of course, there’s still a chance it isn’t a ‘good’ or positive emotion towards you, but it could mean that you’ve helped transform this person’s outlook for the better. However, on the flip side, it could indicate that someone’s thoughts and opinions about you have changed, and not necessarily for the better. 

You may already have a gut feeling about whether it’s positive or negative, as the Tower can indeed represent both sides.

The Tower as a person

As a personality archetype, The Tower card represents someone that is all about disturbing the status quo. They will absolutely rock the boat every single chance they can, they simply want to cause as much disturbance as possible. 

This can come in the form of drama and unnecessary outbursts, and will most likely always make others around them feel uncomfortable! These are individuals that will come across as quite rude, and quick-tempered, and won’t usually care about how they make you feel.

Their words will come without any sugarcoating so there are chances that what they do say to you will be helpful and potentially enlightening, but it may still sting or pack a punch. 

The Tower as advice

If you are asking the tarot for advice regarding a specific situation in your life, pulling the Tower card indicates that you need to embrace the necessary earthquake you need to create to shake away from the foundations around you.

You need change and you need it now. It’s time to set everything on fire because you need to burn it all down and start again, you’ve got to get rid of what doesn’t serve you. It may be difficult, but it’s worth it. 

What is the zodiac or astrological sign associated with the Tower?

The Tower card is linked to the zodiac sign Aries. As a fire sign, the Tower is known for its harsh and abrupt nature, and Aries are typically associated with being forceful, dominant, and unruly. 

Is the Tower a yes or no tarot card?

‘No’ is most frequently associated with this tarot card due to its nature of destruction, crisis, and a looming sense of abrupt and chaotic events. But whilst the overall sense of the card is quite negative, a ‘no’ doesn’t need to be seen as a bad thing, use the guidance to push forward and learn – regardless of how hard the changes and lessons you’ve got to deal with in order to get to your ‘yes’. 

Below are some of my interpretations, as an experienced tarot practitioner, based on different types of questions:

Question: “Will I get the job?”

Card Interpretation: Now is not really the time to be looking at a career jump or even a change, so it’s highly unlikely that a new job will fall in your lap, even after the perfect application and/of interview. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just right now it isn’t the right time, so whilst it may be frustrating, don’t give up! You’ve got lessons to learn and experience to gain to lead you to the right job. Face the storm, you’ll get there. 

Question: “Is this new person in my life good for me?”

Card Interpretation: No. This is someone that will bring you a lot of turbulence, and whilst you may not welcome it, it may be necessary for your own growth. This may not be someone you establish a very strong connection with, but they will be someone you learn something from at the very least! So whilst it may be rough waters ahead, know that the storm is for the best! Some people come into our lives just to help us progress and then they leave, and that’s okay. So accept what tough and rough lessons you’ve got to go through, but of course, be cautious and don’t let this person get to you in a way that affects you negatively simply because you’re trying your best to deal with what’s coming your way – this doesn’t mean you have to let a said person treat you poorly.

Question: “Will I achieve my current goals?”

Card Interpretation: No. Due to the unexpected change that this card usually brings, it’s highly unlikely that your current goals will be met, or at least met in a way that you expect. It’s most likely time to reassess your goals and the direction you’re heading in. Strip back your thoughts and ideas and start again from scratch, it’s time to build from the ground up again. Yes, it’ll be scary, and yes it’ll be an “oh why me, why do I have to do all of this” moment, but it’s worth it. Trust the destruction, it’s necessary.

Question: “Should I make that investment?” 

Card Interpretation: Absolutely not! It’s time to behave yourself when it comes to your money, no lavish spending, no binge buying, no gambling, and certainly not investing in anything right now. Nope. You need to keep your money close and very secure, even start putting some away asap, as sometimes the Tower can very much represent issues when it comes to finances, and even bankruptcy in the absolute worst-case scenario – obviously this doesn’t mean bankruptcy is on the horizon, you just need to be very, very careful. Moral of the story: be sensible, and save for a rainy day that may be coming sooner than you think. 

Question: “Should I start my own business?”

Card Interpretation: Not yet, it truly isn’t the time to consider this as a possibility. If you went ahead with your plans now then it would just end up in failure, serious legal trouble, or catastrophic money issues. None of these is desirable, so it’s best you just set your plan aside for now or be prepared to deal with some very harsh times if you do push on. Don’t do it, folx! Behave thyself.

What does the reversed Tower mean in Tarot?

As much as you want to avoid the inevitable change, the message here is that you cannot keep running from it. Even if you’re struggling to come to terms with it, you need to find a way of accepting that it will happen. It’s time to give into that cliché of ‘trust the process’, follow the Tower’s advice and let go of that ledge you’re hanging onto, whilst the journey may be hard, it’s time to stop resisting. The peace after the storm is absolutely worth it.

However if the appearance of this card is showing up after you’ve already gone through turmoil, it’s warning you to let things go, don’t try and regain what you had beforehand, move forward and find a new focus. What the Tower took from you no longer served you, you do not need it back.

reverse tower tarot card

When pulled in the reverse position, The Tower is linked with delaying the inevitable, fear of change, and resisting change.

What does the reversed Tower mean in a love reading?

If you’re in a relationship, drawing this card may suggest that it’s time to let your relationship go. In your heart, if you feel like you know the relationship is done, but that you’re just clinging to it, this is your sign to let it go and move on. It’s done, it’s over. It no longer serves you and it will very much hold you back, don’t do that to yourself. 

However, if you feel like your relationship is still intact but it’s just changed, this card is a warning that you can’t try and get things back to the way they were before, things needed to change so don’t try and go back. If this is making you assess whether or not this is the relationship that you want, then this again may be the advice you need to move on for your sake.

If you’re single and recently got close to someone that you ended up passing upon, then it’s suggesting that you did the right thing! That person would have been potentially dangerous, even abusive, towards you. Or if you’ve gone through a traumatic breakup, you may be avoiding dealing with the aftermath and your emotions. 

You need to face up to what happened to be able to move forward and start attracting new and healthy relationships into your life, baggage isn’t any good for anybody!

What does the inverted Tower mean in a career reading?

Drawing the reverse Tower during a career tarot spread indicates that you may have been through some hard times at work and have finally come out to the other end! Whilst you may feel happy, and lucky to still have your job, if there’s any part of you that’s seeing it as simply ‘avoiding a job loss’ rather than ‘keeping a job I enjoy’ then it may be another reminder that whilst yes it’s good you didn’t lose your job, it doesn’t mean it’s where you need to be. 

What you went through with work may have happened to bring around this awareness of what you really want to do for your job/career, or at least help you come to the realisation that where you are right now just is not for you. 

Escaping our comfort zones is scary, but sometimes we can find truly beautiful things outside of it; don’t just stay somewhere because you think it’s safe, especially if you aren’t truly happy or fulfilled.

What does the upside-down Tower mean in a health reading?

You may be burying your head in the sand and avoiding acknowledging that you have some warning signs about an illness, or just straight up ignoring an illness you’re already aware of. It won’t just go away if you continue to ignore it, you can help yourself by facing up to what’s happening and focusing on your recovery.

But it can also suggest that a health scare you’ve had may turn out to be absolutely nothing, or not as serious as originally thought.

How to use the Tower card in your Spellwork

The Tower card is perfect to use when you feel surrounded by stagnant energy and you want to welcome a new change to freshen things up a bit! We recommended pairing this card along with the Star card for this spell to make sure it very much is a good change you welcome in, and nothing else.

Find a time where you can be calm and focused, and firstly go around your house/room and open all the windows and doors to allow the stagnant energy to leave you and your space. Remain focused on getting rid of the energy that no longer serves you whilst lighting a white candle or two (or as many as you like!) and then take hold of your Tower and Star card. Hold the Tower in your left hand and the Star in your right and declare “I rid myself of all energy that does not serve me” and “I welcome with deep gratitude for this positive change”.

It’s up to you if you want to create a small space for your cards to go along with any white and green candles, and any crystals that help bring change such as Clear Quartz, Labradorite, Rose Quartz, or Moonstone. Just make sure to keep the Tower on the left and the Star on the right as you want to make sure it’s a good change you’re attracting!

You may even like to light your favourite incense and walk that around your space to help get rid of the energy hanging around, just make sure to keep those windows open until you feel like you’ve gotten rid of what you needed to.

Optional: take a bath or shower to refresh yourself ready for the new and welcome change on the approach! Nothing like a good cleansing session to clear your mind and help you regain focus!

The Tower symbolism with dreams

As most likely expected, the appearance of this card in your dreams or anything symbolising the Tower card in any fashion, it is not a good omen! Your subconscious mind is trying to prepare you for a sudden change that you’re about to face, and whilst there is very little you can do in the way of avoiding or changing what’s coming, you can take charge of how you react, respond, and fundamentally take care of yourself.

Whilst you’ll need to ride the storm out, it doesn’t mean you’ll have to constantly be facing turmoil, take charge of the small things that you can manipulate and keep your focus on the fact that the outcome will be better off for you! The change coming is one that’s here to serve you.

On the other hand, it may simply be highlighting that you’ve undergone a massive change recently and are still currently dealing with the aftermath of it all, but know that it’s okay to face up to the reality of what happened so that you can move forward!

Regardless of whether it’s warning you of an upcoming upheaval, or symbolising an event you’ve been/are going through, remember you will come out the other end better off!

A Poem to remember the upright meanings

Poems can be a good way to remember information because they often use rhyme and rhythm, which can make them easier to memorize.

Additionally, poems often use vivid imagery and figurative language, which can help to make the information more interesting and engaging.

The Tower stands tall and proud, 

A beacon of truth and power, 

A demonstration of change and rebirth, 

A sign that the old must cower. 

 

The lightening strikes from the sky, 

The thunder shakes the ground, 

An earthquake of transformation, 

That will surely astound. 

 

The tower may seem daunting, 

A symbol of fear and loss, 

But it is also a sign of hope, 

Of letting go and not feeling the cost. 

 

It’s time to face our fears, 

And embrace what lies ahead, 

The Tower will bring us freedom, 

And an opportunity to be free instead.

A Poem to remember the reversal meanings

The Tower reversed has come to show,

That change is here, but it’s slow

The fear of chaos and the unknown,

Can keep us stuck while we moan

It’s time to look at the light,

And to know it’s ok to take flight.

Look at the crumbling walls,

And know that it’s time to make changes, big and small.

The Tower reversed can be a blessing,

If we learn from our own testing,

It’s time to break out of the old,

To face our fears and to be bold.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Tower tarot card is a powerful symbol of trauma, destruction, unexpected change, and warning. When this card appears in your reading, it is often a sign that it is time to be warier of things… something negative might be on the horizon and you should keep your guard up.

Despite its association with mysticism and occultism, the tarot has grown to become much more than a simple “fortune-telling” tool. For many tarot readers, it is a complex system made of symbolic imagery and psychological considerations (Jungian archetypes for example) that can be used for self-exploration, meditation, and personal transformation.

The 22 major arcana cards each correspond to different aspects of the human experience that are universal. They represent the different stages of the “hero’s journey”: our biggest challenges and life lessons, as well as our highest aspirations and greatest potential.

Have you ever had a reading where the Tower card appeared? What was the outcome? What does the Tower mean to you personally? How do you interpret this card in your own tarot practice? Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments below.

If you want to know more about the different tarot cards, feel free to check out our complete list of all 78 tarot cards and their meanings.

amy

🌙 27 / British / ♐️ / Vegan 🌱
🍄 Cosplayer / 𝑾𝒊𝒕𝒄𝒉𝒄𝒓𝒂𝒇𝒕 🔮
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