The Tower Tarot: Trials, struggles, dangers, adversity
Pi, Contests, is the last letter of the second path of eight, representing the final step in the Path of the Dark Woods. The Fool, having started her journey on the path of learning, having traveled into the middle of the dark woods, is now about to break through to the other side and begin on the path of transcendence. Traditionally called the Tower Tarot, Contests carry the message of breaking down external structures.
Contests are the final transformation that enables the Fool to leave the darkness behind. But for this to occur, significant change must take place. Contests are about breaking down false structures, the stripping away of masks, and false persona for truth – “the crown” to be seized. It is about breaking the chains that bind you, no matter how painful this might be.
The correlating stone in the Creation cycle, i.e., Leadership, represents male power, structure, and authority. This stone, Contests, represents the breaking down of those things, management, design, and control, both physically and personally. It suggests that breaking them down is necessary for a higher reward or achievement.
Traditionally called the Tower, Contests carries the message of breaking down external structures. It is the stone most closely aligned with natural disasters -earthquakes and cyclones, floods, fires, etc. These are “the contests” of which the oracle speaks in a macro or external sense. But such events can happen on an internal level also. Often the circumstances surrounding the stone of Contests will seem like a lightning bolt ‘out of the bl,’’ a sudden interruption to our apparent state of equilibrium. It is as if the pressure within is so great that an explosion occurs: it is necessary to shatter the external structure for movement, flexibility, and growth.
Breaking down external structures can be as much about the external systems we place on ourselves, for example, a self-perception or an image we project to the outside world—the cold chains around our heart, perhaps, or the facade of macho toughness. Bound by the rigidity of these structures, nothing can move, and expansion is impossible.
In the conventional Tarot, not one author has suggested that because The Tower is a human-made structure, it also has to do with the bonds society places on us – how we live our lives within the confines of the community and the systems that are imposed upon us.
The Oracle tells us that this will be a time of struggle and not just one work, but anywhere you thought it was over, another mountain will need to be climbed, another ghost faced, another battle to be overcome.
But there is light and hope, for the Oracle tells us that we will complete the many contests, and in doing so, we will seize the crown. This implies there is some ‘crowning glory’ that results – the struggles will be challenging, but the outcome will be worthwhile.