Friday 1 May 2015

Tarot Blog Hop - Beltane 2015

Welcome to Alison’s Alembic!   You may have arrived here as a stop on the Tarot Blog Hop from either Morgan Drake Eckstein's or Joy Vernon's blog. Or you may have found this through TABI’s Facebook page, or though one of the many wonderful tarot bloggers in the ether... It doesn’t matter – what does matter is that you’re here! 

We’ve arrived at Beltane, and for this particular Blog Hop, our wrangler Morgan Drake Eckstein has asked us to write about “distasteful” cards – the cards that, when they show up in a reading, evoke a strong negative reaction from clients.  

So, which card to write about? The Hanged Man? Death? The Tower? The Devil? A card from the suit of Swords? Choices, choices...

I’ve been reading about the element of Fire for the past few weeks, and of course Beltane is a fire festival in many traditions.  Named after Bel, the god of light and fire, it celebrates the coming of life and fertility by the lighting of bel-fires on hilltops.  A major part of the Beltane festival in many places was – and still is – jumping over the fire in order to ensure fertility, marriage, safe journeys, easy births, and so on.  There’s an old Scottish and Irish Gaelic saying ‘caught between two Beltane fires’, meaning ‘caught in a dilemma’.... but I digress.

Anyway, all this focus on Fire started me thinking about fire-walking, and about ‘trial by fire’...  and then I had it! 

Druidcraft Tarot: The Tower (trimmed)

The Tower, of course.

There’s usually some symbol of fire in images of The Tower.  “The power of the consuming, purifying fire destroys the old and sweeps it away”, says Gerd Ziegler of this card, in his Tarot: Mirror of the Soul (Weiser Books, 1988).  People often see this card as a predictor of catastrophe and disaster of mammoth proportions, but it’s more about a sudden, unexpected upheaval – when structures that have always seemed so solid and established are destroyed in what feels like an instant.  

Shadowscapes Tarot: The Tower (trimmed)

In astrological terms, you might think of Uranus in this context: the sudden bolt from the blue, the unexpected lightning strike, the striking down of dead wood – things that are no longer of use.

Wildwood Tarot: The Blasted Oak (trimmed)
The ‘traditional’ astrological association for The Tower, though, is Mars – the destruction, necessary in order for new growth to take place.  And the key word here is ‘growth’.  The Roman god Mars, before he became famous for being a warrior, was a god of agriculture!  And here we have Beltane in Taurus (in the northern hemisphere) – an agricultural sign if ever there was one. Taurus nurturing the seeds of intention planted in Aries (ruled by Mars), the fertility of Beltane...

Thoth Tarot: Tower (trimmed)
The way in which the rays emanating from the Eye of Horus in the Thoth’s image for The Tower often makes me think of shattered glass.  No matter how well you try to match up the edges of the glass, what you re-create is never the same as the original – but it may be that whatever’s being created out of the old could be just as beautiful, if not more so. Beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder! At any rate, it will be different – new.

So when The Tower comes up in a reading, I try to balance the devastation seen in the image with a reminder that this is necessary – that the old has to come down before the new can come in. Rachel Pollack, in her Seeker: The Tarot Unveiled (Llewellyn, 2005), talks of ‘a kind of optimism, even though it might not feel so good while we’re going through it’.  It can take this kind of upheaval to bring bad situations to an end – and then the new growth can begin and be nurtured.

Thank you for stopping off here on your own journey through this Imbolc Tarot Blog Hop!  Please do come back and read some of my other posts.  

The next stops on the Tarot Blog Hop are - depending on whether you’re moving backwards or forwards through the list – Morgan Drake Eckstein's and Joy Vernon's blogs. The Master List can be foundhere.

Druidcraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections
Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by US Games Systems, Inc.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections


  1. Nicel done! I love that Shadowscapes Tarot's Tower. :D

  2. For sure the tower is an important card in our lifes looking at it hindsight, but on a reading it makes us shake because things will never be the same as the broken glass.

  3. I like your broken glass, it reminds me of the Japanese art of Kintsugi :)

    1. Thank you Karen! I don't know about Kintsugi so thank you too for giving me something new to learn about :-)

  4. Nice post! The Thoth version of the Tower is one of my all time favorites - so much raw power and chaotic energy.

  5. Interesting take. I'd have thought the Devil more Trial by Fire (fires of Hell etc) and the Tower is more like Trial by Electrickery :D

    1. yes, well, my mind works in mysterious ways! I like trial by electrickery, though - thanks :-D

  6. An interesting post, as usual :) I always think of Sauron's eye with that Thoth card :)

    1. Sauron's eye - of course! Thank you for that :-)

  7. Oh, Walking on, wlaking on, broken glass!! Now I've Annie Lennox's song in my head with The Tower card & your broken glass reference... :)

  8. I am a big fan of The Tower card because I like change, or at least I think I do ;) Questioning is an important part of our human experience that we often fail to take part in, instead prefering to just accept things as they are, keep our heads down and keep trying. Sometimes the whole premise is wrong, or doesn't work anymore, and The Tower shows up to burn that premise away, to open our eyes, and MAKE us change.

  9. Oh, I love the suggestion that the Tower is like breaking glass, that when put back together will refract light in new and interesting ways! A lovely overview of the positives in this challenging card, and I adored the astrological and mythological insights, too :)