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This is a blog series giving LGBTQIA+ people's perspectives on the Tarot cards. Tarot is a set of symbols added on to a deck of playing cards, depicting a spiritual journey, to be used for meditation or fortune telling. Catch up with the characters we've met on the journey so far by clicking on these links for the Fool, the Magician, the High Priestess, the Empress, the Emperor, the Hierophant, the Lovers, the Chariot, Strength, the Hermit, the Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, and the Devil. The particular version that's thought of today as the basic traditional Tarot, from which the myriad of decks are influenced and inspired, was drawn by mixed race bisexual lady Pamela "Pixie" Colman Smith, whose insights I'm sure made it into this art commission given her by straight white men, whatever their expectations of her might have been. So I've asked LGBTQIA+ Tarot users in online groups to give me their viewpoints on the cards, and the result is this series of blogs.
We've arrived at The Tower.
This is another one of those "scary cards", like Death, or the Devil, that makes people silently (or sometimes, loudly) go, "oh, no," when it comes up in their readings... but, just like when the Death card or Devil card come up in a reading, I reach out reassuringly to say, Oh, it's actually a good thing!
Let's have a look at the image from the top down. That's the first thing the card is about, is a change of perspective. Because of what a tower is and where we're normally standing related to them, we're used to looking up at towers from the bottom. But the whole point of the Tarot is to look at the situation you're currently stuck inside of, from a perspective outside of it. You're already training the brain to do that by looking at the Tower card, because the image is clearly designed to draw your eyes to the top, and follow the falling figures downwards from there.
The tip of the Tower is being struck by lightning, making it burst into flames and blowing off its crowning dome. The crown shape of the dome makes it easy to think of this as ourselves - our heads, our minds. How many of us as queer readers, before we came out, shared my experience of not knowing what was going on in my head and heart because I had barely been exposed to words like Gay, let alone Transgender, Nonbinary or Asexual. And then, when I began hearing them, it was like a lightning strike to the brain and I began to be able to think new things, and the irresistible electric current travelled down from there to my heart, where I began to be able to feel new things.
A Celtic spiritual term for the life altering flow of the spirit of inspiration is The Fire In The Head. Their embodiment of the inspired madman-poet is called Taliesin, which is supposed to mean "Shining Brow".
The Crown is blown away. The old system that used to control us, or our own old systems of control, are swept away. Circles are the symbol of the immortal and immaterial presence in the mortal and material world in spiritual systems like the Tarot, so the Tower, being square, is about the blocks being blown apart. A block is a solid, stable, strong, square, stone. There's a reason why we use that word in phrases like blocked, blockages. Systems and structures can stop us. A Christian comedian called Adrian Plass, whose main item on the agenda is how "churchmanship" can actually get in the way of being Christ-like more than it actually helps, once responded to someone being called a "pillar of the church", by saying, "When you say 'pillar', you mean a big thick thing that gets in the way and restricts people's vision?"
The closet door is blasted open. Light from within shines so brightly that it can only be contained for so long.
Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Storme de Larverie were all criminals. The Stonewall riot (or the Christopher Street liberation, depending on your point of view), was a crime. What's legal isn't always moral, and what's illegal isn't always immoral.
Question your codes.
And, in a more present, personal sense, your comfort zones, your habits, your family traditions, your inner critics, your political allegiances, your religious beliefs, your coping mechanisms.
Take the leap.
We all came out of the closet to ourselves before we came out to others. We all had to accept the truth about ourselves and start living who we really are, before we could ask or demand respect, recognition, acceptance or affirmation from anyone else. But once your inner light is lit, don't let anyone cover it or hide it.
The Tower is burning from the inside out. The outside is sheer hardness, but the inside is burning energy. Don't let your vibrant inner world, once you've found your true self, be boxed in.
Now the Tower, though it doesn't need to be the "scary card", is a hard card. We can stay in the closet because it's safer in there, in a real, literal and genuine way. Throwing open the door the way we wish we could, can cost us our jobs, our healthcare, our schooling, our legal protection, our political and religious affiliations, our families, our friends, our relationships, our homes. A joke, with a serious edge, went around online a little while ago, that a new and cooler way of coming out as queer is to say "I'm a criminal in 75 countries".
But that doesn't make the truth about our gender identity and sexuality any less true, nor does it make it any less inevitable that the truth will come out, whether we let it out or someone else force it out. How many celebrities have come out because someone threatened to "out" them for publicity, or petty revenge, or whatever else? But they chose when to come, out in their own way; they took control of the situation. Coming out will change everything. Inside, for the better, but maybe outside, for the worse. That fear keeps us in, and sometimes, that fear is partly right and particularly real. But it's going to happen, regardless. So instead of letting the Tower walls control your fire, let your fire break free of the Tower walls. However hard it is for your outer life, to break those walls, it's a lot harder on your inner life, to let those walls break you.
If you'd like a personal Tarot reading from me online, looking at things from these kinds of perspectives, you can reach me by clicking Here - and if you'd like to join my LGBTQIA+ Tarot group on bookface, you can do that by clicking Here.
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