Mystic of New Orleans
Greetings people of the page!
Welcome to the Misread Reader series. I have been thinking for a while now that I ought to write however I am long winded hence not sure to call this a blog or not. Nevertheless, to me, it is more like a commentary, column, or an article. Since I am continually learning, I wanted to share such knowledge with you of my discoveries. My passion runs deep with magic and metaphysics with their endless oracles, divination tools. Then again, I also have been strongly encouraged and exceptionally inspired since the first full moon (a wolf moon by the way) and the new moon of 2017 in doing some writing. It is now a Blue Moon in March 2018 and the adventure picks up from from here.
Sadly the original artist I was collaborating with did not honor the contract and broke it hence the long delay in getting back to this. Nevertheless folks, like the Phoenix rising out of the ashes here....
So with that said, why not honor such an ambition with inspirational passion as I bring together the loyalty and courage, along with taking the time to kick off this series about tarot cards starting with the sixteenth major arcana card, The Tower? Why kick it off with this card you might be thinking and ask? I say why not? Change is constant. It is a Blue Moon and Mercury is in Retrograde. I find when using such a tool as tarot cards or any kind of oracle, divination, for that matter, such a tool ought to be used to best inform oneself in obtaining such divine knowledge as so to make the best possible educated decisions, hence taking wise actions. Hopefully. Nothing is written in stone they say, things change. Always. Why not be aware? Just like one of the overall messages of the Tower card when it appears in a reading, have courage in the chaos. Did you know that it has been said that the tarot became popular within the Renaissance? (Very French aristocratic by the way.)
Now, yes, true, I do have to admit and share there are other alternative objectives here. Like I get to engage creatively and spiritually collaborate with an extraordinary artist in creating my own deck. This artist is painting all 78 cards in various sizes and has a sketch book to accompany our notes along the way that will be sold at some point. Like for instance, the Tower, Ace of Cups, and Empress cards have already been created for my deck on 24 x 36 canvases as of February 2018. These are prototypes, however there is the opportunity that these just might serve as the final design, then again, perhaps not. It took Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris sometimes eight different designs before the final version was chosen for the Thoth Tarot. (Which by the way, the Thoth deck apparently is the second chosen deck of tarot cards behind the Waite-Smith or better known as the Rider deck, according to the Tarot Association.)
The overall intent with such collaboration is to reflect the magical life here within New Orleans and the surrounding areas as seen through our eyes, lead by our spirits, felt in our hearts and souls. I am very excited about this project. Rumor has it that in addition to the deck, an app will also be designed for phones. Like how cool is that? My other intent is to share knowledge like I mentioned along with culture, magic and art. As I honor and respect such aspects and matters very much. Moreover, another reason is just to have some fun too! Any which way, bottom line here, is that I have committed myself to writing at least 78 columns, articles or whatever you care to label this as, in this series of Misread Reader while the artist has gladly committed to 78 final original paintings over the next year. (more than likely more than that will be created, painted in acrylic then final version in oils, whereas, yes, there will be a show somewhere local exhibiting them as we launch the tarot deck in the near future) The reason for this many columns, articles or whatever you care to label this as within this series and so many paintings are because there is that many cards in a conventional tarot card deck. I realize some of you might already know this, however some may not. Hence just so we are all are on the same page here--- there are 22 major arcana cards and 56 minor arcana cards. Personally, I like to think that the major arcana cards have an allegorical and cultural significance blended within the elements, planetary and zodiacal correlations. Usually they carry a cosmic divine message and lays out the foundation of a deck reflecting such symbolic meanings. The minor arcana are divided into four different suits. Kind of like regular playing cards, however not the same suits like that of clubs, hearts, diamonds and spades however more like cups, wands, swords and pentacles. There is a correlation here however I will write more on this later as well as about how to read the cards and their significance within a reading in a different column, so stay tuned. This will be a very long process. So, join us as we embark upon this adventure and I share the experience via my perspective. I am sure it will be a wondrous trip. IF not, perhaps just amusing and entertaining at the very least.
Now about the sixteenth major arcana card, the Tower……..
It is from my personal understanding and experience that when the Tower card appears in a reading, people have a tenacity to gasp then freak out squishing their face up saying “That’s not good is it?” I usually shake my head with the response of yes it can be good, just hold on as we look at the rest of the cards within the reading. You know, come to think about it, I have also noticed that most people do this almost as much as when the Death or Devil card shows up as well. Then again, I have heard some said that they’d rather the Death card than the Tower. Go figure. Both are also about change too however, it is about different kind of changes as I hope that makes sense.
Usually the Tower card does bring about thinking negative with such aspects and feelings like that of war, strife, destruction, ruin, arrogance, pride, deserved punishment and lost come to mind for starters right off the top of my head with the many ways in which to interpret this card within a spread. Sometimes it can suggest to a conflicting value between family generations or jolting ways by which we achieve enlightenment. Plus, very true, when the Tower card appears it is as if the universe is kind of making you an offer that you ought not refuse like any good Godfather might make you. Furthermore the Tower card is saying stop being a zombie, wake up here. The Tower card is a bit more about suffering and misery than the swiftness of the Death card, or deception of the Devil card.
Now, what about the positive aspects and feelings right? You know, like ambition, courage, fighting for what one truly believes in, transformation, reframing outdated perceptions as so to move forward in allowing soul’s evolution? Yeah! The goodness of the Tower card can be a very welcoming thing and sight to see.
Now there are other aspects to take into account when interpret this card or any card for that matter within a spread. Like for instance, the other cards surrounding the Tower card as well as the position within a spread. Reading tarot cards is not as easy as picking out a tarot deck or having one gifted to you then reading the meanings of that deck in the book that ought to accompany it and presto!! Congratulations, you are now a reader! Nope. It does not work like that. It goes much deeper than that. One has to also tune into their spirit, their esoteric side, for starters along with learning to use ones intuition with the understanding and meanings of the symbols, colours, or even the overall design of the artwork for just starters. Personally, I strongly feel and think reading cards, interpreting the cards, as well as their messages, is a ritualistic and very intricate thing. It ought to be free flowing. Intuitive with a knowingness. Enough of this for now let us get back to the meanings of the Tower card.
Some of the allegorical aspects that are usually always shown in association with the Tower card is a tower or home crumbling or being blown apart, a lighting bolt, the tree of life full or bare, along with humans--- with or without clothes and usually falling from the tower or home. (Humans in the Waite deck are all without clothes) Some planetary and zodiacal aspects usually shown pertaining to the Tower card is the planet Mars with the zodiac signs of Scorpio, Capricorn, or Aries. The day of the week that the Tower card is associated with is Tuesday. The Tower card has a feel of it like that of the expression “I want it when I want it.”
The cultural significance comes into association via a legend from the third century about a Christian martyr named Barbara. She became known as Saint Barbara, one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. I truly dig this legend and have a statue of Saint Barbara on my working altar. The cliff notes of the legend goes that Barbara became a Christian against the wishes of her over protective father, Dioscorus. He was a rich merchant and pagan. She had rejected all of the suitors that her father brought forth for her to marry. Hence, Barbara lived in a tower where she devoted her life to prayer. Dioscorus went away on business where he had arranged for Barbara to have a private bathhouse built while he was gone. As a sign of her Christian faith, Barbara had three windows constructed in this private bathhouse to honor the Holy Trinity, reminding her of the three names for God instead of just the two that her father had originally asked for. (These three windows can be seen in many Marseille pattern decks, and the in Waite deck on the Tower artwork.) When Barbara’s father realized the Christian significance of these three windows along with his daughter being a strong willed Christian, he lost it. Sad to say she as well as another was very horribly tortured, even dragged through the streets. Oddly and miraculously, she kept healing up every time such horrible things occurred which was believed to have taken place because of her faith. Needless to say, weirdly Dioscorus, her very own father, ended up chopping off her head. It is said that God got the last laugh here. Apparently, God struck Dioscorus down with lighting whereas he was consumed into flames.
Saint Barbara is known as the patron saint of architects, gunners, gangsters, miners, mathematicians, and others who work with explosives along with the Italian Navy. Saint Barbara is thought to be protective of, and associated with firearms, wind, storms, lighting and fire. She is also believed to be particularly effective against diseases, those who face danger of sudden and violent death in their work. Her feast day is December 4.
This legend can be thought of as an allegory for life’s journey whereas we might experience many challenges. However, if one holds on to their dreams, remaining loyal and dedicated to them, facing fears and dangers, our soul will evolve as one truly experiences the wealth, beauty, wisdom, having really lived life sweetly. Like Saint Barbara did even as twisted as that might read since she was beheaded by her father. She was rich across the board as I say if you think about it. I say this because she had divine blessings in her healing as she understood, knew and practiced divine love. She was unconditional love.
The planet Mars is the Roman God of war and bloodshed. Within classical astrology, Mars is thought of being far more beneficial during the night chilling out Mars’ temperament of natural passion and impulsive. Again this reinforces the aspects and feelings with self will, conquest, muscular exertion, danger, destruction, courage, fighting, ambition, heat, fire, passion, drive, strife, burning, desire, accidents, violence, assertiveness, impulsivity, construction, and men in uniform as many of the possibilities of its meaning, its message, interpretation, depending upon its position within the reading plus surrounding cards like I mentioned.
The Tower card rules the zodiac signs of Scorpio, Capricorn and Aries. With Scorpio it is meaning can signal a death or a major significant change that shakes one out of ones rut however requires immediate attention. With a Capricorn influence, it means frequent sex, which is not a bad thing.
Did you know that the Tower card has many names? For example in the 16th century, it was called “House of the Devil” according to Paul Huson in his book, Mystical Origins. It held the meaning that a house needed to be destroyed to liberate its residents trapped by Satan’s power. Another older name for the Tower card was “The Arrow.” With this name, the meaning associated with the thunderbolt, which is a major symbol within this card, was the message had been sent by the heavens above and were to destroy Satan’s dwelling. It was also called the “House of God” as used in harmony with the legend of Saint Barbara.
In the Hermetic tarot deck, the Tower card has the name of “Lord of the Host of the Mighty” with its esoteric title being Peh, Mouth. The artwork in this deck is outstanding to me personally. It is in back and white. In this deck, the outline of the tree of life appears on both sides of the sephiroth. It is black on one side and white on other side suggesting the widely divergent messages, meanings, of this card. This blast of lighting usually means total destruction, however clearing the way for new things to emerge. Within a Christian context, it is in reference to the biblical Tower of Babel whereas human pride has gone wild like females on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. It also can refer to destruction of Babylon within the New Testament book of Revelations. (18: 1 – 8)
So the next time you happen to get the Tower card within your reading, remember to take into account these feelings and aspects along with addressing some questions like:
In short, to me, and as shared, I concur that the Tower card is similar to Buddha freeing himself from Mara’s illusions about the nature of reality. Liberation & enlightenment can be jolting, disruptive (lighting bolt) however prove beneficial in long run.
Anastasia, Mystic of New Orleans
February 14th/15th, 2017
Revised March 30th, 2018, Good Friday, sunset New Orleans
*******For Anne and Robert S.
Harry F. Williams, “Old French Lives of Saint Barbara” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 119.2 (16 April 1975:156 – 185)