Cassandra Snow takes readers on a queer tour of tarot reading.
The Tower is the number one card that freaks out people who know anything about tarot when it shows up in a reading, and there’s good reason for that. Traditionally this card brings destruction, brings down relationships and situations built on a false foundation, and can shake your whole world up. On a smaller scale it can bring huge epiphanies that can alter your life path or bring your spiritual views some crystal-clear clarity. I’ve seen it indicate literal concerns with one’s home or office as well, which is never what one wants to hear when they sit down for a reading. However, as I tell every client regardless of identity, it’s important to remember that the Tower only brings down the things in our lives built on a shaky foundation. It can be really hard to process and deal with the destruction it bears, but it’s also an opportunity to rebuild something stronger and better. The Tower can also mean a shake up as opposed to destruction, so for those whose lives have become mundane or they’ve become complacent to less than great circumstances, this card is actually a relief.
Queering the Tower starts with looking at what those specific shake ups or false foundations might be. If one has chosen or is forced to remain closeted or even just quiet about their queer identity, it’s possible this card is predicting that an unfortunate outing or confrontation might occur. A relationship could be falling apart, and knowing the culture of queer relationships is important to addressing this reality of the Tower. When queering the tarot, the querent or their partner might find that they are the one about to tear down the Tower by coming out—I’ve seen this most often with gender transitions and poly identities, and it’s important not to dance around those realities. The relationships in their lives could change dramatically, and in many cases could even be ending as a result. Sometimes the truth hurts, but as a reader I do strive for empowerment. That sometimes means addressing hard truths, but few things in life are totally bad or totally good, and stressing what life can look like after the Tower falls is a better tack than harping on impending destruction. The Tower is absolutely a chance to rebuild. If you are in a situation that is unsafe, knowing the Tower is coming can empower one to walk away from that situation. If a relationship is in danger, the other cards can tell us if it can be or is worth saving or rebuilding and how. If you have been suppressing part of your identity (even and especially to yourself), it’s important to come to terms with that and figure out how to rebuild your life so that it matches that identity. Tarot is rarely a one card experience, and the Tower alone can not tell you how to restructure—but it is a crucial message that restructuring is needed, and your other cards can indicate the why (which truth be told, you probably already know), and how.
Alternatively, and my favorite experience of queering the tarot, means looking at the card totally differently. If queering the tarot means taking not only LGBTQQIAP+, kink, and poly identities into consideration but also the idea that the queer community is one built on a different value system than the straight patriarchy we live under, it’s very possible that the Tower becomes a positive force for change in a once maligned person or even organization’s heart or policies. It’s possible you are being named as a huge force for much needed change in the world. It’s possible that if something catastrophic happens you come out on top ultimately. It’s possible too that you knock down your own Tower built on half-truths and misplaced trust, and move on to rebuild your life into something so much more beautiful than you ever could have imagined, a life that is genuine and full of queer family and allies, and the support structure you deserve. It’s even possibly you’re being called on to create that support system, so that when those Towers fall for those who don’t have a safety net, you can provide that.
For a queer person, the Tower is always strong and powerful. It can indicate chaos, destruction, that you are being forced to rebuild this beautiful honest life, but weren’t ready to do so. Of course that’s hard, and if you’re reading for someone else, compassion is key, and try to have some resources handy about support networks (always a good idea as a tarot reader anyway) the querent can turn to. No one wants to be outed, no one wants to come out or start transition and find the people they love don’t support them, and no one wants their relationships to fall apart. Stress the opportunity to rebuild with new people if necessary and on stronger foundations regardless. The most dramatic queering of the tarot remembers that the Tower can also indicate that you or your querent is meant to change this world for the better, building strong networks of support for those who need them, living authentically as a leader in their queer community, and creating change wherever they go. I’ve discussed before how cards indicating tradition and institutions can be very negative for queer people. The flip side of that is cards like this—cards that many would see and be fearful of, could also be calling you to greatness.
Be sure to check out the first fifteen parts: Queering the Tarot: The Devil, Queering the Tarot: Temperance, Queering the Tarot: Death, Queering the Tarot: The Hanged Man, Queering the Tarot: Justice, Queering the Tarot: The Wheel, Queering The Tarot: The Hermit, Queering The Tarot: Strength, Queering The Tarot: The Chariot, Queering the Tarot: The Lovers, Queering the Tarot: The Hierophant, Queering the Tarot: The Emperor, The Empress, and Archaic Gender Roles, Queering the Tarot: The High Priestess, Queering The Tarot: The Magician, Queering the Tarot, and Queering the Tarot: Let’s Start at the Very Beginning