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by jmd

Card Meaning
Artistic Media
Artist's Bio


The rendition depicts the amalgamation of two classical depictions of this card: the Marseilles and the Vieville. On the left is a shepherd with his sheep grazing, looking upwards at the effects of the destruction or meteorite shower. On the right is the more usual depiction of a Tower struck by some force, from which flames crown the structure, and two figures fall, one obviously from the top, the other, at the rear, from either an unseen door or also the top.


Fred Gettings, in his 1973 The Book of Tarot, mentions that there is a Tower depiction upon the Reims cathedral. Though he is incorrect - it is likely to be on the Amiens cathedral - both his comments and subsequent reflections led me to consider that the Infancy Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, known in late mediaeval Europe, in which the idols of an Egyptian Temple crashed as the Baby Jesus and his mother entered, would probably be assumed to have been somewhat iconographically similar to the believed inevitable fall of minarets in the presence of Christ. The cathedral depiction certainly seems thus.

In the Aenesidemus, the fifth trope mentions 'the various distances and positions which causes the tower to appear round from afar and square close up'. This visual ambiguity would certainly also have been well known to the various Knights who traveled to the Holy land, whatever their reasons. One of the towers they are likely to have seen is the one here represented: a mediaeval minaret in Israel. Interestingly, the very word 'minaret' has etymological connections to 'Fire'.

Card Meaning

As I pair the Major Arcana according to their Roman numerals, I see a close connection between cards VI – the Lover(s) and this one. Once the youth has made his decision, whichever it may be – but one can expect him to have chosen the unknown adventures of his love’s desire and leave the hand of his mother – inevitable major changes occur in his life, often leading to the utter transformation of the existing home.

As such, the card may show the inevitable changes taking their course as a consequence of the choice(s) made. Cupid’s arrow becomes the lightning bolt, and the pair is thrown out of the established crowned home.

The Shepherd looks up, for the causes of the metamorphosis are immutable canons, or Divine decrees, and thus Hope follows (the next card, XVII the Star, is sometime called Hope). The sheep are as they always were: looked after by another.

Artistic Media

Colored pencils, watercolours and wax crayons on quality paper. The original, including border, is A4 size.

Artist's Bio

Jmd has been exposed to the Tarot since birth, but only began serious investigation of this and other esoteric arts and sciences since his early twenties. Since 1982, he has also held various ritualistic positions in a number of esoteric orders located in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to previously teaching philosophy at University, he has also taught Tarot, Astrology, and Kabbalah courses at various other adult educational institutions. Jmd now teaches in a Steiner (Waldorf) high school and teacher-training institute.

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