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Tarot Stories: The Tower and an Epiphany

Updated: May 1

Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, winter 2022

Contrary to popular belief about human beings, I love change. I love trying new things, exploring new places, moving to new houses, and experimenting with new ideas. Change keeps me creative; going back to the drawing board and trying a different approach or revising an old idea keeps the act of writing and making art challenging, exciting, and fulfilling.

During the winter months, however, it’s easy for me to slip into a depressive rut. At a certain point every year, when the sun shines less and the blue skies dull to gray, seasonal blues (which, in my opinion, should be called “seasonal grays”) can cause a creative lull. Winter 2022 was no exception, and even when preparing to attend Training magazine’s conference at Disney World’s Coronado Springs resort, my blood cooled, and the gray settled in. It’s hard to imagine being depressed while at the most magical place on earth, but the location never matters. The dismal grays don’t discriminate, and they certainly don’t wait… but neither does the call of creativity.

During the first two days of the trip, I laid in bed with a migraine, strolling through the resort in dark shades, locating food and then getting back to my room my sole interest. On the morning the conference started, I peeled myself from my pillow and went down to listen to the keynote speakers. After all, my Muggle boss had made an investment with allowing me to attend, and I was obligated to get the most out of the experience so I could share with my colleagues what I learned.

One of the keynotes was Pixar’s Character Art Director, Deanna Marsigliese. A character in her own right, what with her mid-century lacquered coif and vintage circle skirt, Deanna described her method for becoming inspired—through intuition, curiosity, and meaning—and I removed my migraine shades and listened.

As I watched Ms. Marsigliese’s video segments exploring her messy desk and workspaces, and while I listened to her backstory around the characters she’d designed for films such as The Incredibles 2, Luca, and Soul, I felt my headache slowly fade. My heart beat wildly as she shared a story about traveling to a tiny seaside Italian town, drilling into every detail, and making sketches that included her late grandparents (I do that, too. All of my books include muses of my loved ones). Ms. Marsigliese’s sketches would become the entire town in the movie Luca. I felt so inspired that I was sure I would dash right out of that conference hall and float back to my room to write.

My main takeaway from Ms. Marsigliese’s lecture was a word of advice she gave her fellow creative souls, which I will paraphrase here: Tourists are always looking up, taking photos, and paying attention to detail. To stay inspired, you have to stay curious. Be a tourist, even in your own hometown. Look up, follow your intuition, pay attention to details, ask questions, and discover meaning in the things you find most interesting.

By the conclusion of the conference’s first day, my migraine was gone, and my magical surroundings blossomed around me as though I were seeing them for the first time. What Ms. Marsigliese’s speech provided for me was an epiphany, a new way of thinking that shocked the gray, righting the skies back to blue, and for the rest of that conference, I was led by my intuition, curious about every inspiring detail, and I found meaning in every experience. I returned home with magic coursing through my bones, a renewed spirit, and an enlightened mind.

In the Tarot, The Tower card is one that initially causes fear and anxiety; in the Smith-Waite deck, for example, the imagery alone brings to mind calamity and destruction. However, when examining this card’s details in a new way—and considering its position directly following The Devil—you might began looking forward to it popping up (or crashing down) on your desk. In viewing The Tower through the Marsigliese lens of intuition, curiosity, and meaning, I hope I can help change your mind about this card when it strikes your writing efforts.

What's happening in The Tower card?

Destruction. A storm has settled over the area, causing the skies to turn black and looming gray clouds to settle in. Lightning has stricken the top of this Tower with such force that its cap has been blasted off, and fire has engulfed the structure. The strength of such an assault has not only toppled the roof, but it has jolted the folks inside the Tower with such force that they have been flung from its windows and are falling to the ground—or water; it’s impossible to tell. Fire rains down after them, and from the expressions on their faces, this lightning strike was sudden, unexpected.

The Tower: A Deep Dive

While the Wheel of Fortune represents change experienced due to a turn of luck, and the Death card informs impending, inevitable change, the Tower brings about change that is swift and abrupt. This change occurs in the form of an upheaval, a violent move, and it can spark (pardon the pun) a sudden change of mind.

Associated with thought and intellect, the crown chakra is represented in The Tower’s fallen crown. We might consider such a strike a wake-up call to one’s subconscious, and for writers, such a revolution can ignite a creative awakening, a profound idea—an “Aha!” moment. Such a jolt implores to know: What are you writing? Why are you writing it? Is it serving your creative needs or are you writing for others? If the latter, Tower energy demands us to pound that backspace and delete, snatch that paper from the typewriter, ball it up, and pitch it across the room. Scrap it and start over. Kill a darling or two and write what’s inside you, possibly what’s hiding just beneath the surface. What’s been brewing within your mind and has now been provided a release? Write that. Write what haunts you, what frightens you; give it a character and then kill it. Write what clears the grays and brings you joy.

The Tower denotes and a paradigm shift in the way of thinking—an epiphany. When this card strikes, hierarchal systems are broken down and reimagined. After all, it’s easy to stay in a hierarchy, to go with the flow, to not rock the boat, all the other idioms that indicate a chosen resistance to change and acceptance of the status quo. The Tower, however, changes the story, inviting such a storm that might level a manner of thinking and/or process for the sake of egalitarianism. Think decolonization.

Alternatively, The Tower might indicate a cultural transformation ignited by disaster, economy, education, invention, law, rights, and/or war. The card can denote intense movement and/or displacement resulting from gentrification, immigration, segregation, and urbanization.

The Tower Reversed: The Shadow

When reversed, The Tower could uncover catastrophizing, automatically assuming the worst about a situation rather than imagining an opportunity for success and growth. Avoidance of a situation that results in a disastrous outcome. Denial of an obvious reformation. It can mean disaster averted or the calm before the storm. The Tower reversed indicates the fear of change, burying one’s head in the dirt rather than standing upright and facing change head-on.

Notable Symbols for The Tower Card


Major Arcana


Spirit / Fire


In numerology, 16 represents intuitive power, inner wisdom, and confidence. It can indicate perfectionism, debate, and philosophy.[1] On the other hand, when we reduce the number by adding 1 + 6, we get seven, the number of struggles, challenges, and lessons learned. See also The Chariot.

Other Symbols

Crown—the ego, higher thinking, intellect, wisdom

Falling—losing control

Figures—The two people in this card might be a King and Queen, representing hierarchical order overthrown; they could also be the man and woman from both The Lovers and The Devil card.

Fire—cleansing through destruction

Lightning—sudden illumination and the eradication of ignorance; in the Bible, lightning represents God’s power or wrath.[2]

Smoke—cleansing away negativity

Tower—construction of ego; a false sense of security

Yod—The sparks of flames raining down with the people are shaped like the Hebrew letter yod, which represents a divine point of energy, God’s presence.[3] In the case of this card, there are 21 yod, one for each card in the Major Arcana.

The Tower, Characterized

The Tower is any element that brings about sudden change, such as a natural disaster, pandemic, or war. It is also a radical thought that brings about immediate change within a story or poem. It’s “The Man,” “The System,” or “The Institution.”

Notable characters, people, or personas

Pyornkrachzark, the Rock Biter in The NeverEnding Story; Lord Voldemort, Terminator, Thanos, Pennywise in It, Back to the Future’s Biff Tannen, Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne.


  1. Number 16 Meaning. (n.d.).

  2. About LIGHTNING in the Bible - WebBible Encyclopedia - ChristianAnswers.Net. (n.d.).

  3. The Letter Yod. (n.d.).

In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of literary, Southern Gothic, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.

Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative®, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. She holds a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, and she has worked as an instructional designer for nearly twenty years.

When she’s not writing fiction, Mandy enjoys the movies, theater, music, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, and binging The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to enhance creativity and foster wellness. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four sons, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative.

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