The Esotericon

Tower - Ayin

This Tarot trump is often associated with tragedy. This association would be because of its graphic visual nature and the immediate mental associations that are made when an individual first gazes upon the fearsome image of two helpless victims plummeting to their inevitable doom.

The name of the sixteenth character of the ancient alphabet is linked to the sixteenth hieroglyphic symbol of the Tarot. The original design of this character (pre-1200 B.C.) looks like this...

The ancient letter of Ayin

The name of the letter of the ancient alphabet is expressed by the ancient word עין. This word is formed from a triliteral stem composed of the letters Ayin/O, Yod/Y, and Nun/N. In its most primitive sense, this root has the meaning of “to flow,” which maintains a parallel synergy with the meaning of the first biliteral root (the letters M and R) that also has the basic meaning of “to flow.” Therefore, from this basic meaning of “to flow,” the word is given its more popular meaning of “eye” by virtue of the flowing of tears from the eye. In much the same manner, this root is also associated with the meaning of “fountain” as well. In addition, this ancient letter originally got its circular design due to its representation of the eye and is the forerunner of the modern letter O. The English spelling of the name of this letter is Ayin, which has a direct etymological connection to the Sanskrit name (Aaja or Ajna).

Basic Essence

The nature of this Tarot symbol is the passive side of the intellectual forces. It is the essence of espionage and occult mindsets that seek to hide and supress knowledge in order to gain privilege. It is the nature of war. In fact, it is stated in the first section of the text commonly referred to as The Art of War by Sun Tzu, which asserts that “All war is based on deception.” Therefore, the Tarot symbol of the tower represents the passive intellectual forces that do not promote the acquiring of knowledge as power, but instead focus on the ignorance and loss of knowledge as a means of increasing privilege.

Thus, the true heroes of any conflict are those that promote unadulterated truth. Truth is its own bastion of freedom and cannot be beaten once it is exposed for all to see. However, there are truths that are truly occult, and these are the aspects of reality that most individuals do not want to hear, because the deceptions used to cover these truths are far more alluring than actual reality. This assertion is especially true when the truth runs counter to a belief or practice in which an entity has invested a lot of time and resources. Therefore, the only real secrets are those that keep themselves.

The Daytime Tower

One of the most striking differences between the Rider-Waite Tarot and the Marseilles Tarot is the time of day that the action on the image is occuring. On many of the decks of the Marseilles Tarot, including the Noblet version, the source of the lightning is the sun, and on all known versions of the Marseilles tarot, the setting seems to be during the day. The Rider-Waite Tarot is occuring at night. The Rider-Waite Tarot also has clouds in the background and has the bastion on top of a hill or mountain of some sort.

However, despite the slight differences in the image in the more modern version, A. E. Waite confirms the basic assertion mentioned several paragraphs ago regarding this trump and states, “Occult explanations attached to this card are meagre and mostly disconcerting. It is idle to indicate that it depicts min in all its aspects, because it bears this evidence on the surface. It is said further that it contains the first allusion to a material building, but I do not conceive that the Tower is more or less material than the pillars which we have met with in three previous cases. I see nothing to warrant Papus in supposing that it is literally the fall of Adam, but there is more in favour of his alternative – that it signifies the materialization of the spiritual word. The bibliographer Christian imagines that it is the downfall of the mind, seeking to penetrate the mystery of God. I agree rather with Grand Orient that it is the ruin of the House of We, when evil has prevailed therein, and above all that it is the rending of a House of Doctrine. I understand that the reference is, however, to a House of Falsehood. It illustrates also in the most comprehensive way the old truth that "except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it."

There is a sense in which the catastrophe is a reflection from the previous card, but not on the side of the symbolism which I have tried to indicate therein. It is more correctly a question of analogy; one is concerned with the fall into the material and animal state, while the other signifies destruction on the intellectual side. The Tower has been spoken of as the chastisement of pride and the intellect overwhelmed in the attempt to penetrate the Mystery of God; but in neither case do these explanations account for the two persons who are the living sufferers. The one is the literal word made void and the other its false interpretation. In yet a deeper sense, it may signify also the end of a dispensation, but there is no possibility here for the consideration of this involved question.”

The Rider-Waite version of the Tower trump

While Waite extends the basic theme of intellectual suppression and degradation made earlier by adding the concept of humankind attempting to extend its realms of knowledge too far and trying to percieve the intelligence possessed by the Christian concept of diety, the basic concept originally proposed in this section is reinforced. The additional material added about the alleged penetration of the mysteries associated with the Christian paradigm are merely supplemental to Waite's main point, which is that this trump “signifies destruction on the intellectual side.”

When the meaning of the name of the letter for this hieroglyph is compared to the image depicted on this hieroglyph, another very definitive meaning develops that can be tied to the basic theme presented within this section, and that is the superficiality linked to overemphasis on visual stimuli. This domination of the visual over the other senses, while quite a normal occurrence is even more pronounced in the Iron Age, when the energies of the diurnal realms become far more prevalent in reality. However, even during the Bronze Age or any preceding age for that matter, it would not be difficult to reason that visial stimuli would more than likely trump the influences of most of the other senses due to it basic and inherent nature.

When this type of overemphasis on the visual is found in the cultural practices and paradigms of any civilization, it is a most certain thing indeed that intellectual entropy and degradation will be quite prevalent in many realms of society. It is this type of superficiality that lacks appreciation for the subtle nuances of the other senses – especially that of sound – that causes a stagnation of the creative essense and promotes
intolerance that allows for easily exploitation and manipulation of the masses. It is this overemphasis on the eye and its diurnal flow that leads to war, destruction, and the crippling of humanity's collective intelligence.

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