Tarot & Fable: The Frog Tower and Smoke Signals
(c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2006
The Tower is one of the cards in the Tarot deck which most people can find quite unnerving. It often has a very negative, destructive or pessimistic outlook on the situations we may be facing in life. This is just one of the cards in the Tarot deck which can seem very frightening.
The Tower can represent a bad argument, an accident, a catastrophe, a destructive break-up or a serious illness. It is a card with a very strong sense of Cosmic Fatality associated with it. It also has an association with the Tower of Babel which represented the egotism of people trying to build a tower to take them all the way to heaven. After the Great Flood, the people spoke one language. The destruction of the Tower of Babel fractured one language into many again. It is very much about the power of words.
We cannot discount the negative aspects of the Tower because they do represent the realities of life on our plane of existence. The Tower does have positive elements as well. It is a card that talks about a real conversation that reveals all the old lies and any hypocrisy which may have been plaguing a relationship. This intense conversation clears the air and creates the opportunity for a clean slate. It frees all of the old feelings and ideas we had for the relationship that the day to dayness of living have made us forget. It can remind us that no matter the circumstances of the relationship, there is love still present.
The Tower in this card is going to fall. We tend to forget that this is a Tower made of stones and that when those stones land, it is going to create a new path for us. It also reminds us that when the walls come down, it is because it was built on a shaky foundation anyway. The remnants of the Tower become our stepping stones to those better days we are always looking for. The destruction of the Tower liberates our dreams and hopes that had become imprisoned in the walls.
The following two stories illustrate some of the important positive aspects of Tower activity in our lives and reminds us not to lose hope or to give up on our dreams. Very often, in order to pursue our dreams we have to learn to ignore and turn a deaf ear to those people, places and situations that tell us that we can't succeed. Just like this little frog.
Once there was and once there was not, a bunch of tiny frogs that organized a running competition. The goal of this competition was to reach the top of a very high tower. A large crowd gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the many contestants. No one in the crowd really seemed to believe that these tiny frogs could succeed in reaching the top of the tower. There was much nay saying in the crowd and people voiced their doubts and expounded loudly on the impossibility of the task.
The tiny frogs began collapsing from the effort of trying to climb to the top of the tower. Some persevered and kept climbing. The crowd continued to yell discouraging comments to the tiny frogs struggling with their enormous task. One by one the frogs gave up until there was only one frog who continued higher and higher and higher. This little frog was determined. He just wouldn't give up and he finally reached the top of the tower. Another contestant asked the frog how he had found the strength to succeed and reach the goal and it turned out that the winner was deaf. He had been unable to hear any of the discouraging comments from the crowd and was unimpacted by the negative power of the words.
People need to think about the power of their words, especially the negative, cutting, unspoken or pessimistic ones. We also need to consider the tone of voice we use when delivering them. Everything we see, say, read, hear or do will affect our intentions and our ability to take actions. We have to learn to turn a deaf ear to anyone who tells us that we can't achieve our dreams or navigate a difficult life circumstance. Don't let anyone steal your dreams. It is hard to be positive in the face of adversity and it hard to keep on going when you aren't sure where you are going.
The imagery of a Tower being struck by lightning and catching fire can stimulate the imagination into creating all types of destructive scenarios. It does remind us that life goes on and that better days will be ahead. This can be hard to imagine or to believe when we are in our hour of darkness and our time of great need.
We also tend to forget, when surveying the imagery of this card, that where there is lightning and then fire, there is going to be smoke. The smoke rising from the destruction of the Tower becomes a signal, both to God and to others who may be in a position to help us during our tribulation, just like the man in this story.
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed wholeheartedly and desperately for God to rescue him. Every day he watched the horizon for help and everyday he was disappointed. Even though he was exhausted and discouraged, he built a small hut out of driftwood to protect him from the weather and to store the possessions that he had scavenged.
One day after a tiring day of foraging for food, he arrived home to find his hut engulfed in flames. The smoke billowed up into the sky and all of his meagre possessions and shelter were gone. He was overwhelmed with grief and anger and cried out to God, demanding to know how he could do this to him now when he was already struggling and weary. He cried and raged and cried some more until he fell asleep, drained, exhausted and without hope.
The next morning as the sun rose, he was wakened by the sound of a ship approaching his island. He was going to be rescued. He asked his saviours how they had found him and they replied , "We saw your smoke signal." He cried.
It is easy to get down and to lose hope and heart when life gives us one of its terrible hard lessons. It can be very challenging to remember that God, however you conceive God to be, is always working in our lives in ways that we will never understand.
Try and remember the next time you feel abandoned or you suffer a devasting loss, the story of the man and the smoke signal that summoned his rescuers and the little frog who conquered the Tower. They are both powerful tales of overcoming the negative and destructive situations, words and people that will cross our paths on our journey through life. Every dark night, ends in bright day.