The Fool and The Tower – Detachment


This post is a little different to my usual posts, in that I’m referring to a specific situation that has been occurring in my own life recently, that has been quite testing.

I have a friend who is undergoing a very difficult test in their life, with an ex-lover who is causing considerable pain and anguish. This friend is torn between compassion for the individual – who is quite damaged from previous life experiences – and in self-preservation, as the individual instigated the break-up but is very needy, confused, and keeps hurting my friend over and over by begging to be reunited, then pulling back, again and again and again…

I’ve been very supportive of my dearest friend over the past few months, but it seems to be an endless cycle, and it needed a different approach.

My friend loves the individual very much, but over the last few weeks, it became apparent to me that there was also some dishonesty at work… my friend was being blinded by their own ‘construct’ of what they wanted from this situation; the love they were expressing for this individual was not unconditional (as they proclaimed it to be), but very much based on conditions and expectations they had not acknowledged. As I grew more aware of this possibility, I threw a spanner into the works, and introduced them to the symbolism of the Tower in the Tarot.

Though a very spiritual person, empathic and doing their best to act compassionately and not abandon the other individual – in fact, by wanting the individual to ‘change’ and restore their relationship –  my friend is also adding bricks the Tower: the Tower of attachment and lies. It’s a major step on anyone’s journey, to see this Tower for what it is, recognise it, and bring about its destruction.

It is very difficult to introduce this concept to people, especially when you are very close to them, and you know how painful it can be for them to inspect their own motives in a situation so important and vital to them, but it is a realisation that can bring about a huge release, and a great deal of unexpected peace. I know my friend well enough to know that by asking some searching questions, our friendship would not be damaged and would in fact, ultimately be strengthened because my motive is love for her. Like so many things in life, you can’t ask someone else to practice ‘tough love’ unless you understand the experience yourself, and I had to employ some tough love with my friend, knowing their reaction is something I can not control.

I sent this to my friend after speaking with them this morning, and I thought I would share it here, as it can be very helpful to us all when dealing with so many situations. I adapted this from several authors, including Stephan Hoeller.

The Fool comes upon a Tower, fantastic, magnificent, and familiar. In fact, The Fool, himself, helped build this Tower back when the most important thing to him was his place in the world.

Seeing the Tower again, the Fool feels as if lightning has just flashed across his mind; he thought he’d left that old self behind when he started on this spiritual journey. But he realizes now that he hasn’t. He’s been seeing himself, like the Tower, like the people inside, as alone, singular and even superior in some ways to others in the tower, when in fact, he is no such thing.

So captured is he by the shock of this insight, that he opens his mouth and releases a SHOUT! And to his astonishment and terror, a bolt of actual lightning slashes down from the heavens striking the Tower and sending its residents leaping out into the waters below.

In a moment, it is over. The Tower is rubble, only rocks remaining. Stunned and shaken to the core, the Fool experiences profound fear and disbelief. But also, a strange clarity of vision, as if his inner eye has finally opened. He tore down his resistance to change and sacrifice (Hanged man), then came to terms with Death (Death); he learned about moderation and synthesis (Temperance) and about power (The Devil). But here and now, he has done what was hardest: he destroyed the lies of his life. What’s left are the foundations of truth. On this he can rebuild himself.

With Mars as its ruling planet, the Tower is a card about war, a war between the structures of lies and the lightning flash of truth. This is a card about anything we believe to be true, but later learn is false. This realisation usually comes as a shock, hence, the violent image. It is, quite simply, that moment in any story where someone finds out a shocking truth, one that shatters their perceptions and makes them reassess their beliefs.

It sometimes takes a very bright flash of light to reveal a truth that was so well hidden. And it sometimes takes an earthquake to bring down beliefs that were so cleverly constructed. What’s most important to remember is that the tearing down of this structure, however painful, allows us to find out what is true and reliable. What will stand rather than fall apart.”

Detachment isn’t escapism or indifference. Detachment in a spiritual sense is the development of another dimension within us, a dimension which coexists with our active personality but is outside of it. It is to find an inner freedom, to discover a part of the being that can’t be touched by external circumstances or by the outer being’s activities – a separation within, between what we know as ourselves in the world and our inner being, a sort of an immutable witnessing. That is detachment.

On a practical level, this can mean the:* Developing and maintaining of a safe, emotional distance from something or someone whom you have previously given a lot of power to affect your emotional outlook on life.
* Ability to allow people, places or things the freedom to be themselves.
* Willingness to accept that you cannot change or control a person, place or thing.
* Ability to maintain an emotional bond of love, concern and caring without the negative results of controlling.
* Ability to allow people to be who they “really are” rather than who you “want them to be.”

To “let go” is not to adjust everything to my desires.

For the spiritually minded, Stephan Hoeller provides a little meditation that can help when you focus your awareness on what the Tower symbolises:

“I realise that by being attached to the contructs of my personality, I shall never be able to soar into the heavens. May all that needs to be destroyed in me, be destroyed. Thus I shall rejoice with the voice of thunder and exult in the flash of lightening.”


6 thoughts on “The Fool and The Tower – Detachment

  1. I agree, but find that offering people metaphors such as those represented in the tarot can help them take an external view on the situation. Options and not solutions is the key!


  2. Agreed! By trying to offer knowledge and to share things with others, maybe show them a different perspective that may offer some insights, it’s so important to remember we can’t control how they will respond, so I was kind of reminding myself of that at the same at time, while I was writing that – it was quite a trip!


  3. My philosophy is to offer knowledge and opportunities that the other party may become aware of the problem and the potential solutions, then let them get on with it. Get too involved in other’s personal problems and they can pull you down into the hole with them.


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