The Tower is not alone - the city all around is glowing red, on fire, burning. War, the sacking of Prague (Swedish army during the Thirty Years war if I remember correctly). It's Dresden in a firebomb, Coventry, Belgrade, Baghdad. We hear the cries, the sirens, the anti-aircraft guns, the grunts of pain, the running feet of the stretcher-bearers. Mothers wailing, fathers sobbing. The Tower's fate is the microcosm to the city's macrocosm. It is even more an image of RUBEDO than the Empress.
The figures fall - where? in the river if they are lucky; on burning houses or on the waiting pikes if they are not. One seems to be projected right out of the card into third - fourth! - dimension! His expression is serene - is he already dead? Or has he accepted his fate, has he reached final triumph and wisdom, which is the higher meaning of this card, that is linked, numerologically, to the Chariot (1+6=7).
There is a Church behind the Tower, which looks intact. Our spirituality can surive, can even thrive in such a shock. Here we have the hidden meaning - 6-1=5 - the Hierophant, sage in his library, the continuity of tradition and the passage between daily life -even extraordinary daily life - and spirit (in the Prague, remember, the Hierophant is the rabbi who called up the Golem to save the Jews during a Tower time for them).
Might this card not also be about our smallness, our relative insignificance - in events that overtake a whole community (war, but also earthquakes, tsunamis, cancer, AIDS, unemployment - and on the bright side, love at first sight, sudden illumination that feels like a shock)? Yet we are not unimportant - we share in the event and each of us live it in our own way, we leave traces in how we react to what overtakes us. 6 million Jews died in the Shoah: but we all remember Anne Frank and her courageous, moving, bright, funny and occasionally sarcastic diary.
In the Tower, we are actors of history, though we don't always know it. In the Prague Tarot it is especially visible - a reminder.
When I saw that card the first time I thought - Iraq! I lived through the heavy American bombing in 2003 and it was a momentous time - a mix of fear, sorrow, anger - and excitement, clarity, extraordinary behaviour (my own included ! weird). And those red skies (shudder)- You have to feel them on your skin...and yet, a strange beauty. I cannot say how exactly it happened, but I'll never be the same again. Isn't that at the heart of the Tower?