Friday, March 26, 2010

The Tower

The Tower is one of enduring symbols in the Tarot and this particular tower is a very moody example from Glendalough. Apparently, Hildegaard of Bingen has an interest in this one, but I can't verify that, so perhaps someone else might know of a reference. In the Tarot, the tower is being struck by lightning, signifying that whatever human beings may build is bound to fall at some stage. Hope and love remain nonetheless. But this tower reminds me of Rapunzel's prison tower. Bound to a wicked witch since the age of 12, Rapunzel had to drop a hook attached to her long blonde hair, so that the witch could climb the tower and listen to Rapunzel's beautiful singing. Eventually a passing prince hears her singing and together he and Rapunzel hatch an escape plan. Unfortunately Rapunzel gives the game away. The witch pushes the prince out of the tower and falling into a thorn bush below, he is blinded. But sightless, he continues to search the land - and then hears her singing again. His sight is healed by his tears of joy when they are reunited. They trick the witch who is left imprisoned in the tower, whilst the two are married and inherit the kingdom. Featured in a poem by William Morris, Rapunzel's story takes the form of a dream vision that moves us from fragmentation to integration. So there are many things here to consider - initial disruption or disintegration, the alchemy of the coagulation and transformation - and individuation. Folk tales almost inevitably end in marriage and psychically, this represents integration. The witch represents the trial (composed of shadow elements) that must be endured and overcome before individuation is possible.