XVI The Tower
Don Quixote de la Mancha
Traditional meanings for this card are: Liberation; a rude awakening; a reality check;
disillusionment, an explosive transformation... Emancipation from the Self or Divorce from
The literary work I chose to represent this card is "'the ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La
Mancha" by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
Don Quixote is the story of a country gentleman Alonso Quixano who creates a newly inspired self
in his golden years. As he is inspired by books of Chivalry & Romance, Alonso is convinced he is a
knight errant and he sets forth to seek adventure and romance in 16th century Spain. One of the
most memorable moments in the novel is Quixote tilting at windmills that he believes to be giants
flailing their arms. After many farcical adventures and relatives burning his collection of
chivalric books, Alonso Quixano comes to his senses and renounces his madness before the book
Within the story Alonso experiences the Tower archetype as he invents/becomes Don
Quixote and again when reason conquers his personae leading it to dissolve. It should also be
noted that the novel itself also created a Tower of sorts in the world of literature as it is
considered by many to be the progenitor of the modern novel form. Cervantes was captured by
Barbary pirates and imprisoned for five years - after a difficult release - he created the novel
we know today. The theme of Escapism shines through in the story of Don Quixote...Living in the
world of chivalry and knights errant rather than the banal existence of an aging landowner. Don
Quixote truly became a new creature that reinvented and glorified the very genre it was mocking -
may the books of chivalry live on with the words of my true ~ Don Quixote...
Notes on the card: The lightning struck tower (Spanish - la torre) in this card is the mind of
Don Quixote. The word Razon (reason) is written upon the bolt of lightning as it strikes our Quixotic
protagonist. The windmill behind Quixote's head is ablaze and appears to be part of his head – as
the wheels and cogs of fantasy come to a halt and wither away. The book he holds is also his body as
he has literally become the stories of chivalry clothing himself with the Don Quixote personae. We
see at a glimpse the beginning and end of the story with the last passage of the book which speaks
of the books of Chivalry collapsing as Don Quixote dies, and that they lived on for a moment because
of his madness.
In a reading, this card represents a rude awakening to see yourself as you truly are and not merely
as you wish to be seen. It is a time to move forward with new ideas and to let go of the delusions
of your past. The true escape artist understands disintegration and integration as the Phoenix is
reborn from the ashes. Vale~(farewell).
Close This Window
All Text and Images Copyright 2007 © Museo dei Tarocchi. Further reproduction prohibited.