A Visitor’s Guide to the Tower
In a remote outpost of Mandrake Academy, an ancient stone
tower stands as a monument to a forgotten place and time. This is where
you’ll find the alchemy lab, and where you’ll travel for your classes with
Some towers are lighthouses — stations of guidance and
warning. Some are watchtowers, places of protection and guard. Some are
prisons, where lost souls languish and waste away. At Mandrake Academy,
the Tower is a laboratory, where human experience is the basis of a
The Tower houses the alchemy lab. From this vantage
point, you can see the alchemist inside: he’s standing at the top of the
Much like any ivory tower of education, the Tower
symbolizes an elevated world of higher thought and observation.
The Tower’s spiral staircase rises up in the
double-helix shape of human DNA. The stairway symbolizes evolution and
growth, as well as the climb to achievement and success.
The atmosphere in an ivory tower can be tumultuous. At
the moment, the Tower is in the center of a raging summer storm.
The Tower is under assault from every direction, and
all of the elements are in play. The air is churning, the ground shakes
with every clap of thunder, lightning fills the sky with fire and
electricity, and the water is roiling. Waves pound relentlessly at the
Tower’s foundation, and vibrations rattle its upper floors.
The Tower is often associated with Mars, the god of
war, and the destruction and havoc he can wreak. It can symbolize anger,
upheaval, destruction, and ruin.
Just as frequently, however, the Tower represents
enlightenment, inspiration, and release. The tower can be a lightning
rod for change. Ultimately, the Tower experience is one of purification.
The Tower is buttressed by two anchors: the glyph for
the planet Mars, on the left, and the Hebrew letter
Pe, which means mouth.
For centuries, philosophers believed that the entire
universe consisted of four elements: fire, water, air, and earth. They
agreed that each element had primary and secondary characteristics that
determined how well the elements would mix and match.
According to their system:
Fire is hot and dry.
Water is cold and wet.
Air is wet and hot.
Earth is dry and cool.
Some tarot readers use the elements to enhance their
readings, by referring to the elemental dignities in a spread.
The Elemental Dignities Spread
This introductory spread will help you see how the four
elements work in combination. Don’t think about any elements pictured on the
cards themselves. For this practice reading, simply work with the positions
in the spread.
Start by laying the four central cards. Lay one card
for each element: Fire, Air, Water, and Earth.
Lay four more cards in the corners, to represent the
characteristics of the elements: Dry, Hot, Cold, and Wet.
Use the diagram to determine how well the cards relate
to each other on an elemental level.
The three cards along any one side, like Fire, Hot and
Dry, will work well together; the two cards on either side will
reinforce the card in the middle.
Any two element cards that share a corner card — Fire
and Air, Air and Water, Water and Earth, or Earth and Fire — can also
The cards in the Fire and Water positions — as well as
the cards in Earth and Air — will be diametrically opposed to each
other, but they can meet in the middle.
The cards in opposite corners — Dry and Wet, or Hot
and Cold — will be impossible to reconcile.
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