On Monday morning I asked for questions for the next Conversations Under the Oaks, the Q&A / AMA feature I do a couple times a year. My Facebook friends wasted no time in asking some good, deep, serious questions. Here’s the first one:
It is Tower Time. It absolutely is. How does one practically prepare for this time? How do we balance trust with action? How do we walk out our beliefs in our daily life and what does that look like?
I don’t want to overreact, I want to be wise.
I’ve written a lot about Tower Time over the years. I started around 2010 with vague warnings, especially from the Morrigan. By my observation, Tower Time got here in 2016. In 2019 I wrote this post that explains it in some depth. Early last year I taught an on-line course on Navigating Tower Time – the course is on-demand and you can take it now if you like.
But I think it’s worth coming back to the topic again to answer this specific question.
How do we live in Tower Time?
Tower Time: a primer
Tower Time is named for The Tower in the Tarot. It’s a card of sudden, dramatic, and irreversible change. As the artwork in the Waite-Smith deck and derivative decks shows, structures and institutions that were built on false or weak foundations crumble and fall when struck by lightning.
Some readers like to say “The Tower is destroying the old to make way for the new.” That’s one way to look at it. But there’s no way of knowing how long it will take to clear away the debris and start building the new. There’s no guarantee that what comes next will be any better – if the same people who built and controlled the old Tower are allowed to build the new one, odds are good it won’t be better. And if you happen to be one of the people falling from The Tower as it collapses, you may not be around to find out.
What we know for sure is that old structures are collapsing. The world of 2015 is never coming back… not that 2015 was ideal by anyone’s standards. Neither is the world of 1999, or – for those who wish for such injustices – the world of 1950.
Both this-world and Otherworld elements
So what is Tower Time?
This essay by Umair Haque of eand.co titled The End of the Age of Abundance (and the Beginning of the Age of Scarcity) describes the impact of climate change and the over-reaches of Western consumer culture. These lead directly to political shifts: “everything from theocracy to fascism to authoritarianism.”
All this is leading to the decline of the Anglo-American empire. And those with money and power are doing everything they can to stay in power, no matter who gets hurt in the process.
What the secular observers miss is that there’s also an Otherworldly element to Tower Time. The boundary between this world and the Otherworld is getting very weak. Gods we haven’t heard from in centuries are active and on recruiting missions. The Fair Folk never truly went away, but they’re making their presence known in ways they haven’t done in over a hundred years.
The cycles of magic are shifting and they’re shifting fast. More and more people are doing more and more magic. Some have suggested this is creating a feedback loop. I’m not sure about that, but I am sure that there’s never been a better time to learn and practice magic in recorded history.
Tower Time is sudden, dramatic, and irreversible change – in both the ordinary world and in the world of spirit.
So what do we do about it?
It’s time to take action. It’s not time to panic.
Tower Time is not an apocalypse. Apocalyptic prophecies have a 3500 year track record of being wrong every single time. It’s not a collapse. The British Empire has been in decline since World War I – Britain is still a decent place to live (it would be better if they hadn’t shot themselves in the foot with Brexit, but as someone living in a country that elected Donald Trump President, I have no room to feel superior).
The political situation will remain uneasy. Every election is important, but the election this November and the 2024 Presidential election are especially important (“the most important election of our lifetime” was 2016 – we chose poorly).
Climate change may very well drive some species to extinction – humans are not one of them. We’re too resilient and we have too much technology. We may very well cause the deaths of hundreds of millions of humans – or we may not, that’s not certain yet – but we will not kill off our species.
Life for all but the very rich will continue to be disruptive and challenging.
You cannot save everyone. You can save yourself, your family, and your community.
Do not let what you cannot do stop you from doing what you can do.
A spiritual response
Taking care of yourself begins with a robust daily spiritual practice. I don’t think I could have made it through the last three years without my own spiritual practice. Prayer, meditation, offerings, devotional readings – these things keep us connected to our Gods and to our highest values.
Make sure you have some sort of ancestor practice. Whatever we’re going through, we have ancestors who’ve been through worse. They made it through or we quite literally wouldn’t be here. We can be inspired by their lives, and we can call on them for advice and assistance.
Ancestors are generally our most accessible spiritual allies.
If you have troublesome ancestors (and we all do) then find ancestors further back in your line you can work with. None of them are perfect (and neither are you) but perfection isn’t the goal. Finding and honoring allies is.
Make sure you have some sort of Nature-oriented practice. We are part of Nature, and affirming that connection is a source of comfort and strength. Plus it’s the right thing to do.
Our mainstream culture creates too much shame around money. Shame if you have too little (“what are you, lazy?”) and shame if you have too much (“no one needs that much”).
Money is a tool. Like any tool, it is neither good nor evil. What makes it good or evil is how it’s used. Having the right tool makes a huge difference in getting a job done. Having enough money makes a huge difference in working through the challenges life throws at us.
Jason Miller of Strategic Sorcery has a brief blog post where he discusses four stages of financial development. What you need to do when you’re broke is different from what you need to do when you’re in a solid situation.
The important thing is to take care of yourself, where ever you are. Expect more volatility. Flexibility and liquidity is helpful at any stage of life. It’s more important than ever in Tower Time.
Tower Time is more than changes in Nature. It’s more than changes in politics and economics. It’s also changes in magic.
The currents of magic are getting stronger. That means if you can work magic, you can work bigger magic. You can work magic more reliably.
This is a golden age of magic and witchcraft. Books whose mere possession would have gotten you burned at the stake 400 years ago are now delivered to your doorstep – in English – in a matter of days. We’re starting to see some fear-based pushback from the fundamentalists, but you’re in no danger of having the Inquisition show up and trying to see if you float or not.
If you don’t know magic, learn it. If you know some magic, practice it. If you’re good at magic, get better. Then use magic to help improve your finances, your health, and your general living conditions.
Build networks of mutual support
Byron Ballard, who originated the term Tower Time, often talks about “circles on the ground” – small local groups of people who support each other, encourage each other, and look after each other.
We are not going to get through Tower Time alone. Well, you can, but it’s going to be even harder than it will otherwise. That’s heresy for many Pagans who want to do their own thing in their own way and never have to deal with the messiness that is human relations. That doesn’t mean it’s not necessary.
Who can you call at 2:00 AM when you’ve just received bad news and you need to talk? Who can take you to the doctor when you’re too sick to drive? As the meme goes, friends help you move – real friends help you move bodies. I don’t recommend getting into situations where you need to move bodies, but do you have someone who would, if it was necessary? Would you help them in a similar situation?
Besides, life is better together. Find people you can share it with, in good times and in bad.
See things as they are
We live in a time of 24/7 news. We should be the best informed people in the history of humanity. Instead, we’re buried under propaganda and “infotainment.” Even news outlets that make an honest effort to present factual information still package it in a way designed to keep you watching or clicking.
The need to see things clearly is stronger than ever.
Learn to separate facts from opinions and from interpretation. Learn to spot articles and features that are factually correct but framed so as to drive you to a political conclusion.
More importantly, learn to evaluate how things will impact you – and how they won’t. That’s not to say you shouldn’t care about Russia’s war on Ukraine or Saudi Arabia’s oppression of women. It is to say that walking around in a state of perpetual outrage is unsustainable.
Seeing things as they are is critical to navigating Tower Time.
Chaos brings opportunities
And when you see things as they are, you start to recognize opportunities. Opportunities to make your life better. Opportunities to make the world better. Opportunities to make money (ethically), to make allies, to make friends.
Those of you who know me well know I love order. But too much order can be stagnating for all of us, and it can be oppressive for some of us. Chaos overturns order and in doing so, creates opportunities.
These opportunities are not evenly distributed. They are not fair. But they are there for the taking, for those who can, and those who will.
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro”
I started and concluded the Navigating Tower Time class with this quote from gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson (1937 – 2005). Nobody’s sure exactly what Thompson meant by this – he wasn’t known for expository writing. I take it as a reminder to not deny the weird and not hide from it, but to embrace it and to use it to our advantage.
Tower Time is real. It has environmental, economic, and political elements that anyone can see, if they don’t have their heads buried in the sand (or in a certain would-be dictator’s backside). But most can’t see the spiritual and magical elements of Tower Time. Or they won’t see them, because it would require them to re-examine their materialist worldview.
If you can see that, you’ve got an advantage over those who can’t or won’t.
Use that advantage to take care of you and yours.
Tower Time is not Mercury Retrograde. It won’t be over in a month or a year or a decade. My belief (based on analysis and on UPG) is that no one alive today will see its end. There will be no apocalypse, no collapse – we don’t get out that easy.
We have to live through Tower Time.
Let’s do it the best we can.