“The Tower serves as a reminder that humility is required on the inner journey, and that the influx of divine energy from the higher realms of the Tree [of life] will prove too overwhelming unless our inner self is well balanced and has a solid foundation. The Tower is ruled by Mars, who ruthlessly destroys ignorance and vain conceptions.” (Nevill Drury, The Tarot Workbook.)
With Card 15 being concerned with our psychology, and the darker side of our minds as being represented by the Toad God, now the Card of the R’Lyeh Rising represents the psychology of groups and society on the greater level. In the literature of the Mythos as Worshipped here, Lovecraft describes the R’Lyeh as being the underwater Tomb of Cthulhu, which, when rising from beneath the Ocean, led to the incurable insanity of those who witnessed it*. This Card could, therefore, be seen as representing the rising of various social and political movements, possibly having been instigated by the psychick vibrations of the Great Old Ones.
“It is human”, starts the description to Card 16, “to repress… memories and feelings, pushing them… into… our unconscious self so that we can avoid the… feelings evoked by these memories. It is a… trait of the Cosmos to… force us to deal with them before they… rot… like an emotional cancer.” An interpretation of this statement from the perspective of the R’Lyeh as our religion, would be that everything that is of emotional reason within our (everybodies) everyday lives, is actually as a direct result of the larger matrix of the Cosmos as one greater whole. The Universe is, to the R’Lyeh, one unified space, and with the Gods of our Worship being so huge, They exist within this matrix on a scale on which the human race is, to Them, like the insane civilizations of the insects.
Our Tarot expresses this as it follows this statement, telling us that “[t]his is the Cosmic Intelligence forcing a… process on us.” This ‘Cosmic Intelligence’ is the combined Universe as expressed in terms of the religion of the R’Lyeh, with our Mythos of Gods as depicted in this as our Tarot system.
“It is [a]… human tendency to project… negative traits onto unusual individuals and minority groups”, continues our Tarot, “thereby setting ourselves up for additional problems.” With this statement the infinite chaos of the Universe comes straight back upon us as a race of many societies, and the impetus is once again on us as responsible, before any acknowledgement of the Gods can change our situation. “The tendency to externalise… negative characteristics is often very subtle… but often takes a clearly evident and often violent form when… on a group or communal level.” The problems of this race is ours as human beings, and is not the fault or decision of any of the Gods as They watch us in our futility.
Society is then further defined as a definition within the Tarot, and a statement about our actions as a collective consciousness is made. “Rather than dealing with communal failing and weaknesses in a progressive way, a descent into despair… and then misdirected anger… prove to undermine the community.” This statement describes to us how the problems of collective individuals can become the problem of society.
But in understanding this, the HP Lovecraft Tarot continues to explain to us how the collective mass can also operate as a productive whole. “[W]hen the weakness is recognised… and dealt with… (either as an individual or as part of a group), it becomes a powerful source of strength and an unshakable foundation for further growth.” As the R’Lyeh was described as rising from the depths of the Ocean, human society can act as the collective, both as destructive disorganisation or as a unified mass of one mind.
The statement is concluded as the Introductory Book to this Tarot goes on to tell us that, “the Devil can’t make anyone do anything they don’t want to do, so don’t make a habit of blaming the Devil.” Whilst we do not have an actual Satanic Devil in the religious R’Lyeh, we can always regard one as such in the principal in such a statement as this…
POSITIVE READING: Having defined society and our weaknesses in a sense that could in some sense be seen as being political, the definition of this Card in a Reading now speaks to the individual on a more personal level. With all of the problems that we, as humanity, have on a central level, the Tarot now speaks to us to explain how this description of the risen R’Lyeh applies to us as reading the Cards. The idea is that such social movements can always relate in some way to the individual, as the individual is the only consciousness in any situation.
So the Tarot here states that a Positive reading is defined as signifying “necessary change imposed by external forces when unable to initiate change from within.” What sort of ‘external forces’ this relates to, exactly, is unclear, but within the R’Lyeh as a religion, it is our belief that in Worshiping the Great Old Ones, we are in recognition of the constant back-brain communication that results from being in tune with the psychick resonancy that this entails. It is assumed that, with this defined, when we are in a situation that necessitates personal change, it will arise from acknowledgement of the power of greater Cosmic forces, should we be unable to initiate this by ourselves.
This statement continues by telling us about a “catalyst for growth [and] recognising weakness & working within it.” Both of these statements can be seen as being issues with society, should this be appropriate to the Reading, but it would be more immediate to consider this on the level of being relevant to ourselves. It continues with the same idea as it forecasts the “understanding & acceptance of diverse modes of action & comprehension of the larger picture.” This with the same interpretation, should be read as it relates to the Reading in question.
The next part of the Positive Reading defined is, however, more obscure, and the definition more open to question. It tells us that the Tarot predicts “the House of God.” Concerning this statement, there is no such thing to the religious R’Lyeh, but we still have to question what this statement means? Whilst this as a statement could be read as being something along the lines of something like ‘an interaction with the Church of Christ’, in this sense it has no relevance to us. The reading here, therefore, could be interpreted further as meaning that there will be an acceptance of the individual into some part of the R’Lyeh, or as meaning that part of our religion will come into play in some part of our lives. This definition being no more defined, however, this is one short statement that is left to question.
Moving on, the Tarot now tells us that the future will involve “therapy [or] self help” on some level. This is still in the nature of this Card as relating to ourselves and how we relate to society. Of course, ‘self help’ is a term that is open to huge interpretation, but some time productively spent by ourselves or with a close friend, in sorting out our ideas, is signified. “Recognition and addressing of character flaws” is defined, and is in the same vein as with everything else here discussed. But remember that this is the R’Lyeh Rising, and so any of this could be relating to us inwardly, and to our view of ourselves.
NEGATIVE READING: Our definition starts here with a very serious warning that relates primarily on the level of society, although could just as easily relate to the personal, of “catastrophe [and] sudden, violent change.” The Tarot is rarely something incredibly serious, however, but a warning in this respect should be accounted for as something to consider as possible. The Reading becomes clearer now, and states next that “arrest, imprisonment [and] defiance of natural order” is signified. This forecast is in the typical nature of Card 16 as we have defined it up to this current point.
In terms of personal flaws, the Tarot warns us of “inability to look within for threats and weaknesses.” This is one example of how the Lovecraft Tarot is very specific in what is tells us. Most other Decks do not go into these sorts of very specific statements; and therefore these statements should be seen as being very specific as to this particular Deck of Cards, and in being directly relevant as to what the Tarot is saying with this particular interpretation.
Having said that, the definition of this Card within this Tarot is still very much about the personal views we have as individual parts of a greater whole, and how views affect society in this sense. By defining the R’Lyeh Rising now as representing “externalisation & projection of problems onto others”, this reinforces our definition as written above.
Our Tarot now moves on to say that Card 16 is representative of the “Tower of Babel”. But as this is a difficult term to describe in this context, I’ll move on. But as one statement, in this paragraph the Tarot continues as defining “divisions along ethnic, linguistic or class lines as an obstacle to progress.” Whilst this primarily points to these as the issues of society, these divisions may also be those attitudes that are held by ourselves. We may not even be aware that we hold these attitudes, but Card 16 should be taken as a warning that this is possibly the case.
The Card of R’Lyeh Rising ends by warning us about symptoms that are more probably likely to be those held by ourselves. These are defined as the “inability to face fears; depression [and] emotional deterioration.” We should regard the R’Lyeh Rising as meaning that, whilst society has many problems, these can be reflected in ourselves. And, as society has these problems, our own attitude can also be part of the actions of society on the greater scale.
* This statement is taken from Lovecraft’s fictional story, ‘Call of Cthulhu’. Whilst our religion does not consider such a thing to be a statement of fact, it relates to The Tower as part of our study of the Major Arcana in this specific context.