Fairytale Towers

Four spires of Istanbuls Blue Mosque

Four spires of Istanbuls Blue Mosque

Fairy tales are full of slender towers of white marble piercing cloud filled skies. The lofty height of the spires sweeps our imagination up and away from the mundane world and into the creative space of dreams and stories. In moving the eye and the mind upwards, towers have us dreaming of more, of better, of dreams come true. Enchanted by the mysterious spell of the tower we smile, but there is a darker side to these dreamy spires.
Usually they contain something precious which is locked away from us, removed from the world and held in suspended otherworldly time. We can’t see into the tower, but we know that what it contains would delight and fulfil us, if only we could get there. Seeing the tower creates a longing to climb it. In fairy tales there is often a golden haired princess, hidden away by her father, awaiting rescue and release back into life. In this way the tower is a symbol of being stuck.
Some part of us has been locked away from us, by a part of us which is wise and thinks it knows what’s for the best. The princess within us all is vulnerable and innocent, she wears no armour and greets the world with soft smiles and laughter. Carefree and childlike this part of us longs to skip through the world which is our life, looking with fresh eyes and a creative spirit filled with possibilities. She longs to bring openness to change, and an innocent trust and belief that the world still has some good things in store for us.

Istanbul stormy sunset

Istanbul stormy sunset

The sky changes as a storm blows in, and this storm might also set our inner prince off on a quest searching for the golden haired
princess. Her hair is golden simply because she represents something eternal and untarnishable, no matter how long she is locked away in the tower. I love the hope that this can give us, in other words it’s never to late to start living more openly. It’s never too late to look for change when our lives feel unsatisfying. The prince represents our youthful courage, to feel the fear but go on the quest anyway. All change is frightening, but with some light armour and a good horse anything is possible. Determination, focus and will power will drive us forwards despite the fear in our belly, and the armour will shield us from all who have us stay the same. The precious jewel in the tower calls us onwards in hope.

William Wallace tower, Scotland

William Wallace tower, Scotland

The stone and bricks of the tower symbolise the way we can build up a rigid way of seeing ourself. We might even feel quite proud of all we have achieved in the world. The storm blowing might damage the tower itself, sending its stones tumbling back down to earth. In the same way, sudden changes or storms in our lives, can crumble the existing a views we hold of ourself. It can feel like devastation, and utter loss as our preciously held sense of self is pulled apart. There is a tarot card called the Tower, which has exactly this meaning. It shows a tower being struck by lightening and crumbling, and it symbolises the sudden breakdown of previously held understandings of the world, and of ourselves.

Holyrood Palace tower, Edinburgh

Holyrood Palace tower, Edinburgh

But don’t worry, all is not lost, even if the tower does crumble. Remember the treasure within, the golden haired princess. She will be released by the towers destruction. With the release of the old rigid structures, which felt safe, but might I fact have been holding us back, there is the potential for fresh hope. The creative spirit full of growth and joy can be released back into our lives either by our own courage to seek change, or by unforeseen change crumbling away our old certainties. Either way the containment of the tower has passed its usefulness, and the golden haired princess is free to roam and play once more.

Nunsgate watch tower, Haddington, East Lothian

Nunsgate watch tower, Haddington, East Lothian


This post was inspired by the challenge theme ‘height’, at where’s my back pack. Click the link to see more takes on height.


About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home on the shores of Loch Ness deep in the Scottish Highlands with my husband, my son and a couple of dogs. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist and Cancer Support Specialist in Maggies Highlands
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18 Responses to Fairytale Towers

  1. colonialist says:

    Nearly missed this one!
    Fairytale though the Istanbul ones may be, those in Scotland somehow impress me more.

  2. janineyork says:

    What a perfect description of the metaphor of princess’s, prince’s, and castles as they relate to real life. It is my story exactly. I became very cynical when my “prince” died. It changed my view of the world, my life and fairytales all together. I kept a slight glimpse of hope, I guess the “princess” inside. Now I have given love a chance again and have found new hope in romance and the wonder of life anew. I love, love, love this story!! Love, hugs, and peace to you Seonaid, Janine

  3. Tina Schell says:

    Wonderful choice Seonaid – and love your story!!

  4. ottomandandy says:

    Thanks for putting istanbul photos … Amazing mosque scenes !

  5. Paula says:

    What an interesting read, Seonaid! I have always had a thing for towers 😀

  6. Suzanne says:

    Brilliant post and an incredibly creative response to Ailsa’s challenge. Well done. I really enjoyed reading this and learnt a lot about symbolism in the process. Thanks.

    • Thanks Suzanne, that’s lovely feedback. It’s probably my least commented on post, but then it has lots of writing……and not everyone’s cup of tea. I work a lot with symbolism, so am fascinated by it, and the ways we can use it consciously to aid change.

  7. ordinarygood says:

    At first thought New Zealand is not a land of towers such as you would find in United Kingdom and Europe but there are some and plenty of sky scrapers in our big cities…..I’m going to ponder this some more.
    I really enjoyed your post with its metaphors, links back to childhood stories and the sense of hope within it all.

    • Thank you, hope is so important, no matter what we are going through in life. There is always the chance to allow change to make our lives different, but it’s a frightening process 🙂
      Any tall building can be seen as a tower…..and then of course there are the ivory towers of academia, built brick upon brick of known facts!

  8. oxherder says:

    inner becoming outer… thank you!

  9. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Seonaid we have things in common.

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