The Hanged Man

Meaning of The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man is usually seen as a card of sacrifice, peaceful acceptance of undesired circumstances and lack of influence on situation. Lack of influence may come as inability or willing decision to stay aside and accept what you were given. No matter how much this card seems to be hard with such attributes as accepting and sacrifice, accepting often comes as blessing. Sometimes, being wise and wisely dealing with unwanted situation simply means staying inactive, accepting and waiting for the favorable winds. Dealing with it in the wrong moment could be just wasting of time, energy and precious resources. Thus inability to influence may really make an impression of acting like victim, it isn't necessary like that. Accepting what cannot be changed sometimes requires more strength than any actions. The Hanged Man also speaks of forgiving and letting go. If we talk of forgiving and letting go then the sacrificing is getting different meaning. Not rare, it is the real sacrifice of ego. And The Hanged Man is related to ego's inversion, when the one willingly or not experience the state when the ego lost its support in social position, material matters, title or profession, or anything else with which was made strong personal identification. It's painful, I know, but it's not deadly. As sooner we accept, less resistance we give the crisis passes away faster and leaves less scars. This is the wisdom of The Hanged Man.

As an archetype, The Hanged Man could be perceived as principle of sacrifice of physical and material in order to get closer to the higher spiritual realm. Detaching from all that is connected to the earth plane to be opened to absorb higher heavenly vibration. The Hanged Man is usually depicted hanging with one leg hanged on the tree, the other leg is bent at the knee and his arms are tied. In the Rider-Waite deck he is hanged for the right leg, left is bent and hands are behind his back. Thoth Tarot shows The Hanged Man hanging on the left leg, right leg is bent and with open arms nailed. The symbolism is very suggestive in Thoth deck. As a symbol of sacrifice he is depicted nailed similar as Jesus, with difference he is not nailed on the cross and upright but hanged on the reversed Ankh. In Rider-Waite deck he is hanged on the tree which is in the shape of latter Tau. If we compare those three symbols similarities are obvious. Both the Egyptian Ankh and Cross contain the latter Tau. On the other side, some historical hypothesis along with assumptions of some esoteric orders, groups, cycles and school of thought support the thesis that Jesus was actually nailed on wooden form of Tau instead of cross, that cross appeared afterwards in later interpretation. I don't really want to go deeper in this discussion, at least not here, on what Christ was nailed, was he nailed overall or was just tied, was it symbolical or literal act, was he really existed under that name of was he really existed at all. This comparison have as purpose to picturesquely display and compare some of very well known and generally presented symbols and principles which are deeply rooted in human conscience and unconscious mind. All of those "deeply rooted" symbols and principles, some of which are archetypes, strongly effect human perception of reality, perception of causal links, understanding and interpretation of moral and influence behavior. They are very present even more than we think of it because they have become inseparable part of human consciousness and unconsciousness. And for me these thesis are interesting exactly in the terms of archetypes.

To get back to The Hanged Man. He is in uncomfortable position indeed. It was the way of torturing in past ages. Beside that, he is depicted as he is smiling. There is no pain or any feeling of unconformity visible at his face. Furthermore, he has shining aureole around his head like the saint. The aureole looks like The Sun around his head. Like saints who were ascetic and had strict regime of willingly putting themselves in physical torment, even did harms to their physical body in order to detach from physical senses and get in touch with subtle senses, the Hanged Man represent similar pattern. Of course, I don't have intention to advice anything such that in order to gain more spirituality. This is just very physical and literal description of this archetype which serves just as picturesque description. Archetypes are more complex and they represent primal ideas. Thus, it stays that The Hanged Man has ascetic character, even more than The Hermit. While The Hermit still stays with both foot on the ground The Hanged Man is hanging in the air. The Hermit left the society to find a higher wisdom and he did overcome the temptation of earthly life but he is still at the edge between earthly plane and higher realms. He is endeavoring to get in touch with the higher trough his mind but he doesn't live it trough the feelings and unconditional commitment. He is also depicted in the dark with only light of his mind. He is wise philosopher but yet not the saint. The Hermit is dealing between the worlds, while The Hanged Mad surrendered himself to the spiritual world fully. He doesn't think, doesn't observe, doesn't perceive with five senses - he feels, sees with the inner eye of truth and is in the state of Nirvana. He internalized light which is still externalized in the image of the Hermit. So I can freely say that The Hanged Man is the higher octave of The Hermit and his next step. Is it the light of The Star (like it was said for Hermit's lantern) or of The Sun, this is still light from the heavens and shows that he absorbed the whole universe inside of him. Someone stays hermit and the wise man forever someone embraces the eternity and become a saint. If The Hermit acknowledges the Truth trough the meditation and contemplation The Hanged Man acknowledges the Truth trough the complete surrendering to mystic trance and ecstasy. This real point-blank spiritual experience, not trough the physical, emotional and mental notions, thus has some of those elements partly - physical because released from physical limitations no matter he is depicted exactly as physically limited; emotional because of that pure emotions which are not product of ego are shortcuts for spiritual and exalted experience; and mental because he is also free mental boundaries and observes from different perspective. The Hanged Man is also associated with introspection, calmness, patience and commitment to spiritual path and in that way he could be partly male counterpart of The High Priestess.

As The Hanged Man is hanging upside down and his upright position is actually reversed, all about him could be understood as reversed or inverse. His inner state is also inverted. What we can see at image is inverted too. The image gives impression of physical discomfort and limitation what is actually inner, spiritual bliss and freedom which could be only seen at his face. Not rarely, people use to see the one who is going trough the phase of Hanged Man as victim and in poor state, what is not strange if he is observed from the point of daily life and trends. They just can't see the other side of coin - the reverse. And they would describe this person as one who acts like victim or put himself in that role because of weak will or lack of inner strength but the truth could be anything but that. Just because of inner strength, will and faith he could accept those challenge and tests and just carrying a smile for everyone and everything around. Any words seem to be lame to evoke and describe that state of spirit. It is just that far from ordinary intellection to be told by the words, perceived by five senses and understand by mind. So maybe the finest way to get closer to the secret of The Hanged man is a try to find out the inversion of impression we usually get at the first and approx sight. Accordingly to that, The Hanged Man teaches that many things are not like that as they seem to be on the surface and not to judge by appearance.

Correspondences of The Hanged Man are water element - such in Thoth Tarot and sign of Pisces which some authors assigned to this Major Arcana. System of Tarot and system of Astrology are complements and they are not completely replicated. So when we compare them and if we appeal to Astrology in the terms of Tarot it would be very strict and limited to observed them as exact and complete replications of each others. Anyway, the water element is related to mysticism, perception, absorption, receptivity, religious fervor, surrendering to spiritual, among the others features, which are also related to the major Arcana The Hanged Man. The sign of Pisces is believed to include into itself all previous signs and their experience which makes this sign being at the end of evolution as a synthesis of previous. This is also a sign related to spirituality, religion and faith. It is also believed that the age of Pisces is marked by this religion and its symbols and vice versa, the same as previous age was marked by symbols of corresponding zodiac signs and omens of ruling religions at these times. In that manner both correspondences - the water element and Pisces sign - fit the symbolism and meaning of the Hanged Man.

In daily divination's The Hanged Man usually represent waiting, delaying, time of passivity and inactivity. Those are some of very obvious and literal manifestations of this card. But as everything related to The Hanged Man hides something in reverse, many of those obvious features bare inside something more. For example, period of physical inactivity or inactivity in practical jobs could be followed by very active inner processes. Similar as state of meditation or sleeping when body doesn't move but very vivid images appear in mind and consciousness. In that state of peace rich insights, ideas, experiences and sensations take their place and the main role. That state, used appropriate, could be very fertile and favorable. Like the water irrigates the dried earth and makes it wet and fertile, or such after deep dream we feel refreshed and rejuvenated next day, this state water thirsty and dry spirit and somehow makes it refreshed and rejuvenated again. You can see, on the image of The Hanged Man the young man is depicted. You cant's surely define his age, is he a boy, young lad or middle aged man - his age is undefined because here is accent on spirit and spirit doesn't age, it can only grow and becomes mature but not old. On the other hand, the spirit dictates our physical appearance. So, The Hanged Man often shows the state of external inactivity but inner activity.

The other practical manifestation of The Hanged Man is reversing (again) of temporal state. He may announce a turn over. Turn over or specific situation or of personal view. Observing things from different perspective than before is also in the domain of The Hanged Man. From that point he is related to fluctuations of the consciousness. Unlike The Moon, which is predominantly deals with unconscious part, The Hanged Man deals and brings the awareness of those fluctuations.

If you get The Hanged Man as your card of the day don't be surprised if something what was planed becomes canceled or if something surprising jumps out. Remember it's about reverse and turn over. This is all with some purpose. If you get interrupted in some activity that's for reason, and reason is probably that you need some important insight. Contrary, if something what seemed to unlikely to happen appears and pleasantly surprise you, it probably means that you were patient, had a faith for positive outcome deep inside of you but didn't clinch up so tied to it, went with the flow and let the things going their way. That's the applied wisdom of The Hanged Man. On the other side, is unwanted change coming up as turn over, The Hanged Man suggest wait, be patient, let the things go their way, accept, go with flow, don't lose faith but release yourself of obsession about the outcome, don't force anything because we are just a small piece of the universe and just one of his numberless manifestations, just grain of the sand of the whole cosmic dust, just one drop in endless ocean and like that we are important and have our purpose but we are also a part of unthinkable bigger wholeness which even grows bigger with every moment and breath we take. At least, you can never know for what is something good and what the future holds. But maybe you can know and see if you accept the terms and directions of The Hanged Man ;) At least, you will not really get nailed or hanged up... I hope. And don't forget to smile ;)