Sunday, April 21, 2013

XII: The Hanged Man

Tarot Rider-Waite
(c) Eltarotdecarmel
Hanged Man (Vatican Museum)
Also a saint
The hanged man has always been a fascinating figure. In tarot, he is depicted hanging upside down with one leg free. He is often depicted as a saint. However, the sainthood, which moves this rather grim Arcana into the realm of being a Martyr, is not shown in the other tarot decks. Rider-Waite took the sainthood from the meaning of the card.

This might be because the hanged man is not necessarily bad, and it does not necessarily describe wrong decisions - but it can, depending on the situation. In Christian iconography, the process of being hung often describes a God-given suffering, that can be rewarded in the afterlife. Therefore, the hanged man is not necessarily hanging because of a previous crime, but he can be seen as the victim of circumstances.

In Tarot of Marseilles (unlike with Rider-Waite), the Hanged Man is suspended via two posts, that represent the spiritual and the material worlds. The cut branches represent the karmic negativity of the ancestors. The figure represents the psycho-genealogical tree, whereby the head is the root.

The Hanged Man means stagnation, no movement, and remaining in place. The meaning depends a bit on the question if the card is read upright only, or including upside down as well. When all cards are read upright, the meaning is stagnation out of someone's own will, and voluntary submission. With this card, the person has to have patience, and possibly sacrifices himself for other people. The card is therefore not necessarily negative (like most cards), but can give the advice that relaxation and stagnation is productive. It can be related to the Four of Swords of the Rider-Waite tarot (the knight lying on a tomb), which means resting out of exhaustion, or with the Two of Swords of Tarot de Marseilles, which means thinking and taking decisions carefully, rather than taking action. The Hanged Man integrates in himself the knowledge or the intuition of the Two of Swords, because the process of thinking is completed. 

He now must make sure he does not move into any direction, and not take rushed decisions. He needs to be patient. This card also represents to meditate, and contemplate about your past life, to be able to identify negative and positive sides and take future actions accordingly. The Hanged Man is trapped, but he has the opportunity to better himself in the future.

Tarot de Marseille by Yoav Ben-Dov
If the card is read in the reverse as well, the reverse card can mean involuntary inaction, because of something that feels like a force that is causing the inaction (family obligations, physical impairment, overpowering fears, and lack of self-esteem etc.). If the card is reversed, one needs to take a new perspective, and change the situation, either psychologically or physically. How a tarot reader can add advice to a bad card can be seen in my previous blog.

The following card in the Major Arcana, card number XIII, the Death or Arcana with no name, will break this inaction, and changes will arrive.

In finance, the Hanged man, can therefore also represent unemployment or a dead-end job, and as advice, it can - depending on the question - mean that it is better to remain in the job. In Health, it can describe a person who is physically not able move very well. Together with the Emperor in a reading, the problem of moving can be physically related to the legs.  Together with the Hermitage, this problem can be due to old age. Because of the lack of self-esteem, it could mean the propensity to be addicted to alcohol, prescription and recreative drugs. Therefore, this card relates to the second chakra (the spleen chakra).

If you want to know more about the Hanged Man, or are interested in a reading, please find out more under Readings are available in London, Notting Hill, or vial Skype worldwide in English, Spanish, Italian and French.

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