This article is part of a series of posts that will compare each card in the Tarot across different decks in order to study and explore each archetype and concept more deeply. This is not necessarily meant to be a teaching tool for others, but if you like to study the Tarot as much as I do, I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy!
For more on the decks referenced here please see this page in my blog: Tools of the Locksmith https://wordpress.com/page/theramblinglocksmith.com/163
A major reference for this study was “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack.
The Hanged Man
This archetype of the majors might be the most misunderstood in the entire Major Arcana of the Tarot along with the Death card. It has been interpreted in movies and other arenas to mean that someone is about to die. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Hanged Man does lose something – but all he loses is an old and tired perspective that no longer serves him. He has released the emotions that have been locked up for years which is an act of surrender.
What he gains is so much more important. Its the ability to see the truth with clarity because of gaining a new perspective after the experiencing true Justice. Because, after you see the truth, you can’t possibly go back to unseeing it, and therefore you have a new perspective. And that new perspective may not bring you peace and enlightenment, but the next step on the path toward it.
Its not just a matter of swinging your head in a new direction, or a trick of the light. Its a true change in perspective in the most meaningful way that allows you to choose differently in the present moment. That’s not to say that everyone else will be able to share your new found vision, they may even think that you are the one who is backwards. Its one of the most beautiful concepts in the Tarot, and I look forward to exploring all of its varied nuances in the following examples.
Standard images in the card include:
- Hangs from a tree shaped like the letter T – in some camps representing the Hebrew letter Tau – the letter that represents the world, and this means that at position 12 you are halfway to the world at the end of the path in the Major Arcana.
- The Hanged Man is upside down, and can be the same figure as the world dancer in position 21 when the card itself is turned upside down.
- His or her arms are crossed behind their back which is a position of arriving at this perspective based on withdrawing from society vs the world dancer at the end of the Tarot who can hold this perspective while participating in society and every day life.
- The crossed legs represent the number 4 upside down – which means to take the four directions of the world and turn them on their head.
- The arms and head form a downward pointing triangle to show that the direction toward enlightenment is through the subconscious.
The Tarot of the Divine uses the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty who ceases forward momentum to avoid disaster. Her options were sleep or death, so she waits for a more favorable option to present itself. She also holds her hands in a heart shape which for me says that the way to enlightenment is also through the heart and surrendering to compassion vs fear and anger.
In the fairytale, the forceful action of removing all spindles didn’t result in the desired outcome. The only thing that would was peaceful surrender.
Waiting does not feel like an action or a decision, but sometimes it is the act of inaction that creates the most favorable outcome and possibility for transformation.
What are you trying to force? Will waiting potentially give you more options?
What stages of surrendering to the power and perspective of compassion are you in?
In the Tarot of Mystic Moments a women hangs upside down in a graceful stance. She is not afraid but at peace. Her weight opens up a zipper which reveals a new landscape beyond the wall of leaves. She also knows that a new opportunity will come if she waits in a state of grace and peaceful surrender.
This card is very similar to the card in the Tarot of Divine, but the difference is that even though the woman is waiting, she understands the weight she carries in order to open up that new possibility, and she also understands the weight of the situation.
Its not if but when this new landscape will be revealed.
Do you understand and feel your own weight? Do you understand what you are waiting for? What do you think is behind the zipper? Do you trust your own weight to pull the zipper when its time?
In the Light Seers Tarot the Hanged “man” is taking a more active role in this new perspective, because for her its not just a new perspective, its a new posture, stance, and even spell that she is prepared to cast when the moment is right.
This woman has realigned her flow and her heart intentionally with her purpose, surrendered to that purpose, and now the only waiting she needs to do is understand the moment to cast her spell of intentionality.
She is graceful and unbothered, but she holds joy in her heart and her hands which she will use to create the next beautiful thing in her life.
What would it take for you to surrender to this state of being unbothered? What is the new posture that you are prepared to learn and hold with grace? What are the elements to that spell you are waiting to cast? Chances are you have plenty of time to learn them.
In the Brady Tarot this amazing possum is not only attracted to the joy and light of the fireflies, but they are attracted to him. He hangs in a pose that surrenders to the rooted tree behind him which can easily withstand the raging rapids of the river below him.
This incredible being shows you the power of your own intentionality if you can just get out of your own way, and the power of what you can do if you are strongly rooted and grounded.
All to often our first step is to attract the light, and we skip the step of being rooted and grounded which is the most important step on the path.
What can you do to be more rooted and grounded so this new perspective reveals itself?
In the Ancestral Path Tarot uses a very different example of the Hanged One. This unborn child has no choice but to wait until the time is right . And even so the circumstances of its future are inevitable and the change and transformation it experiences through birth will be dramatic. But for now it is in transition, in a period of rest between significant events and action is inadvisable.
I guess the only problem with this is what to tell yourself? Like so many other times it can all come back to your breath. Feel it expand and contract. Get really good at that because it will help you when you transition to the next phase of your life.
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