Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Hanged Man: Another Look

I first wrote about the Hanged Man  on March 30th, but so many people ask me about the meaning of this card that I thought it might be helpful if I re-enter that post from then, now, and follow up with some questions you might consider asking during a reading.

As can be imagined, there is a tremendous amount of confusion and misunderstanding that swirls around the Hanged Man, the twelfth card in the Major Arcana. At first glance this pretty understandable. After all, most of our associations with seeing someone hanging from a tree are pretty dire. The image evokes fear, dread and horror.  However, as with so much of the tarot, not everything is exactly what it first seems. On the contrary, the Hanged Man is all about enlightenment as is all the tarot.  He reminds us that in order to see the true meaning of things we sometimes have to take ourselves out of our customary comfort zones and mentally and spiritually turn things on their head, so to speak. 

If you take a closer look at the Hanged Man, you'll see that his head is wreathed in a golden corona of light.  He's experiencing bliss, for it's only at that precise moment when we change the way we think and make that mental shift, embracing a fresh idea or attitude that we obtain enlightenment and ultimately get to the next level of spirituality. The Hanged Man reminds us of the importance of challenging our premises and beliefs we have about the world and the people in it for not to do so condemns us to a life of stasis and stagnation.

People are curious about his legs, as well.  They represent the number four upside down which symbolizes the four corners of the earth and its four directions. The fact that he is "standing on his head" (which yogis have been doing for centuries in order to obtain enlightenment) indicates that we must delve deep into our unconscious in order to obtain spiritual awareness.

The tree that the Hanged Man is suspended from represents the Tree of Life which is an iconic motif which reoccurs throughout religion and mythology.  Essentially, it depicts the interconnection between Heaven and Earth and the underworld.

In a reading, the Hanged Man indicates a need to shake things up and challenge yourself. Think out of the proverbial "box". Be curious. Have wonder.  Approaching life from a position of "not knowing" and you will know everything you need to know and more.

Here are some questions you might use in your readings:

-Are you inflexible in your thinking?

-Is it hard for you to accept an other's point of view?

-Are you judgmental?

-If you're in a relationship, can you and your partner both be "right"?

-Are you tolerant of difference?

-Is it difficult for you to adopt new ways of thinking about things?

-Must you have the "last word"?

-Are you seeking enlightenment but are feeling stuck?

-Is there a bigger Truth that you need to surrender to but are resistant?

-How might a new perspective on an old problem effect you?

-Were you brought in a home where things were either "black" or "white"?

-Do your attachments to either people or beliefs have you "hung up" and immobilized?

-Are you at a critical moment in your spiritual development?

Amy bows low at the feet of all her enlightened teachers.

Amy can be contacted at

1 comment:

  1. I think the Hanged Man IS the Tree of Life and represents the sefirot of the Kabbalah, but upside down. Odin hung Himself upside down from the tree. Christ was cruxified rightside up but Peter was hung upside down.