The Hanged Man features one of the most fascinating and poetic images of the whole tarot card deck: a man hanging upside down from a tao cross (sometimes a tree or bar) by one foot, his hands bound or tucked behind his back. He is suspended in mid air, his free leg forming the number 4 with his other leg.
Unexpectedly, he is not struggling to escape and instead has a look of complete satisfaction on his face. What is the story behind this strangely calm hanged man?
1) The Number Four
Four is the number that rules a person ego, implying that the hanged man is suddenly surrendering his own consciousness and will for a much higher one.
2) The Story
The story is inspired by the Norse god Odin, who hung from the world tree for nine days straight after a spear wounded him. As a result, he was forced into a temporary state of enlightenment. Odin had give up control to gain insight.
Often, change is falling from the hanged man, resembling his loss of worldly possessions and thus worldly desires. Remember how his hands are not free? This shows that he is unable to take action or grab at things he may want. Also, he is not holding onto anything!
As the man hangs between the ground and the cross, he has a moment of absolute clarity, consisting of new insights that render him carefree. His materialistic self is transformed into a spirit that is unconcerned with practical, day-to-day worries.
But the hanged man would not always be in this suspended position; he will eventually return to the earth and become a part of society again. However, even after his epiphany has worn off a bit, he will hopefully be changed forever.
3) Are you hanging upside down?
How might the Hanged Man be a metaphor for your life? Are you going through a big change that is requiring you to sacrifice relationships, money, possessions, financial or emotional security, or even your ideas about how the universe works?
If so, then you have a stunning opportunity to take a glimpse into what a life without earthly wants and needs, unattached and free from all prejudice and judgment, is like. While this state of consciousness is only momentary, it can influence the rest of your life and give you a new, powerful freedom and bravery to pursue hopes and dreams you never even considered before.
The hanged man has to sacrifice previous notions about the way things work, all his belongings, and even health and physical comfort in order to become enlightened. The Hanged Man tarot card is not about life or death or making choices or even predictions about the future. It is simply about viewing all existence with the kind of innocence and openness that only babies have. Hence, the Hanged Man is a symbol for rebirth and transformation.
Those who relate to the hanged man the most have typically suffered a big loss. Divorce, death, a job change, growing old, getting sick – all of these can trigger someone to rethink everything. If we can be like the Hanged Man, at peace with what we have and not sorrowful or angry about what we don’t have, then no matter what life throws at us, we will always evolve and become better, happier people in the end.
4) Your Next Step
While we are hanging upside down, we are paused in life, but the stage is now set for us to adapt to new changes and progress. Imagine yourself standing at a crossroads, not ready to pick a path.
First, take a step back and observe what is going on in your life without the intention of making any conclusions or decisions regarding your future. The Hanged Man encourages non-action. Sometimes, it is NOT necessary to do something, and in fact it is foolish and often destructive to act just for the sake of acting.
Patience is the most important virtue for you to practice right now! There are periods in your life where all you can and should do is wait. This may mean a lot to you if you are waiting on your significant other or love interest to make a move or if you are waiting to find out if you got that new job. Just as the hanged man, life might be out of your control right now. The key is to accept this fact and not fight it; fighting will be futile after all.
5) The Reversed Hanged Man
There are two sides to every coin! The conventional Hanged Man encourages tarot card readers to relax, while the reversed Hanged Man encourages action. The man who says he will start up his business tomorrow, not today; the woman who says she will pursue an education tomorrow, not today; the nicotine addict who says he will quit smoking tomorrow, not today… these are all people who might be in need of a good change and should stop waisting their time reflecting on the mysteries of life!
By SilviaP_Design from Pixabay