The Hanged Man card shows a man hanging upside down, with a peaceful expression on his face. It’s not exactly an image that screams ‘positive message’. However, as with all tarot cards, its meaning lies beneath the surface. (And normally, the man doesn’t have two left feet, except for in the Thoth deck.)
The Hanged Man does not represent torture, punishment, or defeat. Instead, this card represents surrender, letting go, and looking at things from a different perspective. The man hanging upside down is a symbol of sacrifice, and the peaceful expression on his face suggests he has willingly given up control to gain a deeper understanding of himself and the world through a major shift in perspective.
The Hanged Man is a reminder that sometimes, to move forward, we need to take a step back and look at things from a different angle. It’s a call to release our preconceived notions and open ourselves up to new possibilities. In readings, the Hanged Man often appears when the seeker is at a crossroads or facing a difficult decision. It suggests a new approach may be needed and that by letting go of old patterns and beliefs, a fresh perspective can be achieved. For many, this kind of cognitive dissonance can be unsettling, but for spiritual explorers, it’s quite thrilling.
In everyday life, the symbolism of the Hanged Man can be applied to a variety of situations. It may be a reminder to take a break from your daily life and engage in self-reflection. It may encourage us to let go of expectations and embrace the present moment. The card may even suggest a period of waiting or uncertainty is necessary to gain clarity and move forward with purpose.
Questions to Consider
- In what areas of my life do I feel stuck or blocked?
- What beliefs or patterns of behaviour may be holding me back?
- Am I willing to surrender control and look at things from a new perspective?
- How can I engage in self-reflection and gain a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me?
- Meditation: Practise meditation in the ‘Hanged Man’ pose, imagining yourself to be hanging upside down. Use this time to let go of your thoughts and embrace a new perspective.
- Journaling: Take some time to reflect on a situation you’ve been struggling with. Write about it from the perspective of the Hanged Man, letting go of preconceived notions and/or personal experience and opening yourself up to new possibilities.
- Creative Expression: Create a piece of writing or art that explores the themes of surrender and new perspective. Use this as an opportunity to let go of old patterns and beliefs, and embrace the unknown.
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Variations of the Card
The Hanged Man is one of the cards with the same apparent symbolism for each tarot deck on Tarotsmith. The Hanged Man cards from the Rider-Waite and Thoth decks both show the same idea. Most tarot decks have been inspired by them, so most decks don’t stray too far from the standard concept: a man hanging upside down, not crucified, but in a self-imposed period of meditation, with his blood having rushed to his head.
Langustl managed to avoid having a human figure. The man seems to be hanging in a hole, which is also an eye, and somehow is also the sun, on the other side of the planet. But the point is the same: self-sacrifice, paused time, meditation, and enlightenment.
The most notable difference of this set is bifrost. His legs form a number four, whereas the other decks show the inverted four shape. bifrost references the ankh, doing so with a combination of the cross and the sun to comprise a symbol of eternal life.
Diary of a Broken Soul has a spider-man hanging from his web. Like the Norn wading in a gooey swamp, this strange substance seems to be alive, energised like a pool of Barbelo.
In the Surrealist Tarot, one is left to wonder if the figure with his head dunked in the pool even has a head. Like the Norn wading in a gooey swamp, the strange substance itself seems to be alive, energised like a pool of Barbelo.