The Hanged Man is probably one of the most out-right perplexing cards in the deck. As this is a Tarot deck we’re talking about, that’s saying something. At first glance, the Hanged Man appears to be one of the simpler cards; ultimately, of course, this only adds to his intrigue. If you’ve recently been dealt a Hanged Man or want to learn more about him, this guide explains all of his meanings, interpretations and what cards he goes best with – and worst.
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Who Is The Hanged Man?
As I hinted at in my introduction, the Hanged Man is a deceptively simple card. It portrays a tree (the Living World Tree) in the slender shape of a “T”, with some foliage in the upper corners, an empty grayish background, and a thin man. A man is suspended by his right ankle from the top of the “T’. He hangs upside down, with his hands tucked behind his waist and his left leg bent casually at the knee and tucked behind his right knee.
He has a conspicuous and large, bright-yellow halo around his head and the expression on his face is calm and peaceful; he is, in a word, relaxed. And yet, he is hanging. The belief, of course, is that he hung himself on purpose, or allowed himself to be hung, or is quite content at being hung. The gray background hints at invisibility, which contrasts with the yellow halo of spirituality (a warning to let your spirituality speak for itself).
The Hanged Man is brightly clad. He wears a blue tunic, to represent knowledge; red pants, symbolizing physical passion; and yellow shoes, which are supposed to indicate a sense of principle or morality.
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What Does The Hanged Man Mean?
Let us consider three other brief things before we get to the bottom of the Hanged Man:
- The Living World Tree is a tree with its roots in the underworld and its upper branches acting as supports for the heavens.
- The Hanged Man’s number is 12. This is significant as it represents attention to detail, premeditation and controlled growth.
- The Hanged Man’s ruling planet is Neptune. Neptune is the planet of self-sacrifice.
If we put all these things together, we come to the conclusion that the Hanged Man deliberately hung himself from the Living World Tree (between death and afterlife) in a carefully calculated act of self-sacrifice. Many people believe that this card is a very strong message that perhaps the best course of action is sacrifice, or self-sacrifice, or even surrender. The trick is that this might be the last thing you would have considered, and yet it might be the only way for you to achieve what you desire.
The Hanged Man can also suggest a need to wait or to let events unfold without interference. Or, if time is of the essence, it may be wise to clear your mind and devote a portion of this valuable time to reconsidering the events at hand.
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The most interesting part of the Hanged Man is deciding whether or not the card is directed at you or at someone you know. This is where things can get awfully confusing. You must look truthfully at yourself and decide if the Hanged Man is your card. If so, then this is a direct command from the Tarot deck to sacrifice or surrender.
If you believe the Hanged Man is directed at another person, then this may still benefit you as it is believed that the other person is using the Hanged Man’s tactics against you or someone else. When the Hanged Man is directed at another, its nature becomes more malevolent. For example, the person in question may be giving you the illusion that they are hurt or stuck accidentally, but in reality they are tricking you and are quite content where they are.
Past, Present And Future
When the Hanged Man is dealt in the past position, then you have possibly already sacrificed yourself and find yourself at your present place in the world because of this decision.
In the present position, this is a frank warning to surrender. Perhaps what is causing you distress is being forced into action; maybe this is what a rival desires, and the only way to win is by sacrifice.
In the future position, you can expect that something will occur that will tempt you into action. The message is that you should avoid assuming the role as enemy or active participant. In this way you will not need to be dealt a Hanged Man in the present when the time arrives.
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With Other Cards
There are not many cards that are dreaded matches to the Hanged Man. This is because the Hanged Man is part of the Major Arcana sub-deck, which basically means he is a trump card and overrules all others. When paired with the Devil card, this is thought to mean that a nasty habit or addiction needs to be let alone before it causes serious harm (so most people would not like to see the Devil card).
But in general, when the Hanged Man appears with Sword cards, a tense situation is primed to explode and needs defusing; with Pentacles, you are being warned that your greed is becoming a dominating factor in life and not making you any wealthier; with the Suit of Wands, your creative endeavors are falling short due to a lack of focus or, ironically, lack taking serious action toward perfecting your art.
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