The Hanged Man Tarot card is one of the most mysterious cards in the deck. It attracts, but it also disturbs the mind, contradicting itself in different ways. The Hanged Man is destabilizing because he symbolizes our lives.
The main lesson of Hanged Man is “let it go.” As long as you remain firmly tied to a feeling, fixed idea or creed, you will stay like him. We will gain much more by letting things flow, ceasing to resist the inevitable (as we’ll study in Death, the next card), and learning to accept the things as they are.
The Hanged Man invites us to observe our complexes, the inhibitions that keep us frightened and in a state of servitude. We don’t have to keep playing the role of the victim, doing nothing, and, therefore, not developing our potential. It represents passivity. In a way, he’s like a weather-cock. As the wind blows, he swings according to moments and opinions.
Read on to learn about the symbolism of the Hanged Man Tarot card and what it means in the upright and reversed positions in terms of love, health, work, and money.
The Hanged Man Tarot Card and Numerology
Each Tarot card has a number and that number is a part of its symbolism. The number of The Hanged Man is 12. 12 is a very important number in metaphysics. It is 3, the number of Divinity, multiplied by 4, the number of Materiality. It represents all of the archetypes of humanity. There are 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 disciples, and 12 tribes of Israel. Furthermore, if you add 1+2, you get 3, which is pure Divinity.
The association of the numbers 12 and 3 for this card increases its mystery and emphasizes its spiritual nature.
Keywords for The Hanged Man Tarot Card
- Unfulfilled promises
Imagery and Symbolism of The Hanged Man Tarot Card
The Hanged Man has his hands tied behind his back, and his right leg is placed behind the other. A halo of illumination surrounds his head, signaling that a Divine force has manifested changing his beliefs.
The Hanged Man, or the Sacrifice of the Victim, is also called “Prudence” in old tarot decks. He represents expiation, suffering, renunciation, a change in ideas, and a pause to rethink our path.
At first glance, this card brings misfortune and total impotence. It presents us with such an uncomfortable situation that our first instinct is to try to release him from his torment.
Going beyond appearances, however, does this man really suffer? His facial expression is one of absolute normality and contemplation. It seems that we are experiencing more pain by seeing him depicted this way. In fact, the image portrays a moment of illumination or joy due to his pose, similar to that of a dancer performing a ballet move. Yet, there is a little rope keeping him upside down, literally hanging from a thread.
The Lessons of The Hanged Man Tarot Card
Every human that is dominated by a mental habit that resembles the picture of The Hanged Man. In the same way, everyone who judges others belongs to the category of people who aren’t free. Their head is tied down because of their prejudices.
But the symbol of The Hanged Man also leads to another observation. Its apparent inactivity indicates an absolute submission to a higher spiritual power. This leads to the regeneration that will occur during the next Tarot card, Death
The necessary sacrifice: The Hanged Man, an upside-down world vision
Between the internal fight between our lower animal instincts and our higher natures as shown in the Strength Tarot card and the renewing life energy of the Death Tarot card, we find ourselves with an uncomfortable pause, symbolized by The Hanged Man.
This card that is related to sacrifice is also a wake-up call to rethink our beliefs and ideas. What drove our hero to this terrible torment? Why, and by whom was he Hanged? A psychoanalyst might say that unconsciously, he brought his destiny upon himself.
Is it the man or the World that he lives in upside-down? Everything seems to indicate that it is he who, literally hanging by a thread, needs to change his perspective.
Perhaps it is a voluntary sacrifice. Maybe the pause he takes is only a break to wait for better times. Maybe he is forced to live in this situation, but if so, he does nothing to defend himself.
What we know for sure is that the protagonist of The Hanged Man Tarot card is between life and death, literally, and we are about to learn who wins this fight.
However, pauses and recovery times are mandatory in life. Everything in nature has a time according to the Divine plan, and we must learn to wait. The Hanged Man is an invitation to understand what is stopping us, but it is also a lesson in patience.
How to Interpret The Hanged Man Tarot Card in a Reading
The Hanged Man Tarot card symbolizes the presence of situations that are challenging or that require a great deal of adaptability. It can also represent an altruistic person, who is willing to sacrifice himself for the common good. This person is faithful to his principles, even when they hinder his freedom of action.
This card can also represent a change of perspective, a decision or action that will give a turn to the current situation, or a change of fortune. Qualities of this card are mental agility, dedication, altruism, mysticism, wisdom, and clairvoyance. It can also symbolize premonitory dreams, initiation, rebirth, growth, or fertility.
The reversed position indicates a materialistic person, who is shallow and frustrated. Other readings can be stagnation in emotional situations, dependence, or the struggle to break bonds. It can also suggest an inner struggle that ends in defeat, projects that won’t thrive, and obstacles in the foreseeable future.
The spiritual message of The Hanged Man is quite clear. He is here to make us uncomfortable and to ask us what we are willing to sacrifice to progress in life.
The Upright Position of The Hanged Man Tarot Card:
When The Hanged Man Tarot card comes out in a spread, it means that you are at a crossroad. He asks us what we are willing to sacrifice to move forward in life. We may have to leave a harmful or toxic relationship, to stop allowing ourselves to be influenced by others, or to stop playing the role of a martyr.
If The Hanged Man signifies a person, they lack free will and independence to get things done. At this time, they are helpless to act of their own volition. There could be an emotional, physical, or monetary problem that is holding them back. On the other hand, it could mean that the person is faithful to others and is willing to sacrifice for their loved ones.
If the question is about the progress of a project, it will not occur as expected. You will need to wait and see.
If you are fickle or easily influenced, the spiritual message of The Hanged Man is: don’t be a weathervane and don’t let yourself blow like the wind. If you do not set a course, you will end up lost.
The meaning of the Upright Hanged Man Trump when it comes to:
- An ambiguous relationship
- A relationship lacking in passion
- State of neglect, you are not taking care of yourself.
- Depression coming from low self-esteem and lack of self-respect
- Go for a medical check-up
- Start exercising
- Take action
- Lack of motivation at work
- A feeling of being under-appreciated
- Give back and donate to charities.
The Reversed Position of The Hanged Man Tarot Card:
If The Hanged Man Tarot card appears reversed, we encounter a selfish, foolish person who expects everything to be done according to his whim. It’s his way or the highway.
The Hanged Man Tarot card reversed can mean that you are hoping that your problems will solve themselves. However, this is often not the case. You may have felt that things are at an absolute standstill, without any movement or resolution. It is as if you were suspended in time, and you cannot move forward, backward, or sideways to get out of your current situation. Your own goals and dreams are put on hold due to external realities or internal problems.
At some point, however, you will be forced to make a final decision and perhaps a sacrifice along the way.
- Short, but significant, love relationships
- A woman could be having a strong influence in your love life, and you should take her advice
- Carelessness that could lead to health problems, accidents, or even death, depending on the other cards in the spread
- Need to rethink jobs, careers, and projects
- Dismissal or job changes
- Ruin or loss of money
- Don’t invest
Rider-Waite images used with permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT c. 1971 by U.S. Games Systems.