Friday, May 17, 2013

Carpe Diem #198, The Hanged Man (XII) Tarot

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We are going further on our journey through the Tarot-cards and on our quest for the deeper divine (Christian) meaning of this wonderful game of cards. Today we have arrived at The Hanged Man (XII). The first thing which came in mind was a few crucifixions of which I know or have heard, e.g. Jesus Christ and Saint Peter. And I thought of Judas Iskariot who hanged himself. Let us take a look at this card from the RW-Tarot-deck:

What do we see?

We see a man hanging upside-down by one foot. The figure is suspended from a wooden beam (as in a cross or gallows) or a tree.

In his book The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, A. E. Waite, wrote of the symbol:
[...] The gallows from which he is suspended forms a Tau cross (It has been a symbol to many cultures before Christianity, including a mention in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. It has been adopted by Christianity as a representation of the Cross. It is said by St. Jerome (Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus 347-420) and other Catholic Church Fathers that the Tau is an Old Testament allusion to the cross and crucifixion of Jesus mentioned in Ezekiel "Mark Thau upon the foreheads of the men that sigh". (Ezekiel 9:4 ), while the figure—from the position of the legs—forms a fylfot  cross (a swastika). There is a nimbus about the head of the seeming martyr. It should be noted :
1.) that the tree of sacrifice is living wood, with leaves thereon;
2.) that the face expresses deep entrancement, not suffering;
3.) that the figure, as a whole, suggests life in suspension, but life and not death.
I will say very simply on my own part that it expresses the relation, in one of its aspects, between the Divine and the Universe.
He who can understand that the story of his higher nature is imbedded in this symbolism will receive intimations concerning a great awakening that is possible, and will know that after the sacred Mystery of Death there is a glorious Mystery of Resurrection [...]

Saint Jerome in his study painted by Dominico Ghirlandaio
Church of Ognissanti - Florence (Italy

The symbolism of The Hanged Man (XII) has to do with divinity and is associated with the Passion of Christ, especially the Crucifixion. Jesus had the choice in the Garden of Getsemane were He was praying to His Father, short before the Crucifixion, to go on with His Life or Give His Life up for rescuing mankind. A pure form of altruism. As we know He gave His Life for us.
With His sacrifice He destroyed Self, Ego, and gave mankind a new chance. The Hanged Man shows that too. O
n the card, this is symbolized respectively by the person of the hanged man and the living tree from which he hangs bound. Saint Peter was crucified upside down and in a way similar with The Hanged Man. Saint Peter was really a Saint and he died for the love of Jesus, the Messiah who he once had denied knowing.

Crucifixion upside down of Saint Peter, similar with The Hanged Man

Let us look a bit closer to The Hanged Man. As we look closer we see that he hangs on an Oak Tree, which represents courage, endurance and the protective power of faith. He wears a radiant halo, a symbol for enlightenment attaining higher awareness and insight. The young lad looks like he's androgynous, without sex. That we can see in the reversed four of his legs which is a symbol for masculinity and the triangle of his arms which is a feminine shape. This symbolizes that you have to follow your inner voice, discover your inner self, and gain insight into the forces that influence your life story.
It also stands for bringing in balance your masculinity and feminity or in other words ... unfold and discover the male and female in you.

unfolding the quest
become an androgyn creature
and be whole

As you hang, like the hanged man, upside down at a monkey bars than the world looks different and you become aware that the world has her other side, another sight. It's a free choice to look in a different way (upside down) to the world, to your surroundings. If you hang a little while upside down, your blood streams to your head and you become dizzy and your sight will become blurred, as looking through your eyelashes e.g. can be. The world becomes mysterious and mystical and than you realize that the world can be different and that you, maybe, can help to chance it.

Source: The Crucifixion of Christ

This is the Christian meaning of The Hanged Man. Jesus Christ gave, out of altruism, His Life to save mankind. He saw the world through divine eyes, as looking through his eyelashes, and saw that the world was in danger. His sacrfice was physical as The Fall was spiritual. Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden, because they would be like God, knowing all of Good and Evil, to gain Ego. With the sacrifice of Jesus, purely physical, He turned The Fall right, so concluding the circle of wisdom and knowledge, because His sacrifice gave mankind a chance to change.

full circle
after The Fall, the Cross stands tall,
wisdom regained

The Hanged Man (XII) a difficult card to interpret, but I think I have succeeded. After re-reading this episode it feels like a sermon, that wasn't my intention, but ... well ... maybe this whole month feels like a sermon, because we are on a journey, a quest, through the divine Tarot.
With this episode, The Hanged Man (XII), we are a step closer to the divine Tarot and we will go on further on our journey through the Tarot tomorrow with Death (XIII). Another not so easy prompt I think, but we will see.

For now: I hope you enjoyed the read and forgive me if it was to much a sermon, that wasn't my intention. This prompt will stay on 'til May 19th 11.59 AM (CET) and I will draw our following card later on today around 10.00 PM (CET).



  1. Ah this one I thought would be easy to write, but it was a struggle... Thank your for your in-depth articles every day.

  2. you have presented so much knowledge about the many facets of this card (and the Tarot) and multiple interpretations....Definitely NOT a sermon!

  3. Thank you once again for your wonderful efforts Kristjaan. I'm learning so much in this series :)

  4. This is a well written and easy to understand episode...thank you...writing the haiku, took some thinking, but I think I may have met the spirit of your teachings.