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What the Cards Mean: The Hanged Man


The Hanged Man: As the Fool learns how to navigate his way through the structures, laws and battles of his life in the Justice card, he can sometimes become stuck as is the case with the next major arcana card the Hanged Man. The Hanged Man is a card of suspension or being unable to move forward. In this card the Fool will simply not let go of something, be it a grudge, a way of thinking, or anything else that can suspend his growth. This card could suggest a perspective shift is in order. The Fool may need to look at the situation from a different angle or from someone else’s point of view. The Hanged Man follows the Justice card, which could indicate the Fool may go to prison or is simply putting himself into a position he cannot get out of. However the Hanged Man is also a card of sacrifice and seeing the bigger picture. The Hanged Man knows whatever situation, sacrifice, or circumstance he has to put himself into is worth it in the end. The struggle he endures will serve the greater good and he just needs to trust the process. In this context, the Hanged Man handles changes and bumps in the road with grace, as he trusts in the uncertainty of his future. He lets go of his fear. He goes with the flow and does not cling to the circumstances. He knows that fate will bring him out on the other side to where he is destined to go. The Hanged Man reminds the Fool to let go, take a risk and follow his fate, even if the Fool has no idea where it will lead him. The Fool must be patient and ride out the moment, just as he had to do in the Wheel of Fortune.


If The Hanged Man is in a reversed or compromised position, it could imply he has ulterior motives. He may be selfish and only pursue goals that suit him. He may value materialism too much, or just be filled with apathy, arrogance and self-absorption. The compromised Hanged Man is ungrounded and only willing to see things from his own perspective and dismisses everyone else’s. He may suggest he will make a sacrifice for another but ultimately not go through with it. Or if he does make a sacrifice he becomes a martyr. It could even indicate that he is being released from a situation or an institution (such as jail or prison), or he is hung up by addiction. Another possibility is the reversed Hanged Man may have no ability to think for himself and only relies on others to do his thinking for him. He does not feed or nurture his soul or those around him. As a positive, he may become "unstuck" and start moving forward in his life again.


Keywords: Stuck, needed change in perspective, incarceration, sacrifice, acceptance of your lot, let go, trust in fate, see the bigger picture, patience. Reversed: ulterior motives, selfishness, materialism, apathy, ungrounded, ignores his own soul and those around him, becoming unstuck.


Illustration of the “The Hanged Man” card is from The Everyday Witch Tarot by Deborah Blake and Elisabeth Alba © 2017 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. 2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125. All rights reserved, used by permission. Photo by Holly Petersen.


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