The Hanged Man Tarot Card Meanings

Pamela Coleman Smith, 1909

The Hanged Man Keywords: Different Perspective, Self-Sacrifice, Pause, Surrender

The Hanged Man Tarot Card Description

Here we see a man hanging upside down from a living tree in the shape of a tau cross. This cross is layered with symbolism. The sprouting leaves denote the Tree of Life. The tau cross is a symbol of divine protection, as denoted in Ezekiel 9:4-6. The Hanged Man is hanging by his right leg, with his hands behind his back. His crossed legs also form a cross. The area between his arms and his head form an inverted triangle – the symbol for Water. Water is the element of our emotions and intuition. There is a nimbus, or halo, shining around his head, symbolizing enlightenment, insight, and mystical knowledge. His expression is calm and accepting. The red colour of his pants symbolizes martyrdom in biblical iconography. His blue shirt is the colour of knowledge, wisdom, and intuition.

What The Hanged Man Means In A Tarot Reading

The Hanged Man is a deeply symbolic card and, as always, the meaning you ascribe to it in a reading will depend on context, its position in a spread, and on your intuition. Here we see a man accepting his fate. There is no struggle. His face is serene. This man has been hung up by the mob, perhaps for what he has done, or for what he believes. But even though it’s others that have hung him up, it’s a form of self-sacrifice as he allows them to do this for the greater good. He’s not struggling against the injustice. He accepts his fate. When you see The Hanged Man in a reading, you may also be going through a situation where people around you don’t agree with what you’ve done, or don’t agree with your outlook. The Hanged Man tells you that there is no point in pushing against these people, or even fighting to defend yourself. You must accept the situation you’re in, for the time being at least. Know that you’re in the right in this situation. Remember that the nimbus glowing about The Hanged Man’s head symbolizes enlightenment, insight, and mystical knowledge. This symbol has been used in many cultures throughout history to represent holiness, or a connection with the divine. You’re being ‘persecuted’ by those around you, but it is you who is in the right.

We see also that The Hanged Man isn’t angry at his persecutors. He accepts his fate gracefully and is at ease with himself and those around him. It’s clear that he has forgiven his persecutors, and isn’t holding on to resentment and anger. There are countless books and articles written about forgiveness and its ability to heal. Think about what Nelson Mandela said about forgiveness – ‘Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear.’ This is the core reason that The Hanged Man’s message is so powerful. You don’t simply forgive and move on with your life. When you forgive your wrongdoers, you enter a state of grace. In a reading, this card is a reminder to you, that this is a time when you also should forgive those who persecute you for your point of view.

This may also be a time when you feel like your life has paused. It’s a time of reflection, not action. As with all of the Major Arcana cards, this pause may feel inevitable. Major Arcana cards represent universal life forces and spiritual concepts. They reveal forces and energies that we don’t have full control over. It’s very difficult for us to change the events, feelings, or states of being, which the Major Arcana represent, and so it is with The Hanged Man. If you feel that your life has paused at this time, you should lean into the pause and use this time to reflect on what has passed and, on your hopes, and plans for the future. This pause will be temporary. Use it to your advantage. Recharge your batteries, take stock of where you’ve come from, where you are now, and which direction you would like to take your life in the future.

The Hanged Man also appears in readings when you’re seeing things from a different perspective. People may not understand your standpoint, or approach to an issue. They can’t see things from your point of view. You may be tempted to think that you must be wrong if everyone else sees things differently, but remember The Hanged Man has wisdom and a connection to the Divine. In this case, your viewpoint is the correct one. Don’t be afraid to hold on to this perspective even when it doesn’t align with everyone else’s. It’s possible that your different viewpoint comes through divination, dreams, or psychic experiences. There is a theme of spiritual growth and awareness in The Hanged Man and this may be a time of such growth for you. Time to let go of your ego and connect with your higher self, the universal consciousness, with the divine.

The Hanged Man Love and Relationships Tarot Meaning

This may be a time when you need to slow down in your relationship. Pause and reflect on what your relationship means to you, on what you have been through, and on what you hope for in the future. Perhaps you disagree with your partner on an issue. This is ok. You don’t need to force your partner to agree with you. It’s enough to know your own mind and to be clear on your own beliefs. Be careful, however, not to sacrifice too much of yourself for your relationship. There needs to be give and take. Relationships should be built on equality.

The Hanged Man Career Tarot Meaning

Don’t push forward at this time. Take stock of where you’re headed with your career. A period of reflection and soul-searching will give you the insight and clarity you need to find a new job, climb the career ladder, or complete a project. You’ll know when it’s time to make your move, and you’ll have the insight and wisdom to know how to progress. Be careful, however, to listen to your instincts and to make a move when you know you’re ready. Don’t be a dreamer, wishing for a great career, a better paying job, or more job satisfaction, but not willing to take action to achieve those dreams.

There’s also a possibility, when The Hanged Man makes an appearance in a career reading, that you’re being blamed for something you didn’t do in the workplace (or that you have been blamed in the past, or will be in the future). As hard as it may be to do, you’re advised here to forgive your accusers. You have right on your side and this will be known in the end.

The Hanged Man Correspondences & Attributions


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