(The above image is a copy of The Hanged Man card in a standard Rider-Waite Tarot deck. The 4 symbols pointed out above are explained below.)
The Hanged Man tarot card is all about gaining new perspectives on life. While most people avoid having their world flipped upside down, The Hanged Man seeks it out. In giving up his subjective experience, The Hanged Man gains spiritual enlightenment. He is able to see the world anew.
For more information about The Hanged Man card, check out A. E. Waite’s description here.
Point 1 – THE FIGURE’S POSITION
The Hanged Man’s position is a mythological allusion to both the wizard Merlin and the Norse god Odin. According to legend, both figures would sleep in this position in order to gain a new outlook on life. Additionally, the figure’s position illustrates the numbers three and four: his head and arms make a trinity and his feet resemble the symbol 4. This illustration is reminiscent of Lady Justice’s crown in that it unifies the spiritual world of the trinity and the material world of the compass.
Point 2 – BOUND FOOT
The Hanged Man is bound to the cross by one foot. Being half bounded implies that the man is not totally dependent on the material world. His other foot is free to move around as it pleases. The Hanged Man’s bounding illustrates the need to live partially in the spiritual realm and partially in the material one; As above so below.
Point 3 – CROSS
The cross is a Tau Cross because of its resemblance to the Greek letter. It is the cross of St. Antony the Great, who is associated with asceticism. Like the monks who practice asceticism, The Hanged Man gives up his comfort in order to gain a new outlook on life.
Point 4 – HALO
Around The Hanged Man’s head shines a halo. Upon first glance, The Hanged Man’s position seems precarious and something to be avoided. The halo however signifies that The Hanged Man is practicing something holy and that, instead of avoiding him, we should follow him.
An Upright Hanged Man suggests that you need to see things from a different perspective. Perhaps the world is swirling around you and it seems that you are swimming upstream. Take a step back, figure out the direction of the stream, and follow it. Embrace the world as it is, not as you perceive it.
A Reverse Hanged Man suggests that you are refusing to see things from a different perspective. Things are getting blocked up and you are refusing to acknowledge it. A Reverse Hanged Man warns of our stubborn ego misrepresenting a situation. Take a step back and remove your subjectivity in order to see a fuller picture. Course correct and follow the stream of objective reality.
For more Tarot Card Meanings, check out our blog here.
About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company Upwork.com. You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B. A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and a M. A. in English from the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about Tarot here and his LinkedIn profile here.