Great Arcana – Tarot Interpretations
0 – The Fool I I – The Magus I II – The Priestess I III – The Empress I IV – The Emperor I V – The Hierophant I VI – The Lovers I VII – The Conqueror I VIII – The Witness I IX – The Hermit I X – The Wheel of Fortune I XI – Passion I XII – The Hanged Man I XIII – Death I XIV – Art I XV – The Devil I XVI – The Tower I XVII – The Star I XVIII – The Moon I IXX – The Sun I XX – The Aeon I XXI – The Universe
XII – The Hanged Man
“sacrifice and devotion”
Symbol: Salvation, self-absorption, „solutio“
Path of Mem: Geburah – Hod
Archetype: Prometheus, Odin, Schemchasai
I’m starting with the most fitting myth relating to this archetype – Odin, who is hanging on the tree for nine days and nights to achieve hidden knowledge. In this myth this happens voluntarily, which unfortunately is not always the case with the Hanged Man. In many narratives the act of symbolical hanging contains a huge amount of suffering which is rarely understood during the process of affliction. Often mental torture, helplessness and depression are the physical expressions of this archetype. Sometimes the agony is not even inflicted from outside but rather is the consequence of our own actions. Like mentioned in the card of „VIII – The Witness“ humans tend to judge and convict themselves all the time.
This archetype always sounds bad at first, but, as long as we are trapped inside our routines,we can’t see clearly what’s going on within ourselves and in the world around us. Only when interrupted and confronted with stages of suffering (even between life and death) one can discover the hidden true self. The veils can be cleared up and one is able to realize the own true will or what’s really important in life.
Like mentioned with the card of „X – The Wheel“ the stages of falling are followed by a period of rotting which then leads to absorption and rebirth. This refers to the element of water and the great sea which is connected to depressions, sorrow and emotional release of any kind.
The inability to act, the fear and the captivity which one must sense during this process will eventually lead to an about-turn in the point of view. That’s the main symbol of this archetype – to turn the view upside down.
Positive narratives of one’s life or beloved influences can turn out to be negative. On the other hand dark, feared and ignored aspects or symbols are revealed to be positive in a greater context.
Only through the passivity of „hanging“ we can even begin to learn to see clearly. In this helplessness the solution of falling and picking up courage again can be found.
On absolutely every path to any form of awakening living through this archetype is relevant. The chance of initiation or arising beyond one’s cycles is higher with people who have suffered a lot and therefore have seen the other side of the life-medal. A „Yolo“ and „grasping ecstasy“ attitude has never lead noone nowhere but to never ending cycles- only when falling and hanging comes to pass a look through the celestial veils and therefore a change in life is possible.
In the mythical concept of gnosis our view turns upside down when we learn about our gods who turn out to be „worship eating“ archonts. A physical expression of this concept are corporations who sell the illusion of happiness, healthiness and a perfect world with advertisement, sputtering from colours, quick impressions and diversions. When we grow up we are condemned to believe in every propaganda and act respectively. We nourish ourselves with unhealthy food and mental input, are addicted to a couple of substances (not necessarily drugs but mostly mobile phones, sugar and meat) and believe the law of money and economic career to be true. When confronted with the facts about this massive manipulation one instinctively turns his sight away from this ugly truth. After all hidden knowledge is never convenient. That means that once a displeasing fact is known it can never be forgotten anymore. Even if one chooses to forget on a conscious level the truth works in one’s subconsciousness on a subliminal level. The changes in life we would have to make appear to be so huge that it is too difficult to make a start. Usually in this cases a lifestyle disease would appear which is always connected to the archetype of this card. Only when considering the sources of this stroke of fate one can transmute the greater consequences of one’s actions. In contrast to the card of „Death“, where we must start all over again, „The Hanged Man“ offers a second chance. Fortunately life mostly offers a few chances to change before it strikes downright.
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