Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Tarot Card of the Week: July 28 – Aug. 3

The Hanged Man

The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.
— William Booth

This week, we are graced for only the second time by this powerful Major Arcana image. The Hanged Man is one of the most misunderstood cards by novices to the Tarot. In a recent class I taught, he was picked by several as the most unpleasant of the Majors. This is a perfect example, I think, of why it is vital to study the Tarot, instead of just flying by the seat of your pants, and relying purely on personal, uneducated responses to the cards.

For as grim as the Hanged Man may sound or even appear at first glance, look closely and you may see that it is not a card about death or punishment. Instead, the Hanged Man has a halo around his face, his eyes are open, and he is at peace. It becomes clear that he has chosen to hang in this way upon the T-shaped Tau cross.

His legs are in an odd position, one crossed behind the other, like the number four, which is symbolic of Earth, and stability. So although he is hanging upside down, he is still grounded, in a non-ordinary way. His position even looks like a dancer‘s pose.

In fact, if you reverse the Hanged Man, you will see he is in the same pose as the World Dancer figure in the World card. However, unlike the World figure, who extends the magic wands she holds, the Hanged Man has his arms behind his back; his power is not yet revealed, but withdrawn, or still in the process of being understood.

This week, we celebrate the Sabbat named for the Celtic God, Lugh. This festival marks the beginning of the harvest season. In many cultures, tradition required the king to sacrifice himself for the land. In the Celtic practice, this happened at Lughnasadh. At one time, this was a literal human sacrifice, later it became a ritual death.

It was performed as an act of devotion. This was the king’s surrender to an authority higher than himself, to the divine order, and because his ultimate purpose was to serve the good of his people. His surrender of himself was given willingly, that the land would remain fertile through the coming Winter, and be reborn in the Springtime.

Like this ancient wisdom, the Hanged Man advises us to leave our comfort zone. Be willing to be led by a higher power or truth that has called to you. Take time out to listen and receive the insight that you have needed. Let go of your props and the insulated safety of your ordinary routines.

There is deep wisdom awaiting you, but like an initiate, you must surrender control of the situation, and allow Mystery to guide you.

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  • July 28, 2008, 10:47 am Greg Fletcher-Marzullo

    Oh, Beth Owl, this comes at sooo the perfect time. I’m leaving my job Wednesday to go deeper into my sacred dance and movement work, with encouragement from the Mysterious Ones.

    Just this morning, I had a, “Oh, dear, what the hell am I doing” moment.

    This is good to hear, especially that last paragraph. I think I’ll return to it a few times over the week.

  • July 28, 2008, 12:26 pm Beth Owl's Daughter

    May your journey be blessed, dearest Greg! May the guidance of Mystery dance most divinely with you!

  • July 28, 2008, 12:58 pm ARIE

    Hi Beth,

    “The Hanged Man is one of the most misunderstood cards by novices to the Tarot”
    In my opinion if novices would learn without the titles beneath the cards, they may misunderstand them less. The titles activate the talking self, which then disturbs the work of the younger self. This results in wrong associations.

    He reminds me of Odin who hung from the world tree to obtain the knowledge of the runes.

    This card has something to say to me also. On Friday I’m going on a 2 day Feral Hiking walk. My talking self is planning and learning water survival tips (it’s very hot here). I just need to let go and trust mother nature.
    I will share on this next week if they don’t cancel this walk again at the last moment.


  • July 28, 2008, 3:06 pm Beth Owl's Daughter

    Heh! Arie, you and I think alike! I had actually included a paragraph about Odin, but what with going on about Lugh and the fact that it was all getting a bit long, I thought I might save it for next time.

    So thanks for the mention.. I would NOT want to fall from Odin’s good graces! 🙂

    Have a fantastic, most magical journey!

  • July 28, 2008, 6:54 pm tarotgirl

    Hi Beth Owl,
    You know, every time I do handstand or other inversion in my yoga class I summon the Hanged Man – attempt to see through his eyes.
    Lovely post!

  • July 29, 2008, 7:22 am ARIE

    Hi Beth,

    “This was the king’s surrender to an authority higher…”
    I would like to see the heads of states doing this. Sacrificing themselves by doing what is right for the people instead of working for greed and power.
    They have a lot to learn from the old ways. But who will listen?

  • July 29, 2008, 7:28 am ARIE

    Heh! Arie, you and I think alike!
    I know!
    That’s why I’m here.