Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.
Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions.
— Rainer Maria Rilke
This week, we welcome the powerful Major Arcana image of The Hanged Man. In my introductory Tarot classes, The Hanged Man is always one of the top choices for most scary or unpleasant cards. 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 unpleasant as the Hanged Man may seem at first, look closely and you may see that it is not a card about death, torture, 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. And his own number, the 12 of the Major Arcana, reduces to 3, showing us his ties to the Empress, and the Mother Earth. 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extends the magic wands she holds, the Hanged Man has his arms behind his back; his power is not yet revealed, but is withdrawn, or still in the process of being understood.
In a culture where instant gratification and the supremacy of individual selfishness are not only tolerated, but celebrated, it is not that surprising that the lessons of sacrifice and patience embodied by The Hanged Man are not always welcome.
The Hanged Man represents the surrender of our personal will, in order to accept the calling of the Divine. He is the one who often guides artists, explorers, and those who are willing to sacrifice conventional wisdom and appearances for some deeper mystical path. Like Odin, Who chose to hang from the World Tree Yggdrasil, suffering for nine days, in order to receive the wisdom gift of the Runes, the Hanged Man willingly sacrifices worldly comfort for a more holy purpose.
He is the initiate that is suspended between the worlds. He is challenged to let go of the ordinary, and go deeper. The Hanged Man challenges us to leave behind what is familiar or easy. And sometimes, we can do nothing but wait.
This week, in what ways might you be called to be led to a higher power or truth? Can you see how there could be an important reason, even if it seems inconvenient, or possibly even painful, to find the way forward blocked? Where are you right now, that you might perhaps need to stop (or be stopped) and receive the insight you need? What delay or sacrifice of your control or forward momentum now might offer you even more joy or wisdom in the long run?
All too often, the hurly-burly of our busy lives can interfere with hearing what we need. If we want to be in harmony with a higher vision of who we are and what we’re about, patience and surrender are absolutely necessary at times. What might you be in need of? If you feel stuck, can you see the silver lining as to why? How might you embrace an opportunity this week to see things from a radically different point of view?
Take time out to listen and accept the gifts of the spirit being offered. This is not the time for striving and demanding. Instead, a time of conscious waiting is called for. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and be patient for guidance. There is wisdom awaiting you, but like an initiate, you are asked to surrender control of the time frame and the form of the delivery. Allow Mystery to guide you; live the questions.