To discover the heart is the greatest initiation.
~ Inayat Khan, founder of the Sufi Order in the West
In this powerful week of the Full Sagittarius Moon and Lunar Eclipse, we receive yet another message from the Major Arcana to slow down, refrain from pushing and allow things to be what they are. Sometimes, we are required to come to a complete halt. Mystery calls us to be patient, peaceful, and surrender.
The Hanged Man often startles those who are new to Tarot. It sounds grim, but this is not a card about physical 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 living, leafy T-shaped Tau cross.
His position is the yoga pose of The Tree, and the Druid magical pose of The Crane. He is the sovereign, who willingly steps down from his throne in order to give his life for the fertility of the land. He is the shaman, turned upside down, preparing, as he hangs on the World Tree, to descend into the Underworld (for the following card of the Major Arcana is Death).
The potential of his eventual triumph is here, for if you reverse the Hanged Man, you will see he is in the same pose as the 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 His power is not yet revealed, but is withdrawn, or still in the process of being discovered.
But before any happy ending, we must face the test. This is not an easy thing in a culture where even the slightest physical or emotional discomfort fuels an industry of medicines, remedies, and advice. Sacrifice is considered, at best, old-fashioned and quaint. At worst, it is a fearful taboo, something that befalls only losers and suckers.
How unsurprising, then, that so few people have the patience to learn what is in their own hearts, much less the hearts of others. Little wonder that few possess true awareness. Such knowledge comes at a price – it can be a difficult, painstaking, slow path, during which we must suspend our ego.
The Hanged Man represents this surrender of our personal will, in order to accept the calling of the Divine. He is the one who often guides artists, visionaries, explorers, and those who are willing to sacrifice conformity and comfort for true knowing.
In what way might he be inviting you to learn that things are not what they seem? In what ways, once you get out of your comfort zone, might you discover that you have become much too comfortable with people, choices, or situations not in your highest interest?
This week, how might you be called to pause, have patience and go deeper? How do you react when control slips away from you? As the bright Sagittarius Full Moon is eclipsed, what message is given that can only come in that darkening? What path of soul initiation do you now find yourself upon?
Do you feel like you are being thwarted from what you desire, or even stuck in a holding pattern? Perhaps the wisest choice is to cooperate and stop. What if you just breathe, and wait?
The great paradox is that when we let go of our need to be in control, but instead simply surrender to the process, true wisdom and power are given.
Only when you completely let go will you discover you never had to hold on in the first place. You are always being held by unconditional love.