I surrender to the miracle of all things. I surrender my fear and surrender to love every moment, every breath.
Judith Orloff, MD, The Ecstasy of Surrender
Yesterday, I began my two-part series by offering some introductory thoughts about this year of 2019, which, when the numbers are reduced (2+0+1+9=12), means that it is a Hanged Man Year. (If you are wondering why it doesn’t further reduce to 3, be sure you’ve read Part One).
The Hanged Man is certainly a rich, complex image that stirs all kinds of emotions and reactions when it appears in a reading. What might it mean, as it sets the tone for this whole year?
Because the last Hanged Man Year was in 1920, it might be instructive to see what was going on 99 years ago. A few specific events include:
- One of the biggest events was the ratification of the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote (and Congress the power to enforce it). Progress for women’s rights has been slow and sometimes painful, but it continues.
Now – The widespread #MeToo movement, the huge rebirth of women’s activism, and the record number of women entering Congress after the 2018 elections.
- Meanwhile, the 18th Amendment also went into effect, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcoholic beverages of all kinds. As a result, saloons disappeared, speakeasies sprang up overnight, and mobsters made a fortune on the black market.
Now – We are seeing one state after another toppling the similar restrictions that have been placed on the use of cannabis (restrictions that began in the 1920s), and waves of state-level decriminalization are projected to inevitably overturn the federal laws in the near future. This, in turn, will almost certainly reduce the power of drug lords and other deadly organizations that have enriched themselves on these restrictions.
- The U.S. had its first “red scare” when the Palmer Raids rounded up thousands of suspected leftists in 30 cities, and deported them. This was done with little or no due process or legal recourse. As a result, the American Civil Liberties Union was formed, to fight against the deportations and unlawful arrests made during the period.
Now – As the ACLU’s website notes, “The fight is still on,” since the focus no longer seems to be left-leaning activists or members of the Communist Party, but the civil rights of nearly everyone except for privileged, straight, white men.
In the bigger picture, 1920 was an important turning point, as the world came to grips with the aftermath of WWI. The last troops came home, many of whom had never been away from their towns before.
But there was also the staggering loss of life, from the war, and the final wave of the Spanish flu pandemic. This fueled the existential malaise that led to the “Lost Generation.” Also during this time, gigantic socio-political upheavals followed the naively-named “war to end all wars,” the average lifespan in the U.S. was about 54 years, and the Roaring 20s got underway.
But as we can see so clearly in hindsight, that transitional time planted the seeds that would doom the world economy and plunge the globe into even deadlier, massive warfare less than a generation later.
Will we be wiser during our own threshold time?
The View from the Stars
The astrology for this year, too, looks very much like an up-and-down between-time, as we approach the epochal transitions in store for 2020 (which will be another momentous Emperor Year. We have had two such years recently — 2002 and 2011.)
One of the most succinct summations I’ve come across is from the trusty Cafe Astrology site, where Annie Heese tells us:
The year ahead is an interesting one, filled with contradictory trends, but offering us the opportunity to find a satisfying balance. Mind you, we’re not to stick with the middle road; instead, we’re encouraged to “go hard” in different areas with very different approaches.
Sounds pretty Hanged Man-like to me. There is nothing about him that is wishy-washy or noncommittal. But contradictory? Certainly.
And adding my own emphasis to the text, and editing out some of the geeky details, the ever-insightful Judy Joyce writes:
We are sensing the approach of an ever strengthening wave of issues that must be addressed. That wave will overtake us in 2020 and initiate changes that continue for several years. We are entering a new era, although it isn’t likely to be clear exactly what is happening in the beginning. It will probably be far in the future before we can look back and see what a significant turning point in history occurred during these changing times.
Three major astrological cycles will take place in 2020. They are all conjunctions, which means the planets are at the same exact degree and sign in the Zodiac and are merging their energies. It is a very powerful energy and represents a new beginning. These cycles are:
Cycle 1: Saturn conjunct Pluto in Capricorn
Exact on: January 12, 2020, in effect from January 2018 to December 2021.
This is a time where there is a focus on power and control – as in who has it and who doesn’t. During this period there will be re-organization of power in the world. This conjunction began to be felt in January 2018 and we have already seen it reflected in the world.
It will grow much stronger in 2019. We can observe its effects so far, but at this point, it is impossible to know how it all turns out in the end.
Cycle 2: Jupiter conjunct Pluto in Capricorn
Exact three times: April 2, 2020, June 30, 2020, November 12, 2020. In effect from February 2020 to January 2021.
Jupiter is the planet of expansion, growth and optimism and will merge with Pluto’s desire for power and transformation. This indicates the rapid expansion of power and optimism. However, it is very important how this energy is used. It can be very positive when used for the betterment of all, but detrimental when used for individual aggrandizement.
Cycle 3: Jupiter conjunct Saturn in Aquarius
Exact on December 21, 2020. In effect February 2020 to March 2021.
This is a very important cycle that is linked to the development of social structures and human development and can indicate a new social order. The energy of Aquarius is much different than the Capricorn energy discussed above. Aquarius is an air sign and has an objective, progressive, scientific, innovative, independent and humanitarian aims. It is the sign of mankind in general.
The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction occurs every 20 years, but this conjunction is much more significant than usual. The Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions go through many 20 year cycles occurring in the signs that are in the same element (Fire, Earth, Air or Water). Jupiter-Saturn conjunction has been in the Earth element for about the last 200 years. The Earth element is focused on wealth creation, material security, resources, land settlement, and material goods.
The conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on December 21, 2020 will change from the Earth to the Air element. The year the conjunction changes elements is called the “Great Mutation.”
2020 is a Great Mutation year. While the past 200 years have been oriented to the material world, that orientation will now begin to shift toward social progress, intellectual development, new concepts and the development of human consciousness.
This will be the focus over the next 200 years.
I will spare you another history lesson of what was going on 200 years ago (okay, I can’t help it: the 1819 Panic, which was the first peacetime financial crisis in the U.S., the University of Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson, Walt Whitman was born, and Colombia got its independence from Spain. Just to name a few).
In any case, as we approach this watershed moment in 2020, many of you that I am in contact with, as well as John and I, are instinctively using this time to purge, re-prioritize our lives, streamlining and paring down to what is essential.
Although the Tarot year card is not The Tower (and won’t be until 2059), there is much in these current times that resonates with its dramatic finality.
As we navigate such challenges, the Hanged Man can offer a more serene way to look at things from different angles, leaning into whatever topsy-turvy turn things may take.
For all of us who are sensitive to the tides of transformation now shaping life on Earth, and changing human awareness, we know that, no matter what politics and commerce are promising, business as usual is in its death throes. We are irrevocably now journeying through a period that has been called The Great Unraveling.
In that spirit, the Hanged Man urges us to suspend normal activities and enter into an alternative universe that is not easily categorized. He might counsel us to side-step much of the drama now unfolding, and focus instead on learning to dance with uncertainty. Or at least bow gracefully to it.
It’s been almost a century since we were given this test for it seems to me that we are being initiated into no less than a new perspective of who we are, as a species, and our purpose here. The next opportunity comes in 2028. Where will we be by then?
Embracing the In-Betweens
Personally, I like getting the Hanged Man in readings (depending, of course, on the other cards in the spread), because he often assigns us homework that requires getting outside of the box and beyond our comfort zone. He admonishes us to live a more artful life.
To do that, we might like to imagine ourselves lining our eyes with kohl, arguing about literature over absinthe in the wee hours, and swishing about through art galleries. But it might simply involve breaking free of our routines, and seeking out places and experiences that we’ve never tried.
The Hanged Man may appear to be stuck, but he hangs on his cross by his own choice. His is a teaching about spiritual surrender and openness.
As the great Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön writes,
“…what we habitually regard as obstacles are not really our enemies, but rather our friends. What we call obstacles are really the way the world and our entire experience teach us where we’re stuck.
The Hanged Man proposes that we learn to maintain equilibrium in the face of the world turned upside down. That might be through a meditative practice, mindfulness, creative activities, deepening heart connections, and prayer. He nudges us to strengthen our gifts of discernment, intuitive awareness, and authenticity, no matter how it looks to others.
Like the testing of the spiritual initiate, his is a holy journey. While his body is suspended, his soul is traveling to distant places not visible to the physical eye.
This year, look for the opportunities to be led by a higher power or truth that is calling. Take time out to listen and receive the insight that you have sought. Let go of your props and the insulated safety of your ordinary routines.
This will be a time of conscious waiting. True guidance takes time because you are not running the show, so practice patience.
The old solutions are failing, but have no fear.
There is deep wisdom awaiting, but we must surrender the old story of separation, conflict, and control. Let us, as Dr. Orloff writes in the quote above, instead embrace the miracle of all things.
We need not be at cross-purposes once we recognize it is time to humbly bow to the Divine Mystery that has been guiding us all along.