To discover the heart is the greatest initiation.
Inayat Khan, founder of the Sufi Order in the West
This week we greet a New Moon (which may also be a Black Moon, depending on your time zone). And we will celebrate the great turning of the Wheel of the Year, marking the shift from Summer’s blossoming to the early harvest season (in the Northern Hemisphere). So as the sweet, ripening fruit beckons, and the grain is plump and ready for reaping, the Hanged Man comes to call.
The last time he arrived was precisely this threshold time two years ago. And now, as we have fully entered the second half of this Year of the Hanged Man, he comes to remind us of our priorities.
Since I am still away on my semi-sabbatical, I’ll share some highlights of what I’ve written previously, as well as a couple of new observations, especially regarding the current astrology.
The Hanged Man card often startles those who are new to Tarot. Its name sounds grim, but look at the card, and you will see that 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.
The Tau cross is a very old, pre-Christian symbol. It is the ancient Greek letter for tau, which, in uppercase looks like the Latin letter for T (which we still use today). According to one symbology resource, the Chaldeans and Egyptians viewed it as a representation of Mithras, the Greek Attis, and their forerunner Tammuz, who was the Sumerian dying and resurrecting God and consort of the Goddess Ishtar. During the ritual mourning of this vegetation God, this T-cross was marked on the participants’ forehead by the priest.
Some historians theorize that this was the shape of the cross on which Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, the crux commissa. It was in common use for Roman executions, with its T-square beam and upright post, as was the more familiar crux immissa, the four-armed symbol.
St. Francis of Assisi, who rejected his prosperous birth and chose instead a life of poverty and humility, adopted it as a personal emblem. He used the Tau to mark the doors and walls of whatever home he was staying at. He also used it as his signature.
Thus it became a symbol associated with willing sacrifice, in order to serve the divine.
Tarot artist and scholar, Robert Place tells us:
[Waite-Smith deck creator, Arthur] Waite sees the Hanged Man as a key figure in the soul’s journey. He represents initiation.
The giblet of the traditional [pre-Waite] card has been transformed into a tau cross, a symbol that unites the man’s suffering with the martyrdom of Christ. This is reiterated in the halo.
In the Golden Dawn, the initiates would suffer a simulated ritual execution as a rite of passage into the higher grades and be asked to identify with Christ…
In addition, this position is the yoga pose of The Tree. And like yoga itself, what may appear to an outsider to be very uncomfortable or even painful is instead, with practice, a discipline that will stretch, deepen, and transform the practitioner.
The Hanged Man can also be identified as the archetype of the sovereign, who willingly steps down from his throne or place of power, in order to give his life for good of the people and the fertility of the land.
He is the shaman, turned upside down, preparing, as he hangs on the World Tree, preparing to descend into the Underworld (for the card in the Major Arcana that follows the Hanged Man is Death).
The potential of his eventual triumph is visible to those who can see it, for if you reverse the Hanged Man, you will discover 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.
Safely Shifting Gears
This week, glory be! Mercury is stationing direct after a very jumbled, mixed-message retrograde this month. In addition, Jupiter’s apparent movement is grinding to a stop, in order to station direct August 11, after being in reverse (from our point of view on Gaia) since April. As if that wasn’t enough, Uranus is also losing momentum and preparing to switch gears, turning retrograde in two weeks.
Even though they haven’t technically stationed yet, I mention these two because, unlike tiny, zippy Mercury, these two giant outer planets take much longer to come to a halt before appearing to change direction. I’ll almost certainly have more to say about these jumbo Jupiter and Uranus changes, so stay tuned.
(Please remember that this is only what it looks like from our planet; they are not actually slowing down or changing orbital directions.)
During this week of astrological deceleration and pause, you may sense a sluggishness, an extra case of the Summer doldrums, and might even feel like you’re getting “hung up” while waiting for important, pending change.
The Hanged Man reassures us that this is not only okay, but probably necessary.
If life seems listless, or you’re having trouble getting lift-off for projects and plans, or even the sense that you are slogging along with two steps forward and one step back, or vice versa, it’s with good reason. The Hanged Man teaches us that there are important hidden gifts in such times.
In addition, this week’s New Moon is a Super Moon, a term coined by famed astrologer Richard Nolle. He explains:
At any new or full moon, Earth and Moon and Sun are all in a line: Earth is in the middle in the full moon alignment, while the new moon happens with Moon in the middle. This coming together in an alignment is technically termed a syzygy.
Sometimes – from a few times to a half-dozen times in a given year – these alignments also happen when the Moon is in its perigee, or closest approach to Earth. Astronomers call this very special alignment a perigee-syzygy.
I call it a SuperMoon – which is a whole lot easier on the tongue…
…SuperMoons are noteworthy for their close association with extreme tidal forces working in what astrologers of old used to call the sublunary world: the atmosphere, crust and oceans of our home planet – including ourselves, of course.
From extreme coastal tides to severe storms to powerful earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the entire natural world surges and spasms under the sway of the SuperMoon alignment – within three days either way of the exact syzygy, as a general rule.”
Full Super Moons tend to get all the hype, but New Moons can be Super Moons, too, hence they are sometimes dubbed “stealth Super Moons.”
Astrologer Lorna Bevan explains that this week’s event will require a cool head. “Stealth Super Moons – at their closest to Earth – operate under the radar creating seismic storms both inside and out,” she writes.
“Both of [July/] August’s Super New Moons deliver extra geophysical stress. Expect drama in the outer world, but create neutrality in your inner world. Neutrality is not passive; it is a very present and empowered engagement with what is presenting in the Now…”
In a vehicle, in order to change speed or come to a complete stop without turning off our engines, the connection between the wheels and the engine needs to be temporarily broken. That’s why when manually changing gears, we must step on the clutch to release the engine from the turning wheels.
The Hanged Man demonstrates creative neutrality, and thus how to wisely shift and even stop without burning out the clutch.
Waiting for Your Creative Calling
In my experience, the Hanged Man is a card that often guides artists, visionaries, and explorers. It can be an affirmation for those who are willing to sacrifice conformity, the status quo, and even conventional measures of success for a higher, more authentic calling.
So what creative divine download have you been waiting for? Be still, and breathe into it. Allow your heart to be touched.
Once you get out of your comfort zone, what new breakthroughs are possible? Could it be that you have been clinging to people, choices, or situations not in your highest interest?
With the New Moon and the Sun in Leo this week, it’s time to get outside of your same old box and allow creativity to be your guide and playmate, taking you to new places and experiences that stir your juices.
Lorna’s explanation of this New Moon’s chandra symbol agrees:
The Chandra Symbol for the Leo New Moon:
A young woman sits at a piano and improvises beautiful music
“Making yourself fluent, open, alive, responsive to currents of spirit inspiration. Tremendously disciplined and coherent. Putting everything on the line with a sense of having vowed to do these things before and now following through. Graced with extraordinarily supportive factors of many kinds.
Being generously endowed with timing grace and loving or admiring people around. A charmed life. Moving from one success to another. Always able to take it further.
Not restricted by the usual factors. Perhaps even able to create and co-create with immense freedom and evocative power.
Creative receptivity and peacefully surrendering to a higher guidance — this is why the Hanged Man’s expression is one of bliss.
Baffled by events, people, or challenging developments? What if you look at things from a radically different angle?
Is there an important postponement that’s come up? Perhaps you need to pause, pay attention, have patience, and go deeper. How do you react when control slips away from you?
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? That is often the Hanged Man’s backwards-seeming gift to us. Instead of a frustration melt-down, the wisest choice may be to cooperate. What if you just relax, 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.
We are being initiated by a testing that will help us discover our hearts. And when we completely yield we may realize we never had to struggle in the first place.
We are always being supported by Divine love.