The Hanged Man: A contemplation of my current time

Everything that I am doing these days seems to be in a process of just dragging and dragging. I’m waiting for a number of things to happen or to start. This makes me feel like a car, idling away with its engine on, consuming fuel but not doing much in terms of motion. All very very frustrating and sometimes quite depressing.

 One of the best things about working and studying the Tarot is that one can see human emotions and states reflected in the cards. For me the card that best represents the “I’m hanging in limbo” state is the Hanged Man.

 The Hanged Man is a strange card and not one of my top favourites (If I am being honest). It’s a card whose image always makes me quite confused. What is that man doing upside down? Why does he have a Halo around his head? There’s a strange mismatch in the Hanged Man for me between his position (upside down by a rope in the Rider-Waite deck) and his expression (seemingly) calm and serene. Very paradoxical.

 The Hanged Man to me in readings has special significance. Often the Hanged Man can indicate periods of limbo where nothing much is happening on an outer level. The Hanged Man also comes up when the Tarot indicates that a good course of action is to wait and surrender. I’ve seen this first hand in readings where the Hanged Man comes up for advice, indicating in those occasions to the client that the they should just wait, forceful action is not advised and they need to surrender to the forces of life and the bigger plan of life.

 Although knowing this so well intellectually, working with the card and having it show up in readings I have done for so many others, I have deep difficulty with the Hanged Man. It’s just not “me” and doesn’t represent my coping styles in the slightest. I’m quite a “get up and go” (metaphorically) kind of person. I seem to be always thinking and always doing. And (not really a secret) I hate waiting. You can see now why I don’t really jive with this card.

 Sometimes the very things that we dislike are those we have to embrace. Often these qualities are parts of our personalities that we haven’t manifested (hello, shadow) and those that we are actively trying to push away which thereby thwart our more all round development (gosh, that’s sobering). In my case I know that when everything is going swimmingly I can be the Hanged Man , embracing life and going with the flow. When things are not so great and take time to manifest I get impatient, I begin to doubt myself, I complain and whine. Summoning the Hanged Man energy into my life now feels difficult almost arduous and therefore feels like it has worth doing. It is most difficult to hold on to the absolute serenity of the Hanged Man when expectations aren’t being met.

 Now look at The Hanged Man especially in the Thoth deck, there is water all around him. Tarot cards have been associated with letters of the Hebrew Alphabet by the influential Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn who propounded many of the Tarot associations used till this day. The Hebrew letter for the Hanged Man is Mem, meaning Water. Does this mean that this card speaks about embracing the qualities of water? Colourless, odourless, flexible, adaptable, embracing of each situation and ready to embrace life as it is? That’s what the Tao Te Ching, one of the master piece’s of philosophy (according to me) seems to say when it advises the reader to be like water, unafraid, moving in harmony with life and meeting it with whatever it has to yield. It’s a thought to ponder(especially when it shows up in different wisdom traditions).

 With this in mind, I think I’m going to cut myself some slack for the moment and go where things take me, being open and ready for possibilities. I can of course, worry another day if I need to.

From Left to Right: The Hanged Man from the The Rider-Waite Tarot. Copyright 1971, U.S Games Systems Inc. and the Hanged Man from the Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck, Copyright 1978,1983,2006,2012 U.S Games Systems Inc.
From Left to Right: The Hanged Man from the The Rider-Waite Tarot. Copyright 1971, U.S Games Systems Inc. and the Hanged Man from the Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck, Copyright 1978,1983,2006,2012 U.S Games Systems Inc.

Reference:

Tao Te Ching. Translated by J.Legge. Available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/tao/taote.htm