Stillness as a means of moving forward – The Hanged Man

Since I am currently stuck on a non-moving train somewhere in the South Pennines and have not my cards with me, ‘daily draw’ is a bit of a fib.

But if you can imagine I fanned out the deck in my mind and oh-so-randomly pulled the one I kinda wanted then I might just get away with it.

It’s the Hanged Man; a tricksy little card. In the Waite-Smith deck, it’s got a man on it. And he’s hanging. But rather than looking as though he has ‘been hanged’, this guy seems quite happy with his situation, and an air of calm radiates from the card. He is upside down, tied by one leg, the other bends to form a cross. His arms fold calmly behind his back and a golden halo glows from his head. He’s suspended from a tree, and those-who-know-all-the-symbols say that this is the Tree of Life. So something pretty major is going on here.


The Hanged Man, from The New Tarot Deck by Jack Hurley, Rae Hurley and John Horler

What is he thinking? What’s he actually Doing? Tied to this tree, he can’t go anywhere or do anything. As anyone who does yoga knows, inverted postures direct blood to the brain and improve focus, aid depression and relieve stress…as well as simply giving the brain a boost. And that’s a key thing here. Our chap is deliberately putting himself in a situation where he cannot act, but he can think. Rather than making a decision and getting on with something, he’s taking some time out to very deliberately not make a decision. As he hangs there in the warm evening air (I’m taking liberties here) who knows what thoughts, perspectives, ideas, voices, messages will come to him?

Sometimes we need to let just let things sit rather than rushing on in. Let our thoughts and feelings ebb and flow, carve out a stream or eddy into pools. Ferment into fizzing genius or fall away into silence. As someone who too often practices the ‘act now, figure it out later’ approach to life, this is a valuable message. I don’t find non-action easy. But then, neither is tying onesself up in a tree. I guess it takes practice.

There’s a very spiritual element to this card too. For me, it’s very yogic – very much about creating space and quiet, even meditating, observing the body and how it feels in this unusual position, letting thoughts come, but importantly letting them go, too.

The man is often described as a martyr. His (in)action is perhaps about the greater good rather than personal gain. In taking time to reflect on the implications of whatever decisions he eventually will make, he may find he is more able to see a wider picture, and make less selfish, more developed choices. So the Hanged Man can indicate a period of spiritual growth, a little like the Hermit.

As the man beside me snores himself closer, rumbly breath by breath, and the train inches off backwards to Sowerby Bridge (hey, we’ve just been there!) I figure I’ll say a little thank you to Northern Rail for giving me some enforced limbo time to dwell for a little on this card. Then I’m going to finish up those blog post and just gaze out of the window until I reach my destination. Hopefully by the time I get to work I shall be serene, enlightened and I too will have a lovely halo shining all around me.

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One comment

  1. Anna says:

    Nicely done . I agree with all you said. I would like to also address another aspect of the Hanged Man. When you are upside down everything around looks different.The card sometimes indicates changing our minds and our actions. Once we see things differently we may want to correct our approach.

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