The Hanged Man Tarot Card Meaning
The Twelfth Card of the Major Arcana is traditionally an artistic interpretation of The Hanged Man. On its own, The Hanged Man indicates a need for the reader to critically observe their internal and external worlds as they arrive at a metaphorical crossroads. There may be a need to recontextualize and release attachments that prevent the reader from choosing a new path for their life. These sacrifices may profoundly change the reader’s interpretation of their place in the world.
Illustration Credit: Arthur Duarte
- Element: Water
- Planet: Neptune
- Astrological sign: Pisces
- Key dates: No key dates, ruled by Uranus
VISUAL ELEMENTS AND SYMBOLISM
The Hanged Man has an unearned stigma due to its association with the Italian Renaissance practice of suspending thieves and embezzlers inverted as a means of ridicule. Still, a careful examination of its iconography paints a different picture.
The man shown on the card has been suspended by his right foot, or ankle, from a cross beam; many interpret this as a branch of the World Tree, thus closely aligning the imagery to the Norse deity Odin’s sacrifices in the pursuit of wisdom. In many images, his head seems surrounded by an aura; this is a visual theme shared with depictions of saints in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The man’s expression shows deep contemplation and may even be described as ‘at peace; this suggests a theme of Christian martyrdom on which the reader may wish to meditate.
Further exploring The Hanged Man’s associations with Odin, the character’s peaceful face has often been interpreted to mean that he has suspended himself from the beam. The reader can not see the Hanged Man’s hands behind his back and cannot determine whether the man is bound. The question of his capability to choose and change the course of his own life remains open. His left foot, likewise, remains free.
The Hanged Man’s costume generally has a combination of reds and blues. This combination is traditionally interpreted to indicate a balance and mastery between the man’s Id (carnal needs) and Ego (rational mind). This color combination once again invokes the visual language of Catholic saints.
The tree (or crossbeam) the man hangs from is commonly interpreted as the World Tree; the symbology connects The Hanged Man, as Odin, to all of nature as the tree’s branches support the vault of heaven, and the roots bind the foundations of the Earth together.
What Does The Hanged Man In Tarot Cards Mean
Who Is The Hanged Man In Arcana
THE HANGED MAN CARD AS A PERSON
The Hanged Man submits to sacrifice and meditation. He must come to terms with the failings of his past and the uncertainty of his future, so he has placed himself in a voluntary exile where he can only wait for the opportunity to act. He does not act rashly; without a well-defined motive, he will not choose a particular path.
He is confident, justifiably or not, that he understands himself well enough to recognize the opportunity he is waiting for; he is content to listen to his own counsel and wait.
However, The Hanged Man may need more clarity of intent; he is prone to be caught up in the act of waiting, and he often risks not recognizing the opportunities for which he waits. When this is the case, The Hanged Man remains trapped in a prison of his own making, trapped in the failure to recognize his agency.
THE HANGED MAN UPRIGHT
When drawn upright, The Hanged Man indicates that adverse outcomes have overcome the reader’s life or that the reader feels themself to be trapped. It suggests a need for guidance when considering new opportunities in the reader’s life. The reader should consider this card as a recommendation to pause and reflect on their place in their environment, what decisions led them to their current situation, and what is needed to select a new path wisely.
LOVE AND RELATIONSHIPS
The Hanged Man may suggest that the reader has overlooked structural cracks in their relationships that may prove disastrous if not remedied. It may call for the reader to reconsider or redefine their current relationship. Painfully, it may lead the reader to leave a relationship that has finished its course.
This card may also warn that the reader’s partner has already entered this mode of thinking and has begun reevaluating their relationship to determine its continued viability. The reader should take care not to view this as a negative; a new understanding of where the relationship is struggling may emerge, resulting in a more robust connection if all involved share and act on what they have learned.
For single readers, The Hanged Man encourages them to consider how their memory of the past has mired them into unhappiness. If the reader still holds attachments or resentments that involve an old partner, drawing this card should remind them that dwelling on these feelings can only bring them pain.
When the reader considers The Hanged Man in the context of their career, it may show that they feel a deep, growing sense of resentment, be it toward the environment or a particular boss or coworker. The card may be a call to action; how is the reader empowered to advocate and act on their own behalf? If there is no path immediately available, the reader must seek to recognize what has led them to this place and take advantage of a better situation when it does present itself.
The Hanged Man suggests the need to reevaluate the reader’s relationship with money. The reader is encouraged to meditate on how they might see the most benefit from their financial decisions; to date, whether they have been hoarding their money or have been spendthrift with it, The Hanged Man encourages a more contemplative and mindful approach. The reader should learn the deeper motivations for their financial decisions.
As with finances, The Hanged Man encourages readers to ask if their current approach to physical well-being is serving them. It may call for pausing to take an inventory of the reader’s health goals before seeking new opportunities to improve their chances of achieving them. Ultimately, The Hanged Man tells the reader that it is acceptable for them to make peace with the things they cannot control.
THE HANGED MAN REVERSED
Reversed, The Hanged Man describes a pattern of bad decisions on the reader’s part; if the reader acts decisively, they may still have a chance to change. The reader has been embroiled in one adverse situation after another without taking the necessary time to consider the compounding consequences of their actions. The card encourages the reader to think about why they have been sabotaging themself, then return and attempt to repair the damage they have left in their wake.
LOVE AND RELATIONSHIPS
For readers in relationships, an inverted Hanged Man suggests that they may have a severe problem to address with their partner. Things are not beyond hope, but the reader must prepare themself to deal with the fears that may have informed their previous choices and how those choices have negatively affected those they love.
For single people, the reversed Hanged Man tells them to become aware of the recurring mistakes they make in their relationships. If the reader understands how they have sabotaged themself in the past, they will grasp the key to developing new, healthy relationships. They must be bold and try something different.
The Hanged Man tells the reader that their career has stagnated due to their lack of decisive action. The reader must understand what has brought them to this point so that they can effectively reclaim control of their professional development.
The reversed Hanged Man suggests a growing fear of adverse financial consequences is holding the reader back. The reader is encouraged to seek guidance from a professional to dispel as many fears as possible and rebuild a sense of fiscal normality. In doing so, they will develop a new perspective on their situation.
If the reader has significant health concerns, the Hanged Man advocates adopting a new, thoughtful perspective. The reader may consider a more holistic approach to their healthcare, exploring health options beyond the scope of a General Practitioner or Family Medicine. The reader may need to learn to advocate more effectively for the health outcomes that they are seeking.
YOUR PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
When the reader explores the present, the Hanged Man suggests that the reader feels unhappy and trapped. It does not, however, mean powerlessness to effect meaningful change. The reader may yet escape the challenges in their life and mind, and they may only need to pause and reflect, release the things they can’t control, and look at their situation in a new light to find a way forward.
When the reader sees The Hanged Man in their past, it shows that the reader has escaped a burden they have been carrying, perhaps for years. The reader has allowed themself to develop a new perspective of their endured hardships, and it has opened up new pathways they were incapable of taking before.
The Hanged Man warns the reader that they will soon arrive at a crossroads and encourages them to consider the nature of their journey when drawn into the future position. Now is the time for the reader to refrain from rushing, as they may have been accustomed to; instead, they ought to contemplate the world around them. New opportunities may present themselves to a quiet mind.
IMPORTANT CARD COMBINATIONS
While the intent of The Hanged Man is clear on its own, it gains more significance when associated with cards from the Swords suite; Swords generally indicate internal and external conflicts faced by the reader.
HANGED MAN AND TWO OF SWORDS
When drawn together with the Two of Swords, The Hanged Man warns the reader to avoid procrastinating significant decisions. As much as the reader fears change, decisive choices will serve them well.
HANGED MAN AND FIVE OF WANDS
The Five of Wands will manifest as an oncoming challenge and encourages the reader to face it head-on. This combination of cards should encourage the reader to recognize what they bring to the table nobody else could; these attributes could mean the difference between success and failure.
HANGED MAN AND FOUR OF SWORDS
When the Hanged Man is associated with the Four of Swords, a card often connected with judicious thought and action, they urge the reader to observe their world more clearly and use insight and intuition to help themself and others.
THE HANGED MAN: YES OR NO?
While the question may require more details, the answer will likely be “no.”
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT DOES THE HANGED MAN CARD MEAN IN A LOVE READING?
When drawn in the upright position, The Hanged Man indicates that adverse outcomes have overcome the reader’s life or that the reader feels themself to be trapped and that they must free themself.
WHAT DOES THE REVERSED HANGED MAN MEAN?
Reversed, The Hanged Man describes a pattern of bad decisions on the reader’s part that they may still change if the reader acts decisively.
WHAT DOES THE HANGED MAN MEAN IN A FUTURE READING?
The Hanged Man warns the reader that they will soon arrive at a crossroads and encourages them to consider the nature of their journey when drawn into the future position.
IS THE HANGED MAN A YES OR NO CARD?
While the question may require more details, the answer will likely be “no.”