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The Hanged Man Tarot Card Meaning

by Apr 24, 2022Tarot Card Meanings

Pause, Surrender, New Perspectives Letting go, Indecision, Delays, Stalling, Resistance
affirmation new perspective the hanged man tarot

The Hanged Man pauses to look at the world from a new perspective. When life won’t bend to our control we are wise to follow the guidance of The Hanged Man tarot card. Look at the world from another angle and new possibilities will be revealed to you.

Most people assume that the Hanged Man tarot card is a symbol of pain and bad fortune. Though it may be true to some extent, it is a concept too shallowly based on appearance to cover the whole significance of the Hanged Man tarot card. This major arcana card carries a much deeper meaning than the image represented on the card itself.

So, next time that you make an encounter with this specific tarot card of the Major Arcana, remember that there is more to it. Because the Hanged man is the card of acceptance, it is a divine suggestion send to you to advise you to surrender your ego, pride and principles to attempt a shift in perspective. By adopting a new way of thinking, you will grasp life and the true meaning of existence, along with everything in it. It is a card to guide you out of pain and despair and into a more blissful place.  

The Hanged Man Tarot Card Meaning Summarized

Sometimes in life when things just do not go our way, when we encounter problems we can’t solve that are completely of our control, we fall to our knees and we are just unable to move on. I am sure that in your life, you must have lived that.

Of course, as intellectual beings, we human always want to find the right solution to our issues, don’t we? And our inability to do so is a devastating feeling. In those moments, we feel totally helpless. The idea of being defeated by the events, to be completely crushed by the unstoppable power of fate, is unbearable.

But what if I told you that there iss a way out? An exit door that you can take the next time you butt your head against the wall. A manner to convert the negative energy that you receive into positive energy.  It’s hard to believe, I know. But this is what the Hanged Man tarot card actually wants to teach us – the art of letting go. It may seem strange or ridiculous. However, if you really think about it, it will make sense.

On a superficial level, one can see the contradiction within the representation of the Hanged Man tarot card. I mean, it’s a man hanged upside down from his right ankle on a cross-like, living wood. And yet, strangely, he is unagitated, puts his hands behind his back and bend and tucks his left foot behind his right.

But what is important here is not the direct meaning of the image itself, but the mentality that the main character, the Hanged Man, is conveying through his attitude facing such a predicament. For although he is in a life-threatening situation, he remains steady and self-collected, as if it were nothing. This is to incarnate the absoluteness of destiny and illustrate how a simple man cannot fight divine dictation.

The Lessons in the Hanged Man Tarot Card

To go through tough challenges, you must change your way of thinking. When you turn it around – upside down – in order to witness the entire situation, the bigger picture at stake, you can comprehend the idea behind it all. That way, you can capitulate and consent to it. Follow its flow. You learn to believe that it will take you somewhere better, eventually.    

In short, this is what The Hanged man card is telling us: Sometimes the best action is inaction; the best response to a difficulty is to remain passive and poised. Do not try to over-control your life beacuase it’s impossible. Some things you cannot command. Hence, you should not waste your precious time on unsolvable puzzles. Proceed with care to assert order over the things in your life that are within your reach. Fix the parts that are fixable. And for the rest, just have faith in the just hand of fate.   

There are cases where this meaning of the Hanged Man tarot card does not apply. Like when the Hanged Man appears in the spread of your reading as another person, for example. Then, you have to be extremely careful since it shows that foul play might be afoot or that there may be a person in your life who is hiding things from you, masquerading as a sheep but is a wolf in reality. Either way, the hands hidden behind the back affirm that he or she is up to something. Therefore, you need to step back and reflect, pause for a moment and observe, and look for any red flags that you may have ignored.

Symbology of The Hanged Man Tarot Card

the hanged man tarot

A deeper meaning of the Hanged man can be found in the depiction of the tarot card itself, if we focus our analysis on the five symbols present on the image.

Let’s begin with the cross-like, living wood. Before Christianity advanced and popularized, the thesis of the cross was the typification of life, higher power, and the human ascension to divinity. A more ancient idea was prevalent about its significance as a symbolization of pain and death. The Romans carried this on in their practice of crucifixion. And the same idea is being emulated by the Major Arcana with The Hanged man tarot.

The Meaning Behind the Symbols of The Hanged Man Tarot Card

The cross-shaped living wood symbolizes hardship or asperity. And the living quality of it emphasizes the characteristic of struggle in one’s existence as something that will never cease. It is saying that as long as you are living, there will be challenges, so prepare yourself.  That is why the man is hanged to the cross with a cord. Here, the very meaning of him being strung up does not equal a punishment or imprisonment, but more of an attachment. In other words, as long as you live on this physical plane, you are bound to meet obstacles and face rough challenges. There is no escaping that fact.

Quite a fatalistic philosophy, isn’t it? Still, arguably truthful. I mean, who on this earth has never met a tough situation in life? Adversities are universal. It’s the most common thing there is. It’s human and it is a doom we all share.  

How to Apply the Symbolic Lessons of The Hanged Man

Yet, people want to fight their fate though there is no need to fight. Your destiny will arrive, no matter what. It is inevitable. Thus, trying to counteract it is useless. Plus, the more you push back, the more obstacles will come your way.  Such is the reasoning underneath the “hands behind the back” posture of the Hanged Man. It is promoting non-resistance. Put another way, it is proposing that you stop resisting your fate. Resign in the what is and progress forward from there.

To do this, you are going to have to suppress yourself, put your raw passions in check, and synchronize with your surroundings. Take them as a part of you. Be more inclusive in your thought process.

Notice the symmetrical alignment of the Hanged Man and the cross-shaped living wood – the thing that was supposed to be his gallows. It is for this reason. He gave it space and admitted it as an extension of himself. Consequently, through this resignation, he has found a new sort of awareness. He has been enlightened. You can see that with the halo which he is harboring around his head.

By this, the Hanged Man adds that the direct result of not obsessing over wanting things to always go according to one’s own volition is that it will decrease your level of stress. You will find more tranquility in life.  

Once you give up the grotesque ideology that you can change everything, serenity will be your reward. Life stops being painful when you give in. The negative energy that arises from the frustration and anxiety of feeling weak for not constantly triumphing will be no more. Positive energy will start dominating your body instead as you accept you are destined to lose from time to time. You will be more joyful. You should simply learn from your failures and go on to the next task at hand and try your best to accomplish it, for you do not have to win every battle.

Life is an endless road. What matters in the end is that you are at peace with yourself and what you have successfully realized. So, keep being hopeful. Things might take a turn for the worst but you will be fine. You will survive. Simply find a comfortable position that you can easily maintain throughout it. That is the trick the Hanged Man card is trying to pass on to you.

The Hanged Man in the Upright Position

For the Hanged Man card, the upright position is mostly a warning stance. The tarot is suggesting that you suspend all activities for a time because a sudden impulsive decision or a simple mistake might get you into some trouble. Therefore, postpone, take it easy and pump the brakes. There is no hurry. And even if there was, it would be more reason to hold back.

In fact, sometimes it is the universe itself that sets these pauses for you. Therefore, you should be on the lookout for any signs of the sort. Either way, The Hanged Man tarot card is notifying you to be more reflective before taking any action.

Think about all of the times you ended up putting yourself into some predicament because you rushed into a situation or committed the same task again and again out of habit. When we act with no thought process we often mess things up, each time thinking we’re doing it all right. And these are all things that can be avoided if we pause and reflect before taking action. This is what the Hanged Man card wants you to do—to think.  

The Hanged Man tarot card wants you to have a perfect awareness. But to be really aware, you need to possess a full understanding of your surroundings, of your life, of your dreams, of your past choices and their consequences. You must reflect upon your past issues and what caused them in the first place. Be sure to take the time to think about your present choices and their effects, and of your future destination and what you need to do to get there. You must get all of that cleared and arranged. For that, you must abandon old models of behavior and points of view and update them to adequately fit your current situation.

The Hanged Man Tarot Card in the Reverse

In general, the Hanged Man appearing in a reversed position in a tarot card reading is not very different from its meaning on upright position. Except that when it appears like this, it hints up to the urgent need of sacrifice or that you might need to assess some order in your life. The aforementioned sacrifice is metaphorical, of course. What is being meant here is for you to give up your ego.

Because of your ego and its prideful nature, you have been resisting to let go of the wheel and sit in the backseat. Due to your ego and self-centered characteristics, you haven’t been tuning yourself with the surrounding nature, unbalancing your energy with that of the cosmos, and making you more doubtful and indecisive. Because of your ego and its overabundant self-importance, which it floods your mind with, you have kept pushing forward despite all signs suggesting that you pull off and to take a different approach. Your actions have been fruitless since.

The Hanged Man tarot card is saying that this mode of thinking that you are carrying is dangerous. Do not keep walking this road. It’s time to change your mindset and renew your mode of living.  

The Hanged Man Tarot Card in the Past

When the Hanged Man occupies the past position in your tarot spread, it tells us you are here now because you have already started the long process of surrender and release to get out of an unhealthy situation. You managed to move out of that stuck position by freeing your mind, conceding your pride, and moving on.

The Hanged Man in the past indicates that you have done what was necessary. You assessed the situation with objectivity and processed it through a new perspective and made the smart decision—you stopped fighting a battle that you never were going to win.

The Hanged Man in the Present

The appearance of the Hanged Man tarot card in the present position of your tarot reading is advice for you to avoid conflict at all costs. Whether it is your relationship, your job or any other situation, do not engage in confrontation.

Do not get baited so easily. Abstain from playing into other people’s hands. There will be no win in it for you. Just accept things as they are, recalculate your path onward, and go your way. Just make sure it is different this time around.

The Hanged Man Tarot Card in the Future

Very often, with the Hanged Man presenting itself in the future position, the tarot card is foreshadowing troubles or conflicts ahead. You are going to have to face it, that is for sure. Only, do not be the aggressor, and try to steer away from conflicts. Let it go. It is not worth it. Do what will serve you best in the end.

Your Health Reading and The Hanged Man Tarot Card

In terms of health reading, the Hanged Man card can have various meanings. Sometimes, it can represent physical sickness and the card is warning you in advance so that you can seek medical guidance. If you have been having health issues that you could not resolve, the Hanged Man is suggesting that you think outside of the box for the solution. It is probable that your current aggravated condition is the psychological consequence of other issues in other areas of your life.

Also, this tarot card may reveal that you are spiritually lost, causing you to be unhappy and unsatisfied. It serves as a guide for you to go on a self-searching adventure through intense meditation. 

Your Career Reading and The Hanged Man

Are you uncertain about a career move? Are your projects on hold? Or have you been waiting for a response so you are contemplating your next steps? At least that is what the Hanged Man tarot indicates if it comes up in the reading regarding your career.

Here, the Hanged Man tarot card manifests as a signal to let you let you know to be patient and to relax. Although things are looking to be going nowhere, it is all coming your way. Despite how it looks, a big change is about to occur in your work life. And it will all be for the better.

Or, another meaning could be that you have recently taken a new career move, and it may not go as planned.

However, another possibility is that you have been procrastinating with your work lately and it might be disastrous for you, career wise. So, avoid stalling. Do not confound reflective breaks with stagnancy. Even though you feel at a loss about what direction to take, you must find a positive way to be an active participant in your life. 

Th Hanged Man Tarot Card in Your Love Reading

Usually, a Hanged Man tarot love means two things. First, if you are single, the card wants you to remember that such a thing as a romantic pursuit takes longer to hit a win. It cannot be rushed. So, do not push yourself violently or too desperately into it. Good things come to those who know how to wait. Remember, it will be worth the wait when it will happen.

Second, if you are in a relationship, the Hanged Man tarot love may signify that your commitment is about to be tested. Sacrifice to allot time in your romantic life so that you and your partner may have the important discussions that are needed to take your romance to the next level. In the end, you and her or him can emerge out of your issues closer than you have ever been. 

Your Spirituality Reading and The Hanged Man

In a spirituality reading, the Hanged Man tarot card speaks of the spiritual path to knowledge and how can one elevate his or her mind and soul to reach the tree at the center of the universe to comprehend the roots of our origin.

Only, it says that to do so we need to subvert our reality. To not follow the norm of thinking and to learn to understand and also appreciate the wonders and horrors of this world we live in. It is inviting us to see the world in its wholeness. Because to understand our essence as human, we need to know about the core nature of the macrocosm itself.   

How to Embody The Hanged Man Tarot Card

In order to embody the lessons of the Hanged Man tarot card, we must be willing to practice surrender in our every day lives. Whether through dance, meditation, journaling or other tools, make practical decisions to let go of things that are out of your control. The next time your are feeling frustrated about a situation, take the time to journal about your experience in order to gain more perspective. Do this instead of acting on impulse and desire.

Or try dancing our your frustrations or use embodiment affirmations to get yourself back to a place of surrender and peace. And if you want to learn more about how to embody the tarot, check out the Embodied Goddesses online ascension through the arts program and dance your way into alignment and joy.



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Want to learn more about embodying the tarot? Check out the Embodied Goddesses online ascension and manifestation experience.

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