Primary principle--Sacrifice

Elemental correspondence----Water


Description--A man is hanging upside down from a tree. The reversed position indicates the need to look at oneself from an entirely different perspective. The words "man" and "mind" come from the same root word in the ancient and sacred language of India, Sanskrit. Thus the card indicates that mind has to be "suspended" and the way we think about ourselves must be reversed.

You will notice that the tree is alive with leaves and growing vines, indicating the possibility that the situation will bear fruit. Turn the card around. You will see that the man's body is in the shape of a cross. The cross is representative of the number four (manifestation in physical form). If you draw a line from his elbows to the top of his head, you will come up with a triangle, indicating the number three (creativity in action).


When you multiply four times three, the result is twelve, the number of signs of the zodiac. This indicates a full cycle of creative expression. Thus the job is done, but the results (and the future) have to be reconsidered. The man is not in pain; his facial expression is both peaceful and contemplative. This card, therefore, does not represent suffering, death, or martyrdom. The person's life is simply suspended for a time in order to recognize what needs to be changed in the personality in order to embody more Light (the nimbus around the man's head).


In the reading-The Hanged Man tells us that the querent should be willing to lose something lesser in order to fulfill a greater goal. An investment of time, energy, and/or money may have to be made. Whatever is at stake, some form of sacrifice is needed in order to attain the envisioned goal. The querent is devoted to the cause or the relation- ship of the moment and is open and ready to take on the task in front of him. But first, there has to be time to pause and consider.


Reversed-The card in this position reflects selfishness. The person may be putting on the appearance of willing sacrifice but isn't really ready to give up anything at all. The goals he has in mind are purely selfish. The support he is seeking from others is egocentric in orientation. Care should be taken in case what is sought is of lesser value than the effort put forth to achieve it.


Exoteric meaning-Giving up the lesser for the greater. The sacrifice of personal desires in order to fulfill a higher principle or ideal.


Esoteric meaning-Inner reflection that results in the recognition of habitual poor patterns of thought and feeling hindering spiritual development.


from the Pocket Guide to Tarot by Alan Oken