The Hanged Man represents surrender, acceptance, suffering, initiation, reversal or new perspective. The Hanged Man is one of the more mysterious cards because even as we see the man going through a kind of crucifixion, he has a halo of peace about him. This represents on the one hand accepting a bad time and making the most of it; on the other it reminds us that some of the deepest lessons and most powerful life transformations come through periods of struggle, upheaval and suffering. When life “flips us on our head” and we cannot tell up from down, we are forced to grow and adapt to the situation whether we want to or not.
In retrospect, once the difficult time has passed, we come to value these periods of growth and even find gratitude for them, because we can see that if it were not for the initially unpleasant situation, then perhaps we would never have evolved at all, or we might have missed out on the fruits of this struggle. The Hanged Man card can represent a period of short-term loss for long-term gain, or a trial of suffering toward the attainment of wisdom, knowledge or skill. It can also represent looking at something in a new way, or having your perspective or understanding radically altered or undermined. It is up to the individual whether this reversal in perspective is disorienting and inwardly disruptive, or whether he can accept change, transformation and the diversity of truth with grace and ease.
Alternatively the card can represent letting go of inhibition, ego or self-consciousness. The Hanged Man has no one to impress, nowhere to go, and can do nothing about his current situation; with his arms and legs tied, he gives up trying to control his words, actions or how others regard him. The card represents the honesty we are able to show towards ourselves when we hit “rock bottom”; as you walk to the gallows to “meet your maker”, you know the words and actions that you will have to answer for, but there is a kind of relief in finally acknowledging the truth, no matter how ugly it may be. There are certain dire moments in life where we discover we no longer have the power to hide (or hide from) the truth of ourselves. In those moments we must swallow our pride, accept and surrender. Only then can we experience the grace of rebirth.
The Hanged Man card is ruled by the planet Neptune and connected to the water element.
Card meanings upright:
The Hanged Man card can represent temporary suspension in your life. While you may be feeling suspended in your life, know that it is temporary and the new perspective will help you gain the insight and enlightenment you need to move forward in your life. You can use this time for reflecting on the things which are truly important to you and observe things in a whole new light. You may also notice an evolution in your spirituality as you observe and thirst for knowledge.
Card meanings reversed:
When the Hanged Man card is reversed, it can indicate that you might be feeling stubborn, selfish, or resistant to giving up your perspective to gain new insight. You may notice that you feel separated from the world and are having trouble communicating your point of view to others.