XII The Hanged Man

The thirteenth Tarot Atu is XII The Hanged Man. This Trump card shows a man who has been hung from a gallows upside down. He is tied by only one foot and so his legs cross to form the inverted triangle of the element Water to which this card corresponds. Similarly, the Hanged Man’s hands are tied behind his back to form a concealed upright triangle and so he is a representation of the hexagram, the universal solar glyph which is echoed in the Hanged Man’s halo.

The Hanged Man is attributed to the path of the letter Mem, meaning Water, which joins Geburah, power, with Hod, splendor, and so it symbolizes the sacrifice that pure energy must make in order to become articulated into a specific form. The strong watery correspondence makes the sacrifice a passive one over which one has no control but which leads to a higher state or level of perception.

Traditionally a symbol of enforced sacrifice, The Hanged Man is more esoterically an image of growth through a process of initiation and can indicate the initial stages of a period of rebirth or regeneration, but always at some cost. It can also be interpreted as having to give up something in order to make it possible for a new, improved state of affairs to emerge.

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