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The Hanged Man Card Meaning

The Hanged Man Card. So why is he dancing upside down? Sailors placed their hands behind their backs when they danced for a number of reasons: it kept them from flailing about in an undignified manner, and it certainly kept them from slapping into things (like people, and lines [ropes], masts, and other boat “stuff”). It also was a rather controlled (“manly”) placement. The pose here (when the card is upside down) shows our friend mid-leap, with the classical “pointed toe” of a ballet dancer, and the kicked up heel (as in to “kick up your heels”) mid-leap.

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The Hanged Man Description

Before you do anything else, stop and turn this card around so that the card is upside down. Now look at him. Squint your eyes if you have to, but use those amazing powers of visualization you are developing to see him on the deck of a ship. He is now (when the card is upside down) in the classic pose of a sailor dancing a jig. Why, why, why? The other masters have inferred the associations with the element of water but they never bothered to tell anyone (except maybe their students) about this part. They really should retitle the card once and for all as The Hanging Man, instead of The Hanged Man. The current card title has caused far too much confusion for far too many years—most in the name of “secrecy,” so don’t tell anyone we told you.

Esoteric Interpretation

So why is he dancing upside down? Sailors placed their hands behind their backs when they danced for a number of reasons: it kept them from flailing about in an undignified manner, and it certainly kept them from slapping into things (like people, and lines [ropes], masts, and other boat “stuff”). It also was a rather controlled (“manly”) placement. The pose here (when the card is upside down) shows our friend mid-leap, with the classical “pointed toe” of a ballet dancer, and the kicked up heel (as in to “kick up your heels”) mid-leap. Dancing has always been the primal and even ultimate celebration of life.

We didn’t always have televisions to waste our lives in front of, so when we finished the chores of the day, we rested a bit, gathered with our friends, drank lots of alcohol, and danced. This is the way it has always been, in almost every society throughout time, but especially in the European ones that spawned the whole “mystery school” paradigm. Dancing is the celebration of life. Dancing is life, in a “daily life” kind of way, just the same as crappy jobs are (another constant for the masses of society). Dancing is the fun part of life. In most dances men and women were allowed to touch each other. (Oooh!) Try touching some random stranger you find attractive the next time you are in public, see where that gets you (be sure to have “bail money” in your pocket)! Thus, our friend above, the dancing man, is really “the non-dancing man.” The reason for his pose is to show his willful exit from society (and the touching of women).

Then there is the halo (by the way—did you know that came from a misprint of the Marseilles deck?). Are you seeing the pattern here? “Godliness” coming from abstinence. Sacrifice for a greater goal (and as they say . . . “What is greater than . . .?”). The legs are the “active” body part here. (Notice the heavy use of red? Waite was soooo predictable.) So there you have it. He is not “hanged,” or “hung.” He is stepping away from the joys of life to invest his time (his most valuable asset) in search of deeper meaning. He is looking for answers, but the halo in the image shows us that he is finding them, thus indicating that his time of waiting is already nearing an end. By the time this card shows up, the hardest part is over. Stay with it.

Traditional Meaning

The Hanged Man Card – The Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck

The Hanged Man Card – The Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck

Turning your back on routine and searching out answers. This could be a style of problem-solving that is used by the person the card relates to (seeing things differently). Sacrifice for a greater goal. Missing out on “life,” but usually because one is preoccupied with something important. However, if this card shows up with, say, the 9 of Swords, and/or the 4 of Coins (you get the idea), you may be seeing someone who is afraid to live, or afraid of spending their money, time, youth, or some other valuable commodity.

They are hiding from life. This happens quite a bit really, but like any other “major” Arcana card, you really need to tie it in to “minor” Arcana cards to give it definition. This card also shows a time of waiting, inaction, deep thought, passive magical exercises (meditation, prayer, “attraction” here as “seduction”).

Traditional Reversed Meaning

 Ahh, the joys of life—of being young and alive and free, without a care in the world! This is how those celebrity “billionaire babies” must feel every day, running from party to party, laughing mercilessly at all of “the little people” who actually have to work for a living. Oops! I used the “w” word. Silly me! This shows an abandonment of responsibility, study, effort, or bothering to care.

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