The Witches Tarot- Key 12- The Hanged Man, shows a kind of initiation that is being undergone by a young man. He is calm, and seems to be in no pain, as he hangs from his right leg, from a Tau cross form of limbs of an oak tree. The Halo around his head means he seems to experiencing a type of epiphany. Clear skies behind this young person, show that this is a time of reconciliation, and nothing to fear. Here, is a type of baptism, where something old and hurtful must be let go of in order to gain new wisdom and is wearing a shirt with a yellow collar decorated in the runes of his newly acquired wisdom.
In Norse Pagan Tradition, the World Tree Yggdrasil supports the Universe and is the Tree of Life that Odin, was hung on in order to undergo death and resurrection---before he could receive godhood. This martyrdom of Odin, was actually a baptism in the Feminine mysteries giving him the Feminine Wisdom that all shamans, sorcerers and holy men must gain from a female counterpart. In the myth of Odin, he gained the knowledge of the runes. Hence, the hanged man also finds his answers during this initiation phase.
Hence, we see a Raven, a totem to the pagan god Odin, who seems to be staring at the young man while holding a golden pentagram on a chain, in its beak. Ravens, traditionally represent initiation, secrets and prophecy. Perhaps the Raven is the hanged man's totem animal that is keeping him company during his transitional state.
The classic elemental colors of red, blue, green and yellow, are included in his costume and are indicating the balance of the 4 Universal Elements.
Therefore, when this card is thrown in a divination, it implies that it is type to look at things, in a new perspective,i.e., a different viewpoint. Relax and take it easy, for fighting against the changes in your life only creates more drama in your life and therefore, greater imbalance.
The Hanged man of Tarot, is a curious image of Severity and its implications are very different from the previous paths that connect the Personality and the Higher Self; Severity, because this is the Path of Mem (Meaning-Water) that connects Hod (Splendor) and Geburah (Severity) on the Pillar of Severity. The Hebrew word-MEM, (Water) is a one of the three Maternals, and implies a Baptism in Maternal Waters, as the other two: The Path of Shin (Art) is a baptism in Fire, and The Path of Aleph-The Fool, is a baptism in Air. Of all these three Baptisms, the Baptism in Water (emotional consciousness) is the central and pivotal experience of the entire Qabalistic Tree of Life. Here the Soul/Psyche is placing its psyche into the World of Form, the World of the Creatrix, who is "will to form". Therefore, this baptism of water, is the establishment of self-conscious in the watery world of flesh.
Consciousness, is the Alchemical First Principle, also called the Thinking Principle and is referred to the physical image of Water because it is alike water in wave motion, and fluid flow. The lowest expression of the First Principle, is first found, by the upward traveling initiate, as the Astral Fluid that is drawn down the Path of the Universe into Yesod, the Foundation Sephiroth. This Thinking Principle, the Astral Fluid, is found as the Stable Intelligence, by virtue of consistency, in all Sephiroth and Paths as it underlies everything that is.
Pointing downward, the Spirit is drowned in the Maternal Waters where upon, perceiving itself as a Soul, as an intrinsic and inseparably part of the One Consciousness who states "I Will Be". Carl Jung, who coined the phrase. Collective Unconscious, describing this Water of Mem as a "...boundless expanse full of unprecedented uncertainty, with apparently no inside and no outside, no above and no below, no here and no there, no mine and no thine, no good and no bad". To him the First Principle of the Alchemists was also described as Water, as he states, "It is the world of water, where all life floats in suspension: where the realm of the sympathetic system, the soul of everything living begins; where I am individually this and that; where I experience the other in myself and the other-than-myself experiences me.....the collective conscious is anything but an encapsulated personal system; it is sheer objectivity, as wide as the world and open to all the world."
I would highly recommend that the initiate reads the works of Carl Jung, on the Universal Collective Unconscious. Thus gaining a modern understanding of the ancient wisdom. To put it another way, in the state of consciousness we are "always the subject that has an object", a reality that is totally turned around in the Collective Unconscious where, we are "the object of every subject", as stated by Carl Jung. In other words, our subjective Self (Soul), I AM becoming objective Self, Me, when immersed in the Maternal Waters on the Path of Mem. Hence, THE HANGED MAN is where the invisible becomes visible.
The Qabalistic initiate knows that we must move constantly upward on the Paths of the Tree of Life, for only through the hindsight gained by going to a higher Sephiroth, can we experience an understanding of the qualities of the lower Sephiroth. As Stated: The Path of Mem, leads to Geburah (Severity) which is directly above Tiphareth (Beauty); Geburah is the Fiery or Active part of the Higher Self and is shown as Red in color; the color of Mars. This further illustrates the point that Geburah is the fiery energy on the Pillar of Water below Binah.
In the Thoth Deck Tarot card of the HANGED MAN, the Womb of Binah is where the hanging figure's foot is held.; from the oval of the Egyptian Ankh, which is the cross like symbol ( also called the Tau cross) of both Divine Androgyny and Infinity and is itself, shown in this card as upside down.
To the one who has traveled the Paths to this point, it is to be noted that the Path of Mem, the HANGED MAN, must be approached very differently than the lower paths. Here, the mediator becomes the object of one's own meditation. The individual becomes the "other" which was previously the object of pursuit; the "other" now becomes the initiate. Thus it can be said, that the personality meditates in pursuit of the Higher Self, who then becomes or envelopes the Personality of the pursuer creating a Higher Sensual self meditation on Being.... A self often stated as having "Magick Abilities".
The Path of Mem, THE HANGED MAN- Key 12, has a reverse figure on the card that represents the Higher Self imposing a complete reversal of perspective which is a suspension of individual consciousness. Much like the reflected image in the mirror, looking at the real non-reflected image that is the object of reflection. This is however, a willing suspension, done by an initiate's conscious effort, a type of sacrifice or baptism, where the perspective of "I Am" is cleansed of the illusions of the material world, i.e. the ME. By mentally traveling up this Path of Mem, from Hod to Geburah, the initiate is sacrificing of one’s individual perspectives to the Greater Self perspective of all. Therefore, the Thoth Deck HANGED MAN is shown in a suspected state of crucifixion that images the myth of the Dying God. (Dionysus. Osiris, Odin, Christ etc.).
Some of my more observant students have asked why the Hanged Man is crucified on the Left Hand Path of Severity, or one side of the Tree of Life, as it would seem logical to have him spanning the Tree.
The reasoning behind this one-sided nonfiction, is because this is an intellectual experience, as shown by the legs positioned into the upside down number 4 which is suspended above the Triangle (3) implied by the positioning of the arms. Four is the number of the Emperor Key-4 of the Thoth Deck Tarot, and represents the rational qualities of the Mind while 3 is the number of the Empress, the imaginative qualities of the mind (also seen in the number 12, 1+2=3). Thus, positioning the rational qualities of the mind over the desire principle. This suspension and or crucifixion in space, is what happens when the spinning WHEEL OF FORTUNE, the 10th key and the opposite to the Path of Caph (the Path between Netzach and Chesed) is willfully arrested by the initiate. Here, the HANGED MAN is an image of repose, while the WHEEL OF FORTUNE is activity. Both the Hanged Man and the Wheel of Fortune, form a balance that is known as the activity and passivity of the ONE THING.
Thus, one of the primary qualities of the HANGED MAN is that it is a Path of eternal probabilities and/or eternal unresolved possibilities. Therefore, the HANGED MAN is openness without end while THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE, is the exact opposite, as it encloses in eternal motion., i.e. making a limited thought pattern and/or Form. When Mem (Water-consciousness) is closed, it becomes the Ankh (a form of the Tau cross). The Ankh on the Thoth Card, represents Mem reversed.
In Crowley's card of the HANGED MAN, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, the figure emphasizes the cross-triangle, and is suspended from the Ankh, being attached to this form of the Tau Cross, by a coiled serpent that symbolizes “the creator and destroyer who operates all change". There is also a lower coiled serpent that represents the effect of the Work of the Divine Creative: As Crowley states in his book of Thoth: "Through his work a Child is begotten, as shown by the Serpent stirring in the Darkness of the Abyss below him." Seemingly, here Crowley is referring to the Animus, who is Soul and a "sun/son of Spirit", that is the Anima.
As I have stated before, this is the card that shows the reversal of perspective, where the individual identity, reflected in the light of consciousness (reflecting side of the Mirror of Self), becomes the Universal Identity (The Dark or non-reflective side of the Mirror of Self) that is manifested as the Universal Collective Unconscious, the Maker of All Things, usually represented as the Abyssal Ocean and or Abyssal Womb.
Successful skrying of this card will reverse perspective, from "upside down thinking", where the flesh rules the emotions, to "right side up" thinking where the Soul rules the emotions, so that the mediator becomes the object of t one's own meditation. Which could be stated as, where the Soul is observing the body, rather than the body seeking its soul.
When THE HANGED MAN ATU or-Key 12, is thrown during a reading:
- The querent will be or is, experiencing moments of enforced sacrifice, maybe even punishment.
- Loss that is not voluntary and general suffering.
- This is the Principle of Surrender in order to break old patterns.
- A time when one must accept reversals.
- Depending on the dignity of the accompanying cards, THE HANGED MAN, represents a state of mystical death in the form of a change of consciousness and/or a change of perspective.
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