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The Hanged Man - Tarot Card Meaning

Updated: May 8

The Hanged Man card in the Major Arcana of the Tarot is a reminder of the importance to take the time to reflect, learn, grow, and care for ourselves along life’s path. Just plowing ahead all the time is not always the best strategy. Let your intuition guide you as to when it is the right time to rest, self-reflect, and let go of beliefs from the past to find new ways forward.

The Hanged Man Major Arcana Tarot Card - Various Examples

Upright Tarot Card Meanings - In Brief

In the upright position, The Hanged Man suggests that you need to take a pause to reassess your plans. Whatever got you to where you are now is unlikely to get you to where you want to go. You need to step outside of your comfort zone and gain new knowledge and perspectives at this time.

Reversed Tarot Card Meanings - In Brief

In the reversed position, The Hanged Man suggests that you are pushing too hard and that you need to take a break. If you don’t the universe will force one on you. It can be frustrating to feel like you are in enforced stagnation, but this is an opportunity to do necessary inner work that can be highly transformative.

Number - 12

The Hanged Man is linked with the number 12, which is the number of the heavens and divine order. There are 12 months in the year, 12 signs of the zodiac, and 12 stations of the sun and moon. This is a reminder that you function best when you are in tune with the natural world around you.

Element - Water

The Hanged Man card is linked with the element of water, which points to the emotional streams that run through us. In this case, it reminds us to tap into our emotions as a source of intuition. This does not mean that we should be ruled by our emotions, but that we should recognize that they communicate important information about how we are doing.

Planet – Neptune

The planet Neptune rules The Hanged Man card, and this is the card linked with our innate spirituality which manifests through our intuition. This is another reminder to listen to ourselves and trust our feelings to guide us.

The Hanged Man - Tarot Card Description

While The Hanged Man card appears differently in different decks, most pull on the symbology represented in the Rider Waite deck.

The Hanged Man is hanging upside down from a T-shaped cross made of natural wood. While he appears to be imprisoned on the tree, if you look closely, only his right leg is tied and his left leg is free. He also holds his hands behind his back, they are not secured there. The serene look on the man’s face shows that he is there by choice.

The upside-down position lets the Hanged Man see the world from a new perspective and gain new insight. He wears red pants to represent human passion and a blue vest to represent knowledge. The halo around his head represents the acquisition of new knowledge or insight.

The Hanged Man feels like a reference to the Norse god Odin, who voluntarily hung himself from Yggdrasil, the world tree at the center of the universe, for nine days and nights to obtain knowledge of the runes. Odin had to do something uncomfortable and make a sacrifice to gain the insight that he craved.

The Hanged Man - Upright Tarot Card Meaning

The Hanged Man card upright in a Tarot reading often suggests that you take a pause before moving forward with something important. This is usually because the path before you is not certain and you need to take the time to reflect and reassess.

The card can carry the message that what got you to where you are now are not the same things that will get you to where you want to go. To push forward, you will need to expand your mindset and be willing to embrace new ways of approaching things. You may well need to eliminate strong-held beliefs that you do not realize are limiting your ability to grow.

The Hanged Man suggests that new knowledge is there to be embraced, but that you will need to go outside your comfort zone to obtain it. This is a common challenge for adults who tend to lose the custom of being new at things and struggle when they can’t master something new quickly.

Above all, The Hanged Man card reminds you that you have your intuition as your guide and that this is the strongest compass that you have in your life. Develop practices that allow you to tap into that inner voice.

What to do?

When The Hanged Man card appears upright in a Tarot reading, it is a sign that you should stop, take a breath, and reassess your plans going forward. While your goals may not change, your plan for reaching them is based on old knowledge; moving forward requires new approaches. But you don’t have to look far for the insight that you need. It is already within you.

The Hanged Man - Reversed Tarot Card Meaning

When The Hanged Man appears reversed in a reading, it is a sign that you need to take a break. You are probably pushing too hard or pouring your energy into something that is having a negative impact on you. If you don’t voluntarily take a break at this time, it will probably be forced on you by the universe through illness or a breakdown.

The card may also appear reversed if you are stuck in a rut and unable to move forward, especially if you perceive that this is not of your making. Life circumstances are stopping you from moving in your desired direction. But The Hanged Man reminds you that this is an opportunity. While you may not feel like you are moving forward in the physical world, the work that you do on yourself at this time and take you further than you can imagine.

What to do?

When The Hanged Man card appears upside down in a reading, you probably need a break, or you will break yourself. Your body is sending you signals, so stop ignoring them! When you do find yourself in an enforced break, try not to get frustrated. Use this time to do inner work that will certainly pay off in the end.

The Hanged Man Tarot Reading

When The Hanged Man shows up in a Tarot reading, it is a sign that you need to hit the pause button for a while. It is either that you are wearing yourself down, or you are trying to use old ways to conquer new challenges and need to reassess the best way forward.

The only way to know what to do is to listen to your intuition, which means taking time to self-reflect and look beyond immediate challenges and pulls on your attention. Many people find stagnation, waiting, and periods of contemplation frustrating. But The Hanged Man reassures you that while you feel like you may be treading water, when you are working on yourself, you are moving faster than you imagine.

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