12 The Hanged Man

Hanged Man

The Hanged Man Tarot divinatory meanings

Suspension and loss. Generally the client is either doing too little to achieve anything or she is waiting forlornly for someone to do something for her. Alternatively, actions are altruistic – for the benefit of others – a noble gesture, but when life is in self-sacrifice, leaving disappointment. The solution is to act from within for one’s own benefit rather than for others. After all, if you are not committing a crime (and that is the last thing on the mind of someone in this state), then it is down to the approval of others. When this card is prominent, the client may feel that there is no point to anything as whatever happens there will be a loss.

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Hanged Man and sexuality


Hanged Man - Rider-WaiteThe gallows from which he is suspended forms a Tau cross, while the figure – from the position of the legs – forms a fylfot cross. There is a nimbus about the head of the seeming martyr. It should be noted (1) that the tree of sacrifice is living wood, with leaves thereon; (2) that the face expresses deep entrancement, not suffering; (3) that the figure, as a whole, suggests life in suspension, but life and not death. It is a card of profound significance, but all the significance is veiled. One of his editors suggests that Éliphas Lévi did not know the meaning, which is unquestionable nor did the editor himself. It has been called falsely a card of martyrdom, a card a of prudence, a card of the Great Work, a card of duty; but we may exhaust all published interpretations and find only vanity. I will say very simply on my own part that it expresses the relation, in one of its aspects, between the Divine and the Universe.

He who can understand that the story of his higher nature is imbedded in this symbolism will receive intimations concerning a great awakening that is possible, and will know that after the sacred Mystery of Death there is a glorious Mystery of Resurrection.

Divinatory meanings

Wisdom, circumspection, discernment, trials, sacrifice, intuition, divination, prophecy.

Hanged Man reversed meanings

Selfishness, the crowd, body politic.

Book of Thoth: Hanged Man

Hanged Man - Book of Thoth
Hanged Man

Let not the waters whereon thou journeyest wet thee. And, being come to shore, plant thou the Vine and rejoice without shame.

Enforced sacrifice, punishment, loss, fatal or voluntary, suffering, defeat, failure, death.

If the Hanged Man is prominent in a reading there is often a sense of fatalism, waiting for something to happen. Also, a fear of loss from a situation, rather than gain, which may actually happen.

More information

Golden Dawn – The Hanged Man

The Spirit of the Mighty Waters

Enforced sacrifice. Punishment. Loss. Fatal and not voluntary. Suffering generally.

Mathers: Hanged Man

Self-sacrifice, Sacrifice, Devotion, Bound.


Selfishness, Unbound, Partial Sacrifice.

Etteilla: Prudence

PRUDENCE Discretion, Wisdom, Circumspection, Restrained, Discernment, Foresight, Reserve.Presentiment, Prognostication, Prophet.

Prudence reversed

Nation, Legislator, Body Politic, Population, Generation.

Thierens: XII. The Hanged Man. Pisces.

This twelfth sign of house, closing the cycle of the zodiac, means loss to the outer world, solution, handing over the results of one cycle to the following one, whence comes the meaning of treachery in common astrology. This house contains the things which we have not yet mastered and those whom we have failed to understand or who have failed to understand us. So either this remains for the next cycle, or it will tempt us to waste our last forces. In the eyes of the world it is the sign of waste, spoil, mishap. Viewed from the other side it is the sign of the Golem, in which the outer world loses its importance or even reality, and the consciousness is opened to inner truth. This is the reversing of consciousness, which makes things change their significance in such a way that they appear to turn upside down: the world is now viewed from the other side. And this is the significance of the hanged man.’

12. Le Pendu – Paul Foster Case

The letter corresponding is Mem, to which are attributed the element of Water and the planet Neptune.

Le Pendu

In divination, much depends on the nature of the question whenever this card appears in a layout. If the question is concerned with spiritual matters, the Hanged Man represents wisdom, but a wisdom that is just the reverse of what the world commonly accepts. The card also stands for surrender to the inevitable, but in spiritual things this is surrender to the spiritual perception of universal laws, while in material affairs it is involuntary submission to the force of circumstances. In ordinary material affairs Key 12 is a symbol of reverses and losses, of suffering and sacrifice. But much depends upon its position in a layout, and upon whether or not it is well or Ill-dignified.


“Man”. The Pain of the higher consciousness bound by the limitations of the body and mind. Superman in the separate man.

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Hanged Man tarot meanings - suspension, loss
The Hanged Man: Suspension and loss are the traditional meanings. Actions are altruistic - for the benefit of others. Failure, death.

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