12 - The Hanged Man Print E-mail
Interpretations - Major Arcana

Ο Κρεμασμένος

The Hanged Man is one of the most complex cards in the Tarot. Its illustration is dominated by the figure of a man hanging upside down from a tree, with his hands tied behind his back and a halo glowing around his head. This is a clear reference to Odin, the most important god of Norse mythology. According to a popular myth, Odin traveled in many far-away lands in search of wisdom. His travels though, were to no avail. Thus, he decided to sacrifice himself. He hanged himself upside down from the tree of life and stayed there, without food or water for nine days and nine nights. At the end of this period, the runes of wisdom fell from his pockets on to the ground. At that point, Odin freed himself, collected the runes and set off to share his newly acquired wisdom with the people of his land.

General Meaning
The first of the three main interpretations of the Hanged Man is associated with delays, postponements and the “freezing” of time. When you get the Hanged Man, the best thing you can do is wait. Put off your plans temporarily and don't try to force things in any way. You may be entering a period of trial. Arm yourself with patience. Use this time for introspection and careful assessment of the situation. No initiatives are favored. On the contrary, you are advised to go with the flow. Adopt a low profile and be humble. Trust the law of cause and effect, and accept that sometimes it is better to let things follow their natural course without interfering at all.

The second important interpretation of the Hanged Man is associated with sacrifice. You have come to a point where something important and vital has to be sacrificed in order to achieve progress. You are the one who has to make such an important and “cruel” decision. This sacrifice may concern the abandonment of a situation, person or dream and it always comes with a lot of pain and tears. Still, it is the only thing that can bring about change, particularly at a time when you feel stagnated or suppressed.

The concept of sacrifice implied by the Hanged Man is not about sacrificing yourself for the sake of others. It is about sacrificing something very dear to you that no longer functions in your life. You just need to let go in order to gain better future prospects. It does take a lot of courage to make such realizations that's why the Hanged Man is considered to be a card of torture. The conclusions you reach after you have become the Hanged Man will be unpleasant and hard to accept. But things will only start rolling again after you have conquered the valuable knowledge of the Hanged Man.

You also need to keep in mind that real sacrifice cannot be connected with pride or swapping costs. When you are ready to make your sacrifice, don't ask for anything in return. You have come to the point of realizing that by letting go, the greatest reward you will ever get, will be your liberation from fear, darkness and stagnation. You are doing this for yourself, not for the others. If you emotionally invest in your sacrifice, you will be bitterly disappointed. Nobody owes you anything.

The third important interpretation of this card is associated with changing your viewpoint. The Hanged Man sees the world upside down, yet the aura of knowledge and enlightenment shines around his head, while the expression on his face remains calm. In other words: try changing the way you see the world! Accept the existence of paradox if you can't embrace it, and be more flexible and less judgmental towards those who are different from you. Use this opportunity to transform yourself into a less prejudiced person. Try to get rid of your emotional burden. Remain calm and receptive even when things get disruptive and strange.

In negative position

When the Hanged Man appears upright in a negative position, he usually indicates your refusal to bring about change through sacrifice. You seem to be clinging on the darkest sides of your fear, turning a blind eye to the harsh reality you have to face. Alternatively, the Hanged Man in a such a position indicates that you're only putting on the face of the martyr so that you can attract a savior. But this tactic will take you nowhere as you probably already know.


When the Hanged Man appears reversed, he usually indicates a thoughtless and pointless sacrifice and waste of time and energy over a lost cause. You're giving yourself up for all the wrong reasons, so it won't work. Alternatively, you may also worry too much about the practical side of things, which makes you unable to care for your emotional and spiritual needs. Finally, you may feel indifferent to what is happening around you, drowning in your own emotional depths, without any sense of responsibility for the others. You need to re-establish your connection with yourself and the people you love. Stop using your own misery as a tool of manipulation. 



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