Many people know the classic symbol of the Christian cross, and what it stands for. The man Jesus was tortured and hung upon one – it's where he uttered the phrase, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” before dying. The message that he left with that phrase is one of trust, one of release, and one of acceptance. With this acceptance, he rose to a greater plane – of both understanding and of life. He took that time on the cross, where a man is expected to die and suffer, and not only learned from it... but became better because of it. He took his situation and reversed the circumstances. This is the lesson of the Hanged Man.
On this card we see a man hanging upside-down, dangling from a tree by one foot. He wears a simple blue jumper, red tights, and yellow shoes – the picture of a peasant. His foot is tied to the tree, a rope knotted around his ankle. Most people in this position would be struggling, or at least upset... but the look on the face of the man is one of peace and understanding. The man even has a halo around his head, to note that he is touched by the holy.
The first lesson to be learned from the Hanged Man is that of acceptance. The man isn't struggling, mourning, or even unhappy. He has accepted his fate – he not only hangs from the tree, but he seems to have learned something great and powerful from being there.
A great but mildly complicated message of the Hanged Man is power in sacrifice. By giving away his power to move freely, he has gained a new kind of power and knowledge. We run into these moments in our lives all the time, but very rarely do we accept them with grace. This card may be asking you to stop, take time to think, and sacrifice one good thing for an even greater thing.
Lastly, the Hanged Man asks from us a bit of faith. Not everyone is willing to hang from a tree, sacrificing all free movement. Why should they? How do they know they will gain anything out of it? In order to hang from that tree, we must believe that we will discover more about ourselves and the unknown than we would if we were standing on the ground.
If you've pulled the Hanged Man card in a reading, you'll need to question yourself a bit. What sacrifice could this card be asking of you? Can you have faith that silence and stillness will bring you a great reward? Can you put aside fear to embrace new-found wisdom? Can you accept that there are certain things you simply cannot pursue or do?
The High Priestess shares very similar knowledge that the Hanged Man has gained through his sacrifice – she, however, has gained knowledge of the beyond, where he has gained both knowledge and faith in the beyond and in himself. There is also a surprising parallel to be made between the Hanged Man and the Strength card – both share in a strength of their own, and both are of a soft, gentile nature. While Strength has a persuasive power, the Hanged Man has a power over himself.