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The Hanged One - Gaining Perspective in the Tarot

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The Hanged One is all about refreshing your outlook.

To give you a bit of context whilst you reflect on your own relationship to the card, here are a few key things to know about the Hanged One:

The Hanged One (more traditionally known as the Hanged Man) is the 13th card in the Major Arcana (numbered 12). In the Rider Waite Smith tarot, it’s illustrated like this: A figure which bears at least a passing resemblance to The Fool, the first card in the tarot, is suspended upside down, tied by one ankle to the bough of a tree. The figure’s free leg is bent, and so are the figure’s arms. Surrounding their head is a radiant halo of light.

The Hanged One is one of those cards - alongside Death, the Devil, the Tower, and the Three of Swords that most often makes an appearance when tarot is represented in pop culture. Because of it’s ominous name, the Hanged One is lumped in with the “scary cards” in the tarot - and of course those are the ones that TV shows and books depicting tarot flock to, because who doesn’t love a bit of sensationalism. But if you actually look closely at the card, it’s really not that scary at all - the colors are bright, the figure hasn’t been hanged as in executed, they’re rather unthreateningly suspended from a tree, their posture is totally relaxed but very clearly alive, and that golden halo is undeniably a positive symbol.

That the Hanged One is often misunderstood as a card indicating death or persecution is particularly funny, because in reality, it’s a card about taking the time to see things in new ways. This isn’t a death card, it’s an enlightenment card. It’s a card of pause, consideration, and imagination. The suspended figure isn’t hanging to their death, but hanging in a way that allows them to see their world turned upside down, and find wonder and expansion in it.

In the Major Arcana sequence, the Hanged One follows The Wheel of Fortune (number ten) and Justice (number 11), suggesting that major changes and decisions have led the figure to see the world in a different way - now, suspended in the air, they are taking the time to really make sense of what they’ve experienced.

In your tarot journal, you’re asked to reflect on what this card means to you, now, in this moment, and what actions and thoughts it inspires in you. As you journal, pay attention to what you’re personally picking up in the card, but also consider what the key symbols and themes in the card might be telling you. What’s going on in your life that could benefit from time, space, and fresh perspective? What experiences aren’t you seeing clearly right now, and how can you give yourself an opportunity to enlighten your point of view?

This mini-tarot lesson was brought to you by me, Chelsey Pippin Mizzi, founder of Pip Cards Tarot. I hope you gained a little context to help you continue reflecting on the card in your own way, and I’ll see you tomorrow for another mini-lesson.

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