card meanings & reading







The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man

The Meaning of the Hanged Man
Major Arcana Tarot Card in Readings

The Tarot Hanged Man card meaning in a nutshell:
Great personal sacrifice
that still doesn't hurt much.

Martyr - sacrifice.

       The Tarot Hanged Man card is about personal sacrifice, of course. But this figure seems not to be broken, although hanging upside-down. He will bounce right back, as soon as he manages to get free. It's not that he heals easily. The Tarot Hanged Man is one of the few who is not hurt to begin with, as if invulnerable. Maybe that's what tempts other people to use him as a scapegoat.

       The Tarot Hanged Man has a halo, and not a small one at that. Hanging from the wooden structure it makes him look a bit like Jesus on the cross. The martyr. He's probably hanging upside-down not to bear too much resemblance to Christ. That would have been blasphemy in the time when this image took its shape.

       There's a parallel to the Tarot image of the Hanged Man in the early history of the Christians. The disciple Peter was crucified and asked to be done so upside-down, according to some old sources, because he felt unworthy of the same death as his master. Here's a painting of it by Caravaggio, made in 1601:

The Crucifixion of Peter. Painting by Caravaggio, 1601.
The Crucifixion of Peter. According to the legend, the disciple asked to be crucified upside-down, feeling unworthy of dying exactly the same way Jesus did. Painting by Caravaggio, 1601.

       But the Tarot Hanged Man is a martyr that neither dies nor suffers that tremendously. He has a way of shaking it off, the essence of which is his unharmed belief in the universal power of good. An optimist, indeed. Someone who loves life so much that he sees the light of it and not its shadows.

       When victimized by other people, and that happens frequently, the Tarot Hanged Man doesn't feel like a victim. When exposed to envy or even hate, he sees beyond it and pities the people who are so aggravated. The Tarot Hanged Man may even blame himself, but not for long. He has trust in all of mankind, however hard reality might whip him.

       So, in a Tarot reading the Hanged Man card indicates a sacrifice, maybe even a big one, but it will not be harmful at length. You will come out of it on top. Like they say: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and in this case happier, too.

A. E. Waite about the Tarot Hanged Man Card

Click the header to read what A. E. Waite had to say about the Major Arcana Hanged Man Tarot card symbolism and meaning in divination.

The Major Arcana Tarot Cards

  1. The Magician

  2. The High Priestess

  3. The Empress

  4. The Emperor

  5. The Hierophant

  6. The Lovers

  7. The Chariot

  8. Strength

  9. The Hermit

  10. Wheel of Fortune

  11. Justice

  12. The Hanged Man

  13. Death

  14. Temperance

  15. The Devil

  16. The Tower

  17. The Star

  18. The Moon

  19. The Sun

  20. Judgement

  21. The World

  22. The Fool

The Book

Tarot Unfolded. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tarot Unfolded

This book focuses on the Tarot card images and their allegorical symbols. Several spreads are introduced, as well as the meanings of all the 78 cards and their pictures. The book will help you find your own intuitive way of making inspired Tarot card readings. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

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Creation stories from around the world, and the ancient cosmology they reveal.

Other Books of Mine

Your Health in Your Horoscope. Book by Stefan Stenudd.

Your Health in Your Horoscope

What the horoscope says about your health, according to the old tradition of medical astrology. Click the image to see the book (and Kindle ebook) at Amazon.

Life Energy Encyclopedia. Book by Stefan Stenudd.

Life Energy Encyclopedia

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I'm a Swedish author. In addition to fiction, I've written books about the Tarot, Taoism, astrology and other metaphysical traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.