I am the Hanged Man

Normally I would not be propagating some inane online categorization quiz, purely for the purposes of not wasting your time, gentle reader, or my own. I also must disclaim that I know and care little for astrology and believe less. There are just too many other far more interesting and obscure newagey systems for analyzing the underlying fabric of the universe for me to waste my time worrying what month everybody was born in and whether I should hang out with them or not as a result.

The Tarot, on the other hand… well I’m not sure what it is about the Tarot, except that it’s based on these archetypal symbols. I suppose you could call them prepackaged monumental metaphor. And the great thing about it is that it can be tailored to the individual. Find an artist you love and construct an inner cosmology, and there you have it, in a tangible form you can shuffle or mark your place in books with or flick one by one across the room into a hat. Maybe this is why you find me marking all my books with Magic cards.

Anyhow, the outcome of this particular inane quiz just made me so damn psyched, just fit so well my ideal conception of myself, that I had to put it up.

You are the Hanged Man

Self-sacrifice, Sacrifice, Devotion, Bound.

With the Hanged Man there is often a sense of fatalism, waiting for something to happen. Or a fear of loss from a situation, rather than gain.

The Hanged Man is perhaps the most fascinating card in the deck. It reflects the story of Odin who offered himself as a sacrifice in order to gain knowledge. Hanging from the world tree, wounded by a spear, given no bread or mead, he hung for nine days. On the last day, he saw on the ground runes that had fallen from the tree, understood their meaning, and, coming down, scooped them up for his own. All knowledge is to be found in these runes.

The Hanged Man, in similar fashion, is a card about suspension, not life or death. It signifies selflessness, sacrifice and prophecy. You make yourself vulnerable and in doing so, gain illumination. You see the world differently, with almost mystical insights.

(What Tarot Card are You?)

Halfway between the Fool and the Magician.

Wishing all of you a safe, ecstatic and enlightening Autumnal Equinox.


  1. Oh sure. You get to be the “most fascinating card in the deck” while I’m merely a snake oil salesman. I call shenanigans.

  2. That is a lovely deck.

    Three concepts from standard esoteric philosophy that you might be interested in, given the thrust of your post:

    The Hanged Man is also associated with the element Water, which in esoteric philosophy has been described as an ocean into which each conscious being has an inlet. It’s not simply the concept of a mass mind, but think instead of the Universal substance. Sort of like the Force. Or a reflection of Some Thing. Maybe God, if God could be the thing and the reflection at the same time–I’ll leave that to you to decide. Odin would have been tapping into that Universal Water when he hung from the tree.

    Tarot can indeed be a monumental metaphor. Some decks are just fun and pretty to look at. Some are designed to be specifically charged with information, and are quite deeply layered with archetypal shorthand, the study of which could last a lifetime or more. Most decks fall somewhere in between.

    Exoteric astrology is as you say. Esoteric astrology, however, is a different matter–it’s intimately connected with Tarot, actually, as part of a language through which humans can discuss energetic realities, so it’s kind of amusing (to me) that you dissed astrology in this post.

    Here’s a sort of koan: Nothing is as it seems, and everything is exactly as it seems. 🙂

    I feel like I comment too much to your journal, considering I don’t actually know you, but you rather annoyingly keep posting about things I enjoy talking about. So there it is.

    1. Ha! Please continue commenting on my journal.

      Yes, I did bring up the astrological stuff here because of its connection with the Tarot. I don’t meant to dis astrology. Shakespeare thought it was great, so who am I to judge? I’m just saying there’s other wierd abstractions by which to approach ultimate reality that I enjoy more and for some reason am more interested in. A lot of it for me is a matter of aesthetic, not really having anything to do with the nuts and bolts of how the system works. For example, the Mayan astrologers…well, it seems like their whole cosmology, and some of the actual structure of their myths, was designed to fit onto the changes that take place in the sky over the course of a night, or over a month or a year or 20 years. Maybe a similar correllation exists in the western astrological symbols and I just don’t know about it.

      1. And of course, I’m not saying that you should or shouldn’t like or be attracted to astrology, or Tarot, or anything, really. I just thought it was funny that you are attracted to Tarot and not to astrology since they are, in some philosophies, practically inseparable. And yes, I do think there’s more to both those things and how they approach ultimate reality, and other, rather surprising, aesthetic structures behind it all, but leave that for now.

        Approaching ultimate reality………mmm.

        All this from some dumb quiz. Cosmic inspiration, self-sacrifice, hanging from the tree, runes. All knowledge contained in one symbolic system. Those dumb quizzes are amusing, at least when they lead to (even brief) discussions about, y’know, Stuff.

  3. Interesting that you’d come up as the hanged man, and I don’t think I’ve seen the hanged man described that way before. In what vague familiarity I have with the arcana I thought it was mostly associated with resisting change, and thus “worse” than the death card because death at least represents a form of overcoming or transfiguration, whereas the hanged man is the resistance of such. But this interpretation is interesting too. I think if I would have guessed one for you it would have been the Magician, but if the Hanged Man is halfway between the Fool and the Magician that makes sense, too. If you were to get all symbolic about it, the Fool and the Magician being the 0 and 1 cards, representing a kind of completeness in an absence-and-presence way, I guess you would be .5? 😉

    I am apparently the Wheel of Fortune. I go back and forth with the tarot. I think it’s interesting just because I like symbols, but the symbology of it seems to be way the heck all over the map, representing some major concepts but not all, and there seems to be a slant even within the collective symbols in the tarot, a feeling like the whole points in one direction of interpretation rather than there being a sense of balance and all things represented. And then you have things further muddied, rather than clarified, with the presence of the minor arcana, which just adds more onto the pile like an increasing succession of Catholic saints.

    1. Hmm. Well, I know that Odin myth well, and one of the fun things about Odin myths is their moral ambiguity–Odin does what he does, and we are left to interpret. I don’t think I’d ever heard that story linked to this card in the Tarot, but it reveals something new to me about both the symbol and the myth to do so. So I appreciate it.

      I’m like you, Erin, in that I enjoy the symbols for themselves. I have read too much Saussure and Lacan not to be picking up that chain of signification wherever it pulls me and following it down into the murk.

      Like I said above, I’m not really one to put any great weight in the online Tarot identity quiz anyway. I am myself, and if I happen to feel inclined to surround myself with symbols, it’s only to pick and choose motivations from them as I see fit. Self-sacrifice in the name of knowledge. That resonates with me, so I’ll take it.

      1. I think the pick-and-choose approach to these systems is the best way to go about it, and I certainly didn’t think you were buying in too heavily to the quiz. 😉 The nice thing about online journals is that they are for personal expression, so finding when one of these memes really resonates with something in you is an undoubtedly cool thing. Like I said, I don’t think I would have guessed that about you (self-sacrifice for knowledge specifically), so it is an insight.

        But back on the pick-and-choose, I think that actually gets to the heart of the “real” function of a lot of astrology, a non-darker side. For me the Chinese zodiac is what I’m more a fan of, but I’m sure it has to do with having cool Chinese zodiac signs. I doubt that rabbit and pig people are as enthusiastic about it. 😉 These systems interest me, somewhat integrated with the magic discussion going on on the odfellow list at the moment, for their potential both good and ill. I’m in the process of constructing an alternate Chinese zodiac and a society that follows it as religiously as some of the Chinese culture does and did, arranging marriages on its basis, creating destinies based on it… which is very dystopian to me in a weird kind of way.

  4. Well, the Hanged Man may be fascinating but it isn’t always fun!

    The Hanged Man’s journey is always about letting go of the ego and tapping into a power much greater than himself. In a Tarot reading, The Hanged Man tarot card meanings usually inform us that we can not go back to earlier states of consciousness, such as those from youth or early adulthood. At the same time, we can not yield to our darker shadow selves, the impulsive drives of our unconscious. Our goal is to free ourselves from both the desire for the safety of our past and from the demands of our unconscious, a difficult duality we all face.

    Lucky You!

    Hey check out my own tarot card meanings and let me know what you think.



    1. 🙂

      We cannot go back, except in time on a blog, perhaps back to a time like 2007 when I had more time for ruminations on such things as symbols, the impact of the abstract on consciousness. And I miss it. But that’s the ego talking, which I am long-practiced at suppressing.

      If only ultimate reality would see that a little more often and come poking like the north wind at the window.

      Thanks for your comment!

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