The Hanged Man : Year Card

Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert
Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert

“It is time to face the truth that our ego’s notion of being in control is mostly an illusion. The more we become attuned to Mother Nature, the clearer it becomes that we need times of stopping, even reversal, in order to access a greater Wisdom. Although it may be inconvenient or even uncomfortable, allow this flow to move through you. Still your inner noise and surrender to what is.” Gaian Tarot: Healing the Earth, Healing Ourselves by Joanna Powell Colbert

For over a month now, I have entered the Hanged Man year. After the whirlwind tumble across the world during the 2011 Wheel of Fortune year, and the balancing/readjustment of the Justice year during 2012, I am ready to suspend myself, hopefully with some level of serenity, and just let go. The woman above also reminds me that perhaps this would be an excellent year to pursue my yoga interests with dedication, although my gut feeling overall is, once again, to let go of any expectations and surrender to the ether.

For anyone who has not researched their yearly card, it is done simply by adding your birth day, birth month and current year, and reducing this to a Major Arcana number. I’ve found it to be fascinating – for example, during my Wheel of Fortune year (from December 2010 to December 2011) I travelled overseas to Romania for three months, and after coming back to New Zealand, I moved to Australia to find work in the environmental sector. During the Justice Year, from December 2011 to December 2012, I was offered and accepted a position in the Whitsunday region (noting Justice also stands for legal contracts), as well as taking the time to reassess my situation and take responsibility for my own actions, both good and bad.

Tarot of the Spirit
Tarot of the Spirit

I confess I’ve always had a somewhat puzzling curiosity about The Hanged Man. He is both attached and not attached: he is tied to a tree, yet is in a trance, in meditation, away from the mundane and the material physicality of the world. I’ve often heard people talk about sacrifice when this card would come up – yet that’s never been an immediate view for me. Possibly because sacrifice, in my mind, brings about images of martyrdom that I so loathe, typically in the form of the woman (or man) who is self-sacrificing (for family, or partner, or whatever) and then projects the misery of such life onto her/his view of the world. It’s awfully tragic, and never sat well with me.

What I do love about this card though, is the ability to develop a spiritual connection, a faith, or have some sort of mystical experience, that is often imbued in the imagery.

Haindl Tarot
Haindl Tarot

Even in the Haindl tarot, where the Hanged Man is shown as Odin, and sacrifice is at the core of the myth, I understand and accept such sacrifice in the wider context of spiritual awakening and revelation:

“The meanings for the Hanged Man emphasize the idea of attachment. We become so certain of the basic realities in our lives that nothing can shake us. This may mean an attachment to nature, or to a moral principle, or some important purpose in life. It can also indicate a deep spiritual awareness.

The image of the tree suggests an attachment to something greater than day-to-day problems. If a person feels blown about by outside influences, then Meditation with the Hanged Man can often have an anchoring effect. Imagine your body literally on a tree, one whose roots sink deep into the Earth and whose branches reach into the stars. However weak you may feel as an individual, attachment to this tree makes you unshakeable. To help you visualise this, you may try standing on one leg, with the arms out. The point of this imagery is to gain a sense of yourself as part of something greater. This does not mean sacrificing your individuality. The Hanged Man remains himself. In my own experience I have found the Hanged Man a great help during times when I have felt myself weak or overly influenced by people or situations. If the Hanged Man comes up in a reading, it tells you to seek such an attachment, or that such a feeling already exists, giving you confidence and peace.” Rachel Pollack – The Haindl Tarot

Gilded Tarot
Gilded Tarot

All of the above makes perfect sense to me. This is indeed the year to bring together all the streams of spirituality that I feel are a core part of who I am, and, without being too limiting, define, openly, what I stand for. I guess this has been going on for a while now, actually since 2006, yet it is only now that I am starting to assimilate the vast amount of experiences I accumulated over the past six years.

Part of my vision for this year, has been a conscious task of having a dedicated spiritual practice, which is rather simple yet profound: acknowledging the New and Full Moons in ritual, being aware of Moon phases when I plant my seeds, learning about herbs and their medicinal and magical properties, and so on. A Full Moon ritual, for example, might simply be a yoga session followed by a herbal bath with herbs that are governed by the Full Moon sign. It’s nothing too complex or laborious, but it is intentional, it is nourishing, and it is important to me as the air I breathe.

Herbal Tarot
Herbal Tarot

I openly and consciously seek to connect with Spirit, with the Earth, and with my own voice and my calling. This year will also be a time of letting go. Mary Greer describes it best:

“In a Hanged Man Year, you will have to release things from your past… Relax and let go. By releasing old patterns and surrendering fixed ideas, new ones can form in accord with new commitments… The Hanged Man is a symbol of mythical isolation in a ritual purification. Thus, the sacrifice of your self-interest in dedication to a cause will bring understanding of the deeper meaning of your acts.” Mary Greer – Who are you in the Tarot

And so, I welcome the Hanged Man and set aside time for stillness and surrender. Would love to know what other people’s experience of such a year has been as well, and whether it mirrored the imagery and myths portrayed in the card.

Many blessings,


  1. There was a time in the 80’s when getting your hair cut while hung upside down was quite the rage..I had a few people ask me in the 90’s but sadly I had nowhere to hang them 🙂

  2. I’m sorry, I got a little lost. Are you letting go and flowing with the ether, or taking a stand to define yourself?

    I’ll have to try this, looks like my year card is the Empress. Hmm….

  3. Now you know why this card puzzles me so 😉 Both. This is not a card of outward action, rather more of an inward reflection and acknowledging what you stand for. At least that’s how I see it – developing inner strength to be who you truly are and not wavering from it. But at the same time, letting go of old habits and “hang-ups” that are misleading or detrimental to your truth. Does this make sense! It’s so darn difficult to express it all…

  4. For me this is the most enigmatic card of the Majors. It means a lot of things, depending on what I want or need, or what you want or need. I really enjoyed your interpretation!

  5. Thank you for your comment, I agree. Even my interpretation rambled on a bit, showing I don’t have a clear cut definition for this card. But I’m understanding it more and more as I work with it. Blessings.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s