Today is a Hanged Man Day

With the sun in Aries  (initiation) and the Moon in Libra (completion), today is a Hanged Man day.

The Hanged Man aways leaves a lasting impression.  When holding the card for the first time, you can’t decide if it’s rightside up or upside down.  This is both the problem and the solution with this uniquely uncomfortable energy.

In the Middle Ages, the punishment for traitors was to be hung, like our Hanged Man, by the foot with the head down.   Even today, with this card we sense treachery afoot.

From the symbolism of this card, you can easily see where the problem lies.  The Hanged Man forms a cross with his legs, while his arms are in the position of a triangle.

Like the square, the cross stands for the number 4, which is the number of material order.  We have the 4 directions (East, South, West, and North).  We have four phases of the moon (crescent, waxing, full, and waning).  We have four cardinal (or turning) points to our year (vernal and autumnal equinoxes and the two solstices – summer and winter).   Four stands for what is real and essential here in the earthly realm.

Conversely, the number 3 symbolizes the divine.  Many have tried to explain the unfolding One into the multiplicity by reference to the number 3.   Lao-tzu says: “the Tao produces unity, unity produces, duality produces trinity, and the triad produces all things.”  In Hinduism the great triad appears in the form of Braham the creator, Shiva the destroyer, and Vishnu, the sustainer.  And of course in the Christian concept of Trinity, we have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Composed of both 4 and  3, the Hanged Man represents the upside-down world in which the divine is below while the earthly realm is above.   In other words, that which is truly ‘real’ is buried the ‘reality’ of everyday life.  No wonder we feel so stuck in our increasingly secular lives.

Even worse, by multiplying 4 by 3, we come to 12 – which symbolizes the closed circle – an impasse of the most pressing kind.   However will we find the energy needed to break free of the rut?

Yet when we turn 12 around, we reach the number 21.  In the tarot, 21 represents the end of our journey – The World or Paradise Regained.  But we only reach 21 if, when stuck at 12, we turn ourselves around.

The Hanged Man represents the multitude of life’s crises that invite us to do just that.  A crisis is always a turning point.   Yet even then it remains our choice whether we accept the challenge.

On a Hanged Man day, you are forced to pause, so as to consider the direction your life is taking.

Rather than betray your self yet again, you might take heed of the words of the psychologist, CG Jung –

“We cannot live the afternoon of life according to the programme of life’s morning.  For what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.”

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