The upright version of this card looks inverted and this inversion looks upright. This is why we talk about a changed perspective with this card. The sneaky aspects of this card (paired with other sneaky cards) encourage interpretations of traitor. Afterall, we don’t know what might be hiding behind his back. And in the inverted image the Hanged Man’s legs either make the sign of the cross (which gives this card its historic association with St. Peter, who was crucified upside down) or the number 4 (ironically a number of stability, foundation, and order).
When you get this card you, or someone in your community, are not what you seem. Either you feel more vulnerable than you make yourself out to be or you are playing on the sympathies of others. If this is a matter of feeling vulnerable, look at the other cards in your spread for guidance. Is the Devil in the spread? If so, you might be in an unbalanced relationship. It could be time for you to give more or less, depending on your part. If Temperance is in the spread, make sure you (or someone else) make good on your promises and make a clear decision. Don’t depend solely on the inverted Hanged Man to give you all your answers. He deals in skewed perspectives.
In a spread, the Hanged Man offers a new perspective.
Justice: In the Hanged Man comes after Justice in a spread, tolerance should be shown rather than cold, hard judgement.
Death: When the Hanged Man is found in combination with Death, it suggests a major sacrifice, or ending something with regret.
Temperance: The Hanged Man in combination with Temperance means deception, false promises, and indecision.
Devil: The Hanged Man and the Devil together indicate an unbalanced relationship, in which one partner makes a large sacrifice to appease the other.
World: If the Hanged Man comes before the World, a loving sacrifice will bring triumph. If the Hanged Man comes after the World, that sacrifice could end in sadness and parting.
Five of Swords (Spades): If the Hanged Man is in the same spread as the Five of Swords (Spades in other decks), in any position, it symbolizes a traitor.
Seven of Swords (Spades): If the Hanged Man is in the same spread as the Seven of Swords (Spades in other decks), in any position, it symbolizes a traitor.
Ten of Swords (Spades): If the Hanged Man is in the same spread as the Ten of Swords (Spades in other decks), in any position, it suggests extreme sacrifice or martyrdom.
The Major Arcana
The twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana tend to hold the big lessons. These cards carry powerful messages. If you are reading a spread of cards, watch for the Major Arcana. If your spread contains more than 30% Major Arcana, you are in the midst of something big, or beyond your control. If most of the cards in the spread are from the Major Arcana, you might be trying to exert too much control. You might have trouble expressing your feelings, or you might be near your breaking point. A spread without any Major Arcana cards could indicate you are hiding from the truth of the issue, or are in some deep distress. If this is the case, it is important to find someone you can trust to guide you through this period of time. In a spread, focus most of your attention on the Major Arcana. The other cards will be useful for clarifying the situation.
Number — 12 which resolves to 3
Three is a number of creativity, cooperation, and integration.
There is nothing to fear with an inversion. Mary K. Greer explains in her book, The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals, that an inverted card may be interpreted in one or more of these twelve ways:
- Blocked or Resisted
- Delayed, Difficult, Unavailable
- Inner, Unconscious, Private
- New or Dark Moon (if you are reading cards from a round deck)
- Breaking Through, Overturning, Refusing, Changing Direction
- The Opposite of the Upright Meaning, or Lacking
- Misused or Misdirected
- The Upright Meaning Backward
- A Rectification or Cure
- Magical, Unconventional, or Humorous
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