What Does The Hanged Man Tarot Card Mean?

Photo: volkovslava/shutterstock
What Does The Hanged Man Tarot Card Mean?

Outside of the Death card, the Hanged Man Tarot card might be the second most misunderstood card in the Tarot deck.

There you are, ready for insight on your love life, and you throw the Hanged Man card. Suddenly, all your hopes are dashed. Or are they? Sure, we see a man dangling upside down, and that cannot be good in a love reading... or can it?

What is really going on with the mysterious Hanged Man Tarot card, and how does his guidance help us in our love life?

Hanged Man Tarot Card Meanings

Upright meaning keywords: Uncertainty, letting go, surrender, self-limited, feeling trapped, lack of direction

Symbolically, we get the message of surrender and submission. There is the concept of acceptance, letting go, and going with the flow.

Reversed meaning keywords: Apathy, stagnation, indecision, resistance, negative patterns, detachment, disinterest

Delays occur due to this card, as does indecisiveness.

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The Hanged Man Description

When we throw the Hanged Man in a Tarot reading, often times the image itself gives us pause, and perhaps takes us down a notch or two, especially if we were expecting something joyous and obvious.

To look at the Hanged Man, we see a man, tied to cross by his one foot, hanging upside down, with his eyes open, apparently very much alive. His knee is bent and his hands are behind his back.

Photo: volkovslava / shutterstock

His face is calm. His outfit is unusual and his peaceful attitude is even stranger. He is suspended in time; his sacrifice is on display.

Reversed, the Hanged Man seems to be standing on one leg, knee bent, almost yogic. The image is uncomfortable, and brings out our own resistance to understand what is going on. 

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Upright Hanged Man Meaning

Ultimately, this card is about pace.

The Hanged Man is us, and when we get this card in a reading, it is about stepping back and taking stock of what you have in your life at present. It is about pausing to consider the consequences of choice, and it is about taking the time to make the right choice, at that.

When we throw this card, the wisdom is telling us that what we expect might not necessarily come to be. It is a card that says, "Do not keep pushing this."

Like a "hung jury," the Hanged Man stops the action from furthering. He cannot wriggle from his position, nor does he try. He accepts his condition and uses his odd opportunity to figure out how he got in this mess.

This is a card that tells us to back up, retreat and halt our process, as whatever it is we are doing is not going to go any further. It is a warning card, both upright and reversed, to take stock in the moment and to really listen to what is going on.

It is also a card for prevention that says, "Do not do it, because if you do, you will regret it."

Reversed Hanged Man Meaning

Similar to the upright Hanged Man, this version of the warning is all about hitting the brakes on whatever you have poured your heart into.

It is a hard lesson to learn, and the reversed Hanged Man is there, inserted into your reading to get you to pay attention: something is not right, and you need to open your eyes now to see what others can see — something that you cannot see, something that is not good for you.

If you get the reversed Hanged Man card, it means the universe is trying to get your attention. You have been heavily involved in something that is only going to get you in trouble. You need to pull back and get a grip.

You may have built your world a certain way, and it may not be working all that well. the reversed Hanged Man will show up in a reading to tell you to reverse course, to turn around now.

This is also a wake-up call for health issues and should always be listened to. If you have been burning the candle at both ends, or simply eating the wrong foods, the reversed Hanged Man is there to remind you that if you do the wrong thing by yourself and your health, you will pay the price with dire consequences.

It is a warning, and it is helpful. The reversed Hanged Man is not a prediction of bad news; it is a way of telling you to get out of the way before it does.

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The Hanged Man Tarot Card's Meaning in Love and Relationships

If you are doing your own Tarot reading, or if you are having your cards read for you, and you get the Hanged Man, upright or reversed in your reading, you need to stop what you are doing and take heed.

There is a lesson here and you would be best to pay attention to it. 

The Hanged Man in a love reading asks you if you are sure about your partner, and if you have any doubts, you need to explore and investigate them. This is your Devil's Advocate — the condition in a love affair that places you in a position of questioning.

Love and Relationships: Upright Hanged Man Meaning

If you draw an upright Hanged Man in a love reading and are in single, this signifies that you need to let go of everything that does not make you happy, whether it be people or situations. It can include past relationships and relationship patterns that are negative.

For singles, the Hanged Man may also mean to let go of feelings, in particular, especially if they are for an ex or toxic person from your past or present. Once you remove these negative aspects from your life, you become more open to romantic possibilities around you.

If you see the Hanged Man when in a relationship, and it is upright, it means you are possibly unhappy with your current romantic situation. Either you or your partner are unsure of where your relationship is headeded, so hold off on making any big decisions until you have time to think.

If it turns out that you are unhappy in your current romantic relationship, the Hanged Man suggests that you have more power than you think. This means you can walk away from what does not bring you happiness, and to stop holding yourself back.

Love and Relationships: Reversed Hanged Man Meaning

If you are single and end up with a reversed Hanged Man, you may find that you cannot break free from the negative relationships and patterns of the past, and continue to not learn from these errors. It means you need to take the time to figure out why you keep making these mistakes, and take responsibility for yourself.

For those in a relationship who receive the reversed Hanged Man, it means you might be staying in your relationship for all the wrong reasons, fearing you will be alone. Another interpretation is that neither you nor your partner are ready to come to terms with the arguments and issues you have in your relationship.

The Hanged Man asks you to reflect on what is going on in your life, rather than to act on it impulsively. The Hanged Man is always there to say, "Stop for a reality check. Get some perspective."

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Ruby Miranda is a New Yorker who learned astrology, I Ching and all types of cartomancy and numerology from her crazy, gypsy mother. She currently writes for a wide range of esoteric publications.

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