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The Hanged Man Tarot Card Meaning, Explained

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hanged man tarot card

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

There you are, ready for insight on your love life, and you draw the Hanged Man card. Suddenly, all your hopes are dashed... or are they?

Sure, you 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 you in our love life, career, and finances?

Hanged Man Tarot Card Meaning

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

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

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Symbolically, the Hanged Man card gives the message of surrender and submission. There is the concept of acceptance, letting go, and going with the flow. But depending on its position when drawn, the Hanged Man represents delays and indecision.

The Hanged Man, whether upright or reversed, is all about how you feel in the present moment and especially relates to individuals who may be feeling "stuck" in life.

This card encourages those who receive tarot readings to consider what is happening around them, weigh productivity versus introspection, and come to terms with what failure really means.

The Hanged Man Description

When you receive the Hanged Man in a tarot reading, oftentimes the image itself gives you pause, and perhaps takes you down a notch or two, especially if you were expecting something joyous and obvious.

In the Rider-Waite tarot deck, the card depicts a man hanging upside down. He is tied to cross by his one foot, with his eyes open, apparently very much alive. His knee is bent and his hands are behind his back.

Photo: volkovslava / shutterstock

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But rather than having a face of pain, the Hanged Man appears calm. His outfit is unusual and contradictory to his being suspended by his foot; his blue shirt represents wisdom and confidence, while his red pants represent energy and strength.

His peaceful attitude is even stranger. He is suspended in time; his sacrifice is on display.

Flipped upside down, 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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Hanged Man Upright Meaning

Ultimately, this card is about pace. The Hanged Man upright is, essentially, you.

When you 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 you draw this card, the wisdom is telling you that what you 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 bad situation.

This is a card that tells you to back up, retreat and halt our process, as whatever it is you 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."

Hanged Man Reversed 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 Hanged Man reversed 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 for 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.

The Hanged Man Meaning in Love & 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 love 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 that 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 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 headed, 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. 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.

Other interpretations of the Hanged Man reversed 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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The Hanged Man Meaning in Career

When you receive this Major Arcana card in a career reading, it relates directly to feelings of uncertainty in regards to your career path. But depending on which position the card is drawn, you'll have to decide what kinds of changes to make.

Career: Upright Hanged Man Meaning

An upright Hanged Man encourages you to let things unfold naturally as they pertain to your job. You may feel stuck in your career, or unsure of what path to take next.

Whether you've paused any projects at work or are having trouble making a decision, know that your best option is to give it time. Don't act on impulse; instead, take the time to let the answers appear to you.

Career: Reversed Hanged Man Meaning

Reversed, the Hanged Man in a career reading indicates that your career just isn't turning out the way you had planned. Whether you're feeling stagnant or are having major issues, you ultimately feel helpless.

But though you haven't been seeing the results you hoped you would, instead of letting everything fall apart, it's time to take control. Decide what it is you truly want, stop waiting around, and take action.

The Hanged Man Meaning in Finance

In a finance reading, the Hanged Man addresses your fears and anxieties surrounding money and financial stability. But this card will make you question just how warranted those worries are.

Finance: Upright Hanged Man Meaning

If you've been struggling with money, and are worried that you may be spending too much or might not be able to make ends meet, an upright Hanged Man indicates that maybe you need to step away from the situation for a period of time.

Your financial issues may not be as dire as you think. Take some time to distance yourself from the situation, see things from a new perspective, and you could find yourself focusing on the positives instead.

Finance: Reversed Hanged Man Meaning

A reversed Hanged Man directly addresses financial struggles or your indecision toward a specific financial choice. You may have been terrified of slipping into financial ruin, or are hesitant to take the next step in your business dealings.

But the fact that you are hesitating means that you may never progress, and you are also feeling the effects of a failed investment of sorts. Consider this card a warning for the future to be more strong-minded on important matters such as these.

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Ruby Miranda interprets I Ching, Tarot, Runes, and Astrology. She gives private readings and has worked as an intuitive reader for over 20 years.

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