Tarot In 9 Words: Hanged Man

I’ve studied Tarot for over thirty years now. And 25 or more have been as a professional Tarot consultant. I still get hung up (pun fully intended) by the Hanged Man. Come see why.

Here is my next poem for the Major Arcana. For those of you who are new to my blog, this is a series that I do based on my 9Words Poetry Challenge that I developed. I’ve been doing this for nearly seven years but only began to do this for Tarot as well in 2008.

I take nine words that come to me while looking at the card. For this exercise I am using the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. Then I write a poem that uses those nine words. The poems are not always good but the exercise is just to write something. It’s one of the ways I wake up my muse.

Feel free to take these nine words and create your own poem about the Hermit (or not about the Hermit) and share it in the comments. If you post it somewhere else, please share a link in the comments. I’d love to read it.

The Nine Words: Nimbus Vines View Sky Scarlet Trunk Suspend Cross Behind


Upside down I can’t see what you see.
Why do you suspend all disbelief?
Vines entangle but you deny them
You have chosen this cross to bear.

Have you sacrificed for me? For you?

The sky is beneath your scarlet passion
As if the nimbus flames up and away.
Arms behind, you seem at peace with
This upside down bound to a trunk spot.

I wonder if I should stand on my own head
Give up days of my life just to view
Just to see what you see there upside down.

Have I sacrificed for you? For me?

Stephanie Arwen Lynch

I’ve studied Tarot for over thirty years now. And 25 or more have been as a professional Tarot consultant. I still get hung up (pun fully intended) by the Hanged Man.

I heard a podcast by Ginny Hunt (I think?) where she spoke of the Hanged Man as a card of sacrifice. It seems fairly obvious that this card has Christian overtones, but there is another mythological connection.

NOTE: Mythology is not a slur against Christianity.

That other connection is Odin. See a fabulous interpretation of Odin hanging from Yggadrisil here. I love that image. It’s bleak. It’s surreal. It’s just a perfect representation of the sacrifice of home and family one makes when one dedicates oneself to one’s project.

Do you like how I worked one in there four times? Yeah. Me neither.

So what do you think of sacrifice? What would you say if you were told that you have to sacrifice something to get something else? And the something else was crucial to your well-being and your loved one’s well-being? Could you do it?

4 thoughts on “Tarot In 9 Words: Hanged Man”

  1. You are insightful to ask “Why” the sacrifice…

    This is one of the cards that really benefits from taking a look at the “energy” of the card. I see the energy as these–
    …having a different perspective
    …a suspension of the usual
    …turning inward to heed the inner voice and make a sacrifice (sometimes)
    …betraying social norms because one sees things differently (ex., “a traitor” or a “revolutionary”) leading to a sacrifice (sometimes)

    Now the reason this card causes us problems is because when the energy is too much or too little, the result varies greatly:

    Too much: “lost in one’s own world”; “blind to what is around us”; self-deluded into betrayal
    Too little: lacking inner strength; blindly obedient; “no guts, no glory”

    The energy (or “spirit” if you prefer) of this card can be out of balance in two very different directions, and it is up to the reader to discern that at the moment of the reading. (Some use reversals to signal the imbalance; I use them to signal that the imbalance is likely one of “too little” but that may be wrong, and I always try to analyze the card with both the “too much” and “too little” energy/spirit.)

    We often focus on the sacrifice that the Hanged Man is making, but that is the natural result of his (or her) following that inner conviction. What we need to be alert to is when that inner voice is too strong and calls for too much (like betraying one’s country) or when that inner voice is feeble and cannot be heard. Those are the imbalances that tip us off that something is “wrong” and needs attention.

    I’m doing a complete analysis of the Major Arcana using this approach, Arwen, and I’ll create a chart when I’m through. I’ll be sure to give you a copy; I think you’ll enjoy the approach very much because you’re such a thoughtful practitioner.

  2. This card speaks to me of “comfort zones” – things that are not necessarily good for you, do not lead to growth, but yet for whatever reason you become resigned and continue to just hang in there.

    The greenery in the background suggests to me that there are “greener pastures” waiting if one can just correct their path and right themselves.

    To me the hanged man could be a card of real hope of breaking free from damaging yet comfortable routines.

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