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The Mystic Tarot – The Hanged Man

June 22, 2013

See things upside down

to get at the truth

by Madeline Montalban

The Hanged Man, No. 12 of the Tarot trumps, is one of the most mysterious cards in the pack. It has been customary for writers on the Tarot to say about this card that it hides a deep occult mystery, and to leave it at that.

Its mystery can show us how to get the occult in perspective and to align it with life. One must lay aside certain precon­ceived or customary ideas, and look at the world and its problems upside down, for this is a topsy-turvy world where the wicked seem to flourish like the green bay-tree and the virtuous suffer.

It seems all wrong, and it is all wrong, perhaps because the word “virtue”, which means “qualities”, has become confused with moral issues.

Wickedness flourishes by and through the foolishness of mankind, for this is its breed­ing ground. The wicked person takes you in at first by appealing to your emotions.

The confidence trickster trades on your desire to get something for nothing, the false lover on your need for affection, and so on. If you had asked yourself in the first place why a stranger should want to do you a favour, you might not have fallen into the trap.

The wicked ones take care to keep your emotions busy and confused so that you don’t think calmly. If you did, you would see through them.

You accept them at their face value, as some kind of “do-gooder”, or philan­thropist, because you judge them by yourself. It is only the good people who are tricked and deceived. The wicked are not, for they judge others by themselves.

Thus we get the message of the Hanged Man, which is that to get at the truth of things, you must look at them upside-down. Suspend yourself from the question, as it were. Don’t ask: “What will this do for me?” Ask yourself: “What do they expect to get out of it?”

mmTarot 12The reason why the Hanged Man repre­sents confused emotions, or people making mistakes when  their feelings become involved, is because this card is associated with the watery, or emotional element. Another name, and a more arcane one, for the Hanged Man is the “Spirit of the Mighty Waters”, for he belongs to the Root Power of water – the emotional drive.

“Watery” folk, or those with strong emotional natures (often shown in Astrology by many planets in Water Signs), tend to be guided by feeling rather than by reason. Hence the slang phrase “Oh, that person is all wet!”

Emotion should always be allied to reason if we are not to let our feelings run away with us and be deceived by others, or by ourselves.

If others deceive us, it is less sinister. We can, and do, suffer loss of money, goods or reputation, but we can recover from this, in time, by regarding it as a lesson.

It is far more dangerous for us to let ourselves be deceived by our own emotions. The commonest form of self-deception is to believe that someone loves or esteems us, when if we but examine the evidence reasonably, and not emotionally, everything will point to the fact that we are unloved, or doing all the loving ourselves.

If you find you are making all the approaches, and accepting every excuse that the other person makes not to be with you, then you are deceiving yourself in imagining that you are loved.

The second trap lies in believing that all and sundry who make you golden promises wish to benefit you. Apart from the rare exceptions, those who seek you out to do you a good turn are seeking to benefit themselves, and not you. The rare exceptions soon prove themselves by deeds and not words.

The third main group of deceivers are those who trade upon your fears, whatever they may be. We all fear something, and would give our all to be assured that it will not happen. Now and again someone sees to it that we do give our all, either in cash or kind, and we are left still with our fears, but without our worldly goods!

In ancient days fake alchemists used to extract large sums of money out of the credulous by pretending they were able to make gold. They traded on greed. These days, the false prospectus is the trade-mark of the fake alchemist, who battens on our desire for riches.

Quack nostrum sellers once used to extract large sums out of people for bottles of “Plague Water”. Usually it was plague water too, having been drawn from infected wells or rivers. People bought it and drank it thinking it would save them, but most of them got the plague anyway. Fear of ill-­health is another rich harvest-ground for the deceiver.

Love philtres used to be sold, containing all kinds of vile ingredients, said to be efficacious in securing love. Either these turned out to be coloured water or, even more dangerous, some excitant medicine, which inflamed the taker but brought the loved one no nearer.

This was another fertile ground for the quack of the past. His modern equivalent is the heartless man or woman who pro­fesses love for you for their own reasons, usually material gains, or else the gratifica­tion of their own vanity.

So the message of the Hanged Man – to suspend yourself from the question and to look at the proposition upside-down, not from your own point of view, but that of the opposition – is sound, for you will then get matters in perspective.

If, against your better judgement, you still try to gain something out of the situation, you are asking for trouble, and you get it. For you have let emotion, or your desire, run wild, and take control over you. The other person has kept his well under control, and won over you.

A little pouring of cold water on our own enthusiasms and feelings now and again can only result in a saner perspective. We must always try to put aside vanity, or self-love, in order to judge a situation or person correctly.

Flatterers are dangerous, for we are all apt to mistake flattery for true appreciation, and we need that so much. People don’t get enough appreciative words when they have earned them. The world is quick to tell you where you are wrong, but too be­grudging to say where you are right.

Thus our instinctive need for appreciation plays into the hands of self-seeking flatterers, and persuades us to believe their honeyed, lying words.

Some of the saddest cases of all are those of ugly people who long for someone to think they are beautiful. They become an easy prey to those who profess to see beauty in them. They fall into the trap, and give affection or material things willingly, only for disillusion to set in afterwards, and a hurt to be experienced that leaves a per­manent scar.

Yet, did they but realize that to some people they would really seem beautiful, and be beautiful, by virtue of their inner natures, or other qualities apart from the merely physical, they would be happier, and content to wait for true appreciation.

A beautiful or handsome face and a lovely figure may attract, but they seldom retain lasting love. Beauty is, after all, only skin deep, but a lovely nature makes a person beautiful, and commands and holds love for a life-time.

Our emotions are stirred when we want something, whether it is the love of another, appreciation, a fear allayed, or more of the world’s goods. We hope for the miracle, and are too eager to jump at what we think is its appearance, and so we are deceived.

Then there is the cry: “Why should this happen to me?” And the answer is: “You met it half-way and accepted it.”

Reason, or calm logic, is the antidote to emotion. To think a thing out instead of getting involved emotionally is always wise. This is the arcana of the Hanged Man, or emotion disciplined by being hung from the Cross-Tree of Reason.

[Prediction, November 1961]


From → tarot

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