The Hanged Man : Year Card

Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert
Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert

“It is time to face the truth that our ego’s notion of being in control is mostly an illusion. The more we become attuned to Mother Nature, the clearer it becomes that we need times of stopping, even reversal, in order to access a greater Wisdom. Although it may be inconvenient or even uncomfortable, allow this flow to move through you. Still your inner noise and surrender to what is.” Gaian Tarot: Healing the Earth, Healing Ourselves by Joanna Powell Colbert

For over a month now, I have entered the Hanged Man year. After the whirlwind tumble across the world during the 2011 Wheel of Fortune year, and the balancing/readjustment of the Justice year during 2012, I am ready to suspend myself, hopefully with some level of serenity, and just let go. The woman above also reminds me that perhaps this would be an excellent year to pursue my yoga interests with dedication, although my gut feeling overall is, once again, to let go of any expectations and surrender to the ether.

For anyone who has not researched their yearly card, it is done simply by adding your birth day, birth month and current year, and reducing this to a Major Arcana number. I’ve found it to be fascinating – for example, during my Wheel of Fortune year (from December 2010 to December 2011) I travelled overseas to Romania for three months, and after coming back to New Zealand, I moved to Australia to find work in the environmental sector. During the Justice Year, from December 2011 to December 2012, I was offered and accepted a position in the Whitsunday region (noting Justice also stands for legal contracts), as well as taking the time to reassess my situation and take responsibility for my own actions, both good and bad.

Tarot of the Spirit
Tarot of the Spirit

I confess I’ve always had a somewhat puzzling curiosity about The Hanged Man. He is both attached and not attached: he is tied to a tree, yet is in a trance, in meditation, away from the mundane and the material physicality of the world. I’ve often heard people talk about sacrifice when this card would come up – yet that’s never been an immediate view for me. Possibly because sacrifice, in my mind, brings about images of martyrdom that I so loathe, typically in the form of the woman (or man) who is self-sacrificing (for family, or partner, or whatever) and then projects the misery of such life onto her/his view of the world. It’s awfully tragic, and never sat well with me.

What I do love about this card though, is the ability to develop a spiritual connection, a faith, or have some sort of mystical experience, that is often imbued in the imagery.

Haindl Tarot
Haindl Tarot

Even in the Haindl tarot, where the Hanged Man is shown as Odin, and sacrifice is at the core of the myth, I understand and accept such sacrifice in the wider context of spiritual awakening and revelation:

“The meanings for the Hanged Man emphasize the idea of attachment. We become so certain of the basic realities in our lives that nothing can shake us. This may mean an attachment to nature, or to a moral principle, or some important purpose in life. It can also indicate a deep spiritual awareness.

The image of the tree suggests an attachment to something greater than day-to-day problems. If a person feels blown about by outside influences, then Meditation with the Hanged Man can often have an anchoring effect. Imagine your body literally on a tree, one whose roots sink deep into the Earth and whose branches reach into the stars. However weak you may feel as an individual, attachment to this tree makes you unshakeable. To help you visualise this, you may try standing on one leg, with the arms out. The point of this imagery is to gain a sense of yourself as part of something greater. This does not mean sacrificing your individuality. The Hanged Man remains himself. In my own experience I have found the Hanged Man a great help during times when I have felt myself weak or overly influenced by people or situations. If the Hanged Man comes up in a reading, it tells you to seek such an attachment, or that such a feeling already exists, giving you confidence and peace.” Rachel Pollack – The Haindl Tarot

Gilded Tarot
Gilded Tarot

All of the above makes perfect sense to me. This is indeed the year to bring together all the streams of spirituality that I feel are a core part of who I am, and, without being too limiting, define, openly, what I stand for. I guess this has been going on for a while now, actually since 2006, yet it is only now that I am starting to assimilate the vast amount of experiences I accumulated over the past six years.

Part of my vision for this year, has been a conscious task of having a dedicated spiritual practice, which is rather simple yet profound: acknowledging the New and Full Moons in ritual, being aware of Moon phases when I plant my seeds, learning about herbs and their medicinal and magical properties, and so on. A Full Moon ritual, for example, might simply be a yoga session followed by a herbal bath with herbs that are governed by the Full Moon sign. It’s nothing too complex or laborious, but it is intentional, it is nourishing, and it is important to me as the air I breathe.

Herbal Tarot
Herbal Tarot

I openly and consciously seek to connect with Spirit, with the Earth, and with my own voice and my calling. This year will also be a time of letting go. Mary Greer describes it best:

“In a Hanged Man Year, you will have to release things from your past… Relax and let go. By releasing old patterns and surrendering fixed ideas, new ones can form in accord with new commitments… The Hanged Man is a symbol of mythical isolation in a ritual purification. Thus, the sacrifice of your self-interest in dedication to a cause will bring understanding of the deeper meaning of your acts.” Mary Greer – Who are you in the Tarot

And so, I welcome the Hanged Man and set aside time for stillness and surrender. Would love to know what other people’s experience of such a year has been as well, and whether it mirrored the imagery and myths portrayed in the card.

Many blessings,


Wheel of Fortune in literature

Tarot of the Spirit

“The world would only begin to get something out of value from me the moment I stopped being a serious member of society and became – myself. The State, the nation, the united nations of the world, were nothing but one great aggregation of individuals who repeated the mistakes of their forefathers. They were caught in the wheel from birth and they kept at it till death – and this treadmill they tried to dignify by calling it ‘life’. If you asked anyone to explain or define life, what was the be-all and end-all, you got a blank look for answer. Life was something which philosophers dealt with in books that no one read. Those in the thick of life, ‘the plugs in harness’, had no time for such idle questions. ‘You’ve got to eat, haven’t you?‘ This query, which was supposed to be a stopgap, and which had already been answered, if not in the absolute negative at least in a disturbingly relative negative by those who knew, was a clue to all the other questions which followed in a veritable Euclidean suite. From the little reading I had done I had observed that the men who were most in life, who were moulding life, who were life itself, ate little, slept little, owned little or nothing. They had no illusions about duty, or the perpetuation of their kith and kin, or the preservation of the State. They were interested in truth and truth alone. They recognised only one kind of activity – creation. Nobody could command their services because they had of their own pledged themselves to give all. They gave gratuitously, because it is the only way to give. This was they way of life which appealed to me: it made sound sense. It was life – not the simulacrum which those about me worshipped.” Henry Miller – Sexus

Actually, aside from the Wheel, there’s quite a few other Major Arcana showing up in the above paragraph – Death, The Fool, The World, The Emperor, The Hanged Man… I know there must be thousands of literary examples of the Wheel, but this one really caught my eye today.

Tarot of the Spirit

The Fool from Tarot of the Spirit

Tarot of the Spirit is a rich and inspiring tarot deck, a personal journey on the spiritual path through stunning artwork by its creator, Joyce Eakins. The more I work with this deck, the more it reveals itself, and life, to me. It is the sort of deck one takes its time with, not least because the symbology and artwork are infused with deep meaning in their beautiful depiction. Working with this deck is like being in a garden of wonders that is in full bloom, where mystery penetrates reality and you feel the cosmic heartbeat. I may sound a little poetic, but it’s how I feel when I sit down for a reading and shuffle this deck.

The deck comprises of 79 cards – the creator has added one extra card titled the Mystery Card – and is based on the Qabalah Mystery School. The Minor Arcana cards have titles and astrological symbols, with the elements renamed Earth (Pentacles), Water (Cups), Fire (Wands) and Wind (Swords). For example, 6 of Pentacles becomes Six of Earth (top of the card), and its title is Beauty (bottom of the card), with astrological glyphs Moon and Taurus. Similarly, 7 of Swords becomes Seven of Wind, titled Many Tongues, with astrological glyphs Moon and Aquarius. I generally do not like titled cards, but in this instance the titles help pull together the symbology of the card and give it another layer, which is very helpful when dealing with a Minor Arcana that is very abstract.

The Court Cards are also renamed in this deck: Mother (Queen), Father (King), Brother (Knight), and Sister (Page).

Tarot of the Spirit

Shown above, from left to right are The Empress, The Devil, The Universe, Mystery Card, One of Wind – Dawn and Earth Sister.

The Star from Tarot of the Spirit

There is an excellent companion book to this deck,  written by Pamela Eakins, Joyce’s daughter. I highly recommend you get the book if you intend to purchase the deck. It contains a wealth of information about the deck, as well as information on numerology, sacred geometry, tarot spreads, tarot history and the relationship between Tarot and the Qabalistic Tree of Life. Each Minor Arcana card has its Divinatory Meaning and Interpretation section, with a separate paragraph on the card symbology, and a meditation poem included. All of these are presented for the Major Arcana as well, the only difference being the amazing wealth of information that is expanded upon for each card, as well as an addition for its Esoteric Qualities.

The deck is published by US Games Systems (published 1992), and the cardstock is very thin, but well laminated, so I expect they will last a long time. The cards are standard size, 12cm by 7cm.

“Tarot of the Spirit is a book of change. An oracle from ancient and future days, it teaches not only how to participate with cosmological transformation, but how to stabilize within the heart of that holy essence which encourages, provides, and sustains at all times. As we discover that sanctuary of Love that thrives in the core of our being, we come to realize the nature of our immortality as well as the nature of our own ability to love. As we inhibit that sanctum sanctorum, as we begin to live within the sure foundation of eternal being, liberated from false and destructive views of death, we, as the Wind Sister says, become free to walk a path of genuine authenticity.

Tarot of the Spirit is a treasure map of the human psyche. It details the cosmology of human consciousness within the magical context of cosmologic consciousness. It helps us understand and describe our emotions, find meaning, establish purpose, and organize the story of our personal lives as well as the story of our species.” Pamela Eakins, Tarot of the Spirit (1992).