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The Tarot Card by Card: The Hanged Man (Le Pendu)

Hello fellow Tarot Lovers! Today, the Tarot Card By Card series returns. On the menu: The Hanged Man Tarot Card.

The aim of this series of blog post is to shed light on one card in particular, without going overkill. Let's have a look at the major symbolism, a bit of history and messages of the Hanged Man.


The Hanged Man is a controversial card and both sitters and fellow Tarot readers often have strong feelings about it.

It's understandable when you think that this card holds symbols of Nordic paganism, Christianity, depression, drug addiction, sacrifices or enlightenment.

So many things coexist within the Hanged Man card that it is indisputably one of the most fascinating image of Tarot.


The Hanged Man is the 12th card of the Tarot deck. It is preceded by Strength and followed by Death.

Quick Tip! Always keep in mind what the precedent and following cards can tell you about a Tarot character.

Relationship with card XI: The Hanged Man is a tormented card either needing, abusing or lacking the necessary strength in a given situation. Relationship with card XIII: The Hanged Man is linked to radical changes. Changes that are about to happen or changes that are being hindered.


The Hanged Man Tarot Card in the Ansata deck links the character to the story of Odin, his relationship with wisdom, nature and arts is crystal clear on this version.

Odin: Odin was the most powerful of all Nordic gods in the ancient Norse and Viking mythology. Odin had a complex personality and a thirst for knowledge.

This lead him to give up one of his eyes to drink from a magic well of wisdom. It also lead him to hang himself upside down from Yggdrasil, the tree of life (world tree), for 9 days in order to open up his mind and get a different perspective on life. One of the aims of this exercise was to learn to read and understand the Runes. Metaphorically speaking, to gain a new level of consciousness and knowledge, by seeing things differently.

This is the story that gives the Hanged Man its most positive message and possible meaning in a reading.

associated meanings: enlightenment, illumination, inner sight, change of perspective, unique wisdom

Saint Peter: It is said that Saint Peter requested to be crucified upside down as he felt he was not worthy of the same death as Jesus. The St. Peter's cross is therefore a symbol of humility and unworthiness for the Christians. These notions can also be applied in certain contexts to the Hanged Man when the card tells a story of depression, self-hate or profound self-doubt.

associated meanings: depression, sadness, lack of self-esteem, spiritual suffering

Debtor's torture: in the Middle Ages debtors who could not pay their loans would often be hung by their feet on a public square to be mocked by the crowds and be publicly known as unable to honour their debts and word.

If you mentally connect the Hanged Man to this punishment, he becomes a liar or someone not worthy of your trust.

associated meanings: secrets, lies, legal issues, administrative issues that need addressing


Beyond the story of Odin or the martyrdom of Saint Peter remain all the actual symbols you can see with your own eyes (and inner eyes!) on the card itself.

What you see will depend on your deck. But some key elements are usually the same: the head is hanging down, the arms are often crossed behind the back, one foot is tied to a rope and the left leg is crossed behind the right leg.

What does this all say to you?

Here are some leads based on my experience of the Hanged Man.


The Hanging Fairy is surrounded by poppies, a flower symbolizing artificial paradise, hallucinations. A flower that also opens your mind to what was out of reach in a sober state.

  • the Hanged Man is currently stuck in a situation. He can not move not take a decision. This would usually apply to situations of grief, uncertainty, unhealthy but addictive relationships or simply a time in life where the wheel of fortune is stuck for a while.

  • the person represented by this card could also be having a depression, mild or severed, depending on the neighbouring cards. The Hanged Man can represent self-hate, self-doubt and the incapacity to see one's real qualities (just like St. Peter's)

  • the Hanged Man can also announce a personal sacrifice made by the consultant or someone close to them.

  • Associated with the Devil or the Fool the Hanged Man often speaks of addictions (drugs, alcohol or other substances) that make any progress in life impossible.

Associated star signs: Pisces, Libra (secondary).

Times of the year: Saturday. The End of Winter (February/March)

Locations: Rivers, foggy and wet areas, closed areas, mystical or sad places (churches, convents, hospitals, prisons)

Depending on the deck you are using you'll find different symbols and keys that will apply to your own reading, case by case. For instance the Hanged Man in the Rider Waite deck has a halo around his head that you won't find in the Marseille or Ansata deck.

It is up to you to use your best judgement and make the most of the information the card you hold in your hand is giving you. As always study and practice make a good reader. But it's intuition that will make you great.

Find out more about the Hanged Man, how it is associated with other cards and here.

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