Hanged Man is the thirteenth Major Arcanum; and to this date, its full decipherment remains contentious among the commentators. (1) From my point of view, it indicates a stage where the rational mind and willpower are not serving one anymore; and therefore calls for letting go.
In this card, the Hanged Man is depicted as a young man hanging upside down by his left foot, while his right foot is bent and tucked behind his right leg. He wears a blue tunic and a red legging. His arms are also bent, hiding his hands behind his back, forming two triangles. His face shows a serene look; and there is a nimbus about his head. Lastly; the bar he is dangling down is made up of living wood; indicated by the green leaves.
The posture of the Hanged Man; recalls the serpent-entwined rod of Asclepius ant the caduceus or an inverted “4”, indicating that it is the stage of Fool’s Journey where the all-too-familiar tripartite processes, flows, and elucidations (e.g. past-present-future, body-mind-spirit, thesis-antithesis-synthesis etc.) are of no help. Perhaps they are of no help as these triplications are designed only taken into account the existence – but not its complementary; the unknowable, undefinable and inexpressible Nothingness. What is described as the Divine Power is the power to create and destroy, and the Hanged Man seems to have been suspended until he connects with this Divine Power in the annihilation of his willpower. But again, isn’t the willpower just an illusion that the individual reflections of the Divine Power have?
Man’s red legging indicate that his passion for life is becoming a tool for this pursuit; which is represented via the thoughtfulness and peace symbolized by his blue tunic. The nimbus about his head represents his Higher Nature.
Waite, in his Pictorial Key to Tarot; states that this card “expresses the relation, in one of its aspects, between the Divine and the Universe.” (2) In my understanding; this points out that although all there is the Existence (Divine); the Universe also contains Nothingness, and it is intertwined with the Existence. The Hanged Man; suspended from a living tree and alive is trying to experience this through reclusion, as an alive man could only experience Nothingness by truly doing nothing, self-suspension and letting go.
The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.
-A. W. Tozer
If the virtues of patience were to be symbolized by a Tarot card, that would be the Hanged Man. Hanged Man calls for refraining from making a decision or taking action until new options arise or more light is brought upon the issue. A person represented by this card would be patient and would be ready to employ different perspectives. Furthermore, this person would not hesitate to sacrifice himself or his possessions for a higher purpose. In a relationship context, the Hanged Man denotes “sacrificing” some of the personal needs for the relationship. Having said that, it might also imply a relationship where the parties are ready to give everything up for the sake of each other. Career-wise, this card might signify putting some personal goals “on hold” for long-term satisfaction; and might also call for taking a step back and assessing the job before oneself with patience and impartiality, but not completely resigning from it.
Summing up, this card can be considered as a card for letting go, patience and suspension; which will help one to get away from and see what is working for him and what is not.