The Hanged Man represents a situation which is stagnant and not subject to sudden change. It frequently appears when the querent is at a critical turning point in their life, but they are choosing not to make an conscious decision to change anything. This turning point may be a relationship which is not progressing, a job which is unsatisfying, or a business which is failing to gain traction. However, for a situation to change, there are things or people that may have to be left in the past, and this is the dilemma which the Hanged Man is facing. He is neither willing or able to change nor is he ready to relinquish things which no longer serve him.
This card is numbered 12 in the Major Arcana. The number 1 is associated with carving a new identity and path for oneself and the number 2 represents both partnerships and a choice of two options. This highlights the predicament in which the Hanged Man finds himself: between solitary self-actualisation and submitting to the needs of other people and relationships. The sum of these two digits is 3 which symbolises change, creation and a foundation from which a new life can be created. From this we can interpret that the Hanged Man will have to reconcile conflicting needs in order to either walk a new path alone or with an associate or partner. Either way, it would appear that a new life is beckoning whether he likes it or not. The Planet associated with the Hanged Man is Neptune which represents healing, self sacrifice, the distortion of boundaries between the material and immaterial planes, film, photography, and illusions. The sacrifice element of the Hanged Man can sometimes foretell death by suicide, whereas the illusion aspect can at times signify that an individual is suffering from mental illness.
In the Rider Waite deck the Hanged Man is shown upside down, being forced to look at life from a different perspective. Suspended in mid air, he resigns himself to the will of fate and understands that whatever befalls him will not be not because of his own initiative but because of the spontaneous actions of others jolting him out of his prolonged reverie. One leg is tied by a rope to the tree branch from which he is suspended whilst the other leg remains free. The positions of the legs are interesting to note as the leg which is tied to the rope is straight and unyielding, reflecting stubborn attitudes and entrenched behaviours, whereas the "free" leg is in a bent posture which indicates flexibility and change. This reflects how he is seemingly able to walk a different path but attachments to the past and the status quo currently hinder him.
The Hanged Man is said by some to be representative of the Norse god Odin who sacrificed his sight and suspended himself upside down in order to gain spiritual vision, wisdom, and to see reality through an alternate lens. In this context, the Hanged Man can signify that the querent is exploring psychic development and the pursuit of higher knowledge.
In a love reading, the Hanged Man is not a terribly positive omen. It signifies that the connection is not progressing in a meaningful way and is not likely to for the foreseeable future. This card commonly appears where one or both parties are staying in a relationship because of a sense of obligation and in this case it reveals that a couple are martyrs to a pointless cause. There is however a silver lining to this card as it suggests that a brighter future is on the horizon providing that the querent is willing to relinquish their attachment to things, people, and circumstances which are no longer providing the impetus for growth. In this context, it may be that the only thing which is halting the development of a relationship is the fact that one or both parties in the relationship are unwilling to heal and to recover from past mishaps. If this situation can be overcome, there is potential for the connection to recover.
In terms of feelings the Hanged Man is not a good sign as it shows that a person of interest does not have any strong feelings and they may feel as though this is the best they can do at the present time. It is not indicating love, passion, or intensity, but rather cool indifference towards the querent. It can also show that the person of interest has not overcome their past hurdles and is therefore in no way ready to start a new relationship.
In a work and career reading, the Hanged Man represents a period of stagnancy. Progress is not indicated and since the Hanged Man is intrinsically associated with having to sacrifice something in order to gain something greater, the querent may have to examine where they can make changes in order to achieve the future they want. When this card appears in a business context, it warns that the influx of revenue will not be as fast as the querent desires and that they may have to look at ways in which they can curtail their expenditure. All in all, the Hanged Man signifies a period of consideration and re-evaluation before taking one's next step.
Timing: Timing is dependent on card placement within a spread. However the Hanged Man has no concrete timing associated with it as a solitary card,
Major Arcana: Card 12
Astrological Association: Neptune, 12th house of healing, self-undoing, service to others, isolation, and sabbaticals
Positive Aspects: increase in spiritual insight, taking pause for thought, no rapid changes, looking at a situation from an alternative perspective
Negative Aspects: Stagnancy, reluctance to let go of the past, being trapped in unhealthy habits, obstinacy, self-imposed martyrdom, lukewarm feelings, slow business growth, caution against making ambitious plans, suicide, mental illness