I tend to find this card appropriate for the season of Autumn because it seems to have resonance with Scorpio. It’s kind of funny because Scorpio’s planetary rulers are Pluto and Mars. The vibrational energy though that I wish to address is the common factor of the Water element. This vibration is what really draws from the depths of consciousness the whole energy behind The Hanged Man of Key XII.
Usually in readings and meditation, The Hanged Man Card brings messages of strife, obstacles, and challenges to accomplishing a goal. Circumstances are not conducive to our efforts, things seem to get in the way, and there’s this feeling of being really stuck or held back. Depending on surrounding cards, The Hanged Man can indicate other details about this, like being emotionally stuck on something from the past, or feeling helpless at the whim of circumstances or other people.
While all of this is perfectly valid and accurate, let’s dive into the Water just a bit deeper. Water is the element associated with emotions, spirituality, psychic and intuitive aspects of mind, and the unconscious mind. The Water of The Hanged Man calls us to dive into the depths, through all the preceding aspects, to the unconscious mind and find what’s hidden there to bring it back up to conscious awareness for use or release.
The Hanged Man himself is our example of how to do this. He is often depicted - whether on land or in water - as being suspended up-side down. The idea here is our ability to suspend our actions, reactions, and thoughts long enough to turn our perceptions on-end and take that dive into self-examination. This exploration of ourselves can be as drawn out as deciphering our past lives, karmic ties, or personal scripted programs. Or, it can be as simple and straightforward as taking that moment of pause or conscious reflection to uncover from where our superficial responses are coming.
Our emotional reactions are a perfectly valid response, a natural flow of energy. The thoughts, words, and behaviors that deal with those emotions is another matter - to express or not express, and how. In the moment of pause, granted us by the skill of self-control, we can take a deep breath and examine our thoughts. A little deeper, why those thoughts are in our beliefs. A little deeper... are those beliefs false, limiting, or useful to us. A little deeper... what’s really going on here in myself and how I perceive the situation [other person].
After a few minutes we can see that we are free to respond, speak, or behave from clarity rather than emotion. Where in the past a confrontation [for example] may have turned into a yelling match, or hardened our attitude, or caused some trouble - maybe this time we just shrug with a smile and walk away. Maybe this time we don’t hide from a weakness, vulnerability, or “mistake” but we know what our responsibility is and we stand with integrity - diffusing an urgent situation to a productive one. Maybe this time we have the courage and clarity to calmly and firmly state our piece and can walk away without further attachment. Whether the other person gets it or not is not our concern, but we finally said what needed to be said.
The Hanged Man, Key XII of the Major Arcana, challenges us to recognize where we are stuck and discover within our own unconscious the tools of our release. The energies here call us to take a moment to not be ruled by our emotional responses, but to use them as guides into ourselves so we truly embrace our freedom of will by changing our minds.
It’s easy to get stuck on our emotions, so fluid, so deep, so powerful - like the sea, the realm of Neptune. It’s easy to get swept away in the undertow of the unconscious, much like aspects of Scorpio. It’s difficult sometimes to gain access to the unconscious, the Underworld, without aggression and courage - as with Pluto and Mars. It may be harder still to leave the Underworld with our will-power intact. Sometimes it seems easier to take action based on our emotions and emotional reactions - a childlike impulsivity that may appear good, bad, or indifferent - and easy to be unaware of such behavior when we don’t consider ourselves “impulsive” or lacking self-control in day-to-day life.
In the season of Autumn, another poignant theme of The Hanged Man is release, let go, and sacrifice. Give up the old way of thinking and doing, let go of emotional ties to the memories of the past, sacrifice who you thought you were (or were going to be), and awaken in a clear, confident, and determined perception of a new you, a new endeavor, a new way of thinking and doing. This is an important aspect on every level of our development, as we make changes and transitions, as we face fears or personal blocks to our fulfillment, as we learn to be better people in whatever we do. Whatever moment is born out of the present moment, The Hanged Man reminds us to take that conscious pause and consider how we walk into the next moment.