What Does The Hanged Man Card Mean In Tarot?

You've probably seen the Hanged Man tarot card in pop culture before without even realizing it. From books to movies, this figure — a man hanging upside down from a tree, one leg bent to form a figure-four — has appeared as both good and bad omens. Philippa Gregory's book, "The Lady of the Rivers" for example, has Joan of Arc falling upside down, her legs bent in a figure-four — an exact replica of what the Hanged Man tarot card depicts. You can see Luke Skywalker in the same pose in "Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back."

Originally, this upside man was known as "the traitor" (via Le Tarot Cultural Association). According to Andrea Vitali, being hung by one foot was a punishment given to traitors, and being held upside down was an "allegorical representation of negative situations which caused pain and moral suffering." So, is it a bad thing when the Hanged Man shows up in your tarot reading?

The Hanged Man tarot card is a warning

Besides the traitor, interpretations of the Hanged Man tarot card have the man as Odin (via American Tarot Association). The legend goes that Odin hung from the World Tree for nine days, ready to sacrifice himself for knowledge. Modern interpretations, like Biddy Tarot's, seem to lean more on the idea that "The Hanged Man reminds you that sometimes you have to put everything on hold before you can take the next step, or the Universe will do it on your behalf." For Kristine of Soul Life Magic, the Hanged Man "can also be encouraging the asker to view life form a more spiritual perspective and tap into their heart's wisdom." Being tied to the tree is necessary because sometimes sitting still is necessary.

Even reversed (upside down), the Hanged Man is a good tarot card to draw or, in the case of movies, mimic. Biddy Tarot explains that this card can mean it's okay for you to "move forward with a new perspective and a renewed sense of energy." Kristine says that the reversed Hanged Man tarot card is a "reminder not to fight change." After all, you can't move forward without letting go of what's holding you back. Of course, you'll need to figure out what the rope in your life is that is holding you back first.