The Hanged Man


"A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act."

- Gandhi

The Hanged Man - Waite Smith
The Hanged Man - Thoth

Associations / Attributions

Hermetic Title
The Spirit of the Mighty Waters
Elemental Root of Water
Hebrew Letter
Mem (Water)
Sephirotic Path
Gevurah (Strength/Power/Severity) to Hod (Glory)
Potential Uses
Transforming suffering into wisdom

Card Meanings / Keywords

Golden Dawn

Enforced sacrifice, loss, suffering.


Wisdom, sacrifice, trials, intuition, divination, prophecy. Reversed: Selfishness, the crowd.


Enforced sacrifice, punishment, loss, suffering, defeat.


Sacrifice for/to something larger than oneself.


The Hanged Man is associated with the element of water, of deep feeling, intuition, and insight. His form resonates with the wounded, dying and rising god in the myths of Osiris, Odin, and Jesus. He shares a tale of enduring great pain and death in order to heal and be born again with wisdom gathered from the other side of life.

This inversion of perspective is perhaps his greatest power; sacrifice—particularly self-sacrifice—transformed into cosmic bliss is key to his message and personality. And because of his great suffering, this wisdom and bliss is balanced by the compassion of loving kindness to those currently suffering. Some regard his sacrifice as foolish as they cannot see that his suffering is not only aimed at his own enlightenment, but that he takes on the karmic debts of many lives acknowledging and experiencing the fates of myriad souls.


Bound to the World Tree
the fires of my will extinguished with water
Agony runs from my wounds
as salt from my eyes
Through invited yet unbidden wounding
may I cross to the other side
Switching my perspective
from the sacrificed man
to the ecstatic dancer
The wisdom of life beyond death
here in this moment

What must I give of myself that I know will cause suffering but is necessary for healing? What do I sacrifice for the sake of others and, in return, am born again? How may I transform great suffering into bliss?