Understanding Tarot: The Hanged Man

hanged man tarot
Tarot card art from the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot Deck
This article is written by Tarot Reader, Claire Chilvers. You can find out more about her insights and readings at @ClaireChilversTarot

The Hanged Man: Seeing the world a different way

It has taken me three weeks to write this article, due to a number of issues that have made me unable to sit down quietly and write.

I have found this frustrating, demoralising, and challenging as I don’t like having to put things on hold. However, having now spent a few weeks in limbo in many aspects of my life, and with the benefit of hindsight, I am now thankful for this stationary time in my life.

I also see that this was a perfect lesson for me to understand the significance of The Hanged Man. I feel very grateful for this lesson as I was concerned, (before writing this) that I was not qualified to talk about the virtue he symbolises….Patience. Because I have not quite understood the importance of it…until now.

My Mum always used to say that I was at the back of the queue when they were handing out patience, and I never got to the front of the queue as I couldn’t be bothered to wait!

In fact, to prepare for this article I decided to search through my guided meditation app to help me learn about ‘patience’. There was one…it was twenty minutes long, “Too long” I thought to myself as I closed my phone. The irony was not lost on me! Will I ever learn?

Apparently so – The Hanged Man was determined to teach me, and I have since spent a couple of weeks in a writing wilderness coming to terms with delays in all aspects of my life and health issues needing me to rest and take time out.

Being in bed and unable to do anything certainly does bring The Hanged Man’s message home – sometimes life has to wait, whether you like it or not. And to deal with that – you need patience!

There is a reason why I have started this article talking about my own experience and it is because it is connected with you all.

At the moment, it feels that the Universe is urging us to rest. Allowing August to go by quite gently, with not too much high planetary energy, except the chance to download messages and support from the Universe.

In the meantime, the world is shifting, transforming, and levelling up in a way that none of us have ever seen before. 

The connections we have all made together this year as we experience the same emotions and circumstances are putting a new level of synchronicity in our world that many were not aware of before.

But, that seems to be just part one of the story. Part two of this story will soon unfold to us; I can see it in the distance and I want to know more. But, the Universe does not provide spoilers.

And, as someone very wise said to me just before I wrote this article, “you can’t rush Divine timing” (incidentally, that was while I was having an Angel card reading and the card “Patience” came up!) 

As the planets have moved around us this year, either soaring ahead or retreating into retrograde, we have all learned valuable lessons. And each time these Tarot articles seem to be in sync with the Universe lessons too.

So here, playing out in real time is a card urging us to pause. To not move forward or to go backwards. To just …wait.

For me this was enormously frustrating at first, but, then helped illuminate possibilities I had not seen before and uncover wonderful opportunities I had not had the time to think about. Thus showing both the negative and positive aspect of this card -waiting is so often the one thing we do not want to do, but, can be the most beneficial in the end. 

The Hanged Man is linked to the astrological sign of Pisces. The body part associated with Pisces is the foot, and we see the man in the card dangling mid-air by the foot – another reminder of his Pisces connection.

I feel this is incredibly relevant at this time too. There will be a Full Moon in Pisces on the 1st of September 2020.

Full moons are a wonderful opportunity to review the events since the New Moon in the same sign six months previously. 

The New Moon in Pisces was on the 23rd of February. Do you remember what the world was like that far back? Do you remember what life was like for you? I mean..the old way of life that we had. Not the ‘new normal’ that we are getting to used to now.

Perhaps, this is the important message for all of us, that we should hang around with The Hanged Man for a few weeks before the Pisces Full Moon arrives and spend some contemplative time with him, getting to grips with what we now have to accept as our lives, whilst we summon up our strength to let go of the old life and welcome the new.


This is not just about letting go of the past. You can see by the bright light that surrounds The Hanged Man’s head, there is so much more enlightenment to receive at this point if we choose to take the time to pause and listen.

This is the bigger message of The Hanged Man – learning patience is only a small part of the story. He arrives in our world as the twelfth lesson for The Fool and gives one more chance to look within before he is tested in a new world.

The Fool meets him on his journey as he has left the courtroom of Justice. With the strong message she gave still ringing in his ears that he has to be true to himself if he wants to survive and fulfill his purpose in this grown-up, adult world he is now part of.

The Hanged Man seems to reiterate those words but in a calmer, more peaceful setting. Without judgment, he is giving The Fool a chance to let the importance of these words sink in.

If you look at the Tarot as two distinct cycles, you will remember that on the first cycle of The Fool’s Journey (from cards 1-10), The Fool met with The Magician (card 1) and The High Priestess (card 2). Their messages to him were to explain how his words and mind could achieve anything, and his subconscious mind was there to guide him.

These messages are re-iterated here on the first two cards of this second cycle. The Justice card (11) has just reminded him to be true to his word and The Hanged Man (12) is reminding him of the earlier message to listen within for the answers when we feel stuck (just as The High Priestess told us such a long time ago).

The difference with this second cycle is that it is getting to the time when that message is becoming crucial – before they were lessons to a young Fool on what life would be about when he lives it. Now it is happening – now it is real.

Those life lessons that have been instilled in The Fool since his journey began are going to be tried and tested.

We are all aware of the cards that are looming on the journey ahead, and no matter how many times we tell ourselves that all cards are neutral – there is always a little worry or doubt when we see The Death, The Devil, The Tower, and The Star in the near future. Because they are so uncertain and who wants uncertainty? We’ve had enough of that right?

But, if we know within ourselves that our mind is clear and we will always be true to ourselves, the future shouldn’t worry us.

Easier said than done perhaps? Which is possibly why some of us stay with The Hanged Man longer than we should and are a little to reluctant to let go.

This is why these important messages are repeated on the Fool’s Journey. Reminding us that we cannot always control our circumstances, but, we can control our reactions to it, we can control our feelings and we can control our own mind and thoughts. But, that takes work (and a few reminders along the way and helpful hints from our tarot guides!).

The Hanged Man gives us a pause in life to get our heads together. He is hanging upside down, seeing the world from a different point of view.

Maybe that is how he can see things from a different perspective to us? He is relaxed and not in pain, in fact, he can cut himself down from this tree and move on as soon as feels able to.

This, however, is a sticking point for so many. Because the next card on the journey is card number thirteen. It is the Death card which symbolises total transformation.

If you are not ready for that, it would seem so easy to stay hanging on at this point forever. And, if you are desperate for change, then this pause to reflect may seem a waste of time. And if you feel like either of those scenarios, then you are not seeing the real message he is trying to show us.

The lesson here as you find enough patience to hear it, is that you can also find balance and your purpose as you walk into the unknown.

Working with the rhythms of the Universe and your soul to feel when the time is right to cut yourself loose and walk towards your future – with the understanding that whatever happens you will have the necessary skills to deal with it takes time and patience to grasp.

The Hanged Man is giving us the opportunity to trust completely in divine timing. No matter what that brings us further down the road. Whether the road ahead seems good or bad, scary or exciting, take some time to sit and wait and do not rush ahead blindly.

Allow yourself the time to see things clearly and trust your instincts when you feel it is the right time to move on.

Because as illuminating as the time with The Hanged Man can be, and as rewarding as finding patience is, there is still so much more to learn on our Fool’s Journey.

Read More:

Understanding Tarot: The Fool’s Journey

Understanding Tarot: Justice

About the author

Claire Chilvers

Claire Chilvers is a writer and tarot reader and lives in Essex, UK. She offers tarot readings to clients in the UK and around the world via video calls (Skype usually), if you would like a reading please contact her at clairechilverstarot@yahoo.com.