Today we will be discussing “The Hanged Man” and “Death.”

XII – The Hanged Man

In this card there is a man suspended from a T-shaped cross made of living wood (the Tree of Life) He is hanging upside down with a serene face because it is his choice. In this awkward position he can have a completely distinct perspective than the rest of us have of the same reality; precisely the halo around his head symbolizes the acquisition of new knowledge and wisdom. He wears red pants, the color of Passion and a blue shirt, the color of Wisdom. This is the ultimate card of surrender. When it appears, it means that there must be an obligatory pause in our activities.

Upright Hanged Man

When this card appears, there must be an obligatory pause in our lives to reflect about the course of events, what we have been doing and what we have not. If we do not take that pause voluntarily, the Universe will certainly oblige us to do so. As Biddy Tarot sagely said: “Something new is emerging, and you won’t be able to see it unless you allow the time and space to allow for it to come through.” There are times in our lives that we might feel impossibly stuck with a bad job, a bad home, a troubled relationship. etc, By stopping to “push forward like a raging bull” and taking a pause, you might be able to engage a new perspective to “free your spirit.”

Reversed Hanged Man

Reversed, this card means that you should definitely pause for your own good. Biddy Tarot said: “…you need to hit the pause button, but you are resisting it. Instead, you fill your days with tasks and projects, keeping busy and distracting yourself from the real issue that needs your attention. Your spirit and body are asking you to slow down, but your mind keeps racing. Stop and rest before it’s too late.” Occasionally it might mean that you are stuck because you encountered a lot of resistance to your plans or intentions. Even though you might not like it, loosen a little bit up and try another tactic. If you consider that the obstacles seem insurmountable at present, why not try the old tactic of “go with the flow”? Sometimes it is our only real option.

Note. This image titled Verdadero Gaucho Argentino was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Philosophical significance

Desensillar hasta que aclare. This is a famous slogan used by the gauchos of Argentina and Uruguay in their long rides across the vast plains to herd cattle or to perform farm duties in distant outposts. It means “to dismount form the horse, take down the saddle and rest, until the weather clears up. It is not unusual to be riding in excellent weather in those plains without horizon when all of a sudden, the sky turns menacingly, ominously dark. Seasoned riders will immediately prepare the horses and people to weather the storm. By taking safe refuge under a tree? Wrong. Trees attract lightning and you might end up grilled. No, they set up camp away from the trees and they use their big ponchos to shield themselves form the pouring rain. And the horses? They do not mind the spontaneous shower to clean their big frames, but you have to tie their reins to your saddle. They need the re-assurance that their riders will go through the storm right next to them. Symbiosis horse and rider.

XIII – Death

This is the card that provokes the greatest consternation when it is pulled, including the OHHS and AHHs from the impressionable ladies, and a few men as well. The arrival of the armored skeleton in a white horse does not mean that you are having a sudden heart attack and noisily drop to the floor. It means that it is the moment of endings, mourning period and finally letting go of it. Before engaging in a new lifestyle, starting a new job or project, commence a new romance, we must let go of the past, usually in a rather traumatic way. It is the essence of Life. For all of us, medical practitioners, who have had the blessing of assisting and/or directing a childbirth in an Obstetrics Suite, we know that it is a violent and painful process that taxes the mother’s energies and the patience of all those present. But finally a new Life pushes through into the World to marvel us. The card shows the death of a powerful figure, the King, and how everybody reacts. In her guide, Meg Hayertz said: “Death has many meanings. Child faces it with wild-eyed curiosity. Maiden turns away from Death. Bishop greets death solemnly.” The same author also says that the sign of Scorpio loves it (sic) because we are fascinated with transformation; she says that we Scorpians always maintain a calm face in the face of change (true) In the background we can see the River Styx flowing towards the reign of Hades.

Death Upright

This widely misunderstood card is widely feared because we tend to react negatively to some symbols, especially those that remind us of our own Mortality. Yes, we will all die. There is no escape from it. But what really makes the difference in our lives is how we wisely utilize the time allotted to each one of us in this Valley of Tears. In certain moments of our lives we must pause and reflect (epitomized by the Hanged Man) and then consider how to terminate a certain period of our lives in order to then access another one. This Death pertains to a certain period of ours, not our whole being. There will be some upheaval, even some surprises but it is worth it.

Death Reversed

Change is certainly upon you BUT you are resisting it. What for? You know that your spirit is loaded with expired paradigms, decaying statements, misinformation, something all too common in our Post Pandemic times. Oftentimes, we feel stuck, and we are unable to move forward. Before we can make any meaningful movement, we have to get rid of “some dead weight ” that we carry in our knapsacks. Inertia can paralyze our bodies, but we have to take that little big step in the right direction. A personal transformation occurs only a few times in Life. Let us get ready for it.

Note. This picture of the Buddha in Andar Pradesh, India, was taken from Wikimedia Images.

Philosophical significance

In the book compendium “Becoming Someone New, Essays on Transformative Experiences, Choice and Change” Evan Thompson wrote a chapter titled “Death/ The ultimate Transformative experience” where he claims that Death is the ultimate transformative experience because in general, we do not know how it will affect us before we experience it in our family or circle of friends. It is both:

  1. Epistemically transformative: you cannot fully grasp the significance of Death before it occurs to you or a person profoundly close to you.
  2. Personally transformative: such a brutal experience will surely change you.

We all reluctantly learn how to accept Death as an indissoluble part of the Life cycle that brought us in this Valley of Tears. A famous anecdote of Buddhism involves a grieving young woman named Kisa Gotami that went from house to house pleading for a medicine that would bring her dead infant son back to Life. Unable to help her but deeply moved by her desperation, one of the neighbors urged her to consult Siddharta Gautama (the Buddha) who was meditating under his famous tree. Siddaharta told her that there was a cure, but she would have to bring him mustard seeds from a household that had never experienced Death before. The poor woman knocked on many doors, but the answer was always the same. Death was there already. She finally accepted that it is an inevitable phenomenon for all of us, which should make us enjoy even more our time here.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone

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