Hanged Man Tarot Card Meaning, A Complete Guide!

The Hanged Man Tarot Card, A Complete Guide!
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The Hanged Man is certainly an odd sight, sitting between steadfast Justice and mysterious Death at number twelve in the Major Arcana.

In the Rider-Waite deck, a t-shaped cross supports the body of a man, tethered by his right ankle. The wood appears to be alive, draped in green leaves, a symbol of the support given to us by Nature as well as The Universe. The man looks serenely at the world from his upside-down position, his calmness suggesting that this predicament was of his own doing. His left leg is free, bent behind him as he takes in his newfound perspective. His arms are also bent behind him.

The man wears red pants, a symbol of human earthly passion, and a blue shirt for knowledge. The halo he sports around his head champions the new insight that he has gained from his time in this rather unorthodox position.

The Hanged Man calls to mind giving. How do we know when sacrifice is necessary and how much is too much?

In this comprehensive guide to The Hanged Man, we seek to take a look at the world upside-down and analyze martyrdom from every which way possible.

What does The Hanged Man Tarot card mean?

The Hanged Man denotes that it is time to pause and adapt. There exists a lack of balance that is restricting your ability to move forward. Old behavioral patterns must be shed, and new approaches will prove to be necessary as you move forward.

Sacrifice doesn’t always have to be for others. In fact, some of the greatest sacrifices you can make are for yourself.

Balance plays a large role in the themes of the Major Arcana and The Hanged Man is no exception. In order to appreciate ourselves as whole beings, we must learn to value and care for the different aspects of our consciousness, emotions, creativity, material wellbeing, and intellect to name a few. No one of these aspects can be neglected and sometimes sacrifices must be made from within ourselves to ensure that this balance is kept.

The Hanged Man notes that our current path is leading us towards spiritual imbalance. You may have heard of the saying “what got you here won’t get you there” and this is a sentiment that is integral in understanding The Hanged Man. It is time to take a pause and reallocate your energies.


Old habits could be deteriorating your health while satisfying your material wants. Strong emotions could be getting in the way of progression in business or creative projects. Intense passion may be causing a lack of empathy. The Hanged Man says that this cannot go much further and must be readjusted.

Pauses aren’t always convenient, but if we do not take the initiative, this card promises that The Universe will step in and be sure that we take our necessary breaks and undergo the necessary changes. It isn’t always ideal, but this is the sacrifice we must make to get closer to being our best selves.

The Hanged Man Keywords:

  • Pause
  • Surrender
  • Letting Go
  • New Perspective
  • Uncertainty
  • Self-Limiting
  • Confinement
  • Lack of Direction
  • Intuition
  • Suspension
  • Sacrifice
  • Change
  • Divine Intervention
  • Awareness
  • Higher Calling
  • Unexpected Halt

What does The Hanged Man Mean when Reversed?

The Reversed Hanged Man almost looks as if he is standing upright. Gravity is working against him though, and he is tethered down by only his bound ankle.

The Reversed Hanged Man describes a situation in which a pause has gone on too long. Time is passing and no substantial change is being made. Because of this, opportunities are being missed and the course of your life is blocked indefinitely.

This may be a time in which you feel stuck in a rut. Self-worth and balance present us with daunting work. It can be hard to know where to start or decipher which part of our conscious needs our attention the most. When we get too caught up deciding which path to take, though, we lose valuable time that could be spent exploring and learning about ourselves. Now is the time to pick a path and stick to it. If it doesn’t work, you will always have the ability to pause and redirect again— this is The Hanged Man we’re dealing with after all!

While sometimes this hold up in our development can be caused by a sense of anxiety, it can also be a result of arrogance or an inflated ego. When we think we are above change or were “right all along,” we push against the flow of The Universe. New perspectives are necessary for living a balanced life and achieving spiritual growth. These are things we can’t put off. We must understand that we are not always right and adapting speaks to our maturity.

The Reversed Hanged Man isn’t meant to be a card of scolding despite all of this. Instead, it serves as an encouragement. Get back out there! There are no wrong choices, only choices that will help you to learn and get even closer to the best version of yourself you can be.

The Hanged Man Reversed Keywords:

  • Delay
  • Resistance
  • Stalling
  • Indecision
  • Apathy
  • Disinterest
  • Impulse
  • Discontent
  • Detachment
  • Egotism
  • Missed Opportunity
  • Purposeful Waiting
  • Restraint
  • Passage of Time

What does The Hanged Man mean in Others’ Perception of You?

Sometimes it is difficult to track our own progress, but when The Hanged Man describes how others see you, know that others can see the changes you’re making.

When someone sees you through the lenses of The Hanged Man, they are seeing a completely changed person. Something integral in their original perception of you has changed and you are a new person. This may result in heightened respect for you, or the reality that there are some people you need to move on from.

Think of a child actor. They can be completely unrecognizable when they grow up and begin starring in more adult roles. This is a physical representation of the change that The Hanged Man is citing.

Maybe it was your political views, your interests, or your goals, but something big has changed. Others see you as someone who is able to adapt to your situation in order to foster healthy growth of the self. They know that when they stick with you, they’ll be introduced to all sorts of new perspectives.

The people who embrace these changes are the ones that will help you move forward. If they scoff at you for adapting and favor “the old you,” then this card is a sign that they could be holding you back in the world.

When someone sees you in the light of The Reversed Hanged Man, they see you as a person who is stuck in the past and resistant to change. They want to move forward with you but don’t trust that you’re ready to come along with them.

Those who surround you want great things for you and want to see you grow. You are known to continually deny the opportunities presented to you, however.

What does The Hanged Man mean in Love?

In love, The Hanged Man reminds us that good things come to those who wait. Steps in a relationship must be taken at their own pace and for the right reasons. Couples that are not willing to make sacrifices for one another will not be able to progress together.

It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing. It might feel like everyone is in a relationship or getting married but you! Though this feeling makes it very tempting to hop into a relationship with the nearest person or fast forward your relationship to the “I dos,” The Hanged Man serves as a yellow light— slow down!

Relationships are not nearly as easy as the movies make them out to be. We must always be mindful that our partners do not exist solely to be our partners. They are their own bodies and souls with wants and needs that might not always line up with ours. Sacrifice and compromise are vital to the survival of a relationship. You can’t expect your partner to make changes for you if you are not willing to make changes for them. Allow this dynamic the time it needs to form. These things simply can’t be rushed.

Someone who is in search of a partner is being called to take a step back and evaluate what it is they are seeking in a relationship. Is it just for the sake of being in a relationship? It is okay to not be ready for a commitment. It is a difficult and sometimes draining thing. You must give yourself time.

In the reversed position, The Hanged Man points to a sense of stubbornness. There is a change that needs to happen in order for your relationship to progress or your desired partner to be interested in you. These things will not magically come to you overnight. There is work that needs to be done to achieve these rewards— Work that only you can do.

When you show these matters patience and exhibit malleability, you will find that your love life seems to be falling into place.

 What does The Hanged Man mean in Friendship?

Among friends, The Hanged Man points to the fact that the relationship is being held back due to someone’s inability to let something go. There is something impeding the balance between friends that needs to be given up or changed in order for things to continue harmoniously.

Grudges never get us anywhere.

This thing that needs to be parted with can take a number of different forms and could be perpetuated by any friend involved in the matter. Perhaps there was an argument that one of you still hasn’t fully healed from, or maybe one of you has some toxic friends outside of your group who are interfering. The Hanged Man could also be a sign that these friends are not good for you in the long term.

It is time to analyze your friendships and well as your role in them. Friendships, just like any other relationship, are filled with sacrifice. In stable and healthy friendships, for every sacrifice you make, someone else will make one for you.

Sometimes, however, small sacrifices can turn into core-altering changes. Remember that you are your own person. Don’t let peer pressure lead you to make choices that go against what you believe in. The Hanged Man asks you to take on new perspectives but is also an invitation to let go of things that threaten your ideal self.

The Reversed Hang Man once again speaks to the idea of stubbornness. Your friend group is at a stalemate and healthy change is being resisted. Maybe there is a new friend that wants to join or an old friend who has moved on. Resistance to these developments will only bring about discord.

What Does The Hanged Man mean in Career?

In the world of career, The Hanged Man seeks to guide us through times of uncertainty. It is a reminder that we cannot force decisions or changes but must rather see them through with patience. Value this moment of pause and realign if necessary.

Every career has those tense moments of quiet, be it an actor eager for a cast list to be posted, or a businessman waiting for a client’s decision. The Hanging Man says that this time doesn’t have to be all nerves and disarray.

This is a built-in moment of quiet in your career. This could be time spent evaluating your position and considering any adjustments to your path that may be necessary. Take this time for yourself as professional development.

Whatever you do, though, do not try to force anyone’s hand. When you attempt to interfere with the decision-making process of another during this time, it will not end favorably for you. You must allow things to take their course and know that the road does not end if things don’t go your way, a new road has merely been cleared for you.

What is best for you right now is to step back. Enjoy this moment of pause and do whatever it takes to calm your nerves. Things will pick back up again when the time is right.

When The Hanged Man appears reversed, it is time to readjust your views on your position in your career.

You have big dreams and that’s fantastic! However, you cannot turn up your nose or attempt to rush through jobs you think are below you. Your promotions will come with time. Believing your way is the best closes you off to a multitude of other perspectives and methods that could help you progress.

This card is telling you that you’re stunting your own growth. It’s time to turn that around!

What does The Hanged Man mean in Conflict?

When it comes to conflict, The Hanged Man asks that you see things from the other person’s perspective. At the end of the day, petty conflicts only hold you back. It might be time to let them win so that you can move on to bigger and better things.

Think of how The Reversed Hanged Man so often deals with stubbornness and battling against our own stubbornness. Sometimes in arguments, we can find our opponent to be a physical manifestation of said stubbornness. People can get so stuck in their ways and after a while, the row becomes about being right rather than being correct.

Think of why your opponent may be arguing their side. Are they speaking from their own experience? Are they perhaps uneducated on the topic? Perhaps they’re in the right and you merely needed to look at the bigger picture. This may be one way to restore harmony.

However, if a fight seems to be dragging on and on, think of all the things you could be using this time and energy for. The Hanged Man preaches the casting off of things that hold us back. This argument may be one of those weights. It might be time to sacrifice this battle and let them win. Anything for it to be over with. They may not have come here to have a discussion, but rather to argue. That is not what you need to be surrounding yourself with.

In the reversed position, The Hanged Man says, “we’re going nowhere.” This war is fought by two stubborn parties that will not budge for anything. Either walk away and get on with your life or prepare to be here for a long time…

The Hanged Man as a Desire.

When The Hanged Man appears as a desire, it pinpoints the want for a meaningful pause. The person who holds this desire does not feel they can continue in their current state and is seeking the time to make substantial change in their lives.

No one is perfect and we all wish we could be just a bit better at one thing or another. For example, many people have weight loss or fitness goals. The trouble is, it can be so hard to find the time to work out and begin moving towards the results we want. If only there were more hours in the day! The Hanged Man Speaks to this want.

The Hanged Man appears as a desire when the negative patterns in our lives can be ignored no longer and it becomes evident that change is necessary. There is one facet of your being that has been taking a beating lately and it is crying out for help! A person whose wants align with The Hanged Man is seeking the time to rebalance and reallocate their energies so that they can continue forward in a better state.

This person may be wishing they were someone new and is ready to shed their old skin and reinvent themselves. While it is draining, this is an exciting time of growth for them and they want to do everything possible to continue their development. On top of all of this they most likely want— and need— your support and help to embrace the positive changes they are undergoing.

When a desire takes the form of The Reversed Hanged Man, it speaks to the want to stay the same. There are outside forces causing change in this person’s environment that they my find overwhelming. They are hoping to remain untouched by this change.

This can be a positive or negative thing. On the bright side, they may be hoping to resist a change that threatens their morals or core values. The shadow side of this card, however, suggests that it could also come from a place of stubbornness or ego. They could be resisting a change that would benefit them in the long run.

Is The Hanged Man a Yes or a No?

The Hanged Man is a fickle character in the Major Arcana, his connection to both change and pause rendering him a maybe.

The Hanged Man does not present us with a clear cut yes or no. Instead, this card asks us to look inward and check in with ourselves. Is there balancing that needs to be done before you move forward? It is probably best to draw other cards in conjunction with this one to get a clearer picture.

Rather than answering a question, The Hanged Man seeks to describe the nature of our predicament a bit better. It serves as a caution of sorts. There is gravity in this choice and with it will come change. All perspectives must be considered and one’s energy must be in line.

The choice lies with you, however. This card will not give you the thumbs up or thumbs down. Only you can say if you are ready to move forward. There’s a chance you may need some time to define your goals and purpose or give attention to an area in your life you’ve been neglecting.

Other cards can be drawn in tandem with The Hanged Man, if you are seeking a more concrete response, but do not let these other messages overtake the warning that The Hanged Man offers. No matter what you choose to do, self-awareness will be imperative.

In the reversed position, The Hanged Man takes a similar tone, not taking the side of yes or no. As opposed to questioning your balance, though, it questions your intentions. Are your actions in the name of growth and self-improvement? Or are you trying to run away from something necessary?

It is time to return to the drawing board and define exactly why we are asking our yes or no question.

The Hanged Man as Advice and Action.

Think of how the Rider-Waite imagery presents The Hanged Man: at peace despite the odd position he finds himself in. This carefree attitude he displays is wherein lies The Hanged Man’s advice.

We must allow ourselves to be moved by the universe. We cannot fight against the necessary things we must give and take. This is a time to pause and allow fate to take its course. Use this time to consider different perspectives in order to name the sacrifices that are needed of you.

It is time to put your feet up (maybe not in the same manner as The Hanged Man) and let The Universe do its work. It can be difficult to trust the forces at play, but we must remember that we are bound to get what we need.

The Universe gives and takes and we hang in the balance, much like how the Rider-Waite’s Hanged Man is supported only by the string around one of his ankles.  It can be anxiety inducing to know just how secure we are. Note, though, that The Hanged Man does not spend his time looking up at his ankle, but rather forward at his new perspective of the world.

Hang in there! Now is the time to pause and take it all in. Upheaval can feel as if our world is being turned upside down. Take a look at the world from this position. You may find it new, different, and somewhat wonderful. It may take the sacrifice of your old view to open yourself to this unfamiliar magic.

In the reversed position, The Hanged Man says it’s time to get moving. You have been stalled by ego or fear for too long and your time is being wasted. It might be time to close your eyes and pick a path. Anything to get moving and stay moving once again.

The Hanged Man as Emotions.

The Hanged Man describes a feeling of suspension. This is a nerve wrecking time of transition. When describing feelings, this card calls to mind the anxiety and frustration that being caught in limbo can inspire within us and hopes to point us in the direction of a healthier approach to embracing the unknown.

There are many emotions that come when we find ourselves in periods of waiting. There is nervousness, boredom and even irritation. All of these things together create the frantic feeling of suspension. It may feel like all of the blood is rushing to your head.

The waiting game is never a fun one to play, and The Hanged Man sees your struggle. However, this is a card that comes to tell you to take a deep breath and relax. This pause in your life has you tied up in knots and it is time to unwind. This will not last forever.

Consider where your negative emotions are coming from and who and what they are directed at. It is important to remember that no matter what happens, your life will continue forward. The sun will rise and set each day and the world will keep turning. Even when things don’t go our way, new paths are opened up to us.

While there way not be a way to speed up the time your suspension lasts, there is a way to make it more enjoyable. This is a perfect time to try a new perspective on for size. You may realize that the thing you’re waiting on isn’t exactly what you wanted in the end.

In the reversed position, The Hanged Man describes feelings of apathy or laziness. There is a bounty of opportunities laid out before you, but you would rather choose what is easy over what is necessary or most beneficial.

Apathy can come as a result of exhaustion, arrogance, or fear and leads to a state of stagnation. Though it may be difficult to exert the effort it takes to move forward, the consequences of staying in place will prove to be harmful to your development. These challenges must be pushed through in order for rewards to come. There is no certainty unless uncertainty exists.

The Hanged Man as a Situation.

The past position of The Hanged Man speaks to what comes after the release of the things that hold us back as well as the point at which sacrifice can become too much.

You have been heavily influenced by the things you have chosen to let go. This is the start of your new life. During this time, as you build your new self in accordance with your growth, be wary of what you are asked to sacrifice as you may not have much else to give after your recent transformation.

When The Hanged Man describes your situation, you are standing at square one, having just crossed over the threshold into a new chapter of your life. You have put in the work, cast off the things that no longer serve you and are continuing towards your ideal self.

Though you are feeling powerful and fresh, it is important to remember, that in this young stage of your new form, you may be in a slightly more vulnerable state. You have given up a great deal to get here and those around you may ask for even more sacrifices from you. It is important not to deplete yourself of all you have to give.

Tread cautiously forward but look at the world with wonder. As you start down this path, be open to receiving the sacrifices of others and know that you are also helping them grow. The world is run on exchanges of energy between one another and you are an important part of it as long as you are willing to give as well as get.

Cherish this time and use it to fuel you forward into the next stage of your life.

In the reversed position, The Hanged Man is telling you that you are in a rut.

Something’s got to change in your life in order for things to start going your way. It is important that you look inward before assigning blame to the rest of the world. Pessimism is your enemy and it is time to try new things in hope of summoning your motivation and bravery to move forward.

Your resistance to change will only put off your inevitable transformation. It is time to rip off the band aid and move forward into a new era. You will thank yourself for it.

The Hanged Man as an Obstacle.

Not all obstacles can be crushed by sheer force alone.

The Hanged Man champions restraint. When taking the form of an obstacle, it rears its head as times in which things are uncertain and seemingly hanging by a thread. This is a situation that we wish we could rush or force but know we can only purposefully wait out.

Much like it’s connections to emotion, The Hanged Man mirrors that odd concept of suspension when it crosses us.

This is a time in which the ground is unstable, and we cannot seem to find our footing. The world seems to be on its head. If The Rider-Waite’s Hanged Man reached up to untie his ankle, though, not only would he be working against gravity, but he would come crashing to the ground— right onto his head!

The Hanged Man as an obstacle can feel like a test of faith. It is tempting to reach in an attempt to mold our fates like clay, but The Universe knows there is nothing to learn from that. The challenges you are faced with are meant to be learned from rather than resisted, no matter how difficult withstanding them may be.

This is not a card that renders you powerless, however. Externally, there is little you can do that won’t plunge you into trouble, but internally you are being given all of the necessary tools to continue developing your spirit. Some of your greatest inner work will be done when the material world seems shaky and your consciousness is the only stable ground you have.

The Reversed Hanged Man tends to echo itself across all of its possible forms. There isn’t much to say when you’re stuck in one place.

As an obstacle, the shadow side of this card pinpoints your enemy as yourself. The person who is robbing you of opportunities and experience is you. You must overcome your apathy and ego in order to achieve the rewards that you want. It’s time to earn them! It will take hard work, but the biggest challenge is overcoming your resistance to chasing these goals.

Once you conquer your hesitation to start, you will find yourself in a new world of possibility, and your completed goals will give way to bigger, more fulfilling ones.

The Hanged Man in the Future.

The Hanged Man can be a confusing card to understand due to its strong ties to uncertainty. This is not an accident, though. This is a card that asks you to find meaning within rather than out in the world. Mystery and uncertainty are major players in the magic that we live with in our daily lives.

In the future position, The Hanged Man notes that there are many things that are still unknown to us. It is important to plan carefully and thoroughly, both internally and externally. Timing is everything. If you act at the right moment, you will get ahead.

The future position is another instance in which The Hanged Man offers very little in the realm of clear and concrete answers. Instead of telling us what the future is bringing, it rather warns us that the future is indeed coming, and we need to be ready for it.

Sometimes in divination, it can seem as if the future is just going to happen to us as a separate entity. The truth that The Hanged Man brings to our attention is that our futures are intertwined with us. We are the ones who influence our futures and they are intertwined with our spirit. Sure we cannot control major life events like storms or the actions of others, but our reactions to said events and our preparedness for them lie in our hands and determine the flavor our lives will take.

The Hanged Man is a call to action. Now is the time to do some self-work in preparation for what is coming. Your way of handling your future situations will have a great impact on yourself, those around you and the paths that become open to you as you progress.

Once again, The Reversed Hanged Man draws our attention to the fact that we may be stuck in a rut. There is no way to predict the future of someone who is staying still. This is the “try again later” of The Tarot. It is time to get some action going in your life before reconsulting your deck. Currently you are at a standstill.

The Hanged Man as a Person.

The Hanged Man describes a person who moves with the flow of the universe. They are open-minded and patient, knowing that purposeful waiting and times of uncertainty are the key to spiritual development.

When a person takes on the form of The Hanged Man, they are always seeking new heights. They are always changing and trying new things.

Despite the explosive nature of their passion and constant transformation, they are also a person with a mastery of relaxation. They know when it is time to let go and allow for things to take their course. Even when life is uncertain, they can keep a level head. This is a good person to keep near if you are prone to nervousness.

In the reverse position, The Hanged Man depicts someone who is stuck in their ways. They are stubborn and it is nearly impossible to change their mind. They are always operating at the hands of their routines and repetitive behaviors. This is a person who fears change.

The Hanged Man as a Place.

Because The Hanged Man deals with the will of the universe and patiently pause, it is at home in a place under the open night sky.

When we lie on our backs in search of shooting stars, we look into the mouth of the uncontrolled universe. The only way we have a shot at making our wishes is if we sacrifice our time to patiently await the passing of meteors. It is not something that can be forced.

Under the open night sky, we are reminded of the magic and the beauty that The Universe possesses. So little of the night sky has been explored, so truly we are staring out into the unknown. There is no knowing what is in store for us, but well aware that we hang in the balance of every astronomical event.

We cannot control which constellations or heavenly bodies we might see, though, and so we must wait and enjoy the view.

What Zodiac Sign is The Hanged Man?

The Hanged Man’s relationship with the unstable times in our lives is reminiscent of the great and terrible waves of the ocean. Because of this, this card boasts a connection with the Zodiac sign Pisces.

Pisces are known for a strong work ethic and sense of willpower. They know how to show restraint when it is necessary and are willing to take the time to balance themselves before plunging into anything rash.

The Hanged Man is all about the waiting game. Pisces’ wisdom allows them to value this time and use it to their advantage. Nothing goes to waste with them. They are constantly giving of themselves for the benefit of others, and though their emotions get the best of them from time to time, this is a sign that, like The Hanging Man, has a strong connection to the flow of The Universe and the passage of time.

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