TRUMP 12 - THE HANGED MAN
At this state, we find the soul self-actualized. In the story that the Tarot cards are telling, the soul has come to earth. The divine will is manifesting the divine mind. The mind is controlling the emotions and desires of all that is placed within a healthy human body. That person is able to wield the sword of justice, is able to help others through the pathway of the Hermit, is able to recognize that life rotates with the Wheel of Fortune. The person is not subjected to the slings and arrows of fashion. The person is able to make their own decisions based upon their own will. They are, at this point, what modern psychology refers to as "a self-actualized person." That term can also be called a "self-made man," no longer dependent upon others for his thoughts, ideas and feelings, but able to live his own life. He does not live independent of others, nor dependent upon them, but lives interdependently.
For modern psychology, self-actualization is the end of the pathway. Once you are self-actualized, you have found it. You have arrived. You are complete, and you are all that a human being can be. In other words, once you have health in all of your vehicles, that's all you can ever expect to have. The pathway of God states that self-actualization is the halfway point--the halfway point in the journey. What remains? That is what we will see with the remaining cards.
The purpose of the Hanged Man is to point us in the direction we must go, and the remaining cards will illuminate different aspects of this card. Just as all of the cards illuminate the Fool and help explain what the Fool is, and just as the Hierophant helps amplify and explain what the Empress and the Emperor are, the remaining cards will help amplify and explain the Hanged Man.
The Hanged Man is a pivotal point in the history of a human soul and he has proven to be absolutely pivotal in the history of the human race. If you look at the card, I believe you can see very clearly what is indicated. A man, with his left leg crossed under the right one, hangs suspended by his right leg from a cross. His arms are folded behind his back. Upon his face is an indication of great peace. And, there is a halo around his head.
Many people's first instinct, when they see the Hanged Man, is to turn the card upside down. For some time, Tarot scholars thought that the original Marseilles deck had been drawn incorrectly, and that what the Hanged Man really represented was a man standing on one foot, attempting to deliberate his next step. Such is not the case. The card absolutely, completely, properly belongs with the man hanging upside down from the cross.
Why upside down? This card visually indicates the reversal of everything we know, everything we think, everything we feel, and everything that we are. Many Tarot scholars have called this the most shockingly different card in the entire deck, representing powers, experiences and potencies completely beyond anything we encounter in any of the other cards.
The man is upside down in an approximate shape of a Star of David. If he had another limb, then that limb could be connected to his left foot and his head, at which point we would have a vertical triangle between his right foot and two arms and an inverted triangle from his left knee, his left foot and his head. In this way, the card approximates the Star of David. As we saw in the Hermit, this star represents the two-fold nature of power--earthly power, in that it is a shield of war, and spiritual power, as it is a sign of the grace which God bestowed upon David to make him wise and a good ruler.
The Hanged Man then, whatever his domains, whatever he is doing, whatever his power, whatever his experiences indicated, consists both of the earthly and spiritual domains. We will be careful in this card to look at each of those separately. The Hanged Man is a card of self- sacrifice. It is a card of crucifixion. It is not yet death, because death, being as crucial as it is, has its own card, card #13. The Hanged Man is a card of crucifixion, a card of the dying rising God.
The symbolism is fairly obvious. Jesus said very clearly, "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him take up his cross, deny himself and follow me into eternal life." There is no more essential idea within all of Christendom. The purpose of the Bible, the purpose of Jesusí life--his teachings, his miracles, and in fact, his passion--is to teach us what it means to take up our cross. Many people have seen this as being some form of personal affliction. Oh, I have a bad back. It's just the cross I must bear. Oh, I'm going through a tax audit. It's the cross I must bear. Oh, I really don't like my mother-in-law at all, but we all have our crosses to bear. These are cute sayings, but they truly have nothing to do with taking up one's cross.
The problem that entered the world in card #6 through the Lovers is addressed here. What is that problem? If you recall, we stated that the problem with Adam and Eve, their original sin, was not disobedience, but was rather a change of their mind which led to the existence of a separate ego. The original sin is not disobedience, but is actually ego.
That being the problem, the Hanged Man is the antidote--the solution. What exactly is that? Hopefully, it is obvious. To take up one's cross, means to engage upon those actions and experience those realities which will lead to the death of the ego. Your cross is that instrument upon which your ego will be slain. This is the crux of the biscuit, as they say. This is the cat's meow. This is the law and the gospel and the sum total of all human religious experience--the death of the ego.
Nature gives us an illustration, the great cosmic body of water. The spirit of God moves over the surface of the waters, and as the powerful light of the Sun hits the water, the water begins to evaporate. As it does, it rises into the air, forms into clouds, and those clouds eventually become so heavy that they shed their moisture. The raindrops begin to fall to the earth, hit the ocean, and are reabsorbed into the cosmic oneness of God.
The ocean is God, symbolically. Through the light, the individual droplets form. This is the ego state where you can look at each individual raindrop, having its own characteristics. It has size, weight, a specific density, and a surface tension. It is a self-actualized slice of the ocean. Eventually, however, that slice of ocean becomes too thick and too heavy, thus it winds up falling back into the ocean. Our egos eventually must die; they must fall, just as the parable talks about the seed falling into the ground and dying. As that water drop falls into the ocean, the water drop still exists. Every single electron in that raindrop, all hundreds of uncountable trillions of them, still exists. However, that raindrop is no longer distinguishable or identifiable as one raindrop from another. They are all part of the glorious harmonious oneness which is the ocean. Unless a seed dies and falls into the earth, it can never be reborn. As long as we hold onto our tiny little egos, we will never be anything more then a pathetic minuscule raindrop. Once we abandon our egos and we return to our source, then we inherit and become one with all that the ocean is. That is the breath of God.
God dies so that we can live, so that we can die, so that God can live. God dies, the ocean denies itself and allows itself to be broken up and fractured. As God dies, each individual soul bubbles up from the vast countenance of God. God dies so that we might live. That is the message of the cards,. That is the message of the Bible. God exhales, takes a part of his energy, and breathes it into the nostrils of Adam that we might live. So that what? So that we can walk around the rest of our lives thinking that we are self-actualized and not needing anybody else. Right? Wrong!
God dies, so that we can live, so that we can become the Hanged Man, and in so doing, fall back into the ocean, return to the Garden of Eden and the tree of everlasting life, and rediscover the oneness which we have with God.
Now at this point there is a rather unpleasant matter that I must discuss with the Christian church. Christianity has developed the idea that none of this is true, and that none of this necessary. Christianity has developed the idea that it is necessary only to believe that Jesus did this for us.
If you believe that Jesus died for your sins, then the church teaches, you will go to Heaven. This is a very small, exoteric fallen teaching. Number one, it places an inordinate amount of power simply within the realm of believing something to be true. The Biblical term is one of faith, and faith constitutes the totality of one's being. All of your thoughts, all of your actions, all of your energy are the essence of faith. Simply believing something will benefit you nothing.
It also retains the idea of the individual with his or her sin simply being overlooked in their unpleasantness, and God not holding it against them and allowing them into Heaven. This is absolutely not true. What is the essence of the Christian passion? What is it that Jesus actually did? This is another issue that the Christian church has gotten wrong over the years. It is true, Jesus died upon the cross, and it is true that he was resurrected. But, that is not what he did. That is not his active participation in the passion. What was?
It was his final night in the Garden of Gethsemane. As the fall of man happened in the Garden of Eden, the redemption of man happens in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is praying and he sees before him two pathways--the pathway of life and power, comfort perhaps, and the pathway of the cross. And, what he actually did was pray to God that if this cup can pass away from me, so be it. But not my will, but thy will be done.
You can spend as much energy as you want worshipping Jesus as being absolutely perfect, but the Biblical record is quite clear that he wanted something against God's will. Not my will, but thy will. What Jesus wanted was not what God wanted. He wanted something which was against the will of God and, in essence, at that moment, at least, was a sinner. He had the power of ego within him, to seek his own life, his own comfort, to not have these problems, to not have to go to the cross. But, he recognized that as being against the will of God, and in so doing, voluntarily died to himself. He sublimated his will, his ego, his desires and sought only to serve the higher power of God's will. He died to himself. He took up his cross and entered eternal life.
That is the active participatory deed which Christ accomplished. He died to himself and followed not his ego, but the will of God. He did not hold onto the specific density of his tiny little raindrop, but recognized that that raindrop had to die, had to live for something beyond its own self-preservation, and its own tiny ego bound will. He sought to merge with the will of the Divine. In this way, he opened himself up so that the power of the ocean could flow through Him. The power of Strength, the power of Justice, the power of the Magician and High Priestess--the power of God could move and flow through Him. That is religion. That is the Christian pathway. That is the story of the Tarot cards.
The ego, which entered the world through Adam and Eve, died in Gethsemane, in Jesus. Through his passion then, he made this power available to all human beings through the pouring out of this holy spirit. This Pentecost, this baptism of God's energy, was poured out to all people. Jesus did die, He was resurrected, and the blessing of Pentecost happened for all human beings. But, ladies and gentlemen, that is not enough.
The Bible is also clear that if the only ego which dies is that of Jesus, then He may sit at the right hand of God, but you may spend the rest of eternity trapped in your ego and pain. That is why we have the sacraments of communion and baptism: that we might be fed in our bodies and souls in the physical and spiritual universe, in that two-fold manifestation; that we might be fed by his sacrificial atoning body and blood; and, that through baptism, we may be washed and immersed into the holy cleansing power of God.
The book of Romans makes it painfully, repetitively clear. If we belong to Christ and if we have been merged with Him in the likeness of His baptism, then so too we will merge with Him in His death and in His resurrection. Failure to do that leaves us caught forever, cast out of the Garden of Eden, forever trapped in our own sin.
That this is possible in God's will is clearly evident throughout the Bible. As Paul followed Christ and as he served Christ and he let his own ego die, we have these magnificent passages where he talks about all of his human accomplishments and all of his ego triumphs. And, he says that he counts it all as rubbish, for the higher calling of God in Christ. Toward the end of his life in the book of Galatians, he was able to say, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life which I live, I live by the power of God." Paul is stating there that he is the Hanged Man; that his ego has died; that he is now living as one with God.
This is your destiny, ladies and gentlemen. This is the pathway which God has laid out in the universe. This is the pattern He has laid out in the Bible. This is the pattern He has laid out in nature and in the Tarot cards. God dies so that we can live, so that we can die, so that God can live.
Remember I talked about the Hanged Man being a two-fold revelation, physical and spiritual. The spiritual we have discussed, the physical revelation though also contains great power. We have seen in modern years the great power available to those who will deny themselves and follow the pathway of non-violent resistance. Mahatma Gandhi comes most easily to mind, along with Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others. The pathway of the world and the pathway of military and strength and war certainly accomplishes many things, but it also exacts great suffering and great turmoil. By always demanding our own way in life, whether it is in business or in politics or in the family. we will often get what we want, but only in part. It is only by being able to give in, give up, cooperate, and help others that they might appear to be great that we are able to be true children of God. It is only through giving up a little bit of our earthly power, that we are able to have all on the earth which we want.
If you are always demanding that your children do everything exactly the way you want them to, number 1 you will have constant strife. Number 2, even if you are successful in completely sublimating their wills to yours, you will wind up with completely crippled, diseased children, unable to make any decisions for themselves. You will never have the lasting satisfaction of knowing that you helped those human beings become adults. It is only by lowering your ego, and allowing them to have their own freedom that you will find any lasting peace. This is the nature of the Hanged Man. This is the nature of recognizing, through the pathway of justice, that all people are equal.
As Jesus died to His ego, you must and can die to yours. As you do so, you will then open yourself up to immense spiritual power. That is what is signified by the glowing halo around the Hanged Man's head. The light, which is the Fool, enters creation, the glorious infinite son of eternal light and life which we had in the Garden of Eden, which now is guarded by the holy angel. We see, first dimly in the lantern which the Hermit holds, and we discussed at that point that here the individual secret for truth is beginning to be able to control some of the divine light. In the pathway of the Hanged Man, we actually become the divine light. We recognize that we are not simply controlling an external agent, but rather we are becoming that agent. As long as we are an ego with a self will, we are working against the will of God.
Therefore, the divine light must be external to us. That is why at the stage of the Hermit, the Hermit is holding the light, but he is not the light. Jesus said that we are the light of the world, not that we control the light of the world.
Once the barriers between self and God are broken down, once the ego begins to dissipate, then that divine light, that divine revelation, that divine power is no longer external to us. It is no longer something which we merely control, but rather, once we have died and it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us, then we become the light. We recognize that we are the light, and that the light is all that there truly is. That is why Jesus is portrayed with this glowing halo. That is why the Hanged Man has this radiating halo, no longer simply a advanced controlling agent of the light, but actually light itself. God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. This is a great and glorious proclamation.
The pathway of the Hanged Man, then, is to take us beyond anything we have ever known. It is a call from our heavenly home to embark upon the second half of the journey. God has died and we do live. The Tarot cards, and nature, and the Bible, and the passion of Christ are all calling us to the second half of the story--for us to die, that God might live. That is what we are going to see in the remaining Tarot cards, as they continue to portray the entirety of the soulís journey from the beginning with God to full ego-hood, to the beginning of the religious pathway, to the death of the ego, to the return to perfect oneness with the Divine.
The entire breath of God is portrayed in these cards. This is a call to you--a call which we must recognize constantly. As St. Paul said, "I die daily." All of these tendencies exist simultaneously right here and right now. Right here and right now you have access to the consciousness of the Fool. Infinite God is right at this moment, here and now.
It is not that He is so far away that He cannot be seen. It is that He is so present that we overlook Him. We have access to the consciousness of Mother Nature. We have access immediately to the consciousness of the Emperor or the Chariot or any of these powers or potentialities or characteristics that we have seen in any of these cards. It is up to us to control our will freely, and decide what we want to focus on.
On any given day, we can return to the fallen lovers and have ego reign. At any given moment, we can follow the pathway of the Hanged Man and rejoice in the benevolent egotist state. It is constantly and forever up to us. The Tarot cards, as they exist in the soul, are much like a television. It is up to us which channel we are going to select. All of the signals are available. Whether you are currently looking at channel 2 or 4 or 5, they're all right here, right now. It is up to us to attune ourselves to which channel we are going to work through on a moment by moment basis.
At this point, we see that the Tarot cards are leaving the realm of mere speculation or philosophical contemplation, and any further progress must be recognized as an intimate and direct call to our souls to answer the voice of God calling us to a higher life, a higher purpose.
We cannot study the Hanged Man without becoming the Hanged Man. We can, in a certain sense, study Justice, understand it, and still seek in justice. But, if we are truly to understand and embrace the notion of the Hanged Man, it demands a response on the part of our soul to be willing to seek, not our own will, but God's will. That is the purpose, that is the message.
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