The World Turned Upside-Down

The title of today’s post is the name of a song that many mistakenly believe the British played at the surrender of Yorktown. The controversy is an interesting read and you can see it here, although Yorktown has nothing to do with the subject I want to write about today. The title, however, is apropos.

You see, The Hanged Man (Key 12 of the Tarot’s Major Arcana) is very much about seeing the world in just such a way — upside down, if you will. Notice how he is suspended, head down, hands bound. Yet, he has a glory about his head and his expression is serene. His legs are in a figure 4, like those of the World Dancer of Key 21 (“The World”) and the Emperor of Key 4. Mythologically, he is often compared to Odin, who suspended himself upside down from the World Tree to attain knowledge.Hanged

This card is associated with the element of Water, the planet Neptune, and the Hebrew letter Mem (water, also considered the Divine Fountain of Wisdom).

One common interpretation for this card when it appears in a spread is “suspension,” as if one is caught in a place where waiting is essential. It is as if conditions are not yet ripe for action. However, I think this interpretation is too shallow, and off the mark a bit.

Rather, those under the influence of The Hanged Man have an opportunity to see things in a new way, to dream a new dream, and to form a new reality (as water is formless and can be molded to any container). The Hanged Man knows that things are not as they seem.

Yet, there is a warning with this card as well. Escapism into fantasy can give the impression of wisdom gained, but it only results in fooling oneself. Neptune, ruler of Pisces, in its negative expression can signify addictions or drug-induced misperceptions. This is one reason why some mystery schools warn against the use of drugs in the pursuit of spiritual growth.

In the everyday world, look carefully at what the mass media feed us. Quite often, it is a corrupted version of The Hanged Man’s view. He reminds us that it is important to shake off the culturally-induced mass hypnosis. Thinking for ourselves by means of the Higher Self is where the true path lies.