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Hanged Man, Death and Temperance


Your journey through the Tarot continues with the fifth group of three Major Arcana cards.  Each of the Major Arcana cards shows a symbol of an archetypal force that shapes existence and also operates within the subconscious mind.  As you become aware of these forces, working with them to understand yourself and the world, you can become more effectual and fulfilled.  The symbols can be used as a focus for meditation as well as divination, as they show what the future may hold.  The better you get to know the symbols the more clearly they will speak to you. For more insight into the Tarot, have a read of these useful articles: 'Your Intro into the Tarot', 'First 3 Major Arcana', 'Second 3 Major Arcana', 'Third 3 Major Arcana' and 'Fourth 3 Major Arcana'. 



The Hanged Man is a disturbing thought, but actually he’s not a criminal, hung by his neck.  Instead he dangles from his foot with his other leg bent at a right angle, seeming almost casual.  The Hanged Man looks out on a reality where everything is up-ended.  Like the Norse god Odin hanging from the World Tree to gain knowledge, the Hanged Man has a different perspective.  He represents spiritual meaning, which can turn your life around.  If you seek fixed values then Hanged Man tells you your search is pointless and what you’re striving for is an illusion.  He is your ability to let go of the material world and to see everything turned upside down for the sake of wisdom and spirituality.  He reverses what you think you know and offers new perspectives.  Representing your ability to abandon ‘normal’ goals for something deeper, he opens the way to true vision.  In a spread he shows your willingness to sacrifice so-called material security for something better.  He’s your desire to be rid of what gets in the way of your spirituality.  


Death is one of the scariest cards.  A skeleton riding out on his horse, over a field of skulls and bones, he represents ending.  All meet Death – rich person, poor person, king or commoner.  All animals, all plants – even lakes, mountains and forests – are heading towards Death, whether tomorrow, or after vast eons of time.  You may choose to ignore him but Death is your unseen companion, beside you every step of your life.  Even while you live, you are dying, as each cell in your body perishes, to give way to a new one.  And there you have the key to the magic of Death – for Death is also renewal.  Contemplating Death reveals the meaning in life, but Death is also central and essential to life.  Without Death all would become stale and empty.  So Death is also transformation and liberation.  Death is your ability to let go, move on, be renewed.  Don’t be afraid if you see him in a spread.  He’s asking you what burdens you need to shed in order to progress.  He is your friend who enables you to be free of the old and embrace the new. 



Temperance is an old fashioned virtue, but it means more than ‘moderation’.  This is the ‘tempering’ of the soul through circumstances that refine you and test your ability to be balanced and fine-tuned.  Temperance holds two chalices, pouring the waters of experience from one to the other.  This is the creation of the elixir of life, as the waters flow eternally from one pole to another.  Have you been ‘tempered’ so you can find the middle path – the path of equilibrium?  Can you hold the twin chalices without spilling too much?  Temperance is your ability to be refined by circumstances and people, to go through a testing time and find your inner mettle.  Temperance is your resourcefulness, seeing the whole yet acting in the particular, coming up with creative solutions.  In a spread this card suggests there is a middle way with a problem, and that all you need is to hand. 


To develop your own understanding and relationship with the cards, spend a while meditating upon them.  Relax, look at the image on the card of your choice and then in your imagination enter the world of the image.  Journey with The Hanged Man, Death and Temperance – what do they show you?  What can you learn about their meanings and how they manifest?  Make notes of your thoughts, for they will be invaluable in your work with the Tarot.


Use these three cards on their own for some basic insight.  Ask about a plan you have in mind – choose something that is important to you but not life-changing, because that could cause you to be tense and to lose the playful attitude that is helpful for divination. (Reverence with mirth always works best!).  Shuffle the cards and deal one to guide you.  If you deal The Hanged Man ask yourself if you are hanging on to a material perspective.  Perhaps you need to be more spiritual, and turn your values around?  If you deal Death, ask yourself what should go from your life.  If Temperance, then draw on your deepest talents to maintain a balance and walk the middle way. Some Tarot readers interpret a card that is upside-down as the force working negatively, or delayed, but others place no importance on this – you will eventually form your own views.  For now, take note of how your first use of these cards works out, so you can learn and progress.  You can incorporate the other cards you have learnt about when you feel ready.
Interpreting signs on your own may not be enough and you may want more guidance.  Or you may need someone to talk through your ideas and what they mean.  We offer tarot readings at The Circle.  To get advice on anything that arises, our knowledgeable readers at The Circle are ready and waiting for your call, with tarot card readings to answer your questions, so why not get in touch today?
PUBLISHED: 26 January 2015


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