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Abrac 
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Greater Arcana Study Group—The Hanged Man


The gallows from which he is suspended forms a Tau cross, while the figure—from the position of the legs—forms a fylfot cross. There is a nimbus about the head of the seeming martyr. It should be noted (1) that the tree of sacrifice is living wood, with leaves thereon; (2) that the face expresses deep entrancement, not suffering; (3) that the figure, as a whole, suggests life in suspension, but life and not death. It is a card of profound significance, but all the significance is veiled. One of his editors suggests that Éliphas Lévi did not know the meaning, which is unquestionable—nor did the editor himself. It has been called falsely a card of martyrdom, a card of prudence, a card of the Great Work, a card of duty; but we may exhaust all published interpretations and find only vanity. I will say very simply on my own part that it expresses the relation, in one of its aspects, between the Divine and the Universe.

He who can understand that the story of his higher nature is imbedded in this symbolism will receive intimations concerning a great awakening that is possible, and will know that after the sacred Mystery Of Death there is a glorious Mystery Of Resurrection.
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Abrac 
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Waite says “. . .but all the significance is veiled.” Never was this more true than with this card. He drops hints, but gives absolutely nothing away. Luckily, his Fellowship of the Rosy Cross initiation rituals come to the rescue. He devotes more words to explaining this symbol than any other.

The Golden Dawn Hanged Man shows a figure suspended over a body of water; and in one GD document he’s described as “Drowned Man.” Waite’s took this a step further in his corresponding Great Symbol of the Path, he shows the figure completely submerged beneath a body of Water:

Version 1

Version 2

The Hanged man is revealed as the Divine within the person and in Nature:
“The Crowned Master (Hanged Man) signifies the Divine Immanent in creation. . .”
and further down:
“There is that which is hidden in the body, as God in His own creation, that which is Divine within you, as the Divine abides in the universe.”
The Divine within isn’t dead but sleeping:
“The Doctrine of the Hidden School abides within the creeds, even as a foundation stone, a pearl beyond price. It is the life and grace of all symbols. It is a realisation of the Great Mystery concerning that Divine Nature which for us is asleep in the universe until it quickens in the hearts of those—chosen out of thousands—who can utter the awakening words to the Divine which dwells within them.”
Here’s a picture of the Hanged Man showing a rough outline of the Fylfoot Cross (Swastika). It’s not a complete Swastika but you can see the suggestion of one.

The meaning of the Swastika is also explained and its connection to the Hanged Man can now be seen:
“The Fylfot Cross, or Swastika, is a great astronomical symbol which speaks to those who can interpret concerning the Divine in the universe. It is formed of 17 squares, extracted in a peculiar manner from a square of 25 squares. Observe that the Sun is in the centre and that it is surrounded by the four symbolical elements and the twelve zodiacal signs.”
Here’s a picture of the Swastika and the square from which it's made. The square represents the material universe. The Sun at the center corresponds to the nimbus about the head of the Hanged Man. In some respects the Swastika reflects imagery seen earlier in the Wheel of Fortune where symbols representing the external universe are seen revolving around the wheel of Spirit in the Center.

The tree corresponds to Nature and to the letter Tau. Tau occupies the path from Malkuth to Yesod and is symbolised by The World tarot trump. Waite saw the path as Archetypal Nature, at least at this point in his life:
“She is thus archetypal Nature, and for this reason is shewn to the Zelator on his issue from that World of Action which is Nature in travail. You now see her in all the original perfection with which she was adorned at the beginning as an Image in the Divine Mind. But she is manifested with a Veil about her, because Nature is a woman, and her mystery is not declared in this Grade.”

Last edited by Abrac; 24-10-2015 at 03:57.
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Teheuti 
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In the GD, the Hanged Man is associated with the Hebrew letter Mem and the element Water. (PF Case added Neptune.)

In the Golden Dawn Adeptus Minor Ritual the initiate must accept the bonds of suffering and self-sacrifice. He is told:

"Except ye be born of Water and the Spirit, ye cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. . . . If ye be crucified with Christ, ye shall also reign with Him. . . . It is written, that he who humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (This is from Luke 14:11, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.")

And later, regarding the golden halo:

“And the Light shineth in Darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. . . . Out of the darkness, let the light arise. . . . Buried with that Light in a mystical death, rising again in a mystical resurrection, cleansed and purified. . . . Poverty, torture and death have ye passed through. They have been but the purification of the Gold. In the alembic of thine heart, through the athanor of affliction, seek thou the true stone of the Wise.”

Felkin explained in the 6:5 Ritual:
“The Hanged Man . . . is also entitled the Drowned Giant, and in this likeness may be said to refer to the Adam Kadmon of the Kabbalists—the ideal man who reflects the Image of God, even as the face was but now reflected in the bowl of water. And herein is a great mystery, for in each of us is submerged that Image, but often times so distorted by the waves of the tempestuous passions that it is unrecognizable, save to the discerning eye of the Adept, whose vocation it is to utter the word of Power: ‘Peace, be still.’ In the act of Creation, it may be said that the Supreme sacrificed Himself by imposing certain limits; thereby He was thenceforward bound in manifestation, even as the Word conformed to the limitations of Humanity in His Incarnation. Therefore, must we also offer ourselves as a living sacrifice; holy, acceptable unto God.” --Felkin, The Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn.

Waite wrote about the Hanged Man for the Independent and Rectified Order, found in The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic vol 7:

"The Candidate now sees the diagram of the Hanged Man, with a Rainbow above, and the head of the Giant below.)

"Chief: [...] "The symbolism with which we are here dealing also recalls the Apocalyptic figure of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and in correspondence with previous explanations, it indicates that the palmary misfortune of the universe, which is exoterically called the Fall of Man, exercised a species of incomprehensible compulsion upon the Divine Nature, so that the scheme of what is familiar to everyone under the name of redemption comes before us in a certain manner as an eternal necessity and as a consequence of the free will rather of man than of God. The importance which has been attached throughout the Grades of our two Orders to Egyptian symbolism should also remind us that Mem, through the sacrifice of Christ , has analogy with the legend of the dead Osiris, one of whose appellations was the shipwrecked or drowned Mariner, even as this terrible Key, which you see now in its true form, represents a drowned giant ."

""The 23rd Key of the Tarot is referred, as you are aware, to the Elemental sign of Water, and in this diagram the drowned giant is depicted reposing on the rocky bed of the ocean with the rainbow at his feet, corresponding to that which has been sunk below the phenomenal world by a sacrifice eternally preordained, which, in one of its aspects at least, is the necessary limitation suffered by the Divine Nature in the act of becoming manifest. The Divine, in a word, is drowned in the waters of natural life; and that which in this respect obtains in the external world, obtains also for humanity, wherein the Divine Spark, beyond all plummets of the sense, all reach of the logical understanding, is immersed in the waters of the material existence. In both cases, the symbol with which we are dealing corresponds to the legend of our Founder, sleeping in the centre of the Tomb, which is encircled by the Rainbow, as in the Sanctuary of Israel there was the abiding Presence of the Shekinah. We must remember, moreover, that the ocean of phenomenal life supports on its surface the mystical Ark of Noah, which, in one of its aspects, is the Vessel of Correspondences, wherein the types of all things were collected from the wreckage of the old initiations for transmission through a new era. In another sense, which is intimately connected with the first, the Ark is the body of man, the ship of humanity, poised on the waters of the world which conceal the divine within them. It is man, collective and individual, man in possession of his senses and also enclosed by his senses. There is that within him which, during this his time of probation is put to sleep as deeply as the symbolical Giant. His originally great nature is restricted in the body after the manner of God in creation. There is yet another aspect in which we may regard the Ark, for by many issues the great symbols open upon the Infinite which they show forth, though it is after the manner of a reversed glass minutely. It is that namely, which for a time suspends the soul's communication with the external that she may receive the influx of the Divine. It is the house of deep contemplation, of fixed, well-directed thought, by which our exit is found for a time, even from thought itself, to the world of true experience. The ceremony of the 6-5 Grade symbolises this indrawn state, in which connection I would ask you to remember that in the roof of the Ark of old there was a window through which the Dove passed and repassed, now in frustrated flight, because many wings are beaters at the Golden Gates; now bearing the olive-branch of peace which for us signifies the suspension of the life of the senses. But, in fine, there came an hour when the dove returned no more, because the aspiration and outreaching of the soul at length attains its term. Beloved brother, we have dwelt at great length upon the import of certain symbols, for albeit the work of detachment may operate scarcely less in suspension from the world, yet it is through many types that we pass ultimately behind the veils.”


Letter from Eliphas Lévi to Baron Spedalieri, in Waite’s The Mysteries of Magic:
“The twelfth figure of the Tarot, or the Hanged Man, represents the elixir of life.”

Waite says the legs are in the shape of a fylfot cross (Swastica, Hammer of Thor or Hermetic Cross), also known as the solar cross because it is composed of 17 squares (out of a square divided into 25 lesser squares), referring to the Sun (at the center) in the twelve signs of the zodiac and the four elements (12 + 4 + 1 = 17). This is the shape of the Lamen of Dadouchos in Golden Dawn rituals where it is seen as a bolt of whirling flame, which represents the Strength and Fire of the Spirit, cleaving its way in all directions through the Darkness of Matter.



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Last edited by Teheuti; 24-10-2015 at 10:15.
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Abrac 
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Waite's description from the PKT:
"There is a nimbus about the head of the seeming martyr. It should be noted (1) that the tree of sacrifice is living wood, with leaves thereon; (2) that the face expresses deep entrancement, not suffering; (3) that the figure, as a whole, suggests life in suspension, but life and not death."
From Azoth, or, The Star in the East, pp. 90, 91.
"Mesmerism and hypnotism offer the first steps towards the magical transfiguration of the body of man. The mind in clairvoyance is immersed in spiritual light as in a new atmosphere. The illuminations of trance and ecstasy are visible upon the countenance of the enthralled subject. At truly spiritual séances, the nimbus has often been manifested."
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Abrac 
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In Shadows of Life and Thought, Waite says an "intimation" came to him about the Hanged Man which was "destined to unfold later."
"I saw to it therefore that Pamela Coleman [sic] Smith should not be picking up casually any floating images from my own or another mind. She had to be spoon-fed carefully over the Priestess Card, over that which is called the Fool and over the Hanged Man. As regards the last [i.e. the Hanged Man], an intimation had come to me through the last source to which I should have looked on the score of willingness; and it remained with me, a seed planted in the mind, and destined to unfold later."
He has a hard time bringing himself to admit it was the Golden Dawn from which the intimation came (he may have felt it would violate his oath somehow), but that would seem to be the case. In the GD Adeptus Major Initiation, the candidate is shown a diagram and is told:
"The importance which has been attached throughout the Grades of our two Orders to Egyptian symbolism should also remind us that Mem, through the sacrifice of Christ, has analogy with the legend of the dead Osiris, one of whose appellations was the shipwrecked or drowned Mariner, even as this terrible Key, which you see now in its true form, represents a drowned giant.

The 23rd Key [Path] of the Tarot is referred, as you are aware, to the Elemental sign of Water, and in this diagram the drowned giant is depicted reposing on the rocky bed of the ocean with the rainbow at his feet. . ."
Normally the Hanged Man corresponds with the 23rd Path. There doesn't seem to be any question from the above quote that at some point the GD had a "Hanged Man" very different from the one everyone recognizes today. It sounds almost exactly like the one Waite used later in the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross.

Drownwd Man

This begs the question, did Waite get it from the GD or vice versa? To me this question is answered by Waite himself above.

Last edited by Abrac; 19-03-2016 at 06:16.
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