Having trouble with the Hanged Man


I usually try to at least understand what I'm asking, but this time I feel completely at an impasse. I can't seem to wrap my head around why he is what he is. Mem, one of the mother letters and one of three elemental cards, water, descending from Geburah to Hod. I can surmise he has something to do with physical birth, perhaps the pains of childbirth, hibernation, suspension, inactivity, receptiveness, etc. Still, if he must be the Dying God, I don't understand why, or why here. If he is "born" in Hod, does that signify a form of death and suffering? Is this to say all life is suffering? It is apparent Crowley disliked this card, saying its purpose was little more than a cenotaph, but I guess I'm trying to understand his purpose, um, pre-Horus?

I am sorry if I'm making no sense, this one has got me stumped.


I often see this card as incarnation and in my own strange ways relate it to an indigenous myth here.

Ungud, the Earth snake ( Hanged man representing the souls desire to incarnate or maybe even the 'preformed Adam' - the dust of the Earth?) is on the earth, which is yet unformed, just a flat disc of sand ( the 'cross off the elements' the material world).

He looks up at Wallenganda, the black snake (the dark parts/river in the milky way - Binah)

Ungud sees Wallenganda's children and their campfires (stars) lighting up the river bank and becomes lonely . In sympathy Wallenganda spits some of her water (the waters of heaven - God's spit mixing with the dust of the Earth?) down towards the earth, (motion and force?) Ungud takers it up and 'gathers it together' (now Ungud has become rainbow serpent, Hod/ Mercury, he has stretched up to heaven to receive the life giving nature of the celestial waters ... his skin becomes rainbow coloured and flashing) He takes the water underground (Mercury as Psychopomp in its polarity aspect) and curls up in the water underground (the Great Artesian Basin under Australia) and goes to sleep and dreams (Yesod) in the dream he multiplies himself, and snakes out towards the surface and spreads out into the world, creating landscape (Malkuth).

But still, always at the heart inside the world (on the cross of the elements sleeping in the waters) he still exists ... like the Hanged Man.

This is a different view of the Dying God ... but the same, in a way. As an Aeon ... gone, a cenotaph to remind us that the energy and consciousness is still around, but poo-poo to working that formula on that level. But that doesn't mean 'sacrifice' is not relevant anymore ... ask a parent about that one ;)

Hope I didn't add to the :confused:


I've never really understood the placement of the trumps on the Tree at all so I can't really be of any help with that one.

As for the "Dying God," to me it seems it's a principle. It includes all doctrines that involve the idea of a divine sacrifice as a means of salvation for the rest of humanity, such as Osiris, Christ, the second ADAM in the Golden Dawn, etc. I don't see this card as representing any particular "Dying God," but the general concept.


Reflections in Water (Mem) are inverted.


Geburah is the sephira of Volition. It is the field of True Will as it manifests in a particular individual. (Chokmah as the sephira of True Will is rather generic and universal. It becomes more personalized, individual and specific in Geburah.) The path of Mem is sort of like the interface between Volition and the Intellect of Hod. The Hanged Man card represents the surrender of the intellect to the True Will.

Is this process of surrender an act of self sacrifice? That's how it might appear at the personality level. But from a higher perspective (p.o.v. of the Sun) it looks more like an act of liberation. The appearance of self sacrifice was merely a defect of perception. This is one reason why the Hanged Man is symbolic of the p.o.v. of the Adept and his/her reversal of persepctive.

Does the card imply suffering? In a certain sense. If you are out of touch with the True Will it is reflected down into the mind as a sense of suffering, or at the very least a deep feeling of dissatisfaction, that prompts and urges us towards change. If this weren't so, why would we ever bother to try to better ourselves?


The HM appears to depict self sacrifice if one identifies the ego with the self, which is an illusion anyhow, all smoke and mirrors. The HM is one of the most blatantly :!: subtle cards in the deck.



On page 98 of the Book of Thoth, Crowley says the Hanged Man is in a ritual posture from the practice called "The Sleep of Shiloam". This is meant to symbolize a return to the Eternal Silence that is attributed to the letter Mem and the element of Water and is most commonly encountered in the sacred word AUM. The final "M" being the return to silence.

Shiloam (or Siloam) is the name of a pool in the city of Jerusalem. It features in the biblical story of the man born blind in John 9, where Jesus spits on the ground and makes mud. He smears the mud on the blind man's eyes and tells him to go and bathe in the pool of Shiloam. After doing as instructed the man received his sight.

An important qabalistic clue here is that Siloam in Greek, Σιλωάμ, enumerates to 1081. This is the same numerical value as the Hebrew word, ThPhARTh, Tiphareth. This is the mystical pool that the Adept 5=6 sumberges him/herself in the Sleep of Shiloam.

LIBER LXV 4:9 said:
In the garden of immortal kisses, O thou brilliant One, shine forth! Make Thy mouth an opium-poppy, that one kiss is the key to the infinite sleep and lucid, the sleep of Shi-loh-am.

In his commentary on this verse Crowley says the the 'kiss' symbolises the surrender of the Adept to the Angel. This isn't surrender in the sense of a fugitive giving themselves up. It is the surrender of ones self to a lover - the HGA.

Crowley then goes on to interpret Shiloam as the Hebrew letters Shin, Lamed, Mem. This of course spells the Hebrew word, ShLM(shalom), which means peace.
Symboilically it is Shin(Fire), equilibrated and balanced by Lamed(Libra), with Mem(Water). This is just another way of depicting the hexagram.

In the context of the path of Mem and the Hanged Man card it symbolises the Fire of Volition in Gebruah being married to the Water of the Mind in Hod. The Cup of intellect surrenders and conforms itself to the penetration of the Inner Light.
Of course if our minds are resistant or restricted then it's a case of 'grab your ankles and smile through the pain' while the Angel tries to loosen us up through the lessons of life.



A short digression...

After posting about Shiloam I began thinking about the recent Fill/Kill debate. It suddenly dawned on me how appropriate 'fill' is in a line that includes the word, Aum.

Aum! let it fill me!. This suggests the Light of LVX filling the self as the Fire and Water are united on the Path of Mem and the Mystical Marriage is consumated.

Aum! let it kill me! This sounds more like the perspective of the ego that thinks it has to sacrfice itself and reminds me of the old aeon interpretation of the Hanged Man which Crowley aptly calls the Cenotaph of the Dying God.
Oy vey! :rolleyes:


Stuck in limbo-nothing you can do but hang out and wait for something to give. Often times its due to someone or something else, not so much self imposed


Stuck in limbo-nothing you can do but hang out and wait for something to give. Often times its due to someone or something else, not so much self imposed

Curiously the paths of Mem and Ayin (The Hanged Man and The Devil which both feed into Hod) when unmastered are liable to produce feelings of Victimization coupled with psychological projection and Scape-goating.