The Hanged Man and the Tower


I've noticed that the Hanged Man and the Tower have something in common. Both cards feature people who are upside down. I think that this means something symbolically. They may represent similar ideas. I realize that these are conceptually different cards, but I feel that there's an area in which they overlap.

According to what I've read, the Hanged Man stands for spiritual growth and surrender to a higher cause. This is how he finds enlightenment. He is accepting of what is to come. He's willing to make sacrifices for this enlightenment, and he's generally just giving up and letting go. And it is voluntarily on his part.

In the Tower we see a building hit by lightning, and people are falling out of it. These people are always shown upside down. I have never seen a person fall out of a window of the Tower right side up. He/she/they are always upside down. Like the Hanged Man.

I think that the person falling out of the Tower is ALSO finding enlightenment. He too, is learning spiritual wisdom. He is learning a lot, actually. The difference between the Hanged Man and the Tower is that in the Hanged Man we have someone learning voluntarily. In the Tower, the people are learning against their will. Wisdom was thrust upon them by force. Probably because the person(s) had been resisting knowledge, living in their "ivory tower," as the saying goes. So knowledge hits out of the blue.

Both cards involve knowledge, sacrifice, and pain. Both cards involve giving up a past way of living and thinking that was probably rather comfortable. The Hanged Man was willing to do it. But in the Tower, the people were not. Wisdom came the hard way.

In both cases, in both cards, being upside down means turning one's life around. Essentially, both cards involve seeing things from a different "perspective."


In experience, they can both be involuntary and painful. I agree though about the change in perspective/upside down symbolism.



The Hanged Man - can indicate hanging or pausing in a moment of stillness, sacrificing movement to gain clarity in some circumstance. Reversed the stillness is more like just zoning out especially in a moment when clarity and movement may be called for...

The Tower - Can suggest a sudden catastrophic change that brings about a deep radical shift in perception. Reversed a person is struck down by that change so profoundly that they feel too wounded to get back up and change their perceptions of a situation. They are overwhelmed.

Both The Hanged Man and The Tower can indicate a needed shift in perception (both having people who are respectively hanging or falling upside down) the difference is in how they go about it. The Tower is definitely the harder slam to the brain...



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Metafizzypop said:
In both cases, in both cards, being upside down means turning one's life around. Essentially, both cards involve seeing things from a different "perspective."

I think this is a very good statement for both cards, in particular in the RWS deck as the Tower follows on from the Devil, and in the Devil we have Adam and Eve tied to the baser instincts of life, in the tower there is a male and a female who fall showing that they have been freed from the ego, freed from only thinking about their own wants and needs without consideration for the consequences.

Like in the Hanged Man there is transformation, only in this card it can come about more abruptly.



Tower and Hanged Man

Very good posts about the commonalities between these two cards!

I'd also see the HM and Tower as "liberation from a restricted state", or, "a devastating insight or epiphany."

The Tower rarely reports good feelings in my experience, so this could be more along the lines of "kicked out of the nest" or "why didn't I see how trapped I was" as a guess.


Interesting. I'd add that the upside-downness in the tower is definitely not a choice made; in the hanged man it may well be. So HM can be, but is not necessarily, choosing to think it over etc, while tower is being forced to?


Hmm. I don't know if I see an element of knowledge in The Tower, though it could come as a consequence. It's not a revelation so much, is it? It brings drastic change but it doesn't necessarily imply this is fair or good, it doesn't force you to be wise when you haven't.

Revelation is more about things which are concealed suddenly coming out but it hasn't been my experience with The Tower that this is the case.

If I were to see the two cards as representing an every day event I would see The Tower as someone having their wallet stolen and The Hanged Man as someone meditating.


I see the tower from one angle as the structures we build around ourselves for security, our homes, jobs, relationships, habits and routines which provide this initially but as we develop we tend to outgrow these things and what we once sought to build becomes restrictive and claustrophobic, cue the tower and it's key word disruption and most often we have subconsciously sought these changes at some deep level. It's not always unwelcome either, think of a woman whose been stuck in an abusive relationship for years, the tower would be mighty welcome.

I don't see an element of wisdom in the tower but it could be a consequence though the tower card alone wouldn't suggest that to me, it would with the hanged man in the mix. Tower doesn't always spur growth either it depends on the nature of the disruption and how the person handles it.

Hanged man always brings a change in perspective and spiritual growth, we are considering others in our life under this card and making a transition from a selfish viewpoint to a selfless one around something and bringing our actions into line accordingly. The act in itself is wise.


You don't think that sometimes HM is in avoidance mode - closed off so as not to have to think about something. In stasis. NOT GOING TO FACE IT kind of thing ? Going into a state of meditation isn't always a positive decision. Sometimes it can be an opting out from life.