This is the first in a series of posts I plan to write about Tarot Year Cards, and particularly my own year card for 2011 – which happens to be The Hanged Man.
While working with my tarot cards one evening earlier this month, I decided to employ a divination method which I learned from Mary K. Greer, as explained in her book Tarot Constellations (which I believe is no longer in print).
As Mary explains it
for each year of your life, you have a major arcana card called the Year Card. It represents the tests and lessons you experience in any given year… The events that happen to you in any given year offer you the opportunity to master new skills and discover more about yourself and your needs. The Year Card points out what that learning will be about.
In short, your Year Card provides the chance to become more aware of your situation for the year, and how that situation can present various opportunities for learning and self-growth through-out the year.
So how do you find your Year Card?
Actually, it’s pretty easy. Just add up the month and date of your birth to the current year (in this case, 2011) and reduce it to any number under 23.
Let’s use myself as an example.
I was born on October 25 – the 25th day of the tenth month. So I would add up 10 + 25 + 2011 = 2046. 2 + 0 + 4 + 6 = 12 … which is less than 23. So my year number is 12.
The number 12 in the Major Arcana corresponds with the card of The Hanged Man.
Rider-Waite Tarot Deck
One theme of the Hanged Man is sacrifice. This often implies the painful giving up of something or someone that is important and meaningful to the individual. But sacrifice does not always have to incorporate such misery – indeed, sometimes it represents surrendering something joyfully, knowing that with such forfeiture comes the attainment of something better. Sacrifice can be seen as an offering, particularly in the spiritual context…representing dedicated service, worship and/or a gift to the Divine.
Another way to view the Hanged Man (which is often one of the most misunderstood and thus misinterpreted cards in the Major Arcana) is to think in terms of suspended – he is “The Suspended Man” after all. Much like sacrifice, suspension can have its positive and negative interpretations also. While we often do think of suspend as synonymous to hang, it can also refer to refraining, postponing or ceasing - to suspend one’s judgment, to suspend a criminal sentence, to suspend payments. Thus, in a reading the Hanged Man can be asking us to take a look at what we are or should be ceasing, postponing, or refraining.
Actually, the Hanged Man seems to invite a greater range of interpretations than perhaps any other card in the Major Arcana – in my twenty-plus years of working with the tarot, I have certainly come across a diversity of meanings. Of course, in a reading we often draw from the surrounding cards to gain an idea of which interpretation feels most accurate. Here, we are dealing with one single card, which makes it a little more complex…since it allows for that variety.
But perhaps this in itself is the lesson of the card, and thus my lesson for 2011 – to allow myself to be open to that diversity; to not be afraid of looking at things from different perspectives; and to seek out the various meanings that can be drawn from the events and experiences which I encounter throughout the year.
Indeed, this is comparable to how Rachel Pollack interprets the Hanged Man – the idea of listening to our inner selves, of seeing and doing things our own way without conforming to peer pressure or society expectations. Since the Hanged Man is in fact hanging upside down, this can indicate a reversal of attitudes, a change in understanding that comes from seeing things in a different way.
Perhaps this explains why artists, writers, and psychologists have all felt drawn to this card. Since I have a strong interest in all three, this might just be a good card and a good year for me after all!
In my next post I will continue to explore the various interpretations of this card by taking a look at its image as shown in my favorite deck. Stay tuned!