the hanged man tarot card 12

The Hanged Man Tarot Card Meanings

The card of sacrifice, release, and new perspectives.

Last Updated: April 23, 2024.

The Hanged Man is card number 12 (XII) in modern cartomantic tarot decks and the 13th major arcana trump card (The Fool, number 0, is the first card). Divination practices such as cartomancy can help us make decisions, offer guidance, and help us tune into our intuition when we are at a crossroads in our lives. Understanding the meanings of each tarot card can help you sharpen your interpretative skills so you can get the most out of your readings.

In this article, we will explore the different meanings of this tarot card in various reading contexts as well as the different advice it can offer. 

The Hanged Man is depicted in the Rider Waite deck as a man hanging upside down from a T-shaped cross or tree, or tau cross. The Tau cross emphasises his liminal position between earth and sky. The wood is living as greenery is still growing from it. His right foot is bound to the cross also, but his left foot is free and bent at the knee. His hands are tied behind his back and he is pictured with a halo around his head. The halo symbolises insight and enlightenment. 

He is in a position of surrender; he has given himself to this willingly, his face is calm and serene as he knows he must ride this out. Much like the Norse mythology of Odin who hung suspended from the world tree to gain knowledge, the Hanged Man has surrendered himself in order to gain.

Table of Contents
Hanged Man tarot card

4 Quick takeaways about this tarot card

  1. The Hanged Man can represent a time of waiting or a spiritual transition in your life.
  2. This card can also indicate that you need to take a new perspective on a situation.
  3. The Hanged Man can also symbolize self-sacrifice or giving up something important for the greater good.
  4. Finally, The Hanged Man can represent a need for separation from something comfortable for growth in your life.

The Hanged Man tarot card key correspondences

Upright keywords

Slowing down, putting something on hold, coming to a halt

Reversed keywords

Loosing perspective, spiritual block, unnecessary sacrifice

Yes or No



12 (XII)


Ruling Planet


Astrological Sign


Jungian archetype

Light aspect: The Seeker, The Slave / Shadow aspect: The Exorcist, The Shaman

Tarot timing

February 19th to March 19th

Associated deities

Morpheus, Odin, Osiris, Horus

Other name(s)

Le Pendu (Tarot de Marseille), and The Sacrifice (Egyptian Tarot).

What does the upright Hanged Man (tarot card XII) mean?

In Latin, major arcana translates to “big secrets” and each of the 22 cards in this section of the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck represents an important life lesson we must all face at some point. The Hanged Man, arcanum 12, is no different.

The Hanged Man is card number 12 (XII) in the major arcana which is the number of cosmic order and completion. This card is a reminder that sometimes we have to put things on hold, surrender or learn through sacrifice. The Hanged Man is here to remind you to welcome the pause when things come to a halt, as delays are sometimes necessary. 

This card can also mean feeling like you are bound to the will and desires of others which Is very restrictive. The Hanged Man can also indicate that you are facing a dilemma and unsure of what action to take. Like the Death card which comes after him, The Hanged Man reminds us that transformation is inevitable. 

For many tarotists, this card can mean coming to terms with letting go, with death and endings, a need to slow down and to be open to the abundant wisdom all around us and looking at things with a new perspective. Neptune is the ruling planet of this card. Neptune is linked to spirituality, magic and enlightenment. It is also linked to daydreaming and fantasy, urging us to look deeper. It is a planet of deep spirituality, linked to forgiveness and compassion also.

In a general reading this card can indicate a person who is concerned with worldly matters, and usually has a different outlook and perspective. As a person, they are deeply spiritual also but can feel stuck and restricted or listless.  If reading for a general situation then The Hanged Man reminds the querent to take the time to analyse the situation and not to be impulsive or make any quick decisions.

the hanged man upright tarot card

If pulled in the upright position, the Hanged Man is associated with slowing down, putting something on hold, and coming to a halt.

What does the upright Hanged Man card mean in a love reading?

Drawing The Hanged Man during a love tarot spread indicates unhappiness in the way a relationship is heading, or feeling trapped. The card’s advice would be to take a step back and assess the relationship fully and what options there are. If you are single this card can mean holding off from starting a new relationship for the time being.

The Hanged Man tarot card as feelings/emotions

If you are asking the tarot how someone feels about you, pulling the Hanged Man means that this person isn’t entirely sure about how they feel, and as a result, they may have pulled back as they need to take a brief pause to figure things out.

The Hanged Man tarot card as a person

As a personality archetype, the Hanged Man represents someone who is usually typical of avoiding any sort of confrontation as they like to keep others happy, this can sometimes result in them not really helping themselves and they will carry a load on their back as to not worry or concern others. 

They usually respond rather emotionally too so if they’re told something they don’t like, they may react in an explosive manner emotionally. They are also typically someone that has their head up in the clouds, they may need to pause quite often to keep assessing where they are in life as their mind is easy to wander.

The Hanged Man tarot card as a advice

If you are asking the tarot for advice regarding a specific situation in your life, pulling the Hanged Man means that it’s time to pause and take a break. It’s time to wait for things to play out a little bit, but also perhaps you need to make a sacrifice. 

Sometimes we’re the ones that need to sacrifice something for the greater good, it can’t always fall onto someone else’s shoulders. But trust that things will work out just as they are meant to!

What is the zodiac or astrological sign associated with The Hanged Man?

The Hanged Man is associated with the water sign Pisces as those born under this sign are, like the Hanged Man, known for being sensitive and spiritual, but also susceptible to getting caught up in their own world/minds and frequently turning to it to ‘escape’ their reality.

Is the Hanged Man a yes or no tarot card?

The Hanged Man is neither a yes nor a no, this card is very much a ‘maybe’ card when it comes to such questions. This is due to the card’s nature of needing to pause to reflect and assess, things can very much go either way depending upon factors that you need to look at and analyse to fully assess what you need to do. 

It’s okay to take the time to stop, pause, and reflect. Pulling other cards to further expand on this may help bring some clarity if you’re unsure. 

Below are some of my interpretations, as an experienced tarot practitioner, based on different types of yes or no questions:

  • Will I get the job? With this card’s reminder of being patient, it may suggest that you may be in limbo for some time before hearing an answer, depending upon what job you’re doing, or that the right job will come along eventually – just not necessarily this one. It reminds you to “hang in there” as something for you will come along. 
  • Is this new person in my life good for me? This is a situation that could suggest that this is someone you need to cut ties with as they will just be weighing you down or not serving you. Sometimes friendships and connections have to be sacrificed for the greater good of ourselves as not everyone is here to serve us for the better. But on the other hand, this could be someone that is holding themselves back, suspending themselves from any sort of connection, as they are dealing with their own thoughts and happenings, perhaps time needs to pass to flesh out exactly if anything can come of this. It may be worth pulling further cards for clarity on which direction this one will go in. 
  • Will I achieve my current goals? This card is calling on you to stop what you’re doing and look at your path from a different perspective. You may need to change your approach, or ‘sacrifice’ something to achieve your goal. But this card always reminds you that you will get out exactly what you put in, you just need to be prepared to do what it takes – so pause, look, and think about it. And a sacrifice isn’t always necessarily bad, you may need to ‘sacrifice’ time to focus on things you’ve been brushing aside, for example.
  • Should I start my own business? This is another aspect you should avoid rushing into, don’t look at starting anything new, especially something like a business that requires a full commitment, time, energy, and money. Now is not the time to be thinking about this, push the idea aside for now and move forward. You can always revisit this question at another time.

The Hanged Man reversal meanings

In a general reading, drawing the reversed Hanged Manis a message advising you against making rash decisions in order to avoid confronting the real issue. You need to take some time to mull things through and recognise bad behaviour patterns.

What does the inverted Hanged Man card mean in a love reading?

When this card is drawn in reverse during a love tarot spread, if single, this can indicate that you’ve been making the same bad choices and falling into the same negative behaviour patterns. If in a relationship this can indicate that the relationship is not ideal but that your other half is holding onto it out of fear of change.

The hanged man reversed

If pulled in the reversed position, the Hanged Man is associated with loosing perspective, having a spiritual block, and unnecessary sacrifice.

How to use the Hanged Man card in your Spellwork

To let go of fear, take The Hanged Man tarot card and write on the back what you are afraid of, what’s holding you back.

The element of water is linked to this card so you can either freeze the card in a tub of water to freeze out fear, or you can tear the card and bury it beneath the sand at the beach. In the time between earth and water, the card will break down and break down your fear with it. 

If you are experiencing delays and blocks to your progress, then you can take The Hanged Man card. Visualise delays easing up, paths becoming clearer and open to exploring. Then burn the card when you are done to destroy any blocks.

A help deepens and grow your spiritual practice, keep The Hanged Man on your altar to look at daily, and spend some time in meditation asking for his advice on how to be more in tune with your practice and how to expand upon it.


In conclusion, the Hanged Man tarot card is a powerful symbol of slowing down, putting something on hold, and coming to a halt. When this card appears in your reading, it is often a sign that it is time to take a break in order to reassess a situation and make plans on how to move forward.

Despite its association with mysticism and occultism, the tarot has grown to become much more than a simple “fortune-telling” tool. For many tarot readers, it is a complex system made of symbolic imagery and psychological considerations (Jungian archetypes for example) that can be used for self-exploration, meditation, and personal transformation.

The 22 major arcana cards each correspond to different aspects of the human experience that are universal. They represent the different stages of the “hero’s journey”: our biggest challenges and life lessons, as well as our highest aspirations and greatest potential.

Have you ever had a reading where the Hanged Man card appeared? What was the outcome? What does Hanged Man mean to you personally? How do you interpret this card in your own tarot practice? Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments below.

If you want to know more about the different tarot cards, feel free to check out our complete list of all 78 tarot cards and their meanings.

Pamela Norrie

Written by Pamela Norrie

Pamela Norrie is a writer and blogger based in Scotland. She enjoys writing about folklore, witchcraft and short fiction. Some of her
work can be found on her blog and through Instagram @hearthandhame

Discover the meanings of the other 21 major arcana cards

This page is part of our comprehensive list of the 22 major arcana tarot cards & their meanings. If you enjoyed the read, then you’ll love the following articles.