I am talking specifically about The Hanged Man, the Twelfth trump card in traditional tarot. I am not referring to the deplorable racist lynchings which have been happening in the United States, beyond that I hope very much those responsible see genuine punishment for their actions.
Accepting Tower Times
There has been a lot of talk going on about these being Tower times, and I certainly don’t disagree. The very foundations of society, especially here in the United States where I live, are being shaken to their deepest roots. We have been struck by a sudden burst of awareness, to which no one can remain blind except by deliberately covering their head and willfully declaring their ignorance.
No one knows how things will look when everything finally settles, because there are so many people working towards achieving drastically different outcomes. Everywhere you look, people are fighting over the future direction of our society, from issues of racism and bigotry, to voting rights, classism, access to health care, LGBTQ+ rights, immigrant rights, education, bodily autonomy, government corruption, environmental protection, corporate excesses, disability rights, police and judicial reform, and so much more.
We fight because it is all crashing down, and society is polarized in regard to how to proceed. There are those who want to rebuild the foundation much as it was before, with all the corruption, racism, bigotry, and xenophobia more firmly entrenched into the new foundations, along with a hefty dose of authoritarianism to make it stick. There are those like me who want to throw all that away like the trash it is, and build a new foundation which can provide genuinely equal opportunities for everyone, not just a privileged few.
The Tower card is the sixteenth trump card in the traditional tarot. It carries with it unexpected upheaval, change, destruction, and chaos. Clarity and insight struck like a lightning bolt, upsetting everything and shaking the world to its very foundation. Even though that upset and change is needed, it is painful, because drastic change is painful. Loosing your sense of balance and having to build a new foundation is painful.
As human beings, most of us greatly value our sense of how the world works, and what our place in it is. We like our routines, and we like things to be at least somewhat predictable. We tend to dislike it when anything challenges How We Have Always Done Things. Such challenges bring into question whether or not our old ways were as good as we thought they were, which is uncomfortable to say the least.
It is not surprising that a lot of people want to put on a blindfold, shove their fingers in their ears, and declare that nothing is happening while singing “Fa-la-la” at the top of their lungs. It is not surprising that a lot of people who loved the old systems are taking up arms to protect their crumbling house of cards. It is not surprising that people who believe in justice are having trouble accepting their role in that house of cards, and spending more time clutching at the shattered pieces of what was then working to build something better.
What is surprising to me is how many people heard the wakeup call, and are truly and unreservedly working to create a better future for everyone. It gives me hope, where frankly I had doubted there was any possibility of a genuinely better future within my lifetime.
I am in the group of people who are relieved by Tower times. I am certainly still stressed out immensely, because even good change is stressful, and there is no way to know for certain if things will pan out on the side of equality, but I am happy that this is happening. We needed a shattering of the old order in order to have the possibility of building a better future. When the foundations of society are literally constructed on the backs of disenfranchised groups of people, you cannot build a future of equality without dismantling those foundations.
Hanged Man Vibes
In my personal tarot readings, I have not been seeing the Tower card. I welcome the Tower Times with open arms, so it is not among the messages which my deck needs to give me. That message is already received and understood and fully accepted.
Instead, I have been seeing the Hanged Man.
In the midst of all this chaos and unavoidable drastic change, we are also under the influence of a pandemic. For those who have chosen to not disregard the possibility of deadly or debilitating illness, this often means we have stepped back, retreated into our homes, and have some time to reevaluate our lives. Even if we still have jobs which require our regular presence and attention, avoiding large groups of people usually means our free time is far less scheduled, and more open to activities which we normally wouldn’t have the time or energy for.
The Hanged Man reminds us to pause and look at things from a new perspective. It offers the possibility of realizing new directions and new approaches, and to make room for new possibilities. The Hanged Man is often extremely inconvenient (as quarantine is), but it is vitally important right now. We as a society have completely lost our sense of balance and need to take some time to figure out how to proceed, especially since the old way of proceeding will no longer work.
When all the dust from COVID-19 settles, very little is going to work the way it used to, and we must all take the time to figure out how to navigate and accept a new way forward. Even those who refuse to accept the present changes, refuse to wear a mask, and rush back to the bars and crowded beaches and hair salons, are running smack into the pandemic and spreading illness and literal death. The old normal is no longer a possibility, no matter how much some people want to pretend it is. Refusal to pay attention to the Hanged Man is just exacerbating the problems we all need to pay attention to.
In the context of equality for everyone, it is vitally important to better understand the experiences of our fellow humans. The Hanged Man helps us to see things from other peoples’ points of view. As a white person, I do not and cannot experience first-hand what it means to be a person of color in the United States, but I can have my eyes open, listen to people of color, believe them, and work to understand the problems they encounter which I do not. In order to tackle those problems and work for real change, I must first see and better understand those problems, especially how I and others unwittingly contribute to them, even when we have the best of intentions.
The Hanged Man also reminds us that sometimes in order to have what we want or need, or just to find a way forward, we must make sacrifices.
Hanged Man Vibes for Tower Times
When the Hanged Man is combined with the Tower, we know sacrifice is going to happen. Making those sacrifices is a matter of circumstance, not a choice. The choice is whether or not to make those sacrifices a source of power by willfully letting them go, not just in a practical sense, but in a spiritual, emotional, and mental sense.
The Tower says that things are happening, NOW. The Hanged Man says to stop and take time to see things from a new point of view. At first glance that seems contradictory, but in reality, it is a cycle between the two.
We are not going to be leaving our current Tower Times anytime soon, and things are going to stay unpredictable. No one can sustain constant activity over a prolonged period of stress and upheaval, and everyone must take time to stop and rest and heal and reevaluate what to do next. The activities of the Tower feed into the retrospection of the Hanged Man, which in turn feeds back into the activities of the Tower.
It is going to take a lot of work from all of us to navigate the Tower, clear the debris, and build a new foundation. Work on the Tower when and how you can. When you need a rest, get thrown for a loop, or lose your way in the chaos, hang with the Hanged Man as long as you need to. The dismantling of the Tower is unpredictable, and none of us can say what will happen next week, let alone next month or next year. Take respites from activity and allow those periods of rest to clarify and empower your next step in the chaos.
So, if you find yourself thrown off your foundation and hanging by your foot, instead of immediately struggling to get down, relax and take the time to see what that new point of view can reveal to you. It might just help you figure out how to land on a path that will lead to a future you truly want.