Qabalistic Tarot

The current of liberation, refinement, and restoration of the human spirit through the lens of qabalistic tarot.

12: The Hanged man, the petrification of memory

I’m sure there are deeper meanings for this card but I’ve been struck by a few notions that don’t seem to be addressed in any books. This is the element of Water within us.  Water is your emotional state, and it can be calm, rough, stagnated, polluted, or analogous to other fluid states.  The element Air is seen as the thoughts of a person, and Air can disturb the water.

When we mix Water with the Hanged Man’s usual aspect of being our ‘hangups’ and things that pin us down, we see some shared elements with the Fortune card, except that the Hanged Man is static — this is a process we have to activate and push through as the emotions have become still or frozen.

What I feel to my bones with this card is that the Water is our Memory, and that it has become crystallised over time as if encasing us in ice.  We see someone living inside their unpleasant memories, and reliving them, which then reaffirms the memories through creating stronger neural pathways in the mind, making their current emotional state immovable.

When the pressure gets too much and we break down into tears, these crystalline formations melt, which is possibly why after a good cry things feel clearer and warm in some ways, as though we can feel the sun shining in our lives once again. 

Advanced Notes:

The Hebrew letter for this path is ‘Mem’, and means ‘Water’.  The qualities of water are varied and worth looking at in nature to understand how they may relate to our inner life.  Our memories are a hybrid mixture of emotions and thoughts; memory is a powerful place and can have control over everything internally if not understood.

To return to the subject of crying, for some of us it’s easy, for some not so easy.  Social and family habits might not permit outbursts and breakdowns in public, which are viewed as signs of weakness. They are also viewed as unwanted in social circles because of the difficult feelings they address. These formations of guilt, bad memories, and personal angst can become cumbersome for us to handle, yet we are left to face these dark nights alone. 

Suffering under the weight of all this previous experience needs to be given a platform to express itself.  Others suffer the same, and a gentle process of confiding problems can begin once a person shares their internal struggle.  Occasionally the dam can break, and we can become inconsolable with the grief we haven’t yet confronted.. When this card shows up in a reading it would be a good point to ask about grief or loss, or to check on the progress of the querent’s grief and, if they have they accepted what has happened, ask them if they still relive parts of it, and if they have ever talked to anyone about it. They can either push through this, or face being unable to help others close to them with the same sort of pain we all go through.

Just to affirm again, this card is one of crystallization.  If we obsess over keeping memories locked up inside, then we are building a dam with no outlet.