The Hanged Man is probably the most misunderstood card in the Tarot Deck. Besides the fact that the image is one of tortured death, one used to punish thieves in the Middle Ages, it looks like absolute surrender to the inevitable and all dignity is lost. Then there is the crucifixion aspect, which symbolizes the dying god that is a myth in most every culture. The dying gods, Osiris, Christ, Dyonisus, (Sacrifice myth) Prometheus, etc, who where cut up and scattered all over the barren earth causing the fecund and fruitful earth that we know.
I really don't have the space here for further explanations of a metaphysical mystery here, so look up the Myth of the Dying God on Google, if you wish for more information.
In truth, this card is about sacrificing the Conscious self to the Universal Unconscious, [a state often called Samadi in yoga], the Ankh is a symbol of union of the Goddess (oval womb shape) and the God, cross shape. It is about the Union of the Divine Universal Unconscious (which is a state of conscious energy) and our very own personal conscious, i.e. Ego....A union that can only be accomplished by complete surrender of our consciousness to the Divine. In short, we must allow our 'little god" (personal consciousness. ) to be disassembled by the Greater God (Universal Unconscious) so that we can expand and liberate ourselves from "the man made self". In other words, giving our entire self to the conscious of the Greater Work than our own self absorbed egoic existence.
Mem means Water, and is about the "Fluid of Conscious" that flows through all planes of existence. Often called the Astral Fluid, this state of invisible Conscious or Unconscious, acts like the "flow of Water" (that is not wet) and as a fluid that carries data. Until one is absolutely absorbed in this Water, drowned even, and perceive themselves as inseparable from the One Conscious, there is no further advancement into Divine Conscious. The symbolism of this card is why we have the ritual of Baptism, especially in the Gnostic Cultures....it symbolizes the complete surrender of self to the Universal Self which than cleanses us of the errors we have defined ourselves as, allowing the unblocked flowing of Divine Conscious to fill our bodies and operated them in the Great Work.
Crowley's figure emphasizes the Cross and Triangle, the Egyptian Ankh being the Cross, and the man is the Triangle of (I -AM- ME) three states of our own consciousness. Behind the figure are the Elemental Tablets of Gnostic Alchemy, that sums up all Nature. The coil serpent around his left foot, symbolizes the "creator and destroyer who operates all change" and the coiled serpentine shape at his head is the effect of the work of God. We are the Serpentine Children of God born into the Abyss and issue from it ( We are 99.6% invisible.). Serpentine force is Spiral Flowing force, which is where the word Spirit is derived, We are Spiral Entity, who flow through all Dimensions of Self!...Even the invisible (dark) dimensions. This card has layers upon layers of mystical meaning just like that represented by the Maternal Water of Consciousness. The Path of Mem is between Geburah (severity) and Hod (Splendor)...Hod being one of the Conscious states of energy on the lower Astral Triangle of the Tree of Life. The Placement itself, is full of meaning.
If this card is thrown during a reading, it usually means a involuntary and/ or enforced sacrifice. Some may call this punishment and loss that is fatal and involuntary. It is "tough love", as the Great Mother in the form of the Sword of Geburah, cleaves away all that is consciously keeping us from our Divine Inheritance. Generally there is some kind of suffering going on here. and as you can see this card generates fear and misunderstanding. In truth, you are so valuable to the Goddess Mother of Souls, that she'll do what is necessary, even harsh, to get you back home! and the aspiring student of Gnosis must sacrifice their consciousness to Her so that they can become the True Child of God that they really are and not the prodigal they have been. This card, like most Tarot Major Arcana, requires a lot of study and a fearless understanding. Thank you for your interest and comments. May you and yours live long and prosper.