The Hanged Man, represents the illusion of self-sacrifice. The idea of self-sacrifice is an illusion of Nature, for even when someone gives up their life for another, it benefits both parties, and no one losses anything. Even the Dead must rise again---as another incarnation and those who treat others as they wish to be treated, reap great rewards in present and future existence.
In a wyrd and moribund way, this is a beautiful card representing the "Dying God". As Crowley stated in his Book of Thoth," ....its importance in the present pack is merely that of the Cenotaph, It says; ,' If ever things get bad like that again, in the new Dark Ages which appear to threaten, this is the way to put things right.' But if things have to be put right, it shows that they are very wrong. It should be the chiefest aim of the wise to rid mankind of the insolence of self-sacrifice, of the calamity of chastity: faith must be slain by certainty, and chastity by ecstasy." Now I know this may baffle some, but Knowledge goes way beyond faith, and chastity is an abomination in a Living Universe created from the Ecstasy of Union : where it takes the Ecstatic Union of electric (male) and magnetic (female) forces to create passionate life.
There is also a great difference between chastity and Virtue. Chasity is an illusion brought on by a form of self-absorbed importance while Virtue, is always being true to yourself. True to Self, is "above all things know thyself' and this is done by seeing through the illusions of individual self importance and knowing that all selves, are equally important to the Greater Self. As is so often necessary, you must see through the illusions of your reactions before you can know the Truth of Action..We must learn to sacrifice our egos, for the Greater Good of All Being! To render inert, our egoic self importance, is no sacrifice at all, for one lets go of a "lesser mind" for a Greater Knowledge. To give up less to gain more, seems a small price to pay......yet so hard to do,as it seems a gamble to the ego that wishes only in the certainty of possession. The Greater Self, knows that possession of illusion, is still the ownership of nothing!.Unless you are the Will to Be, in manifestation------------you own no-thing as your body is a momentary possesion of sensation for the purpose of Self experimentation. What you really are, no body could ever be!
The back ground illustration of this card is of a grill of small squares, representing the Elemental Tablets that represent the names and sigillia of all the Forces of Nature,. The Spirit/Soul seems to sacrifice its innocence, purity, fiery motion and high intelligence to the necessary physical grossness of manifestation (represented by the coiled serpent) . However, things are not always as they appear for it is the Souls very love of being, that creates being and being benefits energy by creating "Self-Reflection" and/or "Self-Awareness". "To Know thyself", is impossible unless you "create a self"! As you can see, great study is needed to understand this terrific card!
To the societal persona, this card usually turns up in a reading as; Enforced sacrifice such as forced by the State. Punishment, Loss of a often fatal involuntary nature. General suffering. However, if the accompanying cards are of a deeply metaphysical/spiritual nature, this card is about giving up old, bad habits, for new regenerative habits. To and immortal Soul, sacrifice is an illusion, simply because, loss is before gain, error is before correction; ignorance is before knowledge; unknown is before understanding....you get the picture!
Thank you for your interest and comments, May you live long and prosper.