The Hebrew word-MEM, (Water) is a one
of the three Maternals,and implies a Baptism in Maternal Waters, as the
other two : The Path of Shin (Art) is a baptism in Fire, and The Path of
Aleph-The Fool, is a baptism in Air. Of all these three Baptisms, the
Baptism in Water (Consciousness) is the central and pivotal experience
of the entire Qabalistic Tree of Life.
Consciousness, is the Alchemical First Principle, also called the Thinking Principle and
is refereed to the physical image of Water because it is like water in
wave motion, and fluid flow.
The lowest expression of the First
Principle, is first found, by the upward traveling initiate, as the
Astral Fluid that is drawn down the Path of the Universe into Yesod, the
Foundation Sephiroth. This Thinking Principle, the Astral Fluid,
is found as the Stable Intelligence, by virtue of consistency, in all
Sephiroth and Paths as it underlies everything that is.
downward. Here the Spirit is drowned in the Maternal Waters where upon,
perceiving itself as a Soul, as an intrinsic and inseparably part of the
Carl Jung, who coined the phrase. Collective Unconscious , describe this Water of Mem as a "...boundless
expanse full of unprecedented uncertainty, with apparently no inside
and no outside, no above and no below, no here and no there, no mine and
no thine, no good and no bad." . To him the First Principle of the Alchemists was also described as Water, as he states, "It
is the world of water, where all life floats in suspension: where the
realm of the sympathetic system, the soul of everything living begins;
where I am individually this and that; where I experience the other in
myself and the other-than-myself experiences me.....the collective
conscious is anything but an encapsulated personal system; it is sheer
objectivity, as wide as the world and open to all the world." I
would highly recommend that the initiate reads the works of Carl Jung,
on the Collective Unconscious, thus gaining a modern understanding of
the ancient wisdom. To put it another way, in the state of
consciousness we are "always the subject that has an object", a
reality that is totally turned around in the Collective Unconscious
where, we are "the object of every subject", as stated by Carl Jung.
other words, our subjective Self, I AM becomes objective Self, Me, when
immersed in the Maternal Waters on the Path of Mem. THE HANGED MAN.;
where the invisible becomes visible.
The initiate knows that we
must move constantly upward on the Paths of the Tree of Life. For only
through the hindsight gained by going to a higher Sephiroth, can we
experience an understanding of the qualities of the lower Sephiroth.
The Path of Mem, leads to Geburah (Severity) which is directly above
Tiphareth (Beauty); Geburah is the Fiery or Active part of the Higher
Self and is shown as Red in color; the color of Mars. This further
illustrates the point that Geburah is the fiery energy on the Pillar of
Water below Binah.In the Thoth Deck Tarot card of the HANGED MAN, the
Womb of Binah is where the hanging figure's foot is held.; from the oval
of the Egyptian Ankh, which is the cross like symbol ( also called the
Tau cross) of both Divine Androgyny and Infinity. The Ryder-Waite HANGED MAN CARD illustrates the Tau Cross as a tree from which the Hanged Man hangs. His pants are the Red of Geburah and his tunic is the Blue of Binah, continuing the comparison of active and passive energy in the Higher Self.
To the one who
has traveled the Paths to this point, it is to be noted that the Path of
Mem, the HANGED MAN, must be approached very differently than the lower
paths. Here, the mediator becomes the object of one's own meditation.
The individual becomes the "other" which was previously the object of
pursuit; the "other" now becomes the initiate.Thus it can be said, that
the personality meditates in pursuit of the Higher Self, who then
becomes or envelopes the Personality of the pursuer creating a Higher
Sensual Self....A self often stated as having "Magick Abilities". The Ryder-Waite card shows this Higher Sensual Self creation as the Golden Halo of energy around the head of the HANGED MAN.
The Path of Mem, THE HANGED MAN- Key 12, on both Ryder-Waite and Thoth decks, has a reverse figure on the
card that represents the Higher Self imposing a complete reversal of
perspective which is a suspension of individual consciousness. Much
like the reflected image in the mirror, looking at the Real
non-reflected image that is the object of reflection.
however, a willing suspension, done by an initiate's conscious effort, a
type of sacrifice or baptism, where the perspective of "I Am" is
cleansed of the illusions of the material world, i.e. ME
of this sacrificing of one's individual perspectives to the Greater
Self perspective of All, the Thoth Deck HANGED MAN is shown in a
suspected state of crucifixion that images the myth of the Dying God.
(Dionysus. Osiris, Odin, Christ etc.), Some of my more observant
students have asked why the Hanged Man is crucified on the Left hand
Path or one side of the Tree of Life as it would seem logical to have
him spanning the Tree.
The reasoning behind this one sided crucifixion, is because this is an intellectual experience, as shown by
the legs positioned into the upside don number 4, on both cards, which is suspended
above the Triangle (3) implied by the positioning of the arms.. Four is
the number of the Emperor Key-4 of the Thoth Deck Tarot, and represents the Rational qualities of the Mind while 3 is the number of the Empress,
the imaginative qualities of the mind ( also seen in the number
12,1+2=3). Thus, positioning the rational qualities of the mind over the
This suspension and or crucifixion in space,
is what happens when the spinning WHEEL OF FORTUNE, the tenth key and
the opposite Path of Caph ( the Path between Netzach and Chesed) is
willfully arrested by the initiate.
HANGED MAN is repose, while the WHEEL OF FORTUNE is activity both of
which form a balance that is known as the activity and passivity of the
ONE THING.Thus, one of the primary qualities of the HANGED MAN is
that it is a Path of eternal probabilities and/or eternal unresolved
possibilities. Thus the HANGED MAN is openness without end while THE
WHEEL OF FORTUNE, is the exact opposite, as it encloses in eternal
motion., i.e. making a limited thought pattern and/or Form. When Mem
(Water-consciousness) is closed, it becomes the Ankh (a form of the Tau
cross) The Ankh represents Mem reversed.
In Crowley's card of the
HANGED MAN, the figure emphasizes the cross-triangle, and is suspended
from the Ankh, being attached to this form of the Tau Cross, by a coiled
serpent that symbolizes " the creator and destroyer who operates all
change". There is also a lower coiled serpent that represents the effect
of the Work of God: As Crowley states in his book of Thoth: : "Through
his work a Child is begotten, as shown by the Serpent stirring in the
Darkness of the Abyss below him."
As I have stated before, this
is the card that shows the reversal of perspective, where the individual
identity, reflected in the light of consciousness (reflecting side of
the Mirror of Self), becomes the Universal Identity (The Dark or
non-reflective side of the Mirror of Self) that is manifested as the
Collective Unconscious, the Maker of All Things.
Successful skrying of
this card will reverse perspective, so that the mediator becomes the
object of one's own meditation. Which could be stated as, where the
Soul is observing the body, rather than the body seeking its soul.
THE HANGED MAN -key 12 of the Ryder-Waite or Thoth Deck is thrown during a reading, the querent will be
- experiencing moments of enforced sacrifice, maybe even
- Loss that is not voluntary and general suffering.
- This is
the Principle of Surrender in order to break old patterns.
- A time when
one must accept reversals.
- Depending on the dignity of the accompanying
cards, THE HANGED MAN, represents a state of mystical death in the form
of a change of consciousness.
- Sacrificing what is less to gain more.
Thank you for your interest and comments. May you live long and prosper!