The Path of Mem; Key 12- The Hanged Man.
Paul Foster Case wrote in his instructional missive, Thirty-Two Paths Of Wisdom:
Twenty-third Path is called the Stable of Intelligence, and it is so
called because it has the virtue of consistency among all numerations.
* Path Color: Deep Blue
*Musical Note: G#
*Maternal Letter: Water
*Esoteric Title: The Spirit of the Mighty Waters.
The Path of Mem
Hanged Man) connects Hod ( 8-Splender) and Geburah (5-Severity) on the
pillar of severity (your left). This card also connects Personality to
the Higher Self, but in a much different way than those previous three
that connect to Tiphareth (Beauty).
The Hanged Man, key 12 of the Thoth Tarot is probably the most
misunderstood card in all the Tarot decks. Besides the fact that the
image is one of tortured death, called "baffling" that was used to
punish thieves in the Middle Ages, it looks like absolute surrender to
the inevitable and all dignity is lost.
there is the crucifixion aspect, which symbolizes the dying god that is
a myth in most every culture. The dying gods, Osiris, Christ, Dionysus,
(Sacrifice myth) Prometheus, etc, who where cut up and scattered all
over the barren earth causing the fecund and fruitful earth that we
Often because of its curious imagery,
this card has only been understood and publicly revealed in the past
few decades. Key 12 has a complex meaning and is related to Kether
(1-Crown) as a motion. This is the Path of Water ( the letter Mem is one
of the three Maternals), and in some respects represents the Path of baptism into Maternal Water; each experienced Maternal Path is a baptism;
- Shin is the baptism of Fire (Judgment).
- Mem is the baptism of Water (The Hanged Man).
- Aleph is the baptism of Air (The Fool).
The Water baptism is the central,
and pivotal experience of the entire Tree of Life as Water means
Consciousness (1st Principle of Alchemy). Even though not wet, this
subtle substance of "mind stuff" is symbolized by Water because it has some of water's
qualities, particularly as energy wave movement. Spirit is a Spiral
Flow of Life, that causes the "breath of a body" and is a Soul when
experienced in an individual "Microwave" that is self-aware. Too make a
long evolution short, it is the Life that makes bodies alive.
Therefore, to get our identity straight, we must understand that I AM
the Life, and the body, not a body seeking a life!
The Intelligence of Spirit operates in every sphere (Sephiroth and Paths, i.e. "numerations") and in the same way on all.
The Astral Fluid (vitriol of the magician)
is the Watery flow of electromagnetic energy that underlies every thing
and moves in waves (cycles), that are stimulated by active Psyche,
showing its similarity to physical water. Think of a thought as a stone
thrown into a placid pool of water, and you can then visualize the
waves from the center of impact that spread outward towards the shore of
the now disturbed pool.This is similar to the Psyche as a thought is
"thrown" into it by the personality. The more power used to "throw" the
thought, (Emotion is the thrower) the greater the waves in the Pool of
Psyche. The Greater the disturbance, gets full concentration towards
construction and is "made manifest".
When one is on the Twenty-Third Path
one is "drowned" in these waters and perceives himself/herself as an
intrinsic and inseparable part of the One Collective Consciousness. To
be Key 12- The Hanged Man, we must become lost in our- Self; the
unconscious no sooner touches us than we are it-we become unconscious of
ourselves and Know Our Self!. The Hindu mystics called this the state
, a condition where the physical processes are literally suspended ( Hung up side down) in trance, while the consciousness
affects a union with the Divine.
In practicing Tarot,
it is important to know that the Path of The Hanged Man is only the
first entry into a sequence of states of union with the Divine
Inheritance. Therefore the idea presented is that we must move our identity
constantly upward on the Tree of Life, as we are hung up side down in the material world.
experiencing the next higher Sephira are the qualities of the lower
Sephira completely understood and can be directed by willful intent.
The Path of Mem
leads directly to Geburah, the active/fiery part of the Pillar of Water
below Binah ( the dynamic motion of "will to form" of the Higher Self
). The Hanged Man is resting his feet on Binah (represented as the Ankh cross-which is also symbolized by the Tau Cross
the reverse figure on the Thoth card represents the suspension of
personal consciousness (called ego by some, personal ego, by others)
while a greater reality imposes a complete reversal of perspective (the
"other side of the mirror"...mirror being another symbolism of water).
This "human spirit suspended by a single thread", seems to be a
sacrificed, but this is a willing suspension, a sacrificial baptism that
is also a crucifixion. Thus it is also the card representing the Dying God. This is essentially an intellectual experience.
When viewing the legs of
the hanged man you see the number 4, the Four above the Three, i.e.the
imaginative qualities of key-3 Empress subordinate to the rational
qualities of Key 4 The Emperor; the ultimate sacrifice of desire to
Behind The Thoth Hanged Man
are the Emerald Tablets (summing up of all of nature).
creator and destroyer who operates all change" is represented by the
coiled serpent/rope that the left foot hangs from. The lower serpent
represents the effect of the Divine Work. Crowley called this, " Through his Work a Child is begotten, as shown by the Serpent stirring in the Darkness of the Abyss below him."
It may behoove us to remember that serpents are the way to represent
the motion of spiraling forces that enliven all things, i.e. Microwaves.
Through out our histories, the Dying God is
represented in mythology. Osiris, Prometheus, Odin, Christ, and even the
Greek Goddess Artemis was known as the "Hanged One"---none of these
are the final death.
The Thoth Path of Mem, THE HANGED MAN- Key 12, 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.
is however, is 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 the Universal Collective Unconscious, 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.).
truth, this card is about sacrificing the Conscious self to the
Universal Collective 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 egoistic
The Hebrew letter-Mem means Water,
and is used in Hermetic Qabalah to explain 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, much like electricity. 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.
of this card
is why we have the ritual of Baptism, especially in the
Gnostic Cultures for 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, as the Divine Identity we represent.
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 Divine Self Awareness 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.
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.
of my more observant students
have asked why the Hanged Man is
crucified on the Left hand Path (the blue path between Geburah and Hod) 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 nonfiction, is because this is an intellectual
experience, as shown by the legs positioned into the upside down number 4
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
Thus, one of the primary qualities of the HANGED MAN
is that it is a Path of eternal probabilities and/or eternal
unresolved possibilities. Therefor the HANGED MAN represents
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 therefore represents Mem
reversed or "consciousness turned inward".
In Crowley's card
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."
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 "selves" as individual identities of the
Divine Universal 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 of the B.O.T.A. tarot, key12,
primarily represents reversal.
To a Qabalist, this card symbolizes the reversal
of thought and/or point of view held by those who know from that held by the unenlightened mundane multitudes.
Hence, another meaning of the Hanged Man, is Suspended Mind and/or Samadhi, as it is known to the Hindu yogi. This is an exalted state of conscious that the aspirant experiences when they reach the Divine Consciousness of Pure Being.
Again, the Hebrew letter Mem
(shown an bottom right of the card) means water or seas, and refers to the occult, Root Matter, as do the crescents and the upper garment of the Hanged Man.
The gallows, is in the shape of the letter Tau (Key 21 of the Tarot) and the 12 loop branches refer to the signs of the zodiac.
The edging of the jacket, with the belt represent the cross and circle (Ankh), the positive and negative symbols of Life expression.
His white hair and halo around his head, imply he is the embodiment of the One Light.
The entire image represents a pendulum at rest; at rest, because he realizes, in this heightened mental state, that no person ever thinks or acts of himself, but simply expresses the thought, motion and action of the One Identity: the I AM.
When THE HANGED MAN -key 12, is thrown during a reading, the querent will be or is:
- Experiencing moments of enforced sacrifice, maybe even punishment.
- If Ill defined: Loss that may not be voluntary and general suffering.
- This is the Principle of Surrender in order to break old patterns.
- A time when one must accept reversals.
on the dignity of the accompanying cards, THE HANGED MAN, represents a
state of mystical death in the form of a change of consciousness.
- It usually means an
involuntary and/ or enforced sacrifice.
- 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.
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