Tarot Card Comparisons: The Thoth Tarot, Key 12 : HANGED MAN & The B.O.T.A. Tarot, key 12: HANGED MAN.
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Thoth Tarot & comparisons

Tarot Card Comparisons: The Thoth Tarot, Key 12 : HANGED MAN & The B.O.T.A. Tarot, key 12: HANGED MAN.

The Tarot of Eli
The Path of Mem; Key 12- The Hanged Man.

Paul Foster Case wrote in his instructional missive, Thirty-Two Paths Of Wisdom:
The 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#
*Meaning: Water
*Maternal Letter: Water
*Esoteric Title: The Spirit of the Mighty Waters.
 
The Path of Mem (The 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. 
Then 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 know.

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;
  1. Shin is the baptism of Fire (Judgment).
  2.  Mem is the baptism of Water (The Hanged Man).
  3.  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 of Samadhi, 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.

Only after 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 .

Easily summarized, 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 rational principle.

Behind The Thoth Hanged Man are the Emerald Tablets (summing up of all of nature).
"The 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. 
This 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

Because 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.).
In 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 existence.

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.

The symbolism 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.

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 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.

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.

Some 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 desire principle.
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.

The 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. 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 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  "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.
  • 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.
  • 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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