I vividly remember seeing this card after having my first reading, given to me by a good friend. My impression of this image of a man hanging upside down was very disconcerting. He looked like he was suffering. I was certain this couldn't be good at all, but I was very wrong in spite of my visceral reaction.
Being a Major Arcana card the Hanged Man has a positive spiritual message and urges us to take a time out, and symbolizes sacrifice for a greater good, acceptance and trust.
I was hangin' with the Hummingbirds this morning sitting outside on my front porch. As I watched them buzzing, darting around, they reminded me of that hyper state we can all find ourselves in when we are waiting in the fear and anxiety, that often is a result of not putting our trust in the unseen workings of the unconscious, while waiting in hope of a new and better life.
We are spinning our wheels or like the Hummingbirds are rapidly flapping our wings, or hanging in mid-air, and seemingly not going anywhere. Some times we have to just have to stop and have a rest.
The Hanged Man is the natural outgrowth from the Wheel of Fortune. Here's Prometheus, who's name means 'foresight'. He was a Titan, who had the gift of prophecy and he had great sympathy for mankind and made a voluntarily sacrifice for a greater good. He doesn't look disturbed, worried or even uncomfortable in spite of his very precarious position.
We too can find ourselves in the same situation where we must have a real faith, which can only be gained through risking ourselves in life and we must be willing to trust in that Other, which knows better than our ego, what is right, and necessary for our development and growth.
We decide whether we move forward or back or just stay still. We are never completely standing still in life. We are either going ahead or backwards. It's up to us to decide. Taking time to withdraw, rest and reassess is an excellent way to find discernment.