The Hanged Man

(or Dying God)

The Hanged Man / The Blairquhan Dool Tree The Hanged Man tells us that all self-sacrifice is illusory and that beating yourself up over events that have happened - or crying over spilt milk - doesn't solve the problem. This is the first day of the rest of your life so pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start over.

In many tarot packs the hanged man is hanging upside down, sometimes tied by a single ankle but with an expression of pleasure on his face. He doesn't seem to mind the way he is suspended. This doesn't seem to make sense, and his expression is the key to the card. It simply isn't the expression you would expect him to have and the card is saying "expect the unexpected". As John Lennon said: "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans." Go with the flow. The uncertainty of your situation may make you uncomfortable but accept the changes that are taking place around you and remember that patience is a virtue.

Lamed (L) is the twelfth Hebrew letter corresponding to the Hanged Man's number in the major arcana, and the card is ruled by the element of water, the element of illusion, and the card is telling us that sacrifice is a misconception of nature. The card represents the descent of light into darkness to redeem it.

The sycamore was the natural tree for this card because it was often a "dool" or 'Dule' tree, a hanging or gallows tree. Sycamore was favoured for this purpose, because its strong and resilient timber was unlikely to fail at the crucial moment. They were common in the mid-18th. century on country estates, usually in a prominent position where the Laird could leave the body hanging in full view as a deterrent to others. The Blairquhan Dool Tree is one of the few surviving examples. Thought to date from about 1550, it stands in the shadow of Blairquhan castle.

The word ‘dool’ derives from old Scots and means sorrowful or mournful. Dule Trees, were also known as the 'Grief Tree', the 'Gallows Tree', the 'Justice Tree' or simply 'The Tree' and the high ground on which these trees grew often became known as 'Gallows Hill'. Dule trees were also used by Highland Chieftains, who would hang their enemies or any deserter, murderer, etc. from the Dool Tree, giving the highland clan chiefs the power of 'life or death' over their clansmen.

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