shuffle: The Hanged One
words + playlist: Zoë Madonna
May 13, 2019
It’s mid-May, and the weather is dazed and confused. Saturday was a sunny dream, the kind of spring day I fantasize about all year. Sunday and today and tomorrow are suspended in the mid-40s and 50s: gray, dreary, the sky dripping intermittently. I live on the third floor of an old drafty house and my nose and fingertips were freezing all day yesterday, but we weren’t about to turn the heat on in May so I pulled my hood up over my head and did my best to stay warm. The writer Rachel Syme summed it up on Twitter like this: “this is the kind of weather where you feel perpetually like a sick victorian child.”
This is Hanged One weather, when we wait for a change in seasons that doesn’t arrive until it’s already three days past. It’s not quite winter, not quite spring, and definitely not summer. It can be disheartening to be trapped here when I’d rather be somewhere else - when I think I by rights should be somewhere else. But one of the defining characteristics of both this weather and the state represented by the Hanged One is its impermanence. Life will go on. Summer will come. We will be able to put our gloves and scarves away.
The Hanged One, more frequently called the Hanged Man, represents a state of uncertainty. Often, this is a period between two big event or series of events, and the second event is a large shift or transition resulting from the consequences of the first one. While we’re in this liminal Hanged One space, the upcoming shift can look frightening, and it might make us feel pain or discomfort in ways we’d rather avoid. But working with this card can provide helpful medicine for navigating these situations.
See, The Hanged One’s imagery doesn’t vary too much from deck to deck. They’re suspended upside down; sometimes on a pole, sometimes from a tree. Usually, they look calm and composed. They might be upside down, but they’re not shaken up. This is a natural state of surrender, but it doesn’t feel natural to many of us to embrace it. The Hanged One invites us to be with our feelings of discomfort, pain, and fear - but then let them go, and accept that we might not have control over the situation that’s causing those feelings.
Again, it doesn’t mean avoiding these things or turning our back on them. (I might be able to stay inside and hide from the weather, but usually I can’t.) It means processing it in a way that allows for healing in the long term. And maybe, if one gazes at them from the right angle, they can find some transcendence or even beauty.
This is my playlist for my Hanged One days, no matter when they happen in the year; it's full of songs to make a gray sky look silver, and let the rain-soaked pavement shine with reflected street lights.