Margarete Petersen Study -XII - Trial - Prüfung (Hanged Man)


  • A child, born of the Sun and the Moon.
    So he hangs, with his head downward.
    The chord is not cut.
    A powerful shake up from the roots.
    Developmental history will be revealed.
    Fire burns up passion and longing.
    Water purifies and makes holy.
    To feel without echo.
    To answer from the undermost layers of our being.

link to card: Prüfung

Return to MP Index


If I am allowed to make a prediction, I would say that this deck has got to be one of the most important decks to come along since Crowley's Thoth, and time will show that... I really like this card. I love how the head surrounded by sun harks back to Le Pendu in the Marseilles Deck. Le Pendu, as we discussed in the Marseilles study group thread, evokes the sinking sun with his solar mane. I had asked jmd
Why does he have golden hair like the sun?
Why is his head in a valley like an abyss?
Jmd agreed,
His golden hair certainly seems Sun-like, especially with its rayonning in many versions
and then he wrote
With regards to the head-Sun being at its lowest ebb, and the two verticals on either side, this is also at times a depiction which others may recognise to indicate the two St Johns - ie, the two solstices. In this case, the Winter Solstice...
[read the whole thread].

We also discussed the idea that the Marseilles gentlemen heading down in a valley between two posts evokes a head pointed out of the birth canal.

So, of course, I am very excited to see MP has given the gentleman in her card a sun (or is it an egg yolk?) behind his head, encased him in a womb-like circle complete with placenta-like tree roots, and heading out in (what looks to me like) a passage of blood.

The sun drowning in blood is an image beloved by poets to describe the sunset: I am thinking of Baudelaire's famous line:
  • <<le soleil s'est noyé dans son sang qui se fige>>
from XLVII-Harmonie du Soir Les Fleurs du Mal -- "The sun drowned in its coagulating blood".

So many themes here, my head is exploding. Her text deserves a line-by-line discussion. I'll stop at this for now, and hope others will take the floor!


Looking at the card, what really struck me was the alchemical composition of the image.

At times, it is said that the Hanged Man forms the Alchemical symbol for Sulphur. But Salt is also there depicted, as the larger circle with the central line of the Tree. As is Mercury, for the large central circle seems to have a crescent (formed by the ropes leading to Sun & Moon), and below is the cross formed by the wings and body of the Phoenix.

Mercury is often depicted as Hermaphrodic, and the two faces, facing left and right, again seem to suggest the same.

The risen Phoenix from the flames may at times also lead to alchemical Mercury - who is said to be born, incidentally, of the Sun and Moon.

There are four circles in the image, reminiscent not only of the four elements upon which the three alchemical processes operate, but suggesting, given that one (behind the head) is superimposed upon the other (the large one), a tetrahedron.

The fire & water, masculine & feminine, is played again and again within the card, in colours (note the water-tunic and fire-pants of the Hanged Man), the Sun and Moon, the Eagle (Scorpio) and flames...

A Man, born of the Spirit, incarnated within the confines of the Earth, to be cleansed and blessed with the agents of Fire & Water... through sacrifice.


The words and image suggest to me.....

A return to a state of pre-birth ......."A child born of the sun and moon"

"A powerful shake up from the roots"..... has brought him to this point?

This point..... a time between times - anchored between sun and moon? A time when the 'veil' is at its thinnest?

His head hangs down - a reversal of perception? The fire and water burn and purify prior experience? He feels without echo.... without memory.

He gives himself up in a rite of passage - a moment of time outside of time?

A spiritual gestation prior to re-birth?


Aoife said:
His head hangs down - a reversal of perception?

A reversal of perception.... oooo... I cannot think about "reversal of perception" without in the same breath quoting Baudelaire
  • La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
    Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles;
    L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
    Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers.

    Nature is a temple in which living pillars
    Sometimes let slip indistinct words;
    There, man passes through forests of symbols
    Which observe him with a familiar gaze.
-- fr. Correspondances (Les Fleurs du Mal)

The Reversal of Perception -- to me, is where we experience ourselves as object rather than as subject -- the natural world looks at us, rather than us looking at it, as though trees had eyes. It is a bit of a visit to the Other Side of the looking glass. Perhaps the thing we must temporarily surrender, and what in ourselves we are being called to sacrifice, in order to spiritually grow, is precisely that sense of "I-Being", of "subject-hood" that fixes the natural world as the thing outside we are looking at, but separate from?


Yay! I'm finally officially joining in this study group and posting my first card. :)

I'm starting with The Hanged Man because this card has been popping up in my dailies very often lately, in fact, three times in the last three weeks! A little over a year ago, right before my father passed away from cancer (so we knew it was coming), my never-before-used Crowley deck was calling to me from my closet. And I mean LOUDLY.

So I pulled it out, shuffled, and did a three card spread. The Tower, The Hanged Man, and The Fool. The Tower was a card that came up a lot for months after that spread, and for obvious reasons. Well, I guess I'm still in The Hanged Man energy, but maybe I'm entering the peak since it's been rearing its head a lot lately.

ANYWAY (Sorry. I'm wordy. I admit it. :) ), this study group seems to be made up of many artistic minds, and for that I am grateful. You help me expand my self-limiting perceptions. But then that's one of the main reasons I was drawn to Tarot; I wanted to exercise and expand my creative side, because as an accountant, it doesn't take long for this part of myself to atrophy! :eek:

So please bear with my thoughts; I'm sure they will not be nearly as poetic, but hopefully still have some value. (I'm still in the beginning stages of learning to see with my spiritual eyes rather than just my physical eyes.)

The first thing I notice, as with a number of the majors, is that we're looking at the "main figure" as if through a tunnel or a looking glass, which makes me feels as if my view is very limited. What is beyond that circle?

As was previously mentioned in the thread, I see a lot of yin and yang represented equally. This is interesting in itself. It's usually through an imbalance that we can get to a point of crisis. Of course, I've always considered the crisis associated with the Hanged Man as rather beyond our control as opposed to, say, The Devil. (I write all of this up before I type it, and now that I've looked at the card in its entirety, this doesn't feel like it applies anymore, but I thought I would keep it in.)

To go through her verse line by line.... Now, I absolutely love reading poetry, but I have a little trouble "experiencing" it. :)

<A child borne of the Sun and Moon.>
Is this supposed to indicate a special God-like individual? If so, this card can show that it's possible that even a demi-god can experience crisis. However, if we are all a piece of the Divine, are we all not borne of the God and Goddess? Therefore, this stage in the Journey of the Fool is all too common, I'm afraid.

[This is where my commentary will draw very heavily from my spiritual beliefs, which I'm aware my not be in agreement with others' beliefs.]

<So he hang, with his head downward.
The cord is not cut.>
This makes me think of a child preparing to be born. The Hanged Man would be in a meditative state, as represented by the two mirrored faces on either side, one of water, and one of fire. Again, yin and yang equally represented. If we compared this with a child about to be born, it makes me think of those last moments of Divine Connection before the child passes through the canal, into this cold and scary world. Then the cord is cut [the Sun and the Moon let go] and this child is left in the care of its Earth parents, "separate" from the Divine, borne into a new life (Phoenix of rebirth) with all new lessons to learn.

<To feel without echo....
To feel without echo -- no memory of our link with the Divine/starting from scratch and having to experience things as if for the first time and to build our wisdom from nothing.

To GIVE ONESELF UP -- Isn't being born, deciding to leave the "comforts" and familiarity of our Divine home with no memory, the Divine Sacrifice? Especially when you consider that we *chose* to come here knowing what was ahead in this Earthly life!

So, this examination has really given me a whole new, and more esoteric, understanding of this card. It's not just about trying to see a situation from a new point of view, but to do that by letting go and accepting the new life that lies ahead (Death being the next card in the Journey). And that's easily said, but to liken it to the birth of a new soul gives me a totally different feeling. I'll have to meditate on this for a few days and see how this fits into my current life and what may lie ahead. I feel The Fool on the horizon, but how will he show up in my life? Through what means, I wonder...



Dear Karen, thank you for this gift of your insights. I cherish this kind of generous and thoughtful sharing. It makes the whole thing worthwhile.

I agree the birth, or re-birth thing is very important here.


Thanks firemaiden. And please feel free to comment or critique anything I write. I find that sometimes help drive the point home with me. :)



I have to make a correction....

I wrote that this card looks as if we are viewing it from a looking glass, and then I mentioned that several major arcana do that. Well, I have to correct myself.... maybe I was thinking of the minors??

In fact, there are only two cards in the Majors that do that, and they are The Hanged Man and The Fool. Now, we can probably make an association between any two cards of the deck and be enlightened by it, but the fact that these two cards have this same effect is significant.

Both cards represent new beginnings and the path to new life.

Firemaiden, I have to agree with you that this deck has to be one of the most significant decks to come along in a very long time. And I certainly do hope that this is made evident as time goes on. It would be a shame for people not to be able to benefit from this deck simply because they don't know about it or cannot get their hands on it!