Tarot of Prague Café Club - The Hanged Man

Bean Feasa

The ToP Hanged Man doesn't just dangle from his tree, he merges with it. Gone are the legs bent into the figure 4 a la Rider-Waite deck. Here the lower part of the Hanged Man's body, which is uppermost in the card because of his upside down position, twists away into coils of drapery and foliage. It seems to suggest total integration and transformation - the Hanged Man's endurance in his state of suspension and his willingness to see everything from a fresh, if strange, angle gives him a new way of being that allows him to be at one with the world in a magical way. He makes me think of mythical beings like centaurs, fauns etc. - half man half something else.
His arms are bent and seem to hold a slightly comical sun in place over (or below!) his head like a halo. A nod to the Sun card which will come later perhaps, this sun is the colour of charcoal, bristles with spiky rays and has a face with a puffed, rather rueful expression. It's as if the Sun is expressing the shadow side of the card - the Hanged figure has a benign, untroubled expression, but the Sun seems to remind us that this state isn't easy and while it can bring rewards it can also take its toll. The book tells us that the Black Sun is the alchemical sign of transformation and mirror images. The Hanged Man is suspended against a background richly patterned in gold and burnt orange. A very striking version of Major no. XIV.


I love most of the images in the Tarot of Prague but this one I really dislike. The figure looks as if he is tied up for the sake of a bizarre ritual of some kind.

Or maybe this could even be the door knocker on someone's house? Pale skin against the orange background enhances the somewhat corrupt and sleazy ambience this figure exudes - to me at least. It may not to others. Perhaps ihe image is effective in that it adequaetly represents someone being trapped in a strange place.

I would be quite happy to leave him hanging in the hope that someone would give him oxygen and brandy in the mean time.

Sorry - not my favourite card


Moongold you know I agree. There's definitely something sleezy about this card . . . it's a bit like being inside a posh casino (not exactly my favorite milieu). And the missing legs--I don't ever see them as 'integrated', rather to me they just seem to be lopped-off. This is profoundly disturbing, particularly given the opulent textures surrounding such an obvious omission.

In a way, I wonder whether this perception of sleeze isn't more true to the original meaning of the hanged-man figure, as traitor or thief, than some of the more traditional cards which, to our 21st-century eyes, have almost entirely lost that connotation.

Is it really necessary, or even desirable, that we like this figure? Maybe tarot needs a bit of corruption.


Interesting points. I think it is easy to romanticise some of the classic Tarot images.

I haven't got any really dark decks so maybe there are some which are more ambivalent about hope and goodness.

If someone was really hanging from a tree they would look pretty gruesome. Rarely do you find a Hanged Man image that doesn't look like someone blissed out in a King Yoga stand. The Fournier Marseilles Hanged Man looks a bit shocked and his hair is blue. One would expect his face to be blue if he was truly hanging, but he certainly doesn't look too comfortable.

However, the Prague Hanged Man looks like some of the young kids I see on the streets around where I work. Something has taken away their innocence and power and one wonders whether they will ever get it back. That is where the sub-conscious association with door knocker came from I think. These kids are just used thoughtlessly and discarded.

The black Sun in this image also really bothers me. It looks malign, almost like a black spider. Somehow this whole image speaks of terrible damage and possible danger.


Now, this is interesting. This is one of the cards that most often gets requested as a print and I think it may arouse strong emotions on both sides. I have thought a fair bit about the reactions here - which I do find entirely valid (of course, any reaction to an image is valid, but the strong reactions to this one are particularly interesting).

I had never seen it as malign or threatening in any way, though I do see it as odd, disturbing and unreal. We had a lot of problems finding the images we wanted to use in the card. The Black Sun is a powerful symbol in alchemy, and we felt it should be there. In some ways it is both a promising and an intimidating symbol. It's an inversion of a sun, a sun turned upside-down. We simply can't imagine what a world would look like with a sun that radiated darkness. Yet in alchemy it's a symbol of the transformation that comes "through the looking glass" , exactly by inverting everything.

We did think a lot about the way in which the figure is tangled in the ropes that bind him. I think there is a huge contrast between his face - which is open and a little "out of it" and his legs, which are caught up and enmeshed. By the way, in the original piece he is an angel, and in some ways this evokes even more associations.

By the way, it's a card we didn't change in any way in the reprint, so I suppose that says that we are happy with it. I think it fits with the deck, and maybe even the fact that it isn't likeable to all might (maybe?) be necessary?

I'd love to hear any more of your thoughts.


Hello Baba ~

Thank you for your response. I was also surprised by my intense reaction to this image, but acknowledge that it is a personal one. Images always affect us on different levels and my responses come partly from my background and current work.

The image reminds me very much of young boys who are sexually abused. I currently work in the alcohol & other drug treatment area where perhaps 90% of our clients come from some kind of background of sexual abuse – young women and men. I also worked as a counselor for some time on Gay Liberation Switchboard, and frequently listened to horrible stories from young men who had been sexually abused as children and teenagers by other men.

The components of this image that remind me of this? The figure of the young person lying prone in the reversed position evokes the vulnerability and sexual objectification that these young men spoke of. The sexual organs are enclose in some kind of binding which represents the sense of being trapped. The figure in the image is holding on to the Black Sun which also looks something like a black spider. In prisons, paedophiles are known as “rock spiders” and the black sun reminds me more of a black rock spider than a “sun”. The “door knocker” effect I’ve already spoken about.

So it is this combination of things that evoked such a powerful response of distaste from me. I have been thinking about it quite a lot since the initial discussion and in the context of my love for the Tarot of Prague and am moving from the first feelings of nausea to something different but I has been quite a process. I have never drawn the Hanged Man in a TOP reading and I wonder what my impression will be when this actually occurs.

This is a completely personal response and others may have very different experiences. It’s by no means a judgment – just a response. I love the deck overall. I guess many readers would have card in at least one deck to which they have strong personal reactions.

Many blessings ~


le pendu

Well.. I got to say, I almost didn't reply to this because of what others might think.. but what the hell.

I LOVE this image. In fact, I ordered a print of it and have it framed.

EDITED: to remove some comments that should not have been added to this thread.

When I first saw the tarot of prague, it was this card that made me fall in love with the deck. I love the vibrant oranges and golds. To me, it is a beautiful card, reminding me of Apollo or Helios! And the angelic nature of it, I picked up on that. I never even considered that it was a childish figure, or saw anything dark about it until I read this thread. I suppose I was seeing the symbols rather than the image itself, but it certainly appealed to me.

I think it is one of the most gorgous cards in an astonishingly lovely deck.


le pendu said:
Well.. I got to say, I almost didn't reply to this because of what others might think.. but what the hell.

I LOVE this image. In fact, I ordered a print of it and have it framed.

Hi Robert ~

I can see why people would like this card. I am simply, at Baba's request, giving further comment about my impressions. All art evokes different responses in people and my comments are not criticism - simply comments. I hope I conveyed this in my notes, and also that it is an initial response only :).


le pendu

Hi MoonGold,

I hope I didn't sound like I was disqualifying your opinion and sensations about the card! I certainly recognize that we all see things differently, thank heaven.

I just found your comments really intriguing as I had questioned so many aspects about this card in general, and love this image so much. It's good that we differ, it means that there is a depth to the card, it has complexity.

Perhaps I had too personal a reaction to the thread as I am deeply involved in building this card for the AT III deck and have been rather obsessed with it the past week. I apologize if I was too off topic or in any way insensitive, I respect you opinion deeply.

Cheers to you my good friend,



Dear Robert ~

Ah the power of art! My response to this image came from associations with the symbolism in the cards. It is completely my own response. perhaps coming from a little vicarious traumatization. It has been interesting revisiting some of those feelings since the initial posts and reflecting on them again, thinking about fresh perspectives.

I too love the Tarot of Prague and it says something about the power and beauty of the deck that it can affect us so profoundly. I look forward very much to seeing your card for the Aeclectic Tarot Project. :)