Double loop in the Zodiac

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ם The Hanged Man
Enforced sacrifice, punishment, loss, fatal or voluntary, suffering, defeat, failure, death.


The Hanged Man

The Spirit of the Mighty Waters

Example, instruction, public teaching.

Symbol, a man hanging by one foot, with his hands bound behind his back, so that his body makes a triangle, apex downwards, and his legs a cross above the triangle. The gallows is in the form of a Hebrew TAU, and the two uprights are trees, from each of which six branches have been lopped. We have explained already this symbol of sacrifice and the finished work.

(The Tarot symbol which corresponds to this chapter was misconstrued by Court de Gebelin and Etteilla, who regarded it as the blunder of a German cardmaker. It represents a man with his hands bound behind him, having two bags of money attached to the armpits, and suspended by one foot from a gibbet formed by the trunks of two trees, each with the stumps of six lopped branches, and by a crosspiece, thus completing the figure of the Hebrew TAU . The legs of the victim are crossed, while his head and elbows form a triangle. Now, the triangle surmounted by a cross signifies in alchemy the end and perfection of the Great Work, a meaning which is identical with that of the letter TAU, the last of the sacred alphabet. This Hanged Man is, consequently, the adept, bound by his engagements and spiritualized, that is, having his feet turned towards heaven. He is also the antique Prometheus, expiating by everlasting torture the penalty of his glorious theft. Vulgarly, he is the traitor Judas, and his punishment is a menace to betrayers of the Great Arcanum. Finally, for Kabalistic Jews, the Hanged Man, who corresponds to their twelfth dogma, that of the promised Messiah, is a protestation against the Saviour acknowledged by Christians, and they seem to say unto Him still: How canst Thou save others, since Thou couldst not save Thyself? -- Vol. I, Ch. XII.)

(The twelfth Key represents a man hanging by one foot from a gibbet composed of three trees or posts, forming the Hebrew letter m; the man's arms and head constitute a triangle, and his entire hiero-glyphical shape is that of a reversed triangle surmounted by a cross, an alchemical symbol known to all adepts and representing the accomplishment of the Great Work. -- Vol. II, Ch. XII.)