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Or THE TREE in this case is about letting go. The Tree is the twelfth card of the Major Arcana and is a reminder of other important dozens, twelve months of the year, etc.

What I See:

Yoga anyone? I see grace and serenity. I get a sense of balance amongst upheaval. The leaves are yellow, the end of the season, or cycle. I get the sense it is time to let go of old ideas, beliefs, teachings, or memories. There is a dream-like quality to the image with the fluffy white clouds on her outfit. Yet the tilting water could mean emotional upset. It’s almost like she knows she must let go, is trying to give control to a higher power, but is emotionally attached. A very compelling image and I’m sure I’m missing details.

Light (upright) Reading:

The ego’s notion of being in control is an illusion.

  • Keywords: New Perspective, Selflessness, Flexibility, and Serenity.

Shadow (upside down or reverse) Reading:

The ego refuses to surrender.

  • Keywords: Guilty Conscience, Denial, Martyrdom, and Punishment.


According to Kenner, the card has been called ‘the traitor’ from the practice of hanging traitors upside down. Perhaps a retailing of Judas or Mussolini? Or even a good ol’ fashioned hanging/hangman’s noose. How about a person frozen in time? An alternate reality? An out-of-body experience?

You could focus on the number twelve. The twelve apostles. The twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve signs of the zodiac. Or even the twelve months of the year. Perhaps, your story only has twelve chapters? How about the fact the legs look like the number four — you could explore the stability of the Emperor/Builder despite the topsy-turvy world.

  • Themes: Surrender, Letting go of Control, Release, A new Perspective, Suspension, Sacrifice, or Reversal.


Perhaps we are right-side up in an upside-down world.

  • Archetype: Sacrifice, Victim, or Martyr.

Sacrifice [the true mark of a Hero] is the Hero’s willingness to give up something of value, perhaps even his/her own life, on behalf of an ideal or a group. ~The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler

  • Mythical Figures: Odin, Osiris, Adonis, Prometheus, Christ, and Judas.

The personality enneagram, a nine-pointed array of personality types, might also be a useful reference for character building.

The Hanged Man is E3: Performer, Producer, and/or Achiever

  • Self Image — I am successful
  • Passion — Deceit
  • Virtue — Truthfulness
  • Narcissistic Trap — Efficiency
  • Avoids — Failure
  • Speaking Style — Wooing or Inspiring

E3 people are relationship oriented. They are concerned with what others think of them, image and prestige. They see themselves as being for others and often believe they know what’s best. They dislike being alone and may feel sad or inadequate.

Additionally, look up one of the Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) for personality traits.

The simple act of writing makes ideas become real; it gives them physical existence. ~Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner

Image: Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert from Llewellyn Worldwide