Although I didn’t hear the Hanged One invoked consciously, this wisdom figure hid in plain sight, worked a special magic, and invited our souls to go deep at this year’s Readers Studio, the annual gathering of the Tarot tribe organized by The Tarot School.
I’ve written before about how the Tarot’s Hanged One exults what is usually lowly – the hard working feet are closest to heaven in this upside down image – and invites our higher consciousness to be directed downward – the head as container for the mind is brought closer to earth. A surrender to a different way of being is shown in the image.
Each of the main stage presenters danced with and embodied the Hanged One, showing us an archetype come to life and modeling wisdom moving in our mundane world.
Ellen Lorenzi-Prince took to the main stage wearing a pendant made from her Dark Goddess Tarot card for the Hanged One, Tiamat, the Babylonian Goddess who reminds us: What has been lost lives in hidden places.
During the introductory interview for her session, I heard Ellen give the most wonderful definition for what the Tarot really is: A modern practice for encountering ancient stories. The Tarot from its conception to today tells stories in pictures of our perennial seekings: of love and death, tricksters and saints, the gods and the goddesses. Ellen’s latest deck, The Minoan, brings to life an ancient culture, and as I contemplate its images in serious in playful ways I am engaged in a practice that brings me the wisdom of that culture.
During her presentation Ellen brought our heads and our consciousness close to the earth as we explored the elements. We did not look at the symbols of wand, cup, sword, and pentacle, but rather imagined the actual elements of fire, water, air, and earth. Through meditations we centered ourselves in the power of the element moving from the holy place of the ace to the fulfillment of its potential. We encountered the compassion, test, invitation, challenge, and blessing of each element. There were waterfalls and tornadoes, bonfire and stone.
Ellen surrendered to the wisdom of the elemental earth.
Theresa Reed, the Tarot Lady, told us she was going to teach us How to Read Tarot Under Any Circumstances. When her technology would not cooperate she then showed us how to give a stellar presentation under any circumstances. I don’t know how she felt as people scrambled to bring up her power point and the screen behind shifted and changed, but she was calm and, even more impressive, the 200+ of us seated in the ballroom were calm. I never doubted that we would get the information that we needed.
My favorite section of her presentation was on how she brings her yoga practice into her Tarot work. Here are just a few of gems:
- Do grounding meditations before readings. Plant your feet on the floor. Breathe deeply down to your abdomen. When you exhale complete imaging a grounding cord wrapped around your waist. The cord goes into grounding earth and touches into the fiery center. With this down, Teresa told us: Know that you are grounded, centered, supported, and ready to serve.
- Mirror your clients breathing and then you can help them to align to calm breath. We did this with a partner touching knees and we felt powerfully connected. I kept doing it for my readings throughout the weekend.
- Soft gaze. Let your eyes float around the cards and let your intuition draw you to the focal point. Begin from there and keep your attention coming from the cards (not your mind or ego or needing to please your client).
Theresa surrendered to the chaos of the now and transformed it into a power that made her point about being able to work under any circumstances.
Carrie Paris began her presentation with a confession. She’d intended and even worked hard on a presentation focused around her Magpie Oracle. It would have been a very logical choice and helped her sell her “product”. But she kept being called to something else and what I experienced was a soul-centered presentation with words of inspiration, beautiful visuals, music, soul gazing, and Tarot process that worked with the Minor Arcana, little trinkets, and poetry prompt words. I can’t fully describe it – you had to be there – but the reading moved with this flow:
- SPIRIT: Get inspired.
- HEART: Feel and love.
- MIND: Listen to the knowing one inside.
- BODY: Become
Looking at the image she created for this (a snake swirled around circles with these words) awoke me to the presence of the Hanged One. Because in the Handed One the Heart is above the Head/Mind as shown here. It is not a hierarchical relationship, but rather one that directs the flow of meaning making that becomes the guide for the action of becoming.
Carrie surrendered to the call of the soul.
And then we went out from Readers Studio back into the world with its beauty – spring at last in the Northeast! – and its evils – another black man killed by police, violence in Baltimore. What does the Hanged One point us toward around the return to the world, around the reality of evil?
Evil; it’s such a strong word. The way we have used it has us thinking we can just push that which we label as evil into a dark closet. But I am realizing I learned a Hanged One definition of evil from The Woman’s Theological Center (WTC). The WTC’s mission to nurture liberation invited a different definition of evil: the heart can not express its goodness and so evil results.
The Hanged One surrenders to what is and dares to look at it fully. Then Spirit / The Greater Than / The Unity of the Divine is the guide who speaks first to the heart. Here we might let our hearts break open because of the injustice and inequity that exists and explodes from these killings and their aftermaths. We don’t have to have the answer first. We feel first. Then we can listen deeply to those most impacted, to the truth of our history, to new perspectives. We may hang out here a while so we don’t rush into patching things up.
Because we no longer want to patch things up if we have truly danced with the Hanged One, We want real change. We want Death.
We think we lose when we face Death, the card that follows the Hanged One, but what really happens is that we are transformed. This weekend I worked with Mellissae Lucia and her Oracle of Initiation, a messenger of how to create rainbows in the dark; how to turn death, your greatest pain, your loss into beauty and new life. The Oracle’s #23 is Sacrifice – Sacred Surrender, and in the companion book Coleen Renee writes of this card: A true sacrifice is an act that makes everyone and everything more sacred.
Even if we have to give something up, we can sacrifice white privilege or silence around a history of injustice. Death always claims takes something away from us and keeps it for Itself. But then we will be lighter, able to float as freely and serenely as the Hanged One.
Sacred surrender to the real, to the now, to the heart is possible. I know because I saw at Readers Studio this weekend.
[Images are from (in order of appearance): Marseille, Dark Goddess, Gaian, Shining Tribe.]
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