The Trump Cards of the Tarot describe the Fool’s journey throughout his lifecycle, (the Fool is the first trump card numbered zero) and since we are the Fool, the Trumps describe our journey, both individually and collectively. They tell us where we are in our lifecycle, what we need to do to move forward, and what we can expect down the road. The Tarot has been handed down at least since the fifteenth century, and possibly since ancient times, so they reflect wisdom we can use at this unprecedented time in human history.
2012 is the year of the Hanged Man, the 12th of the great Trumps that teaches us to let go of control and surrender to our situation. Suspended upside down by his ankle, the Hanged Man has nowhere to go but inward. Appearing meditative rather than panicked, he tells you to take stock of your situation. Instead of quick action to escape the pain and chaos, it”s time to back off on control and reflect on how you got yourself in this situation. If you resist and hold tight, you will suffer.
The message is the same for humanity as for the individual. In 2012, the Hanged Man shows our species hanging in the balance. As the climate heats up, the seas rise, and storms become larger and more destructive, the Hanged Man teaches that the way to surf this phase of our journey is not to fight it and especially not to deny it. We must instead turn inward and surrender to it. In the Crowley Hanged Man, his brains seemed to have dumbed their contents. He’s no longer thinking in the old ways, but is steeping in the way things are for his situation calls for a new paradigm. Says the late scholar Theodore Roszak, “Hanged Man cracks the shell of our selfhood, opening the way to rebirth, but not before the hulk of our old identity has been discarded.”
We first learned about the Greenhouse Effect 40 years ago. Not only was our planet warming, but a widely distributed M.I.T. study showed that the unprecedented economic growth we”d been enjoying worldwide since the Industrial Revolution would come to a screaming halt around 2010. In response, concerned citizens launched the first Earth Day. Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House. A series of best-selling books about the warming planet swept through the media. But we were not willing to surrender to the truth of our situation. First we collectively denied it was happening. Then the word Greenhouse Effect disappeared entirely from our vernacular. Many who agreed with the scientists have become mired in anger and political infighting.
The Hanged Man tells us that denial and control only makes the situation more painful. He calls us to look inward to ourselves for the cause of our situation, then surrender to it”s inevitability and ride the inevitable wave of change. Just so, a sustainable living moving has arisen in the world. Eco philosopher Joanna Macy, not wasting energy with anger or denial, calls joyfully on us to awaken to the new world at hand and prepare for what she calls The Great Turning. In Tarot terms, all life is cyclical, and if we accept where we are on the wheel, we can surf rather than stumble down the path before us.
Like the Hanged Man, humanity in 2012 can go nowhere but inward. As my family sat without power during Hurricane Sandy, with no Internet to lose ourselves in nor land lines to chatter our minds, and fearful to squander what power was left on our cell phones, there was nothing to do but be in the situation. I awoke to how far from sustainable my life is. Driving a Prius, drying my wash in the sun, and recycling the garbage barely scratches the surface of sustainable. Nearly everything we do is dependent upon fossil fuel.
Says Macy,”The most remarkable feature of this historical moment on Earth is not that we are on the way to destroying the world — we’ve actually been on the way for quite a while. It is that we are beginning to wake up, as from a millennia-long sleep, to a whole new relationship to our world, to ourselves, and each other.” She has listened to the Hanged Man’s message. We best do the same.