The Hanged Man

Genevieve Barbee-Turner

hanged man

Traditionally The Hanged Man is a visionary in a trance like state. He is ethereal, other worldly, and mystical. I'm sure there was something amusing I could have crafted to convey this idea but honestly that's not what came to me when I researched this card.

Instead I thought about how addiction is rife with ritual and extracts us from one plane of existence to somewhere else. Addictive thinking sneaks in and shrinks the lives it touches one encounter at a time. At first using is a relief from whatever we need escaping from. It's relaxing or creatively energizing or socially lubricating. Then it becomes the only method to relax, create, or socialize. Then everything else melts away and it's just the only thing.  

When I was at my worst, I felt like my spirit was on autopilot and the distance between my brain and my body was greater than the Grand Canyon. The things I could accomplish while being blackout drunk were horrifyingly many and every morning left pointless. I needed to escape my thoughts and feelings but it was the escape that was killing me. It didn't matter how many times I would wake up with bruises in an unfamiliar place with a wiped memory and a thirst for "the hair of the dog"—I just hurt all the time and couldn't escape the cycle.

Mine is a single installment in a long legacy of addiction. Whether it's booze, the crack epidemic, or the uptick in heroin overdoses the fallout destroys lives and entire communities.

My Hanged Man is literally stuck between one world and the other, unable to extract himself from what's killing him. He is alone. While there's no easy answer to this problem there is a simple one: a support system helps people get better. Communities that treat addicts as the ill people they are instead of social pariahs are healthier communities. Addicts have to meet people halfway by wanting to get better.

Positive aspects of this card: A change in perspective, recognizing powerlessness
Negative aspects: Lost and out of touch, unable to find footing, floundering, stuck between worlds

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