Key 12 The Hanged Man. The keyword for the Hanged Man is reversal. The corresponding symbol means oasis, sea, or water. According to the alchemists, water was the basis of all life, the fluid substance that solidified into physical forms. This substance which emanates from the stars and suns, is called astral fluid. The Hanged Man symbolizes the first water of the divine power.
Water was the first mirror in which the reflection always appears upside down. The significance of this card is that things are not as they appear on the surface. You must look beneath the surface for true understanding.
The man is suspended by his foot, like a pendulum at rest. His crossed legs form a figure 4, indicative of key 4, Reason. His elbows and head form a triangle with the point down which is an ancient symbol for water.
The Hanged Man represents a person who is poised in consciousness and under perfect control. He is conscious of the one Power everywhere, yet centered in himself . He sees the trouble in the world-people unhappy in marriage, in trouble financially and lost because they have no goals-and he knows it is because they all see things upside down. Yet they look at him and think that he is the one who is crazy. The Hanged Man's philosophy sets him apart from the crowd and, at the same time, brings him peace of mind and perfect contentment. Perhaps the world should examine his views. The ideal is to grow out of materialism by transmuting animal passion to human compassion. The twelfth step sees a man reversed, hanging upside down by his foot. The law of reversal is the keynote here, reversal from living egocentrically to giving selfless service to others.