For a time I worked in a hospital to give pastoral care to the patients. I visited people who had said that were from a church when they checked in. I visited them, but I did so without them asking me to come. I was part of the service from the hospital. Doing that, while I was not asked to come always a step to take. I never knew beforehand if they appreciated my coming. After that job I began to study for my Ph.D. I remember how I loved opening a book without having to ask if it wanted to be opened. Funny enough, when the book was open the theme of permission stared me right in the face again because I studied a philosopher for whom the act of interpretation is always a violation of the text (Jacques Derrida).
All this went through my head when I looked at the Hanged Man. So, the first thing I was thinking is that the deck is helpless against my interpretation.
There is more, a second facet of the decks' personality that is relevant. Last week, when I could not sleep, I read a post on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum by Riccardo Minnetti, someone who works at the deck publisher Lo Scarabeo. People on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum were wondering why there was not an accompanying book with the Gay Tarot. One of the reasons there was not, Riccardo Minnetti said in his post, was because they did not know what the deck really was about on the date of publishing. One of their question about books with decks was: “should we do a book when a deck is created or later, once we "know" about the deck”. In other words, what the deck is, what it entails, its life and spirit, comes later than the date of publishing. It comes through the readings that are done with it; through the use of the deck. What does this have to do with The Hanged Man that I have drawn as a relevant facet of its personality? One of the notions of the Hanged Man is that he sacrifices himself, for something greater than himself. If you imagine that the deck is the Hanged Man, than the deck sacrifices itself, or something of itself. It looses itself, by offering itself to my eyes. The deck does that in order that I can give a meaning to it, an interpretation of its card. By the sacrifice of the deck, we can get to “know” the deck, that is the greater good of the sacrifice. That way it gets a life.
This card is in a certain sense a continuation of the card I pulled for position two, which showed the special attributes of the deck. I pulled the King of Wands for these attributes. On this card I saw the deck as the lute-player immersed in his music, leaning backwards And I saw myself as the King of Wands, who listens intense to the music the deck makes. The Hanged Man goes a step further. He is not only immersed in his music or in himself, he is rendering himself to me.
To come to a conclusion. What is a relevant facet of the personality of the deck? What I saw first is the helplessness of the deck, helpless against my interpretation of it. A second facet -but not unrelated to the first- is the deck’s sacrifice of itself, in order for me to read it.
Ah well, all this is more about interpretation in general, and not specifically an answer for a relevant facet of the personality of this deck, although I must say (to my defense) that Karen Mahony emphasizes the characteristic of sacrifice in her essay about the Hanged Man. Besides that, during this spread the issue of hermeneutics was at the forefront of my readings. I started reading with the Victorian Romantic Tarot because I was bored and confused by the Inner Child Cards, on which a Page is depicted on a butterfly in such a way that he is more a Knight than a Page.