The Hanged Man
Hello Everyone! Sorry it has been so long! but here we go :) a well thought out and planned long winded and informative blog! Before we begin, it's time for an awfully personal story ;). Just had a very interesting conversation with my mom about how I'm battling some confusion with my spirituality. I believe in signs, destiny and manifestation with visual aid. I also believe in spirits but choose not to allow a lot of them into my environment anymore, however I do not identify with a system of beliefs and sometimes that worries me. I also don't receive very distinct messages from my environment these days. Am I not digging deep enough? Her answer to this was that a man once picked her out of a crowd at a seminar and told her she was a mystic. She replied, does that mean that I'm a psychic? and he said no, that means that your a person who gains your spiritual power from within yourself, not from churches or social interaction. She suggested that she had always thought this was the same with me....I have to agree and it's a jumping off point for additional contemplation. I have always thought that who we are is comprised of 3 parts: 1/3 who we were born as, 1/3 our environment and 1/3 the decisions we make. Because of this, regardless of the level of commitment we all give to spiritualism each day, I feel that tarot can be helpful to us when it comes to leading our decisions and teachings we achieve in our life on earth. :) I'll start with worshipping being here, being ourselves and thanking our ancestors and fate for making decisions that led to our birth! My artwork and tarot deck worships the resilience of mankind.
okay! Moving right along, our topic this fine day is the Hanged Man. Although I have always simply interpreted this card, regardless of the deck, as meaning a loss of footing in a good way sometimes, being as my tarot deck is Dark Americana themed....I had to go with someone that was hanged. At first I thought, maybe a cowboy outlaw hanging? I ended up choosing Lewis Payne. In this blog we're going to discuss a little American history, the traditional history of the card and how it strangely ended up playing a big role in my final decision for a theme.
The conspirator, the traitor
When I was a teenager, I found this photo of a man somewhere, who knows a movie? a book? but it stuck with me big time as an incredibly creepy and powerful image. Well when I was a teenager looking things up on the internet wasn't as accessible as it is now and I just kind of let it fall to the wayside and never knew who he was.
Later in life I ran across it and a caption online that said his name was Lewis Payne (Powell) a lesser known Lincoln Assassination Conspirator that was executed by hanging, however he hung for 8 minutes before expiring just because of the strength of his neck. A dark story and a dark picture. This photo was taken right before his execution.
I wanted to use it as artwork for the Hanged Man but my main conflict was, what does this have to do with the meaning of the Hanged Man Card? Sure I'm artistically inspired and it works literally but what does it have to do with letting go of control?
When I began looking at the dark theme of someone hanging by their neck for the hanged man, a form of death that has a lot of history in the United States as well as Europe. I was considering changing the theme until I began to do a little homework on the Italian Tarot, developed in Northern Italy in the 15th Century.
I got chills up my spine when I read: The Hanged Man or sometimes known as Il Tradatore, The Traitor because a common punishment for Traitors at the time in Italy was to hang them by their toes, a painful and humiliating punishment.
I also remembered reading somewhere that Venice especially at that time, was very paranoid about "Traitors!"
Although it STILL doesn't correlate with my definition of the meaning it felt so ironic to have already chosen Lewis Payne, a traitor, that I had to continue with it as him. History repeats itself and is ALWAYS relevant, in my opinion.
Finding the right Face
Now keep in mind, that I don't look for someone with the EXACT face as my subject or character. I look at facial proportions and feature shapes more than anything, to see if they will "fit" into the existing drawing. While I was working on my drawing of Lewis Payne at my PT job at a rock club, which btw is where I finished A LOT of my work for the tarot deck lol because my bosses are awesome. NOT getting into trouble for drawing, is a super blessing in my life. If I had a dollar for every time I got into trouble for drawing at school or work in my life I could retire!!...anyway! I was drawing Lewis Payne and thinking man where am I going to find someone to model for the photography portion of this piece?? He's a hard face to match! and up strolls Jacob B, not only a rare thing these days for me to just run into him but literally moments after I asked myself this question. Thank you fates! He was perfect! Here is a photo we took for the piece. You''ll see how I have his face at the exact same expression and angle (in the wrong direction hahaha! but I just flip flopped it when I started working on it. mistakes happen!) as well as the lighting design meant to emulate the illustration and photo I drew it from. Taking the textured and photo portions of these pieces is not as simple as a snap shot :) He fit with the piece when I was in the final stages of putting it together perfectly! Yay fates for your assistance in making everything come together! :) and this is not the first and only time this happened while creating my deck. I had a lot of help, I could sense it :) oh and of course thanks Jacob....Jacob and fates. :)
Although the meaning of this card has changed over the years, there continues to be a positive and negative way to approach the predicament of hanging upside down without a safety net. Upright this card refers to the sacrifice and surrender of control. Accept that surrendering to the things you cannot change can sometimes be very liberating. Reversed this card represents confusion and a false calling. When you're hanging upside down, it's hard to see the big picture. Instead of being baffled by your loss of footing, try to let go and flow with the winds of change.
And with that I'm going to go surrender myself to the winds of change in the weather! and get in that sun before it disappears again!....Northwest problems ;)
Here's a music video that has some interesting imagery associated with hanging ;)