The main entry in the PKT begins: 

   "The gallows from which he is suspended forms a Tau cross, while
the figure- from the position of the legs- forms a fylfot cross."

    The Tau cross is important because of its relation to the
double cube. The fylfot cross is an alchemical representation of the
completed work.

"There is a nimbus about the head of the seeming martyr. It should be
noted (I) that the tree of sacrifice is living wood, with leaves

    It should also be noted that Waite says specifically that it
is a tree of sacrifice.
    In the poem "How One Offered Incense" in "A Book of Mystery and
Vision", Brentano's, 1902, Waite uses the same elements in a similar
setting. Here is the holy sacrifice on the cubic altar as a prelude to
mystical experience. He even includes the nimbus...

          "At a fitting hour the hills forsake
          For the edge of the woodland cover and brake.
          Over the clearing high and far
          You shall see only a single star;
          Stand in the dubious light convoked
          Trees like mystae muffled and cloak'd;
          And lone in the midst of the lonely glade
          To the cubical stone which no hand has made,
          Shalt thou in the border twilight bring-
          If thou hast the gift of soul to bear
          A glimpse of the secrets of earth and air-
          As an outward sign of the heart's desire,
          Thy little parcel of sacred fire
          And an incense pot for an offering.

          May one who has offer'd his incense tell
          Of something which follows this kind of spell?
          Say that the smoke will rise and spread,
          Making a nimbus round one's head,
          And glade and bush through the vaporous mist
          Take shapes uncertain which writhe and twist
          The sky looks marshlike, the star is dim,
          And the air, which haply is moist and damp,
          Seems to cling close and just to swim;
          The coal glows dull like a dying lamp,
          And the moss-grown altar-stone unbidden
          Passing into the cloud is hidden.
          A change comes over the face of things,
          And twixt the sense of a soul alone

          And the subtle hint of invisible wings,
          Tense expectation thrills and swings;
          Till suddenly welling and surging round,
          Down from the welkin and up from the ground,
          From common motion and sight and sound
          Isolated and terribly free,
          The sense of a thing which is all unknown
          Shapes in a moment and freezes thee."

    Continuing in the PKT:
    "(2) that the face expresses deep entrancement, not suffering; (3)
that the figure, as a whole, suggests life in suspension, but life and
not death."

    "seeming martyr", "entrancement, not suffering", "life, not 
death". The Hanged Man is one happy guy, he just *looks* like he's in
the middle of a bad place.

    "It is a card of profound significance, but all the significance
is veiled. One of his editors suggests that Eliphas Levi did not know
the meaning, which is unquestionable- nor did the editor himself. It
has been called falsely a card of martyrdom, a card of prudence, a
card of the Great Work, a card of duty; but we may exhaust all
published interpretations and find only vanity. I will say very simply
on my own part that it expresses the relation, in one of its aspects,
between the Divine and the Universe.
    "He who can understand that the story of his higher nature is
imbedded in this symbolism will receive intimations concerning a great
awakening that is possible, and will know that after the sacred
Mystery of Death there is a glorious Mystery of Resurrection."

    So the symbol describes the relation between the divine and the
universe and the story of man's higher nature in mystical death and


    From "The New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry", the article "Cross

    "The Calvary Cross folds up as a double cube, and that cube can
open only as a cross. In the science of the mystics an eloquent
symbolism arises out of this fact, and it is not without analogies in
Masonry, though I am not intending to press them, because things which
belong to one another in different schools of thought must not he
confused with one another on the basis of their spiritual affinity.
The altar of every Christian Temple is in the form of a double cube
laid sidewise, and this would open as a cross resting horizontally on
the ground, being the position of the Calvary Cross- according to
tradition- when Christ was nailed thereon. The Holy Sacrifice of the
Mass offered on the Altar is a memorial of this Divine Event. On such
an Altar does the soul of every man in responding to the call of God
offer up itself in sacrifice. But the Altar under another aspect
represents the universe, and the sacred things which ought always to
be laid within it signify the Divine Immanence in creation. When the
cubical altar of the universe opens as a cosmic cross God immanent
becomes God manifest. In the sense of the microcosm the double cube is
the body of man, having a divine nature hidden within it. The opening
of this cube is the passage of latent into active and manifest
divinity by the crucifixion of the evil within us. Every Masonic
Temple when properly arranged is in the form of an oblong square
which is laid sidewise. We know that it represents the universe, and
the sacred work which takes place therein corresponds to Divine
Activity in the cosmos. Such a cube is symbolical also of the Craft
Grades, and it opens in the High Christian Grades as the Cross of


	A section of Waite's introduction to A.E. Thierens' "The
General Book of Tarot" (I have also seen this book as "Astrology &
the Tarot") provides additional insight to the macro/microcosm
relationship and the figure on the card itself:

    "The human figure of the symbol is suspended head downward and as
such is comparable to to the Microprosopus or God of Reflections in
the so-called Great Symbol or Double Triangle of Solomon, prefixed by
Levi to this 'Dogma et Rituel de la Haute Magie', being the
frontispiece of the first volume. It follows that the true symbol
belonging to Trump Major No. XII, though it is by no means that of
Levi, is not a Hanged Man after all; but it will continue to be
depicted in this manner unless and until the Greater Arcana are issued
by the authority of another Secret Circle, which so far has never
testified officially concerning itself in the outer channels or

Levi's symbol- 77k
Levi's symbol- 1.2m
    This graphic is scanned from "Transcendental Magic", Redway, 1896. 

    Waite also says in the same introduction, "Meanwhile, Dr.
Thierens has approximated more than anyone else towards a valid
interpretation of the Tarot Trump Major No. XII, being the Hanged
Man." Dr. Thierens' Hanged Man entry:

XII. The Hanged Man. Pices.
    The twelfth sign of house, closing the cycle of the zodiac,
means loss to the outer world, solution, handing over the results of
one cycle to the following one, whence comes the meaning of treachery
in common astrology. This house contains the things which we have not
yet mastered and those whom we have failed to understand or who have
failed to understand us. So either this remains for the next cycle, or
it will tempt us to waste our last forces. In the eyes of the world it
is the sign of waste, spoil, mishap. Viewed from the other side it is
the sign of the 'Golem', in which the outer world loses its importance
or even reality, and the concsiousness is opened to inner truth. This
is the reversing of consciousness, which makes things change their
significance in such a way that they appear to turn upside down: the
world is now viewed from the other side. And this is the significance
of the 'hanged man'.
    It is also the sign of Judas, who, as far as the outer world
is able to judge, did not understand the significance of Jesus and
handed Him over to His enemies, the most mysterious of the disciples
and apparently the fiend within the circle. What, however, is his
treason or despair when viewed from the other side? It is an act of
'perversion,' the result of human nature being too weak to carry on in
this world the heavy load of spiritual revelation; or even a mystic
message, which till now has never been understood and will never be
understood by the profane world. However this may be, we may feel
pretty sure, that none of the others who remained in this world to
preach the Gospel understood or, let us say rather, underwent the
Message like Judas, who hanged himself.
    Well may W. [Waite] say: "It is a card of profound
significance, but all the significance is veiled."  Perhaps we might
even add: it is the symbol of the veil itself and of everything that
is and remains veiled in this world, and, in divination, to the
querent, ad hoc.
    P. [Papus] tries to identify the Hanged Man with the Hebrew
letter 'Lamed' which "designates the arm" ... but fails utterly in his
effort to explain this. We should say, if this identification be true,
it may be because of the power to embrace and to execute. The arms
'hang', when not 'rasied'. We shall not try to exdplain it any further
    The man is shown hanging in a sling on one foot. Astrology
teaches that the feet are ruled by the sign of Pices. The crossing of
the legs is a symbol of 'crossing' in general.


    Waite describes the real world process in "Lamps of Western
Mysicism" p. 263:

    "We may also with the same [meditative, AG] object, make use of
the great mystic formula: "For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the
Glory, world without end," beginning with the verbal utterance and
then doing it in "a more and more interior way," till the words are
lost and the conception only remains. The mind becomes that
conception, which is, so to speak, "the only ripple moving on the
waters of the mind." The turning of the will is aided in this manner,
and the will turns the personality towards any mode of the external
and creates the higher attachment. It must be remembered always that
this manner of conversion is a sacrificial, holy, religious act, not
only for consecrating and transmuting things without in environment
but for those which are of our own personality. It is good on occasion
to look on it from this point of view, by making our gift upon the
mystic altar of the heart, which is dedicated in this manner to God.
It is indispensable that the offering should be complete by intention,
and it is so made first by an act of will, but afterwards by a zeal of
desire. If it is made sincerely, the act passes into life and when it
so passes, the transmutation of life has begun. When we experience the
first sense of its tincture, the power of ordinary temptation will
diminish and the experience of this kind of conversion will move from
more to more. It is part of the Mystery of Conformity."

    For Waite, the original "turning of the will" is the Magician, but
the turning executed out of the "zeal of desire" is the Hanged Man. As
St. Paul put it in Gal. 6:14, "But may it never be that I should
boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the
world has been crucified to me, and I to the world".


    In "The Secret Tradition in Freemasonry", p. 561ff, while
discussing "the immanence of the Divine in the Universe":
    These things are signified in the Secret Tradition by the Symbol
of a Cube, which represents the universe of created things; and this
cube encloses, ex hypothesi, the Divine Word that operated in the
externalising universe. Now, the use of this term intimates that the work
may be one of eternal going on, and that as there is no assignable limit
in space so there is none in respect of time. It follows that God is
immanent in creation, that He is concealed in the abyss of material
things- a Latens Deitas in Nature as there is a Latens Deitas in the
    Certain HIGH GRADE Masons will be reminded here that in one of the
DEGREES of Chivalry the Verbum Secretum is shewn to the Candidate in a
Cube. When the Verbum Secretum manifests as Verbum caro factum, the
]Cube opens out and presents the only other figure which is possible
to its geometrical dimensions: that figure is a Cross- the sign of 
manifestation, as well as a sign of Sacrifice. Therefore it was
inevitable that the Word made flesh should be exalted on a Cross, or
crucified. When so uplifted it is said, as we have seen otherwise,
that the Word draws all things after it; but whereunto does it draw
them? The answer is given by St Paul: into that place or state where
their life is hid with Christ in God. We can put it differently by
describing the third stage of the same Symbol. When Christ said
Consummatum est and gave up the ghost, His body was taken down from
the Cross, and the Divine manifestation dissolved back into the Divine
immanence. His Resurrection thereafter was not to the world but to the
Holy Assembly. It is known also that in being drawn after and
following Christ the Soul of man is taken inward and bears its Divine
part, like Plotinus, to the Divine in its own Universe. The state of
being thus hidden with Christ in God is the state of Union with the
Divine Immanence. St Paul says also: I live, yet not I, but Christ
liveth in me. It is as if the Word made flesh becomes the Word made
Soul in the abyss of our humanity. The Microcosm has become after the
manner of the Macrocosm and, even as the Cube of the Symbolism, it
embraces all things by a catholic figure, and contains God Who is
within by the intimate imminanence of a close indwelling. In another
fashion of Symbolism, this state is termed the Marriage of the Lamb.
Now, the institution of such an analogy carries with it the identical
intimation which I have shadowed forth already in respect of the
external universe. The marriage-work of this Divine indwelling is one
of eternal going on, and seeing, as I have suggested already, that
there is no dividing-line be~veen Immanence and Transcendence, it
follows that the Soul of Plotinus does in fine bear the Divine within
it through the deep abysses to the Centre. And then Christ gives up
the kingdom of the Soul to the Father of the Soul; and God is all in
    It follows also, and is taught in the Secret Tradition, that Man
is, in another sense, like a Mystical Cube wherein the Word is
immanent, and that there is a way by which it is awakened, so that the
Word is uttered through the channel of the High Priest and the
Christ-Life is manifested."


    R. A. Gilbert, in "Hermetic Papers of A. E. Waite", includes an
article entitled "On Ceremonial Union", which is an official document
of the Independent and Rectified Rite (1906 to 1911). From that essay:
	"From considerations of of the mystic life, or that which is
called the Path; from the attempts to express in a language, which
shall be common to us all, our understanding of the term of our
research and whatsoever is involved therein; it is desirable on
certain occasions; and I have chosen this as one- to look at a diverse
aspect of things within the Order, and to dwell upon other kinds of
duty which belong in a particular manner to the life of Tiphareth.
When I speak of other kinds of duty, you must know that I am
postulating some duty in chief which is imposed above all and before
all by the Grade of Adeptus Minor. Some of us have passed that Grade
in the official sense, and in symbolism are no longer on the cross of
Tiphareth, but in one of the deeper and further states. They know that
those behind them can be told only- that in this life we never leave
Tiphareth, but continue to explore it further."

	Just a few sentences further on:
	"We also, who remain in Tiphareth as I have said, are still
upon the Cross of Sacrifice, though in symbolism we may have risen
with Christ, and in the Grade of Adeptus Exemplus, some of you may
come to know that there are greater crucifixions than those of
Cavalry, because there is the Cross of Glory, and because the Lamb is
slain from the foundation of the world.
	"Well, Fratres et Sorores, the first and highest duty of the
Adeptus Minor is that implied by his Obligation; the offering up of
his life in sacrifice 'on the mystical Cross of the Adepts for the
divine and declared in the heart and soul'; the leading of the
purified life in Tiphareth; the aspiration after consciousness in the
spirit; the following of the rule of Tiphareth, which is that of
'crucifixion in Christ' and finally that 'neither death nor life'
shall seperate any of us henceforth from 'the love and the service of