Monday 17th June 2019: (12) Hanged Man

The reading for today in The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman is on point for today’s arcana of the (12) Hanged Man. The hanged man is suspended in time between two poles in the Morgan Greer rendering of the arcana, or from a tau cross that is made of living wood in the Rider Waite tarot deck. In the daily reading for today the writers contemplate the following lesson from this quotation on “fortune” by Seneca:

Fortune doesn’t have the long reach we suppose, she can only lay siege to those who hold her tight. So, let’s step back from her as much as possible.

Seneca, Moral Letters, 82. 5b-6, quoted by Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman in The Daily Stoic, p. 183

Here is the lesson they draw from Seneca:

Not only is he saying that the more you struggle with fortune, the more vulnerable you are to it, but he’s also saying that the better path to security is in the “impregnable wall” of philosophy. “Philosophy,” he says, helps us tame the “mad frenzy of our greed and tamps down the fury of our fears.”


The Hanged Man abandons the struggle with fortune that he may have been engaged in hitherto, as in the arcana of the (10) Wheel of Fortune or of the (6) Lovers for example, and in doing so he turns his own world upside down, learning to see things in the new perspective of philosophical contemplation. He is in touch with the “living sap” of the tree of life (in the Rider Waite version) and his peaceful countenance suggests that he has found enlightenment through passive contemplation.

Personal Application

If you are feeling dissatisfied with your situation, especially in comparison with that of others, take a step back and consider things from a more philosophical perspective. Read some Seneca, or even Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy to discover how to adopt a truer perspective on Lady Fortune.

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