As I mentioned in my earlier post, this painting combines the imagery from several randomly drawn tarot cards from the Thoth tarot deck to create a new visual representation, or “answer”. In this case it was The Hanged Man, Queen of Wands, and 2 of Disks: Change, among some other cards from various decks to guide the color scheme; the three main cards being the thematic focus. I also borrowed some symbols from Buddhist traditions to accentuate certain things.
Although I want viewers to draw their own conclusions, I do have some of my own thoughts as far as how I interpret the image. When I drew the cards, I simply asked to create a good image, not for an answer to any specific question. But the eternal holographic nature of archetypes allows the image to serve as a message or lesson all the same.
The giant Leopard is of course the Queen of Wands’ pet! He serves as a mascot for all that the Queen represents. Being the personification of the waters of fire, the Queen represents passion, change, love, creation, and independence, all in a turbulent and precarious balance. In the Rider-Waite deck, her pet is a black cat, the symbol of the occult. Here, he is a dangerous jungle predator, fierce, dominant, and passionate, capable of great endurance. At the same time he is relaxed, jovial even. He bears the wings of Horus behind his head as his Queen does, the caduceus being another symbol of the Wand.
Coming out of the mouth of the leopard is a snake, which represents not only the 2 of Disks “Change”, but also makes a cameo in the Hanged Man card. He is also a jungle predator, one that can come out of no where and quickly engulf you. He is the bridge between the forces of nature and the world of humans. He is wrapped around the man’s leg (his means of forward movement), and has bitten his genitals (his power and will). He has no end (tail), and so is eternally born from the mouth of the wild. His patterning mimics the Leopard’s spots, and he is both tool and voice of the Leopard.
I have strong ties to The Hanged Man card, as my birthday is represented by it. I often get “hung up” on trivial things, or procrastinate on important tasks– really, the list could go on and on… The Hanged Man swings on a single pivotal moment, stretched into infinity. It is a “silent” card, where no action is being taken. The Hanged Man is free to dwell on his suffering. But here, he is caught up in greater forces that have their own plan.
Now, does this get the man where he wants to go? Not really!
Sure, he could go along for the ride, be swept away by passions and emotions, be consumed by fate, but then where would he be? Probably lost.
You may notice in the Hanged Man’s hand is an Ankh, the Egyptian symbol of Life. The Thoth tarot card depicts the man hanging from an Ankh, making it a symbol of Death as well. He grasps to this symbol by the base, as opposed to the way Egyptian deities carry it by the loop at the top. This is to suggest a clinging to the material world. His other hand forms a “banishing” mudra: he wants to destroy these elemental forces that are carrying him away and destroying him. He is much more comfortable in his natural state of suspense!
The keys lie in the symbols that the Leopard is holding. In his left hand is a Trident, or Trishula, which can represent various trinities. In Hindu mythology, when Shiva uses the trishula, it is said to destroy the three worlds: the physical world, the world of the forefathers and the world of the mind. The three worlds are supposed to be destroyed by Shiva into a single non-dual plane of existence, that is bliss alone. In his right hand is another spiritual weapon, the Vajra, which symbolizes both the properties of a diamond (indestructibility) and a thunderbolt (irresistible force). In the Rigveda, Indra uses the Vajra to slay the asura Vritra, who took the form of a serpent and kept the waters of the world captive.
So, the only way for the Hanged Man to overcome his paralyzing fear is to unite his physical, mental, and ancestral/spiritual worlds, and let things flow. He must not resist change, but he also must take decisive action to set his course. He must break from the habit of ruminating and being a “sitting duck” for fate to use him as its plaything. The Leopard of Wands does not care, he marches on to his own beat. The snake of change can only cling to and consume him. The Hanged Man, by uniting himself with power and wisdom, must free himself through his own efforts.
Edit 9/29/17: changed title to lead with Queen of Wands, because I thought I might be getting a lot of irrelevant traffic.
Edit 5/24/18: Oh hey, I barely wrote anything for this article originally! Did some work to flesh out some ideas.