I had a strange 'Ah-ha' moment this time last year when I was looking through images of 9/11. I'd seen the infamous 'Falling Man' picture many times before but had never quite clicked as to why it captivated me. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: The Falling Man looked very familiar...in fact, he looked just like The Hanged Man in my Tarot deck. To add to this was also the realisation that this particular photo had more meaning to it than at first glance.
Yes the image is disturbing; yes it is shocking; yes it is sad and overwhelming to see someone forced to jump to their death or face being burned/crushed alive; and yes it is only one of a series of 12 pictures of this man. Why does it hold so much sway over us though? Any number of other jumping pictures could've been chosen to reiterate what people had to do but this picture became the iconic one. Out of a series of pictures of The Falling Man this ONE particular picture reigned supreme and was chosen to be the one that the media projected to us over and over again.
The picture of The Falling Man was taken by an Associated Press photographer by the name of Richard Drew at 9:41am on the 11th of September 2001 during the World Trade Center attacks in New York. The Falling Man was one of approximately 200 people who jumped to their death in a bid to escape fire and smoke within the World Trade Centre. The Falling Man has never been officially identified although research into his identity point to The Falling Man as being either Johnathan Briley or Norberto Hernandez. These are unconfirmed identifications. Theologian Mark D. Thompson commented that "perhaps the most powerful image of despair at the beginning of the twenty-first century is not found in art, or literature, or even popular music. It is found in a single photograph."
Now I don't believe in any conspiracy theories surrounding this picture of The Falling Man, or the photographer, but I do believe in the connections and messages that this picture holds as being told by The Universe. How this all relates to a simple pack of playing cards is fascinating and mind-boggling once you start noticing the coincidences. The Falling Man has the same pose as the Hanged Man (see pictures above): one leg bent to the knee behind the other one, the other leg dead straight, a suspended look about him, hands behind his back and if you look closely enough at the photo he also had a slight 'halo' around his head. There's no possible way that a photographer could be in the right place, at the right time, and have a man jumping to his death assume the Hanged Man position. There is nothing pre-conceived about it at all.
The Hanged Man is card number 12 in the Major Arcana in a Tarot deck and has a basic meaning of sacrifice, suspension, surrender, release and letting go. The Hanged Man will appear when one needs to let go of certain ideals or aspects of their life in order to make way for the new. When evaluating The Hanged Man/Falling Man comparisons and meanings I do so looking at the event as a whole and without basing it just on the individual, so as to avoid any notions or misconceived ideas about the individual. What I am concluding has nothing to do with the person in the picture himself but what the picture represents for America and the world.
America had always been a force to be reckoned with...or so it was portrayed to us. There had been no foreign attacks on American soil for a couple of hundred years until 9/11. 9/11 saw that indestructible façade become null and void. If we view The Falling Man as the real life version of The Hanged Man Tarot card then we get a clearer picture of the message in the card and in the picture. Remember the key words of The Hanged Man card: sacrifice, suspension, surrender, release and letting go.
Lives were sacrificed in order to re-establish America's (and consequently the Western World's) security. Airport security, airline security, Visa security, passport security, country security- all procedures in place for travel and entrance into a country have been revised and updated due to the 9/11 attacks. We made sacrifices that we hadn't made before and have sacrificed freedom in order to become more secure.
The world was in Suspense when the attacks happened. There was an eerie feeling of what to do next as we watched in horror as thousands of people lost their lives to a mere few. How vulnerable were we? What do we do next?
There was also surrender to a higher wisdom. Let's face it, America was getting cocky as the be-all and end-all of power in the world. A sense of grounding and realisation of our own immortality brought a renewed sense of community and alliances. World powers banded together to re-establish a safer life for people in the western world. We had to accept the situation and find and new path forward. There was nothing that could've been done to avoid the attacks. In hindsight our increasingly materialistic ways were heading no where. Learning from what has happened and where we were headed has helped us realise what is truly important in life.
We were very much ready to release and let go of the all mighty knowing-and-being façade and head in a new direction. There's been a shift from living in the past to moving into the future.
To add to the list of coincidences the five cards from 12-16 in the Major Arcana all relate to the 9/11 attacks and have a strong connection that binds them together. These cards typically represent problems and setbacks and how these issues may manifest themselves. They speak of re-evaluation, spiritual grappling and coming to terms with our demons.
The Hanged Man precedes the Death card in any common tarot deck and is grouped with The Tower card. You could even call The Tower card a caricature of the Twin Tower attacks as it's similarities to the events of 9/11 are uncanny: a burning tower, people falling from the tower, a greater power sitting and puppeteering above.
9/11 brought a country together. New Yorker's were no longer a part of a separate culture within America but became the people who withstood one of the worst atrocities in American history.
Love and light xxxx