The Hanged Man Speaks

The Hanged Man Speaks

by Miriam Harline

meditation/evocation

In the early evening, orange-gold light still pouring through half the sky, purple hazing the east, you walk along a country lane, two tracks of dust fine as corn meal and cool on your bare feet. The air smells sweet, of cut hay, and as you crest a hill you see before you a half-mown hayfield. Its dark stubble lies close-shorn on the earth; among the stubble conical haystacks rise regularly. Through a dent in the hills, the last rays of sun gild the remaining hay; its blond heads nod, rustling, in the breeze.

Something about the hayfield attracts you, and you cut off the road, clamber over the grey-tan split-log fence into the field, carefully pick your way through the blunt stubble. It’s only after a few moments you see, against the bright ridge of hay still standing, a dark form. A scarecrow, you think, but why, in hay? You go forward, curious. The sun lies on the horizon, molten; as you look, the last gold bit winks out. A cold breeze brushes your arm.

Walking forward, you see the scarecrow hangs from a gibbet, the form silhouetted black against the sky. A cold finger runs down your spine; someone here has a strange sense of humor. Still you go forward; you think maybe this is art.

You close on the scarecrow. At the base of its square pole, a sickle leans; the edge of the steel blade gleams violet. You look up, and you see this is no scarecrow, but a man, hanging upside-down by his left ankle, right leg bent behind left in the pose of the Hanged Man of the Tarot. You take a sharp breath in.

“Hello,” the man says. He smiles at you: it looks strange upside-down. You can’t seem to reply. “I’ve a favor to ask you.”

“What’s that?” you stammer.

“Untie me, will you?” Catching hold of the gallows pole, the man climbs up hand over hand till he can grab the rope from which he hangs, curls himself in a ball. “I’m ready.”

His rope is rough hemp three fingers thick, tied low on the pole, knot big as a fist. You think, I’ll never get anywhere with this; still, feeling his gaze on you, you begin picking at the knot with your nails. Just when you begin to despair, the first loop loosens; bit by bit, you manage to untie the knot.

The last loop falls. Landing with a thump, the man quickly frees his ankle, rubbed raw by the rope. He jumps up brushing his hands, extends one to you. “Many thanks.”

So athletic was his pole-climbing and leap up you can’t help wondering why he didn’t untie himself. “It’s a geas, a rule, that somebody has to untie me. I can’t do it myself. Now I owe you a favor.” As he stands before you, you notice his strange clothing, a kind of jumpsuit quilted all of diamonds of blue, yellow and red. “Where were you going just now?” he asks.

“I was taking a walk.”

“Mind if I walk with you?” You shake your head, and presently you walk together down the lane’s two dust tracks.

The lane cups the hayfield in a long curve, then veers to the left, where girdled by a split-log fence a wood rises. On either side of the fence-break where the path enters, sentinel tree-trunks stand; beyond, shadows fall black and green.

The wood gives you pause, but the hanged man walks right in, and you follow him. The air in the wood is noticeably cooler; it smells of leaf-mold. Great trunks of trees loom to either side; in the undergrowth creepers tangle saplings.

“Hot day today, wasn’t it?” the hanged man asks conversationally.

“Yes.”

“But autumn’s coming, nonetheless.” He smiles a little. “Autumn’s always coming.”

“I guess that’s true.”

“At autumn comes harvest.” You nod, looking over at him; is he going somewhere with this peculiar conversation?

Just then the track you’re following comes to a crossroads. The crossing path runs perpendicular to yours and is just as wide, its dirt the same dark grey. “Which way do you want to go?” the hanged man asks.

You frown at him. “I don’t know. I was just taking a walk.”

He stares back, a smile quirking the corner of his mouth. “Turn left, why don’t you? You seem like you need some luck.”

You stare at him. Can you trust him to steer you? What does he mean by luck? What are you doing with him in this dark wood? His smile broadens a little; you feel that he can hear what you’re thinking, and that he’s laughing at you.

Turning on your foot, you do as he says. His and your footfalls pad quietly in the leaf-mold together; branches whisper as you brush by. The wood grows darker, shadow collecting in the underbrush and at the bases of the trees. A crow caws behind you.

Fear rises in you. You don’t want to be lost in this forest at night. But just as the fear tightens, you see on the path paler light ahead.

You emerge from the wood into countryside, hazy blue with dusk. Your new track borders a hayfield; you see it’s the same field, the uncut side. “Come,” the hanged man says, and you both climb the fence into the field.

You brush through hay taller than your head. Dry stalks crush below your feet, releasing perfume; seeds fall into your hair and clothes; your movement makes a sound like water. The hanged man walks ahead of you, the colors of his suit almost lost in dusk.

Then you break through the last unmown hay into stubble, dark and damp now with dew. The sickle still leans against the gallows-post, a shadow against a shadow; you touch the gnarled wooden handle worn smooth with use.

“I’ve a favor to ask you,” the hanged man says. “Tie me up again.”

You stare at him in blue near-darkness. You sense he is smiling.

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the daily humorscopes for sunday, may 20

the daily humorscopes

 Sunday, May 20, 2012

 
Aries (March 21 – April 19)
Excellent day to play the William Tell Overture really loud, and leap around flailing your arms. Try not to knock over the lamp.
Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
You will hear a strange flapping sound today. Glancing outside, you will see a precision drill team marching by wearing scuba flippers and waving feather dusters. Avoid eye contact. Stay indoors.
Gemini (May 21 – June 20)
Excellent day to get involved in one or more conspiracies. If you can hold secret meetings in darkened rooms, so much the better!
Cancer (June 21 – July 22)
Everyone you know will wear unmatched socks, today. Actually, it’s stranger than you think — they’ll all members of a pagan cult, and this is Sock Swap Day.
Leo (July 23 – August 22)
Beware of Doug.
Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
Late in the day today you will notice that people seem to be staring at your nose. Don’t worry. It’s probably nothing.
Libra (September 23 – October 22)
You will get a postcard from the Forbidden City today, containing some very unsettling news. You won’t realize that, of course, since it will be written in a language you don’t understand.
Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)
You need to stop accepting responsibility for your own life. Everything is actually the fault of that darned liberal media, you know. You’d be nearly perfect, or at least much thinner, if it wasn’t for them.
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
Don’t lose hope! Conditions like yours are painful and embarrassing, but often clear up on their own.
Capricorn (December 22 – January 20)
You need to be a bit more brusque, to cut down on your interruptions. Stay just this side of gruff, however – and make sure you don’t stray into crustiness.
Aquarius (January 21 – February 18)
A friend will ask you to give her a ride to Main street. You’ll forget where you’re going, though, and drive her to Distraction.
Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
You will attempt to single-handedly bring the “Spaghetti Western” back from obscurity. Your first film will be “A Fistful of Noodles”, in which an aging Clint Eastwood rides into town. This time, however, he will resolve the differences between the Baxters and the Rojos by inviting them all over for a nice pasta dinner.

the daily humorscopes for friday, september 9th

the daily humorscope 

Friday, September 09, 2011

 
 
Aries (March 21 – April 19)
This will be “one of those days”, I’m afraid. The person next to you on the bus will have taken one of those nitroglycerin capsules for his heart condition, and will be bending over to pick up a newspaper, just as the bus hits a big pothole…
Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
Your obsession with Lapsang Souchong tea takes a turn for the worse, today, as you begin secretly soaking your undergarments in it. Professional help is indicated.
Gemini (May 21 – June 20)
A very short and hairy person will bother you today. Unfortunately, you will be unable to ignore them, try though you might.
Cancer (June 21 – July 22)
You will have a rather unfortunate episode involving turnips, today. Later, however, you’ll be able to write a killer song about it.
Leo (July 23 – August 22)
Your requests are being ignored. Often you can get people to pay attention by simply adding a few words to the end of your request, such as “Pick up your socks, dear, or die screaming.”
Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
Unknown to you, people think you are a wimp – just because of your weak handshake. You need to get one of those hand exercisers, and use it constantly for a few months. Then, crush their little hands into pulp!
Libra (September 23 – October 22)
Good day to make a nice pot of gruel. Isn’t it strange, how difficult it is these days to find gruel on the menu at restaurants? Perhaps you should start your own restaurant (e.g. The Gruel Pot) to rectify that situation.
Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)
You will receive a “Dear John” letter from a loved one today, but much to your relief, your name isn’t “John”.
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
Bad juju today. Stay well clear of West African carved figurines.
Capricorn (December 22 – January 20)
Good day to bring home a bag or two of live bugs.
Aquarius (January 21 – February 18)
Excellent time for you to reconsider your choice of employment. Are you working towards a specific goal, or are you merely drifting? Are you temperamentally suited to your current career? Remember: money isn’t everything. It could well be that you’d be much happier in a job where you could dress up as a giant chicken. In fact, in your case, that’s virtually certain.
Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
You will attempt to single-handedly bring the “Spaghetti Western” back from obscurity. Your first film will be “A Fistful of Noodles”, in which an aging Clint Eastwood rides into town. This time, however, he will resolve the differences between the Baxters and the Rojos by inviting them all over for a nice pasta dinner.

the daily humorscopes for wednesday, june 22

the daily humorscope

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Aries (March 21 – April 19)
You will be on your way downtown today, when you will be struck by an odd thought. Fortunately it will bounce harmlessly off you.
Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
Your ACME Rocket Sled arrives today!
Gemini (May 21 – June 20)
You will be afire with enthusiasm today! Unfortunately, someone will put you out.
Cancer (June 21 – July 22)
It’s ok to spill the wine today, if you feel you really have to. Under no circumstance should you dig that girl, however.
Leo (July 23 – August 22)
You will lurk, today. There’s nothing that wrong with lurking, after all, and it’s occasionally somewhat refreshing. In fact, you’ll soon begin work on How To Lurk, a best-selling self-help book on the topic.
Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
Good day to make a call from a pay-phone in a busy place, and say (in a loud voice) “You dumped the body WHERE?.”
Libra (September 23 – October 22)
You will be traumatized by an episode with a stapler, today. You will be unable to even look at a stapler for several weeks, without trembling.
Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)
The mythic asteroid Chaeron, in collaboration with the uneasy spirit of Atahualpa (the last Inca king), will act to produce a gastric upset of epic proportions, today. Keep your chakras clear, and carry some Imodium.
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
Late in the day today you will notice that people seem to be staring at your nose. Don’t worry, though. It’s probably nothing.
Capricorn (December 22 – January 20)
You will get a new job, soon, in which your most important activity will be to periodically “jiggle a little thingy”. While it will pay well, this will prove to be somewhat awkward to explain at parties. Eventually you will hit on the ploy of saying you sell insurance
Aquarius (January 21 – February 18)
It is a joyous time to vaccuum. Yes, you’ll have more fun than you can stand, pushing that new vac around. So what, if other people don’t understand? Unfortunately, an evil asian gentleman named “Fu” will kidnap your beloved vaccuum cleaner, a few years from now, and you will be faced with an ethical dilemma. Enjoy life while you still can, is my advice.
Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
You will attempt to single-handedly bring the “Spaghetti Western” back from obscurity. Your first film will be “A Fistful of Noodles”, in which an aging Clint Eastwood rides into town. This time, however, he will resolve the differences between the Baxters and the Rojos by inviting them all over for a nice pasta dinner.