Sarah La Rosa

The Hanged One

Sarah La Rosa
The Hanged One


For you- the one to whom these words are meant-  may you feel enfolded in a safe embrace, accepted, loved for who you truly are. 
You are not becoming someone new in a way that disregards and discards what came before this moment- 
you are peeling away the layers that keep you from your most vibrant truth, your most shining Self.

Last night, I looked up at the growing moon and night sky. A small bat dove and swirled, feeding on the bugs flying above my head. She moved so quickly- a tiny nocturnal dragon moving so fluidly in a pattern that was labyrinthine.

I felt the brush of spirit- she was sent to me as messenger.

Yesterday morning as I cleaned and watered plants and aired out our home, I thought briefly how funny it would be to awaken one morning after leaving the door to our front porch open to the night breeze, only to discover a bat hanging from the doorway. 

I remember the bats doing just that in the old house in Georgia when I was a little girl. Mom and dad having to trap the poor things to release them outdoors, and the few who either died in the process, or the ones we found dead already, still hanging like harbingers of the underworld on our way to breakfast in the morning.

I was fascinated by them. Always. 

They were a part of some primitive consciousness inside me. I longed to cuddle them and kiss their faces, wings and tiny claws as they fluttered through our home terrorizing us all with their wild flight, frantic for escape.

One such incident left me with a feeling of electricity- a buzzing that moved and surged through my entire body in the span of a second, leaving me vibrating and breathless. The bat had flown right past my face, so close I felt the air pushed against my cheek and eyes. 

In that exquisite Time-Out-Of-Time, I knew that bat was coming for me. It terrified and exhilarated me all at once.

My father hated them. He told us they were disease-infested flying rodents to be exterminated from our home. In the old, run-down Victorian house we lived in, they would fly in through our ancient non-functioning chimney, confused that their brick 'cave' opened into a domestic scene they were ill-suited to tolerate. 

As a child, I understood their feelings exactly. Bats are one of those images and memories from childhood forever burned into my psyche. 

Ted Andrews writes about the Hanged One in tarot decks in relation to bat medicine... hanging upside down in sleep and restfulness... death and rebirth, change and transformation, initiation and moving through the labyrinth of the inner self for the shaman sacrifice at the center. 

All this in order to re-emerge from that sacred spiral renewed and reborn.

Sister Bat comes to me as the Hanged One. 

Inanna on the meat hook, even... dying to that old self, the wounded child whose wildness was seen as defiance; godless rebellion to a father's overbearing and abusive rule. 

My true Self was an unruly wild child who longed to kiss bat faces.

She yearned after crow and bear and owl rather than dolls and anorexic looking Barbies.

My bangs frizzed and I wore all the wrong clothes. I was a loser nerd in school. I felt ungainly, indelicate, and un-pretty.

I was also the 7 year old sneak who devoured an entire plate of cookies while my mother visited with a girlfriend at the front door. I was starved for a meaningful belonging, and too full of a false sense of self, both truths held in my body at the same time.

I was wild. In my heart, I was a wild thing.

Truthfully, I resisted domestication as long as possible, but inevitably the flow of admonishment worked like erosion against my tender soul and I gave way. Words about 'being an example' to my siblings, helping my exhausted mother, honoring my father's god-given authority...

I finally surrendered at some point along the way, and well before womanhood.

Then we moved away to a different house, and there were no more bats hanging from the doorways.

✦ ✦ ✦

These strange angels come to me when I am in need of reminding- who I am, what I am called to and meant for, the truth about myself and the lies I sometimes believe instead. 

The bats returned to me one warm night in June 2003, as I lay snuggled in my love's arms, kissing his lips- in the throes of new love. 

That wild flier circled above our heads heralding a new chapter in my life- a return to the wild, something I could not imagine at that time.  

Other transitions lie ahead- initiations into deeper understanding of what it means to reclaim the Wild Woman, to unearth what has long been buried; to move past She Who Survives to the lush lands of She Who Thrives. 

As the Hanged One swings in the air above the ground that awaits her, she holds the paradox of death and rebirth, pain and pleasure, the child and the woman contained in the same body. 

As I look into her face, she does not appear concerned that she is viewing the world upside-down. 

Her reality is touched with the grace of a unique sight- that what has come before is only a breath of air and we are being prepared for mighty winds.