The 9/11 Falling Man In The Tarot

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The Falling Man - Richard Drew - AP

The Falling Man - Richard Drew - AP

When I asked a friend to check out my blog post before publishing it, she was aghast I’d write about this awful photograph.  She had not seen this photo before and was shocked by it, 10 years after it was originally taken.  It speaks to the power of this awful picture of the Falling Man.

Photographer Richard Drew of Associated Press took this iconic photograph during 9/11 of a man falling to his death from the World Trade Center. A story about the event is below:

Photographer behind 9/11 “Falling Man” retraces steps, recalls “unknown soldier”

Mr. Drew took many photos of people falling to their death on 9/11, and there were a number of photos of this particular unknown individual tumbling down the World Trade Center.  But this one specific photo, by chance, stood out from all the others.  What makes this image special?

It is filled with unintentional symbolism.  The photo defines existentialism.  A man is plunging head first toward death, seconds away, frozen in time.  He exists, only briefly, between life and death.  He is positioned between the dark and light lines of the World Trade Center, suggesting this state of existence.  Caught in events outside of his control, he is doomed.  Yet he still has control over one aspect of his existence.  He cannot avoid death, but he can choose how he will die.  His diving stance suggests free will still exists even in the face of oblivion.

The photo also suggests God does not exist.  The Falling Man is cast down beside the giant, impersonal face of the tower.  It hints we are alone, only specks in a vast, uncaring universe.  All we have is our free will and even that is meaningless.  It is an image of existential despair.

The Falling Man, the Hanged Man, The Lightning Struck Tower

The Falling Man, the Hanged Man, The Lightning Struck Tower

When I saw this photo I was reminded of cards from the tarot.  Compare the Falling Man with the tarot’s Hanged Man.  The Falling Man with his crossed legs and arms to his side suggests the Hanged Man.  Even the names are similar.  The Hanged Man is suspended between twin pillars (towers?).  The tarot image is framed by the pillars, inside a square, like in the image of the Falling Man.  The two are so similar it feels like synchronicity.

lightning-struck-towerThere is also a tarot card called the Lightning Struck Tower.  In this card a force from the heavens hits a tower, like jets striking the Twin Towers.  Circles in the air are debris flung into the sky as people fall from the tower.  This card has its own Falling Men.

Coincidence?  Synchronicity?  Or the power of symbolism.  With so many photos, why did this one Falling Man photograph strike a chord and become an icon of 9/11?  It possesses an innate symbolism.  The Jungian collective unconscious works in mysterious ways. And it repeats itself.

Or whoever created the tarot hundreds of years ago planned 9/11.  That would be mother-of-all conspiracy theories.

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, let us have hope for the future.

Below is an interesting documentary concerning the tragic Falling Man.

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8 Responses to “The 9/11 Falling Man In The Tarot”

  1. oracle Says:

    Who is the hanged man? What did he do? His feet are uppermost and his head is directed earthwards. This means that his best elements serve the earth, his attention is paid to the earth (Sadhu, 2004). What Sacrifice. The unity of life is the basic truth of every existence. Liberation. He must know that every unworthy deed outside his own home will be painfully reflected within it.

    The Tarot: A Contemporary Course of the Quintessence of Hermetic Occultism says regarding 16 and the downfall and regeneration of humanity. By carefully analyzing the aim of your operation, you will know which protection you will need. Earth remind us of our freedom. Great read highly recommend, warmly!

  2. David Says:

    Hi Oracle,

    The tarot has many levels of interpretation, which makes the tarot so fascinating. I interpret the Hanged Man like you: Pillars surround the Hanged Man to his sides and above, the ground below, forming a square. He resides suspended inside a square. The square shape is a recognized symbol for matter, the 4 corners of earth. He is hanged/trapped in the physical world, his head pointed toward the earth. His direction is pointed towards materialism. We could say he is trapped by his materialism. I suggest the card is speaking to a state of existence with too great an attachment to the physical world. The Hanged Man is spiritually dormant…waiting…

    On the surface the photo of the Falling Man suggests God does not exist. However, our reaction to this image, our feelings of grief and compassion, suggest the opposite. Our reaction to this photo is its true meaning. A photograph is only atoms: physicality. As observers, we are more then that. A message the Hanged Man still needs to learn. If the Hanged Man is about a materialistic view of life, there is a whole deck of other cards surrounding suggesting otherwise. A tarot card, or a photograph, does not exist alone.

    Dave

  3. Lucia Says:

    this is soo touching. pour people. i was only 2 when this happened x

  4. Adam Says:

    I personally think that the man decided that jumping to his death would be better than burning or being crushed. I also believe that anyone who thinks the event is a sign or represents something deeper is a crazed loon.

  5. David Says:

    Hi Adam,
    If I were faced with the same choice, I’d jump too. What a terrible choice to make.
    Dave

  6. JUANITA Says:

    THAT WAS A HORRIBLE DAY NOT ONLYFOR NEW YORKERS BUT THE US AND THE ENTIRE WORLD. BUT I MUST ADMIT TOO MANY TRAGEDIES HAPPEN IN NY AND I MYSELF AM GETTING PRETTY SICK AND TIRED OF LIVING HERE AND PLAN TO MOVE SOON. A MONTH AGO WE WENT THROUGH THE HORRIBLE SUPER STORM CAT I SANDY THAT CAUSED TOO MUCH DEVASTATION AND TREMENDOUS TRAGEDY FOLLOWED, THEN WE HAD A NOR’EASTER RIGHT AFTER, AND THEN WE HAD OUR FIRST SNOW FALL 2 DAYS AGO AND IT’S NOT EVEN DECEMBER YET. AT TIMES I THINK WE’RE NEAR THE END OF THIS WORLD CAUSE IT’S JUST TOO DAMNED CRAZY.

  7. Jennifer Says:

    I’m sorry but why does this suggest that GOd does not exist???

  8. David Says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    The imagery suggests there is no God, but that is only the impression. There are times when it appears God is silent, and 911 was one such time. The silence of God is a mystery. I have no answer for it.
    Dave

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