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A Tarot reading for ugly ducklings everywhere

October 26, 2014

Many years ago I wrote a series of imaginary readings for well-known historical figures and fictional characters which I called “KnightHawk’s Tarot Readings.” This collection of readings, which you can find in my book, Tarot Reading Explained, is like a Tarot advice column, as if Dear Abby had used Tarot readings. Each of the readings was performed as though I was doing it for someone sitting across the table from me. After carefully considering a question that the person in mind might ask, I shuffled the deck and dealt the cards into the layout I had chosen. Then I read the cards as they came up.

The readings were intended to be both educational and entertaining (after all, the most valuable learning experiences are the ones we enjoy), but they became more than that. Fictional though they were, these readings often revealed insights that can be valuable for all of us. Recently I recalled one of the readings I did—the one for the Ugly Duckling—and I considered how appropriate its message is for so many of us. As I noted in my comments for this reading:

Ironically, it is common to have been uncommon in our childhood. This is because while there are only a few ways to conform to the social norms, the eccentric paths of individualism are infinitely varied. Later in life we may find our way, especially when we go out into the world and discover other people with whom we share a common bond, but in our youth we are stuck in the strange environment into which fate has thrust us.

This can be especially true for those of us who eventually found our way to alternative interests such as the Tarot, so I decided to reprint this reading here for you, my readers, along with the explanation and discussion of it that also appears in Tarot Reading Explained. I hope you enjoy it and also find some valuable personal truth here.

 

Duckling Ridiculed by Peers

 

Dear KnightHawk,
Why does everyone laugh at me and pick on me? I may not be as adorable as my brothers and sisters, but I can’t help what I look like or who I am. What can I do?
Humbly yours,
An Ugly Duckling

*   *   *   *   *

Dear Duckling,

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to read for you. I am sorry to hear that you are having such difficulties. It doesn’t seem fair does it? I’ve done the following reading to help you understand your situation better and see how best to deal with it.

  1. The foundation or background of your situation:
    The Star
  2. What you need to know or do about your problem:
    King of Cups
  3. What may help you:
    Seven of Wands reversed

Tarot of the Masters Star, King of Cups, and Seven Wands Reversed

The Star is a card of hope, and it is a beautiful card with which to start your reading. It shows one large, brightly shining star in the heavens surrounded by seven smaller, lesser stars. I see you as that lovely star. You are different, but this card promises a brighter future when your differences will be seen as something splendid.

The King of Cups advises you to learn to control your emotions. Although you may need to be wary of others around you, take care that you do not succumb to fear or anger. This card also urges tolerance of others, even when they are not tolerant of you, and reminds you not to sink to their level. Try to ride above the turmoil of derision in which you find yourself.

The reversed Seven of Wands suggests that maybe you are being too defensive, and that it may help to try to be less so. Others may call you ugly names, but is it worth fighting about? This may not be an issue you need to take a stand on. Remember the promise of the Star card and let their taunts just roll off your back. But if they become too physically abusive, you may want to yield your ground and retreat for a while. Then later, when you are in a better position, you can come back and confront them if you like.

Again, thanks for asking me to do this reading for you. I hope it helps.

Best of luck to you,
KnightHawk
.

Comments

I have always had a special fondness for this charming folk tale. I believe that it is such a popular and endearing story because so many of us have grown up feeling different and alienated, just like this duckling who turned out to be a swan. Ironically, it is common to have been uncommon in our childhood. This is because while there are only a few ways to conform to the social norms, the eccentric paths of individualism are infinitely varied. Later in life we may find our way, especially when we go out into the world and discover other people with whom we share a common bond, but in our youth we are stuck in the strange environment into which fate has thrust us.

Besides physical differences—the metaphor that illustrates the theme of this tale—children and adolescents may be ridiculed or ostracized by their peers for being intellectual, shy, awkward, gay, introspective, sensitive, or empathic; or for having unconventional beliefs, attitudes, or interests. But whatever our differences may be, we all hope to become swans once we leave the nest. I know I did, and so I was anxious to do a reading for this unfortunate duckling and thus, in a way, for myself.

You can imagine my joy, then, when one of my favorite cards, the Star, was the first card to turn up in this spread. This card of hope is a wonderful sign for any ugly duckling. That large, bright star high in the sky is different from the other stars, but rather than being out of place, despicable, or ridiculous, it is unique, beautiful, and exalted. What a perfect way for each of us to see ourselves. In fact, I have a friend who created a personal mantra of “I am a shining star.” She even framed this affirmation, written in silver letters set against a starry background, and hung it in a place of honor in her home. Indeed, this is an excellent affirmation to use with this card.

Next there was the King of Cups. I see both the King and Queen of Cups as indicating emotional mastery, but the differences between the two, although subtle, are important. One way of considering kings is to think of them as dealing with issues of control and as coping with the world (including society) around us. The queens, on the other hand, tend to deal with issues of support, understanding, and personal relationships. So the King of Cups can signify being in control of our emotions (in this case, fear and anger), especially in the midst of emotional turmoil.

This card also can be about dealing with other people in a diplomatic way. Thus, in this reading, the King of Cups advises “tolerance of others, even when they are not tolerant of you.” This is a warning against falling into an all-too easy trap. In emotionally charged situations such as the one in which the Ugly Duckling found itself, it is tempting to reflect back the hate we get from other people—to exclaim, “They are the ones who are wrong!”—but doing so plunges us into a dark side of the King of Cups, that of angry prejudice.

Lastly, the Seven of Wands often indicates taking a stand and defending your position, but reversed, I saw it as both a reduction and a delay of this message. The reversal of this card indicated a diminishment of its typical meaning in that it advised not being so defensive and even suggested retreating from this conflict. It also indicated delay in its message: “Then later, when you are in a better position, you can come back and confront them if you like.” At the very least, a reversal can be a questioning of the typical message of a card, and in this case, I asked, “Others may call you ugly names, but is it worth fighting about?” Asking questions like this can be effective in working with a reversed card.

Note that the message of this last card (“you may want to yield your ground and retreat for a while”) works very well with what happened near the end of the story of the Ugly Duckling. The young bird, not yet a beautiful swan, flew off to be alone until finally, full-grown, it chanced to see its own reflection in a pond and realized its own beauty for the first time. And so I see a message in this reading for all of us. Perhaps at some point we all need to make a journey of self-discovery with hope in our hearts (the Star) and with malice toward none (King of Cups), forgetting about our self-defensive struggles (reversed Seven of Wands) so that we can just look inside ourselves and find the beautiful swan that we all have within.

Post Script: You can find many more readings like this, along with commentaries on them, in my book, Tarot Reading Explained.  And there is also a Celtic Cross reading for Anna Leonowens (the heroine of Anna and the King of Siam and the musical The King and I), which concludes with a shockingly literal final card in position 10!  Also, there are many sample readings in my book about Spreads, Tarot Spreads–Get the Whole Story.

 

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5 Comments
  1. As always, I am blown away–like a refreshing breeze blowing through my sometimes cramped and crowded mind–by your wisdom, skill, and compassion.

    Love and Light,
    Elinor

  2. Aw, so cute. Really expresses the sweetness the cards and the reader can give when one feels vulnerable.

  3. I am beginning to teach a beginner’s Tarot course this week, and I am including Tarot Tells the Tale as one of the books that helped me the most when I began trying to understand the Tarot. It’s a great book, and you use your usual sensitivity to explain sometimes difficult situations we often find ourselves in.

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