Placement: The Negligible Arcana

Description: This card depicts The Little Red Hen from the Russian folktale, discussing her baking plans with three of her farmyard friends. These three friends may include a dog, a cat, a mouse, a cow, a pig, a lion, a scarecrow, a tin woodsman, a newly sentient tractor suffering from the existential crisis of “Why was I made?” or a duck.

Right side up:

The Queen of Chickens can be summarized by, not coincidentally, The Little Red Hen. For the purpose of this Terrible Tarot post, I will use the animals illustrated in the featured image above.

Once upon a time, a Little Red Hen lived on a farm with a Pig, a Cat and a Field Mouse. One day she found some wheat on the ground, too much for her to eat in one sitting.

Turning to her friends, she asked “Who will help me plant this wheat so that we may have bread?”

“Not I,” said the Pig.

“Not I,” said the Cat.

“Not I,” said the Field Mouse.

“Then I will plant it myself,” said the Little Red Hen, and she did.

At the end of the season, the wheat grew tall and ready.

“Who will help me harvest the wheat and take it to the mill?” said the Little Red Hen.

“Not I,” said the Pig.

“Not I,” said the Cat.

“Not I,” said the Field Mouse.

“Then I will harvest it myself,” said the Little Red Hen, and she did.

The miller turned the wheat into flour and the Little Red Hen returned to the farm.

“Who will help me bake the bread?” said the Little Red Hen.

“Not I,” said the Pig.

“Not I,” said the Cat.

“Not I,” said the Field Mouse.

“Then I will bake the bread myself,” said the Little Red Hen, and she did.

She mixed the flour with salt and yeast and water and let it rise and then popped all the loaves into the oven. Soon the bread was done.

The Little Red Hen was tempted to ask “Who will help me eat the bread?” to tease her friends and then eat the bread herself. After all, they did not help her plant or harvest or bake. However, her stomach was only the size of any chicken stomach and there were many loaves to eat. She looked to her friends. The Pig had only trotters at the end of his limbs. He could do many things but he physically could not plant or harvest or bake. The Cat was a carnivore and bread was useless to him. The Field Mouse had only ever eaten raw grain before and possibly considered bread a waste of time.

The Little Red Hen spoke with her friends about what to do with the bread. They came to the following solution: She shared some bread with the Pig, who vowed to give her some truffles the next time he dug any from the ground. She also sold some bread to the bakery department at their local Safeway and used the money to procure tins of tuna for the Cat. Without pressuring the Field Mouse, she offered some of the bread. He found it delicious and asked if she would teach him how to bake it for next time. The Little Red Hen wasted no bread and filled up her stomach until she was full. Everyone on the farm was happy, especially the farmer, who ate a fat chicken dinner that Sunday.

Upside down:

The Queen of Chickens reversed includes most of the above folktale but for the final paragraph.

Instead of finding solutions beneficial to all, the Pig interrupted the Little Red Hen, saying “What a nasty bit of poultry. She will henpeck you with her pointy beak and scratch you with her talons. And just look at her puffed-out feathers! We have no idea how little she really is. I will take this bread because I am a winner and a good eater. Cat, if you let me eat all the bread then this makes you a winner too and you too will be full, vicariously. There are Field Mice here on this farm! Cat, you have not been allowed to pounce on these Field Mice. Is that fair?”

And the Cat, excited, meowed “NO!”

“Then you shall pounce on all the mice,” said the Pig, “and I shall build a mouse-proof fence around this farm to keep the rest out!”

Then he saw that because she had wings, the Little Red Hen only had only two legs.

With a smug grin, he led the Cat in chanting “Four legs good! Two legs bad! Four legs good! Two legs bad!”

He also promised to lock the well-meaning Little Red Hen into a chicken coop for good.

The Pig had his fill of bread and let the rest grow stale and moldy while the Cat received nothing and the few surviving Field Mice called for aid from other farms and pretty soon the barn was burnt to the ground.

The Little Red Head slapped her forehead with the palm of her wing, for she could no longer even, and she waited and watched for more grain.

Classic Queen of Chickens deaths:

For once, gentle readers, I will refrain from including this list in today’s post. It is December 2, 2016. Unless you have been living under a rock, a delusion, or are reading this post before anything else after only minutes ago stepping out of a time machine from the distant past, you already have ideas as to what the contents of this list might entail. Terrible Tarot is often a warning of imminent doom (thus the name) but it is not, I hope, redundant.