What is Beautiful?

by Jay R. Rivera, author of Beautiful Creatures Tarot (1st and 2nd Edition) with illustrator Jasmine Becket-Griffith.

The more often we see the things around us — even the beautiful and wonderful things — the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds — even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.

~ Joseph B. Wirthlin

All my life. I’ve been fascinated by the outlandish simply because there is a rare beauty that many miss or play the blind eye. This was the primary reason I decided that I wanted to use these big-eyed and big-headed characters for my award-winning Beautiful Creatures Tarot, and the journey was unforgettable. The spirit of my Grandmother Benilde told me once, “our eyes not only serve as a window to our soul, but if you look closely, you can catch a glimpse of someone’s inner beauty, and when you do, you will know what they are like on the inside. Beauty is only skin deep, remember that.” And that was something that stayed engraved in my mind for years to come, which is why I personally like to look into a person’s eyes; to me, it’s like a swimming pool and underneath is a box — I dive in, swim as fast as I can, retrieve the box, bring it to shore, open and see what I will uncover.

Will I open Pandora’s box or will it be Captain Kidd’s lost treasure box?

This is what ignites my curiosity when I meet people for the first time: what beauty will I discover from them? What’s going to be my first reaction? The exterior doesn’t really matter since it can be enhanced, but the interior can never change, no matter how much they try.

The Creation of Beautiful Creatures Tarot

After getting permission from Mrs. Becket-Griffith to use 80 images from her immense portfolio, I played ‘casting director’ for each of the Creatures to accommodate this tarot deck. One thing I promised myself was to not only look for cute, friendly, or nice but also strange, melancholic, and unusual. Because in reality, beauty is not only found in visually pretty things but in ugly as well. Like all organic things, such as animals, when it’s alive and vibrant we think it’s so gorgeous, but even when it dies and begins to decay and petrify, its beauty and existence have just been amplified through this change of being.

Back to playing casting director. I must have gone through hundreds of images to find the perfect (or near-perfect) Creatures to make up the 80 cards. Some I retained for a few days or even weeks, but then discarded them because another one that I discovered seemed much better suited to the deck, then yet even that one was tossed aside as well, with the initial image that was discarded was brought back as a possibility. The story seemed never-ending.

It was a crazy web that I could not escape, but after settling at last upon my 80 Creatures, I untangled myself from the web.

Now came the BIGGER part, creating a story about them. I wondered, what did they want to say to the multitudes of people who would see them? I did not want to leave them voiceless. They needed to have a backstory, so I listened to each and wrote them down; I listened and they spoke, that’s where the quotes were created. And how did I create their backstory? By gazing into their big, beautiful eyes (*wink, wink*).

Beauties in the Past and Now

Two starlets epitomize my personal view of the irrelevance of emphasizing physical beauty: Bridgette took the right road and aged gracefully, like a butterfly that can no longer flutter, refusing to give into needles, the endless and redundant cosmetic surgeries, simply to preserve her physical beauty to please her mass audience. Kim, on the other hand, took the other road and gave into the peer pressure of what “beautiful” should look like, and sadly it backfired on her. Now, she has to live with that constant reminder of what Hollywood did to her whenever she looks in the mirror.

The bottom line: It doesn’t matter what we physically look like now or in 20 years. When our time is up here on planet earth, we’re taking how we look into the ground with us, to decay and feed the insects. Why do we bother altering what Mother Nature, the foundational creatrix herself, crafted to be our physical vessels? 

How to Work with Your Inner Beauty

The secret ingredient to being and staying everlastingly beautiful is to boost your self-esteem and self-confidence; without those, your outlook on your true beauty will forever be shadowed. Here is a small five-card spread I designed which you can mediate on when you are feeling down and have negative thought about your image:

  1. This card represents who you are on the inside.
  2. This card represents how you see yourself on the outside.
  3. This card uncovers why your view of your own inner beauty is being clouded.
  4. This card reveals what you need to do in order to bring your beauty into the light.
  5. The final card shows the benefit you will earn when you see how beautiful you truly are.

Never forget to stay strong, and stay Beautiful.

About the Author:

Jay R Rivera

Educator, Language Interpreter, Author, and Tarot Reader with more than 15 years of experience, Jay R. Rivera made his first revelation as an author with the Beautiful Creatures Tarot for which he wrote the companion book and collaborated with famous illustrator, Jasmine Becket-Griffith. Living in Texas, Jay R. developed a passion for tarot cards at the tender age of 13 and has never looked back. Bilingual in English and Spanish, as well as speaking French, he has used his language skills to discuss and read tarot cards for a large number of clients from around the world. In the future, Jay. R plans to create and author many more tarot and oracle decks.

To see more of his work and to connect–
www.jayrrivera.weebly.com and www.facebook.com/jayrrivera15551