Beautiful Creatures Tarot | J R Rivera & Jasmine Becket-Griffith

Published by Alison Cross on

Let’s just get something sorted, right away: If you like large liquid eyes and cupid’s-bow mouths, you are going to love this deck.  If you don’t, well, loving it is going to be a big ask. Think ‘The Crying Boy’ painting meets Crowley πŸ™‚

Published by Schiffer, the author of this deck is J R Rivera and the artist is Jasmine Becket-Griffith.

So let’s look at the size of these cards.

They are quite chunky in the hand – I couldn’t fit four of them abreast on the scanner (just under 13cm tall and under 9cm wide).

They come in a really lovely quality Schiffer presentation box along with the 151-page accompanying book.

All the cards – including the Majors – are in the same darkly kitsch style that you see here in the Court Arcana.

Let’s look at the Fires court cards first of all.  All the cards are renamed : The Fires’ ranks are Nymph, Archer, Ram and Lion.  If you are familiar with astrological associations in tarot, you will know that the Archer, Ram and Lion are descriptors for Sagittarius, Aries and Leo, AKA the Fire Signs.  This motif continues through all the courts and each suit’s court cards helpfully contains its astrological glyph.  For example, you can see in the Fires courts above the arm tattoos and the blue ‘brand’ on the haunch of the Archer.

The Nymphs (aka Pages) are regarded in the same vein as the Rider Waite Smith – they are the purest elements of the suits and aren’t accorded an astrological sign.   
A comment made about the standard Rank hierarchy in Tarot is that the King sits at the top with the Queen second in command, as it were.  In The Beautiful Creatures Tarot this is not the case.  There are only TWO recognisably male figures – on The Lovers and the 2 of Waters (which takes its inspiration from the Wedding of the Arnolfinis).

Remember: the sex of the character in the courts of ANY deck does not prevent their energies from being applied to other sexes. And neither does the colour of the characters in the cards limit them to one particular ethnicity πŸ™‚

In the book by Rivera, each card is depicted as a full page B&W illustration, with a page devoted to interpreting the card in question.  Each card has an opening statement of selfhood.  For example, the Virgin of Earths says: ‘I have analyzed that going forward will help you cross the finish line.’

Her Keyword, Endurance, is provided followed by a paragraph description of what you can see in the card.  Rivera then outlines the traditional tarot archetype of the card and what she might mean if she pertains to a situation.

The Minor Arcana are fully illustrated, but they are not RWS clones by any means – if you deborder the cards, you might struggle to know which image represents which card.

The cardback design lends itself to reversals and Rivera includes reversed insights in the accompanying book.

Many of the Majors are renamed, but none so differently as you wouldn’t know from the title who it was.  For example, The Swinging One, is clearly this deck’s version of The Hanged Man and shows a Fragonard-inspired girl on a swing… Death is Transformation…. The Tower becomes The Unexpected.

Rivera and Becket-Griffiths have included two additional cards.  The first, intended to be used as the sitter’s significator is – You Are One.  The second ‘The Supernatural’, intended to be used for the sitter’s situation.

The book also has a handful of spreads ranging from a single card reading to the 7-card Family and Hereditary spread.

What do I think of the deck?  The width of the cards might be tricky for small hands and the style might turn some people off, thinking it too cutesy.  If this deck was a cake, it would be a Hallowe’en cake – a dark chocolate with a sweet centre πŸ˜€

I think that the court cards are great – all the visual clues you need to remember which astrological sign is associated with which card (as long as you can remember which card name is associated with the traditional one!) and ideal for someone who is starting work using astrology with their court cards.

Do you use it?  Tell me what you think of it?

Alison Cross

The Tarot's Court Cards are my specialist area.Β  They talk to me. Not LITERALLY though ....


Inner Whispers · 12th October 2016 at 12:33 pm

I haven't used it much, the minors aren't all that symbolically expressive. The Courts are interesting for the astrological link, though it's also a bit weird having the Nymphs a different style to the other Courts… Not a favourite! πŸ™

    Fun2bwif · 20th June 2017 at 1:48 am

    I understand i still use them base on basic meanings
    the second edition is more explanatory

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