The Steampunk Tarot: Wisdom from the Gods of the Machine has been created by John and Caitlín Matthews, with illustrations by Wil Kinghan. It is published by Tuttle.
Life Guidance from an Alternate RealityThe Steampunk Tarot: Wisdom from the Gods of the Machine box text.
In the Steampunk alternative universe, steam power drives submersibles, rockets, and ships across the world, and helium-fulled airships are the means of travel. But the hunger for adventure and exploration is alive, and people discover places stranger than they had ever imagined.
The Steampunk major archetypes are the Gods of the Machine. Acting as mediators are the court card Legates, the movers and shakers who oversee the Four Leagues – the elemental suits of Airships, Engines, Submersibles, and Leviathans.
in this new spiritual culture there is a struggle to find balance and harmony in both environment and technology. Yet wisdom and direction can be gained from this interaction of energies – guidance that resonates in our world of today.
I have to admit, I’m normally not a fan of photo-manipulation artwork so this deck wasn’t high on my wish list. But with it being on offer via Amazon, I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and give it a go, and I’m definitely not disappointed.
The cards are very detailed and full of imagery, you could easily get lost in some of the artwork.
The Major Arcana are The Gods of the Machine and represent the heart of the Imperium. They have mostly been renamed to fit the steampunk setting, with only the Empress and Emperor retaining traditional names. Likewise the four suits have also been renamed to fit this universe, and are now The Four Leagues, which depict the four quadrants of the Imperium. Swords are now Airships, Cups are now Submersibles, Wands are now Engines and Pentacles are now Leviathans.
The Court Cards are now the Legates of the Imperium, the ambassadorial representatives of the Four Leagues. I do enjoy the fact that this deck has a very clear story and universe behind it, and I’m sure this aspect will be enjoyed by those who like their decks to have a strong background, and those who love stories set in a steampunk setting.
The guidebook that accompanies this deck is really good. It begins with explaining the world of The Imperium and how this tarot deck fits into that world. Even if you’ve never used tarot cards before, this first section explains how to read the cards, or how to interpret the Language of the Machine.
For each of the Major Arcana, The Gods of the Machine, you get a micro-spread you can use to “test for yourself the power of each archetype.” By using the entire deck in reading these spreads you can discover how they power the machine. I do intend on working through all 22 of these micro-spreads in order to learn more about this deck.
The Gods of the Machine interpretations are split up into Gate of opportunity, Gear-change, and Blockages to clear. The Four Leagues interpretations are split into Personal lifestyle, Interaction, and Impact. The Legates interpretations are split into People, Processes, and Events. By dividing up the interpretations in this way, you can decide which part(s) apply to your particular reading.
Each card also has a little piece of Steampunk Wisdom, so if you wish to do a single card daily draw these little bits of wisdom are perfect for that. Each piece of wisdom also asks a question of you, which are perfect for journalling purposes. For example, below is the Steampunk Wisdom for 0 – The Apprentice:
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, for this is the edge where experience grows. What possibilities are calling you to follow?
As well as the 22 micro-spreads, in the back of the guidebook are a set of “Blueprints”, larger spreads using this deck. Each one comes with a sample reading to assist in trying them yourself. Finally the book offers helpful advice for working with this deck, including interpreting the cards, what to do if you cannot read a card, and handling reversals. I definitely recommend giving the whole book a read-through to give you a better understanding of the story behind this deck and how best to use them, even if you later decide to throw out the book and just read the cards intuitively.