The Steampunk Tarot

Well, I was very naughty and splurged on a new Tarot deck. By my records it’s been nearly a year since I got a new deck so I’ve been in a drought. I all but had the shakes from ‘new deck withdrawal’. So, I fell off the wagon.

Steampunk Tarot: Wisdom from the Gods of the Machine by John and Caitlin Matthews, illustrations by Wil Kinghan, is beautiful. The cards are a good stock, not the flimsy, thin stock so many decks are coming out on, nor are they so thick you can’t shuffle them. They arrive in a lift-off box, with the two plastic wells inside to store the cards, with the companion book on top. I don’t really like that set up, I’ll have to store them in bag. Luckily I have a nice selection of bags sitting around.

Nearly all of the Majors have been renamed:

The Fool — The Apprentice
Technomancer — The Magician
Aviatrix — The High Priestess
Empress — The Empress
Emperor — The Emperor
Horologer — The Hierophant
Explorers — The Lovers
Triumph — The Chariot
Engineer — Strength
Inventor — The Hermit
Time Machine — The Wheel of Fortune
Brazen Head — Justice
Suspension Tank — The Hanged Man
Spring-heeled Jack — Death
Spirit Gauge — Temperance
Cyborg — The Devil
Stricken Tower — The Tower
Comet — The Star
Moon Voyage — The Moon
Solarium — The Sun
Regeneration Machine — Judgment
Cosmic Blueprint — The World

The suits are :

Airships (Swords), Submersibles (Cups), Engines (Wands), Leviathans (Pentacles). The Courts, which are called the Legates are Captain (King), Lady (Queen), Navigator (Knight) and Messenger (Page).

Rather like the Wheel of the Year, there’s a system of the Courts of the Four Leagues. Within the Court of VIII Engineer are the Aviatrix, the Empress, the Emperor and the Horologer, and of course the entire League of Engines; the Court of the Spirit Gauge is comprised of the Explorers, Triumph, the Inventor, and the Time Machine, and the League of Submseribles, and so on.

The system seems designed to show the connections between cards and also “Complementary Opposites”: Aviatrix and the Comet, showing the principles of the Spiritual Path and Destiny, respectively.

Each card gets a couple pages in the book, and a “Steampunk Wisdom” at the bottom, encouraging thought and reflection. It’s all black & white. For a small book there’s a lot to think about. I like this new trend, which I’ve seen in a couple other decks (the Tarot of Vampyres, the Wizards’ Tarot and Wildwood Tarot, for instance) of creating a system with the cards, beyond simply listing suggested meanings.

And oh, the cards are wonderful. There are a couple that are a little ‘off’ (the woman’s head on the Engineer card is turned a little too far around for a human being for one, and some of the minors have figures that have little detail, which makes them stand out against some of the other cards which are richly drawn and layered. Minor quibbles, I suppose. So on to the cards:




The Moon Voyage card reminds me of Georges Méliès 1902 movie, “A Trip to the Moon”. 

This is a fun deck that I think will repay time spent with it.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. OH, those are cool! Have you done any readings, for yourself or anyone else, with them?

  2. D. D. Syrdal says:

    No, I haven’t had a chance yet. I just got them a few days ago, and it’s taken me this long to get the post up! I really like them, though. I’ll definitely have to do some readings with them and post them.

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