Welcome to another Witchy Weekends post here on the blog, my annual online celebration of October.
This weekend I’m featuring the Steampunk Tarot by Barbara Moore and Aly Fell (illustrator), published by Llewellyn Worldwide in 2012.
The Steampunk Tarot is a wonderful deck for anyone fascinated by the Steampunk aesthetic or iconography. It’s firmly founded on classic Rider-Waite imagery, and while you won’t find a whole lot that’s groundbreaking about this deck because of this, the lush illustrations will absolutely be comfort food if you’re into Steampunk literature and graphic novels. You can see this quite evidently in the major arcana, such as on the card for the High Priestess, which is replete with gears, a top hat adorned with goggles, a somewhat edgy stylized version of Victorian clothing, and various other elements of familiar Steampunk imagery.
As we move into the suits, we never stray too far from the expected, but the artwork is done with such elegance, it’s okay. The suit of wands encompasses stories of resolve, of will, of bold or audacious action or intent. Some of the wands cards in this deck actually give me strong Mistborn (a book by Brandon Sanderson) vibes, such as the two.
This deck’s cups, the suit of water and emotion, are particularly adept at conveying whole narratives in a facial expression.
The suit of swords has a lot to say about our (or the characters’) thoughts. One card that has always represented this best to me is the ten, whose image depicts a dead man with ten swords sticking up out of his back. As the adage goes, never beat a dead horse; well, stabbing a dead man is much the same thing, isn’t it? This card reminds me of someone who needs to let go of obsessive or intrusive thoughts that aren’t serving any useful purpose.
Finally, the pentacles, the suit of physical experiences and the material world. I’ve chosen the ace here because the aces in the tarot represent the pure form of the element or suit, and the imagery on this card is another iconic sample of the Steampunk aesthetic, with brass and gears and a cybernetic arm holding the coin up to glow from within, juxtaposed almost ironically against a polluted sky above a pastoral setting.
The Steampunk tarot is great for fans of the genre, full of decadent artwork and a wealth of storytelling possibilities.