Tarot Tuesday: Jac Reviews The Steampunk Tarot

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Our wonderful Jac Smith is on hand in shop to read the tarot cards for you, and she’s sharing insights into the decks she has used. Enjoy!

First up, I have The Steampunk Tarot. The manual is written by Barbra Moore and the deck is illustrated by Aly Fell. Initial impressions are of how much effort was placed into creating the correct atmosphere for the deck. It tries to capture both the inspiration and the darkness of industrialism.  It must find a way to express the aesthetic tone of a diverse alternative history, while at the same time holding true to the Smith deck design. Striking the correct balance of creative originality and upholding a century of tradition proved to be a bit more discordant than I would have liked.

Moore proves she has a great deal of experience with the tarot in her writing. She can clearly articulate between conventional meanings and their variant interpretations as well as understanding the importance of reading cards together collectively instead of taking a meaning in isolation. Her wisdom shines when she acknowledges that cards can represent positive and negative aspects, but that it is essential to recognize these for what they can teach us and never placidly accept fate as immutable.

While she has been inspired by this subculture and has a sincere desire to portray it within her writing, it comes off as being somehow misplaced. Moore’s familiarity with tarot just doesn’t extend into Steampunk as well as she would like. Her passion for the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres are clear, but Steampunk requires a more narrow lens. The analogies feel forced and comparisons cliche. What emphasizes their awkwardness is that such descriptions seem placed so deliberately as though she needed to make the association. Instead of appreciation for a subculture it looks like it has been extraneously attached to the tarot.

The artwork is also clashing between the tones of inspiring and contrived. There is a dramatic flash that illuminates the entire deck with starkly bold light that directs the attitude of every image. The color is vibrantly over saturated like walking through a dream. Symbols have been altered and even gender has taken a delightful flip to accent that we all may hold the traits of Knights and Knaves! Yet these changes only highlight the traditions that were held to in the design process. Many cards look just as they would a 100 years ago, but now that there is a little brass paint and some gears included. There are also a handful that seem as though they have no design inspiration at all, and are instead loose pin-up pieces that were shuffled into the deck.

The cards themselves are thin with a gloss finish. Being thin aided in their maneuverability at first but I’m finding the wear on them concerning. They didn’t require being shuffled countless times to be broken in though. Their glossy coat can make a classic riffle shuffle a bit tricky for some, but if you prefer to “mix the pot” I’m sure that it would benefit. All reverse cards will be noticeable with a back design that is not symmetrical, however this deck places no great significance on card orientation for interpretive purposes.

Overall I’m happy that someone tried with all sincerity to capture the spirit of Steampunk in these cards, but by its very nature it cannot be contained. Every accomplishment is only another step forward in progress to which there can be no terminus. I’m delighted to see that such a strong foundation in the tarot was laid so you can see all that was built upon. With that effort it is easy to see where boundaries were stretched and creativity pushed to its edge. Not every goal was reached, but that too is essential in growing. It is necessary to imagine what we could do to improve upon the past and this deck encapsulates that sentiment perfectly.

We carry the Steampunk Tarot in store, or use the Amazon link below to help support our website!

 The Steampunk Tarot

Steampunk Tarot Deck Review

Book Review: The House Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

There’s a lot of information out there, with wonderful new books being published all the time. I wish I had the time to read more often, so things like this review would come out closer to when a new book is published, but I do try to read as much as I can to keep informed, stay inspired, and keep learning.

That said, I actually picked up The House Witch pretty close to when it came out in 2018, but it sat on my shelf for a while before I completed reading it. No fault of the book – just my busy schedule!

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I was drawn to this book immediately, as it is one of very few I have found that resonates closely with my own witchcraft. I have been drawn to goddesses of hearth and home since I was in college. (Go on, ask me how annoyed I get when people get talking about Greek gods and forget Hestia exists…I dare you.) In the home, so much of what we make is magic – the love we share with our family, the foods we create, the medicines we use to heal. If you don’t have a strong basis in the home, how are you then going to have strong footing when you leave? To me, that would feel like building without a foundation.

This book echoed with my feelings wonderfully.

So, on to some more specifics:

First, the physical book itself. Its a wonderful little hardcover, and if you’re someone like me for whom reading is also a tactile experience, it feels great in the hands. The cover nicely captures the feeling and themes of the book as a whole.

I did like the discussion of what is the spiritual heart of the home and advice on finding where yours is. While historically we would typically be talking about the kitchen, this book also talks nicely about finding and blessing whatever your spiritual hearth may be. Then, the combination of the magical imagery and how they correspond to the every day is nicely done.

I was happy to see a nice chapter on hearth dieties, including some I didn’t know and will read more about later. There were some wonderful points about some of the dieties I do know as well, thoughtfully included and with more depth than these gods and goddesses are usually given.

I have not tried the recipes included in here yet, but having read a lot of books that do include spells and recipes I actually want to try some of these.  Food, herbs, crafts, potpourri, spells and rituals, there are a lot of nice step by step, clear instructions for things you might want to try. Plus, these are in a good ratio to the rest of the book –  a couple mixed in where appropriate with information, then several themed chapters at the end, without overwhelming the content you can learn from this book.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to bring magic into their home, or connect the magical and the mundane better together. Though I still can’t quite bring myself to bless my fridge…

Book Review